Books, August 2012

**** Orson Scott Card – Ender’s Game. I’m not sure how I never read this book before, but it was as good as everyone says.
**** Frank Herbert – Dune. Another one I shockingly never read before, and also really good. Now I have to see the movie, and read the rest of the books.
* Olaf Stapledon – Star Maker – I started this one, forced myself through it for a little while, but could not muster any interest in it.
*** Keith Roberts – Pavane. Good alternate-history story (actually, a collection of interlinked stories), in which the Catholic church still controls Europe and much of the world, suppressing much science and technology, with a coda that has a twist. An interesting exploration, though as a series of short stories, it doesn’t pull the reader into the characters as much as a single novel would. The stories also felt more poetic or fairy-tale esque than realistic, leaving me feeling somewhat disconnected. The twist at the end is thought-provoking but doesn’t really make a lot of sense.
*** Robert Charles Wilson – Spin. An interesting gimmick to build a science fiction novel around, hampered by too much attention given to interpersonal relationships that I had no interest in. Not that I don’t want interesting characters in a science fiction book, but these were neither very convincing nor very compelling. Still fairly readable.
** Peter Watts – Blindsight. I really liked the narrator, a person whose social inhibitions lead him to feel like he is simulating being human and to become an excellent observer. And the classic slow-discovery-of-alien plot was fairly intriguing — until the end, which just didn’t work for me. It was neither very convincing nor very interesting. And there wasn’t enough good stuff that preceded it to make the book something I overall enjoyed.
* Knut Hamsun – Mysteries. What a shitty fucking book. It’s “modernist” and “existentialist” which means that when you read a bunch of nonsensical ramblings from an unappealing, unconvincing, and uninteresting protagonist, you’re supposed to be moved by it and thereby question the underpinnings of society, or something. Or, you know, not.