30 May 2005

May's Reading

A Brief History Of The Human Race by Michael Cook. Similar to Guns, Germs and Steel in some ways, in that it's a general overview of all human history and why things turned out as they did. However, Cook's take is much more readable. It's because of his approach and program, I think. His program is just to explain what we know about what has happened (i.e. not push his theory of why it happened that way). He also has a nice structure - each chapter covers a main topic and then has two interesting case studies in that area. He picks the case studies well, they're all interesting and most of them are really fascinating (like the bizarrely complex marriage rules in one Australian culture). It is not, however, very deep. Still, it such a nice coverage of the topic that I think pretty much every human ought to read it.

Form Line Of Battle, Enemy In Sight, Signal - Close Action and The Inshore Squadron by Alexander Kent. More Bolitho action. Still good. Although they are pretty formulaic, there's enough variation to keep them interesting. Bolitho is also developing in an interesting way as time passes.

The Last Guardian of Everness by John C Wright. A damn good fantasy novel. Hits a lot of the same places (indeed, some of the same characters) as Gaiman's work and has a nice dose of Lovecraftian dreaming in it too. I think Wright does a better job of making the world fit together than either of those two, however. And there are evil selkie pirates! I'll need to buy this one, possibly the moment that the next one comes available.

How To Be A Bad Birdwatcher by Simon Barnes. A nice book about appreciating birds. Barnes provides anecdotes and explains aspects of doing this well but really it ends up being about appreciating the world and gives him a chance to explain his views on the meaning of life and so on. Very good, at least for someone like me who is already a bit of a bad birdwatcher.

Iron Sunrise by Charles Stross. Sequel to Singularity Sky and overall a better book. The two main characters return to deal with a difficult situation caused by somebody blowing up a star. Read this.

Citizen Cyborg by John Hughes. Too much thought to sum up here. I need to read this again and do a real review then. Summary: Hughes' conception of democratic transhumanism is how the future should be. To be honest, it ought to be the present.

The Human Front by Ken McLeod. A really fun little take on UFO conspiracy theories, from the point of view of a Glasgow communist (of course).

The Quiet Invasion by Sarah Zettel. Slow starting but ultimately quite satisfying first-contact science fiction. Interesting setup, with aliens settling Venus... to the surprise of the human scientists living there.

Lurulu by Jack Vance. Sequel to Ports Of Call, set is his space opera (kind of) universe along with the Araminta Station series and a few others that I can't recall. Simply, it is another Vance novel, i.e. hilarious and brilliant.

I also read a couple of Hellblazer comics, Son of Man (Garth Ennis) and High Water (Brain Azzarello). Both are extremely brutal, misanthropic and nasty. The Ennis one is a more satisfying story. The Azzarello story left me feeling kind of dirty to have just read the thing, and didn't have anything in there to make it worth exposing yourself to that.

Make Tea Not War's reading this month.
Month's tally: 14, Total this year: 88.

1 comment:

Violet said...

Hi Gamester. What a pity my boy doesn't have a blog - I'm sure he'd be able to review dozens of graphic novels for you.