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Old June 5 2012, 06:21 PM   #171
Ubik
Commodore
 
Re: What SF/F Book Are you Reading? .. Redux

Kegg wrote: View Post
Finished Brightness Reef. Very good, dense world-building, with the eclectic points of view (although it wasn't until Alvin directly referenced it did I realize his name was a reference to two Arthur C. Clarke novels, which is funny as those were two of my favourites). As a space opera, the Uplift series so far has kind of implied epic scope somewhere in the background as it needles on very specific areas - like Uplift War hinting at some big galactic conflict as it hunkers down on Garth and the Mulun Mountains, or Startide Rising's focus on Kithrup with all that interesting space travel as mostly backstory. (Not to mention Sundiver being a space opera that never leaves the solar system.)

naverhtrad wrote: View Post
Just started Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold. And I mean 'just started'. Oh well - a book with a larger role for that-idiot-Ivan is all good in my book!
Cetaganda is easily one of the most entertaining Vorkosigan books; the stuff about Cetagandan society alone is worth it. I'm not entirely sure how I'd rate them, but that Vor Game and Mirror Dance would be somewhere near the top.

Oh yes, and I am very much looking forward to the release of Captain Vorpatril's Alliance.
Oh, she's finally doing that Ivan Vorpatril book? Sweet.

Funny too, because just last week I finished the omnibus of her fantasy Chalion novels. They were alright by and large, with the workings of her fantasy theology being one of the stronger points.
I've officially given up on David Brin. I read the first Uplift book, and didn't care for it at all. But, then I was told, "No, no, it's the second one, Startide Rising, that's awesome. You've gotta read that." So I read it. And it was cute. Not bad. Sort of like a mediocre Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. Funny monkeys. Silly dolphins learning about humanity. All very quaint and Star Trek-ish. But I didn't LOVE it. I had heard his name alongside Greg Bear's, but nothing Brin had written had anywhere near the power of a great Greg Bear novel. But then I was told, "No, no, it's The Uplift War that's the really awesome one. That's where the story really hits its stride." So I read it. Or, started to. I got half way. Then I stopped, and realized I couldn't care less what was going to happen.

Here's the problem with David Brin: he's just not that good a writer. I mean, an actual writer, on a sentence-by-sentence basis. He's not great at character development, or prose, or anything really. He's got fantastic concepts, that's true, real heavy way-out-there epic space opera stuff, but his writing never rises to the occasion. He's stuck at a sort of adolescent Star Trek: TNG level of plot and character - it's all very safe, and very cute, and very PC, and very predictable, and all well within budget. Bland, is what I would call it. Bland, palatable space opera. You want space opera with balls? Try Nova, by Samuel Delaney, or Downbelow Station, by C. J. Cherryh.

Anyway, in terms of what I'm reading now, I just finished slogging through Fritz Leiber's The Wanderer. It won the Hugo that year, but hasn't had much of a reputation since then. I think it deserves attention, absolutely. It is indeed ambitious, and apparently was quite influential on 1970's disaster movies, at least in terms of structure (multiple plot lines, with many different groups of different characters, many of whom never cross paths, all dealing with the disaster in their own way.) But the book doesn't sustain the interest throughout. It's first half is very good, but more because of the promise it seems to suggest. Then, as I was nearing the end of the second half, I realized that I didn't really care about any of these characters, and the plot had begun to fizzle. The intensity drained away somewhere around the middle mark. So, in the end, I have to say, great ambition, and an excellent prose writer, but the book itself just sort of got away from him. I'm very interested in reading his famous fantasy series, though, Something or Other Ffarfad and the Gray Mouser? Something like that? Anyway....
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