In addition to reading some Spirit of the Century, I also completed several books on vacation. This is probably all the record they’ll get.
Foreigner by C.J. Cherryh. A strong book with a strange setup; the first two or three chapters don’t tie to the rest of the book very strongly. (I think I’d have preferred them as a linked short story, even under the same cover.) The politics, aliens, and negotiations and cultural struggles are all deftly handled. The compromises in dealing with the native cultures are interesting, as is the history that is revealed as the book advances. There is action, but I like the suspicion and doubt even more.
RIM by Alexander Besher. OK, but weak. Lots of psychic and religious/eastern mystical meshing strangely. Not recommended for a reread.
The Female Man by Joanna Russ. A good story confusingly told; I didn’t like the structure, but the underlying story was good. It was just work to get to it.
Self Made Man by Norah Vincent. An interesting look at unconscious social cues, the effect of presentation, etc. She comes away with sympathetic look at men’s internal interactions and offers good commentary about how we reinforce a system that fails us. There’s no real solution offered, and the social pressures to conform look immense from her viewpoint, but bit by bit, maybe we can salvage men’s roles. Her perceptions of dating very much matched mine, particularly the ego crushing and reinforcement of roles inherent in the attempts. I’m so happy Jennifer and I mapped out a different route.
Jaran by Kate Elliot. I liked this book quite a bit. There are interesting sci-fi elements, but it’s also a great look at fitting into strange cultures, evaluating responsibilities, and so on. I like the novel’s heroine, Tess, and the men of the jahar. The Chapalii are realistically alien, with subtle differences adding up. I don’t know if I want to continue on to read the rest of the series, or just stop after this successful book.
New Sudden Fiction edited by Robert Shapard and James Thomas. A collection of well written stories, all 3-5 pages long. A few really worked well and ran with me, while others were okay but quickly forgotten. I really enjoyed the domestic stories; the audio tour of the ex-boyfriend’s apartment and a close examination of three voice mail messages. Others perfectly crystallize one moment or snippet of life. They won’t all work for you, but at 5 pages, even a bad story is over with quickly. It’s easy to get sucked into the next story, and the next…