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Which Books Are You Reading?, 2/19/2010

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  • William C. Garthright
    ... I just finished Migration (2005) by Julie E. Czerneda, the second book in her Species Imperative trilogy. I know I sound like a broken record, since
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 19 9:58 AM
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      > Which books are you reading this week? Are you enjoying them?

      I just finished "Migration" (2005) by Julie E. Czerneda, the second book
      in her "Species Imperative" trilogy. I know I sound like a broken
      record, since I've been reading one book after another by her, but she
      just impresses me more and more all the time. This trilogy is her best
      work yet, as far as I'm concerned. I can't understand why these books
      weren't nominated for a Hugo or Nebula Award. Really, I like them that
      much. (And IMHO, they'd be a lot more suitable than John Scalzi's books,
      which always seem to be nominated. Yes, his books are entertaining, but
      nothing more than that. Don't you need something more than that to be
      considered of award-winning caliber?)

      There's a lot of humor in this book, despite the desperate danger (not
      just the Earth is at risk - all of humanity, in fact - but other species
      as well). And it's filled with weird aliens, which I love. The aliens
      are people, too - generally people you can really like, despite their
      weird biologies. (Hmm,... this brings to mind something that really
      deserves its own post,... eventually. But isn't that what great science
      fiction does, give us lots of things to think and talk about?)

      The mechanism of this great danger isn't overly plausible, perhaps, but
      it's a lot more plausible than it seemed in the first book. There's so
      much that isn't as it seems at first. The second book makes some things
      more clear, but I'm not going to assume that I know what's really going
      on until I finish the last one. But the implausibility didn't bother me
      in the first book (I took it as a premise), though I still enjoyed
      seeing some of that explained in the second one.

      What are the flaws? Well, they're both very long books - more than 500
      pages each - and they both take their time getting going. However, I had
      absolutely no problem staying interested (and this from a guy who has no
      patience at all). In the first book, I wondered about the slow
      beginning, especially the hero's interaction with the guy she calls
      "Oversight" - Charles Mudge III. Was that really necessary? Well, he
      shows up as a major character in this one, so I guess it was (and it's
      interesting to see a guy who seems to be all flaws at first turn out to
      have some very admirable qualities).

      All in all, I really can't say that the length of these books is a flaw.
      The hero's love for the natural world - and her fascination with
      everything - is pretty important to the story. We get to see that,
      rather than just be told about it. Furthermore, this is a problem
      calling out for understanding. Others are working on weapons and
      defenses, but she and her team are scientists. They have an intense
      desire to UNDERSTAND what's going on, and unsurprisingly, that proves to
      be the correct approach. And the story is very much character-based,
      another thing I love.

      Czerneda's other books (I've read most, but not all of them) have been
      very entertaining, too. But I can't say that they were really serious
      science fiction. They were basically soap opera - which I really enjoy,
      don't get me wrong. But this trilogy (so far, at least) is more than
      that. It's just as entertaining, but it's more serious, too. I'm anxious
      to get to the third book. I really hope that it's as good as the first two!


      If the kind of God exists who would damn me for not working out a deal
      with him, then that is unfortunate. I should not care to spend eternity
      in the company of such a person. - Mary McCarthy
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