I am busy like a busy thing today, in a frenzy of freelancing and editing and other things, so I can’t do a nice fully-formed (or even half-baked) essay like I’ve done the past few weeks. So here’s what you get: some book recommendations.
I’ve been reading the late Donald Westlake’s “Dortmunder” novels lately — comic crime novels about the perennially hapless (but always one step ahead of total disaster) master thief John Dortmunder. There are a lot of books about the character, and in the past couple of weeks I’ve read the first, The Hot Rock (about a jewel heist gone hilariously wrong), the third, Jimmy the Kid (more of a novella, really, about a kidnapping that doesn’t go quite according to plan), and a couple of the later ones, Bad News (which involves several stolen corpses) and What’s So Funny? (about a rare and precious chess set). They’re funny, compulsively readable, and make me want to write a series character. Er, another one. Honestly, they make me want to write crime novels, though I don’t know how good I’d be at it. Certainly not as good as Westlake was.
China Miéville’s The City & The City has a brilliant premise — I won’t explain it here, because figuring out what the hell is going on is part of the fun — executed very well, and it’s something really different for Miéville, essentially a police procedural murder mystery with additional layered weirdnesses.
Walter Jon Williams’s Implied Spaces is the first (and possibly only) Sword and Singularity novel, a great weird gonzo thing with ogres and artificial intelligences and brain-hijacking technology and inhuman priests devoted to evil gods. Oh, and a talking cat, but it’s not an annoying talking cat.
I’ve read a few other things in the past month, but those are the ones I liked best. Check ’em out.