Andare, Partire, Tornare


A mini-booklog

Been doing a lot of taking in, so to speak - reading a bunch, and indulging in a few movies. Actually, "reading a bunch" is a massive understatement. I've been nose-first in a book for the majority of the past week, thanks to Natalie taking me to the used bookstore, Caerula giving me those ARC's, and me taking myself to the library.

So far, I've ploughed through:

Jasper Fford's _Lost in a Good Book_, the sequel to _The Eyre Affair_ and the predecessor to the now-out-in-England _The Well of Lost Plots_. This guy is quality - brilliant deadpan humor, an indulgence in puns that work (unlike Piers Anthony and the now-thoroughly-decayed Xanth books), adventure, and literary brilliance, both in the quality of his writing and the ability to weave in famous books and characters into a plot that can best be described as zany. Yes, I said it, people! Zany! It's a good thing! Go adopt a Dodo today!

Lois Bujold's _Ethan of Athos_, bought specifically on Natalie's reccomendation and much enjoyed. It's a quick read, but the breathtaking audacity of Bujold having her main character be an obstetrician on a planet where women are not only not permitted, but seen as evil Liliths waiting to drag men down into the depths of sin. The idea of a fundamentalist religion getting so woman-phobic that they go and found a gay planet, and the whole idea being explored in a short adventure novel is just fabulous, and watching Ethan navigave the larger world when he's forced to leave his planet is wonderfully entertaining.

Robin McKinley's _Sunshine_, thanks to Caerula. I am immensely grateful that she gave me this book, as well as Baker's _The Anvil of the World_, since these are two of my favorite writers and I hadn't any idea that they were working on new stuff. (Well, I think I knew about _Anvil_, but not that it was coming out so soon.) Sunshine is the first truly adult novel for McKinley, whose books, although excellent, are generally shelved on the YA side of the bookstore and tend to not be as dark or as full of what are usually termed "adult" issues (read: sex. And dirty words. But mostly sex.) _Sunshine_ is a really stunning book, and is another entry in the vampire genre that Laurell K. Hamilton, Anne Rice, Jim Butcher, and Charlaine Harris are all currently exploring, where the universe is much like ours but where darker things have crept in around the edges. (Sean Stewart does this as well, with books like _Galveston_, _Mockingbird_, and _Resurrection Man_, and Tim Powers plays with this trope as well. Needless to say, I'm a fan of all the writers mentioned here except Rice, who I don't read.) _Sunshine_ is set in a universe much like ours, but magic-handlers, and Others (vampires, demons, and weres) are known to exist by the general public, although many choose to ignore their existance as much as possible. But her depiction of vampires is nothing short of brilliant - she does such a fantastic job of describing their "otherness" that it just makes me want to cheer. Vampires are predators of people, and they're steeped in their own, unfathomable culture of darkness and magic. They aren't people with fangs and an allergy to sunlight. They're Other. Not us. And so when Sunshine, the heroine (and baker of cinnamon rolls) is forced to ally with one in order to save both their lives, it's not an easy process at all. Aside from a few blatant infodumps by the heroine (which are still interesting because the world itself is interesting) and a couple of cases where the progress of the action gets a little muddy (which I think may be a particular result of this author's writing style, as it happens in other books of hers), this is a flawless book.

Kage Baker's _The Anvil of the World_, also thanks to Caerula. Well, hell - I already was predisposed to like this book, since I'm already a fan of Baker's "Company" novels and short stories (despite a tendency of mine to spell her name as "Kadge" in all my postings in rec.arts.sf.written, much to my shame). This book is a fantasy in a completely different universe, and it's a standalone novel, which is a nice change of pace. But best of all, it's like Baker unleashed some wild, daffy, unrestrained side of herself and just let it go, and the result is a book filled with oddities, weirdos, and a wicked sense of humor that made me cackle out loud repeatedly throughout the book. I think this book is more about the ride than it is reaching the ending, as the final few chapters feel a little rushed, and the plot could have used a little more foreshadowing in its earlier chapters. But dear god, you hardly notice, because you're too busy laughing and getting immersed in the world. But there's heart there, as well - not just humor. Baker apparently likes the theme of how people with two different mindsets act when forced together, because her Company books revolve around the difference between the cyborgs who are her main characters, and the mortal "monkeys" they must interact with. Here, two different races - one which is technologically gifted yet clueless about the results of their actions, and the other, more in tune with the world but definitely not builders and achievers - coexist in a world which also is full of demons (who, like in _Sunshine_, are more alien and other rather than than existing as beings of pure evil). How do they all get along? Well, very badly, it seems, and it looks like it's time for things to change.

I'm also in the middle of Jean Plaidy's _Madonna of the Seven Hills_, which is about Lucrezia Borgia, and Vera Brittain's _Testament of Youth_, so I'm still absorbed in other worlds. And damn, I love Brittain's writing. Very Sayers-esque, in that blunt yet descriptive 1930's manner that is equally capable of telling a story plainly, and also invoking a deep emotional response. I like the cadence and flow and language from 1930's British-authored books. It just seems to work particularly well for me.

Ok, damn. This is a long-winded essay of an entry right here. I'll leave my reaction to Pirates of the Carribean for next time (Yarr!) and just say, very smugly, that I picked up a copy of The Big Easy at Target for six bucks! Whoohoo! And if all goes well, I'll have TARcon pics up on Tuesday. Unless I'm hideously monstrous in them. Then I'll have to do some extensive photoshopping before anybody else will be allowed to lay eyes on them.

10:57 a.m. - 2003-08-29


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