davidgillon: Text: I really don't think you should put your hand inside the manticore, you don't know where it's been. (Don't put your hand inside the manticore)
[personal profile] davidgillon

 Okay, so Liv put me on to this meme and I've been amusing myself filling it out for the last few days.

Author you've read the most books by


I suspect it's near enough a tie between C J Cherryh and Terry Pratchett. With Pratchett I've read pretty much everything he's written prior to the last couple of years (I've not read Dodger or the Long Earth collaborations yet), Cherryh I'm more out of date with, I haven't read the last half-dozen of the Foreigner series yet, though I spent quite a bit of effort when I was younger making sure I had a copy of everything she'd written up until that point. David Weber is probably coming up on the inside rail, especially if you count all the spin-off collaborations within the Honorverse and his other series.


Best sequel ever

Regenesis, the sequel to Cherryh's Cyteen. They spend the first book recreating not just the physical body of their murdered greatest scientist, but her psyche, and a society of psychological manipulators forget that they're recreating the greatest manipulator they've ever known. And when they try to make teenage Ari II behave, and find out she's already in control, thanks to her predecessor's preparations, and trying to figure out who killed her, they try to move against her. Big mistake. Then along comes Regenesis, and suddenly Ari's world is a lot wider, the politics a lot bloodier, the stakes as high as can be, and oh, whoops, maybe she hasn't solved the murder after all...

Currently reading

I'm slowly re-reading Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie, this year's Hugo Winner, with the intention of going straight on to its sequel Ancillary Justice, which I read when it was released a few weeks ago. I want to see if reading the two together adds to the experience, and to insight into the world of Imperial Rachd.


I also seem to have slipped into an unintended re-read of Tony Williams' The Foresight War, which is WWII alternative history. He's a firearms expert - edits one of the Janes guides in his day job, so very technical focus at some cost to characterisation. Basic plot is military history professor wakes up with an appalling hangover in an unknown room, looks out of the window and finds himself staring at the Crystal Palace on 3rd September 1934, which means he has five years to get Britain ready for the war. Not at all bad if you're into that kind of thing, but a very specialised sub-genre.

Drink of choice while reading


A book, a rainy day, and curled up on the couch with a nice glass of Chardonnay. Heaven.
E-reader or physical book?


It depends. I love e-readers for fiction, they mean I can manage even the thickest of tomes, even on days when I'm stuck in bed because my body isn't cooperating, and they mean I can squeeze even more books into my bulging-at-the-seams-with-books house, but I'm also a fan of huge coffee-table sized tomes on military technology, and A0-reduced to-A4 schematics on an e-reader, particularly faded, one of a kind and barely saved from destruction ones,  just doesn't work.

Fictional character you probably actually would have dated in high school

Willow Rosenberg - okay BtVS started as a TV series, but I read a lot of the spin-off books as well, so I say she counts. Small, cute, red-headed, smart, shy - Willow basically hits every one of my buttons when it comes to attraction. Oh, and lost cause, that seems to be a common feature as well, in Willow's case as I'm totally the wrong sex for her. If you insist on someone who originated in print, Cayce Pollard, see below, though she'd probably be far too cool for a nerd like me.


Glad you gave this book a chance

Scapegoat. Why We Are Failing Disabled People, Kathryn Quarmby, which is basically the author setting out to document the history of disability hate crime in Britain. While I'm a disability rights activist I don't as a rule read disability theory stuff (though I will if forced to). This was a book I knew was out there for a while, and eventually (Scope were using me to do media interviews on being a victim of disability hate crime)  I decided I'd better read it. It's horrendous reading, with its documentation of some of the worst crimes in Britain in the past 20 years, but compelling, and one of those rare books you can call important without exaggeration. I'm really glad I did read it, and can point people to it to say 'no, it's not just me, there is far, far worse'.

Hidden gem book

Difficult as I mostly read mass-market stuff, but, after extended reflection, Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Men, for sheer breadth of narrative (2 billion years, 18 species of humans), and because almost no one reads it any more (precautionary note that I haven't read it in a long time so am potentially forgetting any unfortunate '30s attitudes that may pop up). And, because I haven't mentioned any detective stuff and do read it, Manda Scott's Kellen Stewart novels - Hen's Teeth (serious trigger warnings for suicide in this one), Nightmares and Stronger than Death (only fair to point out I did a writing course with Manda a lot of years ago, taught by Terry Pratchett <grins>), which revolve around the eponymous Glaswegian psychologist, and Glasgow vet's school, and climbing (and oh, most of the characters are gay even though these were published by a mainstream publisher in the mid-'90s). Out of print right now, but due to be republished according to her website.


And coming back to this, because I've just realised they aren't well known, K B Spangler's two Rachel Peng novels, The Digital Divide and Maker Space these are near future SF/detective stories, featuring our eponymous heroine, who is liaison to the Washington DC Metropolitan Police for the Office of Adaptive and Complementary Enhancement Technologies - which means she's a cyborg, able to access any computer thanks to the chip in her head. Rachel might be a Fed, but she's also Chinese American, gay and blind, so about as diverse as it gets. The chip ameliorates her blindness to a considerable degree, but it's also part of the reason she's blind in the first place. These are self-published, but they're self-publishing done the right way, and they're really good. (They also tie in to the author's web-comic A Girl and Her Fed, though playing down certain aspects of the cyborg technology).

Important moment in your reading life

Probably late '80s/early '90s-ish when I realised I was reading Banks, and Pratchett, and Kim Stanley Robinson, and I was enjoying them just as much for their use of the language, as for the story they were telling.

Just finished

Just realised I've not finished a book in several weeks (as opposed to my usual several a week), probably because I'm stressed out over family stuff. From the evidence, last book I finished looks like Murder of Crows by Annie Bellet, a very short urban fantasy novel. Okay, but nothing to mark it out as particularly special.

Kinds of books you won't read
Not a fan of horror as a rule, though the boundary with urban and dark fantasy can be a bit amorphous. Not a fan of libertarian polemics, though occasionally find myself reading them by mistake. Ditto on extreme Christian rapture etc stuff - not slipped up there so far. Not really a fan of porn vs 'sex happened' - I find myself skipping ahead in the Anita Blake books looking for actual plot...


Longest book you've read

Almost certainly something by Peter F Hamilton, concise he isn't! I'd guess The Naked God, final book of the Night's Dawn trilogy at just under 1200 pages. However there's probably an argument for considering the whole trilogy as one long novel, in which case it's just a tad over 3000 pages.


Major book hangover because of

The Weapon by Michael Z Williamson. I don't like Libertarian politics, it's a dogma built on throwing away everything that is good in our conception of society, but the problem is I like military SF and a lot of American authors of military SF tend to be a tad, ahem, right-wing. And some of them can't resist indulging in polemics. I knew Williamson was one of the worst of them, just look at his Wikipedia page, three pictures of him, all cuddling guns, and both of his series revolve around a Libertarian planet, the Freehold of Grainne, that allegedly shows just how much better Libertarianism is (lets just say that he and I differ on that point), and he repeatedly uses his, typically American ultra-right-wing, conception of the UN as fascist state/straw man/whipping boy. But Weapon is fundamental to the series, because it sets up the back story of two of his major characters directly, and another couple by implication as they're also from Freehold. And the whole damn thing is this compelling story of how the hero is turned into a weapon who will be able to commit the appalling atrocities his boss knows will be needed by the end of the story, intermeshed with the most blatant libertarian polemics it's been my misfortune to endure. I was so stressed by it I actually made myself sick reading it, but it was compelling enough I also wanted to finish the story, and the only way out I could see was to keep reading and finish it in one mammoth overnight session.


And a special mention for Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks, one of the few books I've ever hurled across the room. The LotR plagiarism was just so blatant I've never been tempted to read anything by him again.
Number of bookcases you own
5 half-height, 1 full height, plus a shelf in a unit. Most are double-stacked back to front, with additional books filling up the space on top, and a big box-full in the attic. I've basically run out of space for more books or shelves - thank god for e-readers.


One book you've read multiple times
Pattern Recognition, William Gibson. There's just something tremendously appealing about Cayce Pollard as a protagonist, whether it's her suits-all-occasions skirt-thing, her idea of her soul trailing behind her at walking pace, her love of the footage, her allergy to fashion labels, or just the sum of all she is. I really like the whole trilogy, but I go back to Pattern Recognition at least once a year.


Preferred place to read

I'll read anywhere, but I have a lasting fondness from my university days (south-facing room and wide windowsills) for curling up in a window in the sun. I may possibly have been a cat in a past life.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you've read

I've been haunted by

It was a game, shon'ai,

the passing game, kel-style,

in the dim round hall of the kel

since I read Cherryh's Faded Sun trilogy more than 20 years ago - the last handful of an intelligent species, bound to be warrior-assassins in their master's war with humanity, and betrayed by every master they have ever had. The quote is the opening of the first book, The Faded Sun: Kesrith, and kel-style basically means they're playing hackysack with knives.... I've not re-read the trilogy, probably because it can't possibly live up to the memory I've built around that quote.

Reading regret

Not many that I can think of, Sword of Shannara (mentioned above) is probably as close as it gets. Oh, and the three books to date in the Whale has Wings series, which is naval focused WWII alternative history. Technically they're as good as The Foresight War I mentioned earlier, but dear god, they should be used as a cautionary example of how not to do self-publishing. They have literally not had a single editing pass (I know because I checked some of the text against the original posts on an alternative history forum). I bought them for the convenience of having the narrative in a single file and mistakenly presumed he would have at least run spell-check, no such luck, they are absolutely riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. If you're writing military history and can't even spell Rommel's name consistently on a single page, you've got a problem.

Series you've started but need to finish

Rather too many where I'm waiting for the author to just get on with it! - but I mentioned above I'm about six books behind on Cherryh's Foreigner series I just checked, the first book of the sixth trilogy is out, I'm 10 books behind, and I really need to catch up. Think Shogun in space, with pseudo-Japanese aliens and the point of view character only understanding a fraction of the intrigue happening around him (also interesting for having a pretty convincing cross-species romance, though the atevi are fairly humanoid). Ditto for Lois McMaster Bujold's Sharing Knife series, innocent young woman from a largely pastoral post-apocalyptic world gets mixed up with a battle-scarred, somewhat world-weary representative of the scary gypsy analogues holding down the supernatural threat level. I really liked both series, but they lost out when I hit the great no-more-space-in-the-house crunch and I haven't picked them up again. Yet.

Three of your all-time favorite books

Look to Windward, Iain M Banks - I initially wrote Use of Weapons, which was the first Banks that really wowed me, but it's early Banks and I think he sometimes tried too hard for the shock factor, and the truth about Zakalwe and the white chair is just a little too disturbing for me to call it a favourite anymore; I think I prefer the stately tragedy that is Look to Windward, it's certainly the Culture novel I have fondest memories of. Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson, it's a war novel, for math/crypto geeks, intertwined with an adventure novel, for math/crypto geeks. I might have put down Reamde, his recent technothriller tour de force, but it doesn't have the same crypto-nerdery. Ash, Mary Gentle, OMG, wheels within wheels as a scholar researches the background to the eponymous medieval warrior heroine, forming the frame for her story, which it turns out isn't at all the allegory it was assumed to be.

Unapologetic fangirl for

 Various urban fantasy series: the Rachel Morgan/Hollows series, the Mercy Thompson series, and so on. I'll read and adore far more literary works, but these are the ones that have me fretfully waiting their next release.
Very excited for this release more than all the others

Having said what I said in the entry above, Ancillary Justice had me waiting eagerly for Ancillary Sword to release, though that may have been simply an accident of timing; reading, and being wowed by, Justice at the start of September, with Sword due to release at the start of October.

Worst bookish habit

Probably reading to the exclusion of all else around me, though it was far worse when I was a teenager, once including curling up on a table with a book while everyone else was fretting that the tent we were in was in imminent danger of being washed away (on the table because of the multiple brooks now running through the tent). There was also that Christmas when I was about thirteen, got LotR as a present and wasn't seen again until Boxing Day, at which point I emerged having read it from start to finish.

X marks the spot, start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book
But which book shelf, he wails... Picking one, Iain M Banks, Matter.

Your latest book purchase
The Snowden Files, Luke Harding. The Guardian's inside story on Ed Snowden and his revelations. Been meaning to read this, and the ebook is on sale at under two pounds on Amazon.

Zzzzz-snatcher book. Last book that kept you up way too late

Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie. Okay, it won the Hugo, the Nebula and the Clarke, I knew I'd missed out on something good - and it was an active 'missed', I looked at it months earlier, read the blurb without reading anything inside the covers to realise how good the writing was (that's the problem with ebook shopping, you can't just flick them open at a random page, you have to actively decide it interests you enough to download the sample) and decided it didn't appeal - and I knew people whose taste I trust thought it was really, really good, but dammit, if I'd realised it was that good I wouldn't have started reading it at 11PM...

Date: 2014-11-03 10:57 pm (UTC)
calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)
From: [personal profile] calissa
Hmm. Might have to give this meme a try myself. Thanks for that. I found it really interesting to read your answers. I think we are quite similar in what we won't read.


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