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Reading

I used to have a page called "What I'm Reading" on my old website. It's still there on this new(er) website, actually, but I haven't updated it in years. Keep meaning to, but there's too much to do, too few hours in the day.

That doesn't mean I am not reading, however. I read all the time. Usually a chapter or two right before I go to sleep... but sometimes a novel takes hold of me, and I wind up gulping down the whole thing in a night. A long, sleepless night. But I love that when it happens.

Anyway, just thought I'd mention a few of the books I've read recently.

I've already commented, at some length, about two of this year's Hugo finalists, THREE-BODY PROBLEM and THE GOBLIN EMPEROR. You can find my thoughts on those below.

I also read LINES OF DEPARTURE by Marko Kloos. This was part of the Hugo ballot as originally announced, one of the books put there by the slates... but Kloos, in an act of singular courage and integrity, withdrew. It was his withdrawal that moved THREE-BODY PROBLEM onto the ballot. This is the second book in a series, and I've never read the first. Truth be told, I'd never read anything by Kloos before, but I'm glad I read this. It's military SF, solidly in the tradition of STARSHIP TROOPERS and THE FOREVER WAR. No, it's not nearly as good as either of those, but it still hands head and shoulders above most of what passes for military SF today. The enigmatic (and gigantic) alien enemies here are intriguing, but aside from them there's not a lot of originality here; the similarity to THE FOREVER WAR and its three act structure is striking, but the battle scenes are vivid, and the center section, where the hero returns to Earth and visits his mother, is moving and effective. I have other criticisms, but this is not a formal review, and I don't have the time or energy to expand on them at this point. Bottom line, this is a good book, but not a great one. It's way better than most of what the Puppies have put on the Hugo ballot in the other categories, but it's not nearly as ambitious or original as THREE-BODY PROBLEM. Even so, I read this with pleasure, and I will definitely read the next one. Kloos is talented young writer, and I suspect that his best work is ahead of him. He is also a man of principle. I hope he comes to worldcon; I'd like to meet him.

I also read the new novel by Lauren Beukes, BROKEN MONSTERS, a sort of crime/ serial killer novel with some supernatural Lovecraftian touches. Set amidst the urban decay of contemporary Detroit, this one has a vivid sense of place and a colorful and interesting cast of characters, but it gets very strange at the end, where the Lovecraftian elements come to the fore. I don't think it is entirely successful, and it's certainly several notches below the author's last, the brilliant SHINING GIRLS (which would have been my choice for last year's Hugo, but, alas, it missed the ballot by a handful of votes). I found it an engrossing read all the same, and I will be looking forward to whatever Lauren Beukes does next. She's a major major talent.

I also read and enjoyed the new Naomi Novik, UPROOTED. Novik is best known for her popular series of Napoleonic Era dragon books, so this high fantasy is somewhat a departure for her. The whole set-up has a 'fairy tale' feel to it, but draws its inspiration from Russian folklore rather than the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen strains more familiar to modern readers. I thought Novik did a nice job of ringing changes on the old fairy tale tropes, and I liked her characters. But the story rushed by a bit too fast for my taste; I would have liked a longer book, where the characters might have had a bit more room to breathe. And I was seriously disappointed by the ending, wherein several important revelations came out of nowhere.

Next up? Not sure. CITY OF STAIRS and ANCILLARY SWORD and SKIN GAME are all on the stack besides my bed, along with an ARC of the new Ernie Cline novel (yay!). But the new Stephen King has just turned up as well, so...

Comments

( 70 comments )
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hakanmesser
Jun. 8th, 2015 07:32 pm (UTC)
I have read the first wayward pines book because of the new fox show with matt dillon.
i think it was a little bit boring . Many people liked the book but i think there are many
overrated writers in the fantasy genre. Like the eragon guy. all the same boring storys.

Little question:
Have u ever read the neverending story by michael ende?
that was a great fantasy book!

p.s :
That shireen stuff was not cool. I hope the others will kill them all.


Sorry for bad english.

Edited at 2015-06-08 07:45 pm (UTC)
bluelightning27
Jun. 8th, 2015 10:30 pm (UTC)
Other book/show recommendations
Not sure how many people will be able to see it outside of the UK, but an excellent adaptation of Susanna Clarke's JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL is currently on BBC1 and very soon to be on BBC America. Novel is a super fantasy read, original, moving and funny to boot. Hugo winner in 2005 and I would say it thoroughly deserves that accolade.
Dean Grasser
Jun. 8th, 2015 10:43 pm (UTC)
The Martian
Hey George,

Have you had a chance to read Andy Wier's 'The Martian'? The trailer for the film adaptation just landed and the book is one of the best science fiction reads I've ever encountered.
TheRedViper
Jun. 9th, 2015 07:39 am (UTC)
African
I'm white and recently started reading African fiction, black writers.

Pretty awesome, a whole new ballgame. A lot of my friends are big readers. It's astounding: (a) the huge # of books they read, and (b) that they read 0 black writers. As in 0. But at the same time, they are not racist.

It's not SFF, but I suggest the collection "The Granta Book of the African Short Story." Another suggestion: the "Caine Prize" shortlisted stories -- the shortlisters are posted online for free. Meanwhile, for a short story with a surreal/fantasy feel, I suggest "The Second Coming of Dambudzo Marechera" by Tendai Huchu. Also (intentionally) available online for free. Just Google it.

There's many great novels too of course, but right now I'm into short stories.
gregmce
Jun. 9th, 2015 12:39 pm (UTC)
I've been meaning to read a Beukes book for a while -- and I have a copy of Zoo City thanks to Humble Bundle -- so this is a great nudge to do so. Although as overwhelmed as I've felt finishing up an MLIS degree while working full time, I always feel like you seem to have three to four times as many things on your plate. ;) Still, it will be my reward once I graduate in August.
marlowe1
Jun. 9th, 2015 03:37 pm (UTC)
Speaking of Gillian Flynn, do you know about Thug Notes? They just did Game of Thrones, but the one for Gone Girl is quite fun - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzYx9bYHxKo
rmholt
Jun. 9th, 2015 11:42 pm (UTC)
The Forever War
...is a pretty high bar. Thanks for the insights. I'm so out of the loop these days
hiramthehammer
Jun. 10th, 2015 12:40 pm (UTC)
This is great. Thank you for picking this 'topic' back up, gives me some good guidance of what book I should next dive into.
Chris Hartley
Jun. 10th, 2015 06:37 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting this
I always like it when you give me some good stuff to put on my reading list.
rachel61
Jun. 10th, 2015 07:36 pm (UTC)
Reading
Hi George,

I know that your are busy, but I really enjoy hearing what you are reading. "Crosses fingers" hope you do more of these. I was just wonder if you have any recommendations non-fiction wise.


Rachel :)
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