Thursday, December 31st, 2009
3:19 pm - A Few Lines About a Bunch of Books...  
Reading is fun-damental; writing about it is harder...

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Science Fiction Writer's Workshop-I: An Introduction To Fiction Mechanics — Barry B. Longyear
"The Good Kill" — Barry B. Longyear
Circus World — Barry B. Longyear


I finally got to meet a favorite of mine, Barry Longyear, after a couple of years of specifically going to cons that he was scheduled to be at only to find that he'd had to stay home due to poor health. This year, though, he was able to make it to Readercon. Good news for me, and presumable for him, too. He ran a workshop on dealing with things that keep one from writing.* Some of the material came out of his Science Fiction Writer's Workshop-I, an old book that I'd picked up a few years ago, but never gotten around to reading until after the con. There's some good stuff here for us novices.

* Apparently, given my output of any kind over the last six months, I paid little attention.

Later I got to talk with him a little during a signing session. He was selling issues of Analog containing his recent series of detective stories, so I picked up the first novella in the series, "The Good Kill". Jaggers and Shad are a pair of police detectives working in a future where bodies may be swapped as easily as outfits. And not just human bodies, either. While DI Jaggers prefers his human body, DC Shad spends most of his time in the body of a duck, and a rather famous duck at that, one with lots of enhancements added to assist with the stunts it had to do when it was still hawking disability insurance. It seems that Shad likes having the ability to fly. And Longyear makes this all work. A collection is due out, and I look forward to reading it.

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"Prevenge" — Mike Resnick and Kevin J. Anderson

This was a story in the same issue of Analog as "The Good Kill", and wonders what a time traveler should do when he discovers that the man whose murder he was sent back in time to prevent is a total dick who deserves to be dead. I need to read some more of Resnick's and Anderson's stuff.

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The Moving Target — Ross Macdonald
Curtains for Three — Rex Stout


Moving Target is the first of Macdonald's hard-boiled detective novels featuring Lew Archer, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The movie Harper, starring Paul Newman, is a fairly faithful adaptation of the book, and is also enjoyable. I need to find a few more. Sadly, the RI library system doesn't seem to have too many of them.

I followed it up with the next Wolfe book on the list. Curtains is another collection of novellas, one of which, "Disguise for Murder," contains an incident often referred to in later books. A visitor to the house is found murdered in Wolfe's office, and Cramer has the entire house searched, leading to much ill will that continued through the years.

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Sharpe's Fury — Bernard Cornwell

I liked this one better than a lot of the newer Sharpes. There was less soap opera than usual, especially where Sharpe was concerned. Sharpe shows up for the Battle of Barrosa, and settles an old score, i.e., same old same old. What I liked was that much of the later parts of the book are more a look at Sir Thomas Graham, the thoroughly likable British general leading the troops at Barrosa, who became Wellington's second in command for most of the Peninsular War.

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A Brief History of Time — Stephen W. Hawking
Thief of Time — Terry Pratchett


I bought Hawking's History when it first came out, but it sat on my shelf for twenty some odd years. I finally got around to reading it as word comes that he's doing a second, updated edition. It's good. I don't fully understand a lot of it, but I understand more about space-time now than I did. I did like the asides he makes here and there about the infighting within the physics community over many of the theories presented here. High school never seems to end, does it?

When you look into the abyss, it's not supposed to wave back.

Speaking of time, and Time, Thief of Time is Pratchett's take on the subject, and is great fun. This time Time, rather than Death, takes a little vacation, and Susan Sto Helit finds a perfect moment at the end of it. It also has the History Monks, who I had not yet heard of when I first read Night Watch a few years back. That would've cleared some things up, for sure.

The chemist in me loved this description of the Auditors:

They strove to be as indistinguishable as hydrogen atoms, and with none of the latter's joie de vivre.

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Turn Coat — Jim Butcher

This is the most recent Dresen novel. Enjoyable, as usual, although the ending was very bittersweet ending, plus there was a major change in the universe. Now I need to go back and read the early books.

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Murder by the Book — Rex Stout

Archie has an adventure in California, and discovers that the woman of his dreams might just be a not so mousey housewife.

Now to work on the rest of the list...