Books read October

Yes, November has almost finished and I still haven’t put up what I read in October. Looking back at my monthly reading roundups you can really see where I started to lose interest and went for watching anime over more literary pursuits. I just haven’t had the energy or concentration to focus on books, since at least July or so. That’s the first time that’s happened since I started my booklog. So this month again there are only two books I remember reading:

Deconstructing the Starships — Gwyneth Jones
a collection of essays and reviews on fantasy and science fiction dating back to the early to mid nineties. Interesting, even if I don’t necessarily agree with Jones’ opinions. Also interesting to read this a decade and a half after publication, with enough time passed to see which burning issues of the day sizzled out and which are still ongoing concerns.

The Rhesus chart — Charlie Stross
A Laundry novel I bought when Charlie came to Amsterdam for a book signing, but I don’t seem to actually have gotten it signed. A scrum team of high end banking IT nerds independently invents vampirism, things get worse from there on out.

Books read September

Onwards and upwards. Still a way below average month as I’ve not felt much of an urge to read, but at least I managed to finish four books this time:

The Gospel of Loki — Joanne M. Harris
A rewriting of Norse myth from the point of view of the title character. A freebie from Nine Worlds, rather enjoyable.

Two Serpents Rise — Max Gladstone
Californian style water politics imported into fantasyland.

S-F Women A-Z: A Reader’s Guide — Sandra Ulbrich Almazan
A free ebook bundling of blogposts showcasing female SF&F authors. Sometimes I think I should do something similar with a collection of my own blogposts, but this is a good reminder of why that’s most likely a bad idea.

Root of Unity — SL Huang
The third novel in the Russell’s Attic series in which Cas Russell falls apart, in more ways than one.

Book loot

books bought

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve done a book loot post, but today I got a lot of books from the local sf club I’d ordered earlier, including the run of Holland SF fanzines I used to read in the library. Apart from that there are three books by Gwyneth Jones: Kairos and Rainbow Bridge and especially interesting, a collection of her criticism, Deconstructing the Starships (which I got incredibly cheap if i can believe the price in the back of it). I also got a proper old skool yellow gollancz edition of Mindplayers, Pat Cadigan’s first novel, a Linda Nagata novel, Deception Well, a Leigh Brackett Erik John Stark book I still needed and finally, Pamela Sargent’s Watchstar and The Shore of Women.

Books read August

Another disappointing month, to be sure. Only two books read, again because I spent most of my leisure time watching anime rather than reading books. While I tend to multitask when watching Dutch or English language television, subbed anime needs my full attention if I want to follow the plot. To be honest, I don’t think this will change much in September either, because at the moment watching anime entertains me more than reading does.

Blood Pact — Tanya Huff
Fourth in the Victoria Nelson series of supernatural thrillers. A decent, entertaining read but it dragged on a bit in the last third.

The Sleepwalkers — Christopher Clark
A somewhat revisionist history of how Europe got itself into World War I, with more of the blame laid at the Entente (France, Russia, Britain) powers and especially Serbia. Convincing enough while reading it, but not the last word in this eternal debate.

Juniper Time — Kate Wilhelm

Cover of Juniper Time

Juniper Time
Kate Wilhelm
296 pages
published in 1979

This got easier to read after the rape, which happened on page 88 but I could see coming from almost the first page. A late seventies science fiction novel, with a female protagonist and a near future setting in which America is suffering a long term hypertrophied economic depression, in a stalemate with the Russians and sliding off to an autocracy (aka standard seventies dystopia #1)? Yeah, there’s going to be a rape. It’s depressingly predictable and while it’s not the worst sort of plot motivating rape I’ve ever read and you could even argue that this time it’s truly essential to the plot, it’s still disappointing to see it used. But once it was out of the way it was much easier to enjoy what is otherwise an extremely interesting novel.

Juniper Time is a novel I first read sometime in the eighties, in Dutch translation, because of the recommendation in an old issue of the Holland SF fanzine. I remember liking it well enough at the time, but also that after I’d discovered cyberpunk, it struck me as the poster child of everything in science fiction the cyberpunks revolted against, as per Bruce Sterling’s introductions to Burning Chrome and Mirror Shades. It’s a political novel, a feminist novel that’s more focused on Earthbound matters than the conquest of space, slow moving and presenting a world that’s Disco Era America writ large, depressed, crime ridden and worn out. I can well understand how dated it superficially must’ve looked after Neuromancer came out. Thirtyfive years on, cyberpunk is just as dated, the glamour has worn off and it’s easier to see Juniper Time‘s strengths.

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