Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ex Libris: August Books

(If life were a science-fiction written by a Filipino, then it would involve retrofitting bits and pieces to our past to add flavor to it. Oh wait, am talking about my blog here...)

Just in case anyone's interested, here's my reads for the month of August. Fortunately, my book reading has increased such that I'm now averaging 4-5 books a month again. Unfortunately, I can't do too much of reviews on this blog without boring everyone, hence I'll just put in my comments.

Old Friends

Unfortunately, despite having famed fantasy and horror co-editors Ellen Datlow and Terry Windling together for Salon Fantastique and having a roster of literary fantasists in the list, this anthology didn't seem to gel right for me. Why is that? It could be that it was one of those off-reading days; it could be the anthology's lack of a central theme. Either way, each story seemed to have a flaw that made me enjoy the collection less and less. Even noted writers Jeffrey Ford and Lucius Shepard, who can do no wrong in my book, both had-- though still quite enjoyable-- less than inspiring stories here. The fact that I can't really remember one good story in the collection is telling.

Still, maybe a re-read is in order.

Buddy Flicks

On the other hand, despite a certain slickness to Liz Williams' Snake Agent, I quite enjoyed this first book of the series. Maybe it's the whole concept: a near-future tale with Eastern mythology wrapped around it and wherein bureaucracy is so much a fact of life, whether you're alive or dead (even if you're in Heaven or Hell). And despite the ambiguous feel of the city of Singapore 3 (considering how much I like created cities at that), this did not detract from my enjoyment of police officer Wei Chan's travails in solving a missing ghost girl that could lead to all-out war. A demon sidekick in the form of Zhu Irzh, a vice cop-- yes, Hell has a vice department-- also helps give the story a different perspective.

Add the gorgeous covers by Jon Foster and this is one series from Nightshade Books I'll be collecting.

Apocalypse Girl

From strength to strength, Peter Watts's Maelstrom (the second in his Rifter's trilogy) recalls the adventures of Lenie Clarke, the girl who set out to hide from the world and is now out to destroy it. One thing I can say about this sci-fi writer, he pulls no punches as he extrapolates an apocalypse all the more chilling coming as it is from hard science. (You can read the afterword notes to see where Watts got his story ideas.) Given that this is part of a series, I'll probably do a more in-depth review of the first two books but suffice to say, if you see a book that has Peter Watt's by-line, I suggest you go out and get it. No, rush out and get it!

(Hint: His latest, Blindsight, is out now at Powerbooks.)

Aces High

Lastly, I found Tim Powers's Last Call personally scary but only because the theme-- the idea that one's own luck or juju could actually be controlled in the way a coin falls. As with any Powers' novel, he mixes mythological with historical with this story of a gambling man destined to become the mythical Fisher King of North America in the wake of gangster Bugsy Siegel's death. And given how I'm usually uninterested with Americana mythology, it's a credit to Powers that he managed to keep me reading 'til the end. Still (but despite of this), I did have some problems with the pacing of the story.

Definitely a strong addition to Powers' oeuvre.


Eldritch00 said...

Looking forward to your reviews (have you read Blindsight?), and I must say it's rather funny that, right now, I'm reading Last Call (and will follow it up immediately with the other two Fault Lines novels). Glad to know that {identity-protected} is better, too!

Don said...


banzai cat said...

eldritch: heh will get around. and haven't read blindsight though I've managed to procure a copy (hardbound of course). woo-hoo! and did I mention peter watt's a nice guy? i emailed him and he replied. cool guy.

as for last call, great, tell me soon how you like it.

don: hah! quit calling me sir! ;-)

Don said...

Oh, I meant Sir Andrew. Lol. :D

Oh btw, BC, are you sending an entry to the 2nd Phil G/F awards?

banzai cat said...

Yup. Or am trying to write one at least. *sigh*