March 8, 2009
The fourth installment in Farmer’s Riverworld series, wherein the source of the alien power that has resurrected all of humanity (we’re like the stock market – one minute we’re down, then we’re up!) on a distant planet is finally discovered. SPOILER ALERT: it was aliens with a resurrection machine. They wanted to test Earthlings’ morality, and we failed said test, scoring just above an immoral species of flatworm from Antares IV which befriends you only so it can bang your sister. Also, the clocks go ahead this weekend, so remember to change the batteries in your spoiler-alerter.
On a scale of famous labyrinths ranging from the Pac Man board to Minotaur’s hideout, this book is: the hedge maze from ‘The Shining’.
September 7, 2008
James Tiptree writes like a girl, because he was one. Alice Bradley Sheldon assumed a male nom de plume to avoid the discrimination faced by female writers in the early days of scifi (it was not uncommon, for example, to see a leering Isaac Asimov chasing a busty, short-skirted Ursula K. Leguin repeatedly around a desk while imploring her to ‘prove you’re not a robot, sugar pie’). But as this excellent anthology shows, any fear Tiptree had about not being taken seriously was unfounded; her scifi hammer hangs lower than most male writers’. Highly recommended.
On a scale of famous men who were really women ranging from Pope Joan to Billy Tipton, this book is: Samus Aran.
August 7, 2008
Revolutionaries seize a secret weapon that makes its target vanish forever from time, space and memory. They should’ve aimed it at this book. The beginning is fairly action-packed (‘Mary’s eyes flashed as she returned fire at the police droids…’) but soon devolves into a tearfully boring description of the lives, politics and policies of post-revolutionaries in the new socialist America they’ve created (‘Mary’s eyes flashed as she farmed carrots for the collective…’). Feh.
On a scale of things war is good for ranging from absolutely nothing to oil, this book is: resolving coastal fishing disputes.
July 7, 2008
This book takes place during a time when fairy-folk, or sidhe, still walk the earth. The sidhe are a noble people who eschew iron and despise the evil that men do, but, strangely, love the song ‘The Evil That Men Do’ by Iron Maiden. They speak their own secret language, ‘French’, have their own laws and hold a seat in the Mythical U.N. next to the manticore. If you’ve got a big presentation on the sidhe due at work tomorrow that you haven’t started, consider passing off this hauntingly beautiful fantasy masterpiece as your own.
On a scale of strange dreams ranging from being naked in school to building a go-cart with your ex-landlord, this book is: you’re rolling a big donut, and there’s this snake wearing a vest.
June 7, 2008
Many people confuse this book with John Steinbeck’s East Of Eden, and there are similarities. Like Steinbeck’s work, Harrison’s tale is set on a prehistoric Earth where dinosaurs never went extinct and evolved into sentient creatures that compete with humans for survival. The protagonists of both works ride a triceratops into battle. And both books depict rough reptile-on-human intercourse, which I’m not certain is possible, although I’m not a doctor.
On a scale of technologically advanced reptiles ranging from Mecha Gojira to Bahamut Zero, this book is: cyborg Michigan J. Frog.
May 7, 2008
This book is about an 18th century perfumer who brutally murders young virgins and steals their scents. Which, coincidently, is the same method used by Liz Taylor to make White Diamonds. Not only is this book very interesting and well-written, but the dark subject matter is offset by Patrick Süskind’s use of an umlaut in his name, which makes anything unpleasant seem alluring: löose, rünny stöol. See? Recommended.
On a scale of poorly-selling perfumes ranging from ‘Burnt Toast’ to ‘Hospital Hallway’, this book is: Iggy Pop’s ‘T’aint’.
If you don’t think the real WWII was bad enough, this book is for you; eleven stories portraying a victorious Nazi menace looming like a dark cloud over the world. The forecast? Stormy, with a chance of heil. If you’re a Hitler buff, you’ll definitely want to read this book. Also, if you’re a Hitler buff, you probably shouldn’t go around describing yourself as a ‘Hitler buff’. Very highly recommended.
On a scale of rooms in Hitler’s house ranging from the schlafzimmer to the küche, this book is: the lebensraum.