Last few months’ reading

I stopped listening to podcasts recently and switched to audiobooks. Apparently my listening has been stacking up:

  • Midnight at the Well of Souls by Jack L. Chalker – Read this book in high school and it’s still got a ton of imagination. The plot isn’t as interesting as I remembered, and Chalker sure got some Centaur sex in there.
  • Empire of Silence by Christopher Ruocchio – I tore through this series. Books four and five are a lesson in beating the crap out of a main character, and it definitely feels like Ruocchio was pushed to divide a book into two parts. One of the things that felt fresh about the Howling Dark was how it simply glossed over a whole novel’s worth of material. Still great stuff and I’m looking forward to book six.
  • Howling Dark by Christopher Ruocchio
  • Devil in White by Christopher Ruocchio
  • Kingdoms of Death by Christopher Ruocchio
  • Ashes of Man by Christopher Ruocchio
  • Mountain in the Sea by Ray Naylor – A very dystopian story that was sold as being about octopuses, but more about corporate control in the near future. The ideas in this book have hung with me, and it’s got some great action set pieces.
  • Pattern Recognition by William Gibson – I’ve been re-reading William Gibson, starting at Neuromancer, and finally got around to the Blue Ant trilogy. On re-read, I enjoyed Pattern Recognition and Spook Country the most. Zero History has interesting ideas but felt a lot like “Gibson Takes Zoolander Seriously.” Still, he was ahead of his time on various ideas, like the spread of Tacticool gear.
  • Spook Country by William Gibson
  • Zero History by William Gibson
  • The Agency by William Gibson – I re-read the Peripheral last year for the Amazon series and really enjoyed it the second time, even if the stubs never quite make sense. The Agency had more of the stubs, which I like, but introduced an emergent AI that felt like the movie “Her.” It ended on a hopeful note that wasn’t quite satisfying for me, since the Jackpot of terrible things is still hanging over everyone’s heads. If there’s a third Jackpot book, I’m going to be curious how it all ties together.
  • Wool by Hugh Howey – Listened to this after watching the first episode of Silo on Apple TV. This book has more plot twists than any book I’ve read. It felt like someone took Vault-Tech from Fallout seriously and wrote the consequences. I enjoyed it, but not sure if I’ll read Shift.
  • Gate of Ivrel by CJ Cherryh – Another book from high school. I enjoyed the characters and Cherryh definitely enjoys writing about horses.
  • The Dawn of Everything – Dave Grueber and David Wengrow​ – Still dipping in and out of this one. It’s a big read, and I picked up the hardback so I can go back through what I’ve listened to. The TLDR on this book is that it’s a reassessment of hunter-gatherer society and its “evolution” into agriculture, and the eventual codifying of inequality we experience today. Grueber and Wengrow point out that hunter-gatherer humans were certainly smart enough to pursue agriculture, but they chose to live more “free” lives. I’m only a quarter into this book, so I’ll write more later.
  • Frankenstein in Baghdad – Ahmed Saadawi​ – This felt like it should have been a short story, but I was still intrigued by the characters in Baghdad during the initial U.S. occupation. I’m very interested in those stories, but I felt like the book was mis-marketed as horror, and it’s only answer to violence seems to be more violence…
  • The Many-Colored Land – Julian May​ – I’ve had this book on my shelf for years and never got around to reading it. Now that I’m finally into it, I’m really enjoying the portal aspect and the twist in the middle, though it does take a long time to get to its hook of sending people back to the Pliocene age. You think you’re getting away from a Space Opera story, but that’s not what happens. May is great at spinning up believable characters. (Unfortunately, it looks like Many-Colored Land is the only one of May’s books available in audio.)