Falling Behind: My Reading Backlog

I was recently looking at my Amazon wishlist, it has quite a few books on it, and wondering when, if ever, I’d get around to purchasing and reading them. See, I made a deal with myself, and I’ve mostly kept it, that I won’t buy anymore new books until I finish all the ones I already have on my shelves. But, it doesn’t seem to matter how many of the books I take off the shelf and read there are always unread ones sitting on the shelves waiting for their turn. If reading wasn’t so enjoyable the task might be Sisyphean…

So, I decided to sit down and see just how many books I have to read before I can get to those new ones… It took awhile but here it is:

171 books

Roughly, I didn’t count a lot of the genre fiction collections I have lying around (Dune, Stross, Stevenson, Weeks, etc…) If you want to get a glimpse at what I’m interested in go ahead and click through to the spreadsheet, I didn’t list authors but some simple googling should lead you to these books.

Anyone have any suggestions on whittling this down to something manageable?


DiMortuiSunt Book Giveaway #4

I only paid for one of these books, two of them are galleys
More Fantastic Genre Fiction!

How many weeks are in April anyway? Five! Man, good thing I have a seemingly endless supply of books here. Before we talk about the four books being given away next week let’s congratulate the winners: Luana, Adam, and Nicolas! I’ll be getting in touch with all three of you to get these books out to you!

Now for next weeks books, reviews as always from Sacramento and San Francisco Book Review:

Darkwar by Glen Cook

Glen Cook’s Dark War trilogy tells the story of a young primitive meth named Marika whose life is unalterably changed when barbarians out of the north destroy her village. This sets her on a path that will lead her into the stars. It also shapes the fate of her race and their planet.

“Caution was the strongest lesson Marika had learned. Absolute, total caution. Absolute total distrust of all who pretended friendship. She was an island, alone, at war with the world because the world was at war with her.”

Originally published in the ’80s separately, Darkwar combines the Marika stories into a single book.  The meth are a cat-like people with a strict hierarchical society in which males are subservient to females and all meth are subservient to the Silth, a sorority of mystic, magic-wielding meth who control the planet. Marika, after the destruction of her homestead and her worldview, finds herself a Silth novitiate just as the order of things on her planet begin to come undone, and she is drawn into the center of that change.

Combining fantasy and science fiction in this trilogy, Cook is a master at work. His books are always enjoyable while requiring the reader to think. Darkwar raises such diverse topics as gender roles in society and how the meeting of two alien races might have drastic impacts on the cultures of each race.

The God Engines by John Scalzi

John Scalzi isn’t the more recognized name in science fiction, despite having won awards in the field and having his first novel nominated for the Hugo.  Despite this he’s quietly built up an impressive body of hard science fiction.  Scalzi abandons this fertile and familiar turf in his latest piece of work, the novella The God Engines, an intriguing work of fantasy that somehow manages to center around interstellar travel, holy wars, and the role of the individual in society.  Scalzi somehow manages in a mere 136 pages to create believable, likeable characters who exist in a world that, while fantastic (spaceships travel by dominating captured deities and forcing them to move them through the stars), is both wonderful and convincing.  I have only two complaints with the book:  it ends far too soon and the conclusion is rushed as if Scalzi forced an ending on a story that needed several more pages to it.  In the future I hope Scalzi takes another stab at fantasy, one that lasts a little longer…

The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro (review by Theresa Lucas)

A Boeing 777 lands at JFK International Airport and immediately shuts down. All communication is cut off, and when the first responders arrive, they find the plane sitting quietly, completely dark, with all the shades pulled down and the doors pulled so tightly they cannot be opened. Just as the rescue crew gets ready to cut into the plane, the door quietly opens, and the horror begins. Almost all the passengers onboard are dead, sitting in their seats with no visible signs of struggle or panic. And in the cargo hold, a very large coffin filled with dirt is discovered. The Center for Disease Control is called in to investigate, but the virus they find is more deadly and ancient than anything they could have imagined. Strange alliances form as it becomes clear that the people on the plane aren’t staying dead, and vampires are real. From the imaginations of Guillermo Del Toro, the director of Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth and author Chuck Hogan, The Strain is a good old-fashioned horror novel that reminds us vampires really are monsters – not the emotionally tortured souls of paranormal romance novels. The Strain is a very satisfying read that will quench your thirst for a well-crafted, suspenseful book.

Lastly, we have Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow

Sharp Teeth is an epic poem about werewolves in modern day Los Angeles. This book is actually more awesome than it sounds, and if it doesn’t sound awesome to you, you need to re-evaluate your literary standards. Epic, gritty, fast-paced and surprising. Barlow stretches both his subject and poetry in this inventive piece of fiction.

Sorry, I don’t have a longer review of Sharp Teeth, I never reviewed the book when I originally picked it up. It has been a couple of years at least since I read it last and I don’t think I could do it justice by winging it from memory. If I had to pick one book out of the four it’d be Sharp Teeth, it’s just so much more interesting than the other three.

You know the rules by now. Leave a comment below and you’ll be entered to win one of these books next Friday.

DiMortuiSunt April Book Giveaway #2

Fantasy Realism or Classic Science Fiction? You Choose

Welcome to week two of the DiMortuiSunt April Book Giveaway. Congratulations to Denton Froese on winning a copy of Rebirth of a Nation! This week I’m giving away two books! One is a piece of fantasy literature that doesn’t have any magic or wizards or dragons, it has Roman legions in a fictional land. The other is an old American written sequel to H.G. Well’s War of the Worlds that most people have never heard of but set a surprising number of firsts in the genre. My reviews for both are below.

My review from the San Francisco Book Review:

Paul Kearney’s Corvus is the second book to take place in the fictional classical world of Kef. Kearney again focuses his story on a legion of mercenaries with magic armor. The protagonist, Rictus, is the leader of these mercenaries. He is aging and thinking of retiring to his farm with his wife and two daughters. Unfortunately, fate has plans that drag Rictus, his legion, and his family into a war of survival as their homeland is invaded by an army from across the sea lead by a mysterious young man who calls himself only Corvus.  Kearney is a talented writer who has a knack for presenting the chaos of the ancient battlefield in such way that excites the reader without reducing the horror of melee combat. This book is full of descriptions of battles, perhaps a few too many; Kearney doesn’t have the time to develop his characters as much with all that fighting going on. So, instead of having characters we have quick studies and archetypes. This is hardly going to be an issue for fans of the genre though; most characters in fantasy are nothing more than archetypes and Kearney certainly makes it work.

From my upcoming review in either the Sacramento or San Francisco Book Review:

H.G. Wells was a visionary writer, rightfully considered one of the founders of Science Fiction. One of his most famous works is The War Of The Worlds, a chilling tale wherein humanity is saved from the predations of more technologically advanced Martians not by any of their own actions but by mere microbes. The story when it was first serialized in the United States that the Hearst newspaper group commissioned a sequel to be written by one of their own writers. The result? Garrett P. Serviss’ Edison’s Conquest of Mars which for the first time since originally appearing in 1898 is now in print complete and unabridged.  Serviss’ Edison’s Conquest of Mars despite being a product of its time, whose science has, mostly, been surpassed or discredited the book remains a charming, pulpy, adventure tale that holds a number of “firsts” in genre fiction: ancient astronauts, disintegration rays, alien abductions, and more. The story takes place shortly after the events of Wells’ book: the governments of Earth have united to act together and with the helpful genius of Thomas Edison take the war to Mars and succeed in defeating those aliens who caused so much destruction on Earth.

Leave a comment below and you’ll be entered to win one of these books. Random winners will be selected on the 15th when the next book(s) go up.

%d bloggers like this: