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Reviews in Project: Special Requests (404)

A colossal waste of time

1985

By Anthony Burgess  

26 Jan, 2015

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Yesterday I complained about a novel that was more obscure than it merited. Today’s review features a book that should be more obscure than it is, Anthony Burgess’s 1985, a thematic sequel of sorts to Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. What this book deserves is 1111 words of me screaming incoherently. That would be a suitable riposte to a book that consists of a book’s worth of an elderly1 conservative moaning on about how the trade unions, women’s lib, gay homosexuals2, and Those Darn Kids ruin everything, leaving poor Britain supine before the virile might of the Islamic world. That might relieve my feelings, but it would not be amusing or instructive to read. So, have a review! A review resentful that I read this crap at all. 

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The long con of Oliver VII

Oliver VII

  (Translated by Len Rix)

21 Jan, 2015

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Antal Szerb was a major figure in the Hungarian literature of the first half of the 20th century, and his 1942 novel Oliver VII is a perfect confection of a comedy. It seems a great shame, therefore, that the novel was not translated into English until 2007 — although Len Rix’s translation is a fine one — and an even greater shame that the forty-three-year-old Szerb, who refused to be run out of his homeland by jumped-up thugs, was beaten to death by a fascist in 1945.

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The Apocalypse Will Be Unevenly Distributed

Coyote  (After the Fires Went Out, volume 1)

By Regan Wolfrom  

20 Jan, 2015

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2012’s After the Fires Went Out: Coyote (Book One), Regan Wolfrom, is one of those rare Canadian post-apocalyptic novels, to be shelved with such works as The Last Canadian1 and Fractured: Tales of the Canadian Post-Apocalypse. The comet came, the effort to divert it failed, a lot of people died, and now that the dust has settled, visionaries like Ryan Stems have a grand ambition: to give the people of the Mushkegowuk Nation a place safe from the marauders and biker gangs that have overrun much of what was once Northern Ontario. 

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Different is dead”

Ingathering: The Complete People Stories

By Zenna Henderson  

9 Jan, 2015

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Zenna Henderson’s 1995 single-author collection, Ingathering: The Complete People Stories, assembles, I think for the first time, all of her stories about the People. The People are aliens forced to flee the only Home they knew when it decided to pull a Krypton. Although I’ve owned this volume for twenty years (when did 1995 get to be so twenty years ago?) I’ve never actually read it or any Henderson at all1, so this was a welcome chance to sample the works of a noteworthy author hitherto unfamiliar to me. 

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Also, I liked the cover

The Way into Chaos  (The Great Way, volume 1)

By Harry Connolly  

5 Jan, 2015

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2014’s The Way In to Chaos had the working title Epic Fantasy With No Dull Parts. That’s a goal ambitious enough to make this the first new book that I have read in 2015. The sunniness of my outlook and the degree of malice I will bear toward the hundreds of books by hundreds of authors I will read over the next twelve months may well be affected by my reaction to this book. But no pressure! 

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In a galaxy not so far away

The Price of the Stars  (Mageworld, volume 1)

By Debra Doyle & James D. MacDonald  

23 Dec, 2014

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Back when I had my store, 1992’s The Price of Stars was pitched to me as the sort of book people who like Star Wars would like. It happens I don’t particularly care for Star Wars myself, although I am not hostile to the source material Lucas was — inspired by” won’t attract lawsuits, right? Let’s say inspired by” — but since my personal preferences have played almost no role in what I’ve read in the last thirteen and a half years, I have read many Star Wars novels. So. Very. Many. Stars Wars novels. Against my will, I am something of an expert in this field and so I can say with some authority that this should appeal to fans of Star Wars. Early Star Wars, that is. Not the current stuff.

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