Tag: book geekiness

Your semi-hemi-weekly rant

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So I’m reading this book (the title of which shall be omitted, because I don’t think I want to remember it for even that long). It’s about a small town targeted by (yet another) serial killer who preys on young girls and has digusting sexual fantasies. It’s got the arrogant rich bastard, the arrogant rich bastard’s son who is also an arrogant bastard, the haunted police investigator whose wife cheated on him, the heroine whom everyone pines for and who is kind and comforting and great with kids but generally completely helpless. And in the end, the serial killer turns out to be the sweet mentally challenged kid, who kidnaps the heroine and tortures her.

Am I the only one who sees a problem with all the %%% clichés here? (and seriously, the guy with the mental troubles is a serial killer? Way to go to ease the mistrust and prejudice towards people who didn’t have much of a choice in what life dealt them)

Also, seriously, what’s with the serial killers in US novels? I’m getting tired of sexual fantasies and extreme violence towards women. Perhaps some people enjoy reading about that. I certainly don’t.

Busy busy busy

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Wedding preparations continue apace. Various blog posts and interviews are being redacted.

On the minus side, I’ve written a grand total of 2 paragraphs of fiction, and stopped because I have wonderful characters but no plot. I dearly want to blow up something, but I suspect the correct solution is to go research the heck out of something (I had a similar problem when writing “Age of Miracles, Age of Wonders”, which solved itself when I decided the action was going to take place in a 19th-century mining town, and researched accordingly).

Oh, yeah, and the synopsis for Book 3 of Obsidian and Blood, having had the agent-go-ahead, is now in the hands of my editor. Temp title Master of the House of Darts, subject to editorial approval/my changing my mind/the weather.

Bookwise, I seem to make up for my lack of fiction writing by reading a lot: I finished The Cardinal’s Blades (fun, if not unforgettable) and a French SF by Gérard Klein, Le Temps n’a pas d’Odeur (Time has no smell). I ordered Dream of Red Mansions in a beautiful 4-volume edition (Foreign Press, the same Chinese publisher I got Three Kingdoms from), got myself a copy of Daniel Abraham’s Seasons of War (the only way to get The Price of Spring in paperback), and started on Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner series (love the characters, in spite of fairly standard worldbuillding).

Anthony Horowitz’s Power of Five

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(yes, I know, I should be watching Red Cliff 2. We seem to have hit a technical snag, so I’m lazing about on the internet instead)

Found this quite by accident, while browing in a bookshop: they’re reissuing Horowitz’s Power of Five as Raven’s Gate, Evil Star, Nightrise and Nekropolis. Basically, it’s the story of five children, who a long time before, sealed an ancient evil away from the world. Now eons have passed, and the children have reincarnated in the 20th-century world, where they have forgotten their powers–and it’s a bad time, too, because what they sealed away wants out, and it’s sending a number of unpleasant people after them. It’s way less cutesy than it seems, at least in the versions I read, which scared the crap out of me when I was twelve or so.

What I remember reading were books with different titles, namely The Devil’s Doorbell, The Night of the Scorpion The Silver Citadel, and The Day of the Dragon. From the Wikipedia summary, there seem to be a fair amount of differences between the books and the ones I read, not least that a lot of the characters seem to have changed names (and, in some cases, genders: I remember the hero of book 4 was an English guy named Will, but now he seems to be a Chinese girl going by Scarlett). Going by the summaries, the plot of book 4 seems to be radically different, too…

Not sure whether to order them or not–if Horowitz gets around to writing book 5, I would love to finally read the end of that series, which has always left me frustrated–but I’m afraid they’re going to be too radically different from those books I remember and treasure…

Darkness notice

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So, the blog is going dark this weekend, as the BF and I are going to Nantes for the Utopiales. First time ever, and everything was booked on a slightly rushed plan (ie, 15 days before the actual con), so we’ll see how it goes. I’ll have wifi at the hotel, but I don’t think we’ll actually be much at the hotel (I have a professional entry which lets me come in and out as I want, but the BF has a standard one, and he can only enter once. Weird con, if you ask me, but then again my only experience so far has been anglophone cons).

I’m slightly miffed, because a number of people I know are at WFC, including Ken Scholes, the whole Zeno Agency, WIBites Dario Ciriello, Juliette Wade and Janice Hardy (and lots more whom I’d really have liked to see). But one transatlantic con for two people a year is quite enough for the budget, sadly.

Fun experiences of the day: I ordered a book on a German bookstore’s website (volume 5 of the Utena manga, in case you’re curious–I’m not clear why there are so many copies of vol 1-4 around, and vol 5 just seems to have vanished from about every single English website I tried). Since I don’t speak much German, it was, er, interesting… Thank God I did have a few words in my brain, because going only by Google translator would not have worked. Now let’s see if it arrives. The last thing I ordered from Spain never did make it, though I did get refunded.

2,000 words on Harbinger today. Things are heating up (quite literally, in this case).

Books roundup

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Books read recently:

  • Tim Powers, On Stranger Tides: In the last days of piracy, Jack Shandy is forced to join the crew of pirate Phil Davies–never suspecting that this will lead him on an adventure on the high seas in search of the fabled Fountain of Youth, nor that his path will cross that of Blackbeard, voodoo sorcerers, and a nefarious Oxford professor. As always with Powers, tremendous fun underpinned by a tremendous sense of history and myth. The use of voodoo magic and of the Spanish myths of the Fountain of Youth is particularly effective, and it all comes to an awesome ending. (my favourite character died about halfway through the book, but that didn’t prevent me from enjoying the rest of the story)
    This is the one that was officially optioned by Disney for Pirates of the Carribbean IV. At the very least, it should have cool plot elements, if they don’t make too much of a mess out of it.
  • Alastair Reynolds, Revelation Space. Humanity has taken to the stars, and seeded faraway worlds such as Yellowstone and Sky’s Edge. On the isolated planet of Resurgam, archeologist Dan Sylveste conducts research into the extinct race of the Amarantin, extinguished by a freak sun flare before their civilisation could achieve spaceflight. But, unbeknown to him, plans are already afoot to dispatch him–for the truth that lies on Resurgam is far too dangerous to come into the light of the day…
    Written before, but set after the events of Chasm City (and having a cameo by Chasm City‘s main character), it essentially follows the same progression of unravelling a central mystery–this time much bigger-scale than Chasm City. Who or what is moving the various factions around Sylveste? Why did the Amarantin die? And who is Sun Stealer, the shipbound entity that drives people mad? The end did feel like it dragged on for slightly too long, but the worldbuilding is masterful, and the plot is impressively constructed and orchestrated. And it was Reynolds’ first novel, too. I am in awe. (and will go look for subsequent volumes in the series).
  • Valerio Evangelisti, Cherudek (French translated from Italian): a really oddball novel, part fantasy, part historical, part SF. The main part is set in 14th-century France, and features pitiless main character Nicolas Eymerich, Grand Inquisitor of Aragon, who has to investigate the odd massacre of English troops by what seems like resurrected zombies. Another thread follows three Jesuits investigating a 20th-Century sleepy Italian city, where bleeding insects and burning men seem to be common hallucinations. And the final one is the narrator, stuck outside of space in some kind of eternal torment. It all comes together in the end, rather efficiently.
    It’s the sort of thing you tend to read in horrified fascination more than out of any real empathy: Eymerich seems to have few emotions except anger, which makes it hard to care for him, and the real tension is figuring out how the threads of the narrative fit together. Much less efficient than the Reynolds in this matter, though: Reynolds’s characters are not his strongest suit, but they are at least sympathetic; here, Eymerich is really a cool, efficient and intolerant bastard. The book, however, is full of neat if dark ideas, which form a strong part of its appeal; and Eymerich’s foil Father Corona ended up drawing most of this reader’s sympathy (I suspect part of the reason the other threads exist at all, other than for structural reasons, is because they feature other characters, far more sympathetic than Eymerich; he’s the kind of character you don’t really want to be with for long). Part of a very successful series in Europe, but I’m not really sure I can stomach another one of those.

Wednesday in shades of grey

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Well, it’s official: I’ve caught the grandmother of all colds, probably spread to me via the air conditioning system. The only question now is how long the BF will survive without catching it :)

On the plus side, my books arrived today–I immediately lent the Alastair Reynolds to the BF, who needed reading for a train journey, and kept the Daniel Fox in my grubby little paws. Also made some progress in a new story, after a couple abortive starts–1500 words so far, aiming for 2,500 so should be done soon.

In the cooking experiment series, we bought fresh Chinese noodles yesterday, and I cooked them with cha lua (alias Vietnamese sausage/ham). Yummy. I love this; usually, I stick it in a sandwich or cook rice to go with it, but frying noodles, scallions and putting soy sauce on top of everything was pretty nice.

Books books books

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Just ordered Alastair Reynolds’ Revelation Space (since I read Chasm City a few months back and really liked it), Daniel Fox’s Dragon in Chains (which I’ve been meaning to read forever), and Daniel Abraham’s A Shadow in Summer (which I own an e-copy of, but no proper paper copy). And a second-hand copy of Tim Powers’ On Stranger Tides (which has been optioned for Pirates of the Caribbean 4 in a rather neat move).

In other news, finished importing Foreign Ghosts in Scrivener, and I’m taking a look at the various storylines to see what’s not working (I figure I know where the chronology problem is coming from, and I need to drastically re-think one character’s motivations).

So far, so good…

Wow…

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It’s official: I’m starting a pile of books at home, given the stuff that’s been trickling in for the Norton Jury. I’m amazed and humbled that people actually go to all the trouble of shipping stuff to me in France, just so I can read it.

In the meantime, my bus rides just got a lot busier :)

Fangirl squeeing

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Guy Gavriel Kay’s novel is going to be set in a Chinese-inspired universe!

The world could bring you poison in a jeweled cup, or surprising gifts. Sometimes you didn’t know which of them it was…

Penguin Group (Canada) is pleased to announce the new novel from World Fantasy Award Winner and international bestseller Guy Gavriel Kay

UNDER HEAVEN will be published in April 2010, and takes place in a world inspired by the glory and power of Tang Dynasty China in the 8th century, a world in which history and the fantastic meld into something both memorable and emotionally compelling. (more)

OMG, where is the pre-order button? (love love Kay, and can’t wait to see what he does with Ancient China :-) )