Mad Scientess Jane Expat (nanila) wrote,
Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Wednesday Reading, January 2015

I’m finally beginning to tackle the pile on my bedside table that’s mostly been gathering dust for the past year. I managed to finish less than ten fiction books in 2014, and only have strong memories of two: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie and Spirits Abroad by Zen Cho, both of which I loved. This is mostly because my attention span is shot to hell by the combined pressures of house maintenance, toddler care and an extremely full schedule at work. The latter is temporarily off and although I do now have an infant to look after, that actually affords me some time to practice my now-rusty reading skills. It’s better to pick up a book in the middle of the night than to refresh the Economist or the Guardian on my phone and get worked up about the latest injustice. So! Here we go.

Just Finished
John Scalzi’s Lock In. Now that was good fun and a very quick read. I enjoyed the crime-solving process. Then there were the added bonuses. The gender of the protagonist is never specified and doesn’t matter. Likewise, their (non-white) race is only mentioned once as part of a tangential plot point. It is heavily implied, though, if you know anything about the typical composition of an American professional basketball team. Racial diversity is evidenced through the use of names rather than physical descriptions. There are plenty of female characters in professional positions of authority. All of this is presented deftly and integrates smoothly with the plotline and the wry, witty dialogue.

I enjoyed this offering more than Redshirts, which is the only other book of his oeuvre that I’ve read.

In Progress
Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Sword. I had more difficulty getting into this during the first sixty or seventy pages than I did the first book in the series. Perhaps it’s because Breq’s motivation - the overriding sense of anger - is subsumed somewhat by her* need to play her cards close to her chest, as the political game she’s now playing requires. Even though it’s not spelled out as explicitly as in the first book, the sense of her non-human-ness feels stronger, as well. I found myself wishing for an occasional switch of point of view to a character I have more ease in sympathising with - Seivarden, for instance. Now that I’m nearly a third of the way through**, this desire has abated and I’m fully immersed in the action. I try to slow myself down to savour Leckie’s loaded dialogue and meticulous world-building, but it’s getting very exciting.

* I use the pronoun in the same gender-neutral manner as in the books.
** I wrote most of this entry yesterday. The baby had a very disturbed night, so I’m now twenty pages from the end.

Up next
Ben Aaronovitch’s Foxglove Summer. I missed out on Broken Homes (see: 2014: the lost year) but I’ll acquire it if I enjoy this offering sufficiently.

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Tags: books: ancillary sword, books: lock in, reading
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