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Showing posts from March, 2013

Review: The Rise of Ransom City by Felix Gilman

Over at Strange Horizons, I review Felix Gilman's The Rise of Ransom City, following up on my review of the first volume in (what I assume is) this duology, The Half-Made World.  I enjoyed The Rise of Ransom City very much (it was even on my Hugo ballot) and there's a lot that Gilman is doing that I don't think anyone else currently writing fantasy is interested in, which I hope to write more about in the near future.  But nevertheless, there are problems with this sequence, and the way it fantasizes American Western expansion, that can't be ignored.

Look to Windward by Iain M. Banks

My progress through Iain M. Banks's science fiction novels, and particularly his Culture sequence, has been deliberately haphazard.  I've picked the books up as they came to me, in used bookstores, convention dealers' rooms, and my trips abroad.  It's one of the strengths of the Culture sequence that the universe it describes is so broad and full of storytelling potential, and yet underpinned by basic rules that are so straightforward and clearly defined, that you can pick it up at almost any point and in almost any order without diminishing your experience of either the individual books or the sequence as a whole (in that sense, though I wonder if either author would thank me for the comparison, it reminds me of Terry Pratchett's Discworld).  In my last few forays into the Culture, however, with Matter and Surface Detail, there's been a growing sense that I've been missing something, and comments to my reviews of both novels have cited the importance of Lo…

(Not So) Recent Reading Roundup 32

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I've amended the title of this latest and long-delayed entry in the recent reading roundup series because some of these reads are not recent at all.  Some of them have been waiting for months for me to get around to writing about them, and it feels appropriate to finally get around to doing so now, when we're in the run-up to Passover, a period of spring cleaning, of clearing out the winter's various accumulated stuff, and making room for new messes.  Not that most of these books are messes--I wouldn't have spent months intending to write about them otherwise--but it feels good to clear the decks.
Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan - This book seemed like it would be right up my alley, since I've been waiting for several years for McEwan to write another great novel (following a few minor ones--Saturday, On Chesil Beach--and the utterly unappealing Solar, which I didn't even bother to read), and the premise--a female narrator relates her career as a junior MI6 agent in t…

More Than Words: Thoughts on Bunheads, Season 1

Television, we're often told, is a writer's medium.  The combination of limited budget and little scope for fancy visuals, and the need to keep feeding the hungry beast of continuous story--be it a serialized drama, a character-based soap, or even a procedural--serves to prioritize the writer's toolbox.  It's the reason, I think, that television so easily amasses obsessed, engaged fandoms, and that TV criticism has become such a vibrant, quickly proliferating field.  Even the most inaccessible and deliberately opaque TV series usually comes down to the basic tools of storytelling--the progression of a story, the development of a character, the emergence of a theme--that are fun to talk about and easy to put into words (by "easy," I mean requiring little formal training or specialist knowledge, which is a category of critic in which I obviously include myself, and to call this kind of criticism easy is by no means to ignore how often it can also be intelligent…