Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Dust Cover Dust-Up 2015: Round One, Part Nine

Spook by Mary Roach vs. Rule 34 by Charles Stross

Another easy choice in the first round. Phew! I was not a huge fan of Roach - it felt very surface-level and used logical fallacies to dismiss ideas. I was quite sure better and more complete arguments could have been made. In the other corner, we have another Charles Stross book that I quite enjoyed, this one about the emergence of a conspiracy that appears to be killing spammers. Fun mysteries wrapped up in computer enigmas.

Winner: Rule 34

Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi vs. Annabel by Kathleen Winter

This is a weirdly difficult choice. On the one hand, we have pure fun science fiction. Not deep, not heavy, just plain old-fashioned fun about an agent in Hollywood who has to figure out how to make friendly but ugly and smelly aliens palatable to the human race. On the other hand, we have a more self-consciously literary look at someone who feels alien in the world, struggling with their place in a gendered system that they call into question by their very existence. It's a worthier book, I'm sure. I just...I really enjoyed Scalzi's book, while Annabel never quite caught me, and had a few things that were downright annoying. So, this feels like a weird choice, but I'm going with fun and light in this battle.

Winner: Agent to the Stars

Baby of the Family by Tina McElroy Ansa vs. 
Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Interesting. Both the novel and the anthology of short stories centre around legends brought to life, in very different ways. Some of the stories in the anthology were quite brilliant, and the overall quality was higher than I was expecting. However, I really enjoyed Baby of the Family. Ansa had created a work of domestic magical realism that I thought was quite impressive and certainly enjoyable. It would be hard for an anthology to beat out a good novel, and in this case, it doesn't.

Winner: Baby of the Family

Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres vs. Goliath by Scott Westerfeld

Huh. Neither of these books were ones I really liked, so it's one of those times that a book makes it to the second round just because at least I liked it better than the second option. In that case, it'll be Goliath. I wasn't a big fan of this series, but the Ellen book was just so entirely slight. At least the steampunk young adult had a plot. Neither is terrible, neither I hated. But both were entirely forgettable. On that scale, Goliath is slightly more memorable.

Winner: Goliath

Saga, Vol. 4 by Brian K. Vaughn vs. Flash and Bones by Kathy Reichs

I am just not a fan of Kathy Reichs. Her books are filled with product placement, and the mysteries not that involving. That this one took place at a NASCAR track, about which I do know a little bit, didn't end up helping. However, this volume of Saga felt like it relied a bit too much on false drama and people not talking to each other, which are two of my pet peeves. Still, there's a lot to like in this series, and I'm still onboard for more Saga. SF over mystery, no question.

Winner: Saga Vol. 4

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