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My books for November

Posted by phduffy on 2007-12-02 11:51:58
Flyboy action Figure comes with Gasmask (Jim Munroe) - Another novel about people with powers. This is about a guy who can turn into a fly, who meets a woman who has cancer. Takes place in an area of Toronto I used to live in, which was cool, but lacked an overall plot. They sort of team up to fight...well, capitalists, right wing newspapers, police, etc. The characters were interesting enough, but the plot didn't move. Everytime I finished a chapter I was satisfied, but really had no desire to keep reading. Plus, I think some obvious questions were missed. They discuss if the woman could make light, or the sun disappear, and they assume that she should. However, when the fly's mother gets cancer, it never occurs to them to see if she could make the cancer disappear. At first I thought this was going to turn out to be an oversight on the behalf of the characters, but it's never mentioned in the novel, which shows a lack of imagination to me. Pass.

The Android's Dream (John Scalzi) - This novel starts with a somewhat notorious chapter about aliens who communicate via scent, and a body function by the human negotiator which may precipitate a war. Scalzi writes fun, quick moving, science fiction, which is reminiscent of Robert Heinlein. Unlike Flyboy, which took me a week, I read this in a day. Fun and enjoyable.

Zima Blue (Alastair Reynolds) - Reynolds writes gothic-flavoured science fiction, and this is a collection of his short stories. Reynolds bends the rules of science a bit more here than in his novels. This was a nice collection of short fiction, although probably only worth it for Reynolds fans.

Axis (Robert Charles Wilson) - Axis is the sequel to Spin, Wilson's Hugo award winning novel. In Axis, the world has been covered by a strange membrane, which causes time to pass slower on Earth than in the rest of the galaxy (the ratio is in the millions of galaxy years for each Earth year). Axis isn't much of a sequel, as the main character from Spin isn't in it, but it does exist in the same world. Or rather, the new world that opened up to Earth in Spin. Scientists think that an entity, called the 'hypotheticals' created the membrane. A human from the Martian colony is looking for a boy who's been altered to communicate with the hypotheticals. Okay, enough about the premise. I thought that Spin was one of the best novels of 2005, and this is a worthy sequel. While it doesn't quite create the sense of wonder and regret that exist in Spin, it does make you feel for the characters. Review of Spin:

The Family Trade (Charlie Stross) - Miriam is a tech journalist working in Boston. She uncovers a money laundering scheme, and reports it to her boss. She's fired as soon as she leaves the office. She visits her adopted mother, who gives her a box from her birth mother. SHe looks at a strange locket, and is transported to an America that's set up like feudal Europe. She discovers that she's a member of a family which can cross back and forth between the two worlds, and that her family has set themselves as merchant traders by selling goods from one world in the other world, and transporting goods through the alternate AMerica, where they don't have to worry about the police. So Miriam finds out that she's the heir to a bunch of money, and that she's expected to marry a noble. Plus, she can't run back to our world, since her existence means that other families will be trying to kill her. So she tries to figure out what kind of power she has, and if she can get her family to branch out from the drug trade to something more legitimate. This was a fun book, and Stross is a fun author. When people think of science fiction, they tend to think of people applying ideas about technology to the future and seeing what happens. BUt it can also means ideas about political science, or, in the case of Stross, economics. While this isn't as good as the ultimate example of world crossing genre (9 Princes in Amber), it's still a fun book. However, it is definitely the first in a series, and I did feel a little let down by the lack of resolution in this book. Miriam decides on a plan, but doesn't execute it. At least the next three books are already out.