drcpunk (drcpunk) wrote,
drcpunk
drcpunk

Recent Reading



That's kind of where I am. There is so much good stuff -- really good stuff -- that we have in the house, and that's even before looking at all the stuff available legitimately, for free, on the Internet.

I'm settling for reading two books. One is Daniel Abraham's novel A Shadow in Summer, the first volume of The Long Price Quartet, which is being touted as very good and very important high fantasy. If this proves true in my estimation, it may be a contender for the Mythopoeic Award, so I'd best get moving now. The prologue was riveting, and I was delighted to be surprised. The next part, chapter one, starts a bit slow, as there's a page or so of travelogue, but after that,I've had smooth sailing to chapter 3. If I pause for the second book I'm reading, it's no flaw in Abraham's novel.

It's just that the second book I'm reading is The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume Two, edited by Jonathan Strahan. I picked this up because a) it had the Ted Chiang story that won the Hugo, b) David Hartwell assured me that it was a good anthology, and c) whether I've read their work or not, I recognize nearly every name and know them to be good authors.

So far, I have read the introduction and the first nine stories. I have issues with the introduction, but the stories -- As of story number 9, I have finally hit a story that is merely good, rather than amazingly good. This means I've read:

"The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate" by Ted Chiang. Everything he has written is amazing and makes my brain work hard. I have heard that he withdrew a particular story from consideration for an award on the grounds that it was rushed, and... he's right. It's still a very good story, but I had thought there was a straw man argument in there, and I needed his explanation of what he was doing and why to appreciate the story. This is a flaw. But the story in this collection has, in my arrogant opinion, no such flaw.

"The Last and Only, or Mr. Moskowitz Becomes French" by Peter S. Beagle. Not to my taste, but very well done, and the ending makes it abundantly clear that the things which bother me are not unintentional on Beagle's part. He knows what he is doing.

"Trunk and Disorderly" by Charles Stross. My third foray into his fiction, and I've finally hit a piece I like. It's a lot of fun.

"Glory", by Greg Egan. At first, I thought this was partly a nod to Hal Clement. It may well be, but a few pages in, I found that that was just the beginning. I'm not sure what I think of the ending, but I can see the rationale for it.

"Dead Horse Point" by Daryl Gregory. A good story, but not a comfortable one by any means.

"The Dreaming Wind", by Jeffry Ford. This one and the Chiang story made me cry with joy.

"The Coat of Stars" by Holly Black. This is a really good blend of old fairy tale tropes and the modern world. And, if it leans more to the latter than the former, I shan't complain. It is very layered, and I wonder how much of that was planned, and how much just happened. It reads deceptively simply, but don't you believe it.

"The Prophet of Flores" by Ted Kosmatka. This reminded me of a Tiptree story, "Your Haploid Heart", although the setting and events are quite different. Like the Black story, it's written smoothly enough that it looks easy to do, and I probably need to reread it, because, like the Black, it is layered.

"Wizard's Six" by Alex Irvine. This is the one I considered merely good. There's a lot going on, and that's obvious, but it didn't strike me as having woven everything together as masterfully as the others. It's spread out, rather than layered; wide, rather than deep. That said, it is a good story. It's just that the others are better.
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