This book is a bit difficult to sum up, which may explain the somewhat inaccurate blurbs and summaries I've read, and the common use of "steampunk" toThis book is a bit difficult to sum up, which may explain the somewhat inaccurate blurbs and summaries I've read, and the common use of "steampunk" to describe a book that doesn't meet any of the criteria for the steampunk genre I'm familiar with.
So this isn't a steampunk novel. It is also not a "high fantasy." And it isn't a story of an "alternate America," either—the world it takes place in is so different from ours in all ways that it would be hard to call it an "alternate Earth," let alone point at part of it and call it an "alternate America." It has the trappings of a Western, but not the soul.
What it is, is original. Apart from a few chapters where the characters hike through an endless, unchanging wilderness, it is engrossing and enthralling. It is not satisfied with easy answers and pat moral solutions.
If Gilman writes a sequel I will be all over it....more
When I first read Dune fifteen years ago, I was blown away by the deep philosophical questions it raised, the wheels within wheels within wheels of itWhen I first read Dune fifteen years ago, I was blown away by the deep philosophical questions it raised, the wheels within wheels within wheels of its intrigue, and its epic, galaxy-spanning plot. I wasn't quite as enamored of it this time, now that I'm a bit more sophisticated myself and can recognize most of the elements that bowled me over at fifteen for what they are: narrative devices, some ad hoc and unmotivated and some employed with more skill. What remains for me, however, is the feeling of rich history with which Herbert imbued the Imperium, and the sense of wonder at watching the creation of the hero Muad'dib. While it's not everything I imagined it was as a teenager, it remains a seminal work of epic science fiction that everyone should read.
(Also: Herbert and his editor apparently didn't know that the proper time to use an exclamation point in a non-comedic work is NEVER. Maybe that wasn't true in the sixties, though?)...more
I'm not sure I "got" this book. There were parts I really enjoyed, and parts that just left me puzzled and annoyed. Maybe I need to re-read it? I'm ceI'm not sure I "got" this book. There were parts I really enjoyed, and parts that just left me puzzled and annoyed. Maybe I need to re-read it? I'm certainly going to read more Vonnegut, so in that sense it was a successful experience....more
Ursula K. Le Guin and her writing have had a formative influence on me ever since I first cracked open A Wizard of Earthsea when I was ten or so. SheUrsula K. Le Guin and her writing have had a formative influence on me ever since I first cracked open A Wizard of Earthsea when I was ten or so. She has expanded my mind and expanded my horizons. These are some of her very finest speculative-fiction short stories from 1962 to 1974—I can't believe there were some I had never read before, including a few that are tied to her most famous novels. Among the best in this collection: The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, Winter's King, Things, The Field of Vision and The Day Before the Revolution....more
First impression: Great writing, terrible characterization, illogical plot, interesting premise, tantalizing mythology/magic/science, anticlimactic enFirst impression: Great writing, terrible characterization, illogical plot, interesting premise, tantalizing mythology/magic/science, anticlimactic ending.
But! He comes so highly recommended!
But–but! That doesn't matter if his writing doesn't work for me.
But-but-BUT! The book is so stylized that the above negatives were probably intentional! After all, it's clearly not only a pastiche of at least three different styles/genres but also an exercise in deconstructing narrative and genre at a very basic level.
But-but-but-but I don't care. It gets three stars, because I didn't like any of the characters, I didn't believe in their relationships, I didn't believe the sexy ones were sexy (especially the men), I was annoyed at the most egregious lacunae in the plot, and what I did like didn't make up for all of that.
But-but-but-but-BUT: I will read more Wolfe, to see if I ever "get" him....more
I remember reading this years ago and loving it, but it didn't hold up as well this time. It just seemed more over-the-top than I remembered--and I crI remember reading this years ago and loving it, but it didn't hold up as well this time. It just seemed more over-the-top than I remembered--and I cringed and rolled my eyes through the "romantic" parts. Anyway. It's still fun, even if it's a bit dated....more
For some reason this took me a very long time to read. I just kept losing focus, losing interest, losing the thread. I have been very stressed out latFor some reason this took me a very long time to read. I just kept losing focus, losing interest, losing the thread. I have been very stressed out lately, however, so I'm not sure it's the book's fault.
Cyteen is a semi-inhospitable world that has become the center of the Union, a far-future federation of human space colonists who have left Earth, the Alliance and the power-hungry Company behind. The main power on Cyteen is Reseune, a scientific facility that researches personality creation, meme propagation and cloning, and which creates azi, genetically engineered human clones who are programed from birth to hold certain values, follow certain scripts and fill certain positions in society. And the power in Reseune is the dynamic and charismatic Ariane Emory, a certified genius whose political and scientific clout has earned her enemies and friends across known space.
When Ariane Emory is murdered, therefore, the power vacuum is so severe that the ultimate project is set in motion at Reseune: Emory shall live on in the form of Ari, her clone, who will be taught not just to fill Emory's shoes but to be Emory in every sense of the word. Because some of Emory's theories and projects are too important to leave to anyone else...
The premise allows Cherryh's fascination with personal motivation, deep-core values and cultural norms to come to the fore. Ariane Emory was a terrible person--or at least a brilliant, driven, ruthless, extremely focused scientist and politician who put many things ahead of kindness, mercy and the individual well-being of others. In the opening sequences we watch Emory maneuver both in the government and at Reseune to get what she wants, manipulating every situation, every person around her, and crushing and even psychologically maiming anyone who stands in her way.
Then Emory is struck down, and we get to see Ari, her clone, grow up at Reseune, with her caretakers trying their hardest to apply all the pressures--even the most devastating--that the original Ari had to deal with as a child. At the same time, Ari slowly begins to learn the true history and motives of her "predecessor," and we gain a measure of sympathy even for the perpetrator of the horrific acts we witness at the beginning.
In the end I really liked this book. It did feel a bit dated in certain aspects, however. I was a bit puzzled by the author's handling of homosexuality, for instance. Several of the male characters have long-standing relationships with others of the same sex, but they are never referred to as gay or homosexual. Instead, code words are used--including, at one point, the word "misogynist/misogyny", which made me blink in horrified amusement. And it's not as if bisexuality is the norm, because heterosexuality is explicitly mentioned. Ah, well. Even if the homosexual characters are treated as an aberration, they at least get to have long-lasting love relationships....more
Chock-full of derring-do, sexy times, rocket rides and harsh governmental oppression, The Black Dossier reunites several characters from Moore and O'NChock-full of derring-do, sexy times, rocket rides and harsh governmental oppression, The Black Dossier reunites several characters from Moore and O'Neill's seminal League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, this time in 1958. The fascist era of Big Brother is winding down, and a secret black dossier on Britain's most famous covert operation is stolen from the former Ministry of Love by a youthful-looking pair of spies. The pair's story in the present intertwines with excerpts from the dossier, which details the exploits of Mina Murray, Allan Quatermain, Captain Nemo and their associates throughout history.
Even more familiar characters appear: the opening scenes introduce us to a cocky British secret agent, addressed only as "Jimmy," who dresses in tuxedos, thinks he is god's gift to women, and doesn't bat an eye at meeting a woman named "Oodles O'Quim." Later, Jeeves, Bertie and Gussie Fink-Nottle battle a terrible being named "the Great Cool Lulu" in Bertie's Aunt Dahlia's backyard. And Fanny Hill's famous memoirs receive a detailed update.
NOT TO BE MISSED: The Ministry of Love's required pornography, "Pornsec: SexJane: Workbelt Crimepoke!"
If you loved the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and want another fix, look no further. If you haven't read LEG, this isn't for you: you wouldn't understand anything anyway....more
I'm slowly working my way through a stack of recommendation from one of the YA librarians where I work, and so far The House of the Schorpion is my faI'm slowly working my way through a stack of recommendation from one of the YA librarians where I work, and so far The House of the Schorpion is my favorite. The near-future world of depravity, deprivation and corruption Farmer has created is frighteningly real, and the characters are fully rounded and believable. Matt's slow coming-of-age is both languorous and tense, as he learns how to be who he is: first, a favored clone in the household of El Patrón and later, a full-fledged human being....more