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2008 Books #31, 32, and 33

#31: The Accidental Time Machine, by Joe Haldeman

A research assistant at MIT builds a calibrator that turns out to have a little flaw: for reasons he doesn't understand, it disappears when he pushes the reset button, and reappears seconds later. Each time he pushes the button, the machine is gone for a longer period of time. He figures out that he's somehow made a time machine that travels forward for increasing periods with each jump, and then impulsively sets out to travel into the future himself. Complications at each stop cause him to escape by pushing the button, leading him to increasingly distant futures each time--with no way to get back. The slices of future life Haldeman describes are different from what I would imagine, but he makes them seem plausible. I had a tiny quibble with the ending, with one question left unanswered as far as I could tell, but the book is good enough to read anyway. Let me know if you want to discuss it!

#32: Other Nature, by Stephanie A. Smith

I loved the prose and the ideas in this one. The author makes excellent use of negative space, leaving the right things unsaid in an effective way that lets the reader participate with the book and figure things out. Set in a grim near-future, this is the story of a small community trying to survive. The few children who are born alive turn out to be abnormal, but their differences show a pattern that begins to make sense throughout the novel, and it is all made beautifully clear by the end. Some of the characters are hard to love, and the book makes you work a bit, but it's worth the effort. I'll be looking for more books by this author.

#33: Territory, by Emma Bull

AWESOME. This is a secret history set in Tombstone, with the Earps, Doc Holliday, and magic, and I will say again that it is AWESOME. Emma Bull is now on my very short list of writing idols (the others being, in order of acquisition, Tim Powers, Connie Willis, and Kage Baker. ETA: Oh, yeah, and Theodore Sturgeon! Can't forget him!). Her prose is absolutely perfect, and the characters just make me inarticulate, and the story is so! good! I'm very sad to have to wait for the next book to find out what happens, but that will give me time to memorize this book. I swear, if you don't like this one, I'm not sure I want to know you.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
aenodia
Jul. 12th, 2008 10:24 pm (UTC)
Totally agree about "Territory." She is going to be the GOH at OddCon next year. As it is in Madison you will be able to see her. They have an LJ community at oddcon
nayad
Jul. 12th, 2008 11:06 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'm planning to go to OddCon next year. I did get to speak to her for about two minutes at Fourth Street Fantasy, and saw her on a lot of panels there, but maybe next year I'll look vaguely familiar enough to her to ease into a longer conversation. :)
bibliofile
Jul. 13th, 2008 11:37 am (UTC)
I wouldn't mind being Emma Bull when I grow up. She's even taller, and has better hair, and can SING. What's not to like???
nayad
Jul. 13th, 2008 12:24 pm (UTC)
I like your hair just fine! But I agree that she's a fine model to emulate. :)
greyduck
Jul. 14th, 2008 05:28 pm (UTC)
Hmm. Accidental Time Machine sounds very, very interesting...
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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