Books again

More Charles Stross: His most recent The Atrocity Archives is a cross of H.P. Lovecraft and Neal Stephenson, reminiscent of the “magic is really technology” (or at least, rationally explainable) theme of Heinlein’s Magic, Inc. and Poul Anderson’s Operation Chaos. Offbeat and inventive, Stross’s references to semi-obscure computing history (e.g., Symbolics Lisp Machines) and theory of computability make great computer geek reading. He’s clearly been in the trenches, shipping software, he’s cynical as hell, and he can write.

In his postscript, Stross admits to reading Tim Power’s Declare after writing _TAA_, which “was a good thing.” Both books deal with the cold war and magic, though Powers leans (as usual) towards the hand-wavy and unexplained mystical side of things. I guess I just like gearhead space opera.

Stross’ next book, Iron Sunrise, will be published in July. It’s a sequel to Singularity Sky.

Where’s a tree-loving Ent when you really need one? Stephen R. Donaldson is penning another (“last”) chronicle of Thomas Covenant the Unbelieving Whiner. Years ago and sick in bed, I made the mistake of reading the first book in the _TC_ series. I might have read the first three books, but have since blissfully forgotten all but the low points. Namely: A character who never grows up or gets a good attitude, a land of peasants where no one seems to grow food, and a creeping, miasmic evil that honestly doesn’t seem as bad as the heroes. (“Hey, can we vote on this whole good-evil thing? Who decided who was who?”) I guess we can thank our lucky stars that there will only be four books, and they’re going to be the last ones Donaldson ever writes on the subject because the title says so, and writers never lie about that kind of thing.

King’s The Dark Tower VI is also felling trees next month. This is another case of, “I liked the first book a lot, too bad he couldn’t wrap it up in the second.” Why does everyone have the seven book series disease? Did word processors do this to us, make it too easy to vomit words? I have this idea for a printing operation; no software, just hot metal and lots of swearing, hand-written manuscripts that if the dog eats they’re gone, and customers who won’t bitch at the odd mis-spelled word.

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