Books read on my e-reader, part two
[Part one is lost.]
Having picked up a part-time job to tide me over till I find something more substantial, I've been dreaming of getting a new eReader (prolly a Sony PRS-350). To justify this to myself I'll use this space to reminisce about the books I've read on my current eReader [a Sony PRS-600] since my last bunch of reviews (which were on the old blog that's deleted).
Song of Kali by Dan Simmons
Simmons's Hyperion and the sequel Fall of Hyperion are two of the best sci-fi novels I've ever read (Hyperion might be one of the best things I've ever read). Song of Kali is a bit of a change of pace from what I knew Simmons for. Set mostly in Calcutta, India, Song of Kali is a "horror" novel in which probably the most terrifying thing is meant to be the city itself. Unless you're really racist -- and many have accused Simmons of this -- it's hard to see anything really scary about Simmons's Calcutta. It's a pretty good book, really, but I'd rather call it a mystery than a horror novel. Even though it was disappointing, I read it within a day. 4/5.
The Cyborg and the Sorcerers by Lawrence Watt-Evens
Yes, The Cyborg and the Sorcerers. I discovered this one accidentally while looking for other books. It's irresistibly titled, you have to give it that. After looking for a bit of info on it -- just to make it sure it wasn't some weird porno novel or something -- I found out that it's also got an irresistible cover.
How could I pass it up! And really, I'm glad I didn't. It's a pretty good 'un. It's fairly short and simple, but Watt-Evans has a sort of wry, subtle sense of humor. It's also nice that the characters are all very friendly.
Consider Phlebas by Iain Banks
The first novel in Banks's popular Culture series. I really liked this one, but I don't have much to say about it. It's a fairly standard sci-fi thriller.
As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
This might be one of the first self-improvement books. I can't remember how old it is, but it's definitely in the public domain. Allen takes about forty pages not to demonstrate, but to insist, that positive thinking is the key to success. This means negative thinking leads to failure, and he comes close to suggesting that working people just need to think more positively. There's not much reason to read this -- it's too ponderous. Just know that somebody really believed in the power of positive thought. Maybe you should too.
Use of Weapons by Iain Banks
This is either the second or third novel in Banks's Culture series. It's a really fine one. The structure of the novel is a bit confusing at first, but works brilliantly by the end. Imaginative and always intriguing, it's also a much better than Consider Phlebas as an introduction to the society of the Culture (which is communist in the true sense). Indeed, Banks even tends to use the Culture to propagandize his politics a bit, which is frankly welcome. With the as of yet unread Player of Games, the two Banks novels reviewed here seem to be mentioned quite positively in a lot of places.
Widdershins by Oliver Onions
Yeah, it's a real name, and a relatively respected author. I only read the first story, "The Fair Beckoning One," but it was good and spooky enough. The rest seemed like shit (and a lot seemed like they were about sailors).
The Wise Man's Fear Patrick Rothfuss
A real Phantom Menace moment here, folks. Only it's mostly good and fun and entertaining, unlike TPM, but it's just as much of a waste of precious narrative space or whatever. This series has gone from a trilogy to being, or at least needing to be, something rather longer, whether Rothfuss knows it or not. Pretty disappointing compared to the nicely paced first novel.
Hunger by Knut Hamsun
What a good one! I'm not sure that it's meant to be comedic, but I've laughed heartily at it. It's cliched to say, but Hamsun seemed to have a window on the human psyche. The protagonist here reminds me of myself, always inflating his own sense of honor, often just as a means of explaining his difficulty interacting with others.