Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I'm a huge fan of Terry Pratchett. I think I've read Good Omens at least 10 times, and I've re-read every Discworld novel. So I was eagerly anticipating Nation, and yet once it arrived it just sat around for a while before I finally picked it up. Which is odd, I will often start reading a book on the way home from the library. I think that maybe I had read this review from BoingBoing,
This isn't a Discworld novel or a Truckers novel -- it's not Good Omens. It's a complete departure for Pratchett and yet is recognizably him, on every page, writing with the same grace and wit we know from his other work.
and I think that maybe I was scared, knowing that Terry Pratchett has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's...and projecting visions of my grandmother (who has Alzheimer's), and being really worried that I was going to read his latest novel and it would somehow be less...

Turns out I had absolutely no reason to worry. The story on its own is awesome, and he manages to do that thing he does in all the later Discworld novels (which is the reason I love them so much) and that is to inject social commentary in this amazingly elegant way that allows you to leave behind your preconceived notions and come at an issue from a really different angle. What I see in Nation is a commentary on religion - and how different people handle their idea of god, especially when their entire world is turned upside down (how can you thank god for saving your life, when presumably that same god just killed every single person you cared about?) and every character copes in different ways. I didn't feel that it was at all judgemental - but perhaps that is because my ideas are far more in line with the main characters, and not at all in line with the crazy priest, but I suspect that most people reading this book would not feel judged. I really enjoyed the take on the question of "why didn't god make the world perfect?" (Answer: This world was just a dry run, he's gone off to make a more perfect world, but everyone who has been deemed worthy of being offered the opportunity to go there has declined) and "does god exist?" (Answer: Ito made people smart enough to figure out that he doesn't exist)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I love John Scalzi's "Big Idea" series. It is really interesting reading about what was going through someone's head when they wrote something. It is really really different than reading a blurb on the back of a novel, and I find it gives me a better idea of whether or not I'll actually like a book. Generally they're getting posted on the blog long before they show up in my local library, so I just put them on my Amazon wish list, and ever so often I'll go through that list and see what the library has acquired. Or I'll start feeling rich and just buy them. But that generally requires someone in the house being gainfully employed.

What caught my attention about this one (aside from the cover which is awesome) was this:

... has prompted no less than George R.R. Martin (who knows from fantasy) to declare that it “is to Harry Potter as a shot of Irish whiskey is to weak tea.”
followed by

Yeah, on the face of it this doesn’t sound like an especially big idea. It more sounds like the idea I had every day for about 10 years, between the ages of 7 and 17, before I gave up on my prospects of ever getting to Narnia.
It doesn't sound like the world's most uplifting book, and it probably won't be a fun romp through fantasy land...but it does sound like something I'll enjoy and that will make me think. And so it is going on my list.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sarah Monette

I love reading Jo Walton's blog, and I've been enjoying the re-reading topics going on over at That's how I stumbled across Sarah Monette. I was intrigued by this review of Sarah Monette's Melusine. Specifically:
Monette does some interestingly odd things here, subversions of genre expectations. To start with, we hardly get any sane Felix before we’re plunged into his madness...writing half a book from a madman’s perspective is daring, and it’s impressive that she makes it work so well."
Then there’s the subversion of “getting the adventuring party together.” Felix finds Gideon and Mildmay finds Mavortian von Heber and Bernard, and they all come together and decide to go off together—and then they get separated again almost at once. If you’re used to the way fellowships are formed in fantasy, this is outrageous. I wanted to cheer."
The rest of the review is awesome and right on target as far as I'm concerned, but it was these two points that had me desperately wanting to read the book.