Like many others, I have read a lot during the lockdown, though I have reread more than read new books. Partly because I am boycotting internet purchases, in order to help when it is possible the local stores. And partly because most of the books I have in the "To read" pile are books that do not attract me, which is why they are still there. Rereading requires less energy than reading and certain books are comforting these days of uncertainty. So I have read several books about that London I cannot visit (Ben Aaranovitch, Kate Griffin, China Mieville or Nick Harkaway).
Also as many others, I have been using the extra time to rearrange the book shelves, specially as I am donating books to a NGO that resells them for local projects, and I do not have enough space, so all books I am sure I will never reread again will go. That also has rediscovered many books to re-read, either because I miss them, or to decide if they have to go or remain. And also some books that I did not even know I had them, and that I had not read.
One of those is Joe Haldeman's Forever Peace, a non-sequel to his powerful, although somewhat dated, Forever War. Even though it is from 1997 it is still quite appropiate, with a North South insurgency war which the North fights only with drones and always in almost enemy territory,. I will not spoil the plot, though I found it weaker than the whole drone situation and how post-scarcity in part of the world would work, just now when many western countries are toying with universal income as a response to the economic fallout of the epidemic. Well written and thought provoking, but showing its age in some aspects. I liked more the set-up than the resolution.
Earlier I finished Ann Leckie's Provenance. Although it takes place in the same universe as the Ancillary books, this is a totally different book. Smaller in scope, focusing in several human cultures and an alien one, with an emphasis in people rather than politics and AIs as in the trilogy. Physically also the character is totally different, I could not help it but imagine the novel as an Audrey Hepburn romantic movie, full of misunderstandings but with most people inherently nice. As such, I really enjoyed the dialogues between the different cultures, and how they are not just transplanted earth stereotypes. The gender uncertainty is also played with in a fascinating way, though it is often difficult to follow. A nice short read, with believable cultures and a general positive attitude that is very refreshing.
I have also read Dale Furutani's Matsuyama Kaze trilogy (Death at the Crossroads, Jade Palace Vendetta and Kill the Shogun), that I had in omnibus form in French and had not yet read. The books are all connected by the common thread of looking for the daughter of his lord. However they are very different. The first one is a mystery novel, presenting quite well the rigid caste system and its limitations. For me it is the best of the three. The second is an action novel with swords, and even an unnecessary ninja. The last one is a mix of action and high politics, with Tokugawa Ieyasu as one of the main characters and a tricky ending. They go well together but I think it is impossible they will please all readers. From a small village mystery and facing some bandits to a conspiracy against the shogun, they go from realism to action gratification, as well as a kind of checklist of Japanese action films: ninja, gamblers/gangsters, daymio conspiracies... and more. Still, a nice read, slightly spoiled as the quality goes down as you advance.
Recently (relative as my last report here was in January) I have also read Alistair Reynolds' Revenger. The beginning of a new series, it is also quite self-contained, so I think I will wait before getting the following book in the series. It is not bad, but it is not great, either, and in the last third I lost most of my emotional interest in the characters. It is not justified by the plot, as they are consumed by revenge, but I just did not like where they were going, even if it is appropiate. The science is good for a Space Opera. The extreme future living on the ruins of the past has a long tradition, and it presents the world quite well, without unnecessary info-dumps. The universe is more promising than the characters, and it may well be what brings me back. But not now.