Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Can't Sleep; Must Review Books

I have downloaded a number of free books by Jules Verne for my Kindle--many of which are completely new to me--and I thought that I was pretty familiar with Verne's work.  I read and enjoyed many of his novels when I was in elementary school.

One that I recently read and enjoyed was The Fur Country, or Seventy Degrees North Latitude (1873).  It takes place in the Canadian Arctic, in 1859, as a collection of interesting characters head north to the Arctic Ocean.  (Remember: this is a time when Alaska is still Russian.)  I don't want to reveal what turns out to be the core of dilemma that drives the plot, but I was quite surprised to find that a scientific phenomenon of the polar regions appears here that I thought was a twentieth century discovery.  Or perhaps Verne's "scientific romances" were just ahead of their time, as usual.  I found myself, as usual, impressed with how much I was learning from reading what is, after all, a novel.  (Fortunately, I was able browse from the Kindle to look up and learn more.)  

One surprising aspect of the novel is the strong female lead in what is, after all, a very Victorian novel.  It's a slow start, but about 1/3 of the way through, very engaging.

I am part way through reading Godfrey Morgan: A Californian Mystery (1882), which is set in I think Gold Rush California.  (Perhaps right after the Civil War).  There are parts of it that are spot on (from my recent research in reading newspapers of the period), and there are other parts that are wrong about the political structures of California in the period.  (Wrong capital for the period, wrong names for the legislative bodies.)  But once we get away from San Francisco into the Pacific, it becomes very entertaining--although those who have read Mysterious Island will see certain similarities.

I recently purchased Ari Mendelson's Bias Incident: The World's Most Politically Incorrect Novel.  It is not as polemical as the title suggests.  It was fun, and alas, too close to reality to fully enjoy in its portrayal of the manner of which Political Correctness has damaged some colleges.  And for $0.99?

Aaron Wood (I think a nom de plume) sent me his first novel, Return of Nemesis.  For a $1 Kindle book, I can't complain.  (And since he gave it to me, I complain even less!)  I found parts of it a bit clumsy in dialog and plot development, and the aliens don't really come across as all that alien, in spite of the number of appendages.  But the story line kept me interested, and it was not predictable.  I have not read any science fiction in a while, and in some senses, it was a little old-fashioned, but I have read far too much Harlan Ellison over the years.  You need a book to read on the airplane?  You could do far worse.




1 comment:

John Cunningham said...

For SF e-books, Baen Books has scores of free titles on their site, often the first of a series, or older titles.
Michael Z. Williamson and Jack McDevitt are superb current authors. Williamson has a libertarian, hoplophile attitude. both are in the Heinlein class of writer, the tops.