41. Martin, George R.R., ed. Ace in the Hole (Wild Cards, bk. 6) (385 p.)
42. Asprin, Robert. Myth-ion Improbable (198 p.)
43. Asprin, Robert. Something M.Y.T.H. Inc. (203 p.)
44. Christie, Agatha. The Mirror Crack'd (148 p.)
45. Christie, Agatha. A Caribbean Mystery (114 p.)
46. Christie, Agatha. Nemesis (146 p.)
47. Christie, Agatha. What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw! (146 p.)
48. Christie, Agatha. The Body in the Library (96 p.)
49. Christie, Agatha. Thirteen at Dinner (127 p.)
50. Christie, Agatha. The ABC Murders (129 p.)
51. Christie, Agatha. Cards on the Table (121 p.)
52. Sakai, Stan. Return of the Black Soul (Usagi Yojimbo, bk. 24) (189 p.)
53. Cook, Hugh. The Wordsmiths & the Warguild (Chronicles of an Age of Darkness, v. 2) (202 p.)
August total: 2,204 pages
2010 total: 13,962 pages
Can you tell my computer was dead for more than a week?
With Ace in the Hole, I've reached the end of the run of Wild Cards books I have. I own one more novel, but it's somewhere around book 10, and after this one and given the summary on the back cover of the other, I think I'm done with Wild Cards. I'm just not seeing the stories and story payoffs I want to see, and there's far too much story padding and hero setbacks that serve no purpose other than to prolong the story another hundred pages, there's too much focus on characters I really don't want to read about (and the stories don't make me reconsider that position), and too little on the characters I do want to read more about and what there is tends to ruin them as characters. In short, I'm just not enjoying them enough to want to make the effort to actively seek out volumes 7-9 and 11 and up, nor even skip ahead and just read book 10.
These two Myth Adventures books were Asprin's attempts to get back to solo writing with these characters and finish off the series. They aren't as good as his earlier solo volumes--one can tell that he was very rusty and not quite back in the groove--but they're actually pretty decent reads, all things considered. I'm glad he got a chance to write them, though, and I wish we could get an animated TV series of the original novels, with art done in Phil Foglio's original illustration style (as opposed to his current style, which isn't all that different, but just doesn't have quite the same feel to me as the (g)olden days).
There are five Miss Marple and three Hercule Poirot mysteries in that batch of Christies. Of the Marples, I think Nemesis is probably the best, followed by A Caribbean Mystery (appropriate, since the stories are tangentally related). Given the setup of Nemesis--Miss Marple is asked to solve a mystery, but then is told absolutely nothing about it, including where in the world to start looking for cluse--I wasn't sure if the ending would live up to the wild setup, but I think, by and large, Christie succeeded. I think it may even be solvable by the reader before the reveal, which right there puts it head and shoulders above most of the rest of these.
Of the Poirots, the ABC Murders is the most well-known, and it was generally pretty good, but I think it was missing more than a few clues. I think Thirteen at Dinner was the only one of all of these that was even remotely solvable by the reader, and even that withheld important details until the end. And, except for the victim (a "Mr. Shaitana" who thinks it's cute to dress up and act like Mephistopheles -groan-), the setup & execution of Cards on the Table intrigued me right up until the final reveal, at which point I think Dame Agatha changed her mind and simply picked one of the other characters at random, then shoehorned in new clues and motives to make the ending fit what had been revealed to that point. Very annoying.
I picked up the Hugh Cook book (along with v. 3 & 4) back when my library was moving out of its old building in order to build the current one, at which time they threw out probably a quarter to a third (if not more) of its fantasy & sci-fi collection. I'd never heard of this series, and didn't quite know what to expect, but I'm rather enjoying it so far.
This particular volume reads a little bit like Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams writing humorous gritty/low fantasy rather than humorous high fantasy or science fiction, respectively. It's sort of a travelogue as the main character makes a half-hearted attempt at a quest and gets buffeted about the world by events largely out of his control, and the author doesn't spare the snark nor the silliness in his descriptions of characters, places, and histories.
However, unlike Discworld or HHGttG, that snarky-silly humor is not a hallmark of the series, as v. 3 isn't really humorous at all (being an exploration of a female slave trying to improve her lot in an empire based very loosely on a low-fantasy version of the Mongol Horde), and v. 4 (so far, anyway), seems to be more of a rollicking, swashbuckling adventure with a wise-cracking protagonist. So three books set in the same world with overlapping time frames, with three very different tones, and yet all enjoyable (so far, for v. 4) in their own right. From what I can pick up, v. 1 is apparently about low-fantasy wizards who use nuclear energy theorems for their spells, which sounds a bit cracktastic.
Feudalism: Serf & Turf