This has been a month of transitions for the secret cabal of Glibertarians who run the site. Location changes, states of being changes (J.W. has finally had her top surgery and would like to be known as Jedwina going forward), so most of us haven’t done much more reading than rental, tax, medical consent or estate paperwork lately. So if you’ve read something, please fill the howling void left behind and let’s give Jedwina some great suggestions to pick for next month.
Not a whole hell of a lot to be honest. I keep chipping away at “Roadside Picnic,” which makes video games like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Metro 2033 make more sense, but I always have a hard time with the cadence of Russian genre fiction (translated to English) that I can’t quite put my finger on. I burned through a bunch of the Nightwatch series by Sergei Vasilievich Lukyanenko a few years back, and while I enjoyed them immensely as fluff sci-fi/fantasy, something about the storytelling tripped me up while reading them. I’ve also been picking away at Aristotle’s Rhetoric which is equal parts interesting and dry. Some of the allusions to classical figures allude me for I am not well educated, but it’s been very neat to read up on the art and science of making good arguments.
I re-read most of Nathan Lowell’s Trader’s Tales from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper they’re not super complex books, but kind of easy to get into. Its basically Merchant Marines in Space. Some might find them incredibly boring, but I really like them. I also read Smoke and Summons, kind of a weird, steampunk meets magic book about a woman who is somehow bound to and can be forced to channel a demon. She escapes from her evil magician owner and falls in with a thief who just happens to be the son of the head of the church. It was an interesting read, but obviously part of a much larger work. Written by the woman who wrote the Paper Magician, which, come to think of it is how I would describe that book. Oh, and I re-read Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. I wish he’d spent a third less time describing TEOTWAKI and a third more time describing the post-human future. Oh, and a metric fuckton of Microsoft Azure documentation.
Old Man With Candy
As you can imagine, my normally limited reading-for-pleasure time has been more limited than normal. But being sent back to the frigid prairies last week, I had books with me on the airplane, chosen less because of an urge to read them, but what’s tolerable among the few that have been unpacked. It had been decades since I had read the Foundation trilogy and my memories were not as fond as the books’ reputation. I spied Second Foundation among the small pile of available books and grabbed it. It’s readable but… that’s about it. It suffered from every fault I remembered: too stuffed with stilted and unlikely dialog, cardboard characters, predictable plot twists. Meh.
No excuses needed for Frederik Pohl’s The Siege of Eternity, a sequel to The Other End of Time. I think Pohl was incapable of writing a bad book. This isn’t great Pohl, but it is in every way a better book than Second Foundation. And as a libertarian, I enjoy imagining a future where rebellion against government has broken out everywhere, in this case at the instigation of theologically-driven aliens as part of their attempt at conquest.
Backed up to read Charles Stross’ The Delirium Brief before finally reading the newest Laundry Files novel, The Labyrinth Index. Still an enjoyable read, but I think Stross is getting bored with writing the series. Another installment without Bob, this time focusing on his psychobitch ex-girlfriend Mahri and her attempt to deal with the United States version of The Laundry, variously referred to as The Black Chamber or the Nazgûl. Anything more would be spoilers.
It read a wide smattering of short stories about cannibalism and then Shane Stadler’s nasty little foray into torture porn, Exoskeleton. If you’ve been longing for a mash-up of Martyrs, Carrie, and The Boys from Brazil, this is the answer to your prayers…
Jason Fagone’s Ingenious is a story about several of the colorful characters competing in the automotive X-prize: 100 MPG (or equivalent, for battery power) in a car that could be mass produced. The author knows almost nothing about cars or engineering, so this is mostly a tale of the teams building the things, and which of their teammates they don’t get along with, who they love, and blah blah blah. The book isn’t long on environmental doom and gloom, but it’s definitely in there. Some of the teams surprise you with a decent finish in the competition despite their duct tape and bubble gum build. Others, attempting to use a Harley-Davidson engine to spin a generator, drop out early with completely unsurprising problems: too loud, too much vibration, and too unreliable. But made in America, so, you know, fuck yeah. Overall the book is an engaging read, but you won’t learn anything about vehicle engineering.