The Kaiju Preservation Society, Scalzi. Yes. I’m nominally in the middle of something like three other books (yes, the Culture re-/read is still happening, and there are reviews of two or so of those waiting for me to commit them to the ether), and I burned through this one more quickly than I’ve read a book in probably literal years. I sometimes resent that Scalzi’s writing doesn’t take my breath away the way Le Guin and Zelazny did, but I realized toward the end of this book that I really like his characters and his stories, and that’s definitely enough to keep me coming back. And now that I’m off Twitter and following him on Mastodon, I might actually find out about new releases sooner than eleven months after publication. As (lately) usual, stuff nobody cares about after the jump.
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Consider Phlebas, Banks. Yes. What most struck me about this one after having very recently read a much later installment in the Culture series is how much more complex Banks’s narrative style apparently became as the series went on.
Surface Detail, Banks. Yes. I appear to have developed enough time to do more reading, though that time has not been accompanied by enough executive function to look for new things to read, so I landed on the Banks Culture novels, and this one was immediately available. To mix things up a bit, though, I’m now planning to go through them in order, including re-reading the ones I’ve already read. This one was fine.
The Last Emperox, Scalzi. Yes. I do enjoy these, so was pleased when it occurred to me to wonder whether there was a new Interdependency book and the answer was yes, and pleased me even more that there was no waitlist.
Scalzi does a reasonable job of sliding in the “Previously on…” retro-exposition, which I especially appreciate, having roughly zero memory of the previous installments.
I don’t recall noticing Scalzi getting quite so deep into the nature of consciousness (especially) wrt strong AI. Maybe I’m more sensitized from following Grady Booch on Twitter. More likely I’m just forgetting.
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The City We Became, Jemisin. Yes. One of my favorite things about the OverDrive ebook reading application is that it remembers where I was when the book expired, say, a year and a half ago, and puts me back there when I check it out again. I can’t think of a better writer out there right now than Jemisin, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where this trilogy goes.
The Collapsing Empire, Scalzi. Yes. Perhaps because it was written before November of 2016, but at least as likely because Scalzi is Scalzi, this book has a pleasing amount of fun in it. The introduction of the chief of staff character, in particular, is an early positive delight.
Mechanically/editorially fine, though there are roughly as many incorrect who/whomevers as correct. It’s possible that different characters got it right and wrong, and Scalzi is more subtle than I’m giving him credit for; I’m not willing to go back through and collect evidence one way or the other.
Plot-wise, I was troubled at a far-future human society in which it’s still possible for conception to occur without both partners wanting it to. I guess more depressed by that notion and troubled that—despite at least one organically available option I would have grumblingly bought—no explanation of that sad state of affairs was given (again, unless I missed something). Nevertheless, if you enjoy Scalzi, you will very likely enjoy this.
Blindsight, Watts. Yes. This was just fine, despite misspellings (“miniscule” multiple times, “ordinance” when “ordnance” was called for), and the inescapable feeling that the book was, every few pages, asking “Did I just blow (what you think is) your mind? Well, did I?” And maybe if I hadn’t read so much Hofstadter, and Bruce Sterling’s “Swarm” (from 1982!), and Peeps, my mind may have been more susceptible to the proposed blowing. As it was, I just noticed how much Watts liked the word “blister”.
Followed by Echopraxia, which I’m at least going to look at.
The Peripheral, Gibson. Yes. It’s refreshing to see Gibson returning to Prophet-of-Cyberspace mode from Tom Clancy mode. The epigraph is from Wells’s Time Machine, and Gibson’s take on the topic is as clean as they come.
The Years of Rice and Salt, Robinson. Yes. This was a book club recommendation, based on the presence of similar themes to a movie I saw a little while ago. In addition to those resonances, parts of it also evoked Hofstadter, specifically I Am a Strange Loop. Writing was quite good, though somewhat variable (a certain amount of which might be expected in such a lengthy work).
The City & the City, Miéville. Yes. This was my first ebook (from the library), which may have affected my experience somewhat, though not that I was able to detect. To get the editing complaints out of the way, there was a bad “whomever” that probably would have been on the first page of the paper volume. Later, there was a bad “whoever”, which doesn’t quite make up for it, and a “these kind”, which I believe I’ve never encountered before in an edited work. Finally, there were a number of places where hyphens were used where em dashes would have been appropriate, including at least one instance of an appositive set off by an em dash at the beginning and a hyphen at the end.
The story itself was adequately intriguing, with an unusual hook. Miéville drew out the explication of that hook just a little bit longer than was strictly called for, but it was not disqualifyingly long.