Books: Friday Roundup

I've got bacon in my belly, a book on my lap and some blankets on my legs. Life is good.
So good, in fact, I almost forgot to write up this week's Friday Roundup. Gasp! We can't let that happen now, can we?
So without further ado we present this week's (admittedly) small list.

The Stand, Stephen King. Yup, it's the book readers either love or hate. King's epic novel about a post apocalyptic world struggling to get by in the wake of a deadly virus that killed off 99.6% of mankind.
Love it, hate it, whatever. At least we can all agree on one thing -- at 1,000+ pages, this book is a freakin' behemoth.
Not that that is really a bad thing. Like King says in the introduction, one could tell the story of Hansel and Gretel in a paragraph, but where's the fun in that? The life of a story is in the details, man. And The Stand has details galore.
I'm only a little over 300 pages in so as of right now I can't say yet whether I fall into the "loved it" or "hated camp." I'm a huge fan of King's short fiction, "The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates" (F&SF October/November 2008), being one of my favorite stories of the past year, but the jury's still out on whether the epic scale of The Stand is going to leave me feeling satisfied or really, really drained.
If nothing else, I will say that King's writing does make for great summertime reading. And despite the fact that The Stand took about 200 pages to really get rolling, I'll tenatively say that I'm falling more into the "loved it" camp, at least for now, anyway.

(UPDATE: I finished this over the summer. I loved it. What's that? You hated it? OK, cool. Move along.)

"The Motorman's Coat," John Kessel (F&SF, June/July 2009) - In a world without coats, one man ...
No seriously, that's the premise. Two hundred or so years into the future all the cool kids are chasing after relics from earth's renaissance and industrial ages to show off how awesome they are at being awesomely wealthy. One man specializes in procuring said items, but when business begins to falter, he takes it upon himself to save his shop of forgotten sundries by purchasing a Checzh motorman's coat crafted in 1911. Said purchase stirs the town into a frenzy, but *gasp* the sale may not be all that it seems. There's also an awkward love plot sandwiched in there somewhere.
I really didn't get this story. The plot, while mildly interesting all fell apart under what I considered to be a terribly underwhelming conclusion. I dunno, pick it up if you're a fan of speculative coat fiction, I guess. Does that genre even exisit? Probably.

"Corona Centurion™ FAQ," Terry Bisson (F&SF, June/July 2009) - Bisson's Q&A piece is too short for me to describe in any detail without spoiling, but suffice it to say it reminded me very much of Ruth Nestvold's "Mars: A Traveler's Guide." And since that story was nominated for a Nebula Award this year, I'd say Bisson's story is in good company. Concise and punchy, "FAQ" left me wanting more -- a lot more, actually ...

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