Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Recent Reading

I've actually gotten around to reading something that isn't on-line chat or technical over the last few months, so time for a round-up


The Clockwork Rocket by Greg Egan

Having skipped his intervening fantasy Iran novel, the return to physics driven story, albeit with a gimmick given away by a glance at the blurb, seemed worth a go.

Now, half the plot of his earlier Incandescence was how a woman in a pre-industrial society managed to avert an existential threat to her world by being Newton and Einstein rolled into one. Now, stop me if you've heard this one before, but the whole plot of this latest book is how a woman in a pre-industrial society manages to begin to mitigate an existential threat to her world by being Newton and Einstein rolled into one.

When, some chapters in, it became clear that this was indeed what was going on, I just went to the online auctorial physics infodump, because it had failed the "Who are these people, and why should I care?" test. One canon Sue was OK, but this got a bit too much.

Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

By contrast, this book is covered with all the warning signs that normally turn me off -- fantasy, urban fantasy, secret wizards...

But there was something that seemed intriguing about it anyway, so I gave it a try. And such a contrast -- or to coin a phrase "That's the way to do it!"

And there are sequels. The second, Moon over Soho benefits from having set the scene already, and gives a chance to thicken the plot. The third, Whispers Underground then veers away from the line set by the first two into a more "secret London" sort of story, with a central mystery that wasn't really the same sort of police procedural sort of mystery that had driven the others.

Still, two out of three ain't bad. I just hope he doesn't just flog this setting to death.


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