Friday, September 15, 2017
I'm generally in favor of pop philosophy, because ultimately philosophy is always worth talking about. In this book, essayist Chuck Klosterman tries his hand at actually following the cliché "question everything." If you can take it as the low-key conversation that it's meant to be, it's enjoyable. Klosterman is at his best when he talks about music and movies, which is his wheelhouse -- he used to write for Spin, after all. When he veers into science and history, his status as an outsider means that he's more interviewing others than thinking on his own. Not much original in those sections. The one thing I'd like to propose is that an area that's too overlooked now that may produce works of future importance is an area that Klosterman himself overlooks: theology. It basically gave us Sufjan Stevens and I know there's more artists like him who could be discovered. But my point is that this is an interesting question to ask from anyone's perspective, and if more people ask this same question the way that Klosterman does, or in more depth, I would welcome that.
Saturday, September 9, 2017
(Spoiler-free review) In the six books of The Expanse so far, we've been through every subgenre of sci-fi that I can imagine. Babylon's Ashes mixes in extra doses of political intrigue and genuinely thrilling space battles. It's the details that really make it sing, and the humor. One political chapter is just a minor character going through a series of meetings, but it may be my favorite talky chapter since The Council of Elrond. Another involves a minor scientist character under interrogation whose courage provokes a surprise. The climax is so well-plotted that it takes a scenario that in the hands of another writer might be a letdown, and then turns it into a set of cliffhangers that kept me up hours past my bedtime. This book is mostly concerned with wrapping up the second trilogy of Expanse books, and doesn't have the major turnarounds of most other books, so it's average for the series, which means that somehow, after six books, this story is still excellent and far above comparable fast-reading realistic sci-fi.