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Wednesday Reading, January 2015 - Sauntering Vaguely Downward [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Wednesday Reading, January 2015 [20150128|09:40]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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[the weather today is |sleep deprived]

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.

This entry was originally posted at http://nanila.dreamwidth.org/961101.html. The titration count is at comment count unavailable.0 pKa.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: ursarctous
2015-01-28 12:13 (UTC)
Do you mean you're going to read Foxglove Summer without having caught up with Broken Homes? Don't! Important things happen!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2015-01-28 12:30 (UTC)
Never fear. I'm spoiler-immune. In fact, if something makes me sufficiently worried that it will be frightening or triggery, I'll deliberately spoil myself for it so I can be emotionally prepared. :)
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[User Picture]From: imyril
2015-01-28 18:31 (UTC)
Heh, there's a major event at the end of Broken Homes that you may want to Wikipedia recap yourself on first, or Foxglove Summer will start with you blinking and thinking 'uh, wait, what?'

That said, given this and the previous comment, you might just think 'oh THAT'S what they were heavily alluding to' ;)

...and I've been looking forward to Lock In. Now I'm looking forward to it a little more.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2015-01-30 12:07 (UTC)
Thanks for that. Because in the first ten pages, that's exactly what happened! :P Looking forward to going back and reading Broken Homes later.

I bet you'll blow through Lock In in a day. :)
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[User Picture]From: gourou
2015-01-28 12:37 (UTC)
I enjoyed Scaliz's "Old Man's War". Felt like 70s sci-fi again :-)

Broken Homes I loved. Extra cherry on top for being around dizzykj's old 'hood :D

Can i send you a copy kindley or otherwise so you don't have to miss it?
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2015-01-30 12:05 (UTC)
*checks Wikipedia entries* Oh, those do look like fun! I may start with Zoe's Tale, just to get the female protag POV first.

I don't have a Kindle any more (been boycotting Amazon for a couple of years now), so am reliant on dead tree editions. No need to send me a copy of Broken Homes; I'm in the middle of Foxglove Summer already! It gets an extra cherry on top for being set in my present 'hood! :D
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[User Picture]From: tyrell
2015-01-28 22:35 (UTC)
Talking about the dialogue in Ancillary Sword, I got caught out every time when the politely careful things they'd been saying turned out to have revealed horrible situations they could all see clearly, but I'd missed totally until they were acted on. Very cool, and very emotionally engaging.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2015-01-30 12:08 (UTC)
Yes. The intrigue is sometimes so obliquely described that I have to go back and re-read to understand what happened! In fact, I'm still not quite sure what happened with Sirix at the end of AS. :P
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[User Picture]From: mysterysquid
2015-01-30 10:50 (UTC)
Looking forward to all of those. :D
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2015-01-30 12:11 (UTC)
I'm about halfway through Foxglove Summer. It's fun, but the writing isn't as good as Leckie's. I'm trying not to make that comparison so it doesn't fall flat, but it's difficult after your expectations have been raised!
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[User Picture]From: cosmiccircus
2015-01-31 01:14 (UTC)
I've always wanted to read John Scalzi, and I think I have Redshirts lying around somewhere. What was it that you didn't like about it? The other series I've heard good things about that he's written is the Old Man series...

And unbelievably I've never heard of Ben Aaronovitch and his books, so thank you for that tip!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2015-02-02 14:14 (UTC)
To be honest, I can't remember much about Redshirts. It didn't impress me the way Lock In did. Maybe it was because of the deliberately derivative plotline, and for me there was only so much fun to be extracted from riffing on old Star Trek tropes.

Ohhh, you're going to have fun catching up on the Peter Grant stories! :)
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[User Picture]From: cosmiccircus
2015-02-02 14:25 (UTC)
And I just bought Rivers of London, so see the impact you're having on my life!
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[User Picture]From: purplecthulhu
2015-01-31 12:22 (UTC)
I have a copy of Broken Homes if you want to borrow it at some point.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2015-02-02 14:15 (UTC)
Dead-tree edition, I take it? Yes please. We could work out a meeting in Brum over the next few weeks if you're about!
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[User Picture]From: purplecthulhu
2015-02-02 14:17 (UTC)
Dead tree, yes.

I'm not in Brum again until weekend of 20th Feb - A is off to Scotland and I'm off to be science guest at Boskone!
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2015-02-02 14:18 (UTC)
Okay, I'll ping you then. Hope you have a great time!
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