Friday, May 15, 2009

Books - read, found, and so forth

Ye gods, that's what I get for nattering about 'omg, back to writing, woot!' -

- work dropping in with a vengence.


I love my job, and I'm thankful to have a job that I love. I just wish there had been less of it to love, these past few weeks.


Books - recently read, and other wise:

Sisters in Arms: Catholic Nuns through Two Millennia by Jo Ann Kay McNamara. Lengthy, indepth history of Catholic female religious. (650 pages not counting the footnotes, not light reading.) And not as indepth as one would think - the scope of McNamara's book means that she skimmed over a great deal of Christian (and world) history. I can't argue against the skimming (650 pages) but I think my understanding of the subject would have been better if there had been more cross-references to secular/mainstream Church history. The sheer scope of the book was daunting, and the scholarly effort that went into it impressive. However, I kept being thrown out by the author's bias...McNamara wrote a book about religious women, but the primary opponent for this 'band of sisters' was men - not the devil, not their own natures, not the temptations of the world. I think I would have gotten more from a book with a less secular author pov and with more focus on the female interpetation of Christianity.

Reluctant Saint: The Life of Francis of Assisi by Donald Spoto. Brief but equally well-footnoted biography of St Francis. Presents the saint as a man undergoing constant conversion and conversation with God, and places him firmly in the context of his time. Manages to wash away the fairy-tale glitter to reveal the stunning stonework underneath the life of my favorite saint.

Now I'm working on The Devil in the New World: The Impact of Diabolism in New Spain by Fernando Cervantes. Dry but fascinating.

Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction by John Rieder. A Marxist treatment of early SF. Intriguing, but the author keeps using words in a manner that I don't quite follow. Being read in bits and drabs.

Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction edited by Jeff Prucher. Fun and educational. Not exactly enlightening, but I like the methodology of using citations.

The Dreams Our Stuff is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered the World by Thomas M. Disch. Haven't read all of this yet, but I haven't come across a work cited yet that the author doesn't skewer in some form or other. (Same goes for authors.) Some of the ranting gets pretty brutal - Le Guin's politics are not treated kindly, here. Refreshing for its mostly even handed battering of all types and forms of SF. (I get the impression that the author loves SF, deeply and truely, and too much to not be honest about the genre.)

From the fiction reading pile:

Horizons, by Mary Rosenblum. Near-future LEO multicultural SF. Lots of action, well-fleshed out characters, few-to-none cheap grandstanding of ideals. Don't love the book, but I'm having a good time reading it. Assuming the last third holds up, I'll gladly read more by this author.

Draco Tavern, by Larry Niven. Near-future alien contact. A collection of short stories, which means some of the themes get really short shrift. But the wrting is nearly invisible, the infodumps kept to a minimum, and I keep wanting more.

(Side note: the short story "War Movie" deals with an alien race who visited Earth to make documentary movies of us killing each other. One alien, bitter at the failure of the enterprise (now that peace had mostly broken out across the globe, post-contact) tells his sob story to a human in a bar. A human woman. And I was part way through the story when I realized that in the universe of the story (and possibly the author) there was no way this human woman was military. Which...anyway.)

The Black Company by Glen Cook. Read this one first in a SFBC edition, and I'd forgotten how good it was. (Although I seem to remember later books wandering a bit.) Also - I was talking with some one about military sci-fi, and wondered if there was military fantasy. Which, yes, there is - the Black Company novels, several Turtledove novels, Mary Gentle's Ash: A Secret History, and others.

Recently found/rediscovered: Dossouye, by Charles Saunders. Published last year (Jan 08) - why don't people tell me about these things?!?!?! Sword & Sorcery, set in Africa, Dossouye is a warrior woman who rides a bull. Short stories first appeared in Amazons years - YEARS - back.


And now to try to do some of that writing thing.

No comments: