Posted on | October 28, 2013 | 26 Comments
Apologies for the lack of book posts lately, but frankly, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to spend between the covers of a book while playing Dad Taxi while my daughter was in town. Since I’m not going to be doing much else this week, you may wind up getting two book posts, but no promises. We’ll see how it goes.
First, the leftover recommendations by commenters from the last book post: L. Neil Smith’s The Nagasaki Vector got some love, as did Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon by Spider Robinson, Roger Zelazny’s Roadmarks, and in the How The Hell Did I Manage To Forget These category, Tim Powers’ Three Days to Never and The Anubis Gates. Both of those are most excellent, as is pretty much everything Powers has written. Man deserves his own post, and one of these weeks I’m going to have to slap it together. Also, Poul Anderson’s Three Hearts and Three Lions.
I did find time to finish David Drake’s Loose Cannon, the Tom Kelly anthology. I thought I’d read Fortress, the second novel in the collection, before but guess I thought wrong – either that, or it was so long ago that I completely forgot about it, which is pretty unlikely considering that I can still remember plot summaries of stories I haven’t read since junior high school. Anyhow, in the unlikely event either Fortress or Skyripper get made into movies, Bruce Willis is a cinch to play Tom Kelly. No idea who’d they get to play Gisele, the German belly dancer, though. Anyway, as to the plot of Fortress: it takes place in an alternate history 1985 where the US did things right and got to the moon in 1963, in which year McNamara instead of Kennedy ate a bullet in Dallas, and American troops wound up in Lebanon instead of Vietnam. In this alternate 1985, Tom Kelly is an aide to a Congressman recruited by the CIA to find out what the hell is going on with some former Kurdish assets and some ex-SS men in Turkey…to say nothing of the aliens. There are references to an alt-history version of the USS Liberty incident and Kelly’s exposure of Israeli involvement, which is the reason he got turfed from the NSA, as well as what looks an awful lot like a rework of Drake’s short story “The Last Battalion”, which also involves Nazis and aliens. The first half of the anthology, of course, is the technothriller Skyripper – although Skyripper only fakes being a technothriller until you realize that the Soviet scientist raving about aliens isn’t raving*. Between the two novels, you really ought to pick up Loose Cannon if you don’t already own both novels.
The other book I managed to finish last week was Iain Banks’ Surface Detail, and I was surprised that it ended as happily as it did. This has not been my experience with other Culture novels by Banks, most of which feature the bulk of the POV characters dying in fairly unpleasant ways (and for no good reason to boot) but this one was a pleasant surprise, with the [deleted] dying a miserable and painful death while [deleted] get their [deleted] handed to them as they so richly deserve, and [deleted] as well as [deleted] get to live happily ever after. Which is a long, long time in the Culture. The story takes a while to get rolling, but is worth the time you spend on it. Some nice space battles in this one, too, although you might argue they’re more like deep-space ambushes where the ambushers don’t realize just how much trouble they’re about to get into. Bwahahaha!
So what have y’all been reading?
*This isn’t exactly a spoiler since whatever genius at Baen wrote the back cover blurb already SPOILED IT FOR EVERYBODY. Nice job there, spud.