Books Read- 203 Books to Read-282 Percent Complete- 41.86%

Just Finished (For the third time) - 'Mirror Dance' by Lois McMaster Bujold

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I've been sick and haven't gotten a chance to update anything lately, though I did finish 'Among Others' by Jo Walton.  I read and reviewed 'Farthing,' another of Walton's nominees, a few weeks ago so I could get a feel for the author before reading her most current book..  It was alright but not really my taste, I ended up liking Others a lot more.  It's a pretty good modern day fantasy novel, and straddles the line well between real and fantastic.  The fact that it is at least partly based on the authors life is a little odd, but does nothing to detract from the actual story.  I'll be posting a review for the book later today, but there are already several good reviews for the book online.

I'm also going to put up a review for John Varley's 'Steel Beach.'  A novel I read about a year ago.  Writing reviews for these books that I read awhile ago can be a little tricky.  They're not quite as fresh in my mind as I would perhaps like them to be, so I just have to do my best.  Of course a review for 'Steel Beach' is a little easier to write than when I try to tackle books I read a long time ago like 'The God's Themselves' or 'A Million Open Doors' which I barely remember.  So my review for Beach might look a little different from some of the other reviews I've written, but I can still point out what type of SF it was, who he borrowed ideas from, and some of the things that worked and didn't within the novel.  I'm almost done with the review and it should be up later today as well.

Before I started actually trying to read all the books that had been nominated for the Hugo or Nebula Awards I was still using the list of nominees to find books to read.  Breaking into any genre is never easy and if you just randomly dive in you're just as likely to be scared off as not.  What I like about SF is that the genre is fairly old and if you don't know what you're getting into there are all these awards out there that can point you in the right direction, not just the ones I'm trying but also the Philip K. Dick Award, the Campbell Awards, and a whole group of Nationality specific Awards.  I can't be the only person who uses these to navigate through the decades of novels out there.  I've tried just randomly picking up SF novels from the sixties and seventies, it's a minefield out there.

The other side of it is that before I was making a conscious attempt to read all the books on the list I would select one that had either won or been nominated and try to read it, if I didn't like it sometimes I would sell it back to a used bookstore or get rid of it.  There weren't that many, but I think about those books now and how eventually I'll have to go back and read them if I actually want to finish this list off.  The two that come most quickly to mind are Elizabeth Moon's 'The Speed of Dark' and Thomas Pynchon's 'Gravity's Rainbow.'  I gave up on Dark within a few pages because it seemed to me to be a retread of 'Flowers for Algernon' and I don't think anyone needs to go back there as Keyes did such a fabulous job.  I'm kind of looking forward to retrying Dark, I own a copy now, because I know a lot of people do like the novel and maybe it just needs a second chance.

'Gravity's Rainbow' though is another story.  I bought a copy yesterday and I can feel it on the bookshelf just looking at me.  I tried it a few years ago, made it about a hundred pages in and gave up.  I'm not the first person to walk away from this novel but I can feel thousands of hipsters across the Internet saying things like 'It's my favorite novel,' or 'It changed my life,' or 'I read it once a year just to stay fresh.'  Critics love this book, English professors love this book, hipsters love this book, it's almost inaccessible to the average reader.  But there it is on the shelf, sitting right next to 'Dhalgren,' I'll be getting to both of them one day and don't look forward to the reminder that I might not be the best or smartest reader out there. 

Maybe when I finish Rainbow I'll enjoy it more, or at least be able to make an intelligent comment about it.  That's all I want, if not I'll just post a link to some grad student's study on it and be done with the thing.  I can recognize that these two books are great works, like 'War and Peace,' or 'The Brothers Karamazov,' but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're very entertaining, or that I can feel comfortable recommending them to people.

I'll be getting more reviews up later today, and I'm going to be a little better about posting on a regular basis, sick or not.

No comments:

Post a Comment