Anansi Boys

Anansi BoysAnansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

You’d think that the premise of Anansi Boys — that the old gods are still alive and interacting with humanity in unusual ways — would be tired, and that several of the plot elements in this novel (I won’t give them away) would be clichéd. However, Gaiman, in his usual way, manages to breathe fresh life into these elements and the premise and create a mythology which is relevant and entertaining, while telling a story which is essentially about identity, brotherhood, and about finding one’s father. The pace of the novel is quick, but I didn’t feel cheated at the end in any way. Gaiman’s use of humor — some of the passages I laughed out loud at and shared with my wife — is, in some ways, very typically British and reminiscent of Terry Pratchett. Bill Bryson, and Douglas Adams (I was, at times, reminded of The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul).

Strongly recommended.

Contrary Brin and the Officer Corp

One of my favorite science fiction writers and pundits, David Brin, has an interesting post which, in addition to vehicle design for the military and his annoyance with gerrymandering, talks about the purging of the officer corps in the modern military. It’s worth a peek. I haven’t been seeing many examples of this purging, but that may be because I’ve been actively avoiding the news of late.

But if the upper echelons of our military are being purged of competent officers, well, then, that explains why the Balkans and Afghanistan were fairly successful while Iraq seems to be much longer and more drawn out than had been expected.