Visions of Paradise

Saturday, June 03, 2006

A night at the bookstore

After a long week at school, Friday night is a night of relaxation. Jean and I usually go to some low-priced place to eat, Panera Bread being our favorite location. Afterwards Jean shops while I spend an hour or so browsing at one of the local bookstores. There are no good private bookstores, so it is either Borders or Barnes & Noble, both of which have “superstores” in the area.

Last night Jean wanted to shop in Ledgewood, so my destination was Barnes & Noble. As usual, I started at the magazine rack next to the store entrance where I looked at the science fiction magazines for sale. They have a fairly good selection, including Asimov’s, Analog, F&SF, and Realms of Fantasy. All were issues I had seen before, and none particularly enticed me to buy them. Although I let my subscriptions to prozines lapse years ago (mid-90s for Asimov’s and 2000 for F&SF), I still buy an occasional issue, usually their double-issues since I particularly enjoy novellas and they tend to save their best novellas for those issues.

Next I browsed the other magazines, including National Geographic (not an issue worth buying), History Magazine (whose articles are generally too short without enough depth to interest me), and several Italian cooking magazines (fortunately I had just eaten supper or I might have bought one of them, haha).

Then I went to the science fiction section where I salivated over several dozen books I would have liked to buy. The new David Hartwell Year’s Best SF 11 was there. I stopped buying that series after #3, not because of lack of interest, but because a half-dozen years ago Gardner Dozois’ taste was more to my liking than Hartwell’s. But recently I have been drifting more towards traditional science fiction than any time since the early 1970s, and Hartwell’s book looked more enticing than it did previously. This does not mean I have lost interest in the more serious sf though, and I still intend to continue buying Dozois’ book as well as Jonathan Strahan’s Best Short Novels–the newest volume which I just received in the mail from the SFBC–so I need to be a bit selective in my buying. I’ve already bought 11 new sf books this year which, along with about 100 other unread books, glare at me angrily from my bookshelf every time I buy another new book. And I do tend to have moderate completist tendencies, so if I buy Hartwell’s #11 that will leave me with a gap between #4 - #10 which will grow to dominate my bookshelf as time goes buy. So it was better to ignore Hartwell for the time being.

What other sf books looked particularly good to me last night?

• Having recently read and enjoyed Greg Benford’s Beyond Infinity, his books The Martian Race and Cosm were attractive;
• Jack McDevitt’s Infinity Beach. I’ve been eying that one ever since I read Polaris last year;
• Alastair Reynold’s books in the Revelation Space series, but they were easy to resist since I will probably read the first book this summer, so I do not know yet how much I will enjoy it;
• Julie Czerneda’s In The Company of Others. She is an author I have never read but whose reviews make me anxious to try one of her books;
• two Culture books by Iain M. Banks, another unread author who interests me;
• Silverberg’s The Alien Years.

Next I drifted to the general fiction section–which was about four times the size of the f&sf section, where I looked exclusively at historical fiction:

• Shan Sa’s novel set during the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in the early 1930s, The Girl Who Play Go. She also has a new acclaimed novel Empress about the only female emperor of China. I definitely need to read one of her books sometime;
• Bernard Cornwell’s Stonehenge was enjoyable enough that I am anxious to read some of his other historical fiction, but not his Richard Sharpe seagoing adventures. Both his Grail Trilogy and his standalone Gallows were there waving at me;
• I’ve never read any of Rafael Sabatini’s swashbuckling adventures, and they interest me mainly for his historical color rather than the adventures themselves. My main interest is Bellarion the Fortunate since it was the inspiration for Gordon R. Dickson’s Childe series, but I’ve never seen it at a bookstore or I would have probably bought it long before now. Instead they had the more popular Captain Blood and Scaramouche;
• Ben Indick has piqued my interest in reading Dickens, and while I have several volumes in my collection, two books about which I have recently read favorable comments are Bleak House and Our Mutual Friend, neither of which I have;
• Barnes & Noble had a book called The Stephen King Companion which rated his 100 best stories. Since my favorite two Stephen King novels are The Stand and The Shining, which were ranked #2 and #3 respectively, I was naturally intrigued by their selection of It as #1, calling it King’s magnum opus. That naturally caused me to add It to my Recommended Reading list. You can laugh if you wish, but that list now contains 27 sf books, 26 historical fiction, and 20 nonfiction.

So I came home last night and did some reading of Gardner Dozois’ 2005 edition of The Best Science Fiction of the Year, specifically Kage Baker’s novella “Mother Aegypt.” Ah, life is grand!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home