Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cracked Review, Hines Interview, SFFWorld Review, & Reading Resolutions

Following on from last week, I posted my review of Joshua Palmatier’s The Cracked Throne, which more than straddles the line as a simple middle book in a trilogy. The book started a bit slow for me, but the ending really cranked up and more than balanced that beginning. Here’s a snippet:

The throne itself comes more into play and Palmatier expands on its strange history. Varis soon learns the souls of the former rulers of Amekor are housed within Throne, and more importantly, so are the souls of the seven who poured their essences into the creation of the throne. The visions of destruction are both a reminder of the past and a harbinger of the future, the throne was created to keep an invading force of blue-skinned nomads, the Chorl, from destroying Amenkor.

What makes this novel is very much what made its predecessor work – Varis’s engaging narrative voice. There are no pretentions and the strength of any first person narrative is one of Varis’s strengths – the reader (for lack of a better term) learns about things alongside the protagonist. Another strength of Palmatier’s story is the throne itself and the slow reveal of its nature. It might be odd to make another comic book comparison to Palmatier’s work, but the Throne reminded me a great deal of an element of the Superman/Doomsday storyline where by rulers of a world pool their magical abilities together to create a super-being to battle the threat of the monster Doomsday. Palmatier’s theme of sacrifice for the greater good and its ultimate consequences echo more powerfully and subtly.

I’m also conducting an e-mail interview with Joshua which should probably go up when my review of The Vacant Throne is posted.

Also in SFFWorld updates, an interview with Jim C. Hines went up over the weekend. His Jig the Goblin books have been fairly well-received and I have his latest, The Stepsister Scheme on the review pile.

Hobbit also posted the third and final part of SFFWorld’s 2008 Year in Review.

Some reading resolutions I’d like to make for 2009:

Read more short fiction
Last year I read only 6 collections/anthologies, one of which was new fiction (Eclipse One), two were the John Joseph Adams-edited reprints; two were reprint anthologies/retrospectives (David Weber, Kull,) and the other was Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things which I’ll barely count because I read everything by him anyway. I’ve got a backlog of some anthologies and will hopefully pick up some more with different authors/editors. Short fiction never comprised a majority of my genre reading and every year I tell myself to read more of it.

Read more fiction from different voices
This is somewhat encompassing. I read only three women writers last year in novel length form (Liz Williams, Kay Kenyon, and Karen Miller) and most of what I read was written by white guys. While I can’t control what books publishers publish and send to me, I can choose from that pool which books to read. In past years when I keep tallies of what I read, I read more women and more than just white guys.

Read outside of what I typically read
Most of the fantasy I read is secondary world/epic/high fantasy. While I’ve been dipping my toes into Urban Fantasy for a while, I would like to read more of it and from across the board. As for the Science Fiction I read, it often leans to Space Opera/Military Science Fiction. Point being, both genres have enough variation for me to try the many different flavors of Speculative Fiction. I’d also like to read some more mystery and more non-genre work, Mrs. Blog o’ Stuff has plenty of non-fiction stuff for me to tackle like a recent Ben Franklin biography and some history books.

Catch up with series fiction
The Dresden Files; Vampire Earth by E.E. Knight; Wess'Har by Karen Traviss; Vlad Taltos by Steven Brust (I'm only one book behind); Shadowmarch (I'm only one book behind); Marla Mason by T.A. Pratt; Malazan; Black Company, Dread Empire, and Garrett, P.I. (OK, I didn't even start the Garrett, P.I. books yet) by Glen Cook; Dune (a re-visit and catch-up really), Takeshi Kovacs by Richard K. Morgan; Alex Benedict by Jack McDevitt; and the list could probably continue. Shit, I just added another dozen plus books and may be counter-intuitive to some of the above reading resolutions

All of the above are things I’ve been thinking about as constantly reshuffle my Pile o' Shame /"To read"pile, and with the amount of books I receive for review and still have unread, it isn’t practical to justify spending hard earned cash on more books. But what is practical, anyway? There are just too many books to read at this rate.

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