Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Dragon reviews everything: Digital books 2023 - part 1

I got on a Speculative Fiction kick this year, so I caught up on some classics and some modern tomes - I'll review them soon. Outside of Spec Fic I explored some miscellany:

What If? 2 - Randall Monroe (pop science non-fiction)

"Fall in love with working things out - all over again"

Comedy is underestimated as an educational tool, and Monroe is an expert in the craft. I think the first What If? was better, but this one had insightful, hilarious anecdotes even so. "Can we make a garbage mountain to space?" "Can you squeeze light?" "Are there enough bananas to fill all the churches?" These are more thought-provoking questions than might first appear.

Summer Knight - Jim Butcher (Urban fantasy fiction, maybe explicit?)

"Harry Dresden and the elf sadists"

This is the third in Butcher's Dresden Files series, which is mildly explicit IIRC. I got a bit fatigued in the first two books when Butcher had bad guys not just busting through the doors but instead swarming in through every bloody crevice. The pacing on this one felt smoother, less frenetic, so I enjoyed it more.

Butcher sort of half-baked/plot-holed the fairy logic on this one. There are lots of examples of fairies being moved emotionally, but it's specifically canon that they don't parse human emotion.

Bonus alternative recommendation: Lords and Ladies - Terry Pratchett
“… people didn't seem to be able to remember what it was like with the elves around. Life was certainly more interesting then, but usually because it was shorter. And it was more colorful, if you liked the color of blood.”
― Terry Pratchett, Lords and Ladies

Lucky Jim - Kingsley Amis (comedy fiction)

"This would be a fantastic screenplay"

Recommended by Noisms (Monsters and Manuals). Thought-provoking 1954 comedy about life in academia at a British redbrick university. Humor and I struggle sometimes when I'm uncertain if it's actually supposed to be funny, and this is roughly a 70 year-old book, so it didn't quite land with me, but it did get me thinking about the philosophy of romance leading into marriage, which isn't something I've dwelled on much. How much should one be selfish/selfless when selecting a spouse?

A Good Man Is Hard To Find - Flannery O'Connor (short fiction)

"Ah yes, child neglect and suicide does indeed make me feel sad - can I leave now?"

Blech, the only book I gave up on this year. I'm not sure I can see how my life is enriched by these stories and I like horror occasionally. Feels sad-artsy in a way that doesn't translate for me.