Saturday, May 08, 2010

The Year of Good Books, Redux: February

So, the blog blahs spilled over to easiest posts -- my reading reviews. And February would've been especially easy, since I only finished 2 books. Here you go! FBers go HERE for book cover pics and links.

Tom Gjelten has written a history of the Cuban fight for independence framed around the Bacardi family and their tasty beverage. It's a great approach to a complicated, depressing subject (SPOILER! Cuba manages independence, but not freedom). Not spectacular, but interesting.

Contrasting this is Dan Simmons "sequel" (really just the second half of the book) to "Hyperion". He's trying to fit a bunch of big ideas into an exciting sci-fi novel, and it just doesn't work. Some of the ideas are very interesting, especially the idea that an highly interlinked society actually retards rather than enables the evolution of human culture and ideas. Unfortunately, the Macguffin of the books, the Shrike, is pretty poorly thought-out, and the threads never really come together. Simmons had the basis for several thought-provoking, interesting books, but he tried to do too much and, like George Costanza, "flew too close to the sun on wings of pastrami" or bloated prose.

So, a weak month of reading, and you'll be well-served to skip Hyperion. But feel free to ponder and discuss the idea that the interconnectedness of modern society is leading to conformity and suppressing ideas.

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