march 2006 readinglist
i had been reading a lot more sci-fi than fantasy of late. I'm not entirely sure why, and I felt like changing that, so there's a bit more fantasy in March than there had been. Of course, until I get Feb. 2006 up, one can't exactly compare.
- Alphabet of Thorn - Patricia McKillip
A lovely, lovely novel, full of magic and vivid imagery - much of the magic stemming from the amazing images conjured by reading metaphors literally. I intend to post a blog entry about this book, and will link to it when I get it up.
- Rose Daughter - Robin McKinley
This re-reading is probably my third or fourth. I'm very fond of McKinley's stories, and go back to them time and again, once every couple years usually. I read McKinley's first retelling of Beauty and the Beast (titled simply "Beauty") in my early adolescence. It was magical, beautiful, and captivated me completely. So, when she published this second re-telling in 1997, I picked it up eagerly. It didn't capture as the first book had, but it is a wonderful re-telling, re-imagination, with deeply created characters, and an ending that is more "real" than fantasy, despite all its magic. A fun read, for those who enjoy retold fairy tales.
- Singularity Sky - Charles Stross
This is the first Stross novel I have read. I picked it upon on Luis's recommendation, when I was in search of something new, sci-fi, but not space opera of the Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke bent. I think what I enjoyed most about this story was the universe it takes place in: A fascinating future where humanity has been dispersed, for its own good, by some higher power/intellect, that declares "I am not your God." This dispersion has lead to a vastly varied diaspora, stemming back in part to the different cultures that appeared to have been displaced in groups. This book focuses on the "New Republic," an eastern European-esque Empire, with several worlds, and what happens when a different culture, subjectively thousands of years older and more advanced, shows up in their system. The book's title refers to the "cultural singularity" which ensues. Perhaps what I liked most was the very first page - any book that begins with telephones raining from the sky gets a certain number of points for style right off the bat. Good hard core sci-fi, with aliens and faster than light travel, that also has good characterization.
- Ophiuchi Hotline - John Varley
I really enjoy Varley. My first encounter with his work was the Gaea trilogy (Titan, Wizard, Demon), which is stunningly creative. I read it while in Niger, and it was even more escapist from that time/place/culture than it would have been from home. My next encounter came a couple years later with the "Varley Reader," a collection of short stories, with introductions to each by the author. I don't think I have ever enjoyed short sci-fi as much as I enjoyed those stories. I have continued to read Varley books, and bought this one used in hardcover, because that was the only way I could find it. Ophiuchi Hotline takes place generally in the "Eight Worlds" universe that Varley writes in. He frequently admits/declaims that his Eight Worlds stories are not chronological, do not necessarily relate to each other, and he really doesn't care if you find inconsistencies. I applaud him for not being caught up in having to keep everything straight. In this universe, man has been chased from Earth by a higher species (but not killed off) and then settled the Moon, Venus, Mars and other of Sol systems planets, but doesn't have faster than light travel. Sex changes are a fact of life, people/recorded identities are brought back to life in regrown bodies, but genetic engineering is a Crime Against Humanity. Our heroine is one such felon, and we follow her through different versions as she lives lives corned by her past identities histories. Not my favorite Varley, but still wonderful, and high quality imagination.
- Automated Alice - Jeff Noon
I greatly enjoyed this novel. So much so, that I wrote a long blog post. When I get it copied over to my new blog, I'll link to it. Suffice to say, it satisfied my fascination with retold tales, my curiosity for imaginative universes, and enjoyment of wordplay (though for true wordplay, read Noon's Pixel Juice). It was a quick read, surprisingly so considering his other works. But so much fun!