Not feeling too well today, yet not unwell enough to not work. Haven’t blogged in about a week and have neglected to even mention the last three books I read in April. All I Survey is a book collection of some essays by GK Chesterton. It was okay, I suppose. I actually didn’t like most of them, some of them were terribly dated (as must be many things written for publication in a newspaper), but some were quite funny. I especially enjoyed an essay that skewered some tendencies of fiction writers. I’ll find it again and type up an excerpt or two before it has to back to the library. He certainly covered a wide range of topics in his essays, everything from poetry to education to grammar to politics and even an essay titled On Eyebrows.
I also read Dragon and Thief by Timothy Zahn who is, apparently, a fairly well-known sci-fi writer. It wasn’t bad and it had an interesting twist that I hadn’t seen in an sci-fi book before. It included the standard interstellar travel, aliens, nefarious plots and super-weapons, but one of the main characters is an alien that looks like a dragon. Not only that, but he can only spend (at most) six hours in a three-dimensional form before he needs to return to a two-dimensional form on the body of his symbiont host. In other words, half the time he’s a real dragon, half the time he’s a talking, thinking, moving dragon tattoo. It wasn’t long, the writing wasn’t awful and the story wasn’t bad. I’m gonna look for the next few in the series and give them a shot too.
A book I started but didn’t finish was Market Forces by Richard Morgan. Both it and Dragon and Thief were recommendations from Unshelved, an online comic about a library (funnier than it sounds). Market Forces was inane post-capitalist drivel about how mega-corporations run the world and the way you get promotion is by killing your rivals on the highways dueling in armored cars a la Mad Max. Like Dragon and Thief it sounded like it had potential, but it failed miserably. The writer used far more profanity than was at all necessary, had a fixation with sex and conception of the direction of world was laughable. I should have looked at the books he consulted before reading the first five or so chapters; featured prominently among the influences are several books by Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky.
The last book was an Agatha Christie novel featuring Tommy and Tuppence, By the Pricking of My Thumbs, this time not as young marrieds but as a middle-aged couple on the cusp of retirement. It was both a bit darker and less satisfying than many of her other books. It featured a serial killer, a child murderer and an international criminal gang (though, to Christie’s credit, she didn’t have a super-villain at the back of absolutely everything this time). What was most disappointing to me, however, was that though the murderer got his/her comeuppance (sort of), several accomplices after the fact who covered up for the murderer out of feelings of loyalty and affection were given a pass even though their actions had led directly to a half-dozen other innocent people being murdered by the same person. Made me sick to my stomach. I can’t stand it when someone who has been blocking the detective through the whole book and allows other people to get bumped off because of her obstruction is given a pass at the end. “Oh, that’s okay. You loved him. We understand.” I hate that. Ridiculous.