Monthly Archive: July 2016

Jul 31 2016

The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin

Every time I read a good science fiction novel, a novel of actual ideas, I experience a shudder of pure, intellectual joy. But those are so few and far between that I instinctively shy away from many, even those critically acclaimed, because there’s no greater reading disappointment for me than a bad sci-fi novel (or …

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Jul 27 2016

Authoritarian Russia by Vladimir Gel’man

In Authoritarian Russia Vladimir Gel’man answers a question that is extremely important for contemporary international relations: Why is post-Soviet Russia the way that it is? Or, framed slightly differently, how did post-Soviet Russia get to be the way that it is? Gel’man, who is a friend of a friend, presents his answers in 150 carefully …

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Jul 26 2016

The Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente

By the penultimate book in the Fairyland series, my reading of them has fallen into a certain pattern: I struggle a bit in the first parts, while the author rattles off so many new characters, items and places so quickly that I get sort of a literary sensory overload. Not only that, they arrive so …

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Jul 25 2016

The Nightmare Stacks by Charles Stross

Charles Stross’ Laundry series began as pastiches of spy novels, with Lovecraftian beings of endless horror substituting for cat-stroking megalomaniacs as the bad guys. Running a close second in the bad guy scheme of things are the higher reaches of the spy organization, partly because the third well of inspiration for the series is The …

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Jul 24 2016

Soul Music by Terry Pratchett

Death not only had a daughter, it turns out he had a granddaughter as well. In between, he had an apprentice and, as these things often happen, the daughter married the apprentice and in due course the daughter arrived. One unfortunate night, a carriage went too fast around Dead Man’s Curve, which earned its name …

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Jul 23 2016

All Clear by Connie Willis

All Clear, which picks up right where Blackout left off and comprises the second part of an 1100-page story, would have been a brilliant book at about half or two-thirds of its 640-page length. The ending has emotional power; it resolves the main question running through the books and ties up the characters’ individual tales …

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Jul 18 2016

Blackout by Connie Willis

Reading Connie Willis is always, sentence by sentence, a delight. Her characters are sympathetic and interesting to spend time with; conflicts usually arise from misunderstandings, or from the nature of a situation. Some few people are jerks, some are hurt and acting out, but that’s just like life, isn’t it? Willis also appears to have …

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Jul 13 2016

Yotsuba&! Vol 03 by Kiyohiko Azuma

Found this on my kitchen table this morning, likely unearthed by someone else in my family. Quick, delightful read centering on a six year-old in Japan and her daily life with her father, neighbors and friends. I thought the kids’ extortion of Jumbo at the Bon festival especially hilarious. Was also impressed by the clean …

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Jul 10 2016

The Hunt For Red October by Tom Clancy

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, that took forever to read. Which isn’t the reason I’ve been away from here for so long, for which I tender my apologies: work has been extra busy recently, and I only read this to keep up with Ingress Book Club. But to the book! I expected much better, tbh. I …

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