Books Archives

Experiences with regular books

  1. Eddie Signwriter / Adam Schwartzman

    Cover of Eddie Signwriter
    I picked up Eddie Signwriter because Boston Bibliophile liked it so much and I like trying things I wouldn’t otherwise. I didn’t end up seeing as much in it as Marie did. Eddie Signwriter is the main character, but he doesn’t become Eddie Signwriter until midway through the book. In the first chapter, he’s simply the boy. Nana Oforiwaa dies, and the town banishes her niece’s romantic partner (who will become Eddie). They blame him because he shameless cavorted with Oforiwaa’s charge, she couldn’t control them, and that is the cause of her death. Then we get the back story. Kwasi Edward Michael Dankwa is the youngest child of Ghanaian…
  2. The Mile-Long Spaceship / Kate Wilhelm

    Cover of The Mile-Long Spaceship
    Reading Kate Wilhelm’s The Mile-Long Spaceship was an attempt to broaden my classic S.F. reading beyond the standard Asimov/Heinlein axis. The book was free, and had been sitting on my shelf for a while. However, my anti-love affair with Golden Age science fiction continues. Most of the stories in the collection were less than amazing and I had to force myself to finish the book. There are eleven stories in the book. Six of them had been published previously. The Mile-Long Spaceship I had to re-read this story three times, and I’m still a little confused. Xenophobic aliens contact a human telepathically. He only communicates with them when he’s out…
  3. Star Island / Carl Hiaasen

    Cover of Star Island
    I’ve always liked Carl Hiassen’s books. However, he’s been writing these kinds of zany stories about South Florida for quite some time. This one was good, but felt like he was going through the motions particularly near the end. The target in Star Island is a pop singer that a character in the book calls a B.L.S., barely legal slut. Her manager parents are gamely trying to avoid her having a public meltdown. Sound like Britney Spears or Miley Cyrus? Hiaasen gives his singer the name Cherry Pye (real name, Cheryl Bunterman). She can barely sing, but when not too drugged up she can dance on occasion. Lots of coaching…
  4. Curse of the Spellmans / Lisa Lutz

    Cover of Curse of the Spellmans
    After dragging myself through some serious reading, I decided I wanted something light and easy to digest. Sitting on my shelf unread were the second and third books in the Spellman series. Humor is not a requirement for light reading, but it doesn’t hurt. The Spellmans have humor to spare, so I pulled both off the shelf and read them consecutively. Curse of the Spellmans reads like an extended caper. When we left Isabel Spellman in The Spellman Files, she been establishing some independence from her private investigator parents, Albert and Olivia Spellman. After a very brief fling with him, Isabel investigates the hunky man next door, John Brown. She’s…
  5. Sensation / Nick Mamatas

    Cover of Sensation
    Nick Mamatas is opinionated and an instigator on his blog. I was not so secretly hoping he would win the Hugo this year so that we’d get an interesting acceptance speech. By day he edits the output for Haikasoru, which publishes English translations of Japanese science fiction. I believe he also used to edit Clarkesworld Magazine. He also writes stories and books. Like Sensation, which I picked up at FOGCon on its day of publication. It’s an odd book and I have mixed feelings about it. Hive mind wasps and spiders are battling each other for supremacy. Julia Hernandez is bitten by wasps. They lay eggs in her, and she…
  6. Leviathan / Scott Westerfeld

    Cover of Leviathan
    At an appearance Scott Westerfeld did in Seattle in October 2009, he told the audience that after the success of his Uglies series, he wanted to take advantage of his current popularity to write something he might not have the clout to get published in another phase of his career. The Leviathan series is the result. Leviathan is a fanciful alternate universe where the Central Powers of World War I developed steampunk style technology (Clankers). The Allied side used genetic engineering to create living machines for their purposes (Darwinists). Both sides think of the technology used by the other as degenerate and creepy. Despite massive militarization, a tense peace has…
  7. Osama / Lavie Tidhar

    Cover of Lavie Tidhar's Osama
    I have had the hardest time writing this review, and the reasons why are prompting a change to my review policy. I’ve read a couple of Lavie Tidhar stories, but they confused me more than they delighted. I also follow Lavie Tidhar on Twitter, where his often cranky and contrary posts mesh well with my cranky and contrary personality. In May, he asked me if I would read his soon to be released book Osama. As he’s not a Big Name™ (as Gardner Dozois terms them) author, getting a few bloggers to read and write about his works is good publicity for him. I agreed. Here’s the problem I ran…
  8. The Ox-Bow Incident / Walter Van Tilburg Clark

    Cover of The Ox-Bow Incident
    The Ox-Bow Incident isn’t what I would think is a classic Western novel. The action takes place in the American West, using many of the types and settings that populate such novels. The focus of the fiction is not on the action. It is not on fighting Indians, or homesteading, or robbing stagecoaches or anything of the like. The Ox-Bow Incident is a parable about the danger of mob action and the rule of law. It impressed me quite a bit. There will be spoilers here. Art Croft and Gil Carter the two person team that rolls into Bridger’s Wells. Art narrates the story while Gil gets drunk and fights…
  9. The Female Man / Joanna Russ

    Cover of The Female Man
    This is not a review. At WisCon, I attended a reading of Joanna Russ’ When It Changed and thought it was brilliant. It was high time I read some of her work. The book for August for the Seattle Feminist Science Fiction Book Club is The Female Man. I checked it out from the library and started reading. A week later, I am only at page 76 or so. Unfortunately, The Female Man is very New Wavey. Nearly halfway in I haven’t figured out what the story is, and I am not even able to parse out the subversive (as the cover puts it) feminist stuff. I can’t tell what…
  10. Norse Code / Greg van Eekhout

    Cover of Norse Code
    When I picked up Norse Code, I expected a Norse gods on Earth story. The summary on the back says that the NorseCODE genome project was designed to identify descendants of Odin. My expectations were a gross misreading of that summary. That portion takes up barely a few pages before the end of the world begins and the characters start jumping between the various worlds of Norse mythology, seeking to prevent Ragnorak. The best description I can come up with is that this is an imagining of Ragnorak with some modern characters inserted. The thing is, I really don’t like reading mythology. For instance, the continuity of place in this…