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00:04: belated booklog, March 2012


Martin Cruz Smith, Wolves Eat Dogs, Stalin's Ghost; Rereads. The first two of the recent set of Arkady Renko novels. In Wolves Eat Dogs the death of a New Russian businessman leads Renko to an investigation in the surreal environs of the Chernobyl nuclear plant, while Stalin's Ghost involves him in hysteria over apparent visions of Stalin in contemporary Moscow and the political ambitions of dangerous veterans of the war in Chechnya. Superior mystery/thrillers, though a little less assured in handling Renko's relationship with quasi-homeless boy chess genius than with the investigations; highly recommended.

R.M. Meluch, The Myriad; First in a series. Extremely pulpy space opera with US marines and a revived Roman empire fighting innately hostile aliens. Oddly inventive with an interesting twist ending, though also politically and philosophically infuriating; can't really recommend it, though I'll probably read the rest at some point when I am short on brain.

Robert Charles Wilson, Vortex; Concluding volume of the Spin trilogy, interspersing the further adventures of some of the characters from Axis with the story of a mentally disturbed man in the near future who appears to be channelling their stories. I would rate it as better than Axis but not as good as Spin. Recommended.

Lois McMaster Bujold, The Curse of Chalion; Reread. Lupe dy Cazaril returns from some years as a galley slave to a court where he has reason to believe he has powerful enemies, and gets involved in intrigue and dark magic. Great people and wonderful gods, though I still think the resolution of the biggest plot issue is a lot more obvious than the text seems to. Very highly recommended.

Charles C. Mann, 1493; A follow-up to 1491, surveying changes across the Earth in the aftermath of contact between New World and Old. Like its predecessor, a fascinating survey of a wide range of fields making some very interesting cross-connections; very highly recommended.

Ian McDonald, Sacrifice of Fools; Reread. Novel set in a then-near-future Belfast, in a world where millions of humanoid but distinctly psychologically and culturally non-human aliens, the Shian, have recently arrived; having a community of a few thousand Shian settled in Belfast provides an outside perspective on the conflict there in ways pretty much impossible to do otherwise. A series of murders are committed, and investigated by a former Loyalist terrorist turned Shian liaison officer, a detective in the newborn NIPD, and a Shian advocate. McDonald brilliantly evokes the grim reality of intractable ethnic conflict, and is fascinatingly convincing about the consequences, on all scales, of the Shian arrival, while retaining a solid grounding in character and the mundane details of daily life. My highest recommendation.

Colin Cotterill, Curse of the Pogo Stick; Fifth of the Dr. Siri mysteries, in which the septuagenarian state coroner of fairly-newly Communist Laos in 1977 is drawn into the affairs of a Hmong village who want his services in his reluctant role as shaman, while his supporting cast are threatened by assassins seeming to have something to do with the foiled countercoup of a previous volume. Recommended.

John Barnes, The Duke of Uranium; Reread. Adventure in a mode similar to Heinlein juveniles, with a group of teenagers having adventures in a complex and in places fascinating highly colonised future solar system. On its own, recommended, though the sequels are much less so.



Comments

[User Picture]
From:prince_corwin
Date:September 28 2012 00:56 (UTC)
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Ian McDonald, Sacrifice of Fools

Wait, this is by Dervish House Ian McDonald?
[User Picture]
From:papersky
Date:September 28 2012 14:05 (UTC)
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Same guy, yes.
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From:rysmiel
Date:September 28 2012 15:53 (UTC)
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Indeed. My own familiarity with the setting is probably affecting my judgement somewhat, but McDonald writes the only fiction dealing with specific Irish issues that I have ever come across that does not at some point make me want to throw it across the room.
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