Monday, July 15, 2013

Reading List

One result of going to a convention devoted to the love of speculative literature is you wind up collecting a few titles to read. Let's say more than a few.

Most of these were mentioned in panels that I attended, and where appropriate I'll mention what interested me about the book. Others are just titles recommended by people I met or book descriptions I found interesting. If you've read any of these, feel free to endorse or warn me away!

I'll start of by a list of books I wrote down from the multiple panels on Utopian fiction. First I have two classics of the genre: "Modern Utopia" by H.G. Wells and "Looking Backward" by Edward Bellamy which sounded surprisingly readable from John Crowley's description of a class he taught to undergrads. In that same class, students read "Pacific Edge" by one of my favorite authors, Kim Stanley Robinson and in looking for that book on Amazon I discovered it was part of a trilogy on Southern California which also contained "Wild Shore" and "Gold Coast."

The next few books I'm lumping together by sub-genre: Space Opera. This includes near-space epic  "Leviathan Awakes" by James S.A. Corey which I really should have read already, "Dragon's Egg" by  Robert L. Forward, and "Prison Planet" by William C. Dietz. One of the panelists on a panel on their favorite parts of novels mentioned that last book and it sounded really cool. I'm not entirely sure I got the title and author right, though but during my research this book popped up which also looked great.

I'm also going to track down two classic horror novels Scent of New-Mown Hay by John Blackburn and "The Green Man" by Kingsley Amis. This former's so old I'm having trouble finding a digital copy, or any copy whatsoever except for used copies on Amazon.

In attending the Frederick Brown panel I got the names of several novels that seemed interesting: "Go Home, Martians" and "The Lights in the Sky are Stars." The description of a hard-working craftsman of science fiction was very appealing. According to one of the panelists the closest author in that mode working today is Michael Swanwick whose collection of short stories, "The Dog Said Bow-Wow" I purchased.

Next I spoke to someone busily making his way through all of the Hugo nominees for this year and got a host of books to try: "Year Zero" by Rob Reid, "Wool Omnibus" by Hugh Howey a collection of dystopian novellas collected together in a single volume, as well as Existence by David Brin. I also heard The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman is good so I'll plug that here even though it was already on my list.

Finally, I'm going to put down a few more books from authors that I either met or listened to during the conference. One of the things I'm most pleased I did was sign up for a pair of Kaffeeklatches, small gatherings to listen to one of the many writers at Readercon. The first was hosted by Elizabeth Bear and  Scott Lynch. Elizabeth I've read some short stories from so I'm going to check out her collection Shoggoths in Bloom (great title that), but Scott Lynch I confess was unknown to me. I intend to correct that oversight as soon as possible ad Republic of Thieves seems a good place to start. I think I'll throw in some old Peter Straub novels I haven't gotten to yet: "The Mystery" and "The Throat." Lastly, I was greatly impressed by John Crowley calm and humane contributions to each panel I saw him on, so I'm hoping to read "Little, Big" and "Engine Summer."

This post has already gone a bit longer than I thought so I'm going to wrap up here. Hopefully in the next few days I can put together my thoughts on the conference itself.

Feeling Very Strange: A Slipstream Anthology edited by James Patrick Kelley and John Kessel
Digital Rapture: A Singularity Anthology edited by James Patrick Kelley and John Kessel
Re-Wired: A Post-Cyberpunk Anthology edited by James Patrick Kelley and John Kessel
The New Space Opera edited by Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan

Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st Century Writer by Jeff VanderMeer

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