Three for You

It’s not every day I’m quoted by NBC2 News, even if the bastids went the cheap route of using only six words. “Fair usage” indeed.

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Anyhow, my absence here has been all too obvious. The least (very least . . . trust me on this) I can do is repub three of my Library Journal reviews from earlier this year.



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The Municipalists
Seth Fried
ISBN: 9780143133735
Publisher: Penguin

Perhaps lightly inspired by Oscar Wilde’s proverbial “Life is far too important to take seriously,” Fried’s debut novel explores problems likely to affect everyone alive—and pokes predatory capitalism with a sharp stick. In near-future Suitland, agent Henry Thompson of the United States Municipal Survey performs efficiently despite the oppressive mutation of labor and everyday life. Shadowed by HQ in Metropolis (a city roughly the size of Rhode Island), and amid the daily churn of meetings covering infrastructure tweaks, 3-D projections of subway tunnels, and arguments over Rust Belt carbon emissions, Henry seems to thrive. When his middle-age station chief vanishes with the mayor’s eighteen-year-old daughter, the only thing worse might be a cyber-attack on OWEN, the company AI/supercomputer. Eerily handsome, OWEN’s blue-eyed avatar and his wise-cracking ways prove recoverable from the virus that—among other things—triggers a self-destruct code in employee cell phones.

Public outrage over the USMS drone fleet crashing into Metropolis’ buildings demands action: Henry and OWEN are covertly tasked with sussing out a major terrorist plot. Public institutions are attacked, and the two reluctantly confront conspiratorial players (and Esperanto) driven by a surprising nemesis.
The Municipalists
VERDICT: Will appeal to readers of darkly absurd science fiction à la Philip K. Dick, Charlie Jane Anders, and Warren Ellis.
[© Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc., New York City. No redistribution permitted.]




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Perihelion Summer
Greg Egan
ISBN: 9781250313782
Publisher: Tor

Egan (Phoresis) brings his reliably rigorous intelligence and—equally vital—its humane application to exploring the effects on Earth of a cosmic accident. Odds are against such massive-scaled events, but as the 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor/superbolide reminded us, probability and possibility are indifferent to life. Taraxippus, a black hole one-tenth the mass of the sun, enters the Solar System. Astronomers track it, and model potential gravitational effects on Earth’s orbit. And what of living things? Summers will be hotter, winters will be colder; crops will fail, as well as natural processes crucial to sustaining forests and reefs—within years. Comprehending such facts is wholly divorced from residing with their consequences, and Egan chronicles these effects by focusing on the team operating the Mandjet, a mobile aquaculture rig capable of providing its own food, water, and power. On the human scale, reactions range from denial to skepticism, resignation to suicide, a virtual Rorschach inkblot test. Egan’s mastery shines in characterization, where even four gun-toting hijackers succumb to dread and, ultimately, their better selves.COVER_PERIHELION_SUMMER

VERDICTPerihelion Summer’s mix of science, adventure, and philosophical probing of extinction will likely appeal to readers of Nnedi Okorafor, Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, Louise Erdrich and others who create complex sociological/environmental scenarios.
[© Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc., New York City. No redistribution permitted.]


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Interviews from the Edge: 50 Years of Conversations About Writing and Resistance
Mark Yakich and John Biguenet, editors
ISBN: 9781501347450
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic

New Orleans Review editors Yakich (2012- ) and Biguenet (1980-1992) select interviews from that international journal ranging across 50 years. Akin to the iconic profiles collected over decades in The Paris Review, this volume is distinguished by its focus on both the subjects’ artistic output and personal engagement with racism, sexism, capital punishment, plus the dangerous confrontations commonly experienced during (and after) their documentation on page and screen alike.

Eudora Welty asserts—in 1978—that simply because a writer might be perceived as “marginal” or otherwise subjected to various forms of bigotry, there ought not exist an implicit obligation to explore, or even respond to, social movements. Readers frequently, Welty laments, project their own misandry onto her often extravagant, humorous dialogue. James Baldwin expresses a preference for using himself as a witness, rather than an example, to the sufferings of others beaten down under oppressive systems, who either cannot speak or cannot be heard. Anäis Nin, with lyrical insight into the human condition circa 1976, frankly admits favoring journal entries over the powerfully alluring fictive work that earned her acclaim. She waxes eloquent about friendship with Henry Miller, the profound value of creative—and everyday—imagination’s role in creating maps to navigate emotional and intellectual geographies: signposts to benevolent evolution.


VERDICT: These unusually candid conversations with Ernest J. Gaines, Christopher Isherwood, Jorge Luis Borges, Francine Prose, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Lina Wertmüller and 15 more perspectives on aesthetics and the realities of resistance will appeal both to writers and readers.
[© Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc., New York City. No redistribution permitted.]


Bass Communion: Sisters Oregon (Side B) [2017]

Bass Communion

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