Saturday, December 26, 2009

The beginning of a long way

Well, looks like Sci-Fi Month is going to last a little longer than the minimum 3 days. (Sci-fi month is, by the way, entirely unofficial and unrelated to any organization or group.) The direction this month may take me is starting to become a little clearer as I see what books are available to me (90%+ through my ever handy Sony Reader, all books free of charge).

The month started, as I mentioned, with seemingly safe, simple territory: "The Children of Men" by P. D. James. I had seen the movie several months before (I was unaware that it was based on a book until the end of the movie) but knew that the book and movie were very different. The book surprised me, in that it was at once very similar to the movie and at once completely different. It's hard to explain without spoiling both, but I enjoyed the book thoroughly, and not just as a gentle dystopian way to ease into Sci-Fi Month. It's a contemplative adventure story, mixed with politics and a dash of social commentary. Unsurprisingly, the book is really good.

I chose to head in a completely different direction with the next book and finally got around to reading "Good Omens". I'd heard both good and bad, but I honestly expected to like it more. I thought some of the characters were brilliant and eagerly followed one plot thread, but found myself slightly bored by the rest. It also didn't really agree with my mood. It was too... giddily fantastic. Not exactly science fiction. Pleasant stuff (not amazing), but this wasn't the time to read it.

Book 3 came courtesy of the nice folks at Random House, who were kind enough to upload a bucketload of free eBooks just when I bought my handy-dandy Reader: "Perdido Street Station" by China Mieville. I'll be honest, I was flying blind when I decided to read this. Only afterward did I learn that this book has received quite a few honors (none particularly breathtaking, but it hasn't been ignored). The book itself is interesting (a little long, but good overall), if only because it's bizarrely difficult to define. Is it science fiction (what with almost everything being described by science) or fantasy (what with random bizarre inexplicable things happening)? A great segue for some of next week's definition discussions.

These three books reside in very different realms of science fiction (or fantasy, or whatever the requirement is...). One book is humorously fantastic (from fantasy), another is bleakly human, and a third is weirdly scientific. None of these come close to the types of books I hope to read in the coming weeks. I hope to pay my respects to Asimov (on the left) and Clarke over the next few days, as well as Ursula Le Guin and H. G. Wells. Oh, this is going to be fun...

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