Saturday, July 12, 2014

My Summer Vacation Reading

My parents have a boat and for basically my entire life I've spent at least a week each summer on it with them, sailing along the coast of Maine.  But this post isn't about that, it's about all the books I managed to read when I wasn't steering, fiddling with sails, putting down anchors or so on.

The Rhesus Chart by Charles Stross.  I think this book is now my favorite from the laundry series, and it nails the interplay of office politics and supernatural danger.  I also thought it did a very good job of playing with expectations in one place.

Bad Little Girls Die Horrible Deaths by Harry Conolly.  A short story collection I got access to by backing his Kickstarter.  Fairly entertaining, but read his excellent Twenty Palaces trilogy first.

Technology in World Civilization by Arnold Pacey.  An interesting book on comparative technological development and the transfer of technologies back in the old days.

The Origins of Political Order by Francis Fukuyama.  A big ideas book on how modern states happened.  I found the book tremendously interesting and would probably put it up there with, say, Guns, Germs, and Steel in the world making more sense after having read it.  As an example, I'd been confused by the Ottoman's success in state building and the piece I'd been missing was that when they took in their levy of non-Muslim boys to be made into Jannisaries they tested them and diverted those who seemed to have the most aptitude into the administration, in a sort of parallel to  the Chinese examination system.

A Madness of Angles by Kate Griffin.  A decent urban fantasy book.  I think I might actually have a hard time calling any other series "urban fantasy" now, since this book took the idea of the magic of cities and ran with it in a way that makes it the urban-fantasiest of urban fantasies.

A Case for Climate Engineering by David Keith.  A book about various ways people might use technology to directly offset increases in global warming, their difficulties and consequences, and why they're a good idea even if they're not a panacea.

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.  A humorous book involving time traveling academics, which I haven't actually finished yet but I'm most of the way through.  I was having trouble enjoying it early on because the theory of time travel involved doesn't actually make much sense.  Thankfully, I soon realized that everything that happened was perfectly consistent with the Harry Potter/Twelve Monkeys/acausal theory of time travel.  So I just assumed that was how the world worked but that the protagonists were mistaken about it as they were entertainingly mistaken about so many other things and continued chuckling my way through the book.


  1. I wrote a comment and it appears to have been eaten. Foo.

    See Jerome K Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat for what Willis was trying to do here.

    And then her acausal/sentient-timestream-embodying-God’s-love-for-his-people time travel system works itself out over the rest of her books.

  2. Also, I had to do a login, a one-time password, a captcha, and three different click-throughs about Blogger or Google Plus to post that comment; and it was eaten once, so I had to retype it. Whoah.


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