Monday, October 14, 2013

Book 60: The Warlord of Air by Michael Moorcock

I loved that I read this book shortly after The Time Machine as it shows the difference between a truly great visionary writer (HG Wells) who uses a great understanding of human qualities and a good writer who uses his understanding of current political climate.  I hated this book.  Well, maybe not hated, but what started as a fascinating story of a man from the early 20th century dropped into an alternate utopian (though not if you are disenfranchised) future of the 1970s replete with Zeppelins winning the air superiority format war.  It started very promising, then, socialist dogma robbed the book of any real meaning.  Wells, who wrote a time travel book 60 years before this one, managed to keep his book feeling current thanks to mostly avoiding polemic and focusing on the human condition while Moorcock eschews human condition in favor of making political fodder that seem laughable now.  Needless to say, I will not be reading the sequels.

Book 59: The Time Machine by HG Wells

I've been putting away a few of the older classics (and not so classic) that clock in at a fairly minimal page count in hopes of getting to my now pipe dream of 100 books.  The Time Machine, one of my favorite childhood movies (not from my childhood, but watched several times on a lonely Saturday afternoon) fit the bill perfectly.  Although quite different from both movie versions in several ways, I found the book quite enjoyable.  Ultimately a cautionary tale about something that I've already kind of forgotten, it reads exceptionally well even now.  Wells seems to take delight in skewering the Luddites of his time while also portraying a dystopian future of an Industrial Age gone awry.  Surprisingly (to me anyway), it never felt dated or forced.  I heartily recommend.

Book 58: A Murder of Quality by John LeCarre

The second Smiley book.  I plan to read all of these, but I have a pretty heavy backlog right now.  A Murder of Quality is an easy read at 150 pages, so I figured I'd crush it.  It's not a spy thriller like the other Smiley books, which was kinda cool.  More of a straight murder mystery.  Despite its shortness, it takes awhile to get moving as LeCarre spends a bit too much time reveling in the manners of stuffy elite British schools juxtaposed against the small town residents.  Too many of the characters bleed together to genuinely set up a proper mystery with well articulated suspects, but at least Smiley remains the somewhat oafish and neurotic spy who still manages to solve the crime.  Once it picks up, it is quite good, but takes a bit too long to get there.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Books 50 thru 57: Shift and Dust compilations of the Silo saga

So, I loved the Silo books, so nabbed these on the Ipad for some light reading on a recent biz trip.  Shift was pretty good, though there was much more fluff and downtime and a prequel introducing some important characters.  But Dust really kicked ass.