Tuesday, October 02, 2012

What I read - Sept 2012

“Matadora”by Steve Perry. Not the Journey one. Found this at a flea market; it’s the Steve Perry book Ed’s always looking for, so for $2 I figured I couldn’t go wrong. Ed had suggested Steve Perry because of the way I talked about Seventh Sigma last month – the way martial arts were described to a non-fighting audience.

“AThousand Words for Stranger” by Julie Czerneda. She led a workshop at Ad Astra in April, and it was good. It’s the reason I sent out the zombie thing, which was an important thing for me. So when I found this at the (same) flea market, of course I picked it up. I was strangely reluctant to read it. Perhaps I don’t read as much science fiction as I like to think I do, and sometimes the effort required (you have to suspend a different kind of disbelief reading SF and fantasy than, say, Urban Fantasy, which is probably the easiest. Or YA of any sort.

Eventually it moved to the top of the pile.

I found the first parts disorienting, but then I suppose that was by design, because Sira has no memories, only a compulsion. I found I totally got into the story after the first few chapters, and had no problem finishing. Don’t know if I’ll seek out the sequels (looks like it’s a trilogy).

“Aloha from Hell” by Richard Kadrey. The boy got this for his birthday I think, and then Ed read it in two days. It took me a little longer to read it, and I made the somewhat perhaps mistake of reading the Locus interview with RK while I was about halfway through, which maybe contained spoilers for this volume because it was shilling volume 4. But that’s okay, I don’t necessarily read these for the outcome, but for the style.

“Steampunk”edited by Anne Vandermeer and Jeff Vandermeer. I bought this book last year when I was on one of my spinach-buying binges, and didn’t read it then. I might have been intimidated, because sometimes I find Jeff V’s blog impenetrable. But then I was casting about, and short stories seemed like a good idea after all those novels, so I picked it up. I like multi-author collections as a way to scout new authors. A few of the stories didn’t work for me, maybe because my brain didn’t know how to read that author, but others were totally fun. I loved the Jay Lake and the Lansdale and the Tim Chiang immediately, but found myself quoting the Blaylock story to one of my coworkers. Interesting how that happens. Anthologies and magazines are an interesting window into the minds of the editors, too. How did they pick these particular stories? Jay Lake and the Selene Gardening Society are SO different! And yet... voice.


And here’s why I’ve sort of abandoned OWW. I’m not sure I’ve critted anything there all year. I have so little time for critting, and less time for reading than I would like, and I found that time I was spending doing crits was time I’d rather spend doing something else, like editing my own work. When I would crit, I would get in a mentality of figuring out what’s wrong with a story. So reading this collection of short stories was interesting, because these are successful stories, complete, publishable, and published. I think I need to spend more time reading things that are successful, so I can figure out how to be successful, rather than trying to figure out why things fail, because I’ve nailed the failing thing repeatedly. Time to try a different approach.

Maybe I’ll go back, when I have more time. I liked critting. I just didn’t like the two or three hours a decent crit of a short story took me. Maybe what I need to do is learn to crit faster? Ha! I may not be a fast reader, actually. I may just be tenacious.

“UnLun Dun” by China Mieville. I’ve started this a few times, and put it down for unknown reasons. This time I started it, and got to about p. 50 in the first sitting. Then finishing was inevitable. I love the idea of the unchosen saving everyone, and Deeba has a great attitude (I kind of wonder how other people visualize her...). Curdle is awesome. The puns are awesome. Though I guess this book is intended for someone who’s like 11, like a Disney movie, it’s clearly intended for literary moms, too. No child is going to laugh at a bunch of extreme librarians on a quest for “Oh, all right then: Bartleby returns”. In fact, non-English majors probably won’t either. I sort of forced this book on Ed when I finished it, telling him it’s nothing like “Perdito Street Station”, which is true. He couldn’t read that, put it down in the first 50 pages. He can totally read this. Also, I loved the ending because I’ve always hated all those “You can never go back, and you can’t bring it out with you” tropes so common in portal-fantasy stories.

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