Karl Gallagher (selenite) wrote,
Karl Gallagher
selenite

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Recent Reading

Cartoon History of the Modern World Part 1
Continues on from the Cartoon History of the Universe series, in slightly smaller format. Still a good overview of history. Starts with Mesoamerican culture and its contact with Europeans, ends with the wrap-up of the American Revolution. The last was covered glancingly, but we already have The Cartoon History of the United States and I suspect he didn't want to duplicate that. Slightly marred by the Doonesbury syndrome--putting in political cracks that are funny to the author's in-crowd now, but won't make any sense to the kid who takes the book off the shelf ten years from now. Part of the future homeschooling curriculum.

Doomsday Book
Picked it up after hearing the Three Weird Sisters filk of it again. Not a very cheerful tome, though the title is fair warning. An Oxford student goes back to the Middle Ages as a time-travel research project, while a modern crisis distracts those who sent her. I have to wonder if an Oxford professor once strangled Connie Willis' puppy. I can be harsh toward academics pontificating outside their expertise, but she shows most of them incompetent even within their specialty. Slightly dated, as her 2054 is technologically behind 2007 (no cell phones, no internet databases) but still a very good story.

Temeraire series
celticdragonfly gave me His Majesty's Dragon for Christmas, and then regretted is as I disappeared into the book with a loud sucking sound. A week later we'd both read it and both sequels. This is the Napoleonic Wars with dragons. Our Hero is a naval officer involuntarily transferred to the (delicate shudder) Aerial Corps, many of whose practices are a huge shock to his aristocratic Regency-era soul. But over the course of many battles he learns why they're necessary, teaches the flyboys (and girls) a few tricks, and earns their respect. Much of what carries the books is the characterization of the dragons, especially Temeraire, who's as much the central character as his captain, and even more exceptional.

GURPS Fantasy, Space, Infinite Worlds, and Mysteries
These RPG supplements are intended to help gamemasters building their own adventure settings. But I think SJG could sell them through the Science Fiction Writers of America as a boxed set. They're a detailed look at the conventions and possibilities of each genre (Infinite Worlds covers alternate histories). They'd be indispensable for writers wanting to do their own worldbuilding.

Sharing Knife: Legacy, to be released July 1, 2007
My birthday present (thank you, celticdragonfly!). The one complaint: too short. It may please the people who wanted more action and violence than the first half had, but it's still not Mercenaries on Campaign. This book concentrates on culture clash going the other direction, with Fawn as our viewpoint into the Lakewalker culture. Various hints exist that the Lakewalkers are having a hard time keeping up their Ranger-type duties against the malices, but their pattern is too rigid for them to try to find a better way. I look forward to watching Dag look for one in The Wide Green World.
Tags: books, culture, science fiction
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