When I think of great storytellers, Hugh Howey and Blake Crouch are two authors that would be at the top of my list. They have a way of writing a story that draws you in immediately, keeps your attention, and captivates your imagination.
Another one of my favorite authors who I would put right up there with them is A.G. Riddle. I’ve been a fan of his starting with the The Atlantis Gene, which is the first book in The Origin Mystery trilogy.
I usually make it a point to have an A.G. Riddle novel on my reading list every year or two. The Extinction Trials was the book I chose to put on this year’s reading list.
For my latest foray into the short story genre, I decided on the Nameless series by Dean Koontz. I found about it through an Amazon email when Season 2 was released, but I figured that I would start with Season 1 to see if I liked the story arc.
It was also a good chance to gain exposure to Koontz’ writing. He’s a prolific author who has written dozens of books. Instead of starting out with one of his long form novels, I figured a few of his short stories would give me a good feel for his other books.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve read a few books where the main plot has been related to quantum physics, especially traveling across space and time. Some of the books include Dark Matter, Recursion, and Pennsylvania. There have been others where traveling across space and time supported the story but wasn’t the main attraction. You’d think I would tire of this theme, but I’m finding there’s always room for one more on my reading list.
I knew going in that The Fold by Peter Clines would involve bending space and time as the main attraction. I was interested in Clines take on the topics and the story he built around the concept.
Are you living the life you want? If you could make different choices in your life, would you? If you could see how your choices turned out, would you want to experience your ‘alternate’ life to see if it was everything you thought it would be?
That’s the premise of The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. Here’s the summary as written on his website:
Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?
My reading list suffers from shiny object syndrome. I get bombarded with recommendations from friends, as well as my arch nemesis – Amazon. If it looks good, I’ll let it jump the queue. So one of my reading goals this year was being more disciplined and reading through some titles that had been on my list for a long time, in some cases two years, three years, or more.
So far, I’ve done a pretty good sticking to plan. Fat Chance, Lexicon, The God’s Eye View, Permutation City, Luna, and (R)evolution were all books that were added to my reading list in 2018, or earlier. The latest book I can check off this list is Afterparty by Daryl Gregory.
I’ve been doing a little better this year sticking to my reading list. I’ve also been doing a better job of reading books that have been languishing on my reading list for some time. The latest example was (R)evolution by PJ Manney.
I’m not exactly sure when I first discovered the book, but it first showed up on my 2019 reading list at #35. Since I usually read about 25-30 books a year, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll read any books below #20. So it took a couple of years to get to this one.
I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a short story junkie. Between novels, I like to read a short story or two to break things up. The format is, well, different. It’s hard to explain, but a good short story captivates me. I enjoy how the characters are developed, and I really enjoy a short story with a strong plot twist. It’s especially satisfying when just enough is left unresolved that I get use to my imagination to complete the story.
I also find that short stories are a good way to explore different authors. If I like their short stories, then there’s a good chance I’ll enjoy their longer form writing too. That’s why I decided to read Selected Stories by Theodore Sturgeon. I had never heard or ready any of his works, so I figured it would be best to start with a collection of his short stories.
What is human consciousness? Is it an abstract concept, an ephemeral state, or a thing that can be captured and stored? If it’s a thing that can be stored, does that “thing” represent who we are? If that thing were put into another body, or a similar body, would we be the same person?
Based on my knowledge, modern science doesn’t have the answer to these questions. Fortunately, the lack of scientific evidence hasn’t stopped people from writing books about or based upon it.
A significant number of science fiction books I read treat the human mind as something that can be captured and stored. Depending on the book, that representation of the mind can live on inside a computer, or it can be placed into and/or transferred between bodies. Seeing how different authors explore the concept is an interesting thought experiment. It begs all sorts of questions such as is the stored representation really me? Will that representation realize it’s a copy? What are the ethical implications if multiple copies of me are active at the same time? It’s a long list that goes on and on.
Given that science fiction has a peculiar way of foreshadowing future technologies, it wouldn’t surprise me if some variation of these visions appear in the future, especially given the desire of those who want to live forever. My latest science fiction read to explore this concept was Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan.
As part of my reading list for the year, I make it a point to include “classic” science fiction. I consider pretty much anything written prior to the year 2000 as classic.
One of the other elements I look for in these classic works is their ability to stand the test of time. I’ve read books from Asimov, Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, Peter Hamilton, Joe Haldeman, Orson Scott Card, and others. I find it fascinating how many things these authors foreshadowed in their novels that have come to pass or are close to happening. It’s even more amazing when you consider that some of these novels were written over 50 years ago, and some are even older!
For my latest classic science fiction read, I read Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. A good friend and former colleague suggested I read Stephenson’s works, and he strongly recommended that I start with this one.
Goodreads tells me I’ve finished 29 books so far this year, but the pace has been very uneven. Some have been a slog that felt more like work. I almost gave up on one or two, which I rarely, if ever do. Others have been a breeze. Fortunately, my latest read, The Term Sheet by Lucas Carlson, fell into the breezy category. It took me less than a week start-to-finish, which is a good pace for me.