Friday, August 15

More Books

As soon as I finished the last post, more books began to occur to me. (Note: these are absolutely in no order and leaves out a lot of the more obvious choices.)

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
I have enjoyed all of Stephenson's books but Cyrptonomicon is by far my favorite. Jumping from a mathematician/cryptographer, a bad-ass Marine and a Japanese solider (all during World War II) and a programmer (in the "present"), it is one of those rare books that manages to be extremely education and extremely entertaining. And weird. It also has some ties with Stephenson's Baroque Cycle.

The Scar by China Miélville
I list The Scar because it is my favorite but you should read the others in the series too (starts with Perdido Street Station). He's not the best writer when it comes to plot and characters, but his world creation is the best I've seen bar none (except perhaps Tolkien — whom Miélville described as "the wen on the arse of fantasy literature").

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind by Hayao Miyazaki
Speaking of Tolkien, brings me to another comic. A manga to be precise. You may have seen the 1984 movie of the same name (Hayao Miyazaki is also the maker of Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away). The film was made 10 years before he finished the manga and there is a world of difference. Insanely epic sci-fi/fantasy. Guns, airplanes, giant insects, a world on the edge of destruction. It falls prey to the problems with most manga, mostly in the last act – old science, in the name of saving the human race and forcing it to evolve wants to lead humanity to its destruction. (Drop two nuclear bombs on a country and it does a huge number on their psyche.) But it is an incredible tale of a dying world at war. (It is also a world I would most like to run a roleplaying game in... some day.)

Spook Country by William Gibson
Gibson is a funny fish. His writing is getting so much better the older he get AND the further away he gets from science fiction. Besides being a crazy spy story, Spook Country, in a subtle way, examines the techno-brand name-fetishized world we live in.

White Jazz by James Ellroy
Nothing gets me in more trouble than when I tell people (specifically women) that I love Ellroy (of L.A. Confidential fame). His characters are misogynistic and violent. Heck, there is strong evidence Ellroy is misogynistic (read his book My Dark Places for that fucked up story). But his uber-noir is like an acid scalpel followed by a 10 pound brick of heroin to your face. American Tabloid is a great sprawling take on the Kennedy assassination, but White Jazz is just like the title. It reads like scalding jazz, spartan and sharp, rhythmic and driving, full of silences and bangs.

To Reign In Hell by Steven Burst
In ingenious fantasy take of the Fall of Lucifer and the creation of, well, everything.

One for the Morning Glory by John Barnes
A very over looked fantasy book in the vein of The Princess Bride.

A History of God by Karen Armstrong
A stunning book on the development of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, mostly by focusing on how they have viewed their God and the nature of that God. Dense and academic but not so much, it is a most read if you have any interest in the subject.