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Three reviews (five books) - Qualified Perceptions
firstfrost
firstfrost
Three reviews (five books)
Soon I Will Be Invincible (by Austin Grossman[*])
I love mad scientists, from the ones that soaked into me out of popular fiction to the ones I got to write. (I might forget all the rest of Five Minutes to Midnight, but I can still quote Captain Capacitor. And Dr. Cain, who never failed to volunteer when we needed a crazy plot carried out...). So, I really can't help loving Soon I Will Be Invincible, which is a clever, sincere, understated homage[**] to the Mad Scientist Evil Genius, and the superheroes who fight him. It's pretty much the same niche as The Incredibles, but I loved that too. The book alternates between chapters from the POV of Dr. Impossible (the mad scientist) and Fatale (one of the heroes) and also alternates between present day and flashbacks (origin stories, reminisces, explanations); the resulting patchowork works quite well, though I would have liked a little more present-day plot in addition to the backstory.
My favorite understated quote: "One of Blackwolf's remote bugs recorded the event, sending a frame back once every second or two."
My favorite funny quote: "My style of work takes a lot of preparation. I build things and test them out. I have to order parts, or cast them myself. I have to pull all-nighters to debug my robots' pathfinding routines before an invasion. It isn't that interesting to other people."
Four and a half stars. (And kirisutogomen, I order you to read this.)

*: Another Looking Glass alum, though I think he was elsewhere by the time I got there.

**: Wikipedia says the book is a "spoof and homage". I didn't detect enough mockery for it to be a spoof. But then, I thought Urinetown was a parody, and was scolded by someone who said it was obviously a homage, so maybe my internal metric is awry.

The Green Lion Trilogy: Child of Saturn, the Moon in Hiding, The Work of the Sun (by Teresa Edgerton)
Another pseudo-Arthurian genre series (is there a better way to describe this sub-species of fantasy, which has the High King and the order of knights and one or more of the old wizard and the evil sister/son and the Virtuous but Tempted Knight, and so on?) from back in the eighties. It has a lot of fond humor to it, and an interesting flitting-anecdote style that grows closer to the plot as the series progresses. But the central relationship annoyed me with its passive-agressive "You've hurt my feelings so I'll hurt yours by pretending I don't care" cycles, and I never really understood the rules that magic was following. (That might have been part of the point; the young wizard is always saying she isn't sure, and doesn't understand why this or that happened - it was interesting to have the main wizard have no confidence or omniscience, but by the end I mostly agreed with her that I wasn't sure why this or that was happening either.) The cover art for the third book is kind of hilariously bad and not-matching-the-book, and looks oddly like the artist's friends uncomfortably modelling Renfaire clothes. Three stars, with flashes of four-star characters among the second rank.

Bridge of Dreams (by Chaz Brenchley)
Part one of a duology ("Selling Water by the River"), I don't have the second yet. I do wish books would make their part-of-a-series nature a little clearer, though I can't complain too much about this one; it says it's Book One in very small print on the title page, and the back cover has a review quote about "the new series from Chaz Brenchley." I like the flavor of the world, of the oppressed city and the oppressors, the two sides of the Arabian Nights coin: dirty street urchins and gilded harem cages. I like the character relationships, which are neither cliche nor immutable. The book is structured in alternating chapters, following the street urchin and then the young bride, in different cities. The vastly different points of view made the setting richer, rather than simply good versus evil. But I wish the two stories had linked up, though; as it was, it was more like two books set in the same universe, which was good for the world but bad for the story, which ended up feeling disconnected. There are a lot of unanswered questions, also, and it's hard to know how much to mind without knowing which answers would come in the second book. Call it three and a half stars.

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twe From: twe Date: July 9th, 2007 10:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

Soon I Will Become Invincible!

As it happens, I just ordered my own copy a couple hours ago!
From: brilit Date: July 10th, 2007 10:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Soon I Will Become Invincible!

As it happens, I just finished reading it this morning. :)

Fun, amusing, and a quick read. I like the behind-the-scenes view of things, including behind-the-mind thought processes. Definitely enjoyable, though not literature.

And yes, there are certain people who really should read it.
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: July 11th, 2007 03:36 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Soon I Will Become Invincible!

I have NO time for FRIVOLITY! I am approaching a CRUCIAL JUNCTURE in the PROGRESS of my ENDEAVORS! I cannot AFFORD to WASTE TIME reading FICTION when I am so CLOSE to FULFILLING MY PLAN!!!


can i borrow it?
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: July 11th, 2007 03:00 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Soon I Will Become Invincible!

can i borrow it?

Yup. I'll bring it Friday if you're going to be there and mjperson is done with it. :)
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