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The Powell's Playlist | August 6, 2014

Graham Joyce: IMG The Powell’s Playlist: Graham Joyce



The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit is set on the English coast in the hot summer of 1976, so the music in this playlist is pretty much all from the... Continue »
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Customer Comments

Elizabeth Thomas has commented on (4) products.

Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bacigalupi
Pump Six and Other Stories

Elizabeth Thomas, January 1, 2013

Paolo Bacigalupi knows how to tell a good yarn with interesting characters and rich, vivid environments. He can write dark and gritty stories or imaginative stories more grounded in the real world than one would expect from how outrageous the concepts seem. Although this collection has been out for a few years, PUMP SIX AND OTHER STORIES was one of the best books I read in 2012 full of a lot of great science fiction, fantasy, and other evocative stories. This collection was a great read, and I'm looking forward to checking out his novel THE WINDUP GIRL, set in the same world as one of the stories in this collection.
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Sky Coyote (Company) by Kage Baker
Sky Coyote (Company)

Elizabeth Thomas, December 29, 2012

The second novel in Kage Baker's delightful Company series has enough context that it could probably be read without reading the first in the series *The Garden of Iden* (although fans of Mendoza will probably get more out of the references to her if they have read the first). This story is from Joseph's point of view, and the operative (an immortal built in the past but working for people of the future) takes on the character of Sky Coyote in order to collect and save an entire Chumash native village from a time period of not recorded history in an area that will be the future California. Great world building with a lot of fun characters and Baker's contagious wit -- I'm looking forward to reading more of this series.
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A Clockwork Orange (Norton Critical Editions) by Anthony Burgess
A Clockwork Orange (Norton Critical Editions)

Elizabeth Thomas, August 12, 2012

I read *A Clockwork Orange* mostly unspoiled, without any idea about the plot and a vague memory that someone had told me Kubrick's film was difficult to understand. The high level of graphic violence in the first part of the book was a shock to me. While all of the violence and rape is described in the near-futuristic slang of the book called "Nadsat," I have always been good at picking up different dialects and didn't feel the language truly shielded me from the horror of the events that the very young Alex was orchestrating. It was all I could do to move on to parts 2 and 3 of the book that involve Alex's subsequent imprisonment and the interesting sequence of adventures that ensue when he convinces the authorities to use him as test subject for a state-sponsored reformation program called "The Ludovico Technique." The program messes with Alex's mind and neuters his spark, removing both his ability to commit violence but also accidentally his ability to enjoy music. Aside from some of the playful words Burgess coins in "Nadsat" and the interesting parallelism in the novel, it is in the philosophical questions that arise about free will and whether or not the rest of society isn't just as brutal as Alex, in their own way, that are the strongest points of this book. This edition includes Burgess' final twenty-first chapter which was excluded from the American edition, and while I see what he was trying to say with it, I unfortunately found it unbelievable as the turn doesn't follow naturally if you are paying attention to Alex's true character. Norton's critical edition is definitely worth all of the additional commentary and analyses that provide a context of the different ways that the novel (and Kubrick's film) have been reviewed and interpreted.
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Distraction by Bruce Sterling
Distraction

Elizabeth Thomas, August 4, 2012

Bruce Sterling's 1998 novel *Distraction* was highly recommended to me by a friend who absolutely loved this book and thought since I'm a science fiction fan I might like it, too. Where *Distraction* really shines is that the number of plausible and implausible near-future ideas that Sterling crams into this novel -- particularly fascinating to me where some of the futuristic architecture ideas and the "proles," groups of people banded together by social network reputation ranking systems. While the characters, plot, and prose don't always hold up in *Distraction*, the sheer number of ideas and bizarre series of events kept me engaged throughout the book. Some of Sterling's observations absolutely have come true in some form or another, and his observations about the possible effect of political and scientific trends are thought-provoking. I also liked the attention to environment and his focus on setting parts of the novel in geographical regions that don't always get the near-future science fiction treatment.
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