Book Reviews

Quick Book Reviews for July 14 2008

It’s been a while since I’ve done a book review — life has been pretty busy lately.  I’ll try to catch up — luckily, most of what I’ve reading has been part of a big series and I can pretty much review the whole thing in one go.

Tetrasomy Two

by Oscar Rossiter

Another classic science fiction novel, Tetrasomy Two reminded me very, very much of Chuck Palahniuk.  (That probably should be the other way around, of course — this book was published 20 years before Chuck ever published anything.)  It had that gritty, sarcastic first-person dialog written in short, bursts of sentence fragments that I just love (another author I love who writes like this is my personal favorite, William Gibson, of course).

The story centers around a character who’s somewhat of an introvert — he’s a first-year doctor working in a psychiatric ward.  He finds himself receiving “messages” in the form of one-word sentences from a particular patient, and soon begins to doubt his sanity.  However, as this catatonic patient seems to somehow “feed” off of our protagonist’s wants and desires (including delivering an attractive nurse at the ward into our main introverted character’s bed), he decides to just go along with whatever is happening to him and make the best of it.

I won’t spoil it for you, in case you ever come across this book, but it’s definitely a good read, and one of the better out of the “classic” old SF novels I’ve managed to randomly find.

The Forgotten Realms Series

by R.A. Salvatore

Might as well just get the whole series out of the way at once, eh?

I’ve been being told to read these books for years, both by a good friend of mine and by my brother.  I avoided it for as long as I could — not because I had anything against Mr. Salvatore, but just because I didn’t want to start another hugely long series of Fantasy novels!  (I think I’m up to three, now.)

However, the books are good.  Salvatore’s a good writer — even if he claims that his books are mostly based upon his experiences in playing Dungeons and Dragons. :P

The series is somewhat centered around a character named “Drizzt Do’urden” (you’ve probably heard that name before, even if you’ve never read these books) — an elf from an evil race of elves, yet one who’s trying to avoid the dark ways of his people.

Salvatore’s description of Drizzt starts off somewhat differently than it is in later novels — in the earlier novels, I almost swear that Drizzt is described as a semi-sane dark elf that, though he’s forgone the demon-worshipping, sacrificing ways of his people, is still somewhat cruel and less than honorable.  This seems to change in later novels, as Drizzt seems to become more and more “pure” in his actions and thoughts.

The books have all the staples — dwarves, orcs, goblins, wizards, paladins, several different types of elves — I’m starting to see plenty of influence from these novels present in World of Warcraft, that’s for sure. ;)

Triton (also published as Trouble on Triton: An Ambiguous Heterotopia)

by Samuel R. Delany

Phew boy.  What can I say about this book.  If you know Delany, and you know how he was, then you’ll love this.  It’s seriously one of those books that when you get done reading it, and you know it’s not part of a series, that you’re left saying, “What the fuck?  I want more!”

The book is beautifully written, full of humor, and the development of the main character couldn’t have been done better.  Bron Helstrom is an incredibly introverted man (emotionally wise — this could also be described as being “narcisistic,” I guess), and this is shown beautiful through the third-person narration, which, as an interplanetary war is unfolding, all Bron seems to care about is himself.  The world of Triton is a wonderfully libertarian (culturally) utopia, where anyone can be happy, yet Bron is miserable.

And when he goes through his “change,” well, I’m just going to go ahead and tell you that I didn’t see it coming from a mile away, even though it’s HUGE.  I’ll let you figure it out for yourselves.

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