Saturday, November 24, 2007

Several books at once

I'll try to be brief.

Lilli Thal's Mimus, translated by John Brownjohn. When a medieval king is betrayed, his son is given to the enemy king's court jester as an apprentice. I skipped parts as too painful to read because it was easy to foresee that things were only going to get worse because of what Florin, the prince, did. My notes say I found this because carbonelle mentioned it in a comment on superversive's blog; I must have foolishly thought I could easily find the reference again. I forgot about it until I spotted it at the library and remembered the title. There's no (fantasy) magic and there are quite a few references to God and the church, but the church (at least the one Florin enters) is not all that you might hope—they throw him out because, being a jester, he lacks a soul.

Julie E. Czerneda's Survival. First book in a trilogy, it doesn't end very satisfactorily. On the other hand, it wasn't so engaging that I'll be miserable waiting for the next two installments to show up. It reminds me of Slonczewski's books (probably because both authors are biologists) but wasn't as good, in my opinion. Maybe the others will change my mind. The premise: Dr. Mackenzie Connor, a salmon researcher in a near future where humanity has joined an interstellar union of species, ends up drawn into an investigation of the destruction of an entire region of worlds, called the Chasm, from which all life has gone. Dr. Connor protests mightily that she only knows about salmon, but is forced to cooperate by higher-ups and the disappearance of her friend Emily Mamani. There is a lot of build-up and description for not much profit, and not enough humor in most of it, as opposed to the charm of investigation and discovery that appears in some other books. It remains to be seen whether the second and third volumes will compensate. I found it because Kristen Britain (author of Green Rider) mentioned Czerneda in an interview and this was the only book the library had on hand.

Jessica Day George's Dragon Slippers. An orphaned girl is given to a local dragon by her aunt in the hopes that a knight or prince will rescue her and marry her (and, not insignificantly, her aunt) out of poverty. The dragon turns out to have unexpected qualities, so she bargains to leave it alone in exchange for a treasure from its hoard... which turns out to be a shoe collection. Shod with a fine pair of slippers, she sets out to make her fortune... Charming and sweet, but there were also some really tense moments. I liked it. Definitely in the original fairy tale category.

Theodore Sturgeon's More than Human. Three novellas fixed up into one book. Classic sci-fi with telepaths, teleports, and telekines, all three of which probably resulted in my enjoyment of sci-fi as a child, and of this book. They don't seem to feature much in modern sci-fi, unfortunately. The language is, at times, somewhat vague, and for quite a while near the beginning you may wonder where the story is going—so many characters are introduced without apparent connection to each other, it's a little hard to keep track. One of them is mentioned for a page and then disappears until 100 pages later. I also disliked the philosophy shown in the ending.

Lois McMaster Bujold's Cordelia's Honor. Omni-bus of Shards of Honor and Barrayar, this is my first read in the Vorkosigan canon. I think I liked Shards of Honor somewhat more than Barrayar, which was much more serious, but both have many moments of humor. It was painfully obvious who was going to fall in love. I also wondered, when Cordelia was sneaking around on Barrayar (a planet whose population is mostly of Russian descent), how there could be so many people with bright red hair that she would not be immediately noticed. As Bujold writes in the afterword, Barrayar is a book about parenthood. If clandestine activity is involved, well, that must be part of being a parent. Ha.

George MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin. Classic. I read the version illustrated by Alan Parry and couldn't help noticing that the illustrations often seemed to be a page or two later than the part of the story illustrated, which is a bit unfortunate. Reading this brought back so many memories (I think I saw the movie as a child). I couldn't help wondering which parts were abridged.

1 comment:

Martin LaBar said...

Interesting. I didn't know that MacDonald had ever been made into a movie. I guess it should have been.