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Books read, late June

Carlos Bueno, Lauren Ipsum. The problem with working in a very small sub-genre is that you get compared to the greater works in that sub-genre quite directly. In this case, Lauren Ipsum is doing computery versions of the things The Phantom Tollbooth and Haroun and the Sea of Stories and Alice in Wonderland did. That’s…pretty heady company. Sadly, I don’t think Lauren Ipsum lives up to it. It was mildly entertaining as an adult already familiar with a lot of the electronics and computer and math jokes in the text, but I’m pretty sure it would be boring, incomprehensible, or both if you didn’t already know the stuff. So…possibly for adult computer nerds feeling juvenile.

Julie Dillon, Imagined Realms Volume 2. Lovely images from the Kickstarter. Glad to have a chance to support Julie’s art.

Amanda Downum, Dreams of Shreds and Tatters. This is darker, both in terms of fantasy tropes and in terms of real-world referents, than I generally prefer my fiction, but I knew that going in since I critiqued it ages ago. It’s vivid without wallowing, fast-paced without being shallow…and I can’t take credit for any of that! Artists and literally reality-warping drugs and old friendships strained and rewrought. Good stuff.

John B. Duncan, The Origins of the Choson Dynasty. I suspect that this author needs a refresher course in the difference between an appendix and a chapter. I mean, the tables about what surnames of people from what locations had which bureaucratic positions were admirable. But: appendix. Really only recommended if you’re passionate about medieval Korea (inasmuch as “medieval” can apply to non-Europe locations).

Pat Murphy, The City, Not Long After. Reread. I had forgotten quite what a hot mess this book is. It’s trying to do things with the necessity of art in/after crisis, but it has a very narrow view of art as performed by full-time artists, and it’s completely uninformed/incoherent about warfare. The sentence that I went around marveling about was one in which the general’s troops–ad hoc troops conquering a post-apocalyptic very-near-future Northern California–were used to organized traditional warfare. Guh what? The farmers and scavengers they were trampling were forming ranks and marching? No. No they were not. Guerilla warfare is not something invented by artists to be elegant, it’s something invented by desperate people–usually poor people–in desperate circumstances. Also: northern California: irrigation. Water and sewer. Potable water is not optional. The only way this book really works is if it’s read as a stylized and garbled origin story from later, and even then it doesn’t work well.

Alistair Reynolds, Slow Bullets. Novella about soldiers on a spaceship and disasters therewith. Entirely readable but not one of his more outstanding works. Also fairly dark.

Jonathan Spence, The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci. Too much boyfriend Jesuit, not enough roller derby China. Still interesting and worth reading, but so far this is my least favorite of his books because of the preponderance of European stuffs, which I feel is not Spence’s strength.

Genevieve Valentine, Persona. This is a near-future sponsorship diplomacy thriller done right. Very fast read. Enjoyed very much and would recommend, especially if you have high tolerance for thriller pacing.

Jo Walton, The Philosopher Kings. Discussed elsewhere.

G. Willow Wilson, Ms. Marvel: No Normal. Very much an introductory story for this superhero, but I had a good time with it despite it being substantially beginning without much in the way of middle or end. That’s the nature of the beast. Kamala Khan is good fun.

1 thought on “Books read, late June

  1. The first volume of Imagined Realms is currently available as an e-book via Humble Bundle.

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