books are sexy too

two recent reads…
1) Iron Council by China Mieville. The third in the Bas-Lag series. An incredibly good book in its own right, but compared to the other two Bas-Lag books, it just doesn’t hold up. Mieville’s writing is engaging and thought provoking, he conjures up entirely new worlds easily and makes them believable. The cities are as gritty and frayed and filthy as the deserts are parched and blinding. You could get lost in his worlds, but you don’t want to because you’d probably get your little ass kicked. Iron Council, unfortunately, strayed a bit from the gritty dark of the previous two novels. The books aren’t a series, the stories are not related at all, there is only the barest crossover of characters or situations, they just all happen to take place in the same world, Bas-Lag and its chief city, New Crobuzon. The first two books, Perdido Street Station and The Scar both felt infinitely unique in their settings and situations. Iron Council felt like a mash up of western, socialist revolution and railroad/gold rush story. The fascinating mosaic of humanoid species such as the cactacae, the anophelii and the garuda are less prominent and just added as an afterthought.
The book itself is an engaging and fascinating read, but compared to his other novels, it’s just not as good. I do hope he has more Bas-Lag novels in the hopper.
2) Olympos by Dan Simmons. The follow up to Illium, this is the book that wraps it all up. Just as fun and engaging as the first book, but still suffers a bit from sequel-itis. When you have a book as amazingly intricate, disparate and complex as Illium, it’s hard to follow up on that and hold the center. I was initially irritated with the Deus ex Machina slathered all over the climax of the book, but when you have a book with little Jovian robots, the principals of The Tempest, a Caliphate that sent robots to the future to kill the Jews (an entirely too heavy handed literary move in my opinion) and the Greek pantheon recreating the Trojan war on Mars you can understand a little Machine of the Gods sweeping in to clean things up.
Today I picked up Dan Simmons’ Hyperion and I’ll give that a spin, as well as the book-on-CD version of Ian McEwan’s Saturday.
I had a burst of energy today and cleaned the kitchen but now I am paying for it. I am going to bed to sleep the sleep of the sick and the dead.

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