Friday, July 27, 2007

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

Short stories, fantasy. How to describe? A mix of good and very good, with a few poems thrown in. I prefer Gaiman's stories to his novels.

Mythic, pastiche, ghosts and fables. The introduction includes a story about mapmaking, which comments that the best description of a story is the story, itself.

I always have trouble summing up books, their plots and characters. If I say this, I think, I should say that as well, it's equally important.. and how about this other? This character is this, but not really: she's also this and this and this... and how much harder with a collection of widely varying stories.

I think they're worth reading. If you like that sort of thing, of course. Whatever that sort of thing is.

Friday, July 13, 2007

City of Bone by Martha Wells

Nice fantasy with a somewhat science-fictional feel - it's set in a post-apocalyptic world, where the apocalypse was brought about by an unfortunate combination of magic and hubris. A blurb described the setting as "Arabian Nights" style, but I didn't get that at all, apart from the desert setting. Most of the world's water was destroyed in the magical disaster, and the paired struggles for water and for knowledge of the Ancients drive the society and the plot.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Heloise and Abelard: a new biography by James Burge

Heloise and Abelard, the prototypical star-crossed lovers...

At one point, Burge sums up Abelard's autobiography roughly as follows: promising career ruined by the jealousy of his colleagues, a disastrous love affair that led to his castration, followed by exile to a land of homicidal monks. Very hard not to feel sorry for the fellow.

I'm still startled that they named their son Astralabe. I thought baby names like Apple or Telescope were modern innovations.

Winter Moon by Mercedes Lackey, Tanith Lee, C.E. Murphy

Picked this up at the library mostly for the Tanith Lee story - I haven't read anything new by her since the Venus series. But I found that actually the least appealing - stylistically it reminded me of her earlier writings, like The Birthgrave, which I didn't like as much. The Lackey had sympathetic characters, engaging writing, minimal plot and vaguely drawn setting, which is par for most of her writing. But the third, by C. E. Murphy, whom I haven't read before, was good - urban, slightly off-kilter setting, gritty supernatural stuff, strong characters.

Looking Tanith Lee up on Amazon, I see that someone's bringing out a two-volume compilation of selected stories. Must look for.