Tales of the Squee, Pt. 2

That I am spoiled for choice among just the books that I own, to say nothing of any libraries that Berlin might have, can be inferred from the fact that in the four and a half years since I last wrote a coming attractions post, I have read north of 200 books, but only three of the nine I mentioned back in 2017. One of them was great, and two were great fun. I also read and enjoyed the third in the fun set, which wasn’t out when I mentioned the first two.

The Dragon Waiting by John M. Ford

While I can’t say that the number of TBR books has really declined, some of them are at least different. Here are a few in the current piles, along with what I was thinking when I acquired them, or why I have kept them around after they acquired me.

The Lost Pianos of Siberia by Sophy Roberts. Vast expanses! Pianos! Improbable stories, historical curiosities, civilization versus decay. Hoping that the execution lives up to the concept.

The Long Sunset by Jack McDevitt. Possibly the last book in his series about Priscilla Hutchins, interstellar pilot turned administrator turned pilot again late in life. I’ve read the previous seven in the series and enjoyed seeing how Hutch develops, and how McDevitt has developed a galaxy where humanity is mostly alone in the vast deeps of space and time. Puzzles, rockets, sense of wonder. Yes, please.

Mein litauischer Führerschein: Ausflüge zum Ende der Europäischen Union (My Lithuanian Driver’s License: Excursions to the End of the European Union) by Felix Ackermann. This was a present. A German historian and urban anthropologist is living in Lithuania and uses his acquisition of a driver’s license as a springboard for excursions historical, geographical and observational. Hijinks presumably ensue, as do observations. Ackermann was a student under a leading German urban historian (whose work I have admired more than read), so there’s hope that the pithy observations will have sound conceptual underpinnings.

The Dragon Waiting by John M. Ford. A wonderful book by a wonderful writer. Go read this to find out some more of just how wonderful. The Dragon Waiting is a fine place to start reading his work, though really any place is a good place since none of them are quite like any of the others. There’s the book that inspired canon Klingons before Picard ever boarded the Enterprise (and one of the many hidden gems of The Dragon Waiting is that it features a captain, a scientist, a doctor and an engineer who sometimes refer to their joint undertaking as “the enterprise”). There’s the book about elves and bootleggers in Chicago. There’s the lunar revolution book that interrogates and surpasses The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, probably in fewer pages. Ford’s books are cabinets of wonders, and they are finally coming back into print.

The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili. A gigantic novel, originally written in German, of Georgian (Tbilisi not Atlanta) families through the twentieth century. The cover promises six romances, one revolution and the story of the century. I have heard great things; it’s not out of the question that we have mutual acquaintances. But oof, 934 pages. I don’t think I’m going to be carrying this one on the daily commute. Unless it’s really good…


Man, the State, and War by Kenneth N. Waltz. A friend from back in the States sent this onward to me. Somehow I have missed reading it, despite two degrees related to international politics. At some point, I will probably rectify that.

Endland by Tim Etchells. I’m not sure whose recommendation placed this book on my to-buy list, but someone’s did and now here it is. “Landscapes haunted by Thatcher, Brexit, folktales and science fiction are populated by a motley collection of misfits, wanderers and charmed drunks.” Could be just the dystopia for midwinter.

Meddling Kids

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero. It would have worked, too! This one’s cover promises “a nostalgic celebration of horror, friendship and many-tentacled interdimensional demon spawn.” What could possibly go wrong? I’ll be sure to bring along some snacks.

Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch. I’ve only read one of the Rivers of London series — Doreen has read a bunch more — but I enjoyed the heck out of it. I picked up the second as a pick-me-up during a late pandemic lunch break. More fun, and probably more tentacles.

The Education of an Idealist by Samantha Power. A Problem from Hell was a powerful and ferocious book. Power followed up on it by going into government and trying to do something about that problem and various other hells. This is a memoir, part of her story so far. We probably also have mutual acquaintances.

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