#16: The Wasp Factory (Iain Banks)

Re-reading this after fifteen years (according to the receipt I found tucked into the slim paperback) makes it a little difficult to rate. Even though all that time had passed, I did not forget the main twist, so reading the book expecting that made it a different experience than the first time. Still, there were things I had forgotten or misremembered — for example, What Happened to Eric — that still surprised me. It’s hard to imagine the furor over the book’s contents, given that I’ve read much more graphic things.

It’s a shame that the book’s direct message was muddied by that remembrance, and then by an on-the-nose ending that clunks more than a little bit. Still, I remember the impact of the last 20 pages from the first time I read it, and thus, rated 5.

On to Walking on Glass, which I haven’t read before.

#15: Consider Phlebas (Iain M. Banks)

So, the first Culture novel, and the first M. novel as well. A little rough. I’d tried to read it once before but kind of sputtered out in the beginning. Recommended Banks to a friend, tried to get him to start with Excession or Player of Games, but he insisted on starting here, and didn’t get very far.

This time around, I really enjoyed it, but it is definitely rougher and more formative than later Culture novels, and does not wrap up well. The book is a long, slow series of incidents tumbling out of control, and gets a bit exhausting.

I don’t quite know where to go next with my Banks re-reads — whether to go back to The Wasp Factory and read in printing order, or to continue on with the Culture and then loop back…

#14: Sinner (Greg Stolze)

I backed Sinner on Kickstarter, as well as Greg Stolze’s RPG “Better Angels”. Even though I pledged for a physical copy of Sinner, I went ahead and read it on my Kindle (well, and some on the PC — the newspaper clippings proved to be too hard to read otherwise). I’ll still be happy to put the book up on my shelf, and will probably re-read it sometime.

Sinner is the story of a supervillain who turns himself in, and what happens after that. The voice of the very likable protagonist propels everything forward, and it’s very easy to get wrapped up in the whole thing. I read it mostly over a lazy, nap-filled July 4th, finishing it off with the sound of fireworks booming from outside.

Lots of fun.

#12: Legacy (Lois M. Bujold)

So there’s a bit more of the fantasy novel to this one, and the ending leaves it open for a travelogue, which I generally enjoy. Also, I started reading Dag with the voice of Geralt and that made things twice as entertaining. (Okay, with my worlds colliding here, I wonder who will understand what I’m on about…)

Not going to move on to the other two just yet though… after all, I did just get this copy of The Ocean at the End of the Lane in.

#11: Beguilement (Lois McMaster Bujold)

I read The Curse of Chalion back in the day, but other than that, my first non-Miles Bujold. Starts off as a fantasy novel, and then you’re like, hmm, looks like this will have a love story in it as well. Then the last 2/3s are firmly romance territory.

My favorite Miles was A Civil Campaign, also a romance, though of a very different kind — SF by way of screwball romantic comedy. The balance in this was off, for me, I think. I already have books 2 and 3 thanks to an excellent Amazon sale, and it’s really too soon to start my Culture read-through, so I just might continue on. We’ll see.

#10: Dzur (Steven Brust)

Somewhere, I got lost. I hurt my hip, and that made it difficult to sit up and read, and I’ve never been much for reading in bed. Mostly better now, so I finished Dzur off in a couple of meals and some final reading at home. It’s almost unfair to rate this one. I can tell you the mechanics — immediately follows on the last one, for once; framing story is an extension of the prologue, with hazy connection to the text; and, at last, the second of my two “What”s is resolved. Nicely plotted. I’m just unsure if my haziness about Vlad’s motivation is because I read the book so slowly.

#9: Issola (Steven Brust)

And now, with the first new-to-me book in this series re-read, I am surprised. Issola hung together much better than Orca for me, and I was much more engaged. Many things changed in this installment and I really want to move directly on to Dzur.

(On a silly note, this book was printed in a really tiny spindly typeface, for a paperback. Really hard to read in non-searingly-bright-light situations.)