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Non-Work 2016

Reading 2016

2016/08

  • Flight Behavior. Kingsolver. An interesting novel about climate change as well as science and elite society from the view of the downtrodden. I didn't know anything about the story going in, so I had no idea where it was going until a good bit in, and I recommend that approach to heighten the soft air of rural fantasy. By the end the novel gets very preachy and overt, but overall it's still an interesting read.
  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Hansen. Novelization of the end of Jesse James, later turned into an excellent film. Difficult to read James in anything but Brad Pitt's voice & face now, but that's ok, the movie was pretty good. The novel has a somewhat detached, documentary feel to it, just like the movie does. That works well though for the gritty, mean, enclosed lives all the characters lead. Sits well with James' belief in out-of-the-body travel as well. The climax comes somewhat early, but the closing sections are just as good. They're basically a quick retelling of Deadwood, with different historical characters. Very different themes throughout the book from an actual "Western." There's relatively little about the landscape, freedom, etc.. These guys are just all about easy money and killing, and they die cheaply and often because of it. The really big question set out implicitly by the novel is just how much did James plan and foster this end? Not just at the last moments, but from the very start?
  • The Martian. Weir. Golden age NASA nostalgia competence porn. Moves along just quickly enough to be an entertaining read. Stops well short of bogging down in technical details like the Red Mars series does, and ends just before the plot really wears thin. Very devoid of any human psychological component though, the protagonist is just way too occupied for that to really settle in and make itself known. Lots of interesting details.
  • Darkness The Color of Snow. Cobb. Quick read about a death in a small town, and a solid novel up until the end. The initial setup and the details of small town life are pretty compelling. But the last few pages throw in a twist that's rushed, unnecessarily vulgar, and just poorly arranged. Seemed like the author didn't want to go with the most overtly signalled conclusion, didn't want to go with the second, and was too weak to go with the next obvious one, so he just gave up and wrecked the novel.
  • No Country For Old Men. McCarthy. Excellent read about a drug deal gone bad and the multi-layered pursuit set off across city and desert. The film portrays the novel impressively and very faithfully. Notably, like in his other books, McCarthy does a lot with syntax and presentation to make the whole setting feel really off, and I think the film does similar via techniques like using music very sparingly. Both of them do a lot of things like only show you the aftermath of a scene, not the actual fight, etc.. In the film version there's basically 1 minor character cut, a little bit of backstory cut from the Sheriff, and 1 death changed in a small but critical detail. Otherwise it's almost identical in any meaningful comparison.
  • The End Of All Things. Scalzi.
  • The Last Colony. Scalzi. The original story to which Zoe's Tale is the flip side.

2016/05

  • The Destroyer. Burton. Short story on Tor.com.
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