Book Foo

Jul. 25th, 2009 03:34 pm
newnumber6: Ghostly being (Default)
[personal profile] newnumber6
Finished: Weapons of Choice, by John Birmingham

Thoughts behind the cut. Short version: Enjoyed the premise, execution was a bit dry and uninteresting at parts. Not many plot-specific spoilers ahead beyond general plot outline. So, the premise is part of one of the time travel subgenres I particularly enjoy... that is, the 'community' thrust back in time (though it could also be another world or the future and I'd probably still be interested), with no way back, and having to make do the best they can. In this case, it's a multinational task force group comprised of several aircraft carriers and other smaller vessels, and the military and civilians living aboard them, from the 2020s, sent back to the middle of WWII.

Which is an interesting in that it's not as far back as the subgenre usually goes, and changing specific well-known historical events is high on the possibility list.

Still, I don't know, the book felt a little dry. Among the things I felt it did right was point out that the technological advances were far less surprising to the locals, and much easier to deal with, than the social changes - women in command positions, minorities treated as equals, etc. Still, it all felt a little flat and superficial, none of the characters really coming alive for me, and particularly the characters from the past felt a little more like caricatures and stereotypes. It was a little amusing some of the future projections - one of the ships is named the Hilary Clinton after the 'first woman president', and they hinted that Colin Powell ran against her... although it could have happened in a later election the gist I got was that it was the author's early projections for 2008.

The plot was decent but kind of left dangling as would be expected since it's book one of a trilogy. Overall, it was okay. I'd read the rest of the series but I'm not salivating over it- I'll happily wait until I find it in a used bookstore.
Started and Finished: Sunstorm, by Stephen Baxter and Arthur C. Clarke
Started: Tehanu, the Last Book of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin (Nebula Winner, forgot to mention I got it Wednesday).

Thoughts on Sunstorm. Slightly spoilery for both it and the previous novel in the series, as well as for Stargate, by analogy. Short version: Okay, but a bit meh, and didn't even have the coolness of the first book. Probably would have been better off skipping it. Okay, the first book had the ultra-cool premise (the story didn't entirely live up to it, but that's okay) of the Earth being divided up into thousands of different 'time zones', all attached (or, depending on your perspective, a new world being made up of slices of different times of Earth), so you might have half of 18th century England right next to 14th century France, and room for lots of different historical characters to meet. The second book, however, takes place entirely in the future, with one of the characters from the first book who had been returned to her normal world by the mysterious aliens behind the patchwork world. And, there's a big disaster looming with the sun.

Except, after the first big premise, it's kind of a big shift and a letdown. The mysterious aliens are barely in it, and, at least as far as how the plot plays out is concerned, they might as well be completely absent from the universe.

It's almost as though, in Stargate, after they finally killed Apophis, the story shifted, and for the next two years, they were entirely dealing with the threat of an asteroid coming to Earth. Nobody went through the Stargate at all. The aliens were mentioned only briefly, and there's speculation they might have been involved in directing the asteroid. So over the course of the season they deal with problems and complications in trying to divert or destroy the asteroid, introduce a whole batch of new characters and keep only Samantha Carter from the old cast. If done exceedingly well, it might even make an interesting show... but, it can't help but be disappointing when you think of all they could be doing with Stargate. And the threat of a big asteroid is not Stargate. That's how I felt here. Or, if you will, it's like the Sequel to the Stargate movie, being "Stargate 2: Ra's Friend Chucks an Asteroid at Earth Because he Can't be Bothered To Come Himself".

Now, of course, Gate fans know that there actually _was_ an episode involving an asteroid being headed directly for Earth, and it's actually one of my favorite (in that, it's somewhere in the top quarter or so of episodes), but that's different, since it's just one hour of a 200+ hour story, rather than being an entire third of the plot.

Baxter and Clarke's collaborations aren't the greatest reading in general, but when you add a boring plot, it's completely unmemorable. I'd have skipped it entirely if it wasn't Part 2 of a novel with a good premise, and I should have skipped it regardless.


Finished: Woken Furies, by Richard Morgan (reread)
Started: Ventus, by Karl Schroeder (reread)

Woken Furies is a reread, so I don't have much to say. Enjoyed it of course, and I probably will reread the series again at some point. I did make a bit of a connection to why the main character interests me, and I should have made it earlier, considering his name. (Some spoilers) His name is Kovacs. And, it occured to me, there's something very Rorschachian about his world view at times. Oh, not completely, and he's loads more well-adjusted than Rorschach, but when he decides to come after somebody, take revenge, there's a sense of being completely uncompromising that he shares with the Watchmen character. For example, when he's been wronged by a criminal organization that does hurt people, at one point in the series, he systematically kills, 'real death', everybody connected to it that he can find. Even just lowly scientists and technicians doing their job. Under the theory that they knew what the place was, and they should have chosen another job. Likewise, at another point, he decides to punish everyone who's involved in a 'crime' that's personal to him, every adult who was there who could have stopped it but didn't try, and then went on to murder everybody in the wider organization who made the rules that led up to it, even though they weren't involved in the specific case. In many ways it's "way too much" of a reaction, but he's so firm and black-and-white about it (even when shades of grey exist in many other parts of his life) that it's fascinating to watch.

What else is new in my life? Not a whole lot, sadly. My life is pretty stagnant. Wake up, hang around on the internet wasting time that isn't at work, just making it through one day after another. Don't go out much other than work, shopping, and occasional grocery stuff. Don't even especially feel like my old hobbies like icon-making, and most of my discussion forums have disappeared, yet I haven't found anywhere to replace them, probably because most of them are comic related and I'm down to two comics a month now, and not as excited about either as I once was. Meh.

Speaking of, working a bit again, after taking something of a break, on my Runaways Vol 3 outline, thanks to a couple positive comments that energized me a bit. May post the outlines for issues #12 to 24 in the next few weeks, rocketting me right past where the real book is now.

TVwise nothing much is on, just reality shows (so I am watching Big Brother I guess), and downloading old Who's. (And man, Global, how many times do you have to air The Unit in one week... don't you have other shows to air?). Thinking of rewatching another old series, maybe Veronica Mars, to help fill the empty hours. SDCC's on now but no news has particularly excited me. New trailer for Stargate Universe looks interesting enough, but that's about it. But still a couple days left for it.

But overall, meh. I'd say I need a life, but the truth is I probably wouldn't know what to do with it is I had one.
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newnumber6

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