reading is an odd sort of thing

Something loved by introverts and extroverts. Fast readers and slow. Big picture and detail. All the things. None of the things.

A mood.

Some weeks I am hammering through several books at once. Some weeks I struggle with one. I used to think it was related to what I was reading but now I tend to think it is the mood I’m in.

I have so many books waiting to be read yet I am barely reading one.

Last week I finished a couple of books.

There are books I am keen to reread yet pausing as the mood is not quite right for that book. There are books I am keen to read right now yet don’t have the edition I want to read them in. Form matters…for some books…sometimes.

I have all ten of the fancy editions of the main Malazan series and planned to read them again when I had all ten. Not in a Malazan mood right now. Was a few months ago and read Assail. There’s a few more non-main books I need to read too, with another on the way [Bantam Press is the first edition, accept none else. Order via Munro and you can ask Erikson to sign it for you].

I am reading Foundation and Empire by Asimov which is book two of the main trilogy, having recently picked up Folio’s recent reprinting. Folio is the edition I want for this book. Thoughts for another post on editions and limitations and bindings – my opinions have changed in this area…or not.

This evening, as the family dinner conversation ebbed and flowed, I remembered I had acquired an interesting edition of Jekyll and Hyde for 69 euro. Not cheap, not exorbitant. White text on black background. An interesting approach that I want to read.

I have been keen to reread Dune by Frank Herbert for some years. The right edition will be the Centipede Press edition but it is not yet released. I have read an old hardcover which contained the first three books in one. I have read the Easton Press edition which is pretty and nice in the hand. Centipede announced some years ago that they were doing an edition and it would be spectacular and it will be as Centipede do amazing things. I put my name down for it around 2018-19 and I think that I might finally be able to buy in the next few weeks…touch wood. The challenge is that there is now a lot of interest. I am nervous week to week. If I get it, that will be the version I read.

Centipede are also producing the Ender series by Card and I love them, though not fond of Card himself, the old art vs artist debate is ever troublesome here. I will continue to buy and love the books. So many authors are challenging in this space…so many SF authors who I thought were forward thinking have been less so.

Thankfully there are new authors who write cool stuff who are not in those spaces. Glories such as Jemisin and Sparks and Chambers, and McGuire and so many others.

stops and starts

Weirdly, suddenly I stopped blogging mid #blogjune, the last post about was on the 18th. I don’t know why I stopped as I had plenty of ideas and for the first time in a while there was a good vibe and interaction with other folk, nice chats here and there. Somehow my mojo disappeared. That may have been around the time of the current Sydney getting underway, though why that would affect this sort of thing I dunno. The new playstation didn’t arrive till 10 days later so that wasn’t it either. Things were exhausting for a while but June often is.

New playstation has been fun, impressively fast loading of games and whisper quiet – well my hearing ain’t fab so it’s quiet to me. On the other hand, the previous playstation was noisy and loud to deaf old me.

Books, lots of books. Though less arriving than usual. Perhaps my ordering splurge has died off and sanity returned. Perhaps. I am aware that a few boxes are on their way. Folio Society have reprinted their editions of Asimov’s initial Foundation trilogy. I missed out first time round and the prices on the secondhand market have been significantly higher than I’d be willing to pay. While the reprint is a little ecky, it works out at high double figures per book which is bearable. I’m looking forward to re-reading them as I first read then in dodgy secondhand paperbacks 30 years ago.

Managed to finish a bunch of books in recent weeks:

  • In Darkness Visible by Tony Jones – the second book from the former host of Q&A, also good, a political thriller.
  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig – I liked it but didn’t love it which probably puts me at odds with everyone I know. A pleasant read nonetheless.
  • The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Zafon – third book (of four-ish) in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series. Each book seems interconnected though there is a sense they could be read in any order, or at least the first three as I have not yet read the fourth which is generally regarded as the best. Sadly the author died last year.
  • Assail by Ian Cameron Esslemont – the “final” of Esslemont’s main Malazan series, though there is another trilogy later still to read (and some more Erikson). Assail was a good solid read that flowed along. Every so often I hit a point where I need to another Malazan and this filled the hole nicely.
  • The Gold-Jade Dragon by Janeen Webb – tales of dragons and human forms, playing with politics and business. An easy read that flowed along, quickly and enjoyably finished. There was a previous novella, The Dragon’s Child, that should be read first.
  • The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville – a novella that reminded me of the things I love about Mieville and how inventive he can be. A surrealist story about surrealist thinking, told surreally, with a political undercurrent.
  • The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin – loved it though it took a while to get into as it was telling a story through different times with changing narrators of sorts. Needless to say I’m looking forward to continuing the trilogy.

Other books on the go or at the top of the reading queue

  • Walking Home: Travels with a Troubadour on the Pennine Way by Simon Armitage – almost finished, doesn’t need to be read in one hit, I dip in and read a chapter occasionally, not looking forward to finishing it :)
  • The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell – a recommendation from a friend, finally bought the ebook last night.
  • The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North – a new take on the Groundhog Day idea perhaps. Mentions of it popped in discussion of a new pretty edition of Replay by Suntup.
  • The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler – this seemed an appropriate choice for my first letterpress book. I am unsure whether letterpress books are a thing I will seek out and the books I like are rarely published this way. I started it last night and so far so good.
  • Unfettered II: edited by Shawn Speakman – I bought the fancy edition of this because I like and respect the cause it’s raising money for. I also like Grim Oak Press generally and have several of their books. I’m about midway through anthology of fantasy and stories I’ve read here have read to me buying and reading other books.

looking for nice things

My tolkien collection

I talk a bit about fancy editions and the pretty things I buy. They’re mostly from small presses, specialists in science fiction and fantasy. I’m on various mailing lists so I can find out about new releases and hopefully pre-order before they get to market. While there is a rabbit hole of small publishers to find and lose myself in, the big publishers also release nice editions. Somehow I rarely come across those nice editions and I don’t know if it’s because I go to the wrong book shops, or simply many of such things don’t make it to Oz at all.

I have some fancy editions from big publishers including my beautiful copy of Lord of the Rings from HarperCollins. That was possibly my first special edition in the late 80s, and was certainly the most expensive book I’d bought for over 20 years since, only to be beaten a decade ago by Malazan book 1, Gardens of the Moon.

In recent years, I have focused on finding nice editions but really most of my books, especially my science fiction, are paperbacks, many bought cheaply secondhand. And it shows. Lots have yellowed and deteriorated, some need to be handled carefully as I’ve had instances where the soft cover has detached with a mere touch.

torn paperback

I have a few nice Tolkien tomes from HarperCollins and the Quicksilver trilogy by Neal Stephenson from Morrow – actually Morrow is an interesting one as I think it was originally its own company but these days is an imprint of HarperCollins. Gollancz used to publish their new releases in hardcover with yellow dustjackets so they always stood out – was never interested in collecting those plus couldn’t afford hardcovers in those days. These days they look like an imprint of Hachette, along with Orbit and no doubt many others.

I’ve recently found out that Orson Scott Card’s Ender series had some titles published in pretty editions but I don’t think I’ve ever seen them locally and they’re a wee bit eccy to buy on the secondary market. It must be said, that I’ve recently discovered that there were books beyond the trilogy I had read. The trilogy is more a quintet, and there’s a further 14 novels and a bunch of short stories. While I won’t be seeking those other nice editions, Centipede is releasing nice versions of their own, signed, numbered and in a capped case. So far they’ve released Ender’s Game, Ender’s Way (a collection of almost all the short stories) and will soon be releasing Speaker for the Dead.

time zones

One of the challenges of seeking special editions is that they’re usually published in the northern hemisphere at a time that suits folk over there. Some publishers are more sought after than others and one of my favourites is Centipede Press. Like many small presses, it’s a family business, and the main guy, Jerad, seems to handle just about everything including liaising with authors, artists, rights holders, other publishers, printers, binders, distribution, members, subscribers, and customers. I sort of feel like I’m leaving stuff out too. Centipede, like some small presses, have a subscriber base which I think is around 80-100 people who get everything regardless. Typical print runs are usually 300 copies so that’s about a third accounted for, for each release.

Centipede publishes around 20-25 books a year, mostly horror, weird tales and some science fiction. They treat each individually and some of their best books are amazing such as The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers [Warwick Carter did a wonderful pictorial on librarything]. Even their basic volumes are special, printed on good paper stock, nice artwork, a sewn ribbon, and a good heft for reading. I currently own 17 titles with 2 on hold for group postage (individual postage out of the US is rather eccy post covid). The picture below is missing 3 that are too tall to fit on a regular shelf including the aforementioned Anubis Gates, Ender’s Game, and Ender’s Way. I’m hoping Speaker for the Dead will be released in the next month or two.

Some centipedes

I’ve generally been lucky in getting Centipede books but particularly in covid times, it’s been harder. More folk stuck at home looking at books on the internet. I’d been waiting a year or so for the release of a 3 book set of Philip K Dick’s work (The Cosmic Puppets, Vulcan’s Hammer, Dr Futurity) and was in the advance email list for it. 300 copies were available and the email arrived around 7am (2pm for part of the US) this morning…I woke at 9. I think they were all gone in the first 30 minutes if that. They may well appear on the secondary market later but will be too much for me. I’m a little sad as I love his books and most of my copies are secondhand paperbacks. On the other hand, it’s not the end of the world :-)

book folk online

I have had an abebooks account for many years, and have bought from secondhand booksellers from around the world. Often buying a book is a little anonymous and disconnected and you don’t often get the chitchat you might get in person. Then again, I tend to be shyer in secondhand bookshops and never chitchatted much. Online often meant I could buy the thing and avoid the conversation :-)

Perhaps I’m coming round to being the person it would have been nice to have been 30 years ago. I lamented elsewhere, my lack of engagement with book conventions and worldcons for science fiction. I am the person I am now and that’s fine. The beauty of sites like abeooks is that they provide easy access to bookshops around the world and at times an easier way to buy from bookshops that aren’t english, yet have interesting wares.

Occasionally, these bookshops from around the world will send chatty emails, sometimes I respond though the challenge is that I don’t end up being a regular as it were. Though that is less and less true and I have ended up with membership accounts on a couple eg Kathmandu Books and Camelot Books in the US. Camelot for example, are able to hold books for me and package together to save on postage – postage rates out of the US these days are horrible.

I s’pose I’m building up a list of my own trusted retailers. Bookshops that provide accurate descriptions and pictures, pack well, and engage. Some descriptions online don’t always match what you end up with. Visiting a bookshop in person you can see what you’re getting and assess the worth on the spot. Buying online is a different experience with a little more trust involved. I’ve mostly bought well but have had occasional issues with for example ex library books that didn’t indicate sufficiently the extent of library markings and stickers.

I commented elsewhere that I’ve been joining a few facebook groups on books and collecting. I’ve even bought some books from other participants eg the recently arrived Broken Earth trilogy. I ordered a book last night via abebooks (A Scanner Darkly by Philip K Dick, Suntup Artist Gift Edition) from a bookshop called Barsoom Books and it turns out I’ve chatted to the guy from there occasionally in the facebook groups. Was nice to be dealing with someone familiar, and from the scene as it were.

more piles of reading

Yesterday I talked about my piles. I sorta like talking about my piles so I think I’ll do it again. Books that is. Perhaps mental piles as they’re mostly on shelves whereas a pile may imply a lack of order. I s’pose the next pile is the stuff waiting to be read though even then it’s not simple as there’s stuff I’m keen to read as soon as possible, stuff I’d like to read in the next few months, and stuff I’d like to read eventually. Things can move from pile to pile at will, and with new books arriving, there is not a fixed amount of books to read or even re-read, some books can be even be re-read multiple times – I’m looking at you Miles :-)

Currently in the wings pile – stuff I’d like to read sooner

  • The Gold-Jade Dragon by Janeen Webb – nice edition by an Australian author published via PS Publishing – I’m collecting all their Australian releases. They previously did a novella of her’s, The Dragon’s Child, so I’m looking forward to the next book. I managed to score book 6 of 100.
  • The Broken Kingdoms by NK Jemison – this is book 2 of the Inheritance trilogy and I loved the previous book, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms which picked up the Locus award for best first novel.
  • The Broken Earth trilogy by NK Jemison – I have recently picked up the SubPress editions in matching numbers of this later trilogy by Jemisin. Each book in the trilogy separately won a Hugo award, the first trilogy to do so.
  • Bitter Seeds by Ian Tregillis – book 1 of a trilogy set in alternate history of world war 2. I tend to avoid, with exceptions, alternate histories but this popped up in a few specialist groups on facebook with good comments. It’s a nice edition too.
  • Piranesi by Susanna Clarke – I recently picked up a signed first edition relatively cheaply US$65) as I really enjoyed her earlier work, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – the latter I’ve recently discovered I’ve lost the paperback of, so I’m looking out for a nice edition to replace it.
  • Colditz: The Full Story by PR Reid – as a teenage lad I loved Reid’s stories of Colditz, full of escapism. This a folio edition and I am unsure as to how much overlap there is with the old paperbacks I have. I need to sit and compare properly.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen – Steven Erikson – I have talked of these at length and have been collecting the SubPress editions. The final book arrived a few months ago and I hope to do a full re-read using these beautiful editions. On my first read through I read the first couple in print and the rest as ebooks. On the 2nd and 3rd re-reads, I read them all in ebook format. I am curious how how I will go reading these hardcover editions…they will be so heavy to hold, particularly the later books.
  • The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu – this is book 2 of the trilogy, following The Three Body Problem. I really should have read this last year and had started but things got in the way and I haven’t got back to it yet. SubPress editions of course
  • The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón – this is book 3 in his 4 book series of the Labyrinth of Forgotten Books set in Barcelona. I’ve recently re-read the first two so that I can read through the last 2 now that I have nice editions of them all.

piles of reading

Piles. Endless piles. Books to read. Books I’m reading. Books I’ve paused. Books I want to re-read. Books virtual. Books physical. Books to look at. Books to admire. New arrivals. Old arrivals. I shuffle. I rearrange. I shelve. I re-shelve.

Currently reading:

  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig – I’ve got about an hour to go according to my ereader. I think I’ve had an hour to go for nearly a month. It was fun and I must get back and finish it but I keep getting distracted by other books.
  • In Darkness Visible by Tony Jones – Jones is most recently known as the former host of Q&A and has written a couple of political thrillers, this being the second. I enjoyed the first and started this one recently on the ereader, forgetting I was still reading Midnight Library.
  • Unfettered 2 – edited by Shawn Speakman. A collection of fantasy tales. This was a wee bit eccy and I did um and ah over buying it, but ultimately the cause is good and the book pretty; bound in leather and housed in a slipcase. It resides in the pile beside the bed.
  • The Absolute Sandman Vol 3 by Neil Gaiman – I’m doing a slow re-read of these and truth be told I don’t think I ever read the series in its entirety. Plus there’s been further instalments which need to be read too.
  • Tales From Two Pockets by Karel Capek – inspired by a post on Librarything, I sought out a copy of the folio society edition and found one cheaply (about US$20). I’ve read a couple of stories and so far so good. This lives in the book bag/shelf thingy that hangs off the bed
  • The Gifts of Reading: Essays on the joys of reading, giving, and receiving books, curated by Jennie Orchard. Also in the book bag/shelf thingy where the ereader also resides
  • Walking Home: Travels with a Troubadour on the Pennine Way by Simon Armitage – I like reading tales of folk walking the Pennine Way and have a somewhat forlorn hope of walking it one day myself – though at the same time it sounds wet, chilly and miserable. This is on the ereader as told by the poet author, I dip into this occasionally and I’m almost finished. Like Midnight Library, I think I have about an hour to go.
  • The Lost Gutenberg: The astounding story of one book’s five hundred year odyssey by Margaret Leslie Davis – this resides on a shelf at the foot of the bed, just under the shelf with the Absolute Sandman. I’ve read two chapters and need to return, particularly as my partner has recently finished it :-)

a bunch of hugos

I’ve read lots of science fiction over the years, or speculative fiction, or fantasy, or other things that sort of look like those things. I’ve realised recently that in my 50s I am increasingly seeking out award winners to purchase and read. As a librarian I am supportive of loaning and lending; folk reading books and passing them on to others. Whereas I collect and acquire, I own and I retain, I hold and I cherish. I have occasionally loaned books to others and sometimes get them back, occasionally I realise years later that there are some I don’t get back.

On to award winners. I have tended to read them incidentally, as I have come across them in my meanderings through bookshops: physically and digitally. I have read things I’ve loved that haven’t won awards, and not loved some award winners. Yet award winners tend to be at least interesting, perhaps a step in a different direction. There are some I’ve skipped eg Connie Willis’ Doomsday Book as they concern alternate histories which I’m not fond of, yet I have read alternate histories by others such as Dick’s The Man in the High Castle.

Below is a list of all the winners of the Hugo awards which I tend to regard as one of the top awards, along with the Nebula, Locus, Aurealis, Philip K Dick, and others. Anyway I thought it’d be interesting to go through each and list the ones I read and owned. A different sort of list to circulate. For each book listed I have added 2 of 3 symbols such:

  • + I own
  • $ I own fancy edition – usually Easton Press or Folio Society or Subterranean or Suntup or Centipede or Grim Oak etc
  • # read – have I actually read the bloody thing.

I’ve included one of the Retro Hugos which were awarded much later to fill missing years. Of those I gather, only one has been awarded post 1953 when the awards themselves began – as that’s a Bradbury I can’t help but include it.

  • 1953 The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester
  • 1954 $# Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury [retro hugo]
  • 1955 They’d Rather Be Right (also known as The Forever Machine) by Mark Clifton & Frank Riley
  • 1956 Double Star Robert A Heinlein
  • 1958 The Big Time by Fritz Leiber
  • 1959 $# A Case of Conscience by James Blish [beat Heinlein’s Have Space Suit Will Travel]
  • 1960 $# Starship Troopers by Robert A Heinlein
  • 1961 +# A Canticle For Leibowitz by Walter M Miller
  • 1962 $# Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A Heinlein
  • 1963 $# The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick
  • 1964 +# Way Station by Clifford D Simak [also known as Here Gather the Stars]
  • 1965 +# The Wanderer by Fritz Leiber
  • 1966 $# [joint winner] Dune by Frank Herbert [I own multiple editions: basic omnibus, Easton Press, Folio Society, eventually Centipede Press I hope]
  • 1966 [joint winner] The Immortal by Roger Zelazny [also known as …And Call Me Conrad]
  • 1967 The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein
  • 1968 Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny
  • 1969 $ Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner
  • 1970 $ The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin [I’ve read so many of her’s yet still it waits]
  • 1971 +# Ringworld by Larry Niven [Centipede Press are planning to release a special edition]
  • 1972 To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose Farmer [used to see it the shops and never quite bought it]
  • 1973 The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov
  • 1974 +# Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C Clarke
  • 1975 $# The Dispossessed by Ursula K Le Guin [this was the first of her’s I read]
  • 1976 The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
  • 1977 Where Late the Sweet Birds Sing by Kate Wilhelm [not read much by her but have read some of a 2 volume collection of her short stories from Centipede Press]
  • 1978 +# Gateway by Frederik Pohl
  • 1979 +# Dreamsnake by Vonda N McIntyre [she wrote a bunch of star trek novels which is I came across her initially]
  • 1980 The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C Clarke
  • 1981 The Snow Queen by Joan D Vinge
  • 1982 Downbelow Station by CJ Cherryh
  • 1983 +# Foundation’s Edge by Isaac Asimov [been a long time since I read his Foundation series but I tend to feel this is a weaker entry]
  • 1984 + Startide Rising by David Brin [also meant to read it and read others of his]
  • 1985 +# Neuromancer by William Gibson [I can’t afford the special editions of this one]
  • 1986 $# Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card [love it and have read it several times, hate the politics of the author]
  • 1987 +# Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card [I anticipate getting the fancy edition in a few weeks]
  • 1988 The Uplift War by David Brin
  • 1989 Cyteen by CJ Cherryh [never read her adnd was alas never attracted by the blurbs – perhaps I need to try her hugos at least]
  • 1990 Hyperion by Dan Simmons
  • 1991 +# The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • 1992 +# Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • 1993 +# [joint winner] A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
  • 1993 [joint winner] Doomsday Book by Connie Willis [I recently skipped the SubPress edition of this as I’m nostly not interested in alternate histories]
  • 1994 Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • 1995 +# Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • 1996 The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
  • 1997 Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • 1998 Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman
  • 1999 To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
  • 2000 A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge
  • 2001 +# Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
  • 2002 +# American Gods by Neil Gaiman [if anything I s’pose I’m disappointed he didn’t get a hugo for Sandman]
  • 2003 Hominids by Robert J Sawyer
  • 2004 Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • 2005 ?# Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke [? as I can no longer find my paperback; I suspect I loaned it to someone long ago. Currently tempted to replace with a fancy edition]
  • 2006 Spin by Robert Charles Wilson
  • 2007 Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge
  • 2008 The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon
  • 2009 $# The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman [possibly one of my favourite Gaiman books]
  • 2010 $# [joint winner] The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi [I only read it recently and then bought the fancy edition]
  • 2010 $ [joint winner] The City & The City by China Mieville
  • 2011 Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis
  • 2012 Among Others by Jo Walton
  • 2013 Redshirts by John Scalzi [I have read others by him but not this one yet]
  • 2014 Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie [had an opportunity in the last week to buy the fancy version of the trilogy but passed as I bought a trilogy by Jemisin – see below]
  • 2015 $# The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu; translated by Ken Liu
  • 2016 $ The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin [Book 1 of first trilogy ever for all 3 books to get a hugo; managed to find fancy set with matching numbers this week]
  • 2017 $ The Obelisk Gate by NK Jemisin [Book 2 of first trilogy to win hugo]
  • 2018 $ The Stone Sky by NK Jemisin [Book 3 of first trilogy to win hugo]
  • 2019 The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • 2020 A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

random things i’ve read recently…not that random really

I put together a quick list for a facebook post of stuff I’ve finished recently. My reading has been gangbusters for a long while now. Happily. Though I’ve sorta lost track of what’s on netflix and such. Have also grown odd buckets of curiosity around book collecting – actually I seem to have spent so much time looking for nice books to buy that I’ve lost track of whisky and suddenly realised I was running out :-) Another thing I’ve noticed is that as my reading has increased I am rediscovering the joy of the short story and there’s a few collections below.

Here’s a list of a bunch of things I’ve finished in recent months:

  • The Absolute Sandman Volume 2 by Neil Gaiman – I’m doing a full read/reread through at the moment, dipping in and out. So so good and the stories hold up. I have recently purchased the Absolute Overture Volume which has new stories from Gaiman. Then I realised I had the hardcover edition of it as well. However the new one matches the rest of my Absolute editions and I may have to donate the other edition to charity or friends
  • The Magic of Recluce by LE Modesitt Jr – I have been seeing this author on the shelves in increasing quantities for many years. He writes a lot of fantasy, usually trilogies and series and I’ve tended to avoid him. I figured I needed to give him a go. This is book 1 of a bigger series and I didn’t mind it, though a little dull at times. Happy to have read it but don’t need to read more.
  • Speculative Horizons edited by Patrick St-Denis – this is a short story collection published by Subterranean Press and I bought it because it included a story by an author I loved long ago, CS Friedman and her ColdFire Trilogy. I was curious about other stuff she’d done and this didn’t disappoint. It also included a Modesitt story set in Recluce that I liked and led me reading a full novel. A nice little collection.
  • Subterranean Press Tales of Dark Fantasy 3, Edited by William Schafer – I haven’t read dark fantasy in a long time and one of my favourites had been the aforementioned ColdFire trilogy. This came nicely bound in a slipcase full of fabulous tales, most of which I enjoyed. I think I need to seek out the previous 2 volumes.
  • The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemison – never read Jemison’s works before though she’s been picking up awards all over the place. This is book 1 of a trilogy I’m getting via Subterranean Press (they published the previous trilogy which sold out and is now way expensive on the secondary market) and I loved it. A fresh voice doing different things.
  • First King of Shannara by Terry Brooks – I’ve been getting these nice slipcased editions from Grim Oak and by book 3 I was starting to think I was over it and the writing was dull for the current me. First King reminded me of everything I loved about Shannara, well written, engaging with a solid story. Glad I continued.
  • Daughter of the Empire by Janny Wurts & Raymond Feist – I’m also getting the full Riftwar saga via Grim Oak though I feel the writing is stronger and still sucks me in. I tend to feel that the Janny Wurts contributions are the strongest parts and to my regret I’ve read nothing else by her. This might be the year to rectify that omission.
  • A Case of Conscience by James Blish – Centipede Press have recently republished a lovely edition of this old classic that won the 1959 Hugo award. It’s still so good. Part 1 is the original novella and Part 2 is a new novella that bookends it nicely.

some sf-ish bits

I was browsing elsewhere and remembered long ago that I used to post occasional lists of interesting links, sometimes commented. I thought I’d try that again.

Saw a mention of Cory Doctorow recently and realised I hadn’t seen a post of his on Boing Boing in a while. So it turns out he’s doing other stuff.

Greg Bear is a hard SF author I’ve read lots of but haven’t read anything in ages. Happily he’s still writing and posts occasional news. Interestingly, I don’t think he’s gone down the special edition path, though I wouldn’t mind having his stuff in nicer editions than my old paperbacks.

Bear posted a link to “10 Exciting Cyberpunk Books Filled with High Tech and Low Life” on Portalist as it included a link to his “Slant“. An interesting list that reminded me that I should read The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi one of these days [hmmm SubPress did a nice edition of it too – though long sold out]. That review notes that Girl shared the Hugo with The City and the City by China Mieville and I do have the SubPress edition of that. That was the 2010 Hugo awards and they were held down south in Melbourne as AussieCon.

I’ve never been to a book convention and sometimes feel like this was something I should have done, particularly when the main annual SF con made it to Australia. I’ve rarely met authors of books I’ve liked, though Terry Pratchett was an exception. I recall in primary school, attending author and illustrator dinners which were fun and I was able to get books signed. For some reason I never went down the convention path. I love library conventions as a librarian but I seem to have shied from fan based conventions. Perhaps shyness was a factor, or an avoidance of fannish things.

I’ve been joining book groups on facebook of late, mostly independent publisher based. I suspect I’m as much interested in discussion of different editions and availability as I am in discussion of the works. I have always struggled to discuss books I like, perhaps there’s a level of detail required, that I find difficult to retain, so I end up listening rather than participating. I vaguely recall trying a book club once long ago, they met at UTS in the ugly tower. I have friends in book groups of long standing and I envy their longevity of engagement. Perhaps a sense of structured engagement combined with the flexibility of good company.