Thursday, December 15, 2016


Novel + novel + novel.

As I mentioned last time, 1st up was "The Chemical Wedding" by John Crowley. The full cover says "The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz A Romance in Eight Days by Johan Valentin Andreae in a new version by John Crowley". Phew! So Andraea wrote this allegorical, alchemical tale, 1st published in 1616 in Germany. It is written as a journal being kept by a monk named Christian Rosencreutz - German for Rosy Cross, also known as Rosicrusians, which has been a popular name for christian ceremonial magic / mystical sects apparently since the 15th century. Crowley retells the tale, updating the language and commenting. A lot of Crowley's comments dwell on how bizarre the story is. I totally agree, it is completely off the walls, but generally in somewhat of a charming way.

The book was only 211 pages, it was an odd, quick read - but fun. I got most of the references to ceremonial magic symbolism as I had studied it some during my "explore all religions" phase when I was maybe 21-23 YO. Most of what I read then was early 20th century Rosicrusianism, Waite, Crowley, Tarot. Interesting, I remember that the red fluid and white fluid mixed to create the elixir of life / philosopher's stone were female and male respectively. In this book red is masculine and white feminine. I guess you shouldn't expect consistency with made-up stuff.

The book was illustrated, and I found the illustrations mostly unappealing. They really didn't do much for me - I guess I was spoiled by Arthur Rackham, Kay Nielsen, and Edmund Dulac. Also, some of them just seemed inappropriate - like the picture of a statue of Venus sleeping which has hair curlers.

Next up, "Babylon's Ashes", by James S. A. Corey, The Expanse #6, 544 pages. Wow, it didn't seem like that long a book. It started out slow but then picked up pace well. The ending, tho, I thought was weak - it somewhat fell into the old sci fi "deus-ex-machina" trap. But it was a relatively happy ending.

I think the novels are now being influenced by the SyFy screenplays. The addition of 2 new crew members to the 4 we knew well from the 1st 5 novels I like, but it somehow seems influenced by TV.

I thought this novel totally broke my "100 pages per narrative thread" rule for novels - but I didn't realize it was 544 pages long. Let's do the math anyway. Here's the chapter count per narrator - there are 53 chapters, plus a prologue and an epilogue featuring characters who take no part in the main action of the book.

  • Pa 10
  • Filip 7
  • Holden 11
  • Salis 1
  • Clarissa 1
  • Dawes 2
  • Avasarala 3
  • Prax 3
  • Alex 2
  • Naomi 4
  • Jakulski 1
  • Fred 1
  • Bobbie 2
  • Vandercaust 1
  • Amos 1
  • Marco 2
  • Roberts 1
So the 100 page rule would say each narrator should get 10 chapters. Only Pa and Holden make that. 17 total narrators? Seems to make it harder for the reader. Roberts is introduced as a narrator in chapter 44. Maybe this is more screenplay thinking? I wonder what these numbers are like for Game of Thrones?

Finally, "Broken Monsters", by Lauren Beukes, 2014, 449 pages. From urban sci fi to time-traveling serial killer, Ms. Beukes has wound up now writing full-bore horror. I reviewed this in Kobo, here's that review:

This is a very well written book, very well paced with great characters and great background development. I suspect the internet tech overlay will become dated quickly, but it works now.

But, it is definitely horror, and it made me realize I really don't like horror novels. I was totally creeped out the 2nd 1/2 of the book, and I really don't like being creeped out. Too old maybe. I'm more of a bright shiny future kind of guy.

If you like horror, then Joe Bob definitely sez, check it out.

Her prior novel, "Shining Girls" was somewhat headed in this direction, but did not totally creep me out the way this one did. This novel also has more police procedural overtones to it. It seemed to be exceptionally well researched. I guess I just don't like horror as a genre.

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