Friday, August 19, 2005

Friday Book Recommendations (or UN-recommendations)

Can't remember if I've mentioned this before or not, but I sorta have a thing about avoiding new authors. I like to stick to the tried-and-true because, let's face it, books are $(*)&#&&*!! expensive and it really sucks to get home and find out you've plunked down your hard-earned moolah for a total turkey. But, then again, every once in a while, I get a yen for something new and so against my better judgment I go out and pick up a new author. There is a bit of a thrill to it as I open the first page and hope for the best...but the thrill quickly turns to despair when I find something like C.J. Ryan's first novel, Dexta

Having worked for a couple of very large companies and therefore having a lot of personal experience with "bureaucracy" at its finest, I was really interested in the background world of this book and thought the descriptions of the different corporate "types" (Lions, Tigers, Sheep, Dogs, etc.) and their various functions and tactics were all fascinating.

Unfortunately, the really excellent "world-crafting" here is totally overshadowed by the fact that Li'l Kim and her propensity for boob-baring in public have both apparently been re-incarnated for the 23rd century as the heroine of this novel. I get that there's no nudity taboo and that sexual politics and control are part of the Dexta way of life. I get that the main character is a futuristic Helen-of-Troy type and that her beauty is irresistible, blah, blah, blah, but I think even Helen didn't hang her bare boobs over the walls of Troy and scream "come get me, boys!"

This gal bares her assets more than Hugh Hefner's flava-of-the-month! She wears clothes that have little auto-controls in them to set the garment's opacity/translucency amount and she's constantly turning them more and more and more translucent. In fact, I'm sure if I went back scene by scene and added up all the percentages by which her clothes get sheerer...I'd wind up with about 3000% translucent (which is impossible...can't get more visible than 100%) Ditto for how often she's pushing her jeans down. By the end of the book I think they're around her ankles.

I'm dying to know if C.J. Ryan is a sadly misguided woman or a never-got-over-life-as-a-frat-boy guy. Either way, "Dexta" could've been a really great book if he/she had just dialed the overexposure down a few thousand percent. Or maybe the hot male co-star could've gotten naked a little more, too and balanced things out. How come that never happens?

In contrast, my other new experiment, Charles Stross's The Family Trade was a much better choice. It's garnering a lot of comparisons to the Amber books and it definitely has that same parallel earth/worldwalkers feel to it. I liked that the main character is smart as well as sexy and likes to take action. I did think that the romance wasn't quite set up properly which gave it a bit of an "unrealistic" feeling. Also there are some choppy intrusions from other characters that interrupt the flow of the novel. Still, it's a good and enjoyable read and the second book in the series is already out (albeit in hard!).

All in all, though, if you want a REALLY fantastic reading experience, just go for the original, tried-and-true :-) genius of Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber . Not only are there enough books (now all collected in one complete and convenient volume) to keep you busy for quite a while, but Prince Corwin is one of the best characters of all time.

Have a great weekend and take care all!


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