Wow, has it been almost a month since I last blogged? October got away from me. I have been writing – just not on my blog. I’ve been revising my novel…again. I cannot tell you how many reincarnations this manuscript has gone through. Hopefully, one of them will actually see the light of day. I’m not complaining – writing this novel is how I actually taught myself to write. It was initially 130 k words long with 13 POVs. I am not kidding. One day, I’ll write a post about how I wrestled that monster into a slimmer, more palatable book. Or series of books.
I’ve been reading too in October, some fantastic and not-so fantastic books. Here they are in no particular order:
The Goblin Emperor by Sarah Monette under the pseudonym Katherine Addison
I loved this book unreservedly. It’s simply delightful, the sort of book you can curl up with on a cold winter day and totally immerse yourself in. Maia, the only son of the unfavored Goblin wife of the Emperor of the Elflands, unexpectedly ascends the throne after his father and elder half-brothers (all pure-blooded elves) are killed in an airship crash. Court intrigue galore follows. Maia is a sweet character. I love the relative absence of violence and totally forgive the thinness of the plot. Highly recommended. Accompany with hot sweet tea or chocolate, and wilderness is paradise now.
The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu
This book won the 2015 Hugo award, and it’s not hard to see why. The first book in a trilogy titled Remembrance of Earth’s Past , it is about an impending invasion of Earth by alien ‘Trisolarans’ and the response of Earth scientists, governments and the masses. The ‘three-body problem’ of the title refers to a problem in orbital mechanics – how to determine the motions of three bodies that are subject to mutually perturbing gravitational attractions. (Apparently, there is no practical solution). The alien Trisolarans live on a planet that is subject to the depredations of three suns, causing periods of chaos that destroy civilization time and time again. Finally they take off into space to find another, gentler planet – and head straight for Earth. Their last message to Earthlings: “You’re Bugs.” Highly recommended. Accompany with strong coffee.
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
I read To Kill a Mockingbird as a child and loved it. Who doesn’t? Of course I wanted to read Go Set a Watchman, although I’d read reviews and thought I knew what to expect. This was the book Harper Lee wrote first, the book that wasn’t meant to be published, the book about the return of an adult Jean Louise Finch to her hometown of Maycomb and her great disillusionment with her father, Atticus Finch, who turns out to be a racist. Harper Lee’s agent advised her to instead write from the perspective of Jean Louise as a child. The rest, as they say, is history. If you haven’t read this book already, I have one word of advice: don’t.
Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
This is a beautiful collection of 9 stories of fantasy / magical realism. I had already read one of them, The Faery Handbag, in another anthology. That was my second favorite story in the book. My most favorite is the title story, Magic for Beginners. Kelly Link’s stories are hard to describe. They are like enigmas. You think you know where you are, then the story takes an unexpected leap, and the rules change, and the line between the fantastic and the real blurs. Apart from a couple of stories that were a bit too ‘out there’ for me, I thoroughly enjoyed this. Recommended! Accompany with a lush red wine.
I am now reading The Princess Bride by William Goldman. I’ll let you know how it goes, but I think I’m in good hands. Of course, I can’t get this line out of my head now: Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die. (I’ve seen the movie…)
In other, sad writerly news, lots of great short fiction markets are closing or going on hiatus. Urban Fantasy Magazine, that published my story The Singing Tree in September, is going on hiatus in January. Crossed Genres, a market I always wanted to crack, is closing after the December issue. Saturday Night Reader, a Canadian market that published my story The Green Woman, or the Day Mat Feeley Became Famous, closed on 18 October. At least I’ll always have their beautiful print magazine to gaze at…