Friday, June 10, 2005

Book Corner

After a long period of being in the middle of a half-dozen books and not finishing any of them, I zipped through a couple of short novels on the plane to Chicago.

Monument by Lloyd Biggle, Jr. I remember liking this Federation-of-Planets space opera when I was about fifteen. I think it holds up pretty well, I still like it. Maribeth said that the story didn't really need to be science fiction, and maybe that's true. The story does require a setting where a colonizing power is prepared to take over land occupied by the primitive natives, but also possibly prepared to respect the natives' legal rights, so the natives could conceivably win a court case and it would mean something, they wouldn't just be ignored or massacred. Maybe it could have been a Western, or set somewhere in the British Empire. Or maybe it could be set in the modern Amazon. But probably not.

Conjure Wife by Fritz Leiber. Faculty wives at a small college are practicing witchcraft. Actually, it turns out that most women practice witchcraft to some degree, although some are better at it than others. Once you've read the concept on the book jacket, the first half of the book is predictable, then it gets a bit better for a couple of chapters, then the ending is predictable again. Apparently it was first published in a magazine, so I guess originally there was no book jacket to give away half the story.

Okay, in addition to not being that great, this story is sexist-- the magazine appearance was in 1943-- but still, I've got no sympathy for the reader who scrawled, "This author hates women," "This is sick," and such in the margin. Write your own book and leave this one alone, book-defacer.


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