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Fun and Good Books

I’ve been reading a lot lately (which has been a lot of fun), and I wanted to mention a few more books that are well worth your time.  I’ve already raved about the Larsson books now I want to talk about three books in our genre.

I had the good fortune to read BLACKOUT before the actual publication date, and it was lovely.  A terrific evocation of those dark and terrifying days during the Blitz and the evacuation from Dunkirk.  Connie Willis creates such great and real people who have very real responses to terror and danger — they’re f**king _scared_.  Some of them get past it and do heroic things.  Others are simply frozen.  I really appreciate that because science fiction far too often falls victim to the omni-competent hero otherwise known as the Heinlein hero.  Maybe that’s why I like HAVE SPACESUIT so much.  At times Kip simply bumbles into the right or heroic choice, and he even has to be rescued on Pluto by a little girl, and the Mother Thing who I have always pictured as a kind of bunny creature.  But I digress.

BLACKOUT ends with a big cliffhanger, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next and final book.  I really wish Bantam was bringing it out in June… or maybe… April.  I hate to have to wait.

Next I read my first Charlie Stross book.  As indicated in my bio I manage a small natural gas company so business and finance fascinate me.  While I was at Boskone I picked up the first two books of the Merchant Princes series, and I read all but the final ten pages during my trip home on Tuesday.  It’s a great romp with charming characters, wheels within wheels, and he makes economics seem as exciting as a sword fight because the heroine is using money and business to conduct the equivalent of war.  I’m eager to jump into the second volume.

But before I do that I want to finish A MAGIC OF NIGHTFALL by S.L. Farrell.  I had read A MAGIC OF TWILIGHT last year, and enjoyed the hell out of it.  This book picks up almost 25 years after the events of the first book, and I was grateful that he skipped to the next really interesting part in the saga instead of making me slog through brush wars, and palace intrigue as so often happens with other writers of high fantasy.  Farrell is giving me the good bits, and as a movie person I really appreciate that.

The plot turns on people’s motivations rather than on magic objects or the intervention of gods.  He is writing about that uncomfortable period when a society is faced with a growing understanding of technology that is going to eclipse the older, more costly and painful ways of approximating technology by using magic.  It’s a hell of a lot easier to understand electricity and flip a switch then use a magician to light the streetlamps.

Since my EDGE books are all about the tension between science/technology and magic this book really appeals to me. 

The other great gift that Farrell brings to his writing is the heart and passion.  He has a great understanding of human beings, and he’s gentle with their foibles and honors them when they rise above their worst instincts.  He is a humanistic writer, and in a time when the prevailing attitude in this country seems to be “I’ve got mine, Jack!” it’s a welcome change.  Characters care about each other and they do the right thing because they care.

So, check out these three books.  You won’t be sorry.

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