Weekly reading, 23 June 2016

Last book finished: The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua. It is a thing of joy that made me ridiculously happy and I can’t recommend it highly enough. The graphic novel portions were fantastic and entertaining, and made me wish Lovelace and Babbage had lived that life, but it’s the footnotes and endnotes that really made the book. Trust me, it’s wonderful.

I also read one of the Hugo-nominated novellas, Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson. I expected a lot from this, because I usually really enjoy Sanderson’s work. His worldbuilding is always creative and his writing is compelling. This wasn’t a bad novella, but it wasn’t one of his best works by any stretch. Even Sanderson on an off-day is better than many writers, so I wouldn’t anti-rec it, but it’s definitely not the best work on the ballot or one of the highlights for the author.

Current read: Still working on Russian History: A Very Short Introduction. This will always be my status. Bribes still aren’t working. Maybe I need to put a reminder in my calendar, block out fifteen minutes a day for it.

My main physical book read is Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. This wasn’t a book that I expected to love, I’ll admit, but I’ve been surprised before. I didn’t expect to like The Fifth Season, because I’ve previously bounced off Jemisin’s work, and it’s been one of the best things I read this year. Zombies are totally not my thing, but I fell in love with Mira Grant’s Newsflesh anyway. This is all to say, even if I go into a book with low expectations, I can be changed by good writing

Seveneves has elements that are usually right up my alley. Yes, I’m not hugely into Hard SF, but global disasters are completely my thing. I’m a disaster movie fan, and an SFnal disaster should be something I love. I’m about 140 pages in and I can say that, so far, the ideas are great but the execution is…not. Overwritten, way too much information about the background of every character and object, which all comes out in tangents that kill any attempt at pacing and tension. And despite all that background, the characters have the life and consistency of cardboard. A good disaster story relies on character to pull us in and keep us there, rooting for them, as the stakes go up. I really couldn’t care less about any of these people. Right now, I’m reading because I want to see how the next part of the plot works out, but it’s a slog. And at some point, I’m probably going to stop slogging, because 860 pages of this may be 600 pages too many. It’s currently at the bottom of my Hugo ballot and I don’t think it will rise higher.

My other read is Out on Good Behaviour by Dahlia Adler, which is exactly the fluffy F/F romance I need as an antidote to the turgid prose of Stephenson.

Next read: I’ve had a couple of preorders in over the last couple of weeks, so it will probably be one of those. Either zombies or dragons, they’re both vying equally right now. On the Kindle, I should probably get on with a couple more Hugo nominated novelettes and novellas.

What are you reading this week, and would you recommend it?

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