The electric-book-reading setup on the home front is in reasonably good order. The family shares an Amazon account and a Kobo account, and both those vendors are generous in the number of different reading devices you can have authorized at once. Lauren and I both use Android tablets of one size or another to read, and have few complaints. Also, we’re reading lots of books, so I should start reviewing a few. Just because this is a batch review doesn’t mean that I’ll always do that.
Cops vs. Fabbers · First, Rule 34, by Charles Stross. Stross is prolific; some of his books make me smile, others I don’t begin to get. It’s odd (and impressive) that one author can fire shots effectively at so many points of the compass.
Anyhow, I really like this one. It’s an amusing conspiracy/police-procedural number set in the Scotland of a near alternate future. Stross is a geek and thus plausible on what the Internet of the not-too-distant future might look and feel like.
His lead character Liz Kavanaugh, cynical but warm-hearted detective with a busted career, really carries the story. To make this sort of thing work, having a scary supervillain is helpful, perhaps even a crutch; but Stross keeps the crutch-work smooth and stays mostly within the limits of suspension-of-disbelief.
I’d buy it again.
Sweaty Agribiz Wars · The Wind-up Girl, by Paolo Bacigalupi, combines a dystopian vision of a future ruined by industrial agriculture gone wrong, an atmospheric backdrop in and around a sweltering Bangkok, and a sympathetic android sex slave.
It’s action-packed, intensely-flavored, and will touch your heart in places. I think anyone interested in Thai culture and history, android sex slaves, or envirodystopianism would really enjoy it. I certainly did.
Western Magic · The Native Star, by M.K. Hobson, is really not like very much anything else. Its alternative-history combines the Old West, zombie outbreaks, magicks both high and low, steampunk flying machines, and an extended chase scene.
I enjoyed it but can’t really say it’s a landmark. The characters are strong, but the story felt contrived more often than not. In a well-crafted plot, what happens should feel either inevitable or shocking; many of the turns here had me thinking “well, OK, I suppose”.
Divine Sex · No, really. In The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N.K. Jemisin, there is an extended, sweaty, sexual excursion involving a woman and a real actual deity. It’s ridiculous.
The writing is sharp and fun and I think I’ll give Jemisin another try, but I’m having a hard time recommending this book. The world she’s built, and its capital “Sky”, are stuffed with imagination and surprises, but then she neglects most of it; those who participate in the action are exclusively aristos and deities. The Hundred Thousand Kingdom’s 99% should move to Occupy Sky; I hope Ms J gives them a chance, next time out.
Disclosure · The book-links here are Amazon affiliate thingies and the affiliate is my spouse, so if you go buy some she’ll make a buck or two. Or, even better, as someone once did, follow such a link and then buy some Herman Miller chairs; we got free books for a long time.