Sunday, January 17, 2010

Books Read So Far This Year


Pirate Latitudes, by Michael Crichton
First book of the year and overall I enjoyed it for what it is. Crichton generally always delivers an action packed romp with likable characters, atypical villains (his weakness) and general bits of info parcelled throughout the narrative. I've heard a number of complaints online about this or that factoid of his being off-but generally I say so what. Nobody is going to be right all the time on the small stuff or even DNA in amber-its a story-so what? Let it ride, if you're going to pick up a Michael Crichton book you know what you are getting, why complain?

With every Crichton I have read there is generally an inciting incident that moves the plot giving us the whys and wherefores and making us intrigued. You don't get that this time and I can't help but think its because Crichton died before HE could submit this. The jacket says it was found in his files. And this is the one weakness to me about the book. It starts slower than it should have-its all setting but even then it's so slow. I am sure if Crichton had lived he would have put a "movie" inciting incident to go with it as well as fleshed out a few more scenes but no real complaint from me on anything else in that regard.

The book is divided in 5 parts and by the time part 2 is going you should be hooked, Pirates, I mean Privateers from Port Royal are out to take a Spanish galleon in a tiny harbor guarded by a deadly fortress, the crew must execute am Entebbe like raid just to survive. Much more to it than this of course but I was thoroughly hooked.

If you like action and Pirates, its a great book. Little more on the graphic side compared to Eaters of the Dead and Timeline but I recommend if you get past the 1st part.

Flatland, by Edwin A. Abbott
Math is not my thing, and this book is the darling of fictionalized mathematics for its unique view on multiple dimensions as well as a biting satire of the Victorian class system. I cannot understand the fascination with period decorum and manners give me a lusty broadsword any day.

But Flatland also takes a surprising look at objectivity and what we think we perceive, even if you believe yourself above others-even a god in your own universe. Mr. Abbott must be given a dimension of credit for his revolutionary concepts, as Flatland was written in 1884.

The Aztec: Man and Tribe, by Victor W. Von Hagen
This was published back in 58 and it does seem a tad outdated in a number of places in comparison to some more recent texts, but it still has a very concise format
easily allowing me to quickly look at this subject or that.

I'm currently working on a short story within the Aztec realm and while I readily admit The Aztec's by Nigel Davies is a superior book, it jumps around whereas Hagen's lets me easily look up subjects grouped in one heading rather than 3 in four different places.


Midnight Sun, by Karl Edward Wagner
This is the collection of short stories by KEW about his immortal sorcerer/swordsman Kane, yes that Cain. I have read these before but was really in the mood lately to give some of them another annual go round. They are all excellent examples of Heroic Fiction, though Kane is hardly a hero by the standard definition.


To listen to an excellent discussion on Heroism visit Writing Excuses my favorite podcast going with Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells and Howard Taylor.

The only stories I don't supremely admire and love are the ones where Kane is outside the ancient fantastical realm and in ours-Those modern stories are terrible IMAO. But the rest of these S&S tales are among the very best. I Highly recommend The Dark Muse, Cold Light, The Other One and Lynortis Reprise.


This Land: America 2,000 B.C. to 500 A.D. edited by Wayne May
This is the fourth This Land series and is a collection of articles and essays from the Ancient American magazine, a publication devoted to the strange and curious finds of archeology predominately found within North America. Things always go in rounds for me and this book is also divided into 5 parts. See if any of these intrigue you, The Mound builders, Giants in the Adena Timeline, OOPARTS-Out of Place and Time Artifacts, Ancient Copper Mines of Upper Michigan and Afterthoughts.


Mr. May has a fantastic collection of lost history that opens the vistas of imagination, articles are culled from current feature writers and some from archaeologist writing their discoveries in mounds spread throughout the Midwest and then even some re-telling the legends of Native Americans and the evidence that these "myths" did happen at least in part.

I was also honored to have Mr. May give me a back cover endorsement for my own speculative historical novel Heroes of the Fallen His work has given me a vast amount of background for painting that forgotten world. I appreciate it very much Wayne-Thank You.

23 comments:

One Cluttered Brain said...

Wow! You have read all those books this year so far? You are a fast reader.
I like Crichton. HE's a good author. I read Jurassic Park.
Any-hoo, good post. How's your short story coming along? i'm outlining mine now.

Gary Corby said...

Oh, Flatland's famous in mathematics circles! There was even at one point a society for inventing devices that would work in Flatland.

arlee bird said...

That is some impressive feat of reading in my mind. I guess if I didn't read so many blogs I might be halfway thru my first book.
Lee

David J. West said...

Hey Alexes, I'm going to start THAT short story the first of February, I've got others to finish by the 31st.

Gary, thanks for dropping in. Devices in Flatland!? I hadn't heard of that before.

Hey Arlee, I read fast but must credit my wife for helping give me more time for 'ahem' "work"-reading more for the sake of my writing. Have to stay balanced.

Th. said...

.

Oh.

And here I thought you had read Stephenie Meyer's leaked MS.

David J. West said...

NO

Kimberly said...

I'm never going to catch up with you at this rate. I haven't read a single book in 2010. That is so, so wrong...

David J. West said...

Kim, I still think you whipped me last year. I actually feel slow this year-like I should have read more already, oh well.

Voidwalker said...

I'm due for a good pirate novel. Latitudes is definitelyl on my to be read list. Thanks for the insight on it.

David J. West said...

I liked Void, its worth reading and word is Spielberg is already signed to film it.

Voidwalker said...

Oh sweet. I'll definitely have to read it soon so I can have a heads up for any motion picture.

David J. West said...

Its funnt how forgetting two letters makes you look like an idiot while commenting. I meant to say-I liked IT VOID, its worth reading etc etc

Reading a book before a movie is a double edged sword-you know more of whats going on in the movie and anticipate it but also can be let down when it things don't happen like they are supposed to.

genreally I am a purist who believes movies should follow the original storyloine of a beloved book as much as physically possible-if you're going to tweak a story all cattywhompus from the source-Make up your own new stupid characters that people haven't cared about for years.

sorry for that rant, now back to our regularly scheduled comments.

The Debster said...

the thing about Crichton, is while his books are FANTASTIC!!, his movies wind up leaving you wanting more. and up until his passing (which I must admit, saddened me greatly) he was actually co-writing the manuscripts. so, I found myself dissappointed. You would think that he, of all people, would appreciate the story, and give a little more. oh well, I shouldn't speak badly of the dead. BUT WHAT THE HECK MAN??

The Debster said...

OH! and I just heard that they were making a "Jurassic Park 4" the director who's directing "Captain America" will be directing after C.A. is complete. possible suckfest? you may judge...

David J. West said...

As long as its not about dino's landing in California it might be OK. I liked 3 much better than 2.

The Debster said...

nah, this time the dino's are on the beach in Normandy. gives a little more reality to the creatures.....

I'm kidding, they're actually going back to the VAST majority of what was left out of book 2.

David J. West said...

Pass

Charles Gramlich said...

I read Flatland, which I find very charming, and the Wagner stories. Man I do enjoy Wagner's work. I actually got to meet him, you know. In fact, I even have a letter he sent me. Figured I might as well name drop.

David J. West said...

I'm jealous, Wagner is an absolute favorite of mine. He is right there in the top 5 most influential writers for me.

He was gone to soon.

Yamile said...

These books look so amazing! I'll add them to my TBR list and officially renounce to the last two hours a night I had reserved to sleep :-)
Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting.
I love the name of your blog.

David J. West said...

Thanks, its a play on Morrissey's "Irish Blood, English Heart"

Paul R. McNamee said...

"Reflections for the Winter of My Soul" was my first introduction to Wagner's Kane and still one of my favorites.

The atmosphere of the blizzard and the isolation of the castle were/are top notch.

I'd like to read that Crichton pirate novel sometime.

David J. West said...

That's a good one too Paul. The albino werewolf was a great touch.