And so it seems I have a Halloween tradition now, during which I forego my evening workout to sit on the couch and type up a monthly reading review while waiting for tiny beggars to ring the doorbell. Fewer and fewer trick-or-treaters every year is another thing that’s happening. Full bowl of candy just sitting here right now.
It might be because of the sandworm infestation we’ve been having here in Arrakis, though these particular sandworms have fangs and rattles and have been biting the neighborhood dogs. Photos pop up daily on the neighborhood online social network (this is a thing now… oh the drama) of giant rattlers slithering around on my streets.
It goes without saying, I’m not out jogging outdoors much anymore— ah, excuse me. Customers. In tutus.
…And, it also goes without saying, gardening has become a guerrilla war zone, and our hyper-organized garage now feels like a gauntlet of never-before-noticed hidey spaces.
But what am I doing blabbing about my snake anxiety. You’re here to snoop on my book readin’.
BOOK AWARD NEWS!
The British Fantasy Society held their 2015 awards banquet last Sunday and people won things. I have a real disconnect when it comes to finding fantasy I like and what everyone else likes. Francis Hardinge’s Cuckoo Song won the Robert Holdstock Award, but I read it for the BSFA shortlist and it just wasn’t filling enough.
And speaking of fantasy awards, the 2015 World Fantasy Awards will happen this weekend and I have read all but one on the novel shortlist, so maybe that’ll be interesting. I think VanderMeer’s Annihilation is most likely to win, though, much as I felt that the magickal tea party section was a slap in the face, I most enjoyed Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks novel out of that entire group. City of Stairs was too manipulative and sentimental for me, while The Goblin Emperor wasn’t much different from any other reluctant-heir-takes-the-throne type tale.
OTHER BOOK AWARD NEWS!
Because there just aren’t enough SF book awards—oops, just a sec. Mexican wrestler at my door.
Anyway, because there just aren’t enough SF book awards— sorry, Cookie Monster and Jason are in need of organic grahams and vegetarian fruit chews. (Yes, I am THAT neighbor.)
ANYWAY, because there just aren’t enough SF book awards—jesus… I don’t even know what she was supposed to be.
Hmph. Now that the opportunity for effective sarcasm has passed, let’s just say a lot of SF book awards already exist, yet people clamor for more and I don’t really get it, (and I definitely don’t want to vote on “Best Villain” because I don’t think a single book I liked this year involved a so-called “villain.” It’s 2015: villainy is a fluid construct).
COMPLETELY UNRELATED TO THAT, I will be hosting my own niche SF book award ceremony this month! Except it’ll be a blog post, not a ceremony. And there won’t be trophies or anything like that. And it won’t really be a good award because, if this blog has demonstrated anything at all, it’s this: if I really like a book, it’s probably not gonna win any real awards.
I am the litmus test reader for not winning book awards. This is the service I provide.
So, yeah, watch out for my very special book award cere-phony coming soon.
And back to our regularly scheduled program…
October started with a review of Brown Girl in the Ring (1998) by Nalo Hopkinson, which I was so excited to read but then it felt just like most other ‘80s and ‘90s SF I’ve read where there’s just not much more going on beyond a strict genre plot. I was hoping ’98 would be late enough to see some of that post-2000 sophistication that I’ve enjoyed, but I’ll have to keep reading in order to fully understand the turn-of-the-century evolution from drab to fab SF.
It still doesn’t put me off Hopkinson though; it was the ’90s, after all. I will be reading her new short story collection soon and Midnight Robber (2000) is further down the road.
Then I put my best fungus forward and, instead of reviewing Zelazny’s [pause]…And Call me Conrad (1966), I mostly talked about the crime fiction tropes in SF, especially the unshakeable white dude ‘tude, and why I like it more in modern SF. And I also let Delany and Merrill duke it out with each other for a bit and ended up agreeing with both.
As serendipity would have it, my next book reviewed was Eric Frank Russell’s Three to Conquer (1955) which was MORE CRIME FIC SF! AND THE GUY CALLS A LOW-IQ WOMAN A SLUT! So I just spent the whole post trying to rename the book something more appropriate. I also made fun of fuzzy cardigans, or whatever that thing is.
And I ended the month on a high note, reviewing Fritz Leiber’s impassioned invisible-epic Destiny Times Three (1945!), an exciting read on multiple levels and my favorite Leiber so far. So glad I snagged a 1st edition for that one!
Books Read, To Be Blogged
October began with speedier-than-usual reading progress, so my oooohShadowTBR list got a good workout. But then I got too bold, too ambitious, and I wound up one book short on my committed TBR. GRRRR.
Books I finished:
Brightness Reef (1995) by David Brin
The Moon is a Harsh Mansplainer (1965) by Robert Heinlein
Spin (2005) by Robert Charles Wilson
Grass (1989) by Sherri Tepper
Books finished from the oooohShadowTBR:
The Beauty (2014) by Aliya Whiteley
Bête (2014) by Adam Roberts
Scale-Bright (2014) by Benjanun Sriduangkaew
Books I finished on November 1st, but I’m counting it for October anyway dammit because that was a lot to read and why the hell does short fiction always feel like such a commitment?:
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, the James Tiptree Jr. collection (1990)
Books I didn’t finish because I am a failure:
Not This August (1945) by C. M. Kornbluth
The Satanic Verses (1988) by Salman Rushdie– Totally not about Halloween! At all! Ripoff!
So, Kornbluth’s book will be tacked on to November’s monthly draw, and I think I’ll postpone the Rushdie until Thanksgiving Break, just so I have time to READ it. The Rushdie selection came out of nowhere. I’ve always admired him for his the political and atheist commentary, but I’ve never read his fiction. When I heard he was releasing a new novel this year, I decided I should at least read his best known work first. I originally snagged it as an audiobook, but it’s just not working for me. The narrator is a bit too dull to keep my attention, and the text is too rich to comprehend by partial osmosis. It’s going to require undivided concentration (meaning: no driving at the same time), although I’m certain I’ll miss a lot of things anyway because I am so religion illiterate.
Books To Be Read… From the Cards!
Not This August (1945) by C. M. Kornbluth
Remake (1995) by Connie Willis
The Squares of the City (1965) by John Brunner
Accelerando (2005) by Charles Stross
The End of Eternity (1955) by Isaac Asimov
The Pastel City (1971) by M. John Harrison
Have I ever talked about my first M. John Harrison? No? Good. Let’s not go there. Let’s just say an M. John Harrison space opera novel should never be anyone’s second-ever space opera novel. (Dune was my first– more sand opera than space opera.) Not for the uninitiated. I had no idea about space opera and I certainly had no idea about Harrison. I am much better prepared for it now and would likely get more out of Light today, but I’m more curious about the Viriconium series.
In addition to all those books, I, for some reason, think that an entire week off for Wanksgiving will give me ample opportunity to start my 2015 reading. Have my failed reading ambitions taught me nothing?
But anyway, here’s what you really came for…
Monthly Book Tallies
Total Books Blogged: 4.
Total Books Read: 8, if I cheat a little about the Tiptree book.
Total Books about…
A Whole Lotta Feminism: 4
A Little Bitta Feminism: 3
Gender tone-deafness from a sexually insecure idiot: 1
Sapient animals/vegetables: 4 Romance subplot that didn’t turn me off: 3 Sort of blaming vegetation for social ills, but metaphorically: 2
Worst book of the month: TANSTAFUCKOFF.
Best book of the month: Bête by Adam Roberts.
Halloweenly Beggar Tallies:
The treats are all gone. I have already been harassed by teenagers for turning off the porch light. I guess Halloween still lives, despite the rattlesandworms.
… And now begins a week of subconscious circadian stress that makes me feel like I’m running late to work every morning.