I don’t spend as much time in the depths of the book mines as I used to, but I still try to spend some time down in the stacks browsing for interesting books. That is how I discovered The City Trilogy by Chang Hsi-Kuo. This deceptively slim volume was published a few years ago by Columbia University Press. I’d never read any Chinese science fiction, so I figured that I should give it a try.
I have a fondness for pulpy sci-fi tropes. I love giant monsters and death rays and super science and all that popcorn. This prediliction of mine made it almost a certainty that I would read A. Lee Martinez’s Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain, the only thing that could have made it more inevitable would have been a lurid cover painting. Though the cover isn’t as painterly as I might hope for, the contents are every bit as technicolor as my appetite could desire.
Erudite as I might pretend to be, there are some glaring gaps in my knowledge. I attended a community college for a couple years after high school, but I never really went to university or acquired a degree. Mostly, that only bothers me when I spend time with my resume, but sometimes there are subjects that I just don’t know much about. I really don’t know much about philosophy, so when I got my hands on a copy of Nigel Warburton’s A Little History of Philosophy, I decided to dig in and learn a few things.
It’s rare that I read a fantasy novel and when I do, I strive only to read the best. I prefer novels cut from fresh cloth. I don’t like to see elves and dwarves or wizards casting fireballs. N. K. Jemison’s Kingdom of Gods is the final volume of her Inheritance trilogy and here we have a rich world of varied cultures ruled by a single dynasty, the Arameri, servants of Intempas, a god of order and light. Their long rule and ruthless peace has been known as the Bright and it is coming to an end.
For the last few years, Nightshade Books has been one of my favorite publishers. Their catalog is full of debut authors that just don’t fit well into any of the usual categories. Rob Ziegler’s new novel Seed is a novel of ecological collapse. The setting is about 100 years in the future in an America that has disintegrated into migrating populations shifting north and south to avoid the worst of the increasingly severe seasons. The only source of seed is the mysterious Satori company and the last vestiges of the government are becoming forgotten and impotent.
One of my great sorrows at work is that most of the books that pass over my desk aren’t interesting to me in the least. So it was much to my delight that I discovered a copy of Stephen Hunt’s Secrets of the Fire Sea on my desk last week. It was a UK edition, since the US version doesn’t release for another couple months and that made it that much more exciting. I’ve been reading this series for a few years now and I have often lamented that the US editions are arriving more than a year after the original UK publication. It should be criminal I tell ya.
I’ve been thinking about writing a lot, ever since Mrs. Portmandia started writing her novel. I’d like to write more, but mostly I procrastinate my writing time away. As a result, more daunting projects never really get started (though I do have a few notes for a post-apocalyptic hipster novel). I’ve been trying to blog as much as possible, figuring that writing is writing, and that any time that I spend writing will help me build skill and be better. Last week it occurred to me that I might want to write for kids.