January 2007

Bester, Alfred
The Stars My Destination – 1956. I read this once before, at the height of my love of SF, but I don’t think I entirely followed the plot. The concept of jaunting changing so many aspects of society stuck with me, though. I’m glad to have re-read it but probably won’t again. B

Francis, Dick
Decider – 1993. One of the few (maybe only?) where the hero has children. Believable relationships, not-great plot with too many crazy/bad aristocrats. B

King, Stephen
The Dead Zone – 1979. King’s best ever, I think; much more SF than horror, which is probably a big part of why I like it so much. A
Firestarter – 1980. B+
The Stand – 1990. Why oh why did a basically smart guy like King decide to “update” a classic book in such a careless way? Can you even update a book set in the present without re-writing it? Why did I get rid of my original edition? It’s better and shorter. I was going to write something about how this is really fantasy because it’s about building something new, whereas horror is about dealing with a threat… or something. Alas, another essay half-written in my head that will probably never see the light of day. Original: A Update: B

Kipling, Rudyard
Just So Stories – 1902. B

Microcosmic Tales: 100 Wondrous Science Fiction Short-Short Stories – selected by Isaac Asimov, Martin Harry Greenberg, and Joseph D. Olander – 1980. I used to love SF short-shorts, but they’ve shrunk on me, plus these are a little sub-par. Gone from the collection! C+

Pollan, Michael
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals – 2006. Brilliant, fascinating, first-person and research reporting at its best. Everyone should read this. Mind-altering and life-changing. A+

Rivoli, Pietra
The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade – 2005. Fascinating and thought-provoking, though the author’s argument is not particularly clear (yay free trade, but sweatshops are still a problem). Most interesting chapter is about the used-clothing trade in Africa. B+

Sevilla, Charles M.
Disorder in the Court: Great Fractured Moments in Courtroom History – 1992. Pretty funny and mostly convincingly true (therefore a little depressing as well). B