Thursday, 23 February 2012

On My Bookshelf

Are the following unread books:

  • On, by Adam Roberts.
  • Swiftly, by Adam Roberts. 
  • Embassytown, by China Mieville (both this and Swiftly are signed copies I got at Q&A/readings events at my local Waterstone's last summer, organised by a guy I play Call of Cthulu with on an irregular basis).
  • House of Chains, by Steven Erikson, which is half-read; one of those rare occasions I started a book and couldn't bear finishing it.
  • Acacia, by David Anthony Durham... which, I dunno, I bought because I suppose I thought it looked interesting - but obviously not interesting enough to actually sit down and read.
  • To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis.
  • Sacred Games, by Vikram Chandra, which I've tried reading three times and never got past the first few chapters.
  • The Behaviour of Moths, by Poppy Adams - I try to make a point of not reading anything written by anybody called 'Poppy', so I don't really have any idea where this one has come from, but there it is, anyway.
From which we can only conclude that my pace of book-buying is not commensurate with my pace of book-reading.

I happen to be coming to the end of my most recent purchase (The Dervish House), so let's hear it: which of these unread books should I read next?


  1. going to see steve erickson today--he wrote the introduction to one of my books

  2. Oh well, I guess don't tell him some random guy on the internet couldn't finish one of his books. I loved the first half, but at some stage it got really alienating and confusing and I stopped.

  3. I happened to just start re-reading Willis' Doomsday Book today. I think it's a sign you should read To Say Nothing of the Dog.

  4. My wife would say to read To Say Nothing of the Dog; it depends on how you feel about Jerome K. Jerome I think.

  5. I found Willis's Blackout books to be interesting, in a unique way. The overall story itself was fairly banal, but the details, the feeling... made it seem almost real, and I find myself thinking about the book far more than other books with more gripping plots.

  6. I thought embassytown was great, one his good ones.

  7. going to see steve erickson today--he wrote the introduction to one of my books

    Is that the same Steve Erickson/Eriskon? The Malazan guy?

  8. dMr. Zak S, Steven Erickson is not Steve Erickson. The only book I have of yours is Vornheim, so I can't look to make sure, but I'm guessing the Steve Erickson who wrote the introduction to one of your books was the same man who authored "Our Ecstatic Days" and "Zeroville", not the Steven Erickson who has penned one of the most bloated and over-rated "epic" fantasy series of the past decade. If I'm wrong and you feel insulted I do apologize.

  9. To Say Nothing Of The Dog - because I'm fairly certain that I gave that to you when I visited you for your wedding in Japan two and a half years ago.

    Or maybe On, because you loaned that after we went to the Adam Roberts reading!

    But seriously, read To Say Nothing Of The Dog, it's great.

  10. @pozatronic

    yeah, you're right

  11. The Vikram Chandra novel looks fascinating. I'd give that a try.

    Also, I'm partial to Acacia. If you try it, be patient with it. Starts of slowly, but it picks up speed as it goes. At least, I think so.

    But, admittedly, I'm a bit biased...

  12. David Anthony Durham: Well, if I have a recommendation from the author himself I guess it's the one I'll go for!

    Sacred Games does look fascinating, which is why I picked it up... But I bought it in, I think, 2008, and I still haven't completed it. The writing style just made it really difficult for me to get into. Then again, I often find that with novels the literati really appreciate.

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  14. I read Acacia because I really liked the author's novel about Hannibal.

    Acacia was enjoyable for stretching beyond pseudo-European roots in it's imaging without just adopting a real-world non-Euro equivalent. There's a very interesting element with a culture being dominated by its own dead. That part builds very well toward the end (and yes it felt a bit slow toward the beginning).

    That all said, I enjoyed the Hannibal book better—it ranks up there with Pressfield's work for me--but that could just reflect my tastes.

  15. So I have clout when it comes to recommending my own books? That's good to know. I'll try it more often...

    I haven't actually read Vikram Chandra, so I was just responding to the description of it, which does sound terrific. But I know it's the reading itself that matters.


    Thanks for reading two of my novels! I'm pleased you liked Pride of Carthage. My next adult novel is going to be historical fiction. It's about the Spartacus rebellion this time. Similar, military material.

  16. I haven't read Pride of Carthage (sorry, David), but I actually really loved Ross Leckie's Hannibal: A Novel. A lot of people on amazon seem to hate it, missing the point that it's a novel, not a historical account. I thought it was great - about 250 pages long and as full of death and ultraviolence as you can possibly hope for.

    A book on Spartacus sounds great. Have you already started on it?

  17. Well... I'm not one to say derogatory things about other authors. It's too hard to write a book, get it published and deal with people's responses to it.

    But I will say that I read his book (and the one on Scipio) before choosing to write Pride of Carthage. Actually, I was living in Scotland at the time. (I am at this very moment again living in Scotland, but I'm heading back to the States soon.) I know several people that know him, and from all accounts he'd be a fun guy to have dinner and drinks with.

    That said, I felt that the factual material of the war was much grander, more complicated, funkier and livelier than his depiction. On a lot of things, I felt his changing of events made the material less than it actually was.

    But... hey, I know that's only my opinion. He chose to describe the battle of Cannae in few pages. I did it in a lot more, from multiple different characters' points of view. It's just a very different approach.

    As for Spartacus... Yes, I have begun writing it. It's contracted to Doubleday - my seventh book with them. I've been juggling a few things at the moment, though, including writing fantasy stuff for kids for the first time. So, the Spartacus book won't be out anytime soon, but it's in the works.

  18. That's a fair comment. What I liked about the book is I guess what you didn't like - it did what anybody writing a book about Hannibal "shouldn't do". I sort of appreciated the perversity of playing down Cannae. I also thought the book as a whole was just very entertaining - quick to read but with a lyrical, almost stream-of-consciousness style. And really brutal too.

  19. Unlike my esteemed colleague pozatronic, I love Steven Erikson's work to bits, so I'm going to vote for House of Chains. The ending is bleakly hilarious and still has me chuckling, in a "Oh man, that's cruel" way.

  20. Now you have me wanting say don't worry about Acacia just now. Instead, go give Pride of Carthage a try! I'd be curious about what you thought about it, since my approach is so different than Mr. Leckie's.

    Oh, and my version is plenty brutal, too. What a body count that war had...

  21. Too late - I already started on Acacia.

    I think "what if Carthage had won the Punic Wars" is one of the most interesting alternate history questions. Of course, I don't think it could have done, but it's interesting to think about. Something about Carthage really captures the imagination - I think it's something to do with the idea of the Punic Wars being a point at which what we think of as "the West" being genuinely threatened with extinction by a civilization "Westerners" feel is exotic and alien.

  22. Very ambivalent about Adam Roberts, everything I've read of his has this weird hollowness to it, like it's missing some vital component, not sure what.

    There's a lot that attracts my imagination ... but as they keep being unsatisfying I've sort of warned myself off them.