2017 is shaping up to being an interesting year for special editions of science fiction and fantasy novels. I mostly like to buy nice editions of books in these fields, partly because I like pretty books and partly so that I can have something with better lastability than some of my increasingly dodgy paperbacks. Mostly I like the pretty. Also, I like reading books that feel nice in the hand and printed with good fonts.
In a comment on my privileged purchasing power (good job, no mortgage) I am starting to lose track of pre-orders for interesting things. I’ve long past the point of waiting for stuff to appear in bookshops. I am on the mailing lists for several speciality publishers in my favoured fields. This means I hear about books they’re planning, and when they’re likely to release. They usually allow you to pre-order titles too, plus some of their stuff never actually make it to bookshops these days, or at least not the special editions. I am a collector and an addict…I’m not sure which is the more prominent attribute.
Books I have pre-ordered:
- Reaper’s Gale by Steven Erikson – this is book 7 of 10 of the Malazan series. These are some of the best books I have ever read…and I’ve almost read the entire series twice. The Subterranean Press edition is due for release in August 2017 and I have the first 6, all with the same numbered edition.
- Abaddon’s Gate by James S. A. Corey – this is book 3 of The Expanse series, which has also been made into a TV show. Also published by Subterranean Press.
- I think I’m waiting for one of Perth writer, Greg Egan’s, books from Subterranean Press, but it may already have arrived. I think I have all of his Subterranean releases now.
Books that aren’t available for ordering, or pre-ordering, yet:
- The ‘Rynosseros Cycle‘ by Terry Dowling – I love this series much. Terry is a Sydney based writer and the Rynosseros books are based on a sort of futuristic dreamtime spanning across a couple of novels and groupings of short stories. PS Publishing, whom I rely on for special editions by Ian C. Esslemont, who is co-creator of the Malazan universe, have recently announced an Australian arm, and amongst other things, are planning to do a special edition edition of the Rynosseros Cycle
- Dune by Frank Herbert – It looks Centipede Press are going to release special editions of all of 6 of the Dune novels. I already have a nice edition of Dune (and only Dune) by Easton Press but a Centipede Press edition is to die for.
- Centipede Press are also doing a Masters of Science Fiction Series, for around US$40 per book. Two released so far:
I think I love Centipede Press the most. They do a lot of horror which I’m not really into. As an aside, there is a significant stream of dark fantasy and horror running through small press publishers in science fiction/fantasy these days. Each Centipede book is approached in a different way and a lot of ideas have gone into the design and development of their titles. I’ve managed to score some very nice books either full price, or discounted including, in addition to the above:
…and it’s only March :)
I did indeed buy Rise of the Tomb Raider at lunch on first day of release and left work early to go home and play it. Got home, loaded it and then sat back while it started to download the 2GB Day 1 patch release. Thankfully I eventually realised that I could start playing without waiting for the patch to finish loading. One thing I like about modern gaming is being to play now and not have to wait for updates. I’m now most of the way through the game and generally loving it. Some nice story development and interesting puzzles.
This week, on day 1 of release, I bought the new Matthew Reilly, The Four Legendary Kingdoms. It’s also the fourth book in the Jack West series. I’m currently two thirds of the way through and looking forward to finishing it over the weekend. Trying to balance the new book, the new game, holiday preparations, and regular life is proving to be a little challenging at the moment :)
I’m one of those people who likes to have lots of personal things in my work space, dotted about. Things I can glance at and know I’m in my space. Mostly that means books and pictures; the pictures tend to be arty postcards and I don’t have photos of my partner and kids. For a while, when I was living across two houses with my partner I missed my books quite a bit. So I set up a shelf at work of some of my favourites.
On the left of the bookcase are a couple of books on the Voynich including a full facsimile, Le Code Voynich. Last year I think, I ordered an even nicer facsimile of the Voynich. Sitting next to them is a couple of museum guides to the Codex Leicester, also known as the Hammer Codex, by Leonardo Da Vinci. The original was bought at auction for 30 million USD by Bill Gates and he has occasionally lent it out to museums. The two guides include images of many of the pages and accompanying essays. Having liked the leather Voynich facsimile, I have recently ordered a facsimile of the Codex Leicester to go with it.
There’s also some stuff on Copernicus and steampunk, amongst other things. Pride of place on the right goes to Infocom including the full box for the Amiga version of Zork I and the paperback edition of The Lost City of Zork. Everyone should have a PEZ dispenser for their favourite superhero :) To the right of my screen, are a mix of postcards and posters, starting with a Smart image and come to think of it ending with a Smart image as well. There is a fold out poster of the Apple IIe keyboard which I picked somewhere or other. The first computer I learnt programming on was an Apple II so I’ve long had a soft spot for them.
I posted a few years ago around desires to work my way through some of the top SF novels ever, the canon if you like. The hard bit is working out what the canon should and shouldn’t include and whether there is truly a universal approach. Many of the lists tend to focus on US and UK publications. This post points out that issue in its discussion of yet another list, this time it’s the list from World Without End. It contains lots of related lists and its main SF one contains 256 titles. Of those, I’ve read 79, or approximately 31%. Come to think of it, I’d read around 30% of the list I used in 2012 (32 out of 100). This new list contains a broader variety of titles and does manage to include a graphic novel, Watchmen, yet where is Saga? Is it more that graphic novels tend not to get counted in lists with novels…is the genre too segmented?
I noted a week or so back that I had finally got round to beginning Gaiman’s American Gods. I started to regret this decision as filmfest started a day or two later; filmfest is a very bad time to read, many books have failed in this period. Curiously I find it difficult to return to books that I never finished due to other interruptions, books that have been aborted due to the demands of filmfest are never returned to.
Terry Pratchett’s The Lost Continent is a case in point. I had eagerly bought this the day the hardcover was released, on the eve of fest. I struggled valiant and made some progress but it was all for naught. My attention petered out partway through and it has sat on the shelf, unfinished, for nearly 20 years now. I try not to buy books during filmfest either but did notice the ebook of The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu had dropped to US$4.50 and that was too good a deal to resist as I’ve been meaning to pick it up for ages.
As for American Gods, I am successfully forcing myself to read a chapter a night. In some respects “forcing” is not quite the right word as it is a pleasure to read, and once started it’s very easy to flow with the story and I’m not about a third of the way through. Perhaps I can try The Three Body Problem after it, and part of me is tempted to re-read the entire Malazan series once more. And one day, perhaps, I’ll give the Last Continent another go.
There is a fun meme going round, #iconfessineverread (Con, Rachel and others) and I had fully intended this post to be in similar vein but I seem to have rambled on instead :) Perhaps I will try and list some books I should have read but haven’t, in another post.
It’s fair to say that beyond what was required for school I have read little of the literary canon. I have on occasion dipped my toe into literary waters and at one stage I was at least trying to read Booker winners. That’s mostly a fail these days. Yet what I did read I enjoyed including Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things and Ian McEwan’s Amsterdam. McEwan I particularly liked as he managed to write interesting, intelligent books that were also short :) I haven’t read of his in years either including Atonement which everyone tells me I should read.
A lot of my reading has been more what is termed “genre reading”. Truckloads of science fiction, not to mention thrillers. Later I “diversified” into fantasy and other things. These days I read a mix of SF, fantasy, graphic novels and of course gaming. I’d argue that the games I like to play generally reflect a story telling approach and could be included in a list of “stuff I read”. I’ve recently finished Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, and it was split into sections labelled chapters to chart the plot progression. This worked for me and it felt like I progressed through a story of the classic 3 act approach, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. I think it even had a prologue and an epilogue.
I’ve not been particularly keen on writers’ festivals or conventions either. I’ve been to the odd event at the Sydney Writers’ Festival but mostly skip it. On the other hand, the few times I’ve gone I’ve usually run into people I know in the crowd and had engaging catch ups. Despite my fondness of SF, I’ve never been fond of SF conventions either and usually skip them too. Looking back I think it would have been nice to have got involved in a book club at least. I’ve had friends who’ve been in clubs for years and enjoy the continuing engagement with a group of familiar faces.
This week in fact I have started a book I should have read years ago, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I have no excuse, I even bought the hardcover when it was first published. Disappointingly even though it’s the first edition, it’s the 8th printing. I have had a look around and it seems there was a very nice edition published some years ago by Hill House. Unfortunately it’s also a little expensive.
Unsurprisingly, I frequently buy books. Ordering online in the evenings after a glass of wine or two, buying books is all too easy. Feeding the addiction. I like to think I don’t buy as much as I used to but it’s not an area of data I wish to explore too deeply.
I have a bit of a thing for maps. Many, many years ago my primary school was getting rid of some of big, canvas maps that used to hang on classroom walls. I recall grabbing several from the bin and taking them home. I’ve never quite had the space to hang them and these days I’ve whittled the collection down to two. One day they will hang.
I’m not into maps in any sort of cohesive way other than I like odd maps, curious maps, imaginary maps, pretty maps. I like map books that are big on images and with occasional text; books that I can easily dip in and out of. I recently ordered a few books for one of the kids’ birthdays and threw in a few for me as well. As it turns out, there were four books for me, all map oriented:
- The Curious Map Book – full of odd looking maps and bits of maps, maps that have been used for games, for teaching nobles and so on
- Atlas of Cursed Places: A Travel Guide to Dangerous and Frightful Destinations – with a title like that, how could I say no :)
- Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World – somewhat surprisingly this has few images and is mostly text. The basic idea is to explore the ways in which geography shapes a country’s outlook and how it impacts on the ways countries engage and interact
- A Renaissance Globemaker’s Toolbox: Johannes Schöner and the Revolution of Modern Science 1475-1550 – this is full of beautiful, colour facsimile images and ties into my interest in the history and philosophy of science