It being that time of year when I have to renew my library card, I’ve had my mind on books lately. So, for all you literate folks out there – and you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t – here’s a short list of my current recommendations.
First – Shameless Plug #1 – is "A Dirge For Sabis", first book in the trilogy, “The Sword of Knowledge”, available at www.amazon.com. The trilogy was an experiment by C. J. Cherryh, wherein she took a general outline of history on a fictional world, divided it into three ages, and handed each outline to a partner to make into a novel. I got the first book, about the downfall of the old Empire of Sabis and the founding of a new society. CJ wanted to keep the fantasy elements to a minimum, so the only magic that works in this fictional universe is Murphy’s Law: you can psychically well-wish or ill-wish somebody, and that’s it. All the rest is science and politics. Being the jolly Anarchist that I am, I centered the story on a group of scientists (and their families) struggling to hold off downfall and chaos with a new invention: a simple black-powder cannon. The chief conflict of the story is their struggle to save something of their collapsing society despite the obstacles of medieval politics. It’s a jolly good read, if I say so myself.
Shameless Plug #2, likewise available at Amazon.com, is my collection of true funny stories: "Offensive As Hell: The Joys of Jesus-Freak Bagging". The title pretty much says it all, and I want to thank again all the folks who told me their pet tales. Here you’ll find stories of lucky accidents with pythons, calculated nudity, fortunate storms and inspired comebacks. It can be read purely for laughs, or as a handy tool-book. Listed under “humor”, this garnered a lot of reviews at Amazon, all of them merrily positive. It’s a small book, but I’ve heard enough such stories since that, if I ever do a second edition, it’ll be a good bit thicker.
Now for other people’s stuff.
"Verasheyan", by J. Trout (it was that name which made me stop and look), from Phaze Books (www.phaze.com), is something uniquely weird. It’s a Science Fiction/BDSM/erotic Romance, which isn’t something one encounters every day. The plot is simple enough: future cops capture a beautiful hermaphroditic alien who, as bodyguard to an interstellar crook, knows all his/her boss’s secrets. To wring the information out of the alien, the commander hands him/her over to a BDSM expert, Master Zane, and his assistant Nell. The experts succeed in getting the info, in a series of blisteringly erotic scenes, but Nell falls for the alien, and Master Zane plots to keep custody of him/her as a toy for Nell. Part of the deal involves taking on the police commander as a student, and his subsequent training – neatly paralleling the developing relationship between the Alien and Nell – involves some eye-opening revelations about the BDSM phenomenon. This is either the hottest textbook or the most informative bit of porno that I’ve ever encountered.
"The God Delusion", by Richard Dawkins, is guaranteed to PO fundamentalists of any stripe. Dawkins’ style alternates between the picky pedantic philosophizing of an Oxford don – which isn’t surprising, seeing that he *is* an Oxford don – and the incisive clarity of an investigative reporter. If he had just stopped with giving a good logical argument as to why the traditional Old Testament (or Koran) god can’t exist, this book would be a fairly fast and entertaining read. The problem is that he then goes on to insist, on no evidence or logic whatever, that if “God” can’t exist then no other energy-being, or souls, or psychic phenomena can exist either. This tends to make Atheism seem as bigoted as Pat Robertson’s brand of Christianity. Still, this book delineates the current Atheist position very neatly; it’s something that any thinking person should sharpen their wits on. It just might inspire some good Fantasy and Science Fiction stories.
That’s all for now, folks. Anybody wanting to post short reviews/plugs of other books here, feel free. Enjoy!
--Leslie <;)))>< )O(