Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Willful Creatures, Aimee Bender

Title: Willful Creatures
Author: Aimee Bender
Rating: OK

Willful Creatures is a collection of short stories by Aimee Bender. These came highly recommended and I was looking forward to reading this volume. Sadly, though, they didn't stick with me.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy reading them. I did, in a way, but life has been busy and now, just a few weeks later, I cannot remember any of them without flipping the book open to renew my memory.

What I do recall from reading the book is that the behavior and motivations of the characters seemed rather arbitrary. I know these are short stories so I don't expect the kind of character development I'd get in a novel, but then again I do expect to see something, some explanation for what they do or why they do it. That was lacking.

The situations were interesting - they must have been or I would have abandoned the book - but there was something lacking in the motivations that kept me from being sucked in as deeply as I might have otherwise.

I suspect that Bender has a consistent style. If you've read other works by her and liked them it is likely you will like this. Alternately if you didn't like her other works, then you probably won't appreciate this one much. If you're not sure, reading it won't cost you much time - it is a quick read, and most stories are very short - and you can make up your own mind. For me, I think I am done with Bender's short fiction. It's not bad, but there is lot that I would rather read.

Three Fafhrd And The Gray Mouser books, Fritz Leiber

Three Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser books
Fritz Leiber

These are the first three in the Fafhrd And The Gray Mouser series by Fritz Leiber:
  1. Swords And Devilty
  2. Swords Against Death
  3. Swords In the Mist
These are fluff, pure and simple, though they are somewhat fun fluff. After reading all three of these books none of the characters except Fafhrd and the Mouser themselves are at all memorable, but that's OK. Each has a magical advisor/nemesis as well - one with seven eyes, I recall - but I can't tell you their names nor which goes with which main character.

I found the plots somewhat thin and the resolutions somewhat weak, but that really didn't bother me. I think reading these books is about the atmospherics. Many of the tropes of fantasy are present in them - a thieves guild, mysterious mages of unspeakable power, strange events, etc.

The most disappointing thing about these books is how much action takes place off stage. It seems that Leiber is always telling us that there were other adventures that the heroes have been on that set the stage for what they're seeing and doing now, but we never hear about those adventures except for the sentence telling us they happened.

These are not great literature, but they are kind of fun. I might read more - there are seven or eight, at least, in the series - or I might not. Time will tell.