Hmmm, this is my current selection. And I want to read all of them. Now. But that just ain’t possible. I’m not a fast reader. Which means that at at a push I can read one to two books a week. And seeing as there are 12 or so books up there it would take me anything from 6 to 12 weeks to read them. So I thought I’d give you a tour of my reading pile and a few reasons why I think they might be worth reading, so that hopefully you’ll want to try them for yourself. The images aren’t in any real order but I do kinda have a list which is always slightly in flux a bit like a game of snakes and ladders, I’m sure I’m stealing that from Graeme, who shared his own reading pile recently, so even if I decide something this week it’ll change when I actually get there.
I’m currently reading the first three: Sideways in Crime edited by Lou Anders, Path of Revenge by Russell Kirkpatrick and The Night Sessions by Ken Macleod so I’m already forming a few opinions on these.
Sideways in Crime (Solaris) is a themed collection of crime stories with an alternative history twist. I’m four stories into a fifteen story collection and so far each has had their own take on both history and crime. Short stories are an interesting beast. They have to live and breath on their own without any support. They have to have a meaning as well. And they should leave you thinking. And perhaps they should make you want to read more. One, Fate and the Fire-Lance, is set in the same world as Stephen Baxter’s Time’s Tapestry Sequence and even though the ending is a little cliche. It gave me a good taste both the world and an author I’ve always wanted to try. So I want to know read Emperor at some point soon.
Path of Revenge by Russell Kirkpatrick (Orbit) is me venturing into Epic Fantasy. I think that’s what it’s called. I’ve not read too much of this style and generally avoid it like the plague for fear of getting sucked into stories that’ll never end. As far as I know it’s a trilogy so I’m safe on that score. I’m enjoying it even if it is 600-plus pages. And there hasn’t been any filler so far so I’m guessing they’ll all be needed. In fact I’m quite sucked into the tale of Husk’s revenge against the Undying Man. Kirkpatrick has introduced me to the Fisherman, Cosmologist and Queen and the three different places that inhabit. He’s dropped some interesting crumbs to follow and I’ve got no idea what he’s up to. His writing style is clear, concise, and his clever with the details giving only what he needs to tell that part of the story. I’m a 1/4 way and looking forward to what happens next.
The Night Sessions by Ken Macleod (Orbit). Now me and Mr Macleod have met before in the form of Cosmonaut Keep, which I’m sure had some sort of weird gun in it and the rescuing of a damsel in distress. A bit like Terminator. I think that’s the one. It’s in a box so I could check I never did finish it. Anyway, The Night Sessions has had some great review and I like books that take on religion and belief and I think it’s about time I gave Mr Macleod a second chance. And so far he’s doing well. Very well infact. The setting is a futuristic Scotland were the ‘Faith War’s have rebalanced the world view of religion and for the first time in fifteen years there has been a faith based killing. It is an isolated killing or is it something more? I’m at the stage of the book that I really don’t know but Macleod is making me want to find out.
The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan (Gollancz). After Path of Revenge I’m not sure if I’m going to read The Steel Remains or The Painted Man (I’m trying to read one fantasy and one sci-fi/other a week). The Painted Man is more me with daemons that come out after the sun goes down but The Steel Remains has been more than a little controversial and is slightly shorter so I’ll probably slip that in first. There has so much said about The Steel Remains prior to it’s release that I’m really keen to see what all the fuss about especially as it’s supposed to have gay elf sex! But seriously lots of postive stuff about it though it’s not as ground-breaking as rumour had it. Not that I’ve ever thought that ground-breaking was a compelling enough reason to read something. Give me something that’s entertaining any day. And it sounds like it is that!
The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett (Voyager) is a book that’s come out of nowhere, at least for me, I can’t remember seeing too much hype until I saw the first review on Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review and now I can’t seem to get away from it. It’s nice to see a début bubbling up. It gives hope to new writers that you can make it but it also shows that people love reading a good story no matter how much history a writer has. There was a great interview with Peter Brett here. What’s interesting from a writing point of view is that it all started with a short story that he wrote for an assignment without any prior planning and a few years later it’s been made it to a novel. There really is no telling where ideas come from.
Brasyl by Ian McDonald. I’m trying to read more sci-fi, hence The Night Sessions, and Brasyl won the BSFA this year so if I’m trying to read more sci-fi then an award winning one is the way to go surely. the guardian’s review was interesting as well as giving high-hopes, ‘McDonald inhabits the Brazil – or rather, the Brazils – of this story and sweeps you along as no other writer in the field could manage.’ I’m a little appriencive with high-concept sci-fi as I’m always afraid that the storytelling will be lost in the world building as it’s never enough to have amazing ideas without actually having a story to tell around them. I’m not suggesting that’s the case with Ian Mcdonald but it’s something that does make me hestiant with ‘heavy sci-fi’. Speaking of Ian Macdonald I’ve always wanted to read River of Gods which also had high-praise.
Bloodheir by Brian Ruckley (Orbit). I read Winterbirth last year and made a bit of a twit of myself both in my review and my interactions with the author. It might not have actually been like that but that’s how I feel. So as I’ve comited myself to reading more epic fantasy and got on with the first one. I’m keen to see how magic fits into the world and who the heroes and villans actually are. It seems that there is more waiting to unfold following the setting up of the board in the first one.
Infoquake by David Louis Edelman (Solaris) is a book that I wouldn’t have been that interested in if it wasn’t for the blog-o-sphere. There are lots of books that comes out that I stop on the internet first. And there are a few books that I want to read because I come across their authors first. David Louis Edelman has been an author I’ve been reading about for while and he’s finally got published in the UK. The tagline seems to be, “Hack the body, and the mind will follow,” which I’m quite interested in after reading both The Night Sessions melding of technology with contacts and glasses and the more extreme version in The Ghost Brigades
I, Zombie by Al Ewig (Abaddon). Another book first seen on Graeme’s blog and I was meaning to read it before I’d seen the review. I’ve got a new appreciation of Zombies after reading Mike Carey’s take in the excellent Felix Caster series. But Graeme makes a very compelling case for reading I, Zombie:
I stayed up until two in the morning reading ‘I, Zombie’. I didn’t have any choice in the matter as I had to finish it before I went to bed, I couldn’t wait until the morning to find out what happened. Right from the bullet soaked opening, up until the downbeat ending, Ewing keeps things moving so fast that I literally couldn’t stop and get off, there was no time. ‘I, Zombie’ is only two hundred and eighty nine pages long but every one of those pages has something going on.
SweetHeart by Chelsea Cain (MacMillan). I read Cain’s disturbing debut, HeartSick last year and it was one of the best crime novels that I’ve read so SweetHeart has a lot to live up to. In fact in my review I said:
It’s just one more chapter reading until you come to the twisted end, which isn’t even where the ending should be. You need to know what comes next. Cain is a perfect poker player laying out the right cards at the right time but giving nothing away.
This time the action carries on some weeks after HeartSick And this time the killer Gretchen Lowell is loose. It has a lot of promise.
The Temporal Void by Peter F. Hamilton (MacMillan). The good thing about review copies is that they get you out of your comfort zone. One of mine is long books. They scare me. Don’t ask me why. So when The Dreaming Void arrived last year I took a deep breath and plunged in. One month later I’d finished it and was blown away by Hamilton’s skills not only in story telling but in creation. So here we are with the sequel, The Temporal Void, and I’ve no fear of starting this one. In fact after the explosive ending, which I didn’t see coming, of the last one I really want to bump this one up the queue.
The Ten Thousand by Paul Keaney. To be honest I wasn’t going to read this one. It’s not my sort of book. I prefer my fantasy with lost of magic and preferably magical realism. But a bit like The Steel Remains I want to see what all the fuss is about. A Dribble of Ink had a non-review, as he didn’t finish it, which caused quite a storm. You really can’t like everything and Aiden makes his own compelling case so I’m curious to see what I’m going to make it. The review on Fantasy Book Critic has the line, ‘Energetic, powerful and not for the faint of the heart, “The Ten Thousand” is a novel that brings together a great piece of history and Mr. Kearney’s extraordinary storytelling skills for a book of superb results.’ So a bit of a swing there!
Halting State by Charles Stross (Orbit). The one thing I’m slightly concious of is that book reviews are time sensitive. Take The Temporal Void in an ideal world I want to have that read before it’s release on the 3rd October and I’m hoping to do that. But all the rest of the books are now out and so should their reviews, which is one reason for this post and you should be able to find some great words about them with a quick Google-search. Hows does this apply to Halting State. Well I missed the window for this one in January when it first came out. But because of the way publishing works books can often have two goes at getting press and as Halting State is now out in paperback I’ve stuck it back on the reading pile.
So there we are. A brief tour of the reading pile which got much bigger after I started this post when Anathem by Neal Stephenon arrived and will probably get bigger again. So I’m going to give it a good go at getting it down. The reading plan didn’t go well this week but it’s the last overtime for a while so I should get back 6 or 7 hours and now stop sleeping so much.
My heartfelt thanks to all the publishers that support this blog without whome I wouldn’t be able to shine a spotlight on to half of the authors that get mentioned here.
I hope one or two take your fancy and if anyone wants to suggest which of them I need to be reading sooner rather than later please go ahead as think I’m just going to close my eyes and grab one as really don’t know where to start!!