Posted on Sun 19 June 2016

recently read books

  • Daniel O’Malley: Stiletto (Rook volume 2)
  • Matthew Phillion: The Indestructibles (and volumes 2, 3, 4)
  • Stephen King: On Writing
  • Derek Landy: Demon Road (and Desolation)
  • Jay Posey: Outriders
  • Ken MacLeod: Dissidence
  • Mishell Baker: Borderline

O’Malley follows up the tight-single-viewpoint The Rook with a multiple viewpoint political/espionage/action fantasy about the secret UK agency in charge of supernatural defense and its negotiations with the Belgian Scientific Brotherhood of Scientists, their traditional enemy. Sorcerors versus mad scientists, basically, with some terrifically funny scenes and a good bit of action.

I’m not entirely sure why Matthew Phillion isn’t a respected comic-book writer, but he has certainly employed that talent in the four Indestructibles novels. He builds a team of superpowered youngsters in a world where there clearly have been and will be supers — but there is a distinct lack of them at the beginning of the story.

Stephen King wrote a bunch of books. Most of them have sold pretty well. On Writing is about half autobiographical vignettes and half writing advice.

Landy’s Demon Road trilogy is two-thirds done, and I’m looking forward to the conclusion. The first book managed to twist the expected plot four or five times; the second book built on it nicely. Will it all wrap up properly in the end?

I haven’t met a Ken MacLeod book that I didn’t like; this one begins a trilogy which blends simulation universes and military action in a nicely subversive beginning — but it feels more like part one of a three-volume story than a book entire unto itself. As usual, MacLeod expects the reader to have done their homework but uses standard nomenclature so that Wikipedia and Google are useful reference sources.

Jay Posey’s first novel is a mid-future (thriving solar colonies, lots of commercial space travel) thriller which dips its toes into Clancy-flavored MilSF. It effectively changes subgenre expectations three times, delivering a reasonable wrap-up but clearly beginning a series.

Borderline is Mishell Baker’s first novel, and I admit that I picked it up largely because of the blurb from Seanan McGuire on the cover. I will certainly pick up Baker’s next novel on the strength of this work. Perhaps you have wondered if your fantasy novel’s hero is in need of psychiatric care? Violence, theft, maniacal focus on a single goal, paranoia, perhaps delusions of grandeur? In Borderline, the protagonist definitely and explicitly has borderline personality disorder. She’s also missing a leg below the knee, and wonders if she’s missing her ability to tell reality from fantasy when she gets recruited for a very special organization.


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