fivemack (fivemack) wrote,

(rather belated) Books Read In January

Books read in January:

Lev Grossman 'Codex'. Seems to be intended to be Da Vinci Code for grown-ups. This is a writer with a very strange voice: the unsignalled state of his characters is New York banker. Library research realistic to the point of losing the drama, a computer-game interplot oddly enough unlike a computer game that I was startled to find that Lev was the game reviewer for Time.

Nick Gevers 'Extraordinary Engines'. A compilation of new steampunk short stories; Margo Lanagan's rather creepy "Machine Maid" stuck in the memory, Kage Baker's "Speed the Cable" skulduggery with capitalists and anarchists, but generally I'm spoiled for short stories by inhaling all of Clarke's at the age of about eight.

Mark Kitto 'China Cuckoo'. This one I rather liked; it's autobiographic about a young man finally defeated by the Shanghai rat race, and setting up a coffee shop in Moganshan, the hill station built by the European settlement in Shanghai in the 1920s.

Philip Hoare 'Leviathan, or, The Whale'. A Christmas present from my brother in Madrid, this book discusses both the reality and the concept of the whale - chapters segueing between the biology of the whale, Moby Dick, and the whaling industry of the fifties. It's an obvious labour of love, but the scope of the book means it doesn't have a terribly clear thesis, and nothing really reads at satisfyingly deep.

John Scalzi 'Zoe's Tale'. This tidies up loose ends from 'The Lost Colony' by telling the story from the point of view of a different protagonist; rounds off the series very nicely. It's a series which feels stronger with each book read.

Marine Lewycka 'A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian'. I admit I picked this one out of the library because of the title; it's a story about naivety, the nature of betrayal and how childhood shapes people, set in the Ukrainian emigre community in Peterborough.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn 'One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich'. Probably the classic story of prison life.

Clive Cussler 'Treasure of Khan'. It's a thriller very much of the travel-story shape, featuring some truly bad Russian translation and some remarkably imaginative geopolitics - China ceding Inner Mongolia to the Mongols? And an earthquake machine. Reads well with Lemsip.

Mat Coward 'Acts of Destruction'. Another interesting one, brought up on Ken Macleod's blog; a William Morris post-peak-oil episode of the Midsomer Murders.

Walter Miller 'Dark Benediction'. Collection of short- to medium-length stories which are as firmly attached to the fifties as anything I've read: a particular preciousness of style and Cold War misery of setting that made me understand how much of a shock the New Wave must have been.

Molly Gloss, 'The Dazzle of Day'. Recommended by Jo Walton on, it's a generation ship which reads like a claustrophobic village in Costa Rica; I'm not sure what this book gains from the outside-the-village chapters being in space rather than in San Diego.
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