I had higher hopes for this classic of science fiction, a kind of allegory of the Vietnam War. But it had too dated a feel for me (1970s), and a bit oI had higher hopes for this classic of science fiction, a kind of allegory of the Vietnam War. But it had too dated a feel for me (1970s), and a bit of a sexist and homophobic undercurrent to it. I think the author was trying to be bold and futuristic with the gender and sex relations, but he's no Ursula Le Guin, that's for sure. It went by as a sort of realistic nightmare of everyday military bureaucratic-ness, the horrors of being killed all the time as a foot soldier, and the soldier's disconnection from society when he returns. Not as crazy about this one as Charles was. :)...more
Read this due to librarian Neil Holland's rec. I enjoyed this collection of stories, but the themes are generally pretty similar - the awkward, misfitRead this due to librarian Neil Holland's rec. I enjoyed this collection of stories, but the themes are generally pretty similar - the awkward, misfit child, and the magical elements of childhood, often set around the 1950s, compassion and cruelty mixed together. Most of the stories have magical realism elements.
Some standout stories were Basement Magic, a twist on the wicked stepmother theme; Triangle, featuring two homosexual scientists, a Nazi artifact, and a disturbing ending; Intelligent Design, about a bored young God and his grandmother; Time Gypsy, where a gay scientist travels in time and meets the scientist who inspired her as a child - who also turns out to be gay, and cute; A Taste of Summer, where a bored child meets a food scientist with some unusual skills; Guys Day Out, about a dad and his Downs Syndrome son (have tissue handy); and In the House of the Seven Librarians, about a decommissioned Carnegie Library and the seven librarians who remain in it - and the little girl who is paid as an overdue fine. Librarians should definitely check out that last story....more
Pretty good memoir about a middle aged American woman whose husband dies unexpectedly, and so she is spurred to fulfill a lifelong dream of living inPretty good memoir about a middle aged American woman whose husband dies unexpectedly, and so she is spurred to fulfill a lifelong dream of living in Paris. Eventually she purchases a residence there - it'd be a pretty good place to grow old, she feels. It's fun reading along with her as she struggles to get used to her new life and furnish her new place, and since she is a very social person, also meeting (on paper) the new people she befriends including a new elderly romantic interest nicknamed "the Count". She's an author of a "Born to Shop" series of guide books on shopping in other countries, and her shopping perspective is both interesting (because she's descriptive and has adventures seeking things) and annoying (since I am not very interested in these apparently famous brands she describes). ...more
Dr. James Herriot meets Ireland and humans instead of animals, basically. Light cozy fiction about a young Irish doctor in the 1960s who takes on a joDr. James Herriot meets Ireland and humans instead of animals, basically. Light cozy fiction about a young Irish doctor in the 1960s who takes on a job in the tiny Irish village of Ballybucklebo as medical assistant to a larger than life, curmudgeonly Dr. Fingal Flaherty O'Reilly. Enjoyable, though a bit cheesy and predictable. Lots of small town Irish atmosphere, quirky rural characters and phrases. The audiobook got a bit wearing. Might have been better as a print read....more
This was a pretty great apocalyptic classic sci fi novel. Amazing that I never read it before. It's a straightforward fast moving story, with a capablThis was a pretty great apocalyptic classic sci fi novel. Amazing that I never read it before. It's a straightforward fast moving story, with a capable hero who happens to be a bit erudite which is a nice change in apocalyptic protagonists if you ask me. The world ends (for most) with an amazingly spectacular meteor shower that almost all of humanity watches. Sadly, the green flares of the spectacle burn out nearly everyone's optic nerve and blinds them soon after. Our hero, Bill Masen, is one of the lucky few who retains his sight, because he was thoroughly bandaged while healing from eye injuries and so missed the meteor display. Probably the world might have muddled along even with blindness, after much turmoil and fighting over resources and breakdown of civilized behavior, except for. . . the triffids! Not aliens bent on destroying humanity, no, actually they're just another human science project gone awry. They are carnivorous bioengineered plants spread all across the earth which can "walk" and stalk and kill humans and other animals with venomous whip-like stinger. Bill & his fellows must find a way to survive & recreate society if they can. The horror themes of this novel are rather timeless - you have your technologically caused catastrophe in the form of the meteor showers, which seem to have something to do with satellites, plus a bioengineered disaster - plants gone terribly wrong, and yet they seemed so useful, what with their valuable oil and some simple management practices! Unless you can't see them because you are blind. Oops....more
Gillian Bradshaw is one of my go-to authors when I need a comforting reread that I know I will enjoy again, such as when I am home with the flu like lGillian Bradshaw is one of my go-to authors when I need a comforting reread that I know I will enjoy again, such as when I am home with the flu like last week. This, along with Island of Ghosts and The Sand Reckoner, is one of my favorites by her. She usually writes historical fiction but this one is mildly futuristic sci fi. In it, young, gifted classical musician Val has been yanked in by the police because the British government wants tests run on her brain. You see, as a baby she was the recipient of a brain regeneration treatment which now has been found to cause dangerously erratic behavior in a few recipients, and there has been a bit of a media frenzy about it. She's been avoiding the tests, because she dreads what may happen to her musical ability if they try to fix things. Val finds herself consigned to a specialized, fancy brain study facility with a misogynistic and menacing doctor, her only ally a young post graduate assistant. But allies, enemies, gifts and hazards, sometimes they aren't what they appear....more
This was a reread for me, after finally remembering enough plot details to sleuth it out in the library's Novelist database. It's a blend of futuristiThis was a reread for me, after finally remembering enough plot details to sleuth it out in the library's Novelist database. It's a blend of futuristic planetary sci fi, fantasy, and mystery, with romantic elements. It's about a young folklorist student who gets stranded on another planet, Ivory, while on vacation from university. She does tarot card readings in the bustling marketplace to make ends meet & gets hired by a young man who is Ivory's version of a minor lord. He is a magician who needs someone to run his tarot cards for him as part of his magic jobs, preferably someone without family or friends because it's a hazardous job - someone appears to be trying to block him from the cards' use by killing his readers. I enjoyed the charcters, mystery/romantic/travel journey plot, and the vivid depiction of the planet and its ruthless, but vivid and thriving culture. This omnibus has a sequel which was pretty good, another mystery with the same characters as their relationship progresses, and a third, weaker follow up story which leaves relationship plot elements hanging....more
This is a historical mystery set in Egypt at the time of Ramses III. Features a pretty classic gumshoe character, the ladies like him and he's a troubThis is a historical mystery set in Egypt at the time of Ramses III. Features a pretty classic gumshoe character, the ladies like him and he's a troubled yet standup guy, determined to get to the bottom of the murder of a minor priestess though powerful forces around him don't seem to want that. Some problematic bits about strong women, and the detective's apparent alcoholism. Not sure if I'm on board with the author's treatment of both. But the interesting Egyptian historical aspects and the fast moving storyline mean I'll probably check out the second in the series....more
This would be a good readalike for Stephanie Meyer's The Host. Features a young alien on her first job-of-sorts on a new planet who has to reveal herThis would be a good readalike for Stephanie Meyer's The Host. Features a young alien on her first job-of-sorts on a new planet who has to reveal her shapeshifting talents to a human male when trouble erupts on the planet. More off-planet adventures and trouble ensue....more
To continue my travel memoir kick. . . this was a pleasing memoir with a lovely literary style of writing and wonderful descriptions of food and cookiTo continue my travel memoir kick. . . this was a pleasing memoir with a lovely literary style of writing and wonderful descriptions of food and cooking. Good for foodies. The author is an American chef and writer who while staying in Venice meets a "blueberry eyed" Venetian man who looks like Peter Sellers and who falls in love with her at first sight. She falls in love with him too, and moves to live in Venice with him, in a decidedly unromantic apartment that she redecorates & then they remodel together. This book hit most of my happy notes: lush Italian cooking & drink descriptions (and American actually), beautiful descriptions of foreign places and people, with some history thrown in (but not a huge amount), a romantic story but also realistic one about adjusting to married life with a near stranger, and descriptions of house and apartment remodeling done by a woman with style and a real sense of what the Germans call "gemütlich" (comfortable, cozy, homy). I have her next book, "A Thousand Days in Tuscany", on hold now at the library. Yay....more
This is a really interesting science fiction novel set about 40-50 years in the future. Shades of Flowers for Algernon, but rather philosophical. Lou,This is a really interesting science fiction novel set about 40-50 years in the future. Shades of Flowers for Algernon, but rather philosophical. Lou, the protagonist, is an highly intelligent autistic man who fences with "normals" as a hobby and works for a tech company doing pattern analysis in a unit of well-paid autistic staff. They are the last generation of autistics, as now a cure can be given to autistic babies.
Now a new boss threatens the unit, because he doesn't believe they deserve the special work environment, with a gym where they can bounce to chosen music to calm themselves, special allocated parking spaces, etc. He tries to force them to undergo an experimental medical procedure to become "normal", in exchange for keeping their jobs. Will they succeed in fighting back, given how difficult it is for them to communicate with "normals" and advocate for themselves, and is the procedure something they want to try regardless? The details of what it is like to live as an autistic person is very educational, and Lou is a very appealing protagonist. Recommended!...more