Header Image - Getting the words out by any means possible.

New Books in the Queue

Is there such a thing as too many books? Not bloody likely. I love having a backlog of books to read. In my current queue I have Iron Council, All My Friends are Going to be Strangers, Towers of Midnight, Gormenghast, Books 2 and 3 of the Millennium Trilogy, and Around the World in 80 Days. The list goes on, but you get the idea.

For the most part, birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries and father’s day keep me in books the year round. This year is no exception.  My wife is always the biggest contributer to my library, but others trickle in as well.

This year’s birthday brought these:

I listened to an interview with Charles Yu on The Starship Sofa. Yu struck me as a thoughtful, intelligent guy. When he explained that this book is essentially about a father and son relationship, I put it on my wishlist.

From an editorial review by Lev Grossman on Amazon:

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe is a triumph, as good as anything in Calvino or Stanislaw Lem. I wish I could travel back in time with a copy and fraudulently publish it under my own name. Like most people, I thought I learned everything I needed to know about time travel from H.G. Wells and Star Trek, but I thought wrong: In Yu’s skillful hands a worn-out science fiction plot device becomes a powerfully expressive metaphor for how we experience the flickering, ineffable, ungraspable spatio-temporal phenomenon of life. Because after all, we’re all time travelers, blundering forward into the future at the rate of one second per subjectively experienced second.

After reading River of the Gods, I needed more Ian McDonald in my life. Throw in a giant futuristic steam engine on the cover and You’ve got me. I also have Dervish House on my list, but the bearers of gifts selected Desolation Road. I’m not complaining a bit.

Dig this:

“Flavoured with a voice that blends the delightful prose of Jack Vance with the idiosyncratic stylings of Cordwainer Smith, this novel is, most of all, about the dusty town of Desolation Road in the middle of the red Martian desert. Episodic in scope, it would also work as short stories. An elderly couple get lost in the infinite space of their garden, a baby growing in a jar is stolen and replaced with a mango, a man called The Hand plays electric guitar for the clouds and starts the first rain for one hundred and fifty thousand years.” —SFSite

This one worries me a little because I fear it may cover some of the same ground as The Cloud Chamber. The upside is that there’s only one way to find out.

From a review at fantasybookcritic.com:

I have not encountered the inventiveness, sense of wonder and generally the “many goodies” of The Last Page in a debut – all packed in a reasonable 400 odd pages – since John C Wright’s Golden Age and Gary Gibson’s Angel Stations, though this one is fantasy with blood magic, necromancy, mysterious and ultra-powerful beings as well as airships, guns, newspapers and a “steampunk” like setting with an early industrial flavor.

I follow Scalzi’s blog regularly and have listened to his short story After the Coup. I find his sense of humor to be enjoyable and his insights pretty good. Even so, I thought I should sample his longer fiction and slapped The God Engines on my wish list. Here’s hoping it bears all the good sensibilities I enjoy in his blog posts. The reviews on this thing are all over the place, so it’ll be interesting to see. I’ve read the first few pages on-line and was intrigued enough to continue.

A snippet of a review from Literary Sluts:

This is the tale of a world of faith over science, with multiple gods.  It explores religion, faith and sexuality.  It  manages to make a complete world, society and belief system known in only 136 pages. There is a huge unexpected revelation at the end, which basically twists everything you thought was true and leaves you …shaken.

Ever since I came across the idea of the New Weird, I’ve been intrigued. I’ve followed Jeff VanderMeer’s blog and read Finch. I cut my New Weird teeth on China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station and followed that up with The City and The City and The Scar. I’ve already read VanderMeer’s introductory chapter to this collection and would encourage anyone who has an interest on the topic to check it out.

Here’s an excerpt from that intro:

New Weird is a type of urban, secondary-world fiction that subverts the romanticized ideas about place found in traditional fantasy, largely by choosing realistic, complex real-world models as the jumping off point for creation of settings that may combine elements of both science fiction and fantasy.  New Weird has a visceral, in the moment quality that often uses elements of surreal or transgressive horror for its tone, style, and effects — in combination with the stimulus of influence from the New Wave writers…

And lastly, a book with no words in it. Yet. A lovely moleskine book with ruled pages so I can rule the pages. Can’t wait to fill it up. Maybe the next novel will be completely hand written. My hand is cramping already.

The Value of the Creative Mind

Raise your hand if you’re guilty of taking your creative mind for granted (I just did). It is a gift that should be appreciated everyday like family and friends and the star-filled sky.

Some go so far as to say it’s something worth fighting for.

“And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about. I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for that is one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system. Surely I can understand this, and I hate it and I will fight against it to preserve the one thing that separeates us from the uncreative beasts. If the glory can be killed, we are lost.”

John Steinbeck – East of Eden

Well, hell yeah.

Don’t you fear what you don’t know
Just let that be your room to grow
You’ve got to fight for your mind
While you’ve got the time

Ben Harper – Fight For Your Mind