Books conquered during the holiday resting season: "Learning the World" by Ken MacLeod, "The Crack in Space" by Philip K. Dick, and "Washington Wines and Wineries: The Essential Guide" by Paul Gregutt.
- Learning the World by Ken MacLeod. A first contact novel. Or rather, a pre-first contact novel. Enjoyable, but I was left wishing that the characters were more fleshed out. Also [SEMI SPOILER ALERT] notable for its use of the increasingly common "universitas ex machina." You know what I mean: "universitas ex machina" is where parallel universes/the multiverse are used as a nice escape from writing an actual ending (tough to be fair, MacLeod's ending only partially relies on this technique.)
- The Crack in Space by Philip K. Dick. Presidential politics, a path to a new universe, and a world overpopulated and highly segregated sounds like good fodder for a PKD novel. This one, however, isn't up to Dick's normal standards. It's just not paranoid enough, nor is it crazy enough (although a two bed mutant running an orbiting brothel is pretty damn crazy.) At this point, I think I've read almost all of the really "good" PKD novels, and am stuck in that "must read his entire canon" mode. But that withstanding has anyone read the new recently re-released main stream PKD novels? Seeing as how one of my favorites of Dick was "The Transmigration of Timothy Archer," I'm hopeful that they might not be so bad.
- Washington Wines and Wineries: The Essential Guide by Paul Gregutt. History of Washington wineries, a unique rating system for Washington wines, and some insight into where Washington wines are going. Gregutt really seems to know his stuff. Now if only I can get my hands on some of the wines he points to!
"But that withstanding has anyone read the new recently re-released main stream PKD novels? "
It's been 15 or 20 years since I've read them, but I recall that Milton Lumky was pretty good and Humpty Dumpty in Oakland was okay. The Broken Bubble, Mary and the Giant, and The Man Whose Teeth were All Exactly Alike were also good. Mostly they were fine but not quite up to his best sf; the best of them was easily Confessions of a Crap Artist.
I think I'll have to pick up Milton Lumky. Confessins of a Crap Artist was indeed good.