Communicator (communicator) wrote,
Communicator
communicator

What I read on my holidays

While I was away I read

After the Ice: Human prehistory 20,000-5,000 BC
Les Fleurs Du Mal by Baudelaire
The Book of Hiram
Genesis, Exodus and a bit of some of the rest of the Old Testament
Pet Sematary by Stephen King
Recursion by Tony Ballantyne
Absolution Gap by Alastair Reynolds
The Dilbert Principle by Scott Adams



After the Ice was right for me, though I'm not sure it's of general interest. I have always been annoyed by books which talk as if Ice Age Europe contained the sum total of human prehistory. This book travels through paleolithic India, Japan, South American, Australia, etc. Covering such a lot, it is a bit sketchy in places, but left me with a vivid impression of the width and depth of human development.

Les Fleurs Du Mal would suit anyone who likes sexy decadent poetry. But then, if that's you, you've probably already read it. I like books which have dual original/translated text on facing pages. I was literally shocked at the content of some of these poems, particularly from a mid-Victorian writer. Cool.

The Book of Hiram one of those conspiracy type books about Freemasons and Solomon's temple. My intuition tells me that some of the stuff in here is probably true, but a bit of a 'so-what', some of it intriguing, while other stuff is complete nonsense.

The Old Testament haven't read this for decades. A collation of traditional folklore, with some detailed agricultural legislation.

Pet Sematary I thought this would be lurid trash, but it's quite a thoughtful meditation on how we deal with mortality. If only King would stop trying to describe creepy supernatural entities in visual terms; it just comes across as stupid.

Recursion is science fiction. I disliked the first chapter intensely, liked the second chapter a lot, and then got confused. Some good writing, some clumsy exposition, a lot of good ideas well embedded into the tradition. Kept me interested.

Absolution Gap is also science fiction. Reynolds is surely a very talented writer, who doesn't revise enough. I get the impression that there's a brilliant novel kind of lurking below the surface of this one. The imagery is breathtaking in places, the characterisation often poignant and imaginative, and the plot is interesting and not cliched (though it all goes wrong at the very end). But the book is flawed and gappy in places, and you think 'huh, why did he leave that out?' as important events shoot by off screen.

Dilbert. 'Hey my workplace is just like that'. No, it really is.
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