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The Ketchup (catch up, get it?) Council

OK, I'm VASTLY behind on book reviews so will have to sum up ("Let me explain...No, there is no time -- let me sum up"). So: four tonight and (if all goes well and the goddess of motivation smiles on me) four tomorrow.

Nightlights, a Twilight parody. Meh. Hilarious bit at the beginning spoofing Bella's klutziness -- which was a major gripe of mine in the first book, it was made such a major deal I assumed that at a minimum she would turn out to have some degenerative neurological condition -- and a very funny bit where she thinks she's meeting Edvart's parents but he turns out have some kind of address dyslexia and went to the wrong house. Other than that, not very clever.

No Blade of Grass (U.S. title), a revisit but just as good on the fourth or fifth re-read as the first. A British (therefore stiff-upper-lippy) post-apocalypse novel, in which the Chung-Li virus destroys all grasses on the planet and a small band of friends and family must fight their way from London to an idyllic (defensible) valley in Wales. Not quite so I'm-the-man-and-I-will-save-you as Alas Babylon, but more intense in that the effects are immediate rather than remote. Alas, Babylon has a very unrealistic view of survivable nuclear war; Grass gives us a world that's truly dead, no arguments, no way to stop it, and very impersonally since it's a virus. I can't believe they haven't made this into a movie yet, it has all the elements of a fantastic high-concept SF flick. They'd have to do something to update the female roles but other than that all the pieces are in place.

Bible Stories for Adults by James Morrow. Not bad but didn't wow me. The first story (unless I've missed something) seems to suggest that the Chinese are descended from a diseased whore who escaped the Biblical Deluge. I can only hope I've misread that one. The rest are quite fun -- quirky, irreverent, pointed critiques of religion which I always love (being a pagan or possibly an atheist, depending on the news). Asimov would like them, I think, as several of them employ robots to prove the essential inhumanity of mankind. I especially liked 'Spelling God with the Wrong Blocks," in which a bunch of Creationist robots burn Darwinian heretics at the stake and await the Great Genital Coming (no pun intended, I'm sure). Morrow also wrote Towing Jehovah, in which God dies and his body gets towed south by a barge, and Only Begotten Daughter, in which Jesus has a sister, both of which I highly recommend.

Mystery of Grace by Charles de Lint. Sadly, this disappointed me. Not entirely -- not in the writing or characters (Grace the grease monkey, love her!) which are both elegant as always, and the resolution (involving Mexican bruja traditions and faith in the saints) was appropriate and well done, as I've come to expect from Monsieur de Lint. I liked the idea that Grace and John (not to mention the evil witch in the penthouse) have to learn to let go of some things, but the fact that Grace had no interest in moving on until John dies in a car accident?? Not right. This clinging of the dead to the living is proved to be wrong within the story itself -- it's precisely that reluctance to move on, to let go that has trapped Grace and everyone else in this kind of Twilight Zone. If Grace had fought her fight before John died she would have had more...integrity. She and John both would have achieved their epiphany, their release. As it stands, because he dies she ends up resolving things so she can join him, not because she realizes she has to give him up. It feels like a cheat, almost. So it's OK, but not his best.

Wow. I'm tired now.

oops, bad coding...better now...



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