January 2, 2015. 1:10 PM — approximately a week after finishing Ben Lerner’s inside-out, upside-down novel, 10:04, and my mind is still reeling as if from a drug-induced experience (or, at least, my perception of what a drug-induced experience could be like). That’s the simultaneous joy and pain of stepping inside Lerner’s mind for a few post-Christmas days: Lerner’s particular intensity of observation produces a similar intensity in his readers. One begins to notice everything as the author shows you what he notices. I haven’t slept as well since simply because I can’t turn my mind down enough for good sleep. Continue reading
Pretty soon, we’re going to need a genre that labels books that might once have been science fiction, but are now closer to realistic fiction. I’m calling it “pre-realism”.
As I read Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars for the first time, I’m fascinated by the sheer plausibility of the ideas. And as humanity works on putting people on Mars, the first colonizing/terraforming project might not be too many generations in the future. It might not be too many years in the future. Continue reading
Well, I only read one of the books I said I was going to this summer, apparently because I can’t tie myself down like that. But it was quite a book. Although mildly escapist, Django Wexler’s The Thousand Names is a page-turner. That’s what summer’s about anyway, right? Beach reads.
Easy to get into and easy to stick with, The Thousand Names holds a captive audience by means of some of the most riveting battle scenes I’ve ever read. Wexler is gifted in this aspect. Battle is something I’ve always struggled to write because of the sheer amount going on and the significance of all of the details.
This is my second time reading Robert Jordan’s Wheel Of Time series. The first time it held me entranced through most of high school, but I only read the first nine before I got side tracked. (Not to mention, Jordan passed away around then, just before I had caught up to him). Not familiar with Brandon Sanderson’s capable and strangely similar style and talents then, I decided to delve further into fantasy with different authors.
Years and countless writing lessons later the Wheel of Time has turned, and I’ve come back to this classic series to discover it’s just as entertaining as it was before. Yes, I’ve read stronger authors including mega-series-world-creator Steven Erikson, but a broader perspective has given me the chance to view Jordan’s storytelling with a different sort of fascination. Continue reading
The other day I came across a picture of Kurt Vonnegut’s story graphs, which started me thinking…how many stories could I graph myself? Well I had some fun with it over a few days, and here’s what I came up with. Most of these do a little harmless damage to the truth, but if you’re looking for a humorous oversimplification of some classic stories then look no further!
My favorite one of Kurt’s is his rendition of Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Absolutely nailed it.
Here are my attempts:
I’m not sure how I’ll get to all of these this summer, but I can always hope, right? On this list are mostly newer fantasy novels primarily because I want to know what’s happening in the industry right now. What’s big? What are we talking about? What am I writing that’s being done right now? Hopefully that’s not a conclusion I close a book to. Hopefully I just enjoy the heck out of these.
Alias Hook: This might be the newest book on the list, but I haven’t taken the time to verify that. I read the synopsis and that was all I needed. I don’t usually go in for the retelling of old stories gig, but there’s that to a degree in every book, and I’ve always thought Hook needed a second chance.
Words of Radiance: The only book on this list (and one of the only books period) that I’m reading for the soul purpose of finding out what happens next. There will be speed-reading if I want to get to any other summer goals, and I don’t feel too bad about that since Sanderson’s other novels have offered little more to me than enjoyable escapism. As great a storyteller as he is, there’s not much edifying here, so I won’t linger.
Blood Song: I really have no idea about this book. The synopsis is curious, but enigmatic, and I’m prepared to drop it if the faith aspect gets too weird. The main character seems interesting, but this doesn’t look like anything new, which is part of why it drew me, oddly enough. I want to read a story that’s not tripping over itself to point out all the tropes it’s avoiding (ahem, Rothfuss). I just want to read a good epic fantasy with startling characters, and I hope this book provides. Continue reading
The literature of China Mieville has become recognizable to many fantasy fans as the icon of the strange, often dark, wave of avant-garde fiction popularly branded “New Weird” or “Slipstream.” Historically, the broad term (weird fiction) is most often associated with H. P. Lovecraft, and if you’re familiar with his work, you might get an idea of how this category of fiction deserved these names. If you’re not, well, you’re probably a much saner person for it.
Seeing as how sanity doesn’t alway describe me, I was enthralled by the last Mieville book I read: The Scar. It’s a curious blend of Slipstream fiction (Slipstream usually combines elements of fantasy, science fiction, and horror) and Steampunk era speculative fiction that, like its companion novel, Perdido Street Station, refuses to be pigeon-holed into a specific category. With Perdido, I felt like the novel got under my skin with a greater use of horror than anything else, but The Scar is a more balanced piece. Continue reading