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2006 books read so far (1-9) - Speculative Fiction Literature
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Subject:2006 books read so far (1-9)
Time:09:40 pm
Crossposted to my several blogs and various reading communities.
Current and past reads can be found on my user info page.

1) Pawn's Dream by Eric Nylund (Fantasy) 345p B+
2) Daughter of the Bear King- Elanor Arnason (Science fiction) 239p C
3) Half Asleep in Frog's Pajamas by Tom Robbins- (novel) 386p C+
4) Venus of Dreams by Pamela Sargent (science fiction/planet terra-forming) 536p A
5) Venus of Shadows by Pamela Sargent (science fiction/planet terra-forming) 643p B+
6) A Whiff of Death by Isaac Asimov (murder mystery) 191p B
7) Child of Venus by Pamela Sargent (science fiction/planet terra-forming) 493p A
8)The Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murikami (Japanese Lit/Sci-fi slant) 400p A
9) Job: A Comedy of Justice by Robert A Heinlein (Sci-fi/fantasy) A

Could not finish-
Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut (read 156 pages of 295)

Thoughts on what I read-


1) Pawn's Dream was a fun yarn that should be read for sheer entertainment value. A fantasy novel that fluctuates between dual worlds. When Roland dreams, he lives in a magical land full of sorcery, evil plots, and beautiful lands. This Roland then, in turn, dreams of a modern day convenience store clerk in a strange machine filled land. Roland soon discovers that he is a Dreamer and that both worlds are real and he is living a dual existence. Long lost relatives find him in the "real world" and teach him about the "dream world" and magical powers he never knew he had. The two worlds collide into a fun romp of an adventure. A few plot holes, but the entertainment factor kept it going strong. The ending begged for a sequel I hope Nyland delivers!

2) Sticking to the dream world vs real world theme, I picked up Daughter of the Bear King. I had high expectations as Arnason's Ring of swords is one of my favorite books ever read. My hopes and this book fell flat- though I had to keep reminding my self that Bear King was written a decade before Ring, so perhaps her style just had not fully matured yet.
Esperance is an everyday day housewife type by day, and fierce bear warrior in her dreams. One day while doing laundry a freak accident sends her to another realm - her "real" realm, as she discovers she is royalty- half human, half bear (hence the title) and was placed on the Earth realm for sanctuary and refuge. This book dragged on to the point I almost gave up. Then, despite all the far-fetchedness, I saw through the parable and grasped the moral/message the author was trying to communicate. Figuring out the "deeper meaning" of the story allowed me to finish the book, but I was still left with a hungry spot in my soul for the depth that was lacking in this story. Skip this and go straight to Ring of Swords!

3) I've heard so many good things about Tom Robbins, so I was excited to start reading Half Asleep in Frog's Pajamas. I can see glimpses of why he is so well praised, he does have a very unique writing style. However, I was not too fond of this book. The narration point of view was certainly interesting, YOU are the main character, Gwen, a Filipino stock broker over Easter Weekend the days after the market crashes. Try as I might, I did not like ANY of the characters. I thought they were all stupid people that I would kick in real life, they were THAT annoying. Well, Larry Diamond was a least a little intriguing even through his being a very annoying person. The story line was pretty silly and unreal. The only redeeming qualities were 2 of the requirements I have for a book- the witty social commentary and it stimulated curiosity, to the point of research (on some ancient african religions).

4,5,7) The Venus Trilogy by Pamela Sargent was excellent. Sci-fi mets generational family saga. The story starts on a post "resource wars" earth and then travels to the terra-forming of Venus. Beautifully crafted and deserves a long write up, but I would hate to take anything away from the magic of these books. I was sucked in. At times it is more hard sci-fi bent, at other times it focuses more on the family saga and social science elements of the various cultures and sub-cultures. Sargent blends all of these elements perfectly. I was not surprised to discover she holds a MA in classical philosophy.
This work is often compared to Robinson's Mars trilogy. However, this was written roughly a decade before. I plan on reading Mars sometime in the semi near future.


6) A Whiff of Death was a fun read. Murder by chemistry. When a professor discovers one of his grad students dead in the lab, he knows this "accident" was a meticulosity plotted murder. But who and why?? Asimov uses his chemistry degree and his fine story telling to weave an entertaining tale, very different from his sci-fi tales. Because social mores were a very different when this was written and set, it can come across in places as a bit dry and backwards. I had to keep reminding myself that this was about, and written during, the fifties culture and mind set.

8) The Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is now considered of my favorite books of all times. I went in with no knowledge nor expectations, and was just completely wrapped around the alternating story lines. Cyberpunk meets surrealism. Absolutely delicious. At the end of some chapters I found myself positively weepy from the sheer beauty of his writing. Very powerful stuff. I'm definitely going to check out more books by Haruki Murikami.

9) Job was a brilliant piece of work, Heinlein at his best- funny, wacky, and totally a Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Very interesting social concepts and observations on various religious beliefs are packed into this book combined with wit and humor. A must read.


Could not finish because was just too insane for me- Galapagos
While I appreciated what points Vonnegut was trying to make in this parable, it just was to drawn out for me. At page 156 (of 295), I had just had enough, it was just way too incohesive. Had this been a short story, I may have liked it.
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2006 books read so far (1-9) - Speculative Fiction Literature
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