Saturday, January 5, 2008

(Slightly Belated Post) On Holiday Reading

Although I took a couple non-fiction books to my parents’ house and received some more as gifts, I only read sci-fi over the holiday. Based on this and my Thanksgiving reading I apparently have some kind of mental block toward reading non-fiction while on vacation. Anyway, in the full post are my reviews of the following:

“Deep-Six” & “Omega” by Jack McDevitt
“Accelerando” by Charles Stross

1) “Deep-Six” & “Omega” by Jack McDevitt. I think I have a new favorite sci-fi writer. I loved both of these books immensely. These are set in the same Universe as “The Engines of God” and “Chindi”. McDevitt always has a great plot with solid characters. I especially like how many strong (and varied) female characters there have been in this Universe. As always, the conflicts are presented in such a way that their complexities, resolutions and explanations are deeply engrossing. For ‘”Deep Six”, even though I knew the main character would survive (this is set before “Chindi”) I was on the edge of my seat in the final pages. How is this guy not better known? Definitely worth reading.

2) “Accelerando” by Charles Stross. I’m not sure how to describe this book, but here goes...It’s like watching a horror movie in a fun-house mirror while on LSD. Somewhat loosely structured, it's more like a collection of related (and set in chronological order) short stories showing one possible future for humanity. The plot centered around the much-talked about Singularity and how it all could go horribly wrong. The characters are all unique but appear as coherent, viable personalties (as opposed to loose collections of eccentricities in lieu of characterization). It was especially effective in demonstrating how overwhelming "future shock" can be. As something of a technophile and sci-fi fan, I like to think myself immune to such an emotional reaction. Mr. Stross clearly demonstrates even the most happening, up-to-the-minute gadget junkie can get swamped in something like a singularity. I enjoyed it but it was a deeply unsettling read. I waited on this post specifically to let it sink in a little.

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