Monday, May 2, 2011

Sci-fi and Fantasy roundup

Recently read:

Rothfuss: The Kingkiller Chronicles, parts 1, 2. As far a world-building goes - a fairly compelling piece of work, with the second book, perhaps being even more interesting to read than the first. I really dug the idea of a society where no one believed the role of men in procreation, although I suspect that any society that domesticated animals would eventually put two and two together. The love story has a lot of Charles Dickens in it. Some secondary characters were not well-characterized in the first book, a bit better in the second. I would be very surprised if it turned out to be just a trilogy. While there is only one day left in the present tense narrative, the first two books went up to Kvothe turning 18 or maybe 19. The present character is in his mid-30s, so there are still about 15 years of narrative. Or maybe 10. Plus, whatever has to happen in the present.

Stross: The Trade of Queens. I, of course, think that Amber Chronicles is one of the best pieces of fantasy, so I really dug this series. The break happened in the previous book. It went from one cliffhanger to another in one fell swoop. The last book though - it almost looked like it was written by a different person. Much more exposition and soap-opera-style rehashing of events from previous books - in some cases awkward (defined as: it is obvious that the text is there to help the reader remember what was in the books before, NOT for any in-story reasons). Also, details aside, at least one ending of the book obvious from the beginning (the other - the carpet bombing of a medieval country is kind of cruel - it was clear that some form a military action will take place, but I did not expect the 100 H-bombs.) More importantly, the books had a number of really great characters in them, who, in the last book have a total of zero moments of awesome.. Individual parts - e.g., the bombing scenes - very well written. But Stross can do much better. I need to start reading his other books....

Sawyer. Hominids. This, on the other hand, was a great read. I dig books that mostly deal with alternate societies - these days, it almost invariably means reading fantasy. While the "science" part was probably the weakest link in the book - one just assumes there has to be an in-story explanation of how a transfer between two worlds is possible, the aspects of Neanderthal society as presented were great... Reading Humans now.

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