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Sunday, September 25, 2005
Updating the 50 Book Challenge and Beyond...
OK, so it's been a good while since I updated my progress on the 50 Book Challenge. So, I'm going to do that now and while I won't comment on every book I've read in the past couple of months, I will throw in some thoughts as I feel necesary.

69. Dune: Messiah by Frank Herbert
70. Foundations's Edge by Issac Asimov
71. The Cat Who Walks Through Walls by Robert Heinlein

I'm a enjoy science-fiction a good bit and every once in a while, I get this niggling feeling in the back of my head that maybe I haven't quite read enough of the classics. Which is why I picked up each of these novels. Of the three, I enjoyed the second Dune novel the most, but that's kind of damning with faint praise. The other two are by authors who started to produce novels again in their later years and had this insane obession with tying together all their various universes. With Asimov it's a bit more successful, though this Foundation novel suffers from way too much padding in the middle. And I hate to say it, but the Heinlein was hard for me to get through. Not nearly as strong as his older works.

72. FireTime by Poul Anderson

While I was in my science-fiction tear, I figured I'd try and gain some ground on the Hugo/Nebula Do-Over being done at SF Signal. Now, I've not read a lot of books by Poul Anderson...in fact, I think this pretty much brough my grand total of Poul Anderson books to one. And based in FireTime, I am not running out to the library to check out more. Because is the stuff that's up for the best that SF had to offer in the year of 1975, then it must have been a pretty sad state of affairs. (Which is odd since Philip K Dick's Flow My Tears, Said the Policeman was so good). In an attempt to be fair, I will say this novel actually had an intriuging premise--in that you've got a planet with three suns and you've got natives attacking each other in this war for territory and another side that pulls a Prime Directive and just looks on. That could have been intriguging, were this world not populated with characters I could have cared less about. I was reminded of Lucifer's Hammer in that I was pulling for the asteroid to just go ahead and strike the Earth already just to kill off some of the annoying characters who populate the first 50 or so pages of that novel. And anytime I'm bringing up Lucifer's Hammer (one of my least favorite books EVER), that is a bad sign. I guess it'd been a while since Anderson wrote anything and they threw him a bone with a nomination to reward him for his other good works. Honestly after suffering through this (and I do mean suffering) I am not inclined to pick up any of his other work any time soon.

72. The Dispossed by Ursula K LeGuin

Another book for the 1975 Hugo/Nebula Do-Over and this one was substatially better than FireTime. This is one of those sci-fi novels that is heralded as a classic and I'll give you it's a good read. But I am not quite sure it makes my top ten of great sci-fi novels of all time. LeGuin tells the story of two worlds--Annares, which operates under anarchy and Uras, a planet that expelled the people who founded Annares. We see both planets in alternating chapters as we learn about the mission to unite these two worlds by a physist named Shevek. In a lot of ways, this reminded me of Stranger in a Strange Land where an outsider comes in and re-examines a way of life, trying to influence it in some way. I'll give LeGuin a lot of credit--as an exercise in world-building this novel is unsurpassed. However, she chooses to populate her worlds with a lot of character whose name sound a lot a like and it's easy to get a bit perplexed as to who is who as the story progresses.

73. By a Spider's Thread by Laura Lippman
74. To the Power of Three by Laura Lippman

I loved both of these books. Lippman is one of the best mystery writers out there today. If you've not yet found the Tess Monahan books, do yourself a favor and try them. And To The Power of Three is a stand-alone novel that is definitely worth the read. Not quite as good as her Every Secret Thing, but still very close.

75. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

I read it, I like it, but it suffers a lot from having to set up the final book I think.

76. Storky: How I Lost My Nickname and Won the Girl by Debra Garfinkle
77. The Closers by Michael Connelly
78. Magic Street by Orson Scott Card
79. The Confession by Dominick Stansberry
80. A Change of Heart by Phillip Gulley
81. The Last World War by Dayton Ward
82. Star Trek: Vanguard - Harbinger by David Mack

83. A Long Way Down by Nik Hornby

Nik Hornby writes great books that become even better movies. And his books just keep getting better. His latest is about four people who all go up on a rooftop on New Year's Eve to end their lives. Upon meeting, they form a pact to not kill themselves just yet and they become freinds and a support system. Hornby tells the story from four points of view, shifting effortless between them. Even without the chapters telling you who is speaking, it's easy to figure out because he makes each voice and person distinctive enough that it's easy to follow who is speaking. Not the most uplifting start, but the book has the usual Hornby touches of humor and observations that hit too close to home. And like all his books, it's just compellingly readable.

84. The Lunatic Cafe by Laurell K Hamilton
85. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
86. Dance of Death by Doulgas Preston and Lincoln Child
87. Star Trek: Voyager - String Theory, Book 1: Cohesion by Jeffrey Lang
88. The Traveler by John Twelve Hawkes
89. The Gate to Woman's Country by Sheri S. Teper

90. The Big Over Easy: A Nursery Crime by Jasper Fforde

Fford's first non-Thursday next novel. Instead, we follow the story of Jack Spratt, who is a detective investigating the death of Humpty Dumpty. At times hysterical but a bit tedious towards the end. The jokes wear thin a bit fast. The middle drags more than anything.

91. Permanence by Karl Schroeder
92. Star Trek: The Next Generation: A Death in Winter by Michael Jan Friedman

posted by Michael Hickerson at 9/25/2005 07:00:00 PM | |
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