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Syd
Posted: Thu Mar 18, 2021 8:38 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12798 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
Really liked Nnedi Okorafor's new novella/short novel (it's 158 pages, so you can go either way: I go novella on this one, but novel for Binti: The Night Masquerade). It's set in the same universe as "The Book of Phoenix" and "Who Fears Death," and is much better than "Phoenix" but not as good as "Who Fears Death," which is a masterpiece.

This one is a couple of decades, at most, in our future and concerns a young Ghanan girl (aged 7 -14 years during the novel) who discovers a possibly alien artifact that gives her the ability to cause death, which makes her feared and cherished (since she can give a painless death to the suffering). She travels, for years, experiencing hope and tragedy, and it's very moving, and the best written story Okorafor has ever written. If it doesn't get a Hugo and/or Nebula nomination, I'm embarrassed for the voters. (Though, as I mentioned, do you nominate it as a novella or novel?)

EDIT: Oops. The title is "Remote Control".


Last edited by Syd on Wed Oct 20, 2021 11:36 am; edited 1 time in total

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bartist
Posted: Sat Jun 26, 2021 4:37 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6872 Location: Black Hills
https://locusmag.com/2019/05/liz-bourke-reviews-permafrost-by-alastair-reynolds/

Enjoying this nonlinear plotted novel (which is also one short enough to place a foot in novella territory).
I've never seen time travel approached in quite this way.

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bartist
Posted: Sat Jun 26, 2021 4:51 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6872 Location: Black Hills
The local library is purchasing the Binti series, which I want to read. Making friends with jellyfish is a useful skill.

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bartist
Posted: Sat Aug 28, 2021 7:30 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6872 Location: Black Hills
"American Gods" is a masterpiece of magical realism, and has become one of my favorite novels about the soul of America. It is the tallest of tall tales, yet somehow resonates with a strong ring of truth and characters so fleshed out and fully realized that I now miss them.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2014/jul/29/book-beach-american-gods-neil-gaiman

There are no must-read novels, as Borges pointed out once, but I think Borges would tell you in no uncertain terms to read this book.

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carrobin
Posted: Sun Aug 29, 2021 2:20 am Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 7795 Location: NYC
Agree about "American Gods," so complex but so imaginative and fascinating. (I was reading it in a restaurant one evening after work and the waiter started a conversation about it--his favorite book at the time.)
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Syd
Posted: Mon Aug 30, 2021 10:16 am Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12798 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
I have an embarrassing confession and I'm seeking out sackcloth and a bell and training my voice to say "unclean:" although I have read a number of novels about Sherlock Holmes and seen many of the movies and TV shows based on him, I have never read anything by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Thus it was over a hundred pages into Katherine Addison's "The Angel of the Crows" to realize two of the major cases are retellings of 'A Study in Scarlet" and "The Sign of Four." I finally decided to check when "The Sign of the Four" appeared on a document in a woman's possession. (Mary, Watson's future wife, except here, Watson is named J. H. Doyle, and I still have no clue what "J.H." stands for. I know where the Doyle comes from.)

In any case, this is Sherlock Holmes in a parallel London, with lots of supernatural aspects. Holmes is Crow, an Angel who is a consulting detective, and a lot more likeable than Holmes. Angels come into three categories, the Nameless, who are sort of lost souls and no real identity, Angels, who are blessed and have a particular "habitation," so you might have the Angel of Islington, Angel of Charing Cross, etc., and the Fallen. Doyle was a doctor in Afghanistan until he was maimed by a Fallen and sent home, and was cursed to be a...you have to read.

So this is Sherlock Holmes with good and Fallen angels, werewolves (I hope we get the Hound of the Baskervilles), vampires, hellhounds, ghouls and more. A lot of these are first mentioned when Doyle starts trying to figure out what can be doing those murders in Whitechapel.

I find this totally addictive and recommend it highly. I suspect it may get annoying if you're too familiar with the original stories, but maybe not. Addison is a very good writer. The name is a pseudonym, and the other books under it are "The Goblin Emperor" and "The Witness for the Dead," which are well worth checking out, particularly the first. I hope she continues in this vein with original plots.

If you like this, I recommend Neil Gaiman's "A Study in Emerald," a Holmesian story within the Cthulhu Mythos. It's in his collection "Fragile Things." but I don't recommend buying the book, which is mostly lesser Gaiman. You can certainly find it elsewhere, and it's a tour de farce.

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Syd
Posted: Tue Sep 07, 2021 10:31 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12798 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
We eventually do get to "The Hound of the Baskervilles," which I am familiar enough with without the original, and "The Speckled Band," which I was totally unfamiliar with. We also have a Jack the Ripper case for which having a hellhound handy makes the solution easier. Oh, and there's a wonderful twist on Moriarty, who, if you've read descriptions of him, you won't be surprised is a member of a vampire hunt (i.e. a nest of vampires). More surprising is that the head of each hunt is a female vampire. No Irene Adler in sight and I'm not sure how she would fit in.

I hope Katherine Addison writes more in this vein, too. And maybe some arteries as well.

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bartist
Posted: Wed Sep 08, 2021 3:06 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6872 Location: Black Hills
I know the response here, on vampire themes, has been...anemic, but I did grab a copy of TAotC at the PL a couple days ago. We'll see how long I last. Generally, I've started to find something in recent takes on the vampire theme, like a Norwegian miniseries called Post Morten (sort of a meld of "Fargo" and "Six Feet Under"). I will comment in Current Film, if I feel it's worth raising the dead.

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carrobin
Posted: Wed Oct 20, 2021 2:23 am Reply with quote
Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 7795 Location: NYC
Back when I did freelance proofreading for Random House et al., I proofread Colin Powell's autobiography. It was actually very interesting, but the part I recall most clearly was something that hasn't been mentioned in anything the media have covered--not that it's relevant to his career--but fascinating.

When he was a kid and they were living in a dismal area in the Bronx, his mother and her sister both had dreams about a number--I don't remember what, but say 298. The next day was Sunday, and they all went to church together, and the first hymn was number 298 in the hymnal. The sisters looked at each other and agreed; after dinner, they went to the numbers guy and each bet on 298. And they won thousands--I don't remember exactly how much, but they both bought houses in a better neighborhood.

It was very matter-of-fact and believable, like the rest of the book. But I'm sure a lot of readers were skeptical.
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bartist
Posted: Sun Nov 07, 2021 9:12 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6872 Location: Black Hills
Started Jeff Vandermeer's Southern Reach Trilogy, nearly through the first book, Annihilation, which is a thousand times better than the film adaptation. VDM writes like a haunting hybrid of EO Wilson and HP Lovecraft, which I found maybe a little overwritten at the start, but as I traveled farther into Area X, the style made more and more sense. Intense, sensual in a fungal earthy way, profoundly creepy, we are drawn into a disturbing riddle that becomes an ache to tear away some veil that mysteriously shrouds everything. A luminous work that transcends mere genre.

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Syd
Posted: Fri Apr 29, 2022 11:20 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12798 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
bartist wrote:
Started Jeff Vandermeer's Southern Reach Trilogy, nearly through the first book, Annihilation, which is a thousand times better than the film adaptation. VDM writes like a haunting hybrid of EO Wilson and HP Lovecraft, which I found maybe a little overwritten at the start, but as I traveled farther into Area X, the style made more and more sense. Intense, sensual in a fungal earthy way, profoundly creepy, we are drawn into a disturbing riddle that becomes an ache to tear away some veil that mysteriously shrouds everything. A luminous work that transcends mere genre.


It's not hard to be a thousand times better than the film adaptation. I hate that film, and it's not helped by Jeff VanderMeer's relentless self-promotion on Facebook. I don't trust any of his opinions of his own works.

I'm just now getting into Naomi Novik,who won the Nebula a few years ago for"Uprooted". What got my attention was "A Deadly Education," which is takes place in the Hogwarts from Hell, in which half the students are not expected to survive till graduation, and half of the survivors are expected to die DURING graduation. This is because the graduation hall is full of monsters, and during the school year, the school itself gets infested. This breeds a certain callousness to death,not helped when one of the students is a monster slayer which means the surviving monsters are very, very hungry.

Though you might prefer Uprooted, which has our heroine unexpectedly chosen (kidnapped) by the local Wizard, who takes (kidnaps) one local woman every ten years,then gives them a purse of silver as a dowry (and never lays a finger on them). But this time, instead of choosing the obvious candidate, he chooses our heroine, who is not obviously talented or beautiful, for reasons that immediately became apparent. This novel immediately made me think of Lois McMaster Bujold's "The Paladin of Souls," but I liked this one better.

Now reading "Spinning Silver," with some difficulty since so far it's not that interesting. Maybe if you're heavily into what it was like to be Jew in medieval Poland, you might like this. Although it took me
a while to get into "Uprooted" and I really wound up liking that one. It explodes around page 42.

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Syd
Posted: Fri Apr 29, 2022 11:22 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 21 May 2004 Posts: 12798 Location: Norman, Oklahoma
Novik also has a popular series about dragons in the Napoleonic Wars, but I haven't read any of those.

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bartist
Posted: Mon May 02, 2022 9:56 am Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6872 Location: Black Hills
The notion of a darker and more Darwinian Hogwarts sounds interesting. Thanks for the heads-up.

Uprooted would be more what I'd probably pick up first.

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bartist
Posted: Mon May 02, 2022 9:59 am Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2010 Posts: 6872 Location: Black Hills
On an utterly different note, I finally read Kim Stanley Robinson's Ministry for the Future, his massive and idea-packed novel of near future global warming. It's a little too expository for me, and jam-packed with characters scattered across the globe, but its power is undeniable.

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