Friday, February 4, 2011

Quick book impressions.

Taking back 10 books to the store today.

I read 9 books in January, well ahead of my 6 book a month pace.

THE DRAGONS OF BABEL, Michael Swanwick. Sequel to THE IRON DRAGON'S DAUGHTER, which is one of my favorite all time books. Steampunk fantasy, with corporate elite elves, and mechanical dragons, and great mixture of fantasy and modern sensibilities.

This book wasn't anywhere near as good. (Did I over-estimate the worth of the first book because it was so fresh at the time?) Too much magic out of the hat, and a little bit too light-hearted. (I like my fantasy serious.)

SHIP BREAKER, Paolo Bacigalupi. A young adult novel that I thought frankly was better than his big breakout book, THE WINDUP GIRL. It's as good or better than THE HUNGER GAMES (which I very much enjoyed.) Good science fiction, no matter what age it's aimed at.

61 HOURS, Lee Child. As I've mentioned before, the author seems to be really stretching to fit his hero into outlandish plots. Reacher (he's living up to his name) just happens to be riding on a bus that lands him in a conspiracy in the middle of nowhere.

I, SNIPER, Stephen Hunter. These sniper books were absolutely great books when they started. DIRTY WHITE BOYS, for instance, was tough, gritty, realistic noir crime. They've become more and more superhero rightwing fantasy as they've gone along. But Hunter is still such a good writer, that they're great fun to read.

L.A. NOIR, John Buntin. A non-fiction book that details the L.A. police department from the early part of the century to the late 20th century riots. Using, as protagonists, William Parker who rose to become police chief, and Mickey Cohen, who was Bugsy Siegel's underling but took over the L.A. rackets when his boss got his head blown off.

I loved THE BIG NOWHERE and L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, by James Ellroy, but I suppose I thought his detailing of police corruption and machinations was fictional.

If anything, he might have toned it down. Well, he didn't exaggerate much. This is great background for lovers of Chandler, and Hammett, and Ellroy.

THE OUTFIT and THE MAN WITH THE GETAWAY FACE, Richard Stark. The sort of short, snappy novels they don't write anymore, with the main character Parker, one of the great creations of crime fiction. No nonsense heist books. Love them, eat them like candy.

THE FORTY SIGNS OF RAIN, Kim Stanley Robinson. Read this and try to doubt Global Warming. Turns out to be part of a trilogy, which unknowingly I had read the middle book, FIFTY DEGREES BELOW. (I looked through my notebook and couldn't find record of having read it -- I wonder how often I've done that....?) Great, geeky near future S.F.

HOUSE OF SUNS, Alastair Reynolds. Grand space opera, far far future, love his stuff.

THE LONG FALL, Walter Mosely. Most of Mosely's books are set in the past L.A. , and I think he's much better back then. His noir doesn't ring quite as true when it's set in the modern era and in N.Y. . Still, a very good writer who's worth reading no matter where or when he sets his books.

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