Friday, April 05, 2013

Three Novels

I read three novels in the last week or so.

First, "Ship Breaker", by Paolo Bacigalupi. This is set in the same future dystopia as "The Drowned Cities" discussed here. It also has in a supporting role the half-man Tool who was one of the lead characters of "The Drowned Cities". From where Tool is, this seems to be before the other novel. I mentioned that this is being distributed as a Young Adult novel. The protagonist is indeed a teenager; he helps rescue the beautiful plutocrat "princess" and maybe wins her heart. Potentially another YA component: he has serious issues with his father. In fact, that relationship is so dark that I would not recommend this book for young teens.

Bacigalupi has made himself the master of this future dystopia, where the rising seas have vastly disrupted civilization and Monsanto rules the world. It is a chilling vision that he portrays. The narrative arc of the story is simple (single threaded), the pacing is good, it is an easy and enjoyable 336 pages.

Man, one thing I don't like about ebooks is how hard it is to figure out how many pages are in the book. I usually have to go to Amazon or B&N. I wish they would fix that.

Second, "Bitter Seeds" by Ian Tregillis. I think this was a $2.99 special I saw in the TOR blog. Basically, engineered, electrically powered Nazi superheroes fight British warlocks invoking elder gods in the Spanish Civil War and WW II. The story is told with narratives from both sides. It is well written and is a definite page turner. There is a sequel out and a third one due to be released this month. I will definitely read those. 352 pages. Amazon sez it is Tregillis' debut novel -- definitely a good start.

Third, "A Time Of Changes" by Robert Silverberg. I'm not sure how I picked this one up. Probably on sale and I thot, I haven't read Silverberg in a while, and I've been enjoying his stuff for 40 years, let's give this a try.

Then found it is a 2009 reissue (with a new preface by the author) of a 1971 release. I don't remember reading it then which is surprising because I was reading all of Silverberg in the 70s.

The story is of a planet whose culture/religion is based on complete abnegation of the self. Using first person pronouns is "talking dirty". The protagonist rebels against this, catalyzed by his meeting an Earthman who introduces him to a drug that allows people to share minds. You can't love others until you love yourself. The catchphrase of his new movement is "I love you" which you would never say under the old system.

Kind of fun to go back to the hippie ideals of the 60s -- taking drugs and opening up to others lead to a world of peace and love, yay! Of course, it didn't really work out that way, but, it was still fun to revisit those days of heady hope. 304 pages.

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