LeGuin is perhaps a writer's writer. in many ways, her worlds and her thoughts, and most especially the words she builds them with, take precedence ov...moreLeGuin is perhaps a writer's writer. in many ways, her worlds and her thoughts, and most especially the words she builds them with, take precedence over character and plot. though the setting is bleak and utilitarian, this is an utterly beautiful book.
physicist Shevek hails from an anarchist communist world that split off from the infighting class structure of the nearby sister planet a couple hundred years ago. alone among his comrades, he journeys back to the homeworld (the why of that journey moves most of the novel), and experiences just how different the other side lives. clearly a tale written during the cold war, the home planet is neatly recognized as a possible substitute for decadent western culture, but the anarchists aren't exactly familiar reds. LeGuin's other strong point is her ability to genuinely convey the sense of otherness that an alien civilization would be. "alien" here doesn't end at a green guy with a ray gun, but is indeed a truly different way of existing. communication is problematic not because you don't speak the language, but because you can't comprehend the thought.(less)
the overly-pithily titled 'vicious' takes equal parts 'flatliners' and 'xmen' and a shaky-cam found-footage movie about phenomena just outside the nor...morethe overly-pithily titled 'vicious' takes equal parts 'flatliners' and 'xmen' and a shaky-cam found-footage movie about phenomena just outside the norm of experience and mooshes them all together into an incredibly compellingly written revenge tale. see, some pre-med students come up with a theory on how "ExtraOrdinary" people get made, then set out to test the EO theory, then everything goes wrong. each of these people is somehow burnt by the other, leaving a morass of righteous resentment to fester during the jail time. nobody here is lily-white, nobody here is moustache-twirling evil, and Schwab has a hell of a lot more poise and chutzpah than you'd expect from someone writing their first "adult" book. a baroquely gothic cover doesn't quite capture the mood here, but it is lovely.
this is now the nth time that amazon has told me that i'll really like a book, only i've never heard of the author so i leave it by the wayside, and then when someone else recommends it, POW. apparently, i should listen to amazon more in the first place since they know me so well? (less)
4.5 stars, brought up to 5 by the spectacular novella included as a b-side in this edition.
space opera is usually all about intergalactic wars and ba...more4.5 stars, brought up to 5 by the spectacular novella included as a b-side in this edition.
space opera is usually all about intergalactic wars and badassery, flying planet to planet all full of derring-do, and there's plenty of that here: a beautiful adventurer with all of the panache of Buckaroo Banzai swaggers her way through dive bars and the morgue assembling a star crew of delightful misfits, then sets off to save the universe.
'babel-17', though clothed as space opera, is additionally a novel of ideas. social mores, the power of language, and the particulars of space travel done in the most unique way since Five-Twelfths of Heaven make you introspect a lot more than your usual swashbuckler in space tale. it's not the plot or the characters that are the ultimate draw here, but the unique voice and vision of the author. I'll definitely be picking up more Delany in the future.
like the novel, "empire star" is a coming of age adventure tale that's about much more than funding the ultimate girlfriend. supercomputers that name-drop Oscar Wilde while helping a boy deliver a message he doesn't know spin into an amazingly twisty recursive not-quite-time-travel, not-quite-morality-play. lovely. (less)
not every tale in here is 5-star flawless, but so many of them are 6- or 8-star amazing, you have to round up. there's a real trick to catching the wh...morenot every tale in here is 5-star flawless, but so many of them are 6- or 8-star amazing, you have to round up. there's a real trick to catching the whole of a reader's interest in a short story, without the longer narrative's space to spin out exposition, and Johnson absolutely has that trick. each of the tales here takes a unique "what if?" and spins it out into uncharted territory, with the human response to the what-if being infinitely more important than any gee-whiz factor. there are themes here (love of animals, especially dogs, self-reliance, perseverance of the individual's dream through adversity), but no repeats.
"26 monkeys, also, the abyss' and the title story are masterworks. highly recommended. (less)
in which Miles turns 30, has to put away childish things, and has a moment of inner clarity:
"Some prices are just too high, no matter how much you may
...morein which Miles turns 30, has to put away childish things, and has a moment of inner clarity:
"Some prices are just too high, no matter how much you may want the prize. The one thing you can't trade for your heart's desire is your heart."
oh, LM Bujold, how exactly do you work this alchemy? Miles is easily one of my favorite characters ever written, and his stories are consistently delightful, even when making me squirm with utter discomfort. horrible, awful, brutal things have happened to his poor body; mean little things have happened to his stomped-upon soul, but he's neither awful nor mean nor stomped-upon in the end. he's been a swashbuckling adventurer for a few books now, but after his brush with death in the last one, going on as before just isn't an option. Bujold sets up a brick wall of inevitability for Miles, and then we watch, hearts in throat, as he dodges and weaves before crashing into it...only to reassemble the pieces into something different but probably stronger.
though 'memory' is more of an introspective thought piece (and, well, a rather good mystery too) instead of a military adventure, it's still a fantastically compelling read. all of these books are ones you must save for long car trips or dreary days locked into the airport, doling them out sparingly rather than devouring the whole series in a scant vacation week (any of these books are a sore temptation to call in sick to work). other books won't be so compelling, so bright-edged, for weeks after finishing this one.
i sincerely wish i could remember what individual or book group recommended this to me, because it's absolutely all it was cracked up to be....more4.5 stars.
i sincerely wish i could remember what individual or book group recommended this to me, because it's absolutely all it was cracked up to be. a dark, edgy heroine (she carries the ultimately fatal gene necessary for interstellar travel that allows her to manipulate in-between-space, so she's rarer and more valuable than imaginable, yet fatalistically damaged) zips all over known space with a rogue's gallery of off-the-grid mercs to figure out why the company that trained her gave out her burn notice. a cracking good adventure tale with a touch of romance, swarthy pirates, buggy aliens, and a light hand with social commentary thrown in to boot. (less)
there's a part in 'trainspotting' where the heroin junkie reminds the viewer that all of the "just say no" campaigns fail to mention whey they're addi...morethere's a part in 'trainspotting' where the heroin junkie reminds the viewer that all of the "just say no" campaigns fail to mention whey they're addicts in the first place: becase it feels good. burroughs chronicles his soulless life as an ad exec and his escapes into the bottle on both sides of that equation. you're there equally when the high life is a fun time, and for the horrible bottomings-out. chock full of places where you're laughing your ass off, half of which making you wonder if it's really ok to laugh at this, and deeply emotional without being cheezy. highly recommended to anyone who's ever lived with an addict. (less)
Tara was a talented student of magic until she managed to simultaneously graduate and get kicked out of the hidden schools. living back home with mom...moreTara was a talented student of magic until she managed to simultaneously graduate and get kicked out of the hidden schools. living back home with mom & dad just isn't going to work out, but fortunately an opportunity to work with a very prestigious firm opens up when the god of a foreign city dies under mysterious circumstances.
after reading some fairly mediocre stuff on airplanes lately, i was hoping for a comfort-food-type actioner UF thingy, and got this twisty little mystery instead. i was caught up in the story right from the prologue (read those few pages as a sample, they're very representative of what you're in for), and thoroughly enjoyed it. throughout the first 1/3 of the book, Gladstone tosses in shiny little gems of ideas, seemingly as brief gee-whiz moments, only to pick them back up as more developed plot threads several chapters later. in this way, you're steadily braided into the rich worldbuilding, and this is indeed a fantastic world to get lost in. characters are multi-layered, occasionally morally ambiguous, and all kinds of interesting.
i'll definitely be checking out what Tara's doing next.(less)
my library had this book marked as YA, and apart from the spare, straightforward language, i'd disagree. Donoghue has woven together most all of the c...moremy library had this book marked as YA, and apart from the spare, straightforward language, i'd disagree. Donoghue has woven together most all of the classic heroine-driven fairy tales (cinderella, snow white, sleeping beauty...) into a series of nested/linked retellings. some of the "new skins" these tales are wearing are looking at the same events from a different perspective, while others take off on a completely different and very feminist slant. the women in these stories are witches and innocents and victims and dreamers, and none of them have as simple or gentle an outcome as "happily ever after".(less)
once upon a time, my family all went to go see a traveling exhibit of smithsonian museum artifacts. the hugeness of the convention center was carved i...moreonce upon a time, my family all went to go see a traveling exhibit of smithsonian museum artifacts. the hugeness of the convention center was carved into smaller, more intimate rooms full of treasures, a maze to lose yourself in the detritus of human culture. walking into one of these rooms, the far end was dominated by a larger-than-life headless bronze, Rodin's "walking man". i was utterly thunderstruck by it; something about the incredible sense of movement and a persevering struggle against adversity spoke to me in a way that sculpture almost never does. my mom wandered back to find me some time later with tears streaming down my face, unable to explain the beauty in what she saw as a crudely roughed-out chunk of metal. "it's perfect," was the closest i could come to trying to describe that artist somehow managed to communicate in a language that my brain instinctively spoke.
this story is like that. i can't pinpoint exactly what about the style or theme makes my heart sing, but i get that same inexplicable sense of perfection (rightness??), and i find myself in tears at something that's neither sad nor deliriously joyful.(less)