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.
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.
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.
For many fans of Robert A. Heinlein, 1982’s Friday was the book in which Heinlein recovered, at least to a degree, from the literary nadir of Number of the Beast1. For me it will always be the one with the Michael Whelan cover where the toggles on the zippers of the protagonist’s jumpsuit are little penises.
1998’s The Death of the Necromancer was Martha Well’s third novel, following 1993’s The Element of Fire and 1995’s City of Bones. Like The Element of Fire, Necromancer is set in the city of Ile-Rien, a city that seems to be a bit like a gaslight era Paris, but which has the extra fun element of magic.
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.
Second in the Elemental Logic series, 2004’s Earth Logic answers the question “Was Fire Logic a fluke or can Marks write that well consistently?” Answer: “Marks can write that well consistently.” So yay, one more review for 2015 without hitting a dud.
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!
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.
Third in my “whoops, I appear to be rereading all of Nicola Griffith’s novels” series, 1998’s The Blue Place causes me to rend my garments and bitterly lament. Not because it’s a bad book — it’s pretty good — but because it is Griffith’s first non-science fiction novel.