May 27, 2008

Neuromancer by William Gibson


This damn book took me forever to get through. Not that it's not great sf, by the way - because it is. Just as forward thinking and right on as the rest of his work. But I'm more interested in the odd little side details - the Sprawl itself, the people in the bars, Panther Moderns, 3Jane - than I am in all the tech forecasting.

Now, any book with Molly, the modern samurai with the embedded glasses and razor tip fingers, is worth picking up. Don't get me wrong - if I'd started the Sprawl series with the first one like I should have, I'd probably have enjoyed it more. But working backward put it in a different frame, and I got fairly bored halfway through.

I may have to revisit this one later. I suspect I am simply burned out on Gibson's cyberpunk view of our future/now. Which is why I jumped into some classic Harlen Ellison stories last night, changing directions for a new view.

final thought: You have to really admire that so much of it has already come true. I wonder what else will.

May 12, 2008

paranoia decor

In the course of looking for various book covers and so on, I ran across this graphic:

Thanks to the magic of rasterbation, it's now a very handsome 5'ish x 3'ish poster on my bedroom wall.

Now I can dream of the Cold War all through this coming hot summer.

May 9, 2008

going old school

I think I'm burning out slightly on the modern dystopias. I've done a few too many in a row. Instead of starting Shockwave Rider after I finish Neuromancer , I think this weekend I'll look for something on the List written in the early part of the 1900s.

May 6, 2008

twentytwelve by Andrew Keogh


Let me go ahead and admit that I was worried this book would be terrible. Not because of anything related to the book itself, but because the author reads my blog and comments regularly. I figured it was unlikely to suck completely, because his own blog is well written and entertaining, but the fear lingered. Luckily, that turned out to be mostly unfounded.

As you can guess by the title, twentytwelve concerns the near future, a nightmare of a fascist England where leaders openly praise Hitler and anyone nonwhite or Jewish is hunted down and exterminated. The hero, his mom, his half-black daughter, and various others scratch their way across Wales in an attempt to make it into Ireland, land of the (fairly) free. They dodge brutal cops of various sorts, fall in and out of captivity, and so what they can to stay alive and together. An altogether worth it story.

My main criticism comes down to style. I could see in the writing that Keogh is a lawyer by trade. He doesn't fuck around with a bunch of flowery descriptions - the narrative is done in a very "just the facts" style. On the one hand, it keeps the adventure clipping along. On the other, I feel like we miss out on some characterization and motives. All the good guys are resolute, willing, and quiet in their suffering. Maybe it's that "stiff upper lip" Britishism coming out.

The text could also have benefited from a good going over for small flaws, the kind of thing an author can't see after rewriting a novel too many times. A few too many cases of Keogh using the same word over and over in a paragraph kept sort of bumping me out of the story. With this kind of tale to tell - worth reading both as a caution and as simply a "what will they do next?" adventure - a good editor could have made all the difference.

final thought: I suggest this one. Read it now before the government bans it.