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Posts about books (old posts, page 124)

How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It (The Siege #2)

Review:

Are the char­ac­ters ni­hilis­tic, ca­su­al­ly cru­el, sex­ist? Sure. It's a prob­lem­at­ic book in that way.

The "this is Con­stantino­ple ex­cept where I need to change it to help the plot" is prob­lem­at­ic in its own way, too.

Is it some sort of "see, I am not racist be­cause I swapped peo­ple's colours around from the close his­tor­i­cal par­al­lel I am us­ing" crap? Oh yep.

BUT ... I read it in two days, it was fun. So make of that what you will, it's what it is.

Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City (The Siege #1)

Review:

This was a ton of fun. I was won­der­ing why the tone sound­ed so fa­mil­iar when I saw "a pseu­do­nym for Tom Holt" and then I re­mem­bered I re­al­ly liked "Ex­pect­ing some­one taller", which he wrote.

Think of this book as sort of his­tor­i­cal fic­tion, but with­out all that sil­ly busi­ness of hav­ing to do re­search about his­to­ry and find­ing an event you have to learn a lot about and then have your plot fol­low rough­ly the out­line of what hap­pened.

Nah.

Just think: "Ro­man­s, Con­stantino­ple, siege, yep, sounds fun!" then write a book that ... sounds ro­man? Ex­cept ro­mans are maybe blue?

Read it in one day, al­ready start­ed on the sec­ond book.

The Future of Another Timeline

Review:

This book has lots of great things, and just a tiny cou­ple of not-­so-­great ones.

The not-­so-­great ones I have de­cid­ed are ir­rel­e­vant to any­one else that is­n't me, be­cause they are *per­son­al­ly* not-­great.

On the oth­er hand, the good parts are re­al­ly re­al­ly good. I'd say just read it.

Fall; or, Dodge in Hell

Review:

Since this book is sort of the end of an in­for­mal se­ries (not ex­plain­ing, spoil­ers on lots of things) it de­serves an ac­tu­al re­view, I think.

Point: Neal Stephen­son is not a sci­ence fic­tion writ­er.

Sure, he us­es sci­ence fic­tion tropes, but he is suc­cess­ful when he us­es them for oth­er pur­pos­es. Snowcrash is suc­ces­ful as satire, not as sci­fi. As sci­fi it's pret­ty much ridicu­lous. As satire? It's hi­lar­i­ous, en­ter­tain­ing, and a page turn­er.

His best books are pret­ty much sci­fi-free, and they get bet­ter the more an­cient the set­ting. The Baroque Cy­cle? 10/10. Crypto­nomi­con? The WW2 bits are the good part­s.

D.O.D.O? The good parts are the "old" part­s, again.

REAMDE? Reads like ... Crich­ton? I say that not as a com­pli­men­t.

There are ex­cep­tion­s, like the Mon­go­li­ad which is both his­tor­i­cal fic­tion and most­ly aw­ful (ex­cept the 1st book, and hon­est­ly I don't think Stephen­son wrote much out­side of that one) and Sev­en­eves which is sci­fi and ok.

But re­al­ly, he is best writ­ing his­tor­i­cal fic­tion. And this book shows one more thing he's not:

He RE­AL­LY is­n't a fan­ta­sy writ­er. Oh, boy is he not a fan­ta­sy writ­er.

Al­so, he should lay off the gnos­tics for a book or two.


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