February 7th, 2010

earthsea

February Books 4) Kushiel's Scion, by Jacqueline Carey

The first book in Carey's second trilogy, set in an alternate magical Europe. Our narrator now is Imriel de la Courcel, much-abused son of the treacherous princess Melisande, who was adopted by Phédre nò Delaunay, the central character of the previous trilogy, at the end of the last book. Imri spends the first half of this book growing to maturity between his adoptive parents' country estate and the royal court [in what we would know as southern France], and the second half as a student in "Tiberium" [Rome] and then as a defender in the besieged city of Lucca (whose name for some reason is not changed), dealing withhis own personal demons as well as with the mysterious entanglements of his birth mother. As with Carey's other books, I loved the lush psychological and political landscapes she has created, and am glad I have the next two books waiting for me on the shelves. It may not be Great Literature but it is very enjoyable, even though (perhaps even because) it is less kinky than the first trilogy.

Top LibraryThing Unsugegstion: Disgrace, by J.M. Coetzee
buzz

February Books 5) Yellow Blue Tibia, by Adam Roberts

For the last couple of years I feel I have been rather neglecting the latest sf, so I decided to start catching up by getting through the shortlist for this year's BSFA award. Yellow Blue Tibia carries the subtitle Konstantin Skvorecky's memoir of the alien invasion of 1986, and is about a Soviet science fiction writer who becomes entangled in a complex conspiracy possibly involving aliens, Scientologists, the KGB and the Chernobyl nuclear power station in early 1986. The point of the book is at least as much the style as the substance, and I thought I recognised homages to Zamyatin and Bulgakov, as well as to the intersection between the writing of pulp sf and the Cold War as experienced on the other side of the Iron Curtain. The absurdism and surrealism extends also to one character with Asperger's syndrome, who is himself something of a metaphor for the Soviet system. I winced when I worked out what the title meant, about halfway through.