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Four Books - Qualified Perceptions
Four Books
Halting State (by Charles Stross)
I enjoyed the setup, and the original premise (something like a robbery of the World of Warcraft auction house!). I love the phrase "tunnelling TCP/IP over AD&D." I don't quite believe in a near-future in which you can wander a character from MMORPG to MMORPG; I think game designers are too invested in having people play from the beginning to let them "start" with a high-level character that they imported/converted. But it did make me think about it for a while, which was interesting in its own right. The book is written in the second person, which I usually find off-putting, but in this case it felt more like the way a story is told in a computer game - you do this, you do that. The plot gets a little muddly for me - more spy than detective - but it stayed reasonably enjoyable all the way through. Three stars.

The Geographer's Library (by Jon Fasman)
tallou described this as "an alchemy mystery of middling quality" that I might like. That's pretty much accurate. :) The supporting characters are more interesting and colorful than the main characters, and the litany of objects is entrancing. I always loved reading the descriptions of the artifacts in the Dungeon Master's Guide. Two and a half stars, but with nice artifacts.

Unshapely Things (by Mark Del Franco)
Kind of a Shadowrun novel, actually. Elves and fairies and flits live in the world after the Convergence; a Boston ex-druid cop tries to track down a serial killer doing a ritual. It's interesting, but not compelling; I get the feeling that things like the elf/fairy war backstory, and How Magic Works, are a little bit clearer in the author's head than they are in mine, and there are a few odd turns of phrase like "It felt like being hit in the chest by ten fists." Two and a half stars.

Red Seas Under Red Skies (by Scott Lynch)
This is the sequel to The Lies of Locke Lamora, and it is a worthy one. More pirates, less con men. I really liked the first book, and I really like this one. He has a really nice knack for what to do (or not do) with the guns he has hung on the wall (I seem to have noted the same thing in nearly exactly the same words in talking about the first book, so I think I can count it a particular hallmark of Lynch's craft): the book opens with a Dramatic Scene of Treachery, and then goes back to the beginning to explain how it gets there. The story starts with things that make the treachery seem plausible, and then it drifts away from that, but then it drifts back in a different direction, so you never really know. There's a burning ship foreshadowed, and then there's a sort of lame burning ship, but then there's an epic burning ship later. On the other hand, the pirate queen has two kids, and they are never clichedly taken hostage with knives to their throats, which I also thought was the right choice. My only small complaint is with the pacing; it takes quite a while to move from cons to pirates, then there's slow going and character development among the pirates, and then the hanging plots at the end wrap up rather quickly, so it's a little uneven, while Locke Lamora was more of an exercise in ever-increasing tension. He has a knack for quotability, too, and I have saved a line for use someday in Comet. Four and three quarters stars.
(Note - at this point I'm reading books I have rather than books in the MITSFS, so feel free to ask to read them. If it got under four stars, you can have it outright; four stars and above you can borrow. :) Low scoring books will otherwise usually get posted to paperbackswap.)


6 comments or Leave a comment
rifmeister From: rifmeister Date: November 24th, 2008 04:33 am (UTC) (Link)
I would borrow the Locke Lamora sequel. Did I give you Locke Lamora in the first place?
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: November 24th, 2008 04:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Yup, you gave me Locke Lamora. :) I'll bring Red Seas Red Skies to work to sit on top of the Yiddish Policemen book for you!
arcanology From: arcanology Date: November 24th, 2008 03:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wandering a character from RPG to RPG is this idea that comes up periodically in the circles of designers who think these are chatrooms, not games.

Also there are people who think that the only thing Tolkein needs to be perfect is furry cybermercenaries.

Both of these sets of people should not be allowed to write games.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: November 24th, 2008 04:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
The way the converting was described seemed more market-driven than designer-driven. Sort of like a logical extension of the ability to buy a high-level character from gold farmers, so you can sort of transfer from one world to another with an intermediary step of "convert to money". I just think it would be designer-resisted pretty strongly.
arcanology From: arcanology Date: November 24th, 2008 05:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh right. I wasn't that impressed with "Halting State" so it's dropped out of my mind again.
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: November 26th, 2008 06:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
The second set of people should arguably not be allowed out of their padded cells.
6 comments or Leave a comment