Reading, Reading, Reading

31 03 2010

Below are a few reviews of some of the books I’ve read recently. I will once again be using my 6-pack rating system. I’m typing this quickly; the boys are sick with strep so there are bound to be interruptions. I apologize in advance for any typos.

The Mote In God’s Eye
by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (2/6, Bud Light) I’ve heard about this book for years, mostly good things. I guess I had my expectations too high. Also, I have to admit that, generally speaking, I am not a huge fan of space operas, so I am not the target audience. I felt similar after reading Niven’s Ringworld novel. In all honesty, I couldn’t finish this one; I was over three hundred pages into it, and realized I just really did not want to read it anymore. It never grabbed me. The humans were mostly flat characters best described by their military rank, and I found it hard to believe that only one woman would be involved in a mission of this scope and size (I know it was written in the 70’s and all, but, seriously — and maybe this is my modern perception of the world tainting my experience of this book — but I can’t help but think that this many dudes would go nuts if left in space this long without any women). I really wanted to like this book, really I did, but it just didn’t click with me at all. I would give the book one star, but I have to admit that the alien species was somewhat interesting so I’ll give it two stars. The writing was good in places, and I have a feeling it may have gotten better if I just stuck it out, but I was bored. I found the sections written from the alien point of view more interesting than the ones from a human point of view. Maybe I would have enjoyed it had the whole book been from the alien’s perspective…

Necroscope  by Brian Lumley (4/6, Newcastle) My wife is hooked on the Sookie Stackhouse books these days, so I thought I’d try reading a vampire series, too. I’m glad I did. I don’t know why I missed this book when I was younger, it would have been right up my alley as an adolescent. Like The Mote In God’s Eye, this book is a little dated. Cold War fears abound in this vampire romp. Here’s a tagline: A Tom Clancy novel for horror fans. Recommended with some reservations due to a somewhat misogynistic worldview, especially regarding how Russian women are portrayed.

Doom Magnetic by William Pauley III (4/6 Shots of Wild Turkey with a Yage chaser) If William Burroughs and David Lynch were to have a love child together, and if that love child were to write pulp westerns with a dark sense of humor, the end result might look a lot like Doom Magnetic. The storyline revolves around a mystical force called the “Doom Magnetic,” a mystic asian fellow with a cue ball for an eyeball, interdimensional travel, a gunslinger, saloons, and lots and lots of bizarro sex and violence and body modifications. While nowhere near being politically correct or having any sort of redeaming family values to speak of, I still found this book to be a fun and quick read. I think it would please most fans of bizzaro fiction. I only wish the book were longer — at around 20,000 words it was more of a novella than a novel, and I wanted a little more background on some of the characters, settings, and situations. Also, being self-published, there were some spots where I think professional editing could have strengthened the narrative and clarified points, but, overall, for a self-published effort, I found the writing to be pretty solid. At least, I enjoyed it,  but, as most of you know, I do have a weakness for strange westerns. (Disclosure: William Pauley III is an online friend who sent me an electronic copy of his new novel to review. If you think this fun — but twisted — little book might be up your alley, you can purchase it here: http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fStoreID=1841476/ )   by Peter Straub (4/6 Blue Moon Belgian White) I talked about this book in more detail in the comment thread on Nick Cato’s LiveJournal here: http://nickcato.livejournal.com/70537.html.  I enjoyed the book very much overall, but found the shifts in point of view to be a little odd at times. A modern horror story reminescent of Arthur Machen or Robert W. Chambers.

A Dark Matter

The Devil’s Alphabet by Daryl Gregory (5/6 Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan) I really loved this strange novel about the ongoing repercussions from a genetic disaster in an isolated Southern town. I think you could classify it Southern Fried Weirdness if you wanted to — Right up my alley! The characters were well-developed and believable. The politics of the small town nicely mirrored the personal conflicts between the three races of people described in the novel. The complex relationship (or should I say addiction?) between father and prodigal son was very well done and gave the book some real emotional heft. This one really clicked with me; I couldn’t put it down.

Just an odd occurence I’ve noticed, but David Bowie keeps showing up in most of the books I read these days for some reason. He appears or is mentioned in two of the above, for example. And now, it is past time to get these crabby sick boys to bed. G’night folks!

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