Borrowed Tides, Borders of Infinity, The Eyre Affair

   Word of the day:  inscription

I was going to catch up, really I was. I was going to say how I’d enjoyed Paul Levinson’s second novel, Borrowed Tides, although on the science side it left out a lot of explanation, or at least verisimiltudinous technobabble. But like good Star Trek technobabble, it was a lack that somehow managed to leave just the right amount to the imagination.

I also took a whack at Vernor Vinge’s new short story collection. I didn’t read them all, and I didn’t care for something I couldn’t quite pin down in the general style of them, but some stood out. The pixel-picture of the purple-blossomed valley was a bit of description that redeemed the entire story around it, for example. Then again, maybe I just got used to his style after the first bunch. I gave up on The Star Road by Gordon R. Dickson. It was a classic of everything sci-fi is getting over now, I suppose, and while I enjoyed it once upon a time, I’m not up for it now. I also tried a collection of what passes for short stories by C.J. Cherryh - Realities. I read two out of three novellas, but skipped the third because, though the ideas were good, the plots tended to go around in frustrating circles. She writes too much for me, though I suspect a fantasy fan could digest her quantities easily.

I picked up a year’s-end Locus, and found out that everyone else on the planet liked Gaiman’s American Gods more than I did. Fortunately, a few reviewers agreed with me about Redshift: Extreme Visions of Speculative Fiction, a book that thought far too highly of itself. Locus is a very depressing read - do you have any idea how much the subscription rates to sf magazines have dropped over the last twenty years? You don’t want to know. I wonder if sf is still a good field for short fiction, considering the magazine shutdowns and audience.

What can I say about a second go at The Martian Chronicles? I’d like to try it myself - it’s a very nice format for short stories. I’m not even going to praise the LMB books I’ve been catching up on (Borders of Infinity, Brothers in Arms). Consider them the standard by which I’m judging everything else, if you need an opinion of them. I’d put the former in my Best of LMB category along with Memory, Komarr and Shards of Honor. One of my LMB converts has a copy of The Spirit Ring for me - I think I’ll give it a shot before moving up to Curse of Chalion, if only to avoid the (rumored) disappointment afterwards.

I almost forgot: The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde is a nice, nice bit of speculative fiction. I was rooting for the sidekick and lost on that one, but Edward got his Jane - it’s always good to end a book the way it’s supposed to end. It’s a standard sort of British fantasy, but without the overt humor that tends to leave me cold. I’d still prefer something a little more serious, but I know better than to expect that from overseas. “Where is the sharpness and precipitousness…?”

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