• Reading

    2015 Reading Journey: How To Live in a Science Fictional Universe

    by The story starts off in what seems like a deliberately confusing jumble of well-orchestrated time travel-based technobabble complete with temporal grammatical confusion, alternate universes, and things that never happened. I’d like to say it gets better from there. Sorry, maybe I should have started with well-done time travel is one of my favourite sub-genres in Science Fiction. Confusing technobabble aside, we spent a fair bit of time on character introduction, but we also wait for 40 or 50 pages for it to actually become science fiction and not just a lonely 30-ish year-old man sharing a few disjointed bits of his life, regrets, and memories. Then we wait another…

  • Reading

    2015 Reading Journey: Spin

    by Spin was published during a period when I was in transition across several jobs, involving massive commutes at times, high stress, and more free time than was good for me, none of it around my small children. Since a big chunk of my time was spent away from them from late-2003 to mid-2005, I spent most of that spare time either feeling sorry for myself or trying to distract myself. Reading didn’t work, so I didn’t consume a lot of fiction during this time and most of what I was reading came from the pile of books I still had after leaving book retail several years before. I missed…

  • Reading

    2015 Reading Journey: Snow Crash

    by Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (1992) In late 1994, I remember this being a big seller in mass market paperback in the bookstore I worked in at the time (the World’s Biggest Bookstore in Toronto, sadly torn down in late 2014). At the time, I avoided it, not being a fan of the Cyberpunk subgenre at the time. Rather the opposite, really. My tastes have broadened since then, and I felt it worth considering something in that (personally) neglected subgenre as part of the decade tour. So I jumped in just a few minutes after finishing Howl’s Moving Castle. The first thing to notice is that the novel is…

  • Reading

    2015 Reading Journey: Howl’s Moving Castle

    by Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (1986) I had to go fairly far afield to look for something in the 80s I hadn’t read that I wanted to. For reference, I turned 10 at the end of 1980, sending me to university in 1989 where, for another four years and change, I continued to add to my library through the systematic looting of local used bookstores. The 80s were my prime reading time as much as they were (and are) my prime music time. And, unlike for a couple of the previous stops on the journey, I’ve seen the movie this got made into, the spectacular animated feature…

  • Reading

    2015 Reading Journey: Man Plus

    by Man Plus by Frederik Pohl (1977) This was a substitution when I finally decided I couldn’t finish Dhalgren. I’ve read other work by Mr. Pohl (notably Gateway and Jem), and enjoyed it, so figured this was probably a safe bet and a good place to move after my other 1970s experience this year. Also, Man Plus was nominated for the Hugo and won the Nebula in 1977. I made this pick before I’d fully decided on the ongoing award-winning novel quest that starts next year. Published in 1977, this likely would have fallen into 2017’s reading journey, close enough to now that I’m not going to read it again.…

  • Reading

    2015 Reading Journey: Dhalgren

    by Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany (1976) I had Dhalgren in the back of my mind as a mild reading concern ever since I decided to include it in my journey this year. If you look at reviews, many people seem to agree it’s an important book, but the split on it is very strange. Either it’s one of the most brilliant things ever written, or it’s the most impenetrable pile of words ever published. Some reviewers consider it both. I vote… actually, I’m not sure what I vote. I don’t vote for brilliant, certainly, but I can’t vote impenetrable murk, either. The reading is easy enough, except that nothing…

  • Reading

    2015 Reading Journey: The Left Hand of Darkness

    by The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin (1969) Okay, I was supposed to post this last weekend, but… Published in 1969, The Left Hand of Darkness picked up both the Hugo and the Nebula in 1970. It’s the first award winner on the 2015 Reading Journey and what’s even more odd is that I’ve never read any of Ms. LeGuin’s science fiction before. I’ve read all of her Earthsea stories, but the only SF of hers I can remember reading is the novella “The Word for World is Forest”. And that’s strange to me at the moment. Since next year’s reading journey starts on my quest to…

  • Reading

    2015 Reading Journey: I Am Legend

    by I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (1954) Did it help me that I’ve never seen any of the movies? That’s partly why I picked it for the 1950s stop on the journey. This book has been turned into a movie four times, but I’ve never managed to see one of them. I may have to remedy that. The last book in the decade sequence I really enjoyed is several decades back, and the crisp, clean prose of I Am Legend paired with the slow reveal of the protagonist’s situation had me from the first chapter. It’s fair to say I dove right into this book, picking it up in odd…

  • Reading

    2015 Reading Journey: Titus Groan

    by Titus Groan (The Gormenghast Trilogy, Book 1) by Mervyn Peake (1946) I selected this first book of the Gormenghast trilogy for the 1940s leg of the journey for a couple of reasons: it was on a large number of “must read” classic spec fic lists, and nearly all of the reviewers seemed to love it. I selected it in spite of the numerous comparisons and contrasts with the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I cut my reading teeth on Tolkien’s work and LotR is likely what hooked me on Fantasy as a child. So I had some concerns. Those concerns were both ridiculous and valid. It’s not the same…

  • Reading

    2015 Reading Journey: Shadow

    by   Shadow by Amanda Sun Shadow is a prequel novella to Amanda’s Paper Gods trilogy. I have read it before, when it first came out, but when I wrestled Storm (the final volume) away from my oldest daughter, I decided I’d like to read the whole set of stories as a single, continuous tale. I don’t do re-reads very often, and I haven’t done a trilogy in one go more than a handful of times as an adult, but I thought I’d like to do real reviews of each story in the sequence, and that makes Shadow a good place to start. So, taking it as the first piece…