Friday, March 25, 2011

The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card ****

Adolescence and isolation and angst combine to form the basis, should I say cliched basis, of so many novels, it takes an accomplished story teller like Orson Scott Card (author of the perennial high-school favorite Ender's Game) to provide a fresh view on these sensitive years.

Danny North has run away from home. His parents want to kill because he has no magical powers, but if he lets them see his powers, they will have to kill him. During his travels, he explores his emerging sexuality, his responsibility to take care of himself, and the difficulties in knowing who to trust and who is a real friend.

In The Lost Gate, Card constructs a world of mages and gods and gates to other realms from a mixture of the old gods like Loki and Zeus and his own magic. But his literary magic goes beyond world creation, it includes his eye for details, like the ultimate embarrassment and terror in the gym class where students are expect to climb a rope.

However all of Card's wonderful characters and details and fabulous world building could not save this book from the death trap of so much science fiction. The introspective and endless self-examination - no action - no conflict - no plot - just exposition about its internal machinations - how does a mage manipulate a gate? endless disclosure and consideration.

If have never read Card, start with Ender's Game. If you love him, this is more of the same and you'll love this too.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich *****

One for the Money is the first of a long series of light-reading novels about Stephanie Plum, bounty hunter. Each title includes a number in ever increasing order - the latest being Smokin' Seventeen. Stephanie Plum has several love interests, but like many other characters in continuing series and sitcoms, she cannot commit, so she strings these guys along, though occasionally, but not very often, she takes them to bed.

The two main guys: Joe Morelli, the cop, and Ranger, the private security guy, are introduced in this first book. The first book also includes the tough Lula when she was still a street prostitute and not yet Stephanie's wise-cracking sidekick. Stephanie Plum fans who came late to the party will enjoy this inaugural novel as well as the later ones. If you've never read any of the series, this is as good a place to start as another.