Dystopian futures are a dime a dozen in SF, and while there are some brilliant exceptions (MaddAddam) most of them are unoriginal variations on 1984,Dystopian futures are a dime a dozen in SF, and while there are some brilliant exceptions (MaddAddam) most of them are unoriginal variations on 1984, and various kinds of nuclear apocalypses. LeGuin, however is one of the few writers who defies the happy utopias are all alike dictum, with her wealth of diverse worlds and societies, most of which seem to have things figured (or at least have a much better handle on how to be a society than we in the real world do).
Of course if I'm listing why you should read LeGuin, I could go on with the laundry list of poetic prose, wonderful world building, nuanced cultures, representatively diverse protagonists, well developed characters which is refreshing in well researched and coherent SciFi ... all of this suffused with humour.
I also love the fact that there's no set order to read the books in Hainish cycle, because they're all interlinked and you really have to re-read everything in a few(several?, all?) different orders to fully glean everything, makes it all feel so much more like real history or mythology, than well ordered trilogies, and series. Though this collection stands out pretty well as a stand-alone anthology by itself....more
The writing is brilliant as you'd expect from anything by Valente, but I somehow just couldn't get into this book, partly because I guess the audiobooThe writing is brilliant as you'd expect from anything by Valente, but I somehow just couldn't get into this book, partly because I guess the audiobook format and listening to it in fragmented snippets just wasn't right, but I also felt that the story was a bit too rambling for my tastes at the moment....more
There is no disputing that David MItchell can write ... really well. I've always found his skill with imbuing each character with a distinct and recogThere is no disputing that David MItchell can write ... really well. I've always found his skill with imbuing each character with a distinct and recognizable, and authentic voice quite unparalleled. However, in both Cloud Atlas, and de Zoet, this skill is put to use in service of great storytelling, exploring worthy themes or posing deep questions. From exploring Japan at the cusp of industrialization or a possible dystopian endgame to runaway consumerism and the tribal post-apocalyptic society that follows. This book feels ... fluffier. (view spoiler)[ To be sure there's an interesting section on a post-oil scarcity-ridden society in the near future after catastrophic climate change severs electronic linkages and society regresses to a sort of medieval collection of scattered hamlets, but too much of the bulk of the book is spent on a Dan Brownish tale of Holly Sykes vs the cartoonishly evil order of the Anchorites. There was so much potential to blur the lines of morality (a la Pullman) and pose interesting questions about the nature of evil, and the Nietzschean tragedy of becoming the monsters we fight; I did expect that until the very end when the abrupt denouement in the supernatural free-for all cage match. Mitchell, is clearly having some fun with the genre - there's even an explicit call out to Dan Brown (Aphra Booth is accused of reading him), but what's the point of playing with trashy fiction if you don't even subvert the standard tropes? Overall quite underwhelming :( (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal. The trouble with a lot of fantasy is that it's mostly copying and to make it worse from the same set of usualGood Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal. The trouble with a lot of fantasy is that it's mostly copying and to make it worse from the same set of usual suspects - Tolkien, Greek/Norse mythologies, dragons and the rest. In this mix it's refreshing to read fantasy that steals (in the most positive possible sense of that term) from ancient Egyptian beliefs without exoticising the hell out of it.
It's an interesting enough story with plenty of theusualgenretropes, but what actually made it really interesting for me was the author's self "interview", where she talks about eurocentricism in fantasy fiction and explains a lot of her conscious choices to combat it....more
I read this book for a course, and I think I wouldn't have gotten as much out of it were it not so. I really enjoyed the nonlinearity and playfulnessI read this book for a course, and I think I wouldn't have gotten as much out of it were it not so. I really enjoyed the nonlinearity and playfulness of the structure and given the paucity of sources, questions about the fate of the Khazars can perhaps only be answered in this fashion. What really troubled me after reading the book however, is Pavić's serbian-nationalist politics and the fact that the whole book is written with the Khazars as a sort of stand-in for the Serbian people. Written a few years before the break-up of Yugoslavia, this book fed into the right-wing ideas of loss of identity unless xenophobic actions are undertaken against the Other. One can equivocate all one likes about separating the art and the artist, but in this kind mess it is really hard to clearly disentangle the two....more