March 2nd, 2008

earthsea

March Books 1) Summerland

1) Summerland, by Michael Chabon

I really liked this book, even though it is mainly about baseball, a game which I know almost nothing about. Its parallel worlds and talking animals are close to Philip Pullman, and its fantastic imagining of America is not very far from American Gods, but I think it is better done than either - more confidently rooted in American folklore than Gaiman's book, and less ideological than Pullman. Also, despite its 500 pages, I found it a surprisingly quick read.
earthsea

March Books 2) Rogue Moon

2) Rogue Moon, by Algis Budrys

One of the classic works of sf I resolved to read at the start of the year. It would actually be good material for a study of gender politics in the late 1950s (published in 1960, when the author was 29). The sfnal part of the story - our heroes' attempts to find a way through a mysterious alien artifact on the Moon, I guess foreshadowing both Clarke/Kubrick's 2001 and the Strugatskys' Roadside Picnic - plays second fiddle to the sexual tension among the alpha males of the research group, with the James Bond figure, the Scientist and the Manager; and the two woman characters are pretty obviously the Virgin and the Whore. At the same time as the men are fighting over the sexual pecking order, they have to confront the fact that the lunar exploration project is essentially a suicide mission many times over; sex and death are pretty closely linked here. A rather fascinating book, though not really an enjoyable one.