Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Q1 in books

More fiction reading than I usually do these days, mainly from the grotty weather and having spotted a bunch of titles of interest to add to the Christmas list:

The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi

Somewhat reminiscent of early Roger Zelazny -- definitely not the Egan-esque fare suggested by other reviews -- as if Zelazny had been handed Schroeder's Lady of Mazes and a genre trope update for the next 40-odd years when he was starting to write Today We Choose Faces.

Good, not great.

Kraken by China Miéville

After The City and the City, doing yet another magical London seems rather a return to the formulaic. At least he resisted -- given the title and the main character's name -- doing any "Billy the Squid" jokes.

Only pedestrian by comparison with his other works.

The Quiet War/Gardens of the Sun by Paul McAuley

You just have to take the next couple of hundred years future history in this set-up as a given, to provide the backdrop for a high-tech, solar-system spanning tale of Byzantine politics, interspersed with travelogue, the latter possibly becoming a bit repetitive each time we are shown a new piece of airless real-estate.

The ending is fortunately not telegraphed -- whether the not-so-bad guys or the greasy-pole climbers will win out is finely balanced almost all the way.

Wayland's Principia by Richard Garfinkle

This time, he takes on the old staple of First Contact, weaving the alien into territory more usually seen in myth -- it's all about its construction of aliens and where the not-human becomes a monster, and how the gulf might be bridged.

As such it's not set up as something that can have a tidy end, but rather fades out into the future, the narrative sort of pulling back and speeding up in the last few pages, until it rather petered out in the end. A good and interesting book, but not, I feel, his best work.

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