I’m a tamer. I get to talk to animals!
Dan Simmon’s Hyperion Cantos!
Absolutely loving them so far. Just started Endymion.
I’ve been rereading Peter Hamilton’s Commonwealth Duology (Pandora’s Star/Judas Unchained) as I have fond memories of them from when they were published during what seemed to be a bit of a revival of Big Object/Ideas UK Space Opera… probably my favourite books of that era.
I still enjoy them (although Hamilton’s tendency to turn what should be a paragraph long anecdote into a 40 page chapter grates at times, but hey, I’m the one choosing to read a book the size of a brick), but am really surprised at how dated they feel despite only being just over a decade old. It’s amazing how much and how quickly popular scifi has changed in the time since it was published.
One thing that was particularly amusing after hearing Austin and Rob joke about Battletech’s spectacularly 80s division of different worlds/houses into simplified national stereotypes (Space Germans, Space Asians)… Peter Hamilton is very much “hold my beer” in how much he embraces whole planets being colonised by a particular nationality and remaking that planet in their image.
I wish there was more epic fantasy that got into leftist philosophy. It seems to be all scifi (which I like but sometimes I want fantasy or a mix of both)
I wonder if it’s because fantasy often looks back for inspiration while sci-fi looks forward,
but I full heartedly agree! I’d love some good suggestions if anyone has any!
I am currently reading Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett, a hilarious spoof on Hollywood based in the silly realm of Discworld. It cracks me up! I love the grouchy wizards and their love of hierarchical structure because what’s the point if you can’t feel better than other people and aspire to rise above others. or the alchemists, who’s guild house is eternally new because someone accidentally blows it up twice a year. Or how the librarian is a man who was changed into an orangutan and communicates only with “Ooks” with different inflections.
And I’m reading Jailbird by Kurt Vonnegut! It’s maybe my 6th Vonnegut book and it is chock full of classic Vonnegut gallows humor. His societal satire is always on point and makes you laugh while making you unnerved. I’m 40ish pages in and the book did what his books always do, it shocked me by being a foreword narrated by Vonnegut himself. Now the real book begins. So far I like it better than Bluebeard.
@Jonny_Anonymous if you write it, they will come.
honestly I wish B. Traven had written a fantasy novel, he would have been really good at it and it would’ve been chock full of leftist themes like all of his novels.
I just finished DC’s Bombshells and loved it. I am about to start the sequel, Bombshells United. Right now I’m reading Death Without Company by Craig Johnson, which is an early book in the Longmire series.
I’m reading Shadows Over Baker Street which is a compilation of short stories that combine Sherlock Holmes with Lovecraftian lore. It’s pretty entertaining although some stories are definitely better than others.
Uprooted by Nami Novik
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
I haven’t finished anything for a couple of months now. I’ve just been nibbling at books: a couple hundred words here, a chapter there. This year, I’m trying my best to hold off on buying or borrowing anything new until I finish what I have.
That said. When I noticed my library purchased Robots Vs. Fairies, I was all in. I’ve been eyeing that book since it was announced. It’s an anthology in which the authors choose to focus on either fairies or robots whilst including the other as a background element or as flavor. For instance, in Annalee Newitz’s “The Blue Fairy Manifesto”, a small flying robot is named The Blue Fairy. In Sarah Gailey’s “Bread and Milk and Salt” a fairy becomes involved with a roboticist.
I’ve enjoyed every story so far (I’m always blown away by the imagination packed into anthologies like these) and this book has made an excellent bedtime read since I can finish off a story in a sitting and feel good about my slow-ass self.
I’m reading Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, an exposé on the exploitation of the working class and the difficulty of getting by on minimum-wage jobs. It’s from 2001, so a lot has changed since then, much of it for the worse, and it’s not good to read at work for obvious reasons
I’m reading Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff, which I think Jordan Peele is supposed to be adapting soon into a series for HBO. About a third of the way through, right at the beginning of the second part, and I’m liking it quite a lot.
The Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin . I fell off the reading bandwagon at the fourth book (Tehanu) a few months back when things were busier, so I’m starting back at book one for a full runthrough .
Le Guin’s work has become a real wonderful source of inspiration for me. If you’re looking for a truly solid fantasy series, I’d wholeheartedly recommend this . She’s considered among classics like Tolkien, but I don’t feel like she ever got the real recognition she deserves . I’m pretty picky when it comes to books, and Le Guin’s work has consistently blown me away – I’ll lose hours and hours in her writing . It’s not above criticism (like anything else) and has its own fair share of troubles, but it’s been a wonderful ride overall
Back in the '60s, Le Guin was able to single handedly make a fantasy series casually non-eurocentric, something that I think it’s safe to say not many other internationally recognized English language authors can claim. She even went so far as to actively speak out against a white-washed TV adaptation.
“My color scheme was conscious and deliberate from the start. I didn’t see why everybody in science fiction had to be a honky named Bob or Joe or Bill. I didn’t see why everybody in heroic fantasy had to be white (and why all the leading women had “violet eyes”). It didn’t even make sense. Whites are a minority on Earth now—why wouldn’t they still be either a minority, or just swallowed up in the larger colored gene pool, in the future?” – Ursula K. Le Guin’s response to the TV Earthsea series in 2004
And, y’know… as woman of color, I find this pretty damn cool .
PS - Just to be clear (because I honestly had no idea before)… The Ghibli movie, Tales from Earthsea, is not The Earthsea Cycle . Hayao Miyazaki made it a stand-in for his own work, The Journey of Shuna , and by the time Goro Miyazaki managed to finish it the movie was already in Production HellTM for years.
i’m reading Spider-Man: Maximum Carnage and i hate it and it’s bad and i don’t know why i’m reading it oh god
Just finished Val McDermid’s Trick of the Dark, which is a fun little thriller/mystery. I tore through it in something like 3 days so that I could pick up Anger Is A Gift by Mark Oshiro (of Mark Does Stuff fame) as soon as it was released. It’s great so far, an extremely topical YA novel about police violence, underfunded schools and student activism featuring a cast of LGBTQ teenagers. According to the author it’s also partly inspired by Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother. I’m hooked
In sci-fi circles I think she gets pretty sizable recognition (and justifiably so) for books like The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness, but I completely agree that Earthsea is underrecognized and brilliant and wonderful, for all the reasons you gave and more. I think another thing that impressed me so much about that series when I first read it, from a purely stylistic standpoint, is that I went in expecting that kind of Tolkienesque high fantasy and the story I got was so much quieter, more intimate and human. I always feel like Le Guin’s stories, both her fantasy and sci-fi, are focused and grounded in a way that feels incredibly personal, and I’ve never quite felt the same about many other writers, even the ones I love, in those genres.
I heard she wrote sci-fi, but I hadn’t checked any out, yet. Would you say The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness are must-reads ?
Yeah, her style feels nothing like other high fantasy novels I’ve read, either. There’s definitely a serenity to her work… Spiritual, even? I’m not sure how to put it into words .
Happy to hear from another fan of Le Guin ! (I dunno if it’s just where I live, but I don’t know many people who’ve even heard of her, aside from the little footnote in that Ghibli film)
Le Guin’s translation of the Tao Te Ching is breathtaking, a translation that leans more on poesy than accuracy but it’s absolutely beautiful.