Archive for April 7th, 2016

10 Books…

I was tagged on Facebook with one of those “List some information, then tag other people” memes… I don’t usually do them, mostly because I don’t see them until well after the fact. This one, though, I saw early enough to respond, even if I’m not doing it directly on Fb… you’ll see why in a moment.

The basic meme: “List 10 books that have stayed with you…just ones that touched you.”

Asking a writer to do anything involving books is…difficult. Hell, just looking at my reading list for the past decade, several of them stand out – granted, some more memorable than others, for various reasons. In several instances, the first things that struck me were several books or a series by the same author… So I’m going to cheat a bit… and provide a little explanation for each (hence, why I’m putting this here, instead of on Fb)… So, in no particular order:

Neil Gaiman: This one is likely the biggest cheat on the list. Of all his prose work, I’ve not read anything that I didn’t like. Between his novels and short story collections, there are too many to list individually. There are two novels that stand out for me, though. Neverwhere is a subtle book, in my opinion, that, even though it’s been labeled as “Magical Realism,” it smack very much of early Urban Fantasy – before it was taken over by vampires, werewolves, etc, etc. American Gods is a book about mythology that, as soon as I finished it, my first thought was, “Damn, that’s something I wish I’d been able to write.”

The Hobbit: JRR Tolkien: I have said it several times before…this was the work that started me down the path toward SF/Fantasy fandom (mostly due to the animated movie, back in the early 80s). This was the first book I ever checked out from a public library.

Charles Stross: Another cheat here, since there are two series involved, but… Glasshouse – a study in gender identity [available technology allows for any outward presentation one might desire] wrapped in a tight little thriller. The Merchant Princes (series) – world-walking and the world-building of multiple time streams. The Laundry Files (series) – UF with shades of Cthulu, what I would consider my first readings in that genre.

The Harry Potter Series: JK Rowling: The first time I read book 1, I devoured it in a day, then plowed through books 2-4 in short order. Books 5-7 were the first that I pursued pre-ordering, instead of simply waiting until they were released.

Neil Peart: Two books, loosely related by title and context, but worlds apart for content. Masked Rider – about his bike tour adventures around parts of Africa. I shouldn’t have been surprised that such tours were a travel option, but this was the first stories I’d ever read/”been told” about such an experience. Ghost Rider…was a book that gave me perspective and guided me through a journey before I found myself thrust along it.

Call the Midwife: Jennifer Worth: I’ve actually mentioned this one fairly recently. It’s been a few weeks, but those effects still pop to mind every so often.

Ready Player One: Earnest Cline: A combination of SF and pop culture references that I lived through. Like American Gods, it’s one of those, “Damn, I wish I’d written that” books.

Mary Robinette Kowal: Her Glamourist Histories (“Jane Austen with magic”), although as of this writing I’ve only finished the first three books, and am currently in the fourth. I was subjected to the reading of Pride & Prejudice for my freshman English class in high school, and loathed it (as, I suspect, most 14-year old boys might). Kowal’s series, while deliberately steeped in the Regency language and style of Austen*, blends contemporary ideas with historical events. Likely the most craft-centric entry on this list, she’s also given me pause to consider revisiting Austen.

The Dresden Files: Jim Butcher. I’ve only completed the first two books in the series, but it’s that blend of mystery/PI with a fantasy spin that smacks of the “Damn, I wish I’d written that.” It’s also a series that has directly affected a project I have in development, and forced me to reconsider and rethink most of it, so as to be “similar, yet different.”

* I have a short story written around the time I was reading Shades of Milk and Honey that became unintentionally influenced by that style. In that sense, it can be said that Mary had a more profound and lasting affect. Not a thing I will object to having happened.

 

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Wheaton vs Voldomort

Those that know me should not be too surprised by the fact that I read Wil Wheaton’s blog. I have, for years, actually. He recently gave a talk at the University of Miami-Ohio, and shared the text… it’s worth reading, sharing, even carving on clay tablets if that’s your thing.

Here’s a snippet:

We’re all in this together, you guys, and I want you all to be the most awesome hero you can be in your own story … and I don’t want you to be the villain in someone else’s.

Life’s too short to be Voldemort.

Now go read the rest. You can thank me for pointing you there later.

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SPT: Awake on a Loch


Here’s a thought experiment:*

You find yourself coming to awareness, the above being the first things you see.

How did you get there? (Hike in for camping? Teleported in? Jumping [think multiverse/alternate world]? Some sort of crash? Something else…?)
Why are you there? (Vacation? Recon? Running from…something or someone? Something seemingly random**? Something else…?)
What’s you backstory/context? (Soldier? Scientist? Weekend-warrior outdoorsman? Something else…?)

Now, what happens next?

* This will be a repeating idea, but with different images, because it can be fun. For an example of a story that essentially STARTS this way, read Andy Weir’s The Martian. The movie, while excellent, does Hollywood things to the sequence of events, so read the original for this.
** Weird genetic things come to mind, where it seems random at the time, but gets explained at some point during the grand scheme of events. Outlander, or Charles Stross’s Merchant Princes series for example.

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