Books read, August 2013

Lost quite a bit of this month to travel and being ill. Feh to the latter. (I did, however, get massive amounts of photo-editing done. This is not reading, but it is satisfying.)

Sorcery and Cecelia, Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. Re-read, because I felt like it. Still an enjoyable little romantic alt-Regency fantasy romp.

Child of a Hidden Sea, Alyx Dellamonica. Not yet published; read for blurbing purposes. I’m still trying to put my thoughts into words, but it’s a nifty adult portal fantasy about Stormwrack, a world made up of hundreds of islands, with dozens of different cultures among them. The ways in which the Fleet maintains peace in Stormwrack are interesting.

Tooth and Claw, Jo Walton. Had started this ages ago, then got interrupted. This is about as different of a book as one can get from A Natural History of Dragons while still having both books be describable with the words “Victorian” and “dragons.” If you’re the sort of person who would be entertained by seeing nineteenth-century literary tropes recast with a lot more teeth and claws and fire-breathing, this book is for you. I was entertained.

The Stories: Five Years of Original Fiction on Tor.com. Didn’t actually read all of this, but given its RIDICULOUS SIZE, I feel quite comfortable with deeming it an entire book’s worth of reading regardless. Tor.com released a free ebook containing the first five years of fiction published on their site. As you might expect from anything that large (with that many editors choosing what to buy), the quality is highly variable — hence me skipping stories. Some just weren’t my cup of tea, but some were actively bad, and not every author has a good handle on how to write a tie-in story to promote their novel. (Some of them, however, have a very good handle on it. So it isn’t like you should just skip all the tie-ins.)

Brief aside for a rant: my GOD is this ebook badly formatted. The text itself is generally fine, but the table of contents?

  • 4. The Department of Alterations, by Gennifer Albin
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Notice
  • Contents
  • Begin Reading
  • mac29_ep04
  • mac30_ep05
  • mac31_ep06
  • mac32_ep07
  • mac33_bm01
  • 5. The Fermi Paradox is Our Business Model, by Charlie Jane Anders

It’s all like that. Separate ToC entries for every element in the book, many of them with useless names, like those five lines of gibberish. And for at least three-quarters of the story, the ToC entry for the actual text is “Begin Reading,” which means that the running footer doesn’t actually tell you which story you’re reading. I hope that if Tor.com does this again, they take a moment to clean up the text, because the formatting here looks really unprofessional.

The Spice Islands Voyage, Tim Severin. I’ve been reading this in bits and pieces for, ye gods, I don’t know how long. It’s written by a guy who sailed around Indonesia in a locally-built prahu to recreate the voyage Alfred Wallace was on when he figured out evolution. (There’s an aside about how we don’t know, but have reason to strongly suspect, that Wallace’s letter to Darwin did not in fact arrive right after the latter figured out evolution for himself, but right before, and played a large role in Darwin’s work.) The text goes back and forth between telling the story of Wallace’s voyage, and recounting how the modern crew are checking up on the state of the environment and wildlife in the places he went. In many cases, the latter is kind of depressing — but not always. I sort of wish the book had been more firmly one of those things, rather than being both, but it was still a useful read.

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4 Responses to “Books read, August 2013”

  1. mrissa

    Adult portal fantasy island world. RELEVANT TO MY INTERESTS.

    • Marie Brennan

      I suspect there are a number of things about the worldbuilding that will appeal to you.

      Like the legal system.

      Starting with the fact that they have one.

  2. eve_prime

    Severin’s book about Odysseus is interesting too.

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