Sunday, August 14, 2005

Ursula Le Guin & Garth Nix: a reprise

I finished reading Ursula Le Guin's Changing Planes yesterday, which I mentioned here on Friday. It's an odd book, but only in the way that any thought-provoking book is odd - and it is a very thought-provoking book. The piece, 'The Royals of Hegn' seemed amazingly perceptive, given it's written by a non-Briton - I don't meant that in a condescending/patronising way; I'm totally impressed at how perceptive the piece is as a look at the way the Royal family is treated by certain parts of the British populace. 'Wake Island' is a reminder that sleep is a very important part of our lives, and that without it, we will eventually become non-functional. 'Great Joy' was actually quite scary and a definite indictment of American corporate exploitation. The interesting thing about this book is that I assumed it was a science fiction book, but in fact it is an SF, that is Speculative Fiction, book that is leaning towards fantasy. Le Guin has created several secondary worlds and written about them, concentrating on a particular aspect of each that highlights modern preoccupations with wealth, power, control, exploitation, environmental issues, war, etc. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Even if you're not a big fan of fantasy, science fiction or SF, do read it - it's worth making an effort to read it (as I had to do initially) because it is so thought provoking. (If you click on the link at the top of this post, you can buy it from, or you can get it from Now I've read this book, I want to read The Wave in the Mind.

After finishing Changing Planes, I started (and indeed finished) re-reading Garth Nix's Mister Monday. I had concluded, after reading Drowned Wednesday, that I could not remember enough of the details of the first two books to fully enjoy the third. I'm now part of the way through Grim Tuesday, and look forward to re-reading the third book with the first two fresh in my mind ! One thing I had forgotten was just how much fun Nix has with the concept of the Denizens of the House recording every last detail of everything that happens in the House itself or out in the "Secondary Realms" (ie the multiverse outside the House). And I love the idea of a character who used to work as a human thesaurus and who, when he's nervous, offers 6 variations on a word in a sentence, such as "Don't worry, I'm not a snitch, tattletale, dobber, blabberer, squealer, fink, or, indeed, easy-mouth [...]" !

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