The Wild Shore (Kim Stanley Robinson): ..meh. Postapocalyptic "what is America" bildungsroman where the protagonist learns that sometimes people lie to you and don't have your best interests at heart. This has some of the elements I like about KSR's other novels - attention to detail, location as almost a character in its own right - but the moral focus is uninteresting to me. The nuclear annihilation and post-nuclear log cabin existence of the new Americans, hemmed in by a UN ban (or forces manipulating the ban on the international scene) almost looks a little post-Iraq, if you squint, and ought to resonate with American challenges thirty years later. But it doesn't, to me. First novel-itis? The narrator's political naivete drove me to distraction, and then to indifference.
American Project: The Rise and Fall of a Modern Ghetto (Sudhir Alladi Venkatesh): Nonfiction. Sociological study of the Robert Taylor Homes Project in Chicago from its inception to the '90s, looking at the goals and failures of the project. From almost the start, underfunding and over-subscription to services plagued individual buildings and the project as a whole. Venkatesh examines strategies residents devised to survive: under-the-table jobs and businesses, networks and favoritism, relationships with "legitimate" authorities. I found this interesting, and illuminating, but dry. Ventakesh makes evident in the use of theory and endnotes that he's writing a scholarly book first, and only secondarily for a lay audience. It's readable, but I suspect some of the theory went right over my head.
The Steerswoman's Road (Rosemary Kirstein): Reread. Collection of The Steerswoman and The Outskirter's Secret; contains my favorite eyewitness description of a mass non-natural disaster.
Continued Kirstein re-read: on to The Lost Steersman and The Language of Power. There's something subtle and unexpected going on with gender and worldbuilding; consider this a holding place for a longer examination of the question.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy (J. R. R. Tolkien): Reread. When you don't know what else to read... Tolkien. "The Grey Havens" gets me every time.
Cryoburn (Lois McMaster Bujold): New Bujold is always awesome, but this one hit me in unexpected places. I sulked for a week after I finished this. I may still be sulking. Spoiler item was inevitable, but it ruined the last chapter for me, because I saw it coming. I'm also not pleased with other parts of the structure: I think A Civil Campaign's plot-with-a-bow-on-top structure spoiled me for novels of less artifice (Diplomatic Immunity, Cryoburn). The beautiful theme / plot dovetailing in Mirror Dance and Memory didn't help. I'm not sure if LMB is getting subtler, and I'm missing things because I'm not paying attention, or if there's another reason I'm not as happy with this book.
I also have very firm associations with the word "drabble" which completely threw me out of the last 500 words of the novel. Am I the only one?
I read fanfic
The "a drabble is a story in exactly 100 words" sentence affected my reading experience
Yes - it enhanced my experience
Yes - it detracted from my experience
Should I go to the extra effort to cross-post this poll to LJ?
Is a poll complete without a tickybox?
Ticky for fewer exclamation points
Tongues of Serpents (Naomi Novik): Fifth in the series, following Victory of Eagles: Laurence and Temeraire, branded traitors to England, arrive at an Australian exile that is anything but settled, or restful.
( This got long, as well as mixed. )
I think my real problem is that I want the series to be something it's not. Novik's not writing about major aerial actions, and she's not writing an alternate universe English Dragon Revolution informed by 21st century social justice activism. That's okay, but it pops the sequels to the "beach and brainless" reading list.
The Honor of the Queen (David Weber): Second Honor Harrington novel; reread. The last time I touched anything Weber-authored was 2003; the last time I read a full HH novel must have been 2001 or earlier. This wasn't a particularly well-written novel in my memory, and rereading did not help its case. The plot's direct, but the writing rambles to the point of tediousness. I don't care how many kilometers per second your missile travels, evading penaids and point defenses; I care how much story-propelling boom it makes when it hits something.
Apparently, I absorbed the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth Honor Harrington novels (War of Honor, At All Costs, and Mission of Honor, all written by David Weber) in a two-day electronic binge. Does it count as power-skimming when you keyword-search to the characters you care about?
( My infodump about my reaction to infodumps, let me show you it. )
Numbers game: 15 total finished. 7 new, 8 reread; 14 fiction, 1 nonfiction