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.

they’re all lined up

After around 9 years, I have finally managed to complete the 10 volume set of Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson in matching numbers. It was around 9-10 years ago that Subterranean Press started publishing limited editions and releasing them one a year. Book 10, The Crippled God, arrived on my doorstep on Tuesday morning.

I regard the Malazan series as some of my favourite writing and like to make the comparison that Lord of the Rings is what you get when an English professor creates worlds, while Malazan is what you get from two archaeologists, one of whom is also an anthropologist. It is a challenging read and I recall several attempts to get into Book 1 as they are densely written, with lots of characters and perspectives to keep track of, not to mention a massive timeline of history.

I commented on instagram that book 5 is set in the time before book 4 while book 6 follows on from book 4. The series requires full immersion and it is hard to keep it all in the head. Minor characters and vignettes in early books may actually be portentous of later events and play a larger part further along. I’ve read a couple of interesting reviews recently including Tor and Medium, each grappling with the task of summarising Malazan effectively.

Collecting was a bit of fun in the early days as I was determined to read them all first before deciding to get special editions; I don’t do that anymore as I’ve had too many close calls. The first two Malazan had sold out by the time I decided I wanted the Subterranean editions so I ended up paying around $400 for book 2, then had a bit of luck and paid US$650 for book 1 of the same number, while the remaining were initially US$150 early on, but as costs rose in the following years, the final book was US$175.

Over the years I have been fortunate to acquire just about every other special edition of related works including all the releases from PS Publishing and Ian Esslemont’s works. I think the only title I’m sort of missing is the PS deluxe slipcase edition (100 copies) of Erikson’s The Lees of Laughter’s End, though I do have the limited release which was one of 500. I’d meant to follow it up years ago but didn’t get round to it and may have left it too late.

There have been books published in addition to the special editions including recent continuations. I am not aware of any special editions of those and have been picking up the first editions. It took me a while (along with access to Global Books in Print via my local library) to work out that the first edition (and first UK edition) was via Bantam Books and they were then released in the US through Tor. Increasingly I think the Bantam and Tor editions are being released almost simultaneously. While working that out I have ended up with 2-3 editions of each of the later works :-) That I think is getting a bit excessive. I have also managed to get the Bantam and Tor releases of the first book, Gardens of the Moon. Interestingly the first editions haven’t significantly increased in value like the Subterranean releases.

i’ll have that one please

Book collecting is an addictive space. I think I continue to tread carefully but occasionally disappear down rabbit holes. Depending on my mood I have, on occasion, bought unknown books in special editions, because I like reading special editions. This is a dangerous, and expensive, path. But it reflects somewhat the challenges of the special editions market.

I recall reading years ago, some advice about buying art as investments. The advice was simply “buy what you like.” The thinking being that if it gains in value then it’s worthwhile but if it doesn’t gain in value, then you still have something you like.

Some new books

With books, I am an addict for owning and collecting. For me, the investment value is irrelevant; I like to read pretty books and I like to have pretty books on my shelves. At times the investment value can be bewildering. I have stock standard, albeit limited/special editions, that I’ve paid $50 or so for, which are now worth close to $1,000. This was not intentional and the vagaries of the market scare me a little.

Science fiction and fantasy are my faves and it’s a curious market. Lots of folk on good incomes working in computer stuff who also like scifi and fantasy tends to be a large group. I’ve noticed increasingly over the last decade or so, a rise in interest in special books and figurines and so forth. The internet of course has vastly improved findability: if it’s not online, it cannot be purchased.

A print run of 500, nicely bound, editions of a book used to be sufficient. These days, such runs tend to sell out quickly. The audience are no longer local but global. COVID-19 lockdowns seems to have accelerated that process.

This means that if a nice edition of a book is announced and I’ve not read it, nor the author, I may well buy that special edition. Because if I do get round to reading it, often as an ebook, and love it, then the special edition will likely have sold out. I have been caught out a few times and it’s not always possible to recover, or at least attain the title somewhat affordably. Thus, on occasion, I have been buying books on spec, in nice editions, just in case. This does not sit right with me. Yet they are nice and I have no regrets. So far.

a lack of progress

My reading has not been fab in recent months. I like working from home but I don’t think the restriction of lockdown is working well for me. It’s sort of curious that I can work from home easily when I know I can go anywhere at the drop of a hat – “have passport, will travel” was my catchphrase. Working from home when I can’t go anywhere far is a little challenging. I feel my world closing down to a few routines. Stepping outside those routines is increasingly uncomfortable.

I live in a city where new covid cases are in single figures per day. Realistically, life should be approaching normal.

My reading has dropped off completely. I struggle to read anything of substance. I have several books underway, some even predate lockdown. I lie in bed at night and play wordish games on my phone but struggle to pick up a book, print or digital. I switch off the light and go straight into a sound sleep.

I sleep well. Snore well. Snore too well for the rest of the house I suspect.

I seem to work well though my work day is changing. Up in time to start work at 10, an hour’s commute replaced by an extra, luxurious hour in bed. I’ve always had lunch closer to 2 than 1…but now it’s usually post 2. Of late, I’m finding around 4-5, my attention slows and disappears. I spend an hour or so on the playstation and my focus returns and I do a chunk more work. Playing a game seems to invigorate mentally in a way that watching a movie or tv does not.

My entire job can be done from home. I have been here before, when I was working vendor-side. It’s different now. I am amused by the idea, once again, of being able to do my job from wherever I am, independent of the building I work for. I work for the State. I support the State.

When I re-read that bit about the “State”, I need to say I am referring to the State of New South Wales, and not a state of mind and not the “state” as some sort of governmental control. I work for the benefit of NSW and to support the information needs of NSW folk. It’s not a creepy thing. No echoes of 1984…yet.

As is not uncommon, I have digressed somewhat from the post I started to write. This was supposed to be simply, a list of books I have on the go, so here is that list:

  • Use of Weapons by Ian M Banks – this is a Subterranean Press edition that arrived prior to lockdown and was underway, yet I haven’t quite got back to it
  • Embassytown by China Miéville – another Subterranean Press edition underway pre lockdown
  • Walking Home by Simon Armitage – a poet describes his experiences walking the Pennine Way going in the opposite direction to everybody else. I want to walk the Pennine Way one day. This book is fab and I am halfway through, my partner loaned me the physical book though I later bought the e version so I could turn off the bedside light. I’m about halfway through.
  • The Sandman Book II by Neil Gaiman – I am re-reading my beautiful deluxe compendium editions of the Sandman chronicles.
  • Masters of Science Fiction: Kate Wilhelm – a double volume collection from Centipede Press of short stories by Kate Wilhelm. I am buying all in this series.
  • The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu – this is the second book in the Remembrance of Earth’s Past series. The ideas are good, character development not so fab, Chinese perspective is outside my usual experience. Also a Subterranean Press edition.
  • R is for Rocket/S is for Science by Ray Bradbury – a master of the short story. Possibly one of my favourite short story writers, though that I think may require another post.

Too many on the boil and another arrived today that I really want to read again. A book I read long ago. That will be a post for another day.