i'm a bit of a read-around sue. i have at present nearly 20 books going although some get much more attention than others, and right now fiction is getting the most. so i want to report a couple of recent pleasures in the fiction line.
i confess, i have never (till now) read robert charles wilson. why not?! shameful! my countryman and friend of friends. i went to see him read a couple of months ago at white dwarf books (with rob sawyer) and enjoyed the afternoon very much. not having the twenty bucks to buy bob's new book, Spin (though i will get to it eventually), i hung on and instead bought a second-hand copy of a much older offering: Harvest.
at first, i wasn't so sure i was going to like it, although the actual writing was a pleasure to read. but i am not into disaster fiction, even disaster science fiction, and it did shape up in that direction at first.
but, lo! there is so much more to this novel than that. never one to give away plots—i hate knowing what is going to happen before it does—i will say very little about the book except this.
there are a few things i value most in a writer:
- the ability to plot well and use words in at least an unobstructive way;
- in sf, the creative use of science to make it an enjoyable and not a burdensome part of the book
- a deeper perceptiveness of human nature and a shaded, as opposed to a B&W, way of viewing persons, problems, and outcomes;
carol emschwiller (wife of sf illustrator ed emschwiller) is someone i knew as an sf writer. so imagine my surprise when i was handed a pile of books to pick through (bless you, terry, bless you!) and there was a "western" by her in the mix: Leaping Man Hill.
it turned out to be the second in a two-volume set, but the stories were stand-alones so i went for it. The main characters are a young woman who is the daughter of a prostitute, and a not-so-young man who is damaged in heart and body by the first world war. it is not a western in the sense of shoot-'em-up or save the ranch, no.
what a wonderful book! all of the above wish-list (well, okay—not an awful lot of science there) and more. this woman can write, and plot, and get inside characters in a way few others in my experience can. after quickly inhaling the book, i ordered Ledoyt from the library. Ledoyt tells the story of a character who is secondary in . (note: this is something i never do. i like to get on to another author right away, for some reason. read-around-sue...)
i have to admit i went a little cautiously into the reading of Tesseracts 9, which includes my own First Published Story. i love short speculative fiction, but i tend to read "Best Of" anthologies and often find that first-run collections have a very lopsided set of good, not-so-good, and out and out annoying stories. since i wanted to think well of this book, i was a little nervous setting out.
i'm only about half-way through, but i am enjoying it. not all of the stories appeal to me—i can't say i entirely even get one or two—but several have really entertained me and some i like a lot. i don't think it is because i just finished it that dan rubin's story, "The Singing" stands out. (dan—i don't know if you were trying to be funny in this basically straightforward and poignant story, but that alien's name is a total unpronounceable hoot! i appreciated the counterpoint to solemnity.) i am relieved to find that my story still seems okay to me. shew. jerome stueart's "Lemmings in the Third Year" is a wonderful combination of good science, nuttiness and strong story-telling. and alette willis's "Thought and Memory" is outstanding. the list goes on.
i'm not the only one who likes the book. Challenging Destiny's james schellenberg says: "(T)he series is in pretty good hands with Hopkinson and Ryman, who are the editors this time out...Tesseracts 9 is a solid collection of short sf works, and I'll be curious to see where the series goes next." geoff ryman, by the way, is short-listed for the prestigious new Sunburst award, for fantastic literature published in canada. his book is called Air.
so, this is what i'm doing for my summer vacation. read for half an hour, get up and write for half an hour, go mindless over email for a little while, then get on with the general functions of life. i look forward very much to the books i have waiting for me.
next novel, after Ledoyt, is mike coney's Hello Summer, Goodbye!, also known as Rax and, in yet another country, as Pallahaxi Tide. Got to read this so i can get to his just-published-on -the-web sequel, I Remember Pallahaxi.
happy readings and writings, my friends!