cheetah

Reviews in Brief

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If you could call these 'reviews.' Really they hardly deserve to be dignified with the term.

Basically, I read a lot of books when I was in Belize, and a lot since then. Here's my thoughts on some of the new ones I read.

Master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark -- It's your standard "magic comes back to the world, someone gets murdered, and magic cops go figure out whodunnit," except it's set in Egypt, dispenses with the usual urban fantasy creatures and magic, and happens during the late Industrial Revolution. These are sufficient to make the book stand out, and P. Djeli Clark is a good enough writer to make it stand out well.

Echoes of the Fall by Adrian Tchaikovsky -- Very good. The author's worldbuilding and characterization are well done. Obviously I like anything having to do with shapeshifters (though the characters came off, unfortunately, as mostly human), by Tchaikovsky's plenty adept enough to draw my interest without waving metaphorical catnip under my nose.

I've seen other people say that the series portrayed romance well. I'd agree with that assessment. Most romance in fantasy tends to fall under very traditionalist lines and comes off as staid as a result; this does not. It's also low-key enough that it doesn't wear out its welcome.

Children of Time Adrian Tchaikovsky -- Another book by Tchaikovsky. It involves giant intelligent spiders, so what is not to love? Don't read if you suffer from arachnophobia. Unlike Echoes of the Fall, Children of Time is a good example of xenofiction; the alienness of the spider's society and psychology is a major theme of the novel, and despite that strangeness they're shown in a very sympathetic light.

Tchaikovsky also clearly knows his invertebrates, and his work works in a lot of minor biological details that warm my zoologist heart.

Outlaw Road by Emily B. Martin -- This was listed under fantasy and science fiction. It is neither. It's a Western, albeit one that doesn't take place in the Wild West. I'm actually glad it's misclassified, because if it was classified correctly I would have never read it. But I did, and while I didn't particularly care for the series' emphasis on family ties (it's a theme that doesn't particularly resonate with me), the author knows how to write about the natural environment--makes sense, because they work as a ranger.

I wouldn't call it ecofiction, but she definitely integrated the challenges and beauty of the environment into her writing.

Birds of Paradise by Oliver K. Langmead -- This is ecofiction. Adam, the First Dude (my phrasing), has lost a lot of his friends from Eden over the years, largely to human activity. The theme of the book is grief, and seeing those you love fall out of contact or die. It's pretty easy to empathize with, at least for me.

It doesn't pull its punches, and it does wrap everything up in a bow and make it nice and pretty at the end of the novel. And I'm thankful for that. Sometimes the only true endings are gray ones.

Horseshoe Crabs and Velvet Worms by Richard Fortey -- Not fiction, but natural history. Fortey writes an excellent book about several of the longest lasting living fossils on this planet, writing with evocative detail and careful attention paid to the science. He doesn't disrespect the reader by dumbing things down, but also writes without the use of much jargon and without boring the average lay audience.
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Comments

  1. Who-Is-Page's Avatar
    It's always awesome to hear about new books. I'm definitely gonna have to give some of these a read! Especially Children of Time. It's impossible not to look into a book that involves giant, intelligent arachnids.
  2. cheetah's Avatar
    He's got a sequel to it, Children of Ruin, that is also pretty good. I'm about halfway through it thus far.
  3. TopBrass's Avatar
    Neither fantasy nor scifi are really much my cup of tea when it comes to fiction, but it's always good to be reading. It's a great thing to get into the habit of doing. I guess I'm not the only one who had a productive summer in reading.