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Wednesday reading

Oh look! It's Wednesday, it's before I start work (... barely), so I can do this.

What I'm reading now: Adrian Tchaikovsky's Children of Time, a science fiction novel that follows two parallel stories: on the one hand, the story of spiders on a terraformed planet who are "elevated" by a nanovirus that had been intended to speed-evolve monkeys (the monkeys all died), and on the other, the last remnants of humanity, on a ... not quite generation ship, but one of those ships where you spend all your thousands of years in deep freeze, only woken up at key moments. The ship finds the green and pleasant terraformed planet, but it's guarded by the armed-and-dangerous uploaded (and now mad) mind of the scientist whose project it is, and she doesn't want them interfering.

Spider society keeps on developing in truly creative ways--the directions their science takes, their manners of communication, the threats they face--really fascinating. What if scientific advances relied more on chemistry than physics? And of course there's commentary on human social problems, as the spiders deal with their versions of freedom of scientific inquiry and universal spider rights. Most reviews I've come across have preferred the spider side of the story to the human side, but I find the human side very poignant and gripping too, as the suspicion, territoriality, and self-aggrandizement that plague our species blossom even in this last-stand group that are are all that remain. (I say "even," but why wouldn't they? I mean, they're human traits...) I'm about 60 percent in.

What I just finished: A Cup of Friendship. The author, Deborah Rodriguez, has written a memoir, Kabul Beauty School, about her time teaching at the eponymous beauty school, and she also did co-own a coffee shop in Kabul. This story is fiction, but it's clearly informed by familiarity with the location and affection for the various people, Afghans and non-Afgans alike. It was a pleasant read, but I found myself chafing, and when I asked myself why, I decided it was because there were too many story lines for my taste and a consequent underdevelopment (to my mind) of all of them. I liked the richness of her details, her insights, and her ways of sketching in the characters; I think I would have enjoyed the book moreif she had gone deeper into fewer.

What I'll maybe read next: Semiosis, by Sue Burke. It's about very alien life again; I think it would be a good complement to Children of Time.

And now I'd better get to work...

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/879530.html. Comments are welcome at either location.




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