September 13th, 2012

lovejoy

September Books 8) The Firefly Gadroon, by Jonathan Gash

This is my sixth Lovejoy book in my current run, and the first of those which is set entirely in East Anglia. It is also one of the best; Lovejoy's obsession with antiques and his particular code of personal loyalty lead him to a dramatic and waterlogged showdown, with cosmic vengeance delivered by a bereaved donkey because the state's forces of law and order are too corrupt and compromised to do it. I think I'd recommend this one to people wondering if the Lovejoy novels are their kind of thing.
politics

Links I found interesting for 13-09-2012

earthsea

September Books 9) Ōoku: The Inner Chambers vol.5, by Fumi Yoshinaga

The fifth in the ongoing manga series set in a seventeenth-century Japan from which most men have been eliminated by disease, the pick of the remainder sequestered in the Ōoku, the shōgun's harem. This volume collects four of the original parts of the story, and after the first three, I was beginning to wonder if I would continue with this series; the misgovernment of the shōgun Tsunayoshi is not all that exciting a story, apart from the dramatic death of the young heir. I also realised that I was not picking up Yoshinaga's cues about her characters' ages; presumably readers more accustomed to the genre can spot the markers showing that they are in their 40s or 50s, but they almost all look about 25 to me (with a few clear exceptions). I was feeling a bit adrift, and finding it hard to keep track of the characters' multiple names (and wishing the publisher had provided a dramatis personæ).

But the last of the four parts re-engaged my interest; I don't know much about Japanese history, but just knowing that this was a gender-rotated re-telling of a real historical event (the Ako Incident of the Forty-Seven Samurai) made it more interesting to read, particularly since it has dramatic political repercussions in Yoshinaga's world (as I suppose in our own, though I know practically nothing about it). And at the end we meet the child who will become the shōgun Yoshimune, with whom this whole story started (we have been in extended flashback for a very long time now). So I will get the next volume, if with a slight feeling that it's on probation.
buzz

September Books 10) The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, edited by George Mann

I'm not quite sure why I got this, given my low opinion of the editor's fiction andnon-fiction; I certainly bought it before last year's debate about the tainted Solaris brand, and without looking inside the front cover where the dismal gender ratio (one female author out of 18) might have put me off.

Anyway. There were a couple of stories I liked here - Stephen Baxter's "Last Contact", and Keith Brooke's "The Accord" (which I note were also the two picked by Gardner Dozois for his annual collection) - many which didn't especially grab me, and one awful attempt to channel Kurt Vonnegut by Mike Resnick and David Gerrold. Next time I should listen to my inner voice.