Reading again, early August…

Far from the Light of Heaven, Tade Thompson
Far from the Light of Heaven, Tade Thompson

Just a quick note. Should the question arise, I’m currently reading Tade Thompson’s fifth novel, Far from the Light of Heaven, his first book-length work since completing the Wormwood trilogy.

The publisher describes the book like this:

A tense and thrilling vision of humanity’s future in the chilling emptiness of space from a rising giant in science fiction, Arthur C. Clarke Award winner Tade Thompson

The colony ship Ragtime docks in the Lagos system, having traveled light-years to bring one thousand sleeping souls to a new home among the stars. But when first mate Michelle Campion rouses, she discovers some of the sleepers will never wake.

Answering Campion’s distress call, investigator Rasheed Fin is tasked with finding out who is responsible for these deaths. Soon a sinister mystery unfolds aboard the gigantic vessel, one that will have repercussions for the entire system—from the scheming politicians of Lagos station, to the colony planet Bloodroot, to other far-flung systems, and indeed to Earth itself.

That seems pretty fair.  I’m about a quarter-way through it, and it’s terrific. I’ve pre-ordered my copy,  and have an advance reading copy from the publisher too. I think I’d recommend you consider grabbing it when it comes out, just based on what I’ve read so far.  It’s giving my favourite SF novel of 2021 so far, Arkady Martine’s A Desolation Called Peace a run for its money.

Mad hours, Wednesday, later in the P—

So sometimes I wake up at 1.30am or so, and sometimes I cannot get back to sleep. Today is the morning after one of those nights. I’m guessing I got about four hours sleep, which is enough to be barely functional. No super reason for it, but it’s gonna be a long-ish day.

I’ll add, not an apology, but a comment. This last outpouring of blog entries has been pretty dull, even for me. Right now that’s what they are, so feel free to ignore them or not. I can sort of think how there might be a bit more substance in coming weeks, but let’s see.

Time slipping away, on a Tuesday, round about the same time in the pandemic

I’m seeing if I can work up a functional review of The Hood. Not written one of those since I stopped reviewing for Locus back in 2002 or so.  I used to kid myself that I’d go back to it, but other things overran that.

Today was all about the day job, some project work, and working out what to read next. I thought it would be Iain M. Banks’ Surface Detail or Martine’s A Memory of Empire. Turns out I’ve fallen into Tade Thompson’s new one, Far From the Light of Heaven, which I’m enjoying. Space opera is funny stuff. Stories of maritime adventure and global empire tossed into a sky they’d never fly in.

I find myself, possibly post Stan Robinson’s Aurora, unable to believe in any meaningful form of human space travel – it seems empty and unlikely and something we don’t have time for – but there are things in these stories I love and that offer us something. I’ve said space opera has become epic fantasy, and there’s truth to that. After all, in some ways, Kate Elliot’s Unconquerable Sun is a cousin of Shelley Parker-Chan’s She Who Became the Sun. Hmm. Maybe Gary and I should talk to them about that. Also, the opening of A Memory Called Empire is awfully similar to the opening of Foundation. And so, we dance.

Anways, that’s Tuesday. Time for a little more whisky and reading, and then bed.

The next day, early in morning, exiting a polder, same pandemic

Just wrote this elsewhere on social media:

This is a strange time. Here in Perth, even for winter, it’s cold and wet. The east coast of Australian is locked down and Delta rages. I find myself rather nervously watching that and wondering when/if it will impact here. People are watching Olympics and making/plans and we’re doing a census. And we’re doing house stuff and I’m busy. It’s weird.

And it is weird. I check the news constantly, flit from this to that, and, all of a sudden, I’m turning from visual media back to reading (which might seem odd, given my reviewing and editing commitments), but I am reading novels.

I’ve mentioned here that I’ve been reading Lavie Tidhar’s The Hood, the second in his Anti-Matter of Britain Quartet following By Force Alone from last year. It comes out in October and it’s an interesting, dark, violent fantasy novel set in England toward the end of the Crusades.  I need to decide if I’m going to actually review it here, but I think it’s a book that Tolkien — the Tolkien who looked at the destruction of the forests as they were fed into the fires at Isengard and saw it as part of a coming tide — would have at least grokked, if not dug.

While I ponder that, I think I’m going to re-read the 2019 Hugo winner A Memory Called Empire. Not been re-reading much at all these days but we are talking to Arkady this weekend for Coode Street and I’d like it fresh. And after time in Shelley Parker-Chan’s China, Zen Cho’s Malaysia, and Tidhar’s Nottingham, a little off-world time sounds tempting.

The Hood
The Hood by Lavie Tidhar

Very early morning Monday, not sleeping, same pandemic

The cat is outside and I’ve had my mandated minimum five hours sleep, which seems what this second COVID year is allowing me right now. I hope to get back to something a bit more usual for me, but who knows? I’m awake, there’s a day job to go to, and that’s about that. Although I was a bit up and down over the weekend, I think I can say the second COVID shot had little or no impact on me. Getting vaccinated was good and important and, unless you have a compelling medical reason not to, you should too.

I’ve been watching a lot of television over the past year or so – subscribed to a million services, tried a bunch of things, watched a handful of half-series I mean to get back to and usually don’t (like Mare of Easttown and Sweet Tooth), but now feels like a time for reading.

As I’ve been saying here, I just finished Zen Cho’s Black Water Sister, Shelley Parker-Chan’s She Who Became the Sun, and am three quarters through Lavie Tidhar’s The Hood. Very different books all three, but big chunks of fantasy all. I find myself, as I reach the end of the Tidhar, casting my eye around for a change of pace. Maybe the latest Chuck Wendig (I used to read big horror novels) or the new Adrian Tchaikovsky (I love me some space opera). I also randomly bought ebooks of some old Elmore Leonard and Ross McDonald novels, because I’ve enjoyed some crime stuff. Looking at the next book, though, lots of white guys. Will think on that. I don’t mind dropping some into the mix, but you want to keep it varied.

I also have a few things on the Kindle to get to. I am perfectly happy reading digitally, I have to say, but I never get the same feel for how far through a book I am when I read that way. One of the things print still has, I guess.

Anyway, if anyone’s reading this, be happy to hear your books recs for 2021 titles I should be reading.


…unavoidable stuff from jonathan strahan…