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Bookspotting

I read a lot of books.

I'll give you all a moment to recover from the shock of that revelation.

As a consequence of this, I quite often spot people reading books that I've read myself. It's hard to resist voicing an opinion on their choice - though I had to offer a knowing chuckle when I spotted someone relaxing at school reading one of Laurell Hamilton's Merry Gentry (faerie porn!) books - the same one that I was reading earlier that day, as a matter of fact. Little coincidences like that have to make you smile.

It's easier to resist making observations about books that I haven't read but only heard of, like the spotting that prompted this entry in the first place - a girl sitting in Tory Lecture reading Jean Auel's infamous Clan of the Cave Bear, which is apparently (from what I've read on r.a.sf.w.robert-jordan, which, in the endless years between WoT releases, used to be a great place for all sorts of discussion) a decent piece of historical fiction assessing the Cro-Magnon/Neanderthal period, aside from its Mary Sue-ish main character and borderline excessive amount of explicit, implausible sex.

I'll give you all another moment to recover from the shock of my not having read it, knowing that last. But really, why would I ruin a chance to use a phrase like "anthropologist porn" by finding out for sure?

Anyway, I sometimes feel that I'm depriving myself of some interesting conversations by not speaking up. Are any of you any less shy in moments like that?

In less voyeuristic book news, I finally got a chance to read David Weber's At All Costs (book 11 of Honor Harrington, his acclaimed, Horatio-Hornblower-In-Space, military SF series) last week, as I found someone hosting the free-to-distribute Baen ebook CDs online. Note that this is entirely legal, and that it seems to work - they've been doing this for a while, and I still went out and bought all of the books in the series, excepting one or two of the anthologies.

I read a review of it (I'll find a link somewhere if need be), that stated that the entire series was mostly formulaic. Upon further reflection, I think that's true, but that the stories are usually so enjoyable to read that you don't notice the formula. This isn't as true of Costs as it has been in the previous books in the series, though. I think that the Manticore-Haven war storyline is getting seriously tired, for all that it seemed the raison d'etre of the series to begin with. Admittedly, Elizabeth III has her issues with Haven, so I can understand the blinders in her case, but when her ostensibly intelligeent advisors repeatedly and blatantly failed to consider who else would benefit from the war being prolonged, I was thankful that I didn't have a physical book at hand, or I'd have likely thrown it at something or somebody. The restarting and prolonging of the war just seemed so forced. At least this time it doesn't look like it'll take 8-10 books for it to end.

Galactic politics aside, the space battles are as spectacular as always...no, more spectacular than always....but at the same time, I wasn't so enthused about reading them, though again this may just be a case of familiarity breeding contempt. After this week's weird tactical wrinkles are set up, you can mostly skip straight through the descriptions of the exact and absurd number of missiles that get through each defensive layer, and the descriptions of just how inconceivably destructive the forces thrown around like toys are. The best part about the climactic space battle that ends the book is that a lot of that stale description is dispensed with. Well, that, and the sheer scale of it all - there's a part of me that revels in stupendous destruction.

On a personal level...there isn't much I can say without spoiling things. But really, Honor's personal life has always been a bit on the ludicrous side. Just extrapolate.

All in all, I can't say it's a bad book. I certainly enjoyed reading it and seeing how the long-running story has developed. Just that I can't recommend it without reservations - a collection of battle reports and casualty figures do not a novel make, however human and sympathetic the soldiers are made. At All Costs is a great war novel, and a great book strictly in the milSF lens, but stepping outside those boundaries it's a lot more limited than previous entries in the series.

-D.

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Comments

( Walk among 12 shadows — Cast a shadow )
skloak
Feb. 6th, 2006 09:50 pm (UTC)
Anthropologist porn, you say? Hmm..
andur
Feb. 6th, 2006 11:52 pm (UTC)
Clan of the Cave Bear == anthropologist porn? Most interesting, cause that's like one of my mom's favorite books, had no idea what it was about though...

Oh, and I saw your little rant in the newspaper this morning, well done!
paleshadow
Feb. 7th, 2006 03:01 am (UTC)
Apparently so, says silenthunter, who's read them all. :D

As for my rant - yay, it got published. Was not expecting that after three days since I sent it. :) Do you perchance have a scanner so I could see it? I don't know about finding a copy of today's Journal now.

-D.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 7th, 2006 02:55 am (UTC)
Ooh, congrats on getting your thing in the paper, C. Be sure to scan it in for us folk without a Journal subscription :)

-Nathan
paleshadow
Feb. 7th, 2006 02:57 am (UTC)
Unfortunately, that list of people without a subscription includes me, and I didn't think to pick a paper up at school today. Do Tom or Andrew (or anyone else who gets it) have a scanner they could use to do it for me?

-D.
andur
Feb. 7th, 2006 06:00 am (UTC)
I'll cut out the opinions page for you from the paper and give it to you next time I see you. So, drop-by comp sci sometime! Or let me know where to find you and I'll come and see you (though that would involve wandering into parts "artsy" :) )

And as the biggest ripoff, I checked the journal's e-edition website, and they have all of the letters *except* yours!
funwithrage
Feb. 7th, 2006 03:18 am (UTC)
Congratulations!


And hee. Cave Bear itself is pretty good. The sequels, however, are a not-so-gradual descent into Mary Suedom and bizarrely *geologic* sex. "He sank his shaft deeply" always makes me want to riff something about finding gold.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 7th, 2006 04:26 am (UTC)
Sounds to me like a slightly more high-brow Terry Goodkind.
opendestiny
Feb. 7th, 2006 04:49 am (UTC)
I've walked up to people I've seen reading books I have read and enjoyed. "That's a great book!" I say.

Yeah. Not a single one of those has turned out well.
paleshadow
Feb. 7th, 2006 06:19 am (UTC)
You see, I was afraid of that. :D

-D.
silenthunter
Feb. 7th, 2006 10:28 am (UTC)
It's definitely anthropology porn. That might actually be the best description of the books I've ever heard really. And Ayla made me want to kill things, she's not just Mary Sue-ish, she'd the ultimate Mary Sue. She has -no- flaws whatsoever. Still, the books are not that bad, and I would have loved them if not for Ayla being so damn perfect in every way possible.
senji
Jun. 29th, 2006 10:28 pm (UTC)
I have no idea if http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/ is the site you found, but they have all 9 10 of the CDs that have been produced so far.
( Walk among 12 shadows — Cast a shadow )