Books read in November 2012

SilverstjärnanPeter Ekberg: Uppdrag Silverstjärnan.(Mission Silver Star.)

An entertaining YA generation star ship story with a charming teenage girl as central character. The Silver Star is another star ship that comes close and is contacted, and this and the other experiences on board are exciting. The characters and their relations are quite believable, but only under the assumption that there have been no changes during the 8000 years of travel.

OsamaLavie Tidhar: Osama.

A very original and deeply satisfying use of the alternate world-theme. Superficially the story is about a private detective who tries to find the author of a series of cheap thrillers describing terror deeds which are well-known in our world, like the fall of the Twin Towers. In his world there is no terrorism and the world is slightly different from ours also in many other respects. Places in Paris and London are nicely described, and contain small changes like a disused underground station below British Museum. The humorous description of a convention for fans of the author of the thrillers has special interest for sf fans since many details felt really familiar. We discussed this book in our book club and had interpreted the book in different ways. To me it was primarily a book about the reading experience – the story with the private detective is (of course) fiction, and the reality was the one described in the thrillers. The story might also be a dream induced by opium, since this occurred in the book. Others considered it to be a classical parallel-world story with some leakage between the worlds, e g the “fugitives” or “fuzzy-wuzzies” which sometimes “almost” appeared, and the agents who imprisoned the detective. It might also be a close-to-death experience since the word Nangilima came floating to him when he was imprisoned. Nangilima is the realm of the dead in Astrid Lindgren’s Bröderna Lejonhjärta (The Brothers Lionheart). An ideal sf book – easy and engaging to read but with unclear relation to reality and stimulating to thoughts.

TowersOfUtopiaMack Reynolds: The Towers of Utopia.

This detective sf story from 1975 describes life in huge high-rises in the year 2000, where almost everyone lives on “negative income tax”. The story is driven by an investigation into murder and theft, but what is mainly interesting is the description of this future society. Apart from some misogynist jokes and fairly shallow characters it was rewarding to read.

j-t-mcintosh-snow-white-and-the-giantsJ. T. McIntosh: Snow White and the Giants.

Beautiful and healthy time-travellers from the future appear in a small English town in order to save someone from a devastating conflagration, thereby changing the future. The hero of the 1968 story is an insurance seller who gets blamed for parts of the disaster. I liked the British atmosphere although this hardly was a good sf story, and at least the part dealing with the conflagration was too long.

Jenin 2012Susan Abulhawa: Morgon i Jenin. (Mornings in Jenin.)

A successful dramatisation of the history of Palestine from the al-nakba 1948 to the massacre in the refugee camp in Jenin. Sometimes a little sentimental but mainly moving and engaging, and with at least some understanding also of the Jewish occupants. The story follows a Palestinian family through generations but concentrating on a girl who grows up in Palestine, goes to USA for studies and also returns to the west bank.

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