• Recent Reads

    Recent Reads: Science in the Capital Trilogy

    I’ve just finished reading (for the 3rd time, according to my fairly exhaustive reading list) Kim Stanley Robinson’s Science in the Capital trilogy.

    I love this series; I loved it the first time I read it and I think it’s improved with the re-reads. It’d been about five years since I read them last, and I’d forgotten huge swaths of storyline and mentally revised at least one into something that totally didn’t happen. I had not forgotten, and was struck again, by the strength of the nature writing; reading this series has always reminded me of Whitman’s Song of Myself in both its strengths and weaknesses. It’s musical, lyrical, mystical, occasionally droning, repetitive and pedantic. It is not–still–an easy read, although it was much easier the third time than the first time, or even the first two times.

    Its dis-ease is still the major thing that breaks my heart about this series, because I think this is an incredibly important, optimistic, intelligent, brave and insightful series that basically everyone in the world should read, but I think it’s too hard for your average casual reader to connect with. It takes work, and that’s not a bad thing, but neither–if you’re trying to change the world–is it a good one.

    As always, inevitably, it makes me want to tackle my own climate change series. In, you know, my copious free time.

    That, however, is beside the point. What I particularly want to discuss is how in this re-read I was especially struck by the powerful, and I mean that both literally and figuratively, female characters in these books.

    This may get long, so I’m going to put it behind a cut.

  • Magician's Gambit, by David Eddings
    CEMurphy,  Recent Reads

    Recent Reads: MAGICIAN’S GAMBIT


    I had forgotten there were scenes and sections in MAGICIAN’S GAMBIT that were entirely from Ce’Nedra’s point of view. I knew there were in CASTLE OF WIZARDRY, but I had no recollection of it in MG.

    This endears the book(s) to me as an adult even more than as a teen. I was not one of those female readers who as a child felt left out because all the stories were about boys and I wasn’t a boy so therefore couldn’t relate. Yes, well, there wasn’t a magical passageway in my closet that led to Narnia, either, but somehow I soldiered on and managed to love and accept it anyway, you know? So I didn’t notice a lack of female protagonists in books I read, because none of these people were like me anyway.

    As an adult, however, I’m more aware of the imbalance, so I was completely delighted to (re)discover that Ce’Nedra’s status as a POV character–one of only two in the Belgariad, if I’m not mistaken–begins in book 3. That’s wonderful.

    One of the things I’m really enjoying in these re-reads is being reintroduced to a character and suddenly remembering their whole story. It’s a completely different kind of joy than discovering those stories for the first time: that’s pure adreneline-based adventure. This is the resurrection of old friendships, the reawakening of memories based not on scent or touch, but the shape of words on a page. I laughed out loud at poor Garion’s experiments with the Word and the Will in the Vale, having completely forgotten what he’d done to himself in that scene, and Relg’s appearance came as a splendid shock of oh!, because so much of his story came back to me in the moment I saw his name. It was wonderful.

    Also, this book has one of my favorite lines in the history of ever: “Does bouncing count?”

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