Sunday, July 29, 2012

More Reading

I don't actually read all the time. I do work (which does involve reading technical articles and books). I exercise -- biked 43.6 miles this morning, temperature not bad at all, but my legs are talking to me. There are actually several other blog posts rolling around my noggin, but, want to take these two books back to the library, so they go to the top of the stack.

"Black Hills", by Dan Simmons. Simmons has written award-winning science fiction, fantasy, mystery and horror. Lately he has been doing kind of magical realism with a lots of historical fun facts. "The Terror" was a British Northwest Passage expedition stranded in the ice (with weird eskimo gods running around), blogged here. "Drood" was cults in the London of Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, who is the narrator (and author of "The Moonstone", considered the first detective novel).

This one is a young Native American who touches Custer right as he dies and who becomes infested with Custer's ghost. Several timelines, including one of Custer's, and the NA working on Mount Rushmore. I learned a lot about the Black Hills. In some ways tho, this novel seemed more straightforward than the prior two, which really kept you guessing as to what was going on. It also seemed a little shorter than it could have been (486 pages). There were a couple of threads, in particular that with the NA's wife, that seemed a little sketchy.

Still, Simmons cannot but produce a readable and enjoyable novel, which this is. I liked how he worked in a one sentence (anonymous) appearance by Richard Baedecker from "Phases of Gravity" (blogged here), and the Greek philosophy from "Ilium" and "Olympus". 4 stars.

"Eastern Standard Tribe", by Cory Doctorow (2004). I have been really enjoying his recent stuff, championing worker's rights for the digital. This story is more like a novella. The central character is reminiscent of Charles Stross's Manfred Manx -- every conversation winds up having several patentable ideas in it. It moves fast, a little sketchy, but great insight into modern tech. 4 stars.

Speaking of of Charles Stross, he and Doctorow are supposed to have a collaboration "The Rapture of the Nerds" out RSN. Definitely looking forward to that one.

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