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Six books - Qualified Perceptions
Six books
(* are audiobooks)
*Agatha H and the Airship City by Phil and Kaja Foglio
It's a novelization of the awesome Girl Genius, volumes 1-3. I got the audiobook and listened to it while re-reading the comic at the same time, which was a fun way to compare. Partly, it made me look at more of the details - funny things on shelves, the Honking Shop in Beetleburg, things like that, because audio is slower than reading. And partly, there were interesting changes - the students are introduced a few at a time rather than all in a big mob, Gil gets a little more polish, the Jagers get a bit more depth (there's one bit where one of the younger Jagers stops being funny for a few moments to talk to Agatha until a Lackya comes by), and the sad story of Krosp's creator gets filled out a lot more - it was clearly all there in the original, in pretty clear hints, but the dots get connected and there's a goodbye scene that made me sniffle. Girl Genius may be why I keep buying steampunk novels which tend to disappoint me, the way Neverwhere is the reason I keep buying urban London fantasies. Five stars, plus then I had to go and finish rereading the webcomic. It works better when read in big chunks, I think. The bits that felt really draggy when reading it originally flowed more smoothly this time, and I didn't forget who some of the minor characters were due to not seeing them for a year.

Prince of Ill Luck, The Wind-Witch, The True Knight (by Susan Dexter)
The conceit of the series is interesting - three more or less self-contained stories, set a generation or so apart, with the magic horse as the only continuing character. And the magic horse is more like a Supporting Actor, not anything like a main character. Plus, they're romances, not plain fantasy - but the romances aren't shmoopy or bodice-ripping, they're about coming to know and respect each other, so kind of like mutual coming-of-age stories that you know are going to end with a matchup. (When I describe it this way, it sounds like "Mercedes Lackey, but with less scenery-chewing angst".) The villains are not all that villainy, which also tilts things more in the romance direction, but they're decently well-fleshed-out mild villains, which is nice. Nice light summer reading, three and three quarters stars.

Feed (by Mira Grant)
I am not a fan of zombie movies. Gore is icky, and I'm more terrified of hidey things than shambly things. But... this wasn't a movie, and I could not stop reading it. The title is clever (bloggers in a post-zombie-apocalypse political campaign), and the characterization is sharp and true, and the action is fast and tense, and the sad bits made me tear up. The fact that the people in the zombie apocalypse have all seen all the canonical zombie movies (George Romero was something of an embarassed saint) is funny but makes sense. My only complaint, and it is a small one, is that the actual villains (as opposed to the zombies) are the only characters who don't feel real - they're overly evil, and their plans are a little too nebulous even at the end. But maybe that's for the sequel? Actually, that seems like the sort of thing that should be a larger complaint than it is for me here - in retrospect, it bugs me more than it did while reading. Four and three quarters stars.

*The Prefect (by Alastair Reynolds)
Alastair Reynolds has become one of my authors to be counted upon in audiobooks, which means I am confident I'll like him. There's world, and character, and mystery, and humor, and some in-jokes ("Thalia made light of her speed-reading ability, but her Klausner index was still much higher than his own"), all of which I appreciate. This is set in the Chasm City universe, in an earlier time, but honestly, I read Chasm City long enough ago that I don't remember it. It's a mystery which segues into a larger system-spanning conspiracy, with some carnage, some space fighting, and some philosophy; and there are a lot of plot guns carefully hung on the wall in Act I to be fired in Act V. The main thing that threw me is that Panoply (essentially the system-police) seem insufficiently tough when dealing with a serious system threat. They mostly don't have weapons in the field, unless a poll permits them, and while they have nukes, they don't have that many. There's a bit where it appears that they don't have enough transport to move all the evacuees they need to, and one of the Panoply guys suggests that maybe some will have to be left behind - the more "good" guys treat this idea as an abomination, that shouldn't even be *thought*. Sure, yes, I know that you have to try as hard as you can to not leave anyone behind, but it felt too much like the unrealistic idealist point of view to not even consider what happens if you fail and which direction to fail in. And it's not a universe in which everyone is Nice and Sweet - there are bad guys, there are seriously broken evil tyrannies inside the federation - do none of them ever try something crazy and megalomaniacal? Four and a half stars.


13 comments or Leave a comment
jadia From: jadia Date: July 13th, 2011 09:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
I loved Prince of Ill Luck when I was a kid. I actually hadn't realized that there were sequels, or pseudo sequels. I need to read those now. :-)

Also, (unsurprisingly) I consider Feed to be pretty awesome too, but the villains bothered me while I was reading it as well. I think it was nominated for a Hugo this year....
marcusmarcusrc From: marcusmarcusrc Date: August 20th, 2012 02:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, Feed was great, but I agree that the main on-stage villain was unrealistic. Also, the end scene had one of those annoying "yeah, I'm going to be an idiot and not listen to you" moments... not as bad as some (hey, at least she _got_ to say her piece, rather than it being the stereotypical "now's not the time, tell me later" moment that leads to a key piece of information not being transferred) and I can sort of see how it might be justified, but it didn't feel quite right.
merastra From: merastra Date: July 13th, 2011 11:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really like the Agatha series. I even have an autographed copy of the novel but haven't gotten around to opening it. Will try to do that soon.
jdbakermn From: jdbakermn Date: July 14th, 2011 01:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I really loved "Feed" and its sequel. I'll have to check out the rest, they all seem interesting (and I'm sort of baffled about why I haven't read "The Prefect" yet, since I'm a fan of Reynolds).
ricedog From: ricedog Date: July 14th, 2011 01:34 am (UTC) (Link)
I could loan you a copy if you still read paper books. :)
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: July 14th, 2011 03:41 am (UTC) (Link)
I dimly recall that some SF author had put a character named Harriet Klausner in a book, perhaps to see if Harriet Klausner would mention the character in a review, but while Harriet Klausner did post a very nice five star review the day of publication, there was strangely no mention of the character. :-)
ricedog From: ricedog Date: July 14th, 2011 05:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
She didn't mention it for this one either.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: July 14th, 2011 06:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
One of the SF books I read within the past year involved being able to tell your computer to summarize a particular book or other document down to the number of pages you wanted to read it at. I kind of suspect Harriet Klausner of being one of those AIs that did that. :)
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: July 14th, 2011 04:02 am (UTC) (Link)
one of the younger Jagers stops being funny for a few moments to talk to Agatha until a Lackya comes by

Would that be this conversation, perhaps at greater length?
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: July 14th, 2011 11:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Yup, I think it was that one. (Also, oddly, that's one of the Jagers whose name got shifted one to the left - Andre is MInsk, Minsk is something else...)
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: July 14th, 2011 02:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Andre is MInsk, Minsk is something else...

That's just wrong! Needlessly confusing the readers is unfair.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: July 14th, 2011 06:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wouldn't actually have noticed it if I wasn't reading the comic in parallel at the same time - the only Jager that I can actually really remember the name of is Maxim. Oh, and General Zog. :)
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: July 14th, 2011 07:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wouldn't actually have noticed it if I wasn't reading the comic in parallel at the same time

That has to be something a fair share of readers will be doing in this case, though.

I'm not sure I would have remembered Minsk by name, but Andre is the one with the crush on Von Pinn and the scars to prove it. And I couldn't forget Mama Gkika.
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