Rick Perlstein, Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America (2008)

Author: Rick Perlstein

Title: Nixonland:The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America

Format: hardcover

Pages: 881

Series: –

Something a bit different today. I know, I know, except for Pokemon there hasn’t been much fantasy/SF on our blog lately 😉 I promise that’ll change… at some point, certainly. There will be new Marlon James book review coming soon, at least ;). But for now, a totally non-fiction, modern history book.

We live in interesting times, that’s for sure. Wars, pandemics, economic crises, global warming… The list goes on and on. But because we are so deeply enmeshed in our everyday life, we tend to forget that this uniqueness, this craziness, is in fact nothing new. That not long ago, the world was an even crazier place, at least in some localities ;). That, compared to those not so olden times, our present time is actually quite tame. If you thought Trump was something else, a new phenomenon, think again. Or even better, read Nixonland.

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Keith Roberts, Pavane (1966)

Author: Keith Roberts

Title: Pavane

Format: paperback

Pages: 242

Series: –

Pavane has been hailed as a masterpiece by writers as different as Neil Gaiman and G.R.R. Martin. It certainly has all the markings of a writers’ book, for those inspired by Roberts’s work are various and many (and even Pratchett might be among them). While it’s usually classified as alternate history, I rather agree with my library’s categorization – it’s a science fiction book, though the telltale signs are very subtle and few in number, limited mostly to the epilogue, called Coda. In a way, Roberts’s work reminded me strongly of Wolfe, although obviously it’s the other way round: Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun actually seems to have been guided to some extent by Pavane.

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The Best of 2021 in Books and Comics

Oh, 2021… it was, in many ways, quite similar to 2020, actually. We did a general summary of the year here, and now the time comes to sum up our reading/watching experiences. This year, we decided to combine our best and worst title is one place, one reason being it’s already mid-January…

Piotrek: and another, at least in my case, that I mostly made really good choices and there’s really not that much bad stuff to write about.

Ola: Oh, for me this reading year was more of a mixed bag, with some truly flabbergasting titles from NetGalley – and some truly amazing, too. It was generally a pretty good year, reading-wise. Lots of solid titles, not too many re-reads… I will also remember this year as my introduction to the marvellous metaverse of manga – and that journey will continue!

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The Vacation Post

I was going to say I’m not going to complain my vacation is coming to an end, but I just did 😉 A bit over two weeks away from work, most of it spent on our Sicilian escapade, a small miracle in the Covid-infected world, and maybe an act of selfishness, but we really needed a break, and obviously we obeyed all the special rules.

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Eastern Sicily – as we only had time to see this part of the island – is beautiful, and full of history. Beauty and power of nature was represented by Etna, an active volcano that overshadows entire neighbouring area, and occasionally threatens its inhabitants. We were not in danger, but still impressed by the roaring sounds and the puffs of steam.

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Ken Liu, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories (2016)

The Paper Menagerie

Author: Ken Liu

Title: The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 453

Series: –

Ken Liu has been known as the translator to Cixin Liu’s critically acclaimed Hugo award winner, The Three-Body Problem. He is also known as the author of a “silkpunk” epic fantasy book, The Grace of Kings. But the readers of short stories know him predominantly as a talented SFF author with his own unique voice and unerring focus on humanity’s past and future, cultural diversity and a peculiar vision of transhumanism. His works won multiple awards, Nebula, Hugo, Locus and World Fantasy Award among them, and I must say that, at least with regards to the collection The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, he deserves quite a lot of the praise 😉.

This review will vary slightly from my usual posts; as each story or novelette forms a separate whole, I will review each in turn and give score to each separately in short paragraphs.

The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species 5,5/10

Not a great start to the collection; a showcase of interesting ideas, but nothing really stands out in this fanciful enumeration of how various species in the universe might create/perceive books. It’s a fun exercise, and an invitation to the readers to think about the idea of a book, but nothing more.

State Change 10/10

One of two best stories in the compilation, based on an outlandish and very compelling idea that every person is born with their soul manifested as a concrete, tangible item – and that the form of that item directly affects their personality. A really sweet, light, yet thought-provoking story on how we create our own limits and then learn to transcend them.

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