Monday, July 29, 2013

Things Without Number

I just finished reading Wil Wheaton's newest book, Just A Geek and I liked it, so I added his website to my list of favorite blogs. I don't always appreciate his language, but I'm more sensitive to foul language than he is. It's probably a recovery thing, but that's another story. Wil's book is really a compilation of his blog posts with some linking discourse added in. I don't mind that style, so it worked for me. He's entertaining, and insightful (at times), though you have to get a little bit past his "pity me" writing. In all fairness, that's really what the book is about - his journey from self-pity to self-actualization and it was easy to read. It's a good look at who Wil Wheaton is, and those stories are (mostly) refreshing. It isn't that long a read, not much longer than my book My Mother-in-law Misadventures and is in the same sort of writing style (Cory Doctorow, actually, ha!). Hmmm. Maybe Wil would like my book too.

I finished reading Spin by Robert Charles Wilson. Though it seemed weighty at times, I liked it. It follows the life of Tyler Dupree and his two friends Jason and Diane Lawton after the stars disappear and as the end of humankind approaches. Yeah, in one way it is an apocalyptic tale, but not the normal sort of "Store up toilet paper, Louise! We got us a long haul ahead of us with no water or nuthin'!" kind of thing. It's much more thoughtful and scientific. This is science-fiction at its best. Mr. Wilson manages to weave a plot around the characters and their lives, a difficult task for a writer, but he pulls it off with a smooth style. There were a few moments when my attention wavered, but I waded through those and I'm glad I did. He brought the story back each time and the ending (though somewhat predictable) was still satisfying.

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle has been around for over twenty-five years. I know I read it once, but it was almost a new read for me (thank you, failing memory), and the additional story Two Hearts makes me anticipate Mr. Beagle's next book. This is one of the original fantasy books of all time and a must-read for any lover of fantasy. I actually ordered the graphic version of the book and the movie, but don't tell Darling - it's a surprise for her. I think she'll like them both. Peter S. Beagle might be one of the most under-rated writers of our time.

Mike Resnick's Santiago took me back to the far-flung galaxies and my days of being a bounty hunter out among the stars. We searched for Santiago, the elusive and most vicious criminal that ever lived. Oh, wait, I was dreaming that bit... I can't say I didn't see the ending coming, but it was a thoroughly wonderful journey getting there. This made me want to read more of Mike Resnick's works, and that says something.
Frank Herbert, of course, is an amazing author and I've liked his books for decades (which dates us both, I suppose). His 2012 book High-Opp doesn't disappoint. When Daniel Movius, a Senior Liaitor in the far-flung dystopic future, loses his job and is Low-opped to the lowest caste of society, the future hangs in the balance, and in his hands. Every revolution needs a leader, and we constantly question whether Daniel Movius is the man for the job. Frank Herbert again crafts a complicated, believable, gritty world in which we find ourselves trapped and seeking a way out. It's a journey that's worth reading.

I'm not quite so enamored of Kevin J. Anderson's Hopscotch. I struggled with this one a bit, but muddled through. That's not a resounding endorsement. The book is well written, but loses me sometimes, and I'm not quite sure why that is. We follow the main characters as they grow up in a society where you can switch bodies as easily as changing the channel on television. The bad things that can happen, do happen. The premise is okay (and eerily similar to a book I started writing fifteen years ago) but I just never felt the compulsion to move forward in the story. The timing is good, so that isn't the issue. Perhaps I just never could relate to the main characters. In real life, that's a good thing. It's a good book, but sometimes (for me) it takes more than that.

Which, to finish this small set of reviews, leads me to In Hero Years … I'm Dead by Michael A. Stackpole. I'll admit I never heard of the author before reading this book. That's a little embarrassing, since we seem to like similar types of stories, but I guess I don't read as much as I used to. We certainly don't move in the same circles. It's my loss that I don't know his books. I liked this book almost as much as I liked Jim Bernheimer's Confessions of a D-List Supervillain. They are both geeky superhero books that don't take themselves seriously, and that is a lot of fun.

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