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Three books, including one I am very enthusiastic about - Qualified Perceptions
Three books, including one I am very enthusiastic about
Infoquake (by David Louis Edelman)
On the plus side, this book is quite remarkable for making me care about not-very-noble characters who are mostly motivated by greed and business ambition. On the minus side, while I was expecting it to be part of a series, I did not expect it to stop quite where it did (which felt to me like 90% of the way through the big plot). Douglas Hofstadter had a thought experiment about books that disguise how much is left to go in the story, by padding the end of the book with blank pages, or vague nonsense that otherwise resembles the text. In this case, Edelman disguises the end with a large glossary and timeline, so the sudden stop did in fact surprise me. I find the world (memecorps, fiefcorps, bio/logic programming) interesting, and I love "The Defense and Wellness Council" as a group. I would have liked more about what was up with the Islanders, and what the memecorps did. Three and three quarters stars; I have deducted half a star for the sudden stop at the end.
Hunter's Run (by George R. R. Martin, Gardner Dozois, and Daniel Abraham)
What a combination of authors! It apparently started with Dozois's ideas, got written up a bit more by Martin, then sat in a drawer for twenty years before being psychologically tweaked by Abraham and bounced back to Dozois for one last polish. They describe it as three new authors collaborating, with a gap in the middle. It works remarkably well, and while I could see hints of different authorial voices here and there, there are no jarring seams. The main character starts out as an angry misanthrope, who gets in over his head and has a life-threatening, life-changing, adventure, with some nice surprises in it. It works both on the Adventure level and on the Psychological Contemplation level, and zooms along to finish at under 300 pages. Five stars.

The Gone-Away World (by Nick Harkaway)
Okay, so the last one was a five star book by two of my favorite authors ever. Forget that one. This book - if you are one of the people who reads the books that I say "This one, you must read" - this one, you must read. It has the Glorious and Tragic Last Stand of Master Wu of the School of the Voiceless Dragon (who is now ilhander's hero). (It is not a novel of Ancient China, however.) The narrator's voice is snarky and full of digressiony rant that I quoted at my housemates (I admit that may not be for everyone, but it is very much for me). It has has war, and friendship, and betrayal, and kick-ass adventure fights, and bits that made me cry, and bits that made me sit, pole-axed, with my mouth open as the plot shifted. There's a major plot point that I won't tell you about, that I bitched about in a different book, that was done amazingly well in this one. It has an entrance line as cheerable as "Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." It has mimes, and ninja, and a martial arts move called Walk Like Elvis, and Beekeepers, and many bits that are straight out of role-playing runs and thus I find endearing:
The last-ditch plan is to pretend that we're escorting a prisoner, then cause mayhem. Elisabeth Soames pointed out that this didn't work well in _Star Wars_ ands can reasonably be expected to fail in the real world, which is somewhat more demanding in the field of cunning plans, and Samuel P. tried very hard to pretend he hadn't been thinking of _Star Wars_ when he proposed it. The trouble is that although it's a lousy last-ditch plan, it is also our only last-ditch plan.

The rest of the plan is quite good, and if it works the way it is supposed to, we will do very well, and we won't need the lousy part. On the other hand, it almost certainly won't work like that, because plans don't. It will twist, creep, change, swivel, and mutate, until finally we're flying on sheer bravado and chutzpah, and hoping the other guy thinks it's all accounted for. You don't make strategy so that there's one path to victory; you make it so that as many paths as possible lead to something which isn't loss.

Six stars.


9 comments or Leave a comment
From: desireearmfeldt Date: April 28th, 2009 11:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Woh, it's a book that talks like your friends. No wonder you like it. :)
From: desireearmfeldt Date: April 28th, 2009 11:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
(And, I would happily be on the list to borrow either of the ones you recommend here, though I am still sitting on a book of yours that I can't start reading 'till Week Of Homework Doom is over. :) )
fredrickegerman From: fredrickegerman Date: May 3rd, 2009 03:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Er, can I read the last one when she's done? I have a secret weakness for well-done digressions. (Thus my ability to read System of the World without going nuts.)
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: April 29th, 2009 12:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Sometime over the summer I would like to borrow those last two (not at the same time).

Yay, tasty book jackpot!
ckd From: ckd Date: April 29th, 2009 12:20 am (UTC) (Link)
I've added the Harkaway to my Fictionwise wishlist...I suspect I'll pick it up to read on my way to Penguicon this weekend.
ringrose From: ringrose Date: April 29th, 2009 03:37 am (UTC) (Link)
I would happily borrow the gone-away world when my turn comes up. It sounds great.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: April 29th, 2009 01:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, it sounds like everyone else so far wants to borrow it later, so you can have it first. :)
From: (Anonymous) Date: April 30th, 2009 03:02 pm (UTC) (Link)

Gone Away World

I have read this book and it is amazing. I am Harkaway's newest #1 fan. Nice review.
zubatac From: zubatac Date: April 30th, 2009 03:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Your local library probably also has a copy of The Gone-Away World available.

Call me paranoid, but I placed a hold request on it before commenting. =)
9 comments or Leave a comment