Saturday, January 28, 2012

A tale of two stories

I bought two books at the Borders closing sale. --That's misleading. I bought dozens of books at the Borders closing sale. But I'm thinking about just two of them. I finished reading one last night: Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti, by Genevieve Valentine. It's about...hmm. It's about a circus made of people who are part machine in a postapocalyptic world. Part machine in a steampunk sort of way, not a Terminator sort of way. I don't read for style, but the style of this one caught me. And then the people, the world...if you look at the plot itself it's a fairly simple, fairly small plot, but you can't really do that because the characters' motivations and creation (within the story, that is) and the world itself are all so connected. It's a gorgeous book. All angles, no curves, but it circles back on itself and opens up little surprise doors and illuminates this grim life these grim people lead until it's beautiful. I generally don't write letters to authors, but I'm considering writing to this one to demand to know when her next is coming out.

So I finished it last night. I really should have just ended the night on that, but I like to have a book with me when I'm going through my end-of-the-night rituals (i.e., showering, brushing teeth, packing lunch). So I went to our recent-purchase stack and picked out Timecaster, by Joe Kimball. I'd picked this one out because the premise is similar to, though flashier than (and a near copy of Minority Report, as I understand it, though I've never seen or read it), a story idea I've been carrying around, and I thought it would be a fast, light read. It was in its way. Nine pages later I laid it on the post where we put things that need to go downstairs so that I could put it in the Goodwill pile.

It probably doesn't help that it came right after Mechanique, but I read some parts aloud to Eric and he was unimpressed too. There was immediate "as you know Bob." There was the self-described alpha male character being a jerk when he thought he was being assertive and alpha-male, though it only served to amuse me that he was simultaneously being kept by his wife. It may be the description of his wife that got me. One of the last real redheads? Gorgeous and svelte, with emerald green eyes? Oh, and she's a (legal) prostitute, too? The argument between the main character and his wife reminded me of the arguments between Mal and Inara in Firefly, but that's not actually the recommendation it sounds like because Mal is being a jerk in those arguments, too. Also, the "I only married you because it was cheaper than continuing to hire you" line was not as funny or endearing as the author probably intended it. And I got no sense that the character was intended to be a jerk. He seemed intended to be a wish-fulfillment sort of character. My sense is that I wasn't the intended audience. So, it can go to someone else who is part of that audience, and I'm sure he will enjoy it.

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