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February 2013
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Ninebelow [userpic]
Books: August 2010

#29 Swords & Dark Magic, edited by Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders

Read for review for SF Site.

#30 By George by Wesley Stace

Recommended by ajr as his book of 2009. My wife got about half way through before putting it down as boring but I'm not sure what her problem was. It is a family mystery told by characters from two different generations, one of whom is a ventriloquist's dummy. Perhaps slightly contrived but very satisfying.

I also hadn't realised that the author is John Wesley Harding. The singer, not the gun in every hand guy.

#31The Servants by MM Smith

Another of Michael Marshall Smith's transparent psuedonyms which in this instance announces his move into children's literature. I don't think MMS could write a bad book but he's certainly written a dull. Specifically it is a worthy but dull Young Boy's Cancer Primer.

#32 The Fire Gospels by Michel Faber

Another minor work from a major author. This is part of the Canongate Myths series and concerns the discovery of a fifth gospel that shows that there was no resurrection. It unfolds much as you would imagine and whilst Faber is always an impressive writer, I wish he had written something more substantial.

#33 Far North by Marcel Thoreux

As I mentioned to coalescent, I think this is probably a better novel than The City & The City but I would have still given the Arthur C Clarke Award to China Mieville. I'm not usually a fan of post-apocalypse novels - too limited - but this is wonderful, a sort of science fictional version of Primo Levi.

#34 The Rule Of Bone by Russell Banks

Coming of age is used quite casually to refer to pretty much all children's novels. This is the real thing though; a novel about a child who accidently and then deliberately sets out to discover the the right way to live. Bone lives in a small town in upstate New York. His interests are typical - weed, heavy metal and petty crime - but then he discovers Rastafarianism. Again, it can be a little contrived but it is immensely powerful as Bone opens himself up to a new way of understanding only to run up against the inherent limitations both of this philosophy and of the world itself.


I think this is probably a better novel than The City & The City but I would have still given the Arthur C Clarke Award to China Mieville.

You're going to have to unpack that one...

Mieville gets extra points for concept.

But by your own admission this doesn't make his novel better. So in your view the ACCA is something other than an award for the best eligible novel?

Well, it comes down to the leeway judges have over what best means. I think they are both executed well, although ("probably") Thoreaux is better. But Mieville's concept is better and more demanding so he gets higher marks overall. It is like figure skating.

Then again, I've only read each book once so who knows where a re-read and a close debate would have lead me.

I'm still not entirely sure this follows, but you're right that it ultimately comes down to weighting. Surprised to see you tipping the balance in favour of concept over execution, though.

I've read both twice - both novels revealed more of themselves on a second go, but TC&TC's sin of execution seemed more glaring, not less, on re-read... YMMV.