A strange book, Among Others is a story about dealing with loss, growing up, and loving Science Fiction and Fantasy. It's told as diary entries of the...moreA strange book, Among Others is a story about dealing with loss, growing up, and loving Science Fiction and Fantasy. It's told as diary entries of the main character, Mor, with most of the story taking place over about a five month period in late 1979/early 1980.
There were aspects of the story which I really liked. Others became tedious, particularly the never-ending litany of the latest SFF books Mor had read, a who's-who travelogue of the genre as it stood around 1980. After awhile the constant litany of books and discussion of authors becomes less of an homage and more of a condemnation of *you*, yes you the reader, for not having read or being familiar with every single one of these. It's certainly not meant that way, but that's what it starts to feel like, and it becomes somewhat gimmicky. (I did rather like her discovery of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, however...a book she received as a Christmas gift from a friend which she never would have read on her own, but felt obligated to read so she could make an honest claim to have done so, and then ended up loving it).
Magic in the book is kept deliberately mysterious, and in fact, a theme of the book is that magic doesn't work as well or as simply in the real world as it does in fiction. Despite this, Mor seems completely knowledgeable about how to do magic, and seems capable of doing whatever she wants at will, with no explanation or logic as to how or why she knows how to do it when she simultaneously claims not to understand it almost at all.
I enjoyed the book, but I certainly didn't love it, and I'm not sure who I'd recommend it to. Probably a very hit-or-miss book for most people.(less)
Although well written, I've found some of Miéville's earlier, renowned works (Perdido Street Station and The Scar) to be extremely frustrating reads....moreAlthough well written, I've found some of Miéville's earlier, renowned works (Perdido Street Station and The Scar) to be extremely frustrating reads. In contrast, The City & The City is excellent and gripping with a fabulous "City" construct (virtually Miéville's signature at this point) that explores a number of interesting themes all in the context of what is otherwise essentially a murder mystery. (less)
I had very mixed reactions to this book. On the one hand, Bacigalupi paints a type of apocalyptic future very different from that of other authors, ta...moreI had very mixed reactions to this book. On the one hand, Bacigalupi paints a type of apocalyptic future very different from that of other authors, tackling subjects such as genetically-modified organsisms (GMOs) and global warming in ways not really seen before. On the other hand, the characters are almost universally dislikable. They are uniformly racist, which becomes frustrating after awhile (although to be fair, its equal opportunity racism since at least four different races are all portrayed as being completely disdainful of every other race), even if it may be sadly realistic. I found it hard to care about a story in which everyone was so unpleasant (even though a few were less so than others). The most sympathetic character by far (at least major character) is the titled "windup girl", but even she failed to really capture me (although she improved quite a bit by the end). I understand the hype about this book and why it has won so many awards, but it's simply not a book I'm likely to have any interest in re-reading in the future. I'm giving it four stars because of the depth of the novelty, rather than because I actually found it entertaining.(less)
Mirror Dance is quite a bit different from the previous books, in part because Miles is less of a direct character, with a great portion of the book f...moreMirror Dance is quite a bit different from the previous books, in part because Miles is less of a direct character, with a great portion of the book focused instead on another character, Mark (I won't specify who Mark is so as to not spoil previous books). It's a surprising book which predominantly focuses on identity (both self and external), a theme also touched upon (to a lesser extent) in the previous chronological novel "Brothers in Arms".
My biggest problem is that Mark should be a sympathetic character but for at least the first third of the story I found him much less so. He did eventually grow on me (as he grows upon himself), but somehow the early transition didn't work very well (I suppose some could argue that was the point, but I'm not convinced).
Overall, though, an excellent story which diverges a bit from the rest of the series, although maintaining quite a bit of the action and plot twists one would expect.(less)
Written in the late 70's, Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang starts with the impending collapse of civilization due to climate change, war, and disease (...moreWritten in the late 70's, Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang starts with the impending collapse of civilization due to climate change, war, and disease (you know, pretty much all the things going on right now), and one large family's attempt to ride out the disaster. When fertility rates drop precipitously, the family turns to the only thing they can to keep humans alive...cloning. And this is where the story really gets interesting.
It's easy to see why this book won so many awards. It's an incredible look at the potential outcomes of a clone society. The biology is not perfect and I could nitpick any number of elements, but these minor issues are nothing relative to the grand vision of the tale. A great read.(less)