20 Jul 2011

The Singing Sword

The Singing Sword, Jack Whyte

Sequel to The Skystone. Less historically interesting, and more plain fantasy sword-swiping and maiden/matron-groping.

The Skystone

The Skystone, Jack Whyte

Great idea, and well-delivered on the whole, if some details in execution are a little irritating.

Best thing about this book is how it makes you go, "Hey, so what else can I learn about how the Romans got booted out of England?"


Moby-Dick, Herman Melville

Mind-numbing catalogs of whale types and sailing activities, descriptions of whale anatomy in overly-romantic terms. There is only a single meeting of the hero and the monster, and that is at the end; makes you miss the old "two unsuccessful encounters before final triumph" story. The actual story is stark.

Yet: this starkness is a testament to overwhelming narrative willpower, and that is impressive. Plus there are so many crazy little bits that I can't help liking it. Watch:

Come; let us squeeze hands all round; nay, let us all squeeze ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness.

16 Feb 2011


Ravage, René Barjavel

I initially thought this was like the French brave New World, but what an appetite for destruction. The author is a masochist. Given how cheerily it begins, the amount of disaster is continuously jolting.

3 Feb 2011

Coders at Work

Coders at Work, Peter Siebel

Great idea. Real easy read. Makes me realize that I should become and remain unalterably confused about the work I do every day.

Le Comte de Monte Cristo

Le Comte de Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas

Plotted in two dimensions, hero's power over time, many good books start high, say seven, drop quickly to one and remain there until near the end, when they rise to ten. That return feels amazing.

Monte Cristo is simpler: starting at ordinary five, we glimpse six then drop to one and stay there only a short time before heaving up massively to ten and remaining there for the last three quarters of the story. That long stay at ten feels mind-blowing.

What I like is how it's tempered. Unlike Frye's The Stars' Tennis Balls, a nominal God drives and justifies revenge, and the milieu validates it. Consequently, the punishment is not dementia. More simply, it's fun to watch the star Monte Cristo build up all the little pieces that will eventually act in concert to cause his enemies' overthrow, in many cases the enemy forced to hammer in the final nail himself.