I haven’t done one of these in two months. Whoops.
So, when last we spoke, I was working on The Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett. And, while I liked that the book focused so strongly on fear and its effects on the three principal characters, I had some issues with its treatment of gender and especially with its Arab-stereotype “Krasian” culture.
Given that the second book focused largely on the Krasians, I expressed some concern … and well, yeah. I gave up about two thirds of the way through that book. So I can’t tell you how it ends.
Since then, I’ve largely been looking for a good fantasy read to get into. (Remember I was avoiding a re-read of The Wheel of Time.)
I checked out a few indies. One was godawful. One was really excellently written but the premise just did not excite me.
For Christmas, I was gifted a copy of Astounding, by Alec Nevala-Lee. Ostensibly a biography of editor John W. Campbell (who edited Astounding, later Analog, and who is widely credited with ushering in science fiction’s Golden Age), this absolutely fantastic book chronicles the lives of Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, and L. Ron Hubbard in addition to Campbell. The four are inextricably linked, and their story is … fucking astounding, all right?
Parts of the writing are straight-up savage, especially when it comes to L. Ron Hubbard. I found myself giggling at some of the snippets, and making disgusted faces at others. A lot of them ended up on my Twitter feed.
If you’ve ever wanted to know more about Golden Age sci-fi … or the creation of Scientology … or how the nerds helped win World War II … or even just how seriously you should take Starship Troopers … pick up this excellent piece of non-fiction. I can’t recommend it enough.
After that, I considered a re-read of Asimov. (He comes off, in my opinion, as the most sympathetic of the four men in Astounding. Yes, he played grabass his whole life. But the others … well, even Heinlein has these moments that are just a little … creepily off-putting.)
Anyway, I thought about a re-read of the Foundation books, or the Robot books (the Elijah Bailey/R. Daneel books in particular, as they are old favorites). But I still hadn’t found a good fantasy read that scratched the itch I’d been feeling since just after Halloween…
So I have now embarked on a third re-read of The Wheel of Time. And you can expect me to be stuck on that for at least three or four months.