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A Pile of Books

I just fished this pile of books out from under the bed, and thought I'd make some notes before I put them away.  Or put them in a pile somewhere else, anyway.

Greg Bear - Blood Music
The great thing about this book is that it was written in 1985, and it's set, oooh about nowish. So it's intriguingly wrong.   It's all about advanced biotechnologies, but nobody has a mobile phone. When a character needs access to a computer he has to go to great lengths to get access to a laboratory.  I probably enjoyed these accidental wrongnesses more than the futuristic technologies.

Laura Gould : Cats are not Peas  : a Calico History of Genetics.
This is a popular attempt to explain genetics through the medium of calico tortoiseshell cats - specifically, the author's unusual male tortoiseshell George. It was written 1991 (though partially updated 2007) and the author is an interested amateur with no particular scientific background so I'm sure there are lots of things left out, but it was still an interesting read.  It would probably be a really good book if it wasn't quite so self-indulgently whimsical.  It hasn't quite made up its mind if it's a book or someone's blog about their cats.

Diana Duane : So you want to be a WIZARD
This looks like it should be awful, but in fact it's not bad.  It's a kid's book, of course, and the basic premise is the good old 'discover you have special powers one'.  But that's not to say it's a bad premise. And there is quite a good dragon in it, and an intelligent Lotus Esprit.

Robert Holdstock : Mythago Wood

It's about a wood that is much larger inside than out, and is filled with increasingly dangerous and illbehaved myth-people.   It's beautifully written and has a lot of memorable imagery, some of which feels like it's fallen out of the Mabinogion (though I'm not entirely sure that entirely works as it's set in Kent, but let's not quibble).   It didn't quite satisfy in terms of the ending and the female characters are a bit ... lacking to say the least, but I'm going to read it again.

M John Harrison : Viriconium
This is actually several books bound together, all set in the same place at different times. I started reading, and really got into it. It was wonderful: a big sweeping epic story with a wonderful setting and some rather Jack-Vance ish characters.  Then I got to roughly page 250, and it all sort of fell apart.  Most of the characters go mad or turn into insects for no apparent reason, then the next 300 pages seemed to degenerate into more or less motiveless flailing, involving a lot of interpretive dance and locusts.  Well, I can't speak for the last 100-ish pages because I gave up, but that was my impression anyway.

Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees : Roger Deakin
I alternately really enjoyed this book and was enfuriated by it.  It's probably best described as a hippy ramble about trees.  The pace is slow, and the shape of the book seems to be largely random. It starts in Suffolk and wanders around vaguely visiting various artists and craftspeople, eventually ending up in Australia then coming back via Kazakhstan.  I'd never heard of the amazing fruit forests of Kazakhstan before, so that was interesting.  The slowness and the philosophy made me cross at times - Roger Deakin lives a life that is enormously privileged, and doesnt' seem to realise it.  But in the end I warmed to this book and was left feeling that the world was a better place after I'd read it.


 

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( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
ladyofastolat
17th Mar, 2010 23:57 (UTC)
Well, I've never read it, but your review of Viriconium made me laugh out loud, and feel a strong desire to seek it out, if only to work out why insects. Interpretative dance and locusts are an intriguing mix. Not one that's often occurred to me, granted, but, still...

Edited at 2010-03-17 23:58 (UTC)
bunn
18th Mar, 2010 09:20 (UTC)
Trust me, if you read Viriconium, then interpretive dance, airmen, and locusts will be difficult to separate in your mind thenceforth.

I just realised that I misspelled 'alternately' as 'alternatively' above which is of course not the same thing. I am acutely embarrassed about this and feel I need to tell the world via this comment that I do know the difference, I just can't type.
louisedennis
18th Mar, 2010 12:41 (UTC)
I have to agree with LoA here. You've managed to make Viriconium sound incredibly intriguing.
clarienne
18th Mar, 2010 08:58 (UTC)
I agree with ladyofastolat! I'm definately going to give Viriconium a go if I come across it!
bunn
18th Mar, 2010 09:21 (UTC)
It is gorgeously written, so definitely worth a go. I just got to the stage where I felt 'everyone is now mad' wasn't sufficient motivation for the plot.
philmophlegm
18th Mar, 2010 09:16 (UTC)
I passed a Lotus Esprit on the M4 yesterday. Can't tell if it was intelligent or not, but it was on the back of a repair truck.

Just goes to show: Lotus does stand for "Loads Of Trouble, Usually Serious".
bunn
18th Mar, 2010 09:17 (UTC)
The Lotus Esprit in the book is damaged when the characters encounter it. They win its trust by repairing it.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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