More Readings

Currently reading:

  • At home paper book: Earthman, Come Home by James Blish.
  • Work assignment reading: What the CEO Wants You To Know by Ram Charan.
  • Commute audio book: Upland Outlaws by Dave Duncan
  • With my daughter: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis.
  • Chore book: Still plowing through the complete works of Edgar Allan Poe. Next up is the Poetic Principle, after I finish my work assignment book.

Since the last time I wrote about books I was reading:

None of the Poe stories really stand out to me. I didn’t feel like including any of the work related books I read.

Just yesterday, I finished the Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. It was interesting, very strange, and I’m confident I missed a lot of the points the author was trying to make in ridiculing Russian society at the time. I’ll be reading the Wikipedia article on the book and on Pontius Pilate and a few other related topics as a result. I suffered from my standard Russian literature complaint: Each character has like four completely unrelated names and I can’t tell who we’re talking about more than half the time.

I’m listening to Dave Duncan‘s second quartet of books set in Pandemia. I like it. He has a really unique magic system, a unique universe, and genuinely interesting stories. I found it in some list of something like “unknown but excellent fantasy fiction.” I suspect I’ll eventually read more of his books.

I’m somewhere around halfway done reading James Blish‘s Cities in Flight quartet — interesting kind of out-there sci fi about a future where city-encompassing anti-gravity allows entire cities (like New York) to become space-faring, and “anti-agathic” drugs indefinitely prolong human life spans. Cities go from planet to planet looking for work (like hobos as described by a more old-fashioned terminology where that doesn’t necessarily mean a deadbeat street person), finding planets at various stages of development both technologically and culturally.

I listened to Neil Gaiman‘s Norse Mythology, which of course was good. No idea how true it is to the original stories or how completely, but definitely the most approachable rendition of the mythology I’ve ever attempted.

I listened to James SA Corey‘s Expanse series up to the last book. I really enjoy that series, and I think the last book is supposed to come out this year. Eventually I probably want to watch the series, too. I think I was hooked in the scene in the first book where one of the main characters realizes he’s not respected by any of his peers, when he thought he was really good at his job.

I read (or listened to, can’t remember) The Girl from the North by Cat Bruno, and I’m not sure why I found it so terribly tedious. I kind of forced myself to finish the book. I didn’t start the next book in the series.

Interworld by Neil Gaiman, a book about a kid who suddenly discovers he can travel transdimensionally and finds himself in the midst of war between evil technology people, evil magic people, and other transdimensional-traveller versions of himself. It was OK, but I didn’t feel the need to continue the series.

Chilkat and I read Half Magic by Edward Eager. It was fun to read it with her.

A Gift From Earth by Larry Niven was pretty strange and interesting. A colony on a planet with a relatively tiny habitable area, where the “crew” of the colony ship becomes the hereditary lords of the planet and the “passengers” become the hereditary serfs, where minor crimes are punished by distributing the criminal’s organs among the “crew” to prolong their lives. This twisted society is disrupted by deliveries of new technology from other colonies (or the home planet) and of course a local with special powers.

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky was pretty good — Human society self destructs just as it reached a level of technology where it was trying to set up a world as a turbo-charged evolution experiment; the experiment goes wrong and ends up with highly evolved giant spiders, who are encountered thousands of years later by Earth’s last survivors escaping their poisoned planet — complicated by the decayed and corrupted remnants of the previous human interplanetary empire. I think this is the start of a series…not sure how well it would extend, but I might get to it some day.

I picked The Alien Way by Gordon Dickson years ago and finally got around to reading it last year. Through convoluted means, a human establishes a one-way telepathic link (the human is a receiver) with an alien from an aggressive interplanetary empire with fundamentally different societal norms.

Island, by Aldous Huxley, was a little boring, but an interesting mixture of idealist optimism (the utopian society on the island) and caricaturistic pessimism (its relationship to the surrounding world).

I finally finished the Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (mostly). Brandon Sanderson kind of scrambled to pull together all of the threads at the end, but managed to do it and wrap it up in a reasonably satisfying way. I don’t think the series was bad (although large chunks of it are), but I think it did not live up to its potential.

Posted by snaotheus


I am so, so with you on Russian novels. I just can’t stand them. I got halfway through War and Peace before I gave up in disgust (granted, I was 15). I’ve read Dostoyevsky. I’ve read Nabokov, Turgenev, Pushkin… I gave them all a chance. The only one I like, and then only his plays, is Chekhov. Even “A Gentleman in Moscow,” which IIRC is written by an American, was so very Russian that I was shrieking Faugh! before chapter three. It’s only partly the multiple pointless names. It’s the turgidity, the wandering, the endless winters of the soul.

I’m impressed you finished Wheel of Time and you’ve listed some folks I’ve not heard of. I think Gaiman was born to write about Norse mythology. “Norse Mythology” is a retelling and of course he’s taken liberties with the classical stories, but he’s Neil Gaiman. You expect that. 😉

I’m glad y’all enjoyed “Half Magic.” It’s still one of my fave kiddie lit books. I’ve been trying to figure out how to record myself reading “Wee Free Men” for Chilkat and “And Then It Happened” for Chilkoot. If they don’t enjoy the first chapter or two, I don’t have to do the rest.

One other thing: Have you run into Spider Robinson’s Callahan series? I think you’d like them.

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