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According to an consumer review, Iris Murdoch "one" a Booker Prize.

The morons march on . . .

If Thomas Pynchon ever won the Nobel Prize, would he decline it? Or would he attend the ceremony with a paper bag over his head?

(ETA: I'm assuming the equivalent of the National Book Award/"Professor" Irwin Corey schtick wouldn't be an option for such an exalted venue as the Nobels.)


I went to the Wake County Library Booksale Saturday before last, and I got a shipment from Edward R. Hamilton this past Tuesday.

(This is only a partial list, but even so, it's going to be looooong. Skipping doing any pics this time.)

Wake County Library Booksale haul: )

Edward R. Hamilton: )

God, I'm tired just typing all that in.


1215: The Year of Magna Carta by Danny Danziger & John Gillingham.

I am way behind on my bookblogging, but I'll post a really quick review of something I read a few months back just to try to get back in the game a little.

This is an apparent 'sequel' to something called The Year 1000, which I haven't read. It's your typical pop history - both 'low' social history and 'high' political history - in the years leading up to and including 1215, plus the charter's legacy. All very general stuff and nothing I haven't read before; I just wanted to refresh my rusty memory. (I think I got this volume at some book sale, but don't remember exactly.)

Judging by this book, King John revisionism - the idea that maybe he wasn't as big a stinker as everyone used to say - has had its day and we're back to the conventional depiction of the man as a liar, a coward, and worst of all, a stubborn and politically maladroit fool. Indeed, I almost got the feeling that John was being portrayed here as a thirteenth century Dubya, except this came out in 2003, before Dubya's current reputation had totally gelled in the popular mind. (By contrast, last year's Troublesome Young Men was very clearly comparing Neville Chamberlain with Dubya, to the credit of neither.)

This one is also only slightly modulated Whig history - the usual view of Magna Carta as the foundation of modern Anglophone liberty. (Though I'm not sure Whiggery ever went away in pop history - that's almost by definition some flavor of Whig history.)

I didn't really get much out of this and I'm struggling to remember anything of importance aside from the general impressions above. Not recommended.

Pushing Ice

Jul. 8th, 2008 10:50 pm
prunesquallor: (sf)

Pushing Ice (2005) by Alastair Reynolds.

This was very readable though not particularly original. It's 2057 and there's a fairly mature comet-mining industry. Captain Bella Lind and the crew of the Rockhopper are busily working in said industry, when Janus abruptly drops its disguise as a moon of Jupiter and begins to accelerate out of the solar system. Of course, it turns out that Lind's is the only ship close enough to trail this newly revealed alien artifact and gather data before it fully gets away. And equally of course, things don't go smoothly and the situation rapidly descends into an 'incident pit' (i.e., FUBAR).

A large part of the novel is devoted to the conflict between Lind and her chief engineer Svetlana Barseghian: mutiny and counter-mutiny, exile and restoration, tentative accommodation and renewed hostility. The two women aren't really well-rounded characters, though Reynolds does his best to carefully balance the scales between them: both are deeply flawed individuals (they make parallel disastrous decisions) but they govern well during their respective administrations.

Janus turns out to be a bit of a sideshow, and aside from some relatively meaningless booby traps isn't really developed as an interesting setting. Instead, new complications are constantly added to the mix: an even bigger Big Dumb Object, several alien races (including one so disgusting you know they just have to be Evulh), and some perfunctory chat about the Fermi Paradox. Plus there's the far-future human civilization that is considering sending a welter of probes out into the universe to search for its 'Benefactor' . . .

Not really recommended, though parts of the plot are moderately surprising.