Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Permanent Flinch, Tinker so far, and lack of sleep

We're finally getting rain here--finally. It's a gray, rainy morning and I only got about four hours' sleep, so despite my massive caffeine intake, I still find myself staring out with the window with glazed eyes, listlessly humming "Don't Know Why." And yes, I'm at work. Apparently we have low standards for alertness here.

Why did I get four hours of sleep? Because I'm reading Tinker by Wen Spencer and I finally made myself put it down at about 11:30 pm, knowing if I stayed up any longer I'd end up staring out the window etc. But the book has hooked me so badly that I ended up not being able to sleep anyway, because I couldn't stop thinking about it. I should have just stayed up to read, but I'm only about halfway through and it is a pretty damn thick book.

So far I like it a lot, although it's SF and not fantasy (although the cover and the little word "fantasy" on the spine would pretend otherwise). It's much more intense and dark than I usually like my books. If you take a look at my recommended list over there, you'll see I tend to prefer lighter reading. Tinker reminds me a lot of Cherryh's Angel with a Sword, which I also liked although the ending infuriated me, to the point that I haven't read anything else by Cherryh. I certainly hope that this book doesn't let me down that badly.

Tinker is in the category of books that I read in a permanent flinch, because I just know Something Truly Awful is going to happen to the main character soon. Elizabeth Bear's writing is like that, which is why I have yet to finish one of her books. It's not that I want to read flavorless books where nothing much happens except that the protagonist Realizes Something Important somewhere around page 300. I think I just want the protagonist to be more than flotsam in the plotstream. Permanent-flinch books always seem to be about soulless societies (one way or another) and the Little Guy who's caught up in events beyond his or her control--and the events stay out of his/her control, no matter what he/she does, because it's a soulless society that doesn't care about the Little Guy.

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