January 10, 2014

Mysteries, Histories, Distances to Homes, and Chasms

What the staff has been reading recently:

Alan: "MYSTERY MAN by Colin Bateman.  Hilarious."

Cary: "THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS (advance copy) by M. R. Carey, and AT
HOME and THE MOTHER TONGUE by Bill Bryson."

Claud: "AN UNCOMMON HISTORY OF COMMON THINGS, by Bethanne Patrick; ANCILLARY JUSTICE, by Ann Leckie; GOD'S WAR and INFIDEL (rereads) and RAPTURE, by Kameron Hurley; THE BIG TRUCK THAT WENT BY: How The World Came To Save Haiti And Left Behind A Disaster, by Jonathan M. Katz (great); WEAR YOUR DREAMS: My Life In Tattoos, by Ed Hardy; HOUSE OF LEAVES, by Mark Z. Danielewski (reread); AN OFFICER AND A SPY, by Robert Harris; THE SOUND AND THE FURRY, by Spencer Quinn; RED FORTRESS: The Secret Heart Of Russia's History, by Catherine Merridale (excellent); TALES OF THE SAN FRANCISCO CACOPHONY SOCIETY, by Carrie Galbraith (wonderful); HERETIC QUEEN: Queen Elizabeth I And The Wars Of Religion, by Susan Ronald (great); HYPERBOLE AND A HALF: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, And Other Things That Happened, Allie Brosh (awesome); TOP 10, Vol. 1, TOP 10, Vol. 2 and TOP 10: 49ers (rereads) and TOP 10: Smax, by Alan Moore; THE GOLDFINCH, Donna Tartt (***phenomenal***); THE INVISIBLES, by Grant Morrison (reread); JOHNNY CASH: The Life, by Robert Hilburn (excellent); THIS IS THE STORY OF A HAPPY MARRIAGE, by Ann Patchett (wonderful); CROSSING MIDNIGHT (reread), by Mike Carey; and HENRI, LE CHAT NOIR: The Existential Musings Of An Angst-Filled Cat, by William Braden."

Devany: "CHASING THE MOON by A. Lee Martinez, HYPERION by Dan Simmons, THE INVENTION OF MURDER by Judith Flanders, EVERLOST by Neil Shusterman."

Jude: "TALKING PICTURES: IMAGES AND MESSAGES RESCUED FROM THE PAST by Ransom Riggs; JUST MY TYPE: A BOOK ABOUT FONTS by Simon Garfield; AT HOME: A SHORT HISTORY OF PRIVATE LIFE by Bill Bryson (thanks, Cary, for the Xmas present, it was wonderful!) ; HALF-OFF RAGNAROK by Seanan McGuire (advance copy -- I much prefer this narrator over the narrator in the first two books in the series); THE CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH AND THE COMING OF THE CIVIL WAR by Leonard L. Richards; and I am currently reading THE SILENT TRAVELER IN SAN FRANCISCO by Chaing Yee."

Naamen: "I found my copy of CHASM CITY by Alastair Reynolds that I'd thought was gone, so I've hopped back into Tanner Mirabel's story about revenge and space opera urban decay. Though to be completely honest I find the other storyline, starring Sky Haussman,  to be much more compelling and interesting a story -- but that may be because of my interest in religion and religious myth and how that will play out in a technologically advanced future. The idea of any one's ordinary choices getting codified into religious myth and cult doctrine with all the rigid inflexibility that implies is really fascinating, especially because we're not seeing that codification itself, only the before and after.  Can't wait to finish it and see how the whole thing plays out and comes together. 

While I thought I'd lost CHASM CITY,  I started reading THE COLOR OF DISTANCE by Amy Thomson.  Like Reynolds' book it alternates between two very different viewpoints -- this time divided by cultural perspective, rather than generations of people and religious myth. We follow Juna, the last surviving human of a exploratory flight on another planet who is saved and physically altered (into something more like them) to survive by the native sentient species who think/live very, very differently than humans. The other viewpoint character is Ani, one of those who finds Juna and then loses her mentor, friends and original lifepath because of this.  It's called THE COLOR OF DISTANCE because one of the cultural differences they are surmounting is that Ani's people don't use sound to communicate, they instead change the color and shading of their skin. Oh and they also eat their young. . . often.  One of the best alien perspectives I've come across without any real judgement attached in the narrative (from the author; there's plenty of judgment from Juna)."

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