Books read, late May

Ben Aaronovitch, The October Man. Discussed elsewhere.

Elizabeth Bear, The Red-Stained Wings. Discussed elsewhere.

Chaz Brenchley, Dust-Up at the Crater School, Chapters 18-20. Kindle. This was feeling more episodic with its waltzing and ghost stories, but it may be building to something. Boarding school tales on Mars, continued!

Lois McMaster Bujold, The Prisoner of Limnos. Kindle. I enjoy watching Lois play with tropes she enjoys, in this case heists and disguises. It’s in the Chalion universe, in the Penric series, fairly far on in the series and probably don’t start here. Is it her most outstanding work? No, but that’s a very high bar to clear, and it was good fun.

Minister Faust, The Coyote Kings Vs. The Myconauts of Plutonium City, Scrolls 1-6. Kindle. This is a serialized sequel to an earlier Faust which I loved. It has the gonzo referential weirdness that I enjoyed, and it’s certainly moving along quickly enough. I will be glad to see the rest. You can tell I’m enthusiastic because I’m willing to support and read in serial form at all. (Serials are not my medium.)

Tim Flannery, Europe: A Natural History. This was light and funny and lovely, lots of weird animals of historical times, some bits of odd geology, good writing, plenty of things I wanted to read out in the long hours. Absolutely what I needed and recommended.

F.S. Flint et al, Some Imagist Poets: An Anthology. Kindle. Highly variable, and alas, the Imagists I hadn’t had much experience of were not ones I wanted to seek out later, but on a day when things were not going well in the ICU, it was something to read that did not make my life more difficult.

W.H. Hudson, A Shepherd’s Life: Impressions of the South Wiltshire Downs. Kindle. I had hoped that this would have more sheep stuff in it than it had, since I will at some point be revising a novella that is significantly ovine, but it was more an interesting study of a particular place and time, and worth having as such.

Rose MacAulay, What Not. Kindle. This is a comedic satire of the near-future, published in 1918–it’s about the world after the war. It actually still made me laugh in spots–this is the book that made me laugh in the ICU. It is cited as an influence on Brave New World and does all sorts of things with class and caste and intelligence and eugenics more and better and more sharply than BNW. Its ending is also more troubling and ambiguous, more troubled, in fact–similarly unable to see a good way out but in a way that I find more compelling and interesting than Huxley’s because it is so much more personal as well as political. I think MacAulay is joining Naomi Mitchison on the list of writers I expect to read a lot of and squirm and make faces and argue and keep reading. But the fact that most people who are taught Brave New World in school never know of this in the slightest–I feel entirely comfortable saying that’s sexism. That is sexism on a number of levels, and you can go ahead and look for yourself.

Charles Patrick Neimeyer, War in the Chesapeake: The British Campaign to Control the Bay, 1813-14. This is a war technicalities book. It is detailed about very specific bits of war. These are around my house because other people want them, and sometimes I find them very soothing. Here is who went where when. But also I find it solid on a topic that modern Americans do not understand enough, and that is: the dominant empire does not really always get that people who are not the dominant empire often have very different views of the world and of who is the greatest threat than they themselves do. “It’s the French! You should be upset by the French!” the British kept wailing, oblivious to the figure they themselves posed in the world at the time. Ponder this, hegemons.

Fitz James O’Brien, The Diamond Lens. Kindle. This is a 19th century American work of science fiction in which the main character murders a Jewish guy for his diamond to make a perfect lens so he can creep on the microscopic lady who lives in a drop of water. Which then dries up so he pines for her. There, now you don’t have to.

Carla Rahn Phillips, Six Galleons for the King of Spain: Imperial Defense in the Early Seventeenth Century. This is an extremely nerdy book about building and supplying galleons and the taxation and requirements for them, and generally if you are doing a project on early seventeenth century Spanish ships, this is a great resource. I’m not, but it was kind of fascinating anyway, in a soothing way, since it happened to cross my path.

Adrian Tchaikovsky, Walking to Aldebaran. Discussed elsewhere.

Sara Teasdale, Flame and Shadow. Kindle. Dramatic and beautiful and somewhat overwrought. Teasdale always feels so young to me, but it was just what I needed in the ICU.

R.J. Theodore, Meran’s Cataclysm. Kindle. A free short to draw the reader into a larger universe, not structured as stand-alone shorts generally are but still interesting.

Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to The Hunger Games. Discussed elsewhere.

Lynne Thomas and Michael Damian Thomas, eds., Uncanny Magazine Issue 28. Kindle. Favorites from this issue included John Chu’s “Probibilitea” and Theodora Goss’s “The Cinder Girl Burns Brightly.”

Jo Walton, Lent. Discussed elsewhere.

Walter Jon Williams, The Accidental War. Space opera, the sequel to the running Praxis books. Lots of aliens and ruling houses and starships going smash and economies going smash and all the sorts of things you would expect from this series. Don’t start here, but if you’ve been having fun, it’s more of that fun.

Brenda Wineapple, The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation. Discussed elsewhere.

4 thoughts on “Books read, late May

  1. That Fitz James O’Brien capsule review is quite the review, huh…
    If you’re looking for shepherding book recs, let me know, I think I know of a few popular ones through work!

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