June 8, 2007

Some books I liked recently… and some I didn’t

No bike content today, so if that’s what you’re here for, you can skip the rest of the post.

When Gravity Fails: I liked this book a lot – it’s an interesting examination of how technology can dehumanize, but also a great sci-fi noir book that’s hard to put down. Thumbs up!

Babel-17: I’ve decided that Samuel Delany is my favorite gay black science fiction writer. Actually, I think he’s the only one I’m aware of, but Babel17 is a pretty kickass book, especially if (like me) you find linguistics and grammar really interesting (I was briefly, believe it or not, a linguistics PhD student at CU). Big thumbs up for this one. I’m still trying to decide if I liked the Neveryon stuff, also by Delany, but I enjoyed Ballad of Beta2 and to a lesser extent, Empire Star. Delany is a really clever guy who has a talent for mixing in linguistic theory and literary criticism, to an extent that I’m sure a good portion of it is going right over my head. But that’s ok, because he’s also a great storyteller.

The Road: Cormac McCarthy is like Hemingway for idiots. You know how you had to read The Old Man and the Sea in high school and discuss all the stuff Hemingway was trying to tell you between the lines, which (IMO) he might or might not actually have been trying to tell you? You know how the super-simple declarative sentences lend themselves to endless analysis and pointless theorizing by classes of first-year English majors? Well, Cormac McCarthy is just like Hemingway, but instead of being a badass who tells a good story, he’s a pretentious dork who wants people to think he’s saying something deep, when in reality, he’s just aping a writing style that only really worked for one author, ever. The Road reads like a nuclear post-apocalyptic Americanized version of Grave of the Fireflies – lots of pointless suffering and attempts to beat you senseless with unsubtle metaphors. It also reads like a book written by someone who has never read any post-apocalypse genre sci-fi. Then again, I’m guessing the book isn’t aimed at your typical science fiction reader. Bottom line: The Road sucked.

Coming soon, a review of Futureland!

In the meantime, though, expect some more bike-related posts. I know very few of the people who read this are interested in the weird books that I like, but I like to type this stuff up.