Dec 30, 2009

2009, and what I found there.

- The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
- Moscow 2042 by Vladimir Voinovich (Владимир Войнович)
- Gun, with Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethem
- The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
- The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
- Kallocain by Karin Boye
- When Gravity Fails by George Alec Effinger
- The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk
- Chung Kuo: The Middle Kingdom by David Wingrove
- Sea of Glass by Barry B. Longyear
- We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
- Halting State by Charles Stross
- Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy
- Marching Through Georgia by S.M. Stirling
- Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison

Favorites: We, Gun, with Occasional Music, Sea of Glass
Most Boring: Halting State, The Plot Against America
What I should have ready decades ago, because it was excellent: The Lottery and Other Stories
Stank like patchouli: The Fifth Sacred Thing
Goriest: Chung Kuo: The Middle Kingdom, Altered Carbon

I'm looking forward to another year!

Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison

Make Room! Make Room!

(First, for the record, that is not the cover of the edition I read. But it's such a great design that I had to show it to y'all.)

This book inspired the classic flick Soylent Green, but doesn't actually have much in common with that movie. Let me just put this up front: it's not people. It's soy + lentil (soylent). And that's not even a plot point.

This is a dark little look at population growth predictions from the 60s. Mass starvation, water riots, people dragging themselves through life as a matter of habit. It's no The Sheep Look Up, but it's not exactly a stroll through Peppyville, either. (Then again, do I really want to go to Peppyville? You just know all their restaurants make their employees sing to you when you just want to eat.)

Luckily, Harrison bundles bleak forecasting with a little mystery, a little drug use, a little sex, and a little sharp humor. That's a lot to pack into a slim novel, and it keeps you reading. Even if the main point isn't "People! They're eating people!" but, instead, "Wear your condoms, kids, there's not enough to go around."

Dec 29, 2009

Marching Through Georgia by S.M. Stirling

Marching Through Georgia

I don't know. I just don't. It was written well. It kept me interested. The battle scenes were some of the best I've read. But a book that has me choose between cheering on Nazis or cheering on slave-owners? Not something that comes naturally, even when it's clear that the rest of the series probably deals with some changes of heart among the main slaver characters.

Here's the deal, I am not a history buff. I have a vague understanding of what led up to various American or world wars, but that's it. So I don't get that same thrill that I would guess regular readers of the stuff enjoy from the cleverness of manipulating facts and possibilities into a plausible situation. For me to enjoy work like this, I need a few facts filled in for me and I need characters and a story worth caring about. I'd say I got all three here.

Dec 28, 2009

Another year, another round.

Well, I've been at this a while now. I've read everything from porn to philosophical musings. Aside from a handful of more apocalyptic tomes (and a few Discworld novels to clean the palate), it's been dystopia 24/7 in my literary world. And I'm still enjoying the hell out of it! Expect some tweaks on this blog and a whole new crop of reviews and discussions.

Hey ho, here we go!