I’ve been actively reading a ton of shorts and hope to have a post out soon about the stories I’ve enjoyed from the first quarter of 2022, particularly the work of smaller magazines like Hexagon and OnSpec. In the meantime, I like to read novels before bedtime, so here’s some stuff I’ve read recently and my thoughts on them.
To Say Nothing of the Dog – I’ve never shied away from admitting I love Connie Willis and her work. This was roughly the fourth time I’ve read the novel, and it never gets old for me. You can see my previous review of the audiobook version HERE. For me, revisiting a cherished novel is a comfort, and something I like to do every so often when I’m at a loss for anything else I’m ready to start.
Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization – a long title for what is a relatively short history of the Byzantine empire, from the split with Rome all the way to its last stand against the Ottomans. One of the things I’m focused on this year is learning more of the cultural history of the world and various civilizations, all to help when I develop my own fictional worlds. I thought this work might do that, but while moderately interesting, it focused (like so many histories) on the rulers and their actions, less on the people and their culture, customs, beliefs, practices, and day to day lives. So, it failed to meet my needs, but if you’re looking for the history of the Byzantine empire, this is a good starting point.
Snow Crash – this novel is perennially on lists of great science fiction works. I figured since I already had one cyberpunk story published and had considered writing more, maybe I should finally check it out. I’m only seven chapters in, but it’s solid. The language is often terse and chopped, similar to some noir writing, but still muscular for all that. Despite the endless slang, I’m able to grok everything that’s happening. It’s hard to find that balance between envisioning “near future speak” and making it accessible to the reader. It’s also fascinating to see how many of the ideas in this novel from the early 1990’s are common now. If nothing else, Stephenson coined the phrase Metaverse that everyone else is gloming onto these days. Zuckbot should be paying him every time he utters the phrase. I’m not sure that I’m absolutely loving the book, but it’s definitely enjoyable.
And that’s where I’m at. I really need to catch up with some short fiction soon, too. Been playing way too many video games lately. In fact, I just reloaded Skyrim and have been modding it to within the last inch of its life to get the most out of it for another play through. Having some issues with the wider screen dealing with the older game, but I’ll get that worked out soon.
Meanwhile, my TBR pile grows another six inches…