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[books] Recent reading - Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2012-01-16 05:33
Subject: [books] Recent reading
Security: Public
Tags:books, klog, reviews
I've read three books recently that I wanted to take a moment to comment on. Daughter of the Sword by Steve Bein, (Roc, October, 2012), and two Charles Stross books, Saturn's ChildrenPowells | BN ] and The Fuller MemorandumPowells | BN ].

Daughter of the Sword was sent to me in bound manuscript form as a candidate for blurb. I really enjoyed it, and provided a pull quote which Roc may or may not be using. It's a book with an interesting structure, two entwined narratives that contrast significantly. One is the story of a Tokyo cop, the only female detective-sergeant on the force, chasing a strange series of murders, coping with her sister's disappearance, and battling the institutional sexism of a police force where most women either are meter maids or coffee girls. The other thread skips through Japanese history from the Mongol invasions through WWII, chronicling the story of a set of swords forged by one of the great masters of that art. There are curses and possessions, mixing a very light-handed fantasy element with police procedural and a journey through Japanese culture. Some wonderfully lateral views of a pair of common Western storytelling tropes not so often bound together. This story was a bit off my most usual pleasure reading path, and I'm glad I took it.

Saturn's Children is billed on the cover as a space opera, but I'm not sure I'd call it that. The conceit at the heart of the book is profound and fascinating — that the human race died out but its intelligent servants have carried on without their masters, for the most part barely noticing the change. Frea, nearly the last of a series of courtesan-androids who are all bereft of purpose in the absence of human lovers, is at first pulled, then pushes herself, through a string of events and conspiracies that provides a set-piece tour of the solar system, from Mercury to Eris. And this book is funny. There are some real howlers of bad puns and jokes, as well as a great deal of more subtle humor. Stross' tongue is firmly in his cheek even as he covers deadly serious issues of identity, independence and the notion of what it means to be free.

The Fuller Memorandum is not the first Laundry novel, but it's the first one I read. (Selection was limited the day I walked into the bookstore — normally I begin a series at the beginning.) That being said, it worked just fine as a freestanding book. I'd been a little skeptical of the premise of the Laundry novels, about a secretive arm of the British intelligence community charged with battling the occult and very specifically working to prevent a return of the Elder Gods. Stross pulls it off, beautifully, with his trademark fractally encysting conspiracies and mordant wit. Highly recommended, and now I need to go round up the rest of the Laundry novels.

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a_cubed
User: a_cubed
Date: 2012-01-16 15:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Damn, Daughter of the Sword does sound interesting. Depending on how well the author has done their research on Japan (particularly current Japanese society) I may or may not like it as much as you do (living in Japan and being married to a Japanese citizen I have some decent insights into things here) but it certainly sounds interesting. Now I just have to remember to order it when it comes out (it's not on Amazon even for pre-order yet).
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Danny Adams
User: madwriter
Date: 2012-01-17 00:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I second this. I leaned hard towards my monitor as I was reading Jay's description. :)
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a_cubed
User: a_cubed
Date: 2012-01-17 01:06 (UTC)
Subject: Hello "Cousin"
Aha, another Adams. We get everywhere. Common as muck.
It would help if our esteemed host would provide the author's name, too.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-01-17 01:12 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Hello "Cousin"
For Daughter of the Sword? Steve Bein, mentioned at the top of the post.
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a_cubed
User: a_cubed
Date: 2012-01-17 01:33 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Hello "Cousin"
Oops. Sorry about that. The review was so interesting I'd forgotten the author's name by the end of it. Now to figure out a way to make sure I order it when it comes out.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2012-01-17 01:38 (UTC)
Subject: Re: Hello "Cousin"
Is all good!
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Nathan
User: mastadge
Date: 2012-02-06 14:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It is now.
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a_cubed
User: a_cubed
Date: 2012-02-06 14:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Cheers. Pre-ordered. I'll get a surprise in October when it comes out.
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cypherindigo
User: cypherindigo
Date: 2012-01-16 17:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I enjoy the "Laundry" novels immensely.
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fledgist
User: fledgist
Date: 2012-01-16 18:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The Laundry novels are a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to the next one.
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Talekyn
User: talekyn
Date: 2012-01-16 19:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've not heard of Stross' Laundry novels, but now I'm intrigued. Thanks, Jay, for adding more to my TBR pile!
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Jodi: reading
User: rivet
Date: 2012-01-16 20:56 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:reading
I find the Laundry novels hilarious. They're not profound, but they're great geeky braincandy. I am a civil servant, and my partner is a programmer, and Stross captures the mundane irritations of those jobs so well. The lovecraftian horrors are a great replacement for the normal subject of those jobs.
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a_cubed
User: a_cubed
Date: 2012-01-17 01:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
What the Laundry novels remind me of is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It wonderfully juxtaposes the eldritch horrors and the awful bits of everyday life and shows that sometimes it's the everyday life that's the more horrific. Plus, comedy horror!
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Tom
User: voidampersand
Date: 2012-01-17 07:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think the initial Laundry story The Atrocity Archive was pure genius and it took Stross a while to figure out how it could work as a series. The Fuller Memorandum is where Stross decided to take the series on a darker path. I really like it; it matters a lot more what happens next.

And it you haven't read "A Colder War" it's still online for free and it still scares the shit out of me. 'Cause I know all too well what monsters are let loose in the corridors of power.
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