OK 2.5 stars. Granted, The Lies of Locke Lamora is a hard act to follow, and it must be said that this volume strives mightily to live up to those expOK 2.5 stars. Granted, The Lies of Locke Lamora is a hard act to follow, and it must be said that this volume strives mightily to live up to those expectations. But all of its busyness leads to some poor plot decisions. As most other reviewers have noted, the second act twist that converts Locke and Jean into amateur pirates is... misguided at best, a failed hail mary pass at worst. In fact, it makes so little sense that the characters even remark on what a weird decision it is.
There is still a lot to like in Lynch's writing. He's funny and witty and has a good handle on his main characters, but there's little sense that he knows where this series is going or what exactly he wants to say with it. For better or worse, Locke is a character who requires an insurmountable challenge and a lofty goal, and this outing doesn't quite supply it. ...more
A very enjoyable space opera that brought to mind Iain M. Banks's Consider Phlebas. Built around a compelling conceit (that (view spoiler)[the galactiA very enjoyable space opera that brought to mind Iain M. Banks's Consider Phlebas. Built around a compelling conceit (that (view spoiler)[the galactic hegemon has poured her consciousness into thousands of bodies and has slowly become divided against herself (hide spoiler)]), the book doesn't disappoint with regards to the the usual space battles, mega-AIs and planet-hopping intrigue that you expect.
Leckie manages to make her AI-protagonist, Breq, human enough to be relatable, if still slightly alien. I thought the gender-pronoun thing was interesting and fun, and not nearly as controversial as some idiots on the internet made it out to be. It's always nice to see sci fi interrogate social norms (I mean, that's what the genre is for, right?), but the way language filters our perspective on the world should be familiar to anyone who has ever learned a second language. ["br"]>["br"]>...more
Wool is a fantastic concept for a subterranean dystopia, but the execution was hampered a bit by bland characters and a few plot holes.
The world of WWool is a fantastic concept for a subterranean dystopia, but the execution was hampered a bit by bland characters and a few plot holes.
The world of Wool is a narrow, 150-story underground silo where humans have burrowed to escape an environmental catastrophe that has rendered the Earth's surface toxic and uninhabitable. This subterranean society has evolved many unusual cultural features--including restricted reproduction, a planned economy and strict taboos regarding the world above. For example, citizens who are too curious about the upper world are expelled from the silo and sentenced to "clean" the sensors that connect the silo to the outside world. A narrative (and physical) space this tightly constrained is naturally set up for a disruption, a revolution, a dam bursting. But Wool smartly dispatches with one such potential narrative in the very first novella.
The author takes a lot of care with his worldbuilding, but a few points miss the mark. (view spoiler)[Crucially the central concept of "cleaning" made no sense to me. We are told that the stability of the society depends on the cleaners actually doing what is expected of them once they are expelled (witness what happens when Jules refuses). The nefarious IT cabal has rigged the visual display in the suits so that the cleaners experience a false revelation of freedom once they reach the surface. But given that fact, it makes no sense that 100% of the cleaners would still go through with the cleaning before running off into the false utopia they've been shown. Why wouldn't at least one of them just decide to walk away? It seems like a big risk and a pretty thin thread to hang an elaborate conspiracy on. (hide spoiler)]
The weakness of the central premise mirrors other weak points in the narrative. These highly specific totalitarian dystopias are maybe easy to construct, but fragile and consequently too easy to knock down in the second half of the book. The silo never feels or moves like a real city. The revolution, when it comes, feels too quick. The resolution and the unexpected hero feel too convenient. The book poses interesting questions about power and society, but never really reaches a good answer. The result is a highly entertaining storyline that generates a lot of action and excitement and frantically turned pages, but ultimately ends up more or less where you thought it would go in the first place.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Another fun Cormoran Strike mystery, slightly darker than The Cuckoo's Calling but anchored as before by the well-crafted main characters. My sister sAnother fun Cormoran Strike mystery, slightly darker than The Cuckoo's Calling but anchored as before by the well-crafted main characters. My sister says she envisions Cormoran Strike as Mad-Eye Moody transplanted into modern London, and once you think about it you won't be able to unsee it....more
The third book in Lev Grossman's trilogy feels like a highly satisfying victory lap rather than the emotional envelope-pushing of the first two volumeThe third book in Lev Grossman's trilogy feels like a highly satisfying victory lap rather than the emotional envelope-pushing of the first two volumes. And there's nothing wrong with that! It's also the most C.S. Lewis-y of the three, drawing on the structure of The Last Battle and delving deep into the nuts and bolts of Fillory. I will confess to being conflicted about (view spoiler)[how Alice is brought back from niffin-hood by Quentin's undying love and/or magic. Don't get me wrong, it was great to have her back as a character and it was an undeniably satisfying move, but it also seemed a bit like a cop-out, or mere wish-fulfillment, or a loss of nerve on the part of the author. (hide spoiler)] Not my favorite of the trilogy, but it's hard to complain too much if the weakest link is this entertaining....more
This is the story of the first decade or so of Greenpeace* as told by one of its many co-founders. The organization first made its name in the 1970s tThis is the story of the first decade or so of Greenpeace* as told by one of its many co-founders. The organization first made its name in the 1970s through three major campaigns: witnessing nuclear tests in Alaska and the South Pacific, as well as direct intervention in the Russian whale hunts off the coast of California and the Newfoundland seal hunt. The startling image of Russian harpoons firing directly over the heads of activists in zodiacs is one I recall from my childhood. This book tells the story of the how those people decided to put themselves in harm's way for another species.
Greenpeace is now a large, international organization that campaigns on a wide variety of environmental issues, but it still retains in its DNA the emphasis on bearing witness and non-violent direct action as responses to injustice and environmental degradation. There are negative elements found here too that the organization also wrestles with today, including widespread sexism, appropriation of Native American culture (evidenced by the title), and a lack of connection with broader movements for racial and social justice.
Still the book is a surprisingly fun bit of storytelling. Robert Hunter was originally a journalist so he has an eye for what makes a story interesting -- jokes, personalities and the like. An acolyte of Marshall McLuhan, Hunter understood that the goal of activism was to seize the public imagination by telling compelling stories. Inevitably there is some amount of whale-related hippie mysticism you have to slog through, although Hunter himself is the first to roll his eyes. He doesn't seem like the sort of guy to take himself too seriously. At its best, Warriors of the Rainbow reads like an adventure story. Given their full-speed-ahead attitude and the number of risks they took, it is frankly amazing that no one died (at least until 1986 when the French government sunk the Rainbow Warrior, killing photographer Francisco Pereira).
I admit that based on the cover I was expecting a pulpy, Flash Gordon-style space opera, replete with 1950s social mores. So it was a pleasant surprisI admit that based on the cover I was expecting a pulpy, Flash Gordon-style space opera, replete with 1950s social mores. So it was a pleasant surprise to read this loose, dreamlike, funny, occasionally subversive batch of stories. Bradbury gets a lot of mileage out of the vein of ambiguity running through the collection, which is refreshingly counter-cultural for science fiction. (In a way, this reminded me of Crowley's ambiguous fantasy novel, Little, Big.)...more