Reading Notes – Swanwick, McDevitt, Okorafor


Michael Swanwick’s Dancing with Bears – A very rich stew, and complex, with the point of view bouncing between half a dozen or so separate characters or situations, sometimes all within a single chapter. Thinking of the many Darger and Surplus short stories, this book is rather like a TV franchise given a movie budget, and so obliged to be really really big, in a way no individual short story was – here we have renegade AIs trying to bring the destruction of the world in their hatred of humanity, in addition to D&S’s scheme involving 7 virgins intended for the Duke of Moscovy. Still, fabulous writing, a joy to read, sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph.

Jack McDevitt’s Firebird – McDevitt is a slightly guilty pleasure for me; I’m compelled to read his books, even though his 10,000-year hence future is by no means visionary, in any singularity sense; it depicts sophisticated folks on faraway planets living in nice homes, dining in restaurants, attending seminars, much like anyone in the current 1%; yet also having easy access to FTL flights to nearby and faraway planets and systems. And yet – this is hard SF, in a space opera hard SF sense, meaning that given established rules about how FTL travel works, the novel establishes a mystery about certain disappearing ships that is resolved in a brilliant and moving fashion.

Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch – Surprisingly not dissimilar to Harry Potter, but with a third world setting and culture, more colorful set pieces, and higher stakes.

More comments on recently-read books, by Goldstein, Wolfe, Joyce, Cline, Wilson, Haldeman, Gibson, McDonald, and Scalzi, in the next couple days.

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