Tuesday, February 13, 2007

4x4-Letter Reviews

It's been a while since I reviewed things, so here are four quick capsules for things that, coincidentally, all have four-letter names:

SPIN, the Hugo Award-winning novel by Robert Charles Wilson: I stayed up until three or four in the morning to finish reading this book. So did D, the following night. I wouldn't call it "gripping" in a traditional, suspense-thriller way, but it's engaging, and Wilson balances and connects all his disparate themes elegantly. Combining a Big Idea with intimate human drama is difficult, but he makes it sing.

BURN, the Nebula Award-nominated novella by James Patrick Kelly: Tachyon published this in a compact hardcover edition, which I borrowed from my local library, and there's definitely something to be said for the tactile experience of a real book. The story is also compact, but the landscape is dense--not in a Kim Stanley Robinson deep-society way, or an Ursula LeGuin alien-culture way, but it's just as thoughtful and soulful in its own way.

ROME, the TV series co-produced by HBO and the BBC: D and I watched four episodes in a row last Friday, and so far, the second season is just as great as the first. There is plenty of sex and violence, but none of it is gratuitous, nor is any of that why we watch. I'm constantly impressed by how real the show feels, while at the same time being completely foreign to our modern experience of life and politics--like a well-written fantasy epic, but grounded in historical truth.

CORY, as in Doctorow: A seriously cool dude. D gave me his new book, Overclocked, as a gift while she was on a business trip two weeks ago. At first, I was a little confused, because she sent it directly from Amazon, and I had added the book to my own shopping cart a few days earlier but not ordered it yet. Anyway, it's a great collection of short stories, all of which you can download for free from the author's web site. (I also asked him a silly question on yesterday's interactive podcast, which audio will probably be online at some point.)


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