Thursday, September 16, 2010

Let's adjourn to the library, shall we?

For the bulk of the past decade, my reading has been consumed by texts for grad school.  Works of literary fiction and non-fiction, scholarly treatises on rhetoric and composition theory.  During this time, my "pleasure reading" became somewhat backlogged.
Since my rejected and dejected funk started last May and ended in...well, it's still sorta going on to be honest with you, I decided to delve into my love of science fiction with full abandon and no regard as to popular acceptance.  That's how Strange Horizons came to be in the first place.  So I thought I'd take you on a tour of my literary SF collection.  This way, please...

Arthur C. Clarke--going to get one bit of embarrassment out of the way right off the bat.  I have 2001, but I have not read it.  I am going to.  Really.  But I have, you guessed it, seen the movie as well as its sequel.  In my younger days, this was enough to get me to read the third book in the set, but I didn't go back to the original.  I am eager.

Isaac Asimov--embarrassment part II.  I have I, Robot and Foundation but still need to finish them.  I was struck by how much George Lucas must have been influenced by Foundation in his creation of Coruscant.

Frank Herbert--speaking of Lucas influences, Dune is about as seminal as they come.  While I found it irksome at first to have to pause in my reading and flip back to the glossary to get a definition for a word in a fictitious language, I came to admire the depths of creativity involved and the sheer epic scale of the book.  Not just one of the greatest works of SF, but one of the greatest literary achievements of the English language. 

William Gibson--a genius.  Neuromancer, Count Zero, what more need be said?  This man revolutionized science fiction.  He has one of the most unique voices I have ever read.  It effervesced from the very first sentence of Neuromancer: "The sky above the port was the color of a television tuned to a dead channel."  I'm ashamed to admit how many of his other books I have piled up and still need to get to.  I have the opportunity to go meet him this Saturday.  More on that soon!

Bruce Sterling--like Gibson, another author in the cyberpunk canon.  I have only one work of his, Islands in the Net, but I have read descriptions of The Carytids and Holy Fire and both sound like winners.  Though I read him long ago, what I was struck by in Sterling's text was his uncanny knack of taking current situations and extrapolating them to a future that we are now seeing come into view with no small amount of accuracy.

Neal Stephenson--though it's a tome, Cryptonomicon beckons to me.  Love his punky style.

David Brin--speaking of tomes, dear God why can't there be an abridged version of Earth?

Rudy Rucker--I own Freeware and Wetware and eventually found him to be a bit too out in left field for me.  However, I do admire the abstract thinking at work within these pieces and they are if nothing else compelling to read.  I also liked this one blurb I read from Rucker a few years back: "Shopping malls used to terrify me, now I just imagine they are a mile beneath the surface of the Moon and everyone has a stainless steel rat attached to their head." (paraphrased.  I searched for the original quote, but I couldn't find a site that worked worth a shit.)

I also have a few short story collections.  There's one general compendium that includes Campbell's Who Goes There? (basis for The Thing), Longyear's Enemy Mine (basis for the film of the same name, but all resemblance ends there), and DeLanley's For I Am A Jealous People!  There's also Ultimate Cyberpunk which I've already reviewed and numerous collections of Wild Cards shorts, which are always fun.  Oh and uh...Last Days of Krypton by Kevin J. Anderson.  Just couldn't resist it.

And the stacks of books continue to grow at a logarithmic rate.   I visited a local used bookstore last weekend...and so should you.  They are mines of untold treasures and need to be supported, especially in these difficult economic times.  I ended up coming home with Greg Bear's The Forge of God, Creation Day by J.G. Ballard, and Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5.  It's not SF, but I also procured an antiquated and yellowed copy of The Truth About Flying Saucers.

I can only hope that this winter brings untold of blizzards that cancel work and allow to read.  Just read.

And keep watching the skies!!

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