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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

angelos_l
Jun. 8th, 2015 12:33 am (UTC)
Besides your books, J. R. R. Tolkien's books and Frank Herbert's Dune I haven't read any other fantasy/sci-fi works which I would consider great. Any recommendations?
grrm
Jun. 8th, 2015 12:54 am (UTC)
You couldn't go far long looking up the list of past Hugo Award winners, and reading those.

Tastes vary, of course. Myself, I'd recommend the early and middle Keinlein (NOT late Heinlein), anything by Jack Vance, anything by Roger Zelansy, THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS by LeGuin, NOVA by Delany, THE STARS MY DESTINATION by Alfred Bester.

Just a start...
angelos_l
Jun. 8th, 2015 01:37 am (UTC)
Thank you!
gonzo21
Jun. 8th, 2015 02:41 pm (UTC)
You might find this interesting, a friend of mine asked a similiar question recently and received a lot of very interesting recommendations:

http://andrewducker.livejournal.com/3295466.html

angelos_l
Jun. 8th, 2015 09:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I've read the Murakami books, Moby Dick and the Silmarillion, but the rest of the recommendations are mostly unknown to me, so it's time for some research!
Stephenspower
Jun. 8th, 2015 02:42 pm (UTC)
Vance
With Vance, the place to start is EYES OF THE OVERWORLD, then read CUGEL'S SAG, which continues the story. The other two Dying Earth books are also worthwhile, but EYES is Vance at his most Vancian. You'll never look at lozenges the same way again

The Lyonesse series is like a giant chocolate cake. It's the one series where he's not clearly bored at the end.

For stand alones, I'd recommend (everything really, but to start) EMPHYRIO and MASKE:THAERY.

His best story is "The Moon Moth," although "Dodkin's Job" encapsulates Vance's vision of the universe.
angelos_l
Jun. 8th, 2015 09:07 pm (UTC)
Re: Vance
Thanks, I will check them out.
deep_name
Jun. 8th, 2015 02:17 am (UTC)
I think you've mentioned Jack Vance before. What about his work do you like?
pulvatory
Jun. 8th, 2015 08:39 am (UTC)
Listen, pick-up TALES OF THE DYING EARTH, and you'll find-out. Rich, lovely fantasy.

The New York Times had an article about this a few years ago: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/19/magazine/19Vance-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
MarinaLovesChem
Jun. 8th, 2015 05:36 pm (UTC)
Just finishing The Left Hand of Darkness. LeGuin is an exceptional writer. Truly brilliant. Only sci-fi I've read before was Asimov, who I love as well, The Gods Themselves is brilliant and the Ugly Little Boy is heartbreaking. But I bought the LeGuin book and plan on working my way through some of the sci-fi classics inspired by your puppygate posts. So thank you for reminding us of the great books out there.
May your life be full and your bookshelves fuller!
seanoz
Jun. 8th, 2015 09:54 pm (UTC)
Vance
Can never go past any of Jack's work at anytime.

I regularly read Jack's Demon Princes novels because they are the most authentic Science Fiction known to man.

I haven't spoken with Jack for some time, you should call and check in on him George.

Thanks George.

Sean.
grrm
Jun. 8th, 2015 10:08 pm (UTC)
Re: Vance
Ah... that would be hard. Jack Vance died a couple of years ago.
seanoz
Jun. 14th, 2015 10:39 pm (UTC)

Ohh dear, I dreaded the day i would hear of Jack's passing. I am grateful for hearing from you though. Preferable to searching the net, I would not peak, I didn't want to know, but now I do, I trust he is at rest. I spoke to jack for around 6 months back in 2011. He was always so kind and accommodating. So humble. A sad loss...

bowmanrobertjay
Jun. 9th, 2015 08:39 pm (UTC)
Just curious GRRM, have you read WOT? The characters in that show are a hot mess compared to GOT but it's hard to beat the size and scope of the story in WOT. Just wondering :)
gemeos2
Jun. 8th, 2015 04:46 am (UTC)
Read Eragon and the squels by Christopher Paolini. You will love it.

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