[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers. Follow it here.]
2312, by Kim Stanley Robinson. Reviewed by Jeff VanderMeer (Los Angeles Times).
Though he appears to be fairly accomplished, I’ve never heard of Robinson before. I like this book’s ambition though: sci-fi that strives to do something beyond genre convention sucks me in again and again. Here we have humanity, as Earth falls into ruin, in the process of terraforming and colonizing the rest of our solar system. With that as a backdrop, the novel exlores some complex emotional relationships while also delivering bombastic space action. Could be a flop, but VanderMeer is a decent editor, so I’m inclined to take his word on this one.
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Existence, by David Brin. Reviewed by Paul Di Filippo (Barnes and Noble Review).
Let’s make this an all-sci-fi edition of WBBR. In Brin’s novel, Earth is once again in decline, and humanity looks to the stars. Brin is a known name in the genre, and his latest promises to deliver the philosophical, hard-science writing of old. Di Filippo describes an “oceanic onrush of action, philosophy and world-building, especially in Parts 7 and 8, which blossom out laterally in quantum leaps of arena-widening wonder.” The review opens with a treatise on the Great American Sci-Fi Novel, and the whole thing is worth a look.
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The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson Walker. Reviewed by Ron Charles (Washington Post).
I already brought up this book in this feature a few weeks ago, but I wanted to link to this review (which I also pointed to in my own review of the book) since it differs so much from Kakutani’s. I liked this book, but my biggest gripe was that it was at once trying to be two separate types of book, an endeavor disruptive to the novel as a whole. Both reviews are fairly old news at this point, but I find it worthwhile to look at how it’s possible to agree with two prominent reviewers who come to very different conclusions about the same book.
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Quick and Sad: The author of Encyclopedia Brown died. I really loved those books as a kid.