I haven’t been as fastidious about my blog this month, partly because I got hung up on writing that stupid review of The Clone. I’ve been doing this long enough now that I think I’m running out of things to say about the schlock I’ve been reading– I’ve said it all before, others have said it all long before, and lately I’ve been more interested in reading those other people than just spouting off my ignorant drivel. Also, I’ve been restricting my post-writing time to a small window in the mornings, as this blog has been leaking into my weekend days more than I’d like.
Plus, the weather has been nice! It’s like we’re having an actual autumn this year and it’s only been like in the 80-somethings this month, which makes me want to be outside more.
Books Read and Blogged
I’m also at a point where I’d like to read more than review, so my blogging might become more erratic during these next few months as I experiment with different routines. I realized last year that I’m simply not going to be able to adequately review every single SF book I read, especially if I’m now allowing myself to sample more from the platter of new-and-shiny, but I still feel this niggling guilt that I should review everything. The deeper I get into SF, the deeper I want to go, and the deeper I want to talk about it, but no, Mr. Simak, time is not the simplest thing.
This month I read:
The Exile Waiting (1975) by Vonda McIntyre – my review here
Parable of the Talents (1998) by Octavia Butler
Both Sower and Talents are longer than they should be, and they both have moments of eternal drag, but it’s all because of Butler’s interest in peripheral people and it’s hard to fault her on that.
The Man in the High Castle (1962) by Philip K. Dick- my review here
(I completely made up a guy in my review. He exists in an alternate universe of PKD studies.)
The Clone (1965) by Theodore L. Thomas and Kate Wilhelm- my review here
The Year of the Flood (2009) by Margaret Atwood
Audiobook. Funnier, but not as dark or symbolic as Oryx and Crake, yet I enjoyed it just the same. Atwood has this way of being not entirely sympathetic to any of her characters, and that, along with her depiction of this latent kind of apocalypse, exaggerates American life in ways that easily opens it to criticism. (I went the audiobook route on this one and every few chapters end in a full studio recording of a silly religious-hippie song. Funny, but too corny to tolerate for very long.)
All Flesh is Grass (1965) by Clifford Simak
Wacky Simak, not contemplative Simak. Proto-Way Station with some Proto-Spin/Dome built in, and full of alien flowers that want to take over the world. I’m still working out an angle on how I think about this one.
The Gracekeepers (2015) by Kirsty Logan
Not quite finished with this one, but I will finish it tonight. I am really adoring this near-future, flooded world of emergent mermaids and territorial divisions by this debut Scottish novelist. I think a lot of people compare it to The Scar and The Night Circus, but, in a way, it’s more like a delicate The Drowned World. I’ll give it more treatment when I review the Kitschies lists in… November, I guess?
The Crystal World (1966) by JG Ballard
Audiobook. This might be my favorite Ballard so far, but probably only because it’s slightly easier to stomach than the other Ballards I’ve read. I will finish it today because the thing with Ballard on audiobook is that his work is very easy to listen to, but his words crackle and glisten and feed on themselves in such a way that I finally have to shut off the recording because I’m desperate to see what it looks like on the page. Also, smartphones are the new crystal sunglasses, aren’t they?
Culture Vulture… because I’m literally scavenging here
Along with reading, I also consumed some culture! For my review of The Clone, I watched as many clips of The Blob as I could find on YouTube (surprisingly enjoyable), then I listened to this recording of Q&A by Robert Silverberg (fascinating), and thanks to a twitter convo, I somehow got drawn into watching this documentary about the Worldcon in Brighton held during the year I was born… which I just remembered I didn’t actually finish because I got interrupted during the middle of it, but I saw enough to confirm my theory that Frederick Pohl is a not-very-lifelike android, and to see Bob Silverberg during his pirate phase.
Oh! I also enjoyed this interview with Jennifer Marie Brissett (writer of the critically-acclaimed Elysium that was on my Best of 2014 list last year) when she appeared on the Cabbages&Kings podcast.
I also consumed other bits of cultural detritus, but let’s not nitpick.
Books to be Read
Still bouncing between 2015 and 1975 as I work through the gargantuan 1976 Nebula shortlist, this year’s Kitschies shortlists, and other highly recommended books from 2015. I guess I’ll save the more Halloween-appropriate books for the end of the month.
Radiomen (2015) by Eleanor Lerman
Invisible Cities (1975) by Italo Calvino
The Reflection (2015) by Hugo Wilcken
The Birthgrave (1975) by Tanith Lee
The Night Clock (2015) by Paul Meloy
Audiobooks– still cycling through the works of these four authors:
Dawn (1987) by Octavia Butler- (reread for me, but from long ago)
Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb (1965) by PKD
Alias Grace (1996) by Margaret Atwood
The Atrocity Exhibition (1970) by JG Ballard
Monthly Book Tallies:
Books read: 8
Books blogged: 3
Books about aliens: 1, and in the form of pretty purple flowers
Books about robots: 0
Books about time travel: 1, ish
Books about post-apocalypse: 4
Books about pre-apocalypse: 2
Books with crystallized crocodiles: 1
Books in which starving helpless birds to death is a funerary practice: 1
Books about angry slimeballs that are not about the current US election: 1