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Wed, 5 May 2010

April 2010 in books

Some of these reviews can also be found on Amazon.

In April 2010 I read the following books:

1. Jill the Reckless, by P.G.Wodehouse

Like much of Wodehouse's work, this is a light-hearted, fairly short work, that you'll be able to knock off in a coupla days. It has such Wodehouse perennials as a domineering aunt, an uncle, and Bertie Wooster (although with a different name). I dare say little more without giving some of the essntials away, but you will enjoy this book. If you don't, you are broken.

2. Iron Sunrise, by Charles Stross

This sequel to Singularity Sky would work just as well as a stand-alone novel, while also maintaining continuity of character and setting with the first. The style, however, is rather different. Gone is the humour, replaced with a much darker over-all feel, and with far more action. While this does make the book more immediately accessible, I feel that there's something missing now.

It's still worth buying, mind. There is also room left for another book in the series, although Stross has no plans for one at the moment.

3. The Song of Phaid the Gambler, by Mick Farren

As Farren was so associated with the "counterculture" and "UK underground" you expect this to be an incoherent mess, but it's not. It still lacks overall structure, being more a sequence of events that just happen to involve the title character instead of an integrated whole, and relies on a few rather improbable coincidences and conspiracies. There's also a couple of plot-lines that are just left to fizzle out. Despite all that it's a mostly pleasant and diverting read, and worth buying second-hand. Which is good, because you can't get it new.

4. The Wasp Factory, by Iain Banks

Narrated in the first person, this macabre tale hooks you early on and you jolly well stay hooked right up to the end. It's very short, but feels much longer than it really is because you don't expect such depth of character, or to sympathise so much with the narrator, in a mere novella, and the minor inconsistencies don't really matter much - it's not like the nutjob narrator can be expected to tell the truth all the time anyway. Utterly grotesque and horrible, beautifully written and composed, well worth reading.

5. Palimpsest, by Charles Stross

Time-travelling librarian history enforcers? Errm, well, OK, it's an idea that could be developed into something very interesting, certainly. But presented in short-story format like this, it's unfortunately rather confusing, and stops just when it should be getting started. This has an awful lot of potential if developed into a full novel, but in this format, it's not particularly good.

6. Overtime, by Charles Stross

This short Laundry story was going to get at least four stars, right until the end. Unfortunately, the ending is rather hurried. Stross gets everything else right though, so it's worth reading. And you can read it for free on Tor's website.

7. Down on the Farm, by Charles Stross

Another Laundry short, this is much better than Overtime. There's more human interest, and more explanation of what the hell's going on, so when we get to the end it's far more fulfilling. Very good, and free on Tor's website.

Posted at 23:36 by David Cantrell
keywords: books | culture
Permalink | 1 Comment

Our paths rarely cross in terms of reading material, but The Wasp Factory is one of those books that possibly everyone should read.

100% agree with your review, also. 5* without a doubt.

--c.

Posted by Clive on Fri, 7 May 2010 at 10:29:00


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