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The Villages

Date: 2008-04-08 23:35
Subject: books
Security: Public
Location:the utility room in the sky
Music:black sabbath
Next up is Dead Man Rising, by Lilith Saintcrow. Once again, I loved it. The only criticism I had of Working For The Devil was the references to Dante Valentine's past, which left me with a nagging desire to read that book. I didn't say anything about that before because I wanted to see how Dead Man Rising worked out, and I'm glad I didn't because I see what Lili's doing now. This is really rather poignant and affecting as Danny faces a past which would destroy most people. I'm really getting into Danny; she seems even more grumpy than I am, all the time - but with better reason.
However, I'm going to take a break because I have tons of other stuff to read, including The Steep Approach To Garbadale, by Iain Banks. I'm an enormous Banks fan, and have been ever since The Wasp Factory (it seems that, for a very brief period, we even worked within about two hundred yards of each other in London) He has written some marvellous books, and he's written some books I didn't find quite so marvellous.
But he always writes well, and never less than interestingly. My problem with Garbadale - and it's a terrific book, by the way - is that I read this story already. It had a lot of similarities with The Crow Road - a large family of eccentrics made wealthy by faintly unusual means (a glassworks in Crow Road, a board game here) a central character who is temperamentally (or in this book physically) estranged from his family, and a dark family secret revealed towards the end (right at the end, here)
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this book immensely, but I did have a feeling of deja vu about it. And there was an uncharacteristically-clumsy info-dump of geopolitics towards the end which made me wince a bit. And I thought some of the sections written in the present tense were maybe not as well-edited as they might have been. Put it like this, I might have edited them differently. That happens to me a lot these days.
Anyway, do read The Steep Approach To Garbadale. The characters are brilliantly put together and Banks really does write setting better than almost anyone I know. But if you've never read him before, do read Espedair Street, which I think is his greatest mainstream novel, and Consider Phlebas, which I think is his best science fiction novel.
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User: hutch0
Date: 2008-04-10 20:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I have The Devil's Right Hand but I don't want to wind up reading the whole lot back-to-back; I'll come back to it in a couple of months.
Personally, I think Danny's a brilliant character. Great stuff.
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User: rou_killingtime
Date: 2008-04-18 03:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Consider Phlebas is indeed a *superb* book; in fact I'm currently about halfway through reading it again for the 5th or 6th time. However (you saw the 'however' coming, right? :) ), the hardcore geek in me loved Excession even more.

The only non-SF novel by Banks that I've read was The Bridge, which I enjoyed greatly. The surreal style of the book in some ways reminded me of Moorcock's Jerry Cornelius stories, which I also loved.
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User: hutch0
Date: 2008-04-18 20:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hey, killingtime; good to see you again. Wassup?
It's weird; I do like Banks's writing very much, but only a handful of his books have actually made any great impression on me. Consider Phlebas was a mighty thing, but I've been getting less and less impressed with his science fiction, although I really enjoyed Feersum Enjinn. The Algebraist was a partial return to form, for me, anyway, but as I said somewhere else, I kept getting the weird feeling that it wasn't a Banks novel at all. I hear good things about his new Culture novel, Matter, though. We'll see.
As for the mainstream stuff, well, The Wasp Factory was pretty staggering when it first came out. I liked The Bridge, too, didn't like Walking On Glass very much, lovedEspedair Street</i> and The Crow Road, but haven't been as impressed with his other stuff.
And I bow my head in shame as I admit I've never read any Moorcock.
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