Thursday, February 22, 2007

Aiiiiyaaaah. If you're going to leave narky comments, at least have the decency to wear your name. Don't be ashamed of your narkiness, revel in it! Be grown-up about being a bitch! It's too fucking early in the morning for me not to get my nark on. Get me some fucking orange juice.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Someone Comes To Town, Someone Leaves Town - Cory Doctorow

I read this cover to cover. Got terrible involved in it. I can tell you what happens, but I can't tell you what it's about.

What happens is a couple of guys start up free wireless for the community/the son of a mountain and a washing machine has some serious family issues, and deals with them. Somewhere between those two plot lines is what this book is about, and I haven't quite pinned it down yet.

It is something, my gut has decided, to do with freedom. Not necessarily freedom of speech, with all the politics the phrase is loaded with. Possibly just the freedom to be what and who you are, which is something you can only decide for yourself.

Which of course can only be done after you've finished your family feud in a violent and bloody manner, but oh well.

But that doesn't seem quite satisfactory, and I think I'll have to muddle this book over some more before I come to a conclusion that I am happy with.

It is about peculiar people. They're called 'monsters' at various points in the narrative, but that's just a word to mean 'other'. They're not human in the biological sense of the word, but they have minds and hearts that seem perfect capable of fucking things up like the rest of us. They are not, or feel they are not, free to say what they think.

Mimi, part-time heroin of the story, sporting a very fetching set of functional bat wings, is perhaps the most sympathetic of this motely cast. Her thought process and her emotional reactions are nothing but raw human, and her wings a physical manifestation of that wall we all carry within us. That which renders us incapable of expressing ourselves to others, that which disconnects us from the world around us. Her moment of battered house wife syndrome cut me, and her decision to run elevated me. I've read too many family violence reports where that last decision never happens.

Adam, Alan, Andy, the main protagonist, is an odd bird. Human, and passing for human, and going so human he's popped out the otherside into oddness. His carefully moulded house, full of the trophies that signify what it is to be human, the book he never writes, his endless fascination with other people...and his family.

The war between his brothers fuels the larger part of the story, and I admit I haven't sorted it out in my head yet. There was a twist at the end that I didn't see, and while it didn't throw me, it hasn't settled comfortably either. Families are strange creatures. Strange, strange creatures. I think it might be better if I accepted, without attempting to understand. Somethings aren't meant to be understood; family is one of them.

(Especially given the conversation I just had with my brother.)

It's also a really nice book to hold. I nabbed the hardcover at worldcon, and it's just a nice size, with nice heft, and nice paper, and a really nice cover. Ahh. Purdy.

A strange book that curls and meanders and drinks too much coffee and geeks out and gets brutal and bloody. A book that you will have to chew over and take what you choose from it, because it won't tell you want to think.

Verdict: Challenging, bizarrely so. Dangerous for trains.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

I am a migraine.

Friday, February 16, 2007


Someone just tried to get into our backyard.

My brother heard the gate open. All I heard was him thumping around as he turned on all the outside lights, threw open the back door and grabbed his cricket bat. Then he came and got me and we both went tearing out the front door, torch and bat in hand. If we had hackles they'd be all the way up.

I've processed too many police reports to tolerate some lowlife lazy fucker on MY territory.

Excuse me while I go prowl around in a seething miasma of pissed-off-ed-ness.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Guys, guys, okay, guys, ready? Guys, okay? Guys. Okay. Total moment of Dumb.

I missed my stop.

I was reading (my inner ear is behaving itself again), and you know how it is when you get to the end of the book, and everything's getting really intense, and I kinda missed three stops and when I looked up there were bushes. Me, I was "the hell? What bushes? Oh. OH!" And yes, I couldn't even just wait for the next train going in the other direction, because there was no next train, being after midnight.

I got the giggles so bad.

To top it off, while loitering around suspiciously waiting for my brother to pick me up, the cops drove past, and drove past again, and pulled up right by me to make sure I was okay. Which gave me bigger giggles.

So, Cory Doctorow's Someone Comes To Town, Someone Leaves Town is NOT fit for train-travelling consumption.

I'm going to finish it RIGHT NOW so the same thing doesn't happen tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Wintersmith - Terry Pratchett

It's Terry Pratchett. You've already made up your minds.

(I think he's worn himself a deep grove with the Discworld books, and now that he knows how to write a Discworld story, he can't not write it that way. I've read this before. It's still a good book, and Tiffany Aching brings all sorts of New and Refreshing to the witches. Me & sensible 13 year old witches = <3)
The Devil in Amber - Mark Gatiss

Yes! That dashing artist/secret agent is back! Lucifer Box!

Alas...this story just doesn't hold a candle to The Vesuvius Club, which is a right shame. The first book was a great big wad of ridiculous fun. This book is in that murky region of ridiculous where it isn't quite good ridiculous, but very close to lame ridiculous.

Times are hard for Box; he's getting old, there are younger and nastier agents trying to usurp his position as The Best, and now his own agency is out to get him! What's a poor secret agent to do? Why, get the girl, uncover the secret devil-worshipping society, and save the world, of course.

Except it's not just devil worship. There's actual devil. Actual and active devil pouncing through the plot and inserting all sorts of infernal intervention when Box requires a Get Out Of Jail Free card, which shat me to tears. That's cheating. Chea. Ting. Having the devil as the great world-threatening menace also felt like cheating. No, it felt cheap.

This isn't to say the book wasn't fun. It was great rollicking promiscuous fun. It was just a bit dumb too.

Verdict: The first book is better. This one, not so better. Regardless, I won't hesitate to snap up the next when it comes. Lucifer Box is just good like that.
Howl's Moving Castle - Diana Wynne Jones

I've been meaning to read this ever since the movie came out and made me fall in love with it. It's not particularly common in mainstream Aussie bookstores, which surprised me. I eventually bought it from Minotaur, because Dymocks just refused to stock it.

It is as full of love as the movie, so I fell in love with it too.

There are significant plot depatures between the two, and while the movie cut a lot out, I believe it remained true to the story (which for all you book purists out there who go one about how the last two Harry Potter films were crap because they didn't stick word by word to the books, is MORE IMPORTANT, my goodness, they're two different mediums, they work stories differently! Ahem).

Sophie is possibly an even better pushy old lady than she was in the film, which made me all sorts of delighted. Marcl being Michael, who wasn't a boy but a sensible young man, took very little to adjust to. The dog, being not the dog, was a tad transparent, but a lot of fun. And Wales. Wales! That threw me, I admit, but not for long. There's something very tongue in cheek about a someone from a magical kingdom escaping to this world. Usually it's the otherway around.

What I loved most was how this book is unashamedly happy. It's joy and delight and sunshine, and totally unrepentant about it. It doesn't feint sour endings, not in the least. You know there's a happy ending, and there damn well will be one!

Here I thought most young adult stuff was gritty and hard hitting. Boy, was I wrong. How come the young adults get all the fun?

I'm not too old for happy endings. I don't think anyone is.

Verdict: It'll warm you up on the inside. I can see this being a great comfort book. I love. You love. We all love! NOW GO BUY.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - The Lost Memory, Volume 1 - by Junichi Fujisaku, trans Camellia Nieh

Cheap. Easy. REALLY REALLY REALLY SMALL. You're sensing a pattern, right?

Recently finished watching the for SAC series, and it worked for me. I know tie ins generally suck, but eh. My inner rabid fangirl fails to give a rats.

According to the bio, the writer is one of the episode writers from the anime series, so he knows his material. He's not writing fanfiction because what he writes is canon. Yep. This turns out to be the books undoing, as it reads not just like an episode, but like a tv script. There's the big print at the beginning (a laborous description of the physical setting), character placement (exactly what it says), and then dialogue. And monologue. All those voice overs. It would work just fine on a screen, but in dead tree format, it reads like a dead, dead, dead fish.

It particularly suffers from telling, given that information cannot be shown as easily as on a screen, and even though it's only 210 really small double spaced pages, it took a long time for me to read it. Bleeeeah.

Respect the mediums you work in, and the ones you don't, please.

Verdict: It's a tie-in. You get what you expect.
Chain Mail: Addicted to You - by Hiroshi Ishizaki, trans Richard Kim, adapt Rachel Manija Brown

After the last book, I had a hissy fit, and went and read all the Harry Potter books, which you don't need to hear about. Then I had another hissy fit, got mad at books at general, and didn't read anything for a month. When I finally got over that, the memory of lugging around those Harry Potter books was still raw (those lumps are heavy), and so I picked this up because a) it was cheap, b) a really light read, and c) REALLY REALLY REALLY SMALL.

On my own, I represent a new trend that publishers should consider - I don't want more book for my money. I want you to drop the prices of books and make them not nearly as heavy as they are. My wrists can't take this crap.

End tangent.

The story is very straight foward; four high school girls, all unknown to each other, get involved in a little message board online role-playing, and of course the fictional world and the real world start to reflect each other, and weird scary stuff starts to happen, and oooh, who knows how it will end?

I do! Because it's very straight forward. So straight forward, I'd assumed the writer would have known this and made an attempt to obscure the ending or provide a new and interesting twist, but they didn't. Oh well.

Despite the predictability, this is a decent read. The fact that there's a translator and an english adaptor indicates to me that they didn't leave it all to the translator to actually write the story, and gave that task to someone with the know how. It reads smoothly, if simply. The role-play sections themselves possess distinct voices, which most real online RP fails at.

Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that everyone wants friends. And will be weird, creepy, and stalkery to get some.

Verdict: This book doesn't do anything new, but at least it doesn't do anything new badly. A quick and easy way to kill half a day.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Voyage of Sable Keech - Neal Asher

Because the last book I'd read was unbelievably awesome and still had its claws in me, I picked this book up next specifically because it was totally different.

Which means it sucked.

I know Asher gets a lot of love, and I'm sure somewhere out there are works of his that deserve it, but this isn't it. If you're first time to Asher's universe, like I was, stay away from this one. It's a bit of an in-crowd thing.

The story is about....hell, I don't know. A bunch of stuff happens, and I was waiting for a point to be made, but there wasn't one. Just stuff. A lot of characters feature, all of whom appear to have length backgrounds and significant history in other books, which I haven't read and don't know about, and the right information wasn't given at the right time so in the end I didn't care either, and it feels like all these characters are brought together because Asher likes them, and can't leave them alone, and they must all have last hurrahs. "Here, your beloved friends return again, isn't that awesome?" From my point of view, no. Not to mention that all the characters seemed to possess the same voice, with the same amout of smartarsery which got annoying after a while.

I mean, was there a point to the whole giant whelk thing? Giant whelks are cool, but unless they serve a purpose other than being big and squishing things for the convenience of the plot, I don't want them.

There wasn't even a something about the dead not being dead and la di da.

So much telling, not much showing.

So much technobabble.

In a weird way, I saw this book as a warning to myself, as all the flaws I see in it, I'm guilty of. Plenty of cool shit and cool stuff for no point whatsoever. If I write like that, with that many pages involved, stop me, please.

Very glad I read this after my giant crab story was picked up. There's even a character called Thirteen. I know, I know!

Verdict: If you like Asher's stuff and want more, here's more. If you don't know Asher's stuff, go start at the beginning. If you want. No pressure.
Bold as Love - Gwyneth Jones

There are many reasons that I am a bad, bad person. One of them is the fact that I read this in September, and it's taken me this long to get off my arse and write about it. It deserves better attention than that. I'm a bad person. Ai.

I mean, I can barely remember what I was going to say about it. Other than "OMG, THIS IS TEH ROXOR!!11!!"

It was one of my targets for worldcon, and is a dangerous book to take to work. Far too addictive. I kept taking little nips, every couple of minutes, because I couldn't let it go. It was almost a relief to finish it.

A sort of near-future modern-world apocalypse turning post-apocalyptic world, the events of which are set in the UK, and seen through the perspective of rockstars. It's a brilliant piece of work, strange and familiar and new and true all at once. I couldn't tell you what the message is, and I don't think that it's necessary to know. I don't need to know.

I had a moment of idiot though, upon finishing and seeing 'to be continued in doodidoodidoo' and then waiting patiently for Nightshade to announce this new title, only to discovere that about six books in the series have been released under various other publishers and are actually available in normal bookshops here. Not that I've seen book 2 on the shelves yet. Don't make the same idiot moment I did.

I found it particularly interesting to dissect as a buddy story. Although world-breaking events happen, the story is mostly about the Trio of Ultimate Cool, and how these events bleed into their lives, or how they don't. There's time for that special close and stupid chatter between really close friends, all the time, and I got a kick out of seeing the balance at work.

I'm all for slash. *cough*

Anyway, I know this write up sucks, and I'm very sorry, because this book deserves much better treatment. It received a lot of hype a couple of years back, and you should believe it. It's fresh and full of awesome.

Verdict: This book is fantastic. I am not.