Friday 5 August 2011
I've read a few books lately...
I read Pirate Freedom by Gene Wolfe; it's definitely the best Catholic pirate time-travel fantasy I've ever read. Seriously, it's quite good. Most Wolfe novels I've read have felt a little too obscurantist, like I'm taking a fiendishly difficult reading comprehension test, but this one's just good.
I read a few classic Philip Dick novels: The Man In The High Castle, The Three Sigmata Of Palmer Eldritch and Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?. They're all good, although The Man In The High Castle seemed the best; his depiction of Japanese influence on postwar California (in a future where the Allies lost World War 2) is intriguing. Although I liked the novels, they all gave me an odd mental aftertaste, as if my own grip on reality had been subtly undermined. Perhaps that's what taking drugs is like. It would certainly explain --- or be explained by --- Dick's lifestyle.
I read The Runes Of The Earth, Stephen Donaldson's return to the Thomas Convenant saga that I read the first six books of in the early 90s. It's not bad, although like his previous books I find it grossly overwritten. I'll probably read on, although (spoilers!) I'm rather nervous, since the introduction of time travel into a long-running storyline is usually a sign that you've jumped the shark.
Now I'm working through Harry Potter. Partly it's because I want to be ahead of my kids reading it, but it's not bad at all. It definitely picked up in the third book.
I've bought The Scar by China Mieville. I liked Perdido Street Station a lot, despite the deus ex machina ending, and Iron Council was quite good even though it didn't make any sense. Mieville's world-building is captivating. Like Dick, though, his books leave me with a mental aftertaste. Mieville's world seems wrong in a way that no other fantasy world does to me. There seems to be a fundamental disorder; a feeling that there are no laws or limits or organizing principles, or those that exist are corrupt somehow. I can't explain it very well. It tastes of Hell, maybe.