association-list a veritable mint for dunning-kruggerands

I'm not feeling well so this likely makes little sense

Things that I’ve read recently, and some brief reactions:

  • Asimov’s August ‘06. Some good stuff, some interesting stuff, some irritating stuff. I’ve an extended post in the pipeline that I will post soon if I can ever get over this problem with posts just stalling out on me (five or six of them now. It’s getting to be a problem).

  • Elantris by Brandon Sanderson. (NB: I tried to write this spoilerless, but found myself having to leave out too many things that I wanted to write about. So, heavy spoilers. If you like fantasy, skip this paragraph then go read it, and come back). This was pretty good, especially for a first novel. I found it enjoyable, but there were a couple of things that kept bothering me throughout (note that these are no indication that you shouldn’t read it, as it’s a fun story). Firstly, there are some things that grate against my personal preferences, mostly with regard to the treatment of religion in the setting. These won’t bother most people, so I won’t dwell on them further. Secondly, there’s a fair amount of idiot plot going on here to delay certain events until they’re supposed to happen, when, very often, it would make more sense and feel more natural if they were to happen earlier in the story. Also, there are a couple of revelations that just don’t really make any sense. Not big ones, but they aren’t well telegraphed enough, and it just sort of feels like they were pulled out of a hat to tie things together and make certain characters more monstrous than they are or to give them more things to fight against. I think that in particular the handling of the adjunct priest Dilaf could have been done more effectively, had he remained a more human kind of monster. Thirdly, while there is a good amount of remediation of the standard fantasy tropes of the noble prince and the fair (but bold and intelligent) princess, the common people here are treated too much like counters. You never see their faces, so it’s sometimes hard to care which group of noble assholes gets the prize. Also, the whole city of Elantris seems like a bit of a spoiler for people. I mean, it a bunch of random people just turn into magical gods every once in a while, I’d think that enough wives and children would get left behind so that someone would either figure out how to get everyone in on it, or get rid of it completely. I find it hard to stomach that the Elantreans are awesome just for handing out food and healing people. Finally, the solution to the magical problems posed in the beginning of the novel feels kind of weak to me, as the idea that none of the (well educated, immensely powerful, near-immortal) Elantreans would know how to fix the problem (yes, I know that they get slaughtered, but I doubt that the violence would be so complete that no one who knew the origins of the magic and was capable of figuring out how to fix it would have survived) would have been able to fix it.

  • Lethe by Tricia Sullivan. I haaaate Tricia Sullivan. I just want you all to know that. I hate her because she wrote this one when she was younger than I am now and it’s very, very well done, if a bit clumsy in places. It’s a horrible fucking criminal shame that Sullivan isn’t one of our best known authors. This one’s out of print, I think, but shouldn’t be impossible to find used.

  • The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth by Roger Zelazny. Like most of Zelazny, in my experience, tremendously uneven. At his best, Zelazny is brilliant, but at his worst, he’s just barely adequate. I’m finding this one a bit slow going because of that. The bad stories are hard to get through, but the incredible ones make it worth it.

  • Look to Windward and Consider Phlebas, parts of State of the Art all by Iain (M.) Banks. Rereads, all of them. I have a long, rambling post about the Culture, the statement that Banks seems to be making with it, the contours of the entire loose series, and some wondering why Banks isn’t very famous in the US, despite being a best seller in the UK. If I can ever finish it and clean it up, I might post it here.

I’m sure I’m forgetting about some other stuff. Four months of Asimov’s down and five months to go (counting the double issues as two months). I think that I’m short a month on the to-read stack, but that’s likely because the place where I have them stacked is on one of my cat’s high speed paths across my room and so it’s likely under my bed or something.

Also, I’m opening comments, as an experiment, so say hello, if you want to.

<-- Asimov's, September 2006 Notice -->