Monday, July 22, 2013

The Emperor's Soul, by Brandon Sanderson

The Emperor's Soul is the last of the Hugo Nominees for me to read this year.  Brandon Sanderson is getting a lot of eyeballs these days for completing the Wheel of Time series, but hasn't landed one of the really big awards yet.  He might do it here.  This item was a good, engaging story.  It took a little time to grow on me--very little, which is a good thing since it's a novella.  But once it did, I couldn't put it down.  It's a story of magic, and the magic is Forgery--making a perfect replica of an existing item by causing the history of the replica to change to match the original.  Or for the object to believe it did, rather.  The philosophy is complex, and Sanderson makes use of the complexity--the powers that be don't understand it either.  It's also a nice interplay between Shai and Gaotona, the ultimate con artist and the Last Honest Man.  Quite a lot in a little package, and well worth taking a couple of hours to read.  I give it a strong three stars, and figure he might follow it up since he likes to write in series.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Drowning Girl, by Caitlin R. Kiernan

The Drowning Girl is by far the most literary work I have read this year.  It's too bad this sort of thing doesn't make more of an impression on me.  I find it hard to be truly fair to dark fiction, but it's out there as a major element of speculative fiction so I do keep trying. 

This is a story of madness.  Not over the top pathology like Hannibal Lecter, but a more ordinary sort of madness that millions have lived with.  India Morgan Phelps, or Imp, sort of controls the madness with drugs and therapy, but her ghost story is waiting to be told.  Writing is her attempt to sort out madness from reality, and if there is any good news here it is that she succeeds.  And as I said, it is literary--very stylistically complete, everything about it intentional, fully developed backstory.  And even though I do not care for this genre much, I found it grew on me at the very end.  So I would say that if you liked The Red Tree you will definitely like this one, though you have probably already bought it. Three stars from me, for the ending.  I value endings, more than some do.