Apr. 10th, 2017

shadowkat: (work/reading)
One of my co-workers, Zalzeny (for want of a better nickname or maybe Pun-Master, the man does love his puns, even if they fly over my head), likes to loan me his old sci-fantasy paperbacks. In some cases he just rec's them. I'm nicknaming him Zalzeny because Roger Zalzeny is his favorite science fiction novelist. Zalzeny read these books when they were first published, and the paperbacks date back to the 1960s. He's around 67.

Anyhow, he stopped me in the aisle, on the way back from the bathroom, drug me to his office...and said, "I know how you hate it when I thrust books on you. But you're really going to love this one. It has everything, adventure, humor, and strong female character and it's science fiction and fantasy. It is a space opera though, not sure if you like space opera?"

Me: "Uh, yeah. Actually, I love space -"

Z: It may be before your time.

Me: Not really. The Expanse is space opera. Also I'm sort of writing one at the --

Z: You'll really love this. It's old though, real old sci-fi, one of the first space opera ones published, back in the 1960s at the height of the space opera genre. And by one of my favs. I just rediscovered the book in my library and re-read it, because apparently there are sequels. Written by Mercedes Lackey and a few other writers.

Me: Okay. Is it on Kindle, because I'm not really a fan of old paperbacks --

Z : It should be, but here take this anyhow. (He hands me this dog-eared, coffee stained paperback, which is about palm size, although the print is slightly bigger than it is in today's paperbacks. Making me feel slightly validated for thinking that the print has gotten smaller in printed paperbacks and magazines now. It's not my imagination or my waning eye-sight. It's the cheap publishing industry trying to wedge more characters on the page by decreasing the typeface.)

Me: Uh, I'm sort of reading a book that I'm really enjoying at the moment. (And have five or six others in the queue, plus I'm flirting with Blake Crouch's Dark Matter, and David Eggers' The Circle.)

Z: No pressure. But you'll love it. And the writer has either won a Hugo or it was nominated for one.

[The title gives me pause. It's The Witches of Karres by James H. Schmitz - a German writer.

Schmitz is best known as a writer of space opera, and for strong female characters (including Telzey Amberdon and Trigger Argee) that didn't fit into the damsel in distress stereotype typical of science fiction during the time he was writing. His first published story was Greenface, published in August 1943 in Unknown. Most of his works are part of the "Hub" series, though his best known novel is the non-Hub The Witches of Karres, concerning juvenile "witches" with genuine psi-powers and their escape from slavery. Karres was nominated for a Hugo Award.

Me: Hugos don't necessarily mean much, there are some odd books out there that won Hugos.

Z: But some of the best ones did too.

Me: True. I'll give it a whirl. [I say with some trepidation. While I did enjoy the Goblin Prince, one of the books he rec'd, the last one he gave me I couldn't finish, which was a Rodger Zezalny novel, entitled "The Lord of Light". Now it's possible I wasn't in the right frame of mind. Which is what I told him. He took my frustration with the novel better than people online did. But I tend to be more diplomatic about books in person. That said, this is the problem with people giving you books that they've either written or adore, what if you dislike or worse hate the book? Then what? All is well and good if you love it. Same thing with television shows...what if you don't like the tv show you friend adores? It's always risk sharing things you love with folks.]

So now, said book is sitting in my apartment alongside about a thousand other books I need to read.

*My mother wants me to read Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow - the non-fiction magnum opus that the musical was based on. She believes everyone on the planet should read it -- because it provides insight into the American political system, how our government works, and what is going on now happened before and isn't new or that insane.

* Uhurua wants me to read Devil in the White City by Eric Larson a non-fiction novel about the serial killer, Holmes, and creator of the World's Fair in Chicago.

* Church wants me to read "Just Mercy"

* My father thinks I ought to read Dashielle Hammett's The Maltese Falcon. Even though I've seen the movie a million times.

* Online buddies think I ought to read "The Traitor Baro Commorant", the next book in the Expanse series, "Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie", and the comic serials "Saga" (print only) and "Still Silence" (online)

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the latest romance novel by Meredith Duran entitled "A Lady's Code of Conduct". It's about a guy who isn't that nice, loses his memory, and is forced to re-examine his life, and the woman he was manipulating, who is forced to re-examine who she is, and who he is, also about the politics of the time -- around the time of Disrali or shortly thereafter, after the India uprising. Duran tends to like to explore classicism and Indian/British politics in the Victorian Age.
Which is why I like Duran, she has a bit more to say than most.

But, I'm about due for a good space opera. I like space opera, it's actually my favorite type of science fiction. Prefer it to hard tech. I like political sci-fi, where you get into the political power games. I also like that in fantasy novels. This may explain why Lord of the Rings and Dune were among my favorites, along with the X-men in the comics arena. All are highly political and sociological. I prefer cultural anthropological, biological, and sociological sci-fi to tech sci-fi.
I think it's because I think more in metaphorical and cultural terms than tech terms? Don't know.
I'll read anything if I'm in the mood. There's very few genres that I've not read.


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