Recent reading

Books read in the last month include Steel Whispers, Birthstones, The Martian Chronicles, The Anubis Gates, The Crying of Lot 49, Extraordinary Engines, Whitechapel Gods, Escapement, and Federations. Short reviews of each are given.

Since attending Anticipation, I’ve been reading a fair bit. Here’s a list of recently finished books, and some initial thoughts on each.

This is the sequel to Defining Diana, which was nominated this year for an Aurora Award. I reviewed Defining Diana earlier this year. Steel Whispers is a much faster, tighter, gripping novel than Defining Diana. The mystery is much more immediate, and makes for an improved read. Hayden did a great job here. I plan on finishing up a more in-depth review of this novel shortly.

  • Birthstones by Phyllis Gotlieb

Sadly, Phyllis Gotlieb passed away earlier this summer. This is the first of her stories which I’ve read, and I was pleasantly surprised by the depth in this slender volume. This novel explores themes of power and exploitation, both in the feminist, and post-colonialist settings.

This is my first read of the Martian Chronicles. Fanciful stories, written well before the moon landings. These stories are whimsical, but with a hint of sadness.

This was great. It doesn’t quite meet my definition for steampunk, as there is no real focus on technology. With a Victorian setting, political dissension, and interaction with historical figures, it comes close. This story also falls under the secret history genre, rather than an actual alternate history. It’s an excellent tale, masterfully written. I’m looking forward to reading more of Powers.

I can see why Philip K. Dick was often compared to Pynchon. Crying is a very postmodern novel. It’s fast and frenzied. I’ll need to read this one again before I can get a better idea on what I think.

  • Extraordinary Engines edited by Nick Gevers

I had started this some time ago, but finally finished off the last few stories. My favourite story in this anthology is Petrolpunk, by Adam Roberts, although he seems to be mixing together too many elements in a simple story. In general, Extraordinary Engines was entertaining, but as a new work anthology, I find the title “authoritative” to be misleading.

  • Whitechapel Gods by S.M. Peters

What a gritty, dirty steampunk novel, with elements of clockpunk. Very entertaining.

I plan on writing a longer review of this one shortly. I found the plot more engaging than in Mainspring. However, the three plotlines took a long time to engage with each other. Escapement also did not engage the same feel for swashbuckling wonder that Mainspring did. Entertaining, but left me wanting more.

A great idea for an anthology. There were a number of good stories in here. I especially enjoyed The Culture Archivist by Jeremiah Tolbert, The One with the Interstellar Group Consciousness by James Alan Gardner, and The Shoulders of Giants by Robert J Sawyer.

WorldCon 2009 Review

I had a blast at Anticipation in Montreal.

I picked up a number of books in the dealers room.

  • Tesseracts Thirteen edited by Nancy Kilpatrick and David Morrell
  • What is it we do when we read science fiction by Paul Kincaid
  • Rhetorics of Fantasy by Farah Mendlesohn
  • Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse edited by John Joseph Adams
  • Steel Whispers by Hayden Trenholm
  • Fast Ships, Black Sails edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
  • Birthstones by Phyllis Gotlieb
  • Rewired: the Post-Cyberpunk Anthology edited by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel

The Hugo awards ceremony was entertaining. The highlight for me was the win for Weird Tales for Best Semiprozine. Ann VanderMeer was quite obviously shocked by the win. After all the photos up on stage, Ann was gracious enough to let some of the fans hold onto it. The Hugo base this year is fantastic, and heavy.

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