Sunday, March 22, 2009

Clean code, modern life, maelstrom, mainspring and steampunk

Review backlog to clear. Let's keep it short.

"Clean Code", by "Uncle" Bob Martin, is a manual for programmers that
care about their craft. I went to one of his tutorials at JAOO last
year in Sydney
, where he successfully explained the Liskov
Substitution Principle to us. Lots of good advice in this one, and
I'll be recommending it to all my minions.

"This Modern Life" is the third in Steph Swainston's series of books
that started with "The Year of Our War". As always, interesting,
different and exciting fantasy, with a little sneaking in of SF via
the backdoor.

"Maelstrom", by Peter Watts, is the second of his three (maybe four)
Rifters books. Lenie Clarke rampages across America, spreading a
deadly microbe in her wake. Good stuff, with plenty to think about
like all good SF.

"Mainspring", by Jay Lake, a master of short fiction. I was hoping for
great things from this story, and while the world he has built is
original and interesting, the main character is just a tool for the
plot to happen to. His decisions were dictated by what the author
wanted to happen next instead of feeling like natural choices. Second
half of the book contains altogether far too much hot monkey sex
action for my liking (which is saying something).

"Steampunk", another anthology from Ann and Jeff Vandermeer, is like
most collections of short stories a bit hit-and-miss. The great
stories (a newt masquerades as Queen Victoria; a golem-maker staving
off the end of the human race; the fall of the Russian Empire
witnessed by its omniscient computer) are well worth the price of


  1. OK, that's weird. I'm a huge fan of Peter Watts, but you don't see a lot of Rifters reviews floating around.

    And in answer to the (sort of) question: it's a 3 book series, but the publisher made him break the last one (Behemoth) in two, so it's published as 4 (maybe only in paperback...don't remember for sure). It keeps getting better, too! Great series. Watts is a friggin' (scary) genius.

    But the weird part...I'd probably not even have noticed that name in the title of the post, but 'Mainspring' DID catch my eye, since I literally just walked in the door from the bookstore with it on the top of the list of the books I was going to look for reviews for.

    I had noticed it, thought it looked interesting, but since I hadn't heard of it, I wanted some other opinions. Good comments there. I'll have to think about it now.

    Pretty lucky to bump into that. Thanks, Gareth!

  2. Blindsight by Watts is also pretty amazing.

    Mainspring is, I think, Jay Lake's first novel-length outing. His short stuff is routinely awesome, so maybe the subsequent books set in the Mainspring universe will be better.