17. Emery, Clayton. Final Sacrifice (Magic: the Gathering) (312 p.)
18. Anderson, Poul, Greg Bear, Gregory Benford, David Brin, Kancy Kress, and Frederick Pohl. Murasaki (290 p.)
19. Moon, Elizabeth. Remnant Population (339 p.)
20. Miller, Frank. Ronin (302 p.)
April total: 1,243 pages
2012 total: 5,686 pages
Finally finished re-reading Emery's M:tG trilogy. It's... okay, with a fairly predictable twist. Fun to see some 3rd edition & Antiquities cards come to life, as it were, but that's about all there is to say about it.
Murasaki is relatively hard sci-fi from a group of Nebula winners. I found it underwhelming, and an example of how, while shared world-building can lay out the groundwork and hooks for some amazing stories, shared writing of the "everyone writes one short story/chapter" typically results in overall stories that don't quite hit those heights. I found the basic concept very interesting, and the stories by Pohl & Poul--the first two written, by the team that created the milieu--are the strongest and most interesting, I think. I kept waiting for it to build into something that would knock my socks off, but while individual stories may have come close to that, with the tension level totally resetting as each author took over the overarching storyline, it never did overall. The science and scientific theory was interesting, but the story was just sort of there.
Remnant Population on the other hand, did grab my interest and refuse to let go, and I'm not even in the primary audience. How many science fiction books can you count where the main character--and for half the book, the only character--is a 70-year-old down-to-earth farmer's wife? It's all the more fun that she ends up being the agent of first contact with a newly discovered alien species. I've read better (and better from Moon), but this is still very much worth reading; much more so than Murasaki is. Also (esp. for sigma7), it has owl-like humanoid aliens on the cover--though the actual description in the book isn't that similar to any Earthly species of bird.
I've somehow managed to go this long without ever having read Ronin. It's good. It's very good. But it's also very confusing over large chunks of the story (only somewhat intentionally so), though previous experience with 60's/70's-era Heavy Metal comics and/or European sci-fi comics from that period can help one to follow the story's path. The artwork benefits from a very obvious Moebius influence (maybe also Bilal and some other Metal Hurlant types), and the characters aren't nearly as deformed to the point of caricature as they often are in Miller's more recent work (including the new cover to the special edition that came out a few years ago), but most of the character have still been beaten with the ugly stick, and the artwork doesn't always explain the action as well as it should, particularly at the end. I think that, among Miller's other work from that period, The Dark Knight Returns and his run just previous to this on Daredevil are both better, but this is still good. Though perhaps it was better back when it came out, as the "grim 'n' gritty comics" trend was only just starting to get off the ground than it is now that that fad has come, exploded, imploded, and been integrated into the new normal.
Feudalism: Serf & Turf