January was a great month at From couch to moon! Great books reviewed and great books read! During that month of alternating ice, snow, and 75 degree days, nothing was very average, not even my reading output. I read a good many books, all very good, but maybe took on too much in all areas of life and general couchiness.
This may be the first time, in the history of this blog, that I did not meet a self-imposed reading deadline.
*dramatically hangs head in shame*
The month kicked off with a post on my Top Ten Reads of 2014 (more than ten, ‘cause I’m a rebel), and I outlined my totally predictable “Readsolutions” for the coming year.
I finally posted my review of The Scar (2002), which I truly, truly enjoyed. I loved Ms. Belis Coldwine more than maybe any other character ever, and I took the long-winded way of saying that I keep expecting Miéville to do something more than just a good story with great ideas, but he keeps on disappointing me by writing up these incredibly pleasant and imaginative narratives that I simply enjoy reading. How dare he.
Gene Wolfe and I had another little chat, this time about the second novel in his Book of the New Sun series, The Claw of the Conciliator (1981). I think he’s saying that maybe we’re looking a little too hard for hidden meanings, but then it turned out this guy has a robot arm, so I don’t know what to believe.
Around mid-month, people started posting their nomination ballots for the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) awards, so I shared my own blurby comments about the 2014 novels I read, with the promise that I would add more. This is just spectator fun for me. The BSFA tends to catch my attention more than the other awards, but I don’t think they want input from a Texan, no matter how many zero guns I own.
In the spirit of the BSFA, I followed that post with a review of 2012 BSFA winner Jack Glass by Adam Roberts. Like some of Roberts’ reviews at his own blog, my review is silly and has a bad case of the self-interrupts. I enjoyed the book, and I enjoyed arguing that there is a purpose behind those peculiar inconsistencies.
And I ended the month on a high note, with an extremely satisfied review of a well-written fifties SF novel, written by a woman: The Long Tomorrow (1955) by Leigh Brackett. This is a must read for anyone, anyone, who considers themselves a fan of pastoral, post-apocalyptic speculative fiction.
Oh, and finally, FINALLY, (because everything seems later than usual this year), Locus Online published its annual Recommended Reading List. I think I fared pretty well with my reading choices, but I had a few reading regrets.
Books I Read, Reviews to Expect
I completed the rest of the Book of the New Sun tetralogy, so expect another non-review of The Sword of the Lictor (1982) and a real review of the entire series, including The Citadel of the Autarch (1983) in the coming weeks.
I don’t normally do short fiction, but Joachim’s review of the 1970 short fiction nominees in Nebula Award Stories Six at Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations was just too tempting. I read this mainly for an introduction to Joanna Russ, and to seek another angle to the whole “I don’t get Gene Wolfe” issue. Both the Russ and Wolfe stories are brilliant, as well as many others in the collection. I have a small, informal review written up, but I can’t handle more than one weekly post at this time, so I’ll save it for a rainy day.
Speaking of Joanna Russ, I finally read The Female Man! Expect my review of this innovative piece of feminist literature later this month. Why this is not required college reading, I do not know. Why my mother has not read this, I also do not know. (I thought she owned ALL of the feminism.) More to come on this.
To add to my 2014 blurby reviews, I completed Cixin Liu’s Three Body Problem and Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon. I have updated my thoughts about Lagoon on my aforementioned 2014 blurb post. If I seemed underwhelmed at first, I TAKE IT BACK! This book is not what most readers will expect. It’s a funny examination of Nigerian society, less alien, and more lampoon. Her dry delivery surprised more than a few laughs out of me.
To continue my 2014 nominating season book binge, I followed Lagoon with The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, who is actually Catherine Webb, which sort of sets off my “ulterior motive imposter alert,” but I kind of don’t blame her. That aside, I’m halfway done and, the plot is cool, yes, but I am most impressed by the way she uses minute behaviors to reveal the personalities and thoughts of her characters. It’s extremely enjoyable for that alone. She also makes me laugh.
I am also currently reading The Years of Rice and Salt (2002) by Kim Stanley Robinson, which I DO NOT want to end, so I am going veerryy veerryy sloowwlyy, which is very, very easy, because it is very, very long. But that’s okay, because I could totally crawl into this book and make it my home. In a way, it does for world history what Howard Zinn’s A People’s History did for the U.S. Plus, it has parts about Andalucia, which is my home away from home.
Aaaaand finally, I just started The Algebraist (2004) by Iain M! Banks. My first Banks. Which I was supposed to start a week ago. And it’s long, too. This is totally going to mess up my reading plans for February.
Reading Plans for February
*Reshuffles the book schedule*
The Algebraist (2004) by Iain M! Banks
Davy (1964) by Edgar Pangborn
Bones of the Earth (2002) by Michael Swanwick
The Lathe of Heaven (1971) by Ursula K. Le Guin
Long, lazy read of the month: Continuing The Years of Rice and Salt
I might toss in something from the 2014 Kitschies or BSFA shortlists. Might. If they are ever announced, that is.
January Reading Tallies:
Books completed: 7
Books UNCOMPLETED OH MY GOD I’M A FAILURE: 2
Books with aliens: 5-ish (not sure if alternate universes count in one case)
Books with robots: 1 (I really wanted this lady in The Long Tomorrow to be a robot. She wasn’t.)
Books with time travel: 2-ish
Books in which I get name-checked: 1! The Years of Rice and Salt! (My surname has Arabic roots.)
Books about the divided female psyche expressed through alternate universes and includes an experimental spring-autumn lesbian romance because gender norms are oppressive: 1
No review this week or next week because major proj going on in the real world. Exciting! But taking up a lot of mental space! (I’ll double up later.)
This monthly review brought to you by too much pseudoephedrine!