Monday, July 31, 2006

Reading Into the Past: Week of 7/23

This week the magic number is nine, and these are the book I was reading this week in 1997:
  • Iain M. Banks, Consider Phlebas (7/16)
    I remember that I bought my copy in Phoenix Books in Lambertville, NJ -- a great used-book store just across the Delaware river from New Hope, PA, where The Wife and I took lots of vacations in those pre-kid days. We usually went in October, which means it took me most of a year to get around to Consider Phlebas; that sounds about right for a long book on my to-be-read stacks. The book itself I remember reasonably well; it was the first of the Culture novels (though about the fourth one I read), and a quite good piece of modern space opera, if not the best of the series.
  • Jack Vance, Galactic Effectuator (7/17)
    A fix-up of several (I want to say three) stories about some kind of private-eye type in Vance's typical medium-future universe. (I think there are officially set in the Gaean Reach, but I'm not sure.)
  • Phil Farrand, The Nitpicker's Guide for X-Philes (7/17)
    I was very fond of this series -- Farrand did three or four guides to the errors, flubs, miscues, and other things that didn't quite make sense in various Star Trek shows, and then did this one. (And then disappeared, apparently.) They were very entertaining, Farrand was exacting in his criticism without being a jerk about it, and the books sold very well for the SFBC. The X-Philes guide was the last one, and I haven't seen Farrand's name for close to a decade now. I wonder what he's doing now?
  • Terry Pratchett, Johnny and the Bomb (7/19)
    Third in the "Johnny Maxwell Trilogy," proof yet again that any three books with the same main character automatically become a trilogy whether the author intended it or not. All three are excellent YA novels, quite suitable for adults as well, and possibly of interest to readers who haven't tried Pratchett yet because Discworld looks too much like epic fantasy. (If so, I'd suggest trying the middle Johnny Maxwell book, Johnny and the Dead, which I consider the best of the three.)
  • Greg Bear, Dinosaur Summer (7/19)
    A boy goes off to a (plateau? island? I forget exactly) place where dinosaurs still exist, along with his father (I think), who was doing something professional there (probably an expedition). I found this slow-moving and a bit dull at the time, which might be why I don't remember the details. Did it have illustrations? I have a vague feeling it did. Anyway, I didn't think it was one of Bear's best books.
  • David Brin, The Postman (7/20)
    I read it because the movie was coming, and we've found that movies do great things for the original books in the SFBC. (Even really bad movies -- we sold a lot of copies of this and Starship Troopers in the late '90s.) I liked the book, and thought it would make a good movie (especially if the filmmakers didn't get too ambitious and just made a movie of the first novella in this fix-up -- that story is just about the right size for a movie). I never saw the film, and I don't intend to, but it looks like they didn't do what I hoped.
  • The Best of Fritz Leiber (7/22)
    This was one of the first books I caused to be published (re-published, in this case) in the SFBC, back in 1991, but I'd never actually read it. (Though I had read most of the stories, at one time or another.) Six years later, I finally remedied that.
  • Jon A. Jackson, Dead Folks (7/23)
    I read the first several "Det. Sgt. Fang Mulheisen" novels, and liked them, but I think this was the point where I started backing off -- Mulheisen, who had been the viewpoint character for the series, was replaced (partially or completed) by a mobster named Joe (something-or-other), who wasn't terribly interesting. I read a book or two that were mostly about Joe and his schemes, and I bailed on the series. I'm not sure where this book is in that progression, but I think it was pretty Joe-heavy.
Oh, I'm exceptionally late this week -- as a matter of fact, it's already next week. Maybe I can get the next one out tomorrow, and speed things up...

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