January, 2007

Crown of Stars by James Tiptree Jr. (1) [spec fic, anthology]. I checked this out of the library. A collection of short stories. I thought I would like this more than I did. The Quintana Roo book was better. While a few of the stories were really brilliant, there were a whole bunch that were heavy-handed, obvious, and dull (yes, I’m talking about you “Morality Meat”. Ugh). She did a fairy tale retelling/Romeo and Juliet story that was much better than my Egghead Kingdom, but still wasn’t all that, making me wonder if the whole concept of EK is doomed, doomed. I liked the doped up soldier story right until the end where I balked at the penultimate turn of the events (really, a body no one noticed? In the tropics? Didn’t it smell?). Wondering about the smell there made me notice how sense blind the writing was in other places. I wonder if there isn’t some dated factor to the book and whether I wouldn’t have liked it better if some of the plots didn’t seem so standard (maybe they were less so when she wrote them?). Finished early Jan, around 01/05/07 or so.

We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families by Philip Gourevitch. (2) [non-fiction]. I checked this out of the library. It was recommended reading a (long) while back on slacktivist. An unflinching but humane look at the 1994 Rwandan genocide. There were more accusations of the French government than I expected (not that anyone, internationally, was spared. As an enlightened so-called first world, we really screwed up on this one). I had no idea the French had armed the genocidaires, and even provided troops who aided and abetted in the slaughter. The book quotes Mitterand as having said, “In such countries, genocide is not too important”. I don’t know if he was evil all the time, but there’s at least one instance of evil. Kofi Annan doesn’t come out looking too great either, causing me to lose quite a bit of respect for him, though Paul Rusesabagina is still a complete hero. It’s a pretty sickening and depressing history, but the book is amazing and completely worth reading. Finished on 01/30/07.

Man, it’s only January and I’m at least two books behind on the book a week thing. I couldn’t read the genocide book much faster than I did, though. There’s only so much calling people cockroaches and hacking them up with machetes I can absorb at a single sitting. I still owe book list entries for 2006, too. Perhaps later.

P.S. Sorry to have neglected the blog lately. I’ll try to be interesting and/or entertaining soon.

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I watched part of the ceremony retiring Steve Yzerman’s jersey last night. Yzerman embodies everything that is cool about hockey, in my opinion. He’s that rarity in professional sports, a sportsmanlike athlete. I’m thrilled that he’s been honored in this way.

Still, the most moving thing about last night, for me, was that moment when Konstantinov appeared. I was waiting for it. They’d called all his fellow retired teammates from that 1997 championship team. Several of his teammates hovered around the entryway instead of proceeding to their seats. Oh, of course, I thought, someone’s gotta push Konstantinov’s wheelchair. Then they call his name and by God, the man appears, walking with a walker! He’s on his feet, none too steady mind you, but he’s walking!

Sometimes the ability of the human spirit to overcome adversity just kicks you in the solar plexus. As with me, last night, seeing that man walk to his chair. Only once did Probert, walking next to Konstantinov, reach out and steady him.

Oh, and let me undercut my own gravity here. Larionov? Still a hottie. I think it’s the glasses.

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1 Jan 2007, by

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I’ve eaten my black-eyed peas, like a good Southerner, so I should have good luck and oodles of cash this year.

To close out my 2006 business, I’ll start documenting the reading vacation:

The Year’s Best Science Fiction 22nd Annual Collection edited by Gardner Dozois. (best guess 27) [specfic, anthology]. I checked this out of the library. From my written notes:”Best stories in this volume were originally published in SCIFICTION, making me even sadder that this market bellied up. Highlights: ‘Inappropriate Behavior’ by Pat Murphy, ‘The Voluntary State’ by Chris Rowe, ‘Scout’s Honor’ by Terry Bission, ‘Synthetic Serendipity’ by Vernor Vinge, ‘Ten Sigmas’ by Walter Jon Williams, and ‘Leviathan Wept’. Duds: ‘Delhi’ by Vandana Singh, ‘Sitka’ by William Sanders, ‘Mayflower II’ by Stephen Baxter, ‘Tourism’ by M. John Harrison. Frustrating:’Skin Deep’ by Mary Rosenblum and ‘Tribes of Bela’ by Albert E. Crowley. Poorest copyediting ever : ‘Mayflower II’ by Stephen Baxter.” Finished on 12/22/06.

Clan Apis by Jay Hosler. (guess 28) [graphic novel]. The story of a bee as it cycles through life in the hive. From my written notes: “Very enjoyable.” Finished on 12/22/06.

Ethan of Athos by Lois McMaster Bujold. (guess 29) [specfic]. The tale of a man who has led an extremely sheltered life as a doctor on a planet consisting only of men as he leaves the shelter of his home and what he has known. Because it’s Bujold, intrigue and embroilments follow, of course. From my written notes:”Most enjoyable read. I really admire the way Bujold doesn’t stint philosophical questions, even as she’s managing fast-paced, complex plots. There is lots to think about here.” Finished on 12/23/06.

The next book on my list is Buenos Aires which was terrible and needs to be kept away from the other good books, so I will put it in a post all its own, tomorrow. Teach me to pick my own books, I guess, since it was the only one unendorsed by the kind readers of this blog.

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