Jan 22, 2012

Winterlong by Elizabeth Hand


Once again, this review is going to suffer some because of how long ago I read this book. I'll be caught up to myself soon enough.

Elizabeth Hand is generally hit or miss for me, but on this one it was pretty much all hit. I'll be honest, most of the action revolved around violent death and wrongful sex, but this still managed to be a beautiful story. Artsy fartsy for sure, but splashy enough to pull me through it at a run.

Sex, knowledge, skill, death - each of these being traded back and forth by the survivors of our civilization reborn in darker shades. I'm kind of a sucker for any kind of sacred prostitutes in a narrative. All religions have to deal with sex somehow - to pretend that huge driving force can be overcome with prayer always strikes me as knowingly dishonest. Of course, children raised from birth to be the playthings of the powerful is as evil as it gets, and I admire Hand for making them more than victims and revenge fodder.

I would have more to say about this, but I loaned my copy out twice now and haven't got it back yet from the second time. That right there should tell you something.

Jan 7, 2012

Broken Angels by Richard Morgan

Broken Angels

I read this book in the stupidest way possible and months ago, so keep that in mind when you read this. I got through the first third of the novel and then put it down to read something else and didn't go back to it for several weeks. You can put some stories on hold like that without losing too much ground, slipping easily back into plot and characters. This is not one of those stories. Too many names, motives, and locations, especially with all the body and space hopping that goes on. But it's a fun read and worth your attention, so learn from my mistake.

That being said, I repeat: fun read. Plenty of nifty little concepts, building seamlessly on the universe Morgan created for his main character Takeshi Kovacs in Altered Carbon. I continue to be both creeped out and fascinated by the concept of your consciousness being transportable or containable. When death is so survivable, true ending becomes even more horrific.

Once again, I thought I had the mystery solved fairly on and was happily surprised by the reveal. As a military novel, as a whodunit, and as cyberpunk adventure, Broken Angels succeeds for me. If I'd just gone cover to cover without that break, I might have wound up considering it one of my favorites from last year (and, believe it or not, I read quite a few books in 2011).

By the way, happy new year.