This week’s reading:
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
Beautiful Lies, Lisa Unger
Revelation Space, Alastair Reynolds
Redemption Ark, Alastair Reynolds
Absolution Gap, Alastair Reynolds
Lots of re-reading this week, all of it top-notch.
I read East of Eden for the first time when I was about twelve. I was completely fascinated by Cathy Trask and her amorality; I think it had never occurred to me that someone could be bad and not be punished. I’ve also always liked Samuel, Lee, Caleb, and, well, most of the characters. I’ve never really had much patience for Adam and his relentless whining, though - and in a book that retells the various early Biblical stories, a lot hangs on Adam and his character. Still, I think I understood him better this time around and had a little more compassion for his brand of self-involved affection.
The other re-read of the week - the Alastair Reynolds series - was a little different. More space explosions, for one thing. Also, I’d just read them in, oh, I think, September. Usually I have to wait a year or two before I re-read books, but these books were so brilliant and vivid and strange and hardcore that I just had to read them again right away. What I really like about them (and I think I’ve posted about this before) is how he uses the science to create moral and emotional dilemmas for his characters that couldn’t exist in any other setting. He just does lovely work.
By comparison, Beautiful Lies was more or less drab. I liked the premise (girl gets a lot of press, crazies come after her, she isn’t who she thinks she is) but the execution was only mediocre - with the romantic subplot as a particularly excellent candidate for the “Cliche and Obvious Plotting” award. Unfortunately, Unger’s planning to write another book with the same protagonist, which is serious shark-jumpage. An ordinary woman getting caught up in some fairly major intrigue? I can buy it once. Twice, and you’re going to have to be a hell of a lot better writer than Unger is to make me buy it. Of course, maybe she’s changing the premise of the book and making Ms. Jones a little more proactive - which is why, much to my present shame and future irritation, I’m going to read the damn thing.
Maybe I’m just a masochist.