Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Flesh and Fire, by Laura Anne Gilman

Continuing in my reading of award nominees of 2010, I recently finished Laura Anne Gilman's Flesh and Fire. This one I could not get for free, at least not easily--the local public library did not have it. So I bought one cheap on Amazon, and will donate it to the library. Sometimes you have to give back...

It won't be too tough to let it go. The book was decent. It's a basic magic fantasy, first of a trilogy called The Vineart War. The magic basis is wine, which gives the author access to the rich vocabulary of the oenophile. And while the descriptive language is interesting, the plot is really pretty basic. The society is rigidly hierarchical, with parallel political and magical structures (The mages were once called that, but are now Vinearts). And the title Vineart is repeated so often, with such omnipresent force, as to become a hammer. The War of the trilogy title appears that it will be with some form of rogue Vineart. Vineart, Vineart, Vineart. Oy. It's a basic coming of age story, and I'm sure the rest will be fine too.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Witling, by Vernor Vinge

Vernor Vinge is not a prolific author, to my chagrin. With this book, I have finally caught up and read all his fiction to date. The Witling is in many ways his least ambitious work, but that's saying nothing bad. It is one of the later examples (published in the mid-70's) of a novel that revolves around a very specific idea--in this case, "what if there really were people who could move things from one place to another without their traveling in between - teleportation?" So he weaves discussions of conservation of energy and angular momentum into the plot. It's tasty work, so if you have read the rest of his work it's worthwhile to go seek this out. The plot itself is just ordinary, so I can't give it more than 3 stars, but it was a good read.