June 3rd, 2015


Interesting Links for 03-06-2015


I need to know what book I should read next.

I'm looking for more books to read. Because most of the books I've tried to read recently I've bounced right off of. I read Ancillary Justice, and found it...ok, but not great. I read the first half of God's War, and found it dull. I really liked the Inheritance Trilogy (The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, etc.), but then bounced hard off of The Killing Moon, by the same writer.

And then, when I start to think "Heck, maybe I just don't like reading", I bump into something that completely grabs me and makes me want to spend all day in bed reading. Or, failing that at least something good.

The last good thing I read was "The Carpet Makers", by Andreas Eschbach. Which I had actually read before, about ten years ago, but I think I appreciated it more on a re-read.
The last two things I read that had me held completely captive, my brain burning as I turned pages to see what happened next were Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, and the short story …And I Show You How Deep The Rabbit Hole Goes. Both of which felt like pure fun to me, delighting in whimsical intelligence, taking themselves both seriously enough to evoke emotion and playfully enough to make me giggle on a regular basis.

And I think that's what I want at the moment. Intellectual fiction* that isn't deeply nihilistic. I read Blindsight, and liked parts of it, but spent far too much of the book disliking everyone and despairing at the cold unfeeling world they lived in**. Whereas the Culture novels gave me a similar feeling of intelligence while feeling positive***.

Oh, and preferably where the characters have agency. I tried to re-read The Dark Is Rising series a couple of years ago, and stopped after book three because it felt like everyone was carried along by a wave of prophecy, with nobody ever actually making a meaningful choice about what they wanted. So something that feels like the writer understands people enough to have characters with differing motivation all making different decisions that bring them into interesting conflict (either with each other, or tangentially as they deal with the world).

Okay so:
Characters with agency
Not horribly nihilistic
Sense of wonder

Obviously, I'm not demanding all of these. But that's the kind of area I'm looking at. Oh, and it doesn't have to be Science Fiction - I seem to recall really enjoying The Last Witchfinder, which fulfilled all of the above in a historical setting. Or The Baroque Cycle, which likewise.

(I'm not at all sure how much sense I'm making here. But hopefully I'm making a useful impression.)

*Doesn't actually have to be that smart. I'm happy enough to have my feeling of intelligence be false, so long as I don't notice. :-)
**I know that I, too, live in a cold unfeeling world. But fiction is my time off.
***Doesn't have to be _that_ positive. I love some Greg Egan, and that's frequently not happy at all. But I don't feel I'm being battered by a wave of grimdark.

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