Star Maker — William Olaf Stapledon

I managed to get 31% into this and then just had to give up trying.   I really couldn’t manage any more of it.

Imagine that William’s favourite book is Gulliver’s Travels and he decides to have a go at writing a sci-fi version of it having read Brave New World just before starting.   I think that pretty much sums up the first 31%.

The problem is that while Gulliver’s Travels and Brave New World are both very good books, both are very well written and keep the reader’s attention, Star Maker is tedious, dull and plodding: at least that’s how i found it to be.   I can imagine for its time it was very exciting, but sadly some books just don’t age well and i think this is one of them.

I don’t feel that it’s bad enough to warrant a place on “The Deleted” page, so it will get a reprieve and stay in my Amazon lists for now and i may give it another go at some future date when i’m feeling a lot better about life and stuff.

William’s Page

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Crome Yellow — Aldous Huxley

I was in my 20’s when i last read this, somewhere between 25 and 30 years ago, and i still think it’s a very good book.

There is, however, a problem with this book: Aldous was very clearly a product of Victorian England and his use of words really reflect this, especially in his early writing, and there are the very occasional racial words/comments used — which i counted twice.

It’s a very awkward place to find oneself, caught between two cultures.   By my standards the use of such language is completely unacceptable, yet, having read a few Victorian books and also post Victorian books, like this, written by those who were educated by Victorians, it is clear that the use of such language was, very much, the standard of the day.

Do we now throw the babies out with the bath water?   Admittedly, by contemporary standards, the bathwater we are dealing with is now considered untreated sewage, but in it’s day it was considered fit for drinking.   I certainly don’t feel that Aldous was, in anyway, being racist and derogatory, but simply using the words and cliches of his day.

As to the rest of the book it is very clearly a satire and critique of England in the early 1920’s and it’s very clear that Aldous was not supporting of many views expressed in this book, but laying bare the thinking and ideas of his day.   If you are interested you can read much more about this on it’s Wiki page.

The interesting thing for me is that just over 5 years ago i spent 3 years living at one of England’s great houses and its huge estate, including parklands, shrubberies, woods, Italian gardens, ponds, lakes, etc., and it certainly made reading about Crome a whole different experience.   Sadly, to be honest, the upper classes, and their sycophants, haven’t really changed much from the attitudes and behaviour satirised and parodied within Crome Yellow.

This book is also, very much, the forerunner to Brave New World, and i would suggest a must read for fans of that book.

Aldous’ Page

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The Lollipop Shoes — Joanne Harris

Book two of the Chocolat series.   I really enjoyed Chocolat. so this is another one of those sequels in the unenviable position of having a lot to live up to.   Did it?   Well, it didn’t do too bad a job.

I would say my only real criticism of it was that it went on for far too long.   Chocolat was a mere 359 pages whereas The Lollipop Shoes is 594 pages, and while reading it one gets the feeling that it could have been trimmed down a fair bit and the story would have benefited.

As i say, that’s my only real criticism.

I certainly enjoyed knowing that there are two further books in this tetralogy, as one can’t be certain how this is going to end.   Is Vianne going to be left high and dry with the further two books dedicated to her fighting back, or is Vianne going to triumph here and now and we’ll move on to some other tale in the next book?   We’re also not even sure who is going to be Vianne at the end of this book as it’s mostly about identity theft and Vianne becoming the target of an identity thieving witch: can chocolate witchery save the day again?

At the end, the only real judgement one can pass on this book is: am i going to read Peaches for Monsieur le Curé?   Not straight away.   As i said, this went on for a bit too long and i have a few other books i’ve been looking forward to reading, but Peaches for Monsieur le Curé is queued up on my Kindle ready to be read at some time in the not too distant future.

Joanne’s Page

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The Book of Swords — Anthology

The Best Man Wins — K. J. Parker
Her Father’s Sword — Robin Hobb
The Hidden Girl — Ken Liu
The Sword of Destiny — Matthew Hughes
“I am a Handsome Man,” said Apollo Crow — Kate Elliott
The Triumph of Virtue — Walter Jon Williams
The Mocking Tower — Daniel Abraham
Hrunting — C. J. Cherryh
A Long, Cold Trail — Garth Nix
When I was a Highway Man — Ellen Kushner
The Smoke of Gold is Glory — Scott Lynch
The Colgrid Conundrum — Rich Larson
The King’s Evil — Elizabeth Bear
Waterfalling — Lavie Tidhar
The Sword Tyraste — Cecelia Holland
The Sons of the Dragon — George R. R. Martin

 

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