What I read in March πŸ“š

I got sucked into making nonsense podcasts using nodeJS and eleventy, Breath of the Wild for another 20 hours or so, rearranging the house for 2 WFHers, and just generally freaking out. So what I read was mostly the labels on cans of beans and tomatoes.

But also about 3 percent of this A. Reynolds novel I still haven’t convinced myself to quit and the first (dull!) chapter of the latest N. Stephenson. That’s what counts for progress around here.

What I read in February πŸ“š

The New Voices of Science Fiction, Hannu Rajaniemi (ed.) Some good stories, some not as good. A week later, nothing stands out as memorable. Wait, yes. “Secret Life of Bots” by Suzanne Palmer. Won a Hugo (as did a couple others I think). That one I remember being really fun.

That’s it. I’m mired in an Alistair Reynolds book that I haven’t decided to give up on, yet, and the free copy of Borne I got, which is okay, but requires sort-of slower, closer reading. Feels more like work than fun, so I don’t do it as often.

What I read in January πŸ“š

  • Agency, William Gibson. Wm.G. doesn’t write vital books anymore, he writes William Gibson books. Like U2 doesn’t release vital records, now. They just got really good at making U2 records. Maybe you like ’em, maybe not. Maybe it’s… (hate to say)… tedious.
  • The Quantum Thief, Hannu Rajaniemi. H.R,. on the other hand, is writing b a n a n a s fiction. I almost gave up on this as too wacky. I wish I were 15 again and there was no internet and not enough books so you just read the ones you had, over and over. This needs to be read over and over.
  • The Forever War, Joe Haldeman. A supposed “classic” from the Vietnam era. I knew I wouldn’t like it; I roll my eyes at pretty much all fawning-over-the-military sci-fi. I was right. I’m stunned that Scalzi wrote a worshipful intro for a recent reprint. “The UN forced the planet’s men to live `homolife`!” Okay, sure. That’s how it works. Yep. (If you read it as a right-wing “this is what will happen if you don’t vote for Goldwater!”, it’s still f-ing stupid.)
  • Full Throttle, Joe Hill. Stephen King’s son writes modern-era Stephen King stories. I stopped halfway through.

Somehow that’s all I read but I feel like I’ve been going non-stop all month. I’m 33% into another A. Reynolds monster (the sequel to Blue Remembered Earth) it’s good but a bit of a slog. Maybe that’s it.

What I read in December πŸ“š

Fiction

  • The Cruel Stars: A Novel, John Birmingham. I want to say I liked it, but its been 3 weeks and I have no memory of reading it. (reads blurb) Oh yeah! It’s okay enough to check out the sequel, at least.
  • Waiting for Tom Hanks, Kerry Winfrey. It was the middle of the night and I couldn’t sleep and there was nothing on my kindle phone app so I went to Libby and there was nothing good available through the local library (at least nothing that I could quickly find), so I downloaded this and read 40 percent of it and I am 40 percent stupider now. I should’ve stared at the ceiling all night, instead. “A novel can’t just be a list of things you like,” is a thing I read somewhere, once. Deeply, gravely, sub-Hallmark Channel-ly dumb.
  • Bellwether, Connie Willis. This is the first CW book I haven’t enjoyed. Too much gimmick, not enough plot. Early in her career, but after some big success. That surprised me. (You can tell, once again, how she’s the master of research… but she made that part of the plot, instead of part of her behind-the-scenes job as author, which didn’t serve it well.)
  • Machines Like Me, Ian McEwan. I knew this author by reputation but had never read anything by him. It’s “Literature.” I read a while back that he sneered at “genre” fiction, which makes him an asshole (see this, and the zinger from Ken MacLeod immediately under it). It’s alternate-present because computers came along sooner because Turing lived, and now there’s a sentient robot in the main character’s kitchen. If that’s not sci-fi I dunno what is. The plot was supposed to be dramatic but it just felt like a series of deuses exing the machina. Meh.
  • “2 B R 0 2 B”, Kurt Vonnegut. A short snark about population control. Not nearly as striking as “Harrison Bergeron,” his best (AFAIK) story in this vein. (That’s supposed to be a “naught” in the middle, there. To Be R Naught To Be, get it. I’d rather read “Too Bro To Be,” honestly. “The guy who could not even.”)

Non-fiction

  • You Might Remember Me: The Life and Times of Phil Hartman, Mike Thomas. A well-done downer.
  • Hello. This bullet-point is here because the markdown plugin I’m using appears to only wrap bulleted paragraphs in p tags if there are 2 or more bullet points, but not a standalone bullet. Not sure that’s a “bug,” particularly if the idea is somehow rooted in the world of outlining, where you shouldn’t create a new indented subsection (or whatever) if you only have one item for that subsection (or whatever). But here’s the thing: I only read one non-fiction thing so there’s only the one bullet point and I need it wrapped in a p tag or the max-width and slightly-lighter color CSS attributes don’t get applied. See?

Ye Olden Tymes Fiction

  • “The Kit Bag”, Algernon Blackwood. Somewhere, probably on Metafilter, someone said “Give me some old-time short story scares!” Not my usual thing but I followed a few links and found two stories easily downloadable so I figured I’d give them a shot. This one was fun; I could see a young Stephen King being inspired by this and working up his own modernized version.
  • “Between the Lights”, E.F. Benson. …whereas this one was completely terrible. Not in a “old timey writing is dumb!” way, but in a “the day this was released this person should’ve been roundly criticized for writing a non-story story” way

What I read in October πŸ“š

Non-fiction:

  • Play Anything, Ian Bogost. I like his shtick on twitter, @ibogost. (I skimmed the heavier philosophical bits.)
  • Lingo: Around Europe in Sixty Languages, Gaston Dorren. One of those fun books that comes around every now and then, full of language factoids. (It was near the Bogost book; I have a habit of grabbing one random-nearby-book for every book I intentionally seek out.) I just noticed while grabbing a URL for this entry, that other versions have different subtitles. Weird.

Fiction:

  • The Municipalists, Seth Fried. Loved the premise (sort-of Laundry Files humor-tech but focused on civil infrastructure instead of Cthulhu) but it dragged a bit; felt like a clever idea for a short story, stretched into a full-length novel.