Book Queue

The Book Queue: Salty Sea-Dog Edition

Since I’ve basically depleted the last Book Queue, it’s time to embark upon my Salty Sea-Dog Era of reading. You might notice a certain bias towards science fiction (and certain realms of non-fiction covering subjects like film or technology) in previous book queues, so I figure it’s worth exploring some other areas. For various reasons, a few different books kept cropping up as “Hmm, I should go out and read that.” and they all happened to take place at sea. I’m going to include one that I’ve already read, but this’ll perhaps motivate me to pick it up again and do a full review here. So here goes:

  • Nostromo by Joseph Conrad – This is the one I’ve already read and am planning to review in full soon. It’s long been on the larger book queue and I did finally pull the trigger last year. Lots of complicated thoughts about this highly respected literary novel, but that’ll have to wait for the review. True, much of the story takes place in a mining town, but it’s a coastal town, the titular Nostromo is basically the head longshoreman, and enough of the novel takes place on the sea that its subtitle is literally “A Tale of the Seaboard.” More to come.
  • Moby-Dick by Herman Melville – I suppose no introduction needed here, one of the most famous Great American Novels ever written. At one point a few years ago, I read the first chapter or so on a whim and found it surprisingly engaging, but never got around to reading the full thing. I plan to rectify that this summer.
Moby Dick illustration from the 1902 edition
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson – When I was growing up, my parents had a bookshelf filled with some sort of series of hardback books of classic novels. One was Moby-Dick, daunting due to it’s size, but another was Treasure Island, an evocative title that always thrilled me. I was perhaps too young when I first picked it up, but never circled back to it, even once I got the reading bug. (Funny to note, the title of the first chapter literally has “sea-dog” in it, though it doesn’t say “salty”, even if I’m sure said sea-dog is actually quite salty.)
  • Beat to Quarters (aka The Happy Return) by C. S. Forester – The first novel (going by publication) in Forester’s popular Horatio Hornblower series. I’ve read enough novels influenced by this series, particularly ones billed as “Horatio Hornblower in Spaaaace”, that I figure I should probably take a gander and see what all the fuss is about.
  • Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian – The first novel in the Aubrey/Maturin series, one that most would be familiar with because of the underseen film adaptation. I remember quite enjoying the film, though I have not seen it in quite some time. Might be good to revisit in book form.

So there you have it, lots of salty sea-dog fun. Obviously not a ton of novels on this list, but there are two starts to famously long-running series that could provide ample further reading.

The Book Queue

It’s been a while since I posted about the Book Queue, but these books won’t read themselves, and I’ve found that posting about them publicly does tend to motivate me to actually read the books I have (rather than getting distracted by new shiny objects and the like). So let’s get to it:

  • Starter Villain, by John Scalzi – The last few Scalzi books have felt like he’s treading water, but his style is snappy and fun and not every book needs to be some sort of world-changing epic (which, to be fair, has never been Scalzi’s metier). This story about a guy inheriting his uncle’s supervillain business seems much more inclined to be comedic than anything else, which is fine by me. Probably would have gotten to this earlier if he didn’t release it during the Halloween season…
  • System Collapse, by Martha Wells – The latest Murderbot story has finally arrived, and that’s all I really needed to know. No idea bout the plot, but the Murderbot series has been consistently great (I obviously have not read this one yet, but I recommend you start with the initial novellas, they’re short and well done and you can come up to speed quickly…)
  • Bleeding Edge, by Thomas Pynchon – I apparently purchased this many moons ago, put it on a shelf somewhere, and promptly forgot I had it. I was doing some reorganizing recently and stumbled upon it and realized I should probably read the darn thing. Not sure what to expect as this could range anywhere from impenetrable literature to page-turning genre fare. I guess there’s only one way to find out.
  • A Half-Built Garden, by Ruthanna Emrys – Not sure how this got in the queue in the first place, other than that the premise sounds interesting and I’ve been somewhat neglectful of recent SF of late. Sounds like a first contact story that could be interesting enough.
A Half-Built Garden book cover
  • The Blighted Stars, by Megan E. O’Keefe – Another recent SF book with a decent enough premise, and I don’t remember where I heard of it first, but it sounds good…
  • The Icarus Plot, by Timothy Zahn – About 25 years ago or so, Zahn wrote a book called The Icarus Hunt, a very enjoyable space opera in the vein of Star Wars (I mean, really quite inspired by Star Wars, like at this point they probably could put the Star Wars logo on it and while you might wonder why there’s no member-berries or, like, Jedi in it, you’d probably enjoy it). Anywho, Zahn has finally written a sorta stealth sequel to that book. As I understand it, it’s not particularly reliant on the events of the first book, it’s just set in the same universe (it’s not even particularly being marketed as a sequel, which sorta makes sense because this one has a different publisher than the first). Anyway, Zahn has long been a reliable genre page-turner, and I’m glad he seems to be finished with his Star Wars Thrawn novels for now…
  • Star Maker, by Olaf Stapledon – Vintage SF Month is quickly approaching, and this one is rising to the top of the list for now. It appears to be a sorta history of the future, spanning billions of years, sounds like fun.

Obviously lots more on the queue, and all of the above are SF or SF-adjacent, so perhaps I’ll leave the other fiction book queue and non-fiction book queue for other posts.

The Book Queue

It’s been a while since I’ve posted one of these Book Queues, but since the TBR pile is getting larger, I figured it’s time. Back when blogs were a thing, posts like this were common enough even if they aren’t particularly useful, but I do find that posting it publicly does motivate me to actually read the books I have sitting on the shelf (as opposed to picking out something new and shiny and reading that instead). So let’s get to it:

  • Authority and Freedom, by Jed Perl – Subtitled: “A Defense of the Arts”, this looks to be an exploration for the enjoyment of the arts as art (as opposed to art as political statement, or personal confession, or whatever deeper meaning people insist on projecting into a lot of art). It’s a subject that I’ve been thinking about recently, and will hopefully provide some new avenues of exploration.
  • The Immediate Experience, by Robert Warshow – Subtitled: “Movies, Comics, Theatre and Other Aspects of Popular Culture”, this looks to be a variation on the theme of the previous book. Warshow was apparently annoyed by the critical establishment’s dismissal of popular culture (in favor of higher art, etc…)
  • A Culture of Fact, by Barbara J. Shapiro – In this age of practiced disinformation, fake news, and social media, taking a look at how we, as a species, came to respect facts in the first place, might be a good idea. I’ve had this on my list since Neal Stephenson kept name-checking it during his interviews promoting Fall and now Termination Shock, but I finally found a copy. It seems to be somewhat of a dry, academic tome, but certainly a worthwhile subject.
  • Reunion, by Christopher Farnsworth – Alright, that’s enough with the snooty non-fiction, how about some trashy fiction? I actually don’t know anything about this book other than that it’s written by Farnsworth, who I’ve enjoyed since discovering his President’s Vampire series, which were a whole boatload of fun. Not sure when he’ll get back to those vampire books, but in the meantime, he’s written several thrillers and other fun little stories.
  • The Kaiju Preservation Society, by John Scalzi – Another one based solely on the author. Scalzi has this habit of glomming onto some fun cultural meme and turning it into a book that I’m not in love with (see also: Redshirts), but his books are generally snappy and fun, so I always check them out.
  • Light from Uncommon Stars, by Ryka Aoki – The last of the Hugo novel finalists on my list, I’ve actually started reading this. It was probably my least anticipated of the nominees, but despite (or perhaps because of) that, I’m finding it surprisingly good. There’s a lot of stuff going on here, and it really shouldn’t work, but so far, it’s actually pulling off a decent balancing act. It’s still early and there’s plenty of room for a downturn, but still happy enough with this so far…
  • XX, by Rian Hughes – This feels something like a cultural heir to Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves. Lots of visual experimentation with typefaces, modern epistolary (i.e. story told partially through emails and wikipedia pages and the like), images, collages, and so on. It’s more based around alien signals from space than the haunted house of House of Leaves, but it sounds interesting (and oh, it’s, like, a thousand pages, great).
  • Upgrade, by Blake Crouch – I’ve enjoyed Crouch’s last few books, in part because the appear to be one-off stories rather than series. This one hasn’t been released yet, but it’s definitely on the list…
  • Heat 2, by Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner – Not sure what inspired Mann to revisit the characters from Heat in novel form, but I love that movie, so I’m certainly onboard (perhaps it was a pandemic project, like what Tarantino did…) This book is cowritten by Meg Gardiner, who has been writing police procedurals and serial killer novels for a while. I checked out Unsub, which was solid airport thriller fare, even if it isn’t doing anything particularly new. I might check out more from that series too… Heat 2 doesn’t come out until August, but I’m onboard.

I’m sure you’ll be seeing more about these in coming months, so stay tuned.

The Book Queue

It’s been a while since I put together a list of things to read from the book queue, so it doesn’t really matter if I do so now, but I’m going to do it anyway. You’re welcome. We’ve got some interesting non-fiction on the list, a holiday offering, some candidates for Vintage SF Month, and the usual smattering of nerdy literature.

  • Master of the Revels by Nicole Galland – This is the sequel to The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.. Galland collaborated with Neal Stephenson on that first book, but is apparently on her own here. Of course, the cover emphasizes Stephenson more than anything else, which is funny. I’m never clear on how author collaborations actually work, but as I understand it, Galland did the bulk of writing on the first book, so hopefully she’ll be able to keep it up on this one. I’m actually quite looking forward to this, since the first book ended sorta weird.
  • The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon, Volume III: Killdozer! – I tackled Sturgeon’s To Marry Medusa for the last Vintage SF Month, and in keeping with my recent affinity for short story collections, I figured I’d take a crack at this one, which famously contains Killdozer!, a Retro Hugo award winning novella about a possessed killer bulldozer. What’s not to like?
  • The Lincoln Hunters by Wilson Tucker (1958) – Time travel about a historian sent back to record a Lincoln speech, but he finds out that he’s been sent back before. Or later. Something paradoxy like that. This was on my list for Vintage SF Month last year, but I never got to it. I think it’ll make the cut this year. Or, er, next year.

Alrighty then, that should keep be busy for a couple months…

The Book Queue

It’s been a while since I put up a book queue and I’ve noticed that I’m scrambling a bit whenever I finish a book and look for something new, so in preparation for Vintage Sci-Fi Month (For the uninitiated, that’s when you read “older than you are” science fiction in the month of January), I figured I’d put together a list of stuff to read. Might as well include some more modern SF while I’m at it…

  • To Marry Medusa by Theodore Sturgeon (1958) – Humanity comes face to face with Medusa, a vast hive mind that’s swallowed a billion planets. Sounds fun, and Sturgeon is usually a reliable read, so it’s a definite for Vintage SF Month…
  • Inherit the Stars by James P. Hogan (1977) – I’ve not read any Hogan, but he’s got a reputation as a sorta underrated SF author, so this one about a 50,000 year old humanoid body discovered on the moon sounds like a neat place to start.
  • Berserker by Fred Saberhagen (1967) – A massive weapon from an old galactic war finally reaches human space, sounds like it could be interesting.
  • The Lincoln Hunters by Wilson Tucker (1958) – Time travel about a historian sent back to record a Lincoln speech, but he finds out that he’s been sent back twice or somesuch. Sounds interesting.
  • The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian by Robert E. Howard (1932-1933) – I’ve not actually read any Howard, so I figure it’s time to rectify that situation. Not sure if this is the best collection to start with, but it covers the first 13 Conan stories and features some other references, etc… so it seems good enough.
  • Recursion by Blake Crouch (2019) – False Memory Syndrome is when someone inexplicably wakes up with a new set of memories from an alternate life. I’ve read one other Crouch novel (Dark Matter), which was an enjoyable page turner that eventually put its premise to good SF use. I suspect the same thing here…
  • Randomize by Andy Weir (2019) – Part of a series of short stories written by SF contemporaries, I’ll read anything by Andy Weir at this point, so there we are. I don’t even know what this is about…

And that should tide me over for January and a decent amount beyond.

The Book Queue

It’s been well over a year since I last posted a book queue, and since we’re quickly approaching the Six Weeks of Halloween, I need to figure out some creepy seasonal reading, so here’s some books I’m looking into. I used to love reading horror, but aside from the occasional dip into the waters, I haven’t kept up at all… I probably won’t get to all of these (and who knows, I might read something not on here), but it’s where I’m starting:

  • Deep State by Christopher Farnsworth – I’ve been a fan of Farnsworth’s Nathaniel Cade/President’s Vampire books for a while, and this latest little novella will have to tide me over until Farnsworth manages a full length follow up to Red, White, and Blood (which was the best of the series up until now). Anyway, I don’t know much about this, but it seems like it’ll be fun Halloween season reading…
  • Haunt by Laura Lee Bahr – I don’t remember where I heard about this one from, but the quick description sounds… interesting… “a tripping-balls Los Angeles noir, where a mysterious dame drags you through a time-warping Bizarro hall of mirrors.”
  • Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias – Looks like a quick read about a drug dealer turf war that veers into the supernatural. Not sure what to make of this, but reviews make it sound fun…
  • The Croning by Laird Barron – Another horror book that I added to my queue last year and again, I can’t remember where I heard about it, but it sounds interesting. Not really sure what this is about, even after reading the description. Can’t decide if that’s a good thing or not. I also have The Imago Sequence short story collection on my list.
  • Christine by Stephen King – More a placeholder for a Stephen King novel than anything else, but a friend really loves this novel and has told me it’s a lot better than the movie… which is a movie I really like (I mean, it is John Carpenter)! I’ve read a bunch of King, but nowhere near comprehensive. It might be worth checking out It before this new movie comes out, and there are a few others that could work too, but I think Christine might be the one…
  • Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts by Orrin Grey – Short story collection that is supposed to be themed around cinematic monsters, which seems appropriate for our primarily-movie-based Six Weeks of Halloween, no?
  • The Last Final Girl by Stephen Graham Jones – As a slasher fan, this seems right up my alley. “The Last Final Girl is like Quentin Tarantino’s take on The Cabin in the Woods. Bloody, absurd, and smart. Plus, there’s a killer in a Michael Jackson mask.” Sold!
  • Horror Movie A Day: The Book by Brian W. Collins – I actually picked this up towards the tail end of last year’s 6WH, so I didn’t really use it much and just skipped around a little, but I’m giving it a more thorough read right now in the hopes of finding some 6WH fodder. For the uninitiated, HMAD was a website where Brian Collins would watch a horror movie every day and review it. He did this for 6 years. The book is an interesting mixture of films,

    tons of deep cuts here, not stuff you’d see on every other “Best Horror” list (and indeed, Collins doesn’t shy away from truly bad movies, which keeps things interesting). This will almost certainly guide a week or two of this year’s marathon…

So there you have it. I definitely won’t get to all these, but look for some reviews during the 6WH…

The Book Queue

It’s been a long time since I posted a book queue, so naturally it’s been filling up with lots and lots of things that I want to read. For the most part, this is separate from the Hugo Award reading list which I’m also hoping to tackle in the coming few weeks (finishing up novels now, moving to short fiction this week).

  • Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement – I really enjoyed Clement’s Needle, so this one seems like a good next step. Often mentioned as a classic of hard SF, I’m looking forward to this one.
  • The Player of Games by Ian M. Banks – I started Banks’ loosely connected Culture series a while back and it seems like it gets better as it goes, so this one is up next. I’ve heard great things about the next book in the series, and even though I don’t think you need to read them in order like this, I guess I’m a completist and just want to go in order.
  • Jhereg by Steven Brust – Back when I finished up Bujold’s Vorkosigan series of novels and started going through withdrawal pains, I started seeking out a replacement series. Something that would give me that same high. This… has not been a successful effort. I’ve read some decent books, of course, but nothing that quite reached the level of Vorkosigan. Not even close, really. But one of the suggestions I found was Steven Brust’s long running Vlad Taltos novels, of which this one is the first. It’s a fantasy series, so it’s nothing like the Vor novels, but still, I’m willing to give it a chance.
  • Startide Rising by David Brin – I read the first novel in Brin’s Uplift series not too long ago, and thought it was fine, but I only really read it so that I could get to this novel, which has a great reputation. And yes, I’m cheating, I’m already in the midst of reading this book. And it’s quite good! More to come!
  • Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp – I’m not sure where this one came from, but I’ve heard good things and I’ve never read anything from this author, so there’s no time like the present. Or a few months from now, when I’m more likely to find time to read this…
  • Heaven’s Queen by Rachel Bach – I “read” the first two novels in this trilogy last year, but never finished it off… because I was listening to them as audio books and for some reason, this final installment isn’t available on audiobook. So I’ll just have to bit the bullet and read it. Poor me. Still, I’ve greatly enjoyed the series so far, so I’m looking forward to this one.
  • The Two-Bear Mambo by Joe R. Lansdale – I will, inevitably, become fed up with SF/F in the near future, so I’ll return to Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard series of Texas crime novels. I’ve read two so far, and greatly enjoyed both, so this third installment is next up…
  • Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury – And now we move on to the non-fiction phase of the book queue, and this one sounds fun. Art fraud, con men, and so on, what’s not to like?
  • The Victorian Internet by Tom Standage – I’ve read excerpts from this novel and greatly enjoyed them. It’s about telegraphs and the stairstep in communication that it represented. It turns out that many of the “strange” things about the internet (another stairstep in communication improvement) have happened before. History repeats itself. Sounds great.
  • Time Travel in Einstein’s Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time by J. Richard Gott III – I’m a sucker for time travel stories, and this book goes through some possibilities and supposedly references some fictional stories that I’ve read, so I’ll check this out at some point…
  • The Ascent of Wonder: The Evolution of Hard SF edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer – Another cheat! I’ve been reading this for, like, 9 months. Well, not straight. It’s a collection of short stories, so every time I finish a book, I take a break and read a short story or two. It is excellent! There are great stories here, and it seems to be giving a fantastic overview of hard SF throughout the history of SF, ranging from 19th century fiction to the 80s (the book was published in the early 90s). It’s a huge book, featuring stories from all the classic authors and more, but it’s going to take a while to finish. Over 1000 pages and it’s dense, small-type pages so it’ll take a while, but I want to finish it this year.

Well, that should keep me busy for a while, right?

A Non-Hugo Book Queue

As I wind my way through this year’s Hugo nominees, I’ve realized that there are several books coming in the near future that I really, really want to read. It’s almost enough to want to opt out of the Hugos (what with all the lame controversy), though I suppose there’s a fair chance that two of these will be eligible next year (and one the following year). There’s also the fact that I’ve already read 3 of the Hugo novels and am halfway through another, so I guess that’s still on the table. Still, These 4 books make me want to drop everything and read them first:

  • Seveneves by Neal Stephenson (May 19, 2015) – So close I can almost taste it, this is coming in the mail next Tuesday. Stephenson is my favorite author, so I don’t even really need to know what it’s about, but if you do want to know, I posted the official synopsis a while back.
  • Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold (February 2016) – Just recently announced, this is most exciting news. Bujold is my other favorite author, so this is another almost blind buy. Details are sparse, but Bujold has stated that the main protagonist is Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan, which is most exciting. She’s also stated that “It is not a war story. It is about grownups.” which doesn’t really narrow it down much, though it may suggest that this novel takes place long after Cordelia’s previous entries in the series (Shards of Honor and Barrayar, both great) and perhaps during her stint as Vicereine of Sergyar (will Aral be there?) Honestly, this one is probably the most exciting on the list to me, if only because I have so much already invested in the series.
  • The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker (May 19, 2015) – Finally! Barker has been talking about this story since 1993. 1993! I know he doesn’t owe his fans anything, but it’s been 20+ years, which is a bit excessive… It supposedly features Harry D’Amour (from The Last Illusion and Everville) and Pinhead (from The Hellbound Heart and Hellraiser). This gets on the list simply because it’s been so damn long, but since it comes out on the same day as Seveneves, it will have to wait!
  • The End of All Things by John Scalzi (Serial, August 11, 2015)- I was a huge fan of The Human Division… right up until it ended on a cliffhanger. Well Scalzi’s finally gotten around to publishing the second volume (which supposedly will finish off the overarching story), which is supposed to happen in serial form over the next few months, but I’ll probably wait until the full collection is released in August.

There are tons of other books in the queue, but these are some of my favorite authors and they deserve special attention. Can’t wait for some of these!