I’ve got a night alone, with Desi off doing her thing somewhere, applying the makeups to the faces. I haven’t turned on the TV or the lights, for that matter. I’ve glared at myself in the mirror a few times, daring myself to do something cool with this odd block of ill-defined time that’s laid itself over me like a vague tarp.
My answer to that dare has been to sit and listen to things, and look at things as well, words, written by people. I’ve been on a crazy tear of reading lately, and I think it’s put something of a crimp on my finances, despite the ephemeral nature of electronic books. The cost is real enough. I suppose I could download most of them for free. But I don’t like to.
The George Martin stuff came along first and reignited my interest in fiction, as I’d only been sporadically reading non-fiction to that point (specific point: a couple hours after I watched the first episode of Game Of Thrones (Specific non-fiction, A History of Vikings, by someone whose book is still sitting in my trunk, 1/3 read(I like mulitple parantheses))). I read A Game of Thrones in about three days, then the next three books at the same pace. After finishing that I knew I had a bit to wait (nothing like early followers of the series, who’d been waiting six years for A Dance With Dragons to come out, me, only a few weeks), so I dug into the old internets to see what was out there, having been out of the sci-fi/fantasy world for as long as I had.
First up was The Passage, by Justin Cronin, which was a fun read that flattened out a bit at the end, but I’d still recommend and await the sequel of happily. A nice blend of Apocalypse and hope.
After that I took a stab at someone I’d never heard of before (but the rest of the sci-fi/fantasy world certainly had), China Miéville. Oddly enough I read pretty much every damn thing he’d published. Pick one. Start out there, finish them all. Miéville is really that good. It is no use listing his best books. They are all outstanding.
When I ran out of Miéville and Martin, with a dash of Cronin, I did a bit of research and came across a fellow named Scott Lynch, who despite being less well-known (but still his work was Hollywood-optioned), seemed appealing. What a lucky strike! The Lies of Locke Lamora was as refreshing a fantasy read as I’ve had in my entire life. I followed that with a bit less-awestriking Red Seas Under Red Skies, but still it was good enough to make me write the author in hopes of getting some more. While the awe struck may have been less, the initial ringing was still in my ears, and it was good.
The Half-Made World, but Felix Gilman, was next, and it was good. It has a very engaging Western style to it, in a vexing unnatural world full of weird demons and mole-men.
Terry Pratchett came along after that with a sweet, sweet, mist of Discworld in Unseen Academicals. I will take every opportunity to bask on the back of A’Tuin the world turtle and he knows it. Wonderful, amazing, Pratchett.
After that I was a bit asea, so did my familiar backstroke across the internets. At some point I caught the title The Loving Dead, by Amelia Beamer (the link lets you read the first four chapters for nothin’), and while a little lighter weight than some of the other stuff I’d been rapaciously consuming, it was quite a fun read, with a shitload of laughs and shouts. I exchanged emails with the author, who was quite happy to receive random praise in the middle of the night (or early morning).
Having binged mightily on a few dozen books at this point, I cast my gaze backwards, and picked up a book I’d gone over as a teenager and barely understood, Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. While the tech was outdated you can’t outdate a good story, and Stephenson can tell a good story. That was followed by Cryptonomicon , by Stephenson again, and another good story with outsized ambition, which, if what I read of the Baroque Cycle is true, the author carries around in a huge-ass wheelbarrow and flings all over the place.
Right now I’m reading Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi, who I hadn’t heard of (despite numerous Hugo nominations) til I read a blog post at his place Whatever, about, of all things, George Martin. What a fucking read. I’ve been lucky over the last few months in that I’m basically reading the already-published work of the best sci-fi authors out there. If you have an opening, however, read The Lies of Locke Lamora, you won’t be sorry.