I’ve been wanting to read Ursula Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness for years, but somehow had never gotten around to it until now, as the latest selection in the book club at my work. Thanks be to the book club! Anyway, I quite enjoyed this book, although it’s not without its flaws, so let’s get to it.
I’ve actually reviewed Robert Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress before, but I read it again for a book club at my work, so I’ll give it a fresh review. I thought it might be interesting to write this new review without reading what I wrote before, and then go back and compare.
TMIAHM is narrated by Manny, an inhabitant of Luna City on the moon, in 2075. The moon was first settled as a penal colony, and Manny is descended from some of the original penal transportees. Even after decades, despite now having four million citizens spread across several cities, the moon is still run by an Earth-based Lunar Authority that operates the place as a colony. The Lunar Authority requires the Loonies (as the moon’s citizens call themselves) to provide wheat for an overpopulated Earth–using their own precious and limited water resources (melted from lunar polar ice)–at unfair prices the Authority sets, and ruthlessly quashes any hint of agitation for self-government among the Loonies. It even charges Loonies a monthly fee for the air they breathe under the domes of each city.
One of my reading goals for 2021 is to read more horror, and so when Amazon recommended Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, I ordered a copy. I didn’t realize until I did a little research today for this review that MG is actually a bit of a phenomenon–a best-seller, and apparently it will soon be a mini-series on Hulu. Well, I can see why, because it’s a fascinating and entertaining novel. It’s something of a haunted house tale, told with a lot of panache.
This will not be a long review, as Newsletter Ninja: How to Become an Author Mailing List Expert, by Tammi Labrecque, is pretty self-explanatory. I mean, it’s all right there in the title! I’ve reached the point in my writing endeavor where I have three books published and would like to attract more attention to my writing. How? Advertising on Facebook or other sites? Well, yes. But I’ve noticed in a lot of author blogs, many of the most successful self-published authors use their mailing lists as a key component of selling books and keeping in touch with readers.Read More
I haven’t read Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream since I was a freshman in college, and when my father recently told me he was re-reading it, I decided to follow suit. It’s a short play, but packs a lot of plot and characters into those relatively few pages. To refresh your own memory: Duke Theseus and Hippolyta (from Greek mythology) are to be married three days hence in Athens. Meanwhile, beauteous Hermia and young Lysander are in love with each other, but Hermia’s father has ordered Hermia to marry Demetrius. As Athenian law requires Hermia to obey her father’s wishes, Theseus decrees that if she won’t marry Demetrius, she must decide whether to be put to death or join a nunnery. For his part, Demetrius is pursued by Hermia’s childhood friend Helena, to whom he had previously proposed, but whom he now despises.
So I read Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest back in high school and found it amusing, but it did nothing to prepare me for this. I mean, I knew the premise of the story, of course–that Dorian Gray has a painting of himself that ages while he remains the same age. But what I didn’t realize is that this is a real horror book, with murder and suspense, even a fairly seedy scene in an opium den.
Now this is a great science fiction novel, and simultaneously an illustration of the limits of genre fiction. The Mote in God’s Eye, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, succeeds at every level as an SF story. The primary character in a very large cast is Captain Blaine of the Imperial Space Navy, who leads an expedition to the Mote, a remote corner of the galaxy where humans, whose empire spans hundreds of worlds, have detected the first intelligence alien species they’ve ever encountered.
Perdido Street Station is a book by China Mieville sent to me last Christmas by my brother, who’s getting his Master’s in English literature and recommended this highly. (I have previously, and quite positively, covered a comic series China Mieville wrote, here.) It’s a little bit hard to describe the book because there’s a lot going on in it, but I’ll make a brief attempt to summarize it.