||[Dec. 18th, 2011|12:25 am]
39. Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
40. I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells
41-42. The Unwritten, vols. 1-2 by Mike Carey and Peter Gross
43. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
44. Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey
45. Hexaflexagons and Other Mathematical Diversions by Martin Gardner
46. Time Lord: Sir Sandford Fleming and the Creation of Standard Time by Clark Blaise
47. Castle Waiting by Linda Medley
48. The Magicians by Lev Grossman
49-51. Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons, and Calling on Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede
Made it to 50 books! Hooray. Quick reviews follow.
Packing for Mars: a fun and irreverent look at what it takes to keep humans alive and well in space. So much of our biology comes with the default assumption of standard gravity, and with that out the window, the effort we've exerted as a species to figure out how to handle that is pretty awesome.
I Am Not A Serial Killer is about a teenaged boy trying very, very hard not to be a serial killer, and then murders start happening... It's a remarkable look at some very dark psychology. I really enjoyed it, and then felt a little uncomfortable for doing so - which makes me suspect that the author did exactly what he wanted to.
The Unwritten is the best comic book about the power of storytelling that I've read since Sandman. Part Harry Potter pastiche, part terrifying story about fiction let loose into the real world...
Warbreaker was pretty decent. The magic system was a little bit too "Hey, I just thought of a fascinating magic system!" - the world was clearly built to justify it, and while it did okay, it felt a little on the contrived side. The theological aspects of it were quite entertaining, though. (I'm also getting the sense that Sanderson has certain character archetypes he really enjoys writing; the mysterious male quasi-protagonist felt like Kelsier from Mistborn dropped into a different world.)
Kushiel's Dart was an amazing work. Epic in scope and deeply personal in narration. The political intrigue was intricately plotted and fun as hell, and the sex was erotic and sensual without feeling pornographic or cheap. The characters were fantastic. I'm really looking forward to the rest of this series.
Hexaflexagons was a fun diversion. 50-60 years later, some of the columns feel a little dated, but others are still entertaining.
Time Lord started out strong, but wandered for a while. Ironically, the narration failed to keep any sort of consistent chronology. The author launched into chapters-long digressions about other aspects of Victorian culture, stretching mightily to try to fit them into his main thesis. I'm sort of glad I stuck with it, though, because the actual description of the Prime Meridian Conference was fascinating. It's a shame it was only 10-15 pages out of hundreds.
Castle Waiting is a beautifully drawn, quirkily told set of fantasy comic stories interwoven into a frame narrative of a woman seeking shelter at a castle formerly inhabited by Sleeping Beauty, who ran off with the prince who rescued her, leaving the castle empty. The stories are a little meandering, but the characters make it worth it.
The Magicians is about a kid who discovers magic is real when he gets invited to a school for magicians that mundane people don't know exist and can't even detect. And given that premise, it's about as far away from Harry Potter as it's possible to be. Magic won't solve your problems, it will just replace them with different ones. Ditto for escapism.
Finally, I've been reading the Enchanted Forest Chronicles to Sora and Alpha over the past few months. It's an excellent way to get the baby used to my voice, and I've been experimenting with vocal styles, different voices, etc. It's interesting! I think I've been doing a good job of voicing female characters in ways that don't involve an irritating falsetto.