There are few books I'll re-read with some regularity. This is my third reading, I've seen part one about 30 times (work), and I still manage to chuck...moreThere are few books I'll re-read with some regularity. This is my third reading, I've seen part one about 30 times (work), and I still manage to chuckle at the jokes and find new meaning within the script and characters. Angels in America is a brilliant piece of work. (less)
I liked the Compass Rose, but found it best to read slowly. I read one or two stories in a day, if I had the energy and picked the book up at all. Som...moreI liked the Compass Rose, but found it best to read slowly. I read one or two stories in a day, if I had the energy and picked the book up at all. Some stories were more difficult to comprehend or get through than others. "Schrödinger’s Cat" reminded me why I didn’t go into science, but the anthology shows off Le Guin’s academic range. One of my favorites is "the Author of the Acacia Seeds" with its look at languages. Most of the stories ranked a 3 or 4 out of 5.
the Compass Rose is a mixed bag of twenty short stories of fiction, science-fiction, fantasy, speculation, and academia. Le Guin warns that they "tend to go off each in its own direction", but they were previously printed in magazines and books before being compiled under one binding. Grouped into sectioned directions, they vary from family matters to the sciences and from serious to humorous. Similarly, the writing varies from data to prose, while "Intracom" is a script. On one hand, this shows how versatile a writer Le Guin is, but on the other, some may feel deterred by the inconsistency.
The anthology gave me the opportunity to explore more of Le Guin’s writing, which I generally really like. I do not recommend it as an introduction to Le Guin’s writing or sci-fi. The Lathe of Heaven or the Left Hand of Darkness would better serve those purposes. If one likes fantasy and/or young adult, I suggest the Earthsea series. The Compass Rose isn’t for everyone, but then tastes and perception of literature are relative.(less)
Ravens in the Library is an excellent collection of stories by Laurell K. Hamilton, Seanan McGuire, Neil Gaiman, and several others. I look forward to...moreRavens in the Library is an excellent collection of stories by Laurell K. Hamilton, Seanan McGuire, Neil Gaiman, and several others. I look forward to opening its magic again and again. Created as a fundraiser for bard extraordinaire S.J. Tucker, the anthology just goes to show that fairy tales with happy endings still happen.(less)
I really liked the urban fantasy/fairy tale noir/mystery. It's witty, gritty, compelling, and a refreshing change of pace from other changeling books...moreI really liked the urban fantasy/fairy tale noir/mystery. It's witty, gritty, compelling, and a refreshing change of pace from other changeling books I’ve read. I didn't read any for years because the same power struggles with differently named characters got stale. Rosemary and Rue's imagery, plot, and characters drew me in deep and held me fast. McGuire's writing is intelligent, humorous, and best of all, imaginative. I've read other works by McGuire, who has an eerie knack for portraying the grim and deftly creates original stories from old fairy tales, which is no easy feat. Thanks to McGuire I look forward to reading about changelings again and finishing the October Daye trilogy. Recommended.(less)
The Dickens-like sci-fi/urban fantasy is grim, gripping, and I couldn't put it down so read it in 4 days. It may be my first book by Swanwick, but it...moreThe Dickens-like sci-fi/urban fantasy is grim, gripping, and I couldn't put it down so read it in 4 days. It may be my first book by Swanwick, but it won't be the last. Definitely re-readable and recommended.
That saying about how it’s the journey that counts comes to mind. The ending was completely unexpected, or maybe I had a vague idea but was too caught up in the twists and turns to give it much thought. The first part of the story goes from A to B while the second part zig-zags and cross-cuts. Some may be turned off by the disjointed configuration but it works. Like Jane, the reader is kept off balance and unsure of what’s going to happen next.
Swanwick crafted a unique fairy tale with a colorful cast of elves, dwarves, and other fantasy regulars. In some ways they’re archetypal, but in others they aren’t. I didn’t find it annoying because again, it works. The tiny ant-like creatures were fascinating, in part because of their community but more so because of their role in the story. The Iron Dragon’s Daughter is a far cry from the “happily ever after” stories and so is refreshingly reminiscent of the Grimm brothers. The vivid imagery of darker subjects also brings to mind Catherynne Valente.
A central image is the möbius strip, which like the sought after Spiral Castle “folds in upon itself. This recursive complexity extends through at least thirteen dimensions”. Summarizing the main theme, one of Jane’s professors says:
“The world may be perceived in three states, which states may often seem to be a cross-purposes with each other…That which a child sees, in which bread is bread and wine is wine. The second state is consensus reality, that st of conventions by which we agree that bread is a meal and wine is camaraderie. The third is the examined state, that with which our colleagues in the Schools of Sorcery deal, the interplay of forces which they hold to be the ultimate reality. Yet let us ask ourselves, what lies beyond them all? What is the true state of what we might call hyperreality?”
Similarly, there’s more to Swanwick’s fairy tale than meets the eye. A layer will be peeled back and something new revealed with each read. I needfully want my own copy so I can dissect it at my leisure without having to give it back.(less)
1984 is an intense, scary, and brilliant masterpiece. It's extremely thought provoking and has made for some interesting conversation. After reading i...more1984 is an intense, scary, and brilliant masterpiece. It's extremely thought provoking and has made for some interesting conversation. After reading it, I understand why it’s been banned and made so many "must read" lists.
Written in 1948, the literary critic’s last novel is heavily social commentary. 1984 portrays a perverse, totalitarian government through the omnipresent Big Brother regime. When one’s not working or participating in community activities, one is at home where Big Brother can keep a watchful eye through the telescreens. Nationalism is extreme on both sides of the spectrum. Freedom and individuality has been stripped away. Censorship and sexual repression are used as control methods. Energy can be used for better things than pleasure, like assisting the government. Seen as unnecessary and dangerous, language has been minimized to good and ungood while other words like justice and free have been erased.