Top Ten List of Books I'd Be Reading Now If I Weren't Reading Other Books:
10. Vellum: The Book of All Hours by Hal Duncan. First, Hal is just the greatest guy. Second, Chris Roberson has been telling me what a genius work this is for months. Third, this book is burning up the charts. Forth, Hal is just the greatest guy. (So great I said it twice). And fifth, I'm so damn curious to see what the fuss is all about. I read the first page already and that was enough to give me a taste - like giving a coke addict one pinch and then telling them they'll have to wait till next year for another fix. Oh, and I've carried the book around with me all weekend at WFC, since Hal handed it to me to look after for a minute on Friday night - "There's this fookin' dinner I have to go too, right?" - and didn't take it back until Sunday afternoon.
9. Un Lun Dun by China Mieville. Finally, a novel by China that isn't 700 pages long! I'm a huge Mieville fan - his Iron Council will probably emerge as my favorite work of the fantastic in over a decade - but it takes me a long time to read his books because I'm a slow reader and when the prose really hits my buttons I slow down even more, staring off into space to consider what I've just read or backing up and reading a single paragraph over and over. It took me ages to read The Scar for this latter reason, so when Iron Council came out, I managed to finnagle an interview commission at the Believer with China, so that reading the book became work - not play - and could be prioritized. But Un Lun Dun is a YA, shorter, and I have an advanced copy. I'd love to be able to actually read it before it comes out for once! But don't place any bets to that affect.
8. Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. When Brandon's first novel, Elantris, came out, I was very curious. No way I could get to it, so I recommended it to my brother, an avid fantasy reader, who had good things to say. Then I met Brandon on a panel at World Con this past year, and was very favorably impressed. So I picked up a copy of Mistborn there and had him sign it, just so he knows I've got it, and therefore I'll have to get to it sooner rather than later. And I'm very excited to do so. Just look at that amazing Jon Foster cover, incredible illustration from an artist that's at the top of his game right now.
7. Anything by Michael Moorcock, but especially the new Elric Trilogy, The Dreamthief's Daughter: A Tale of the Albino, The Skrayling Tree: The Albino in America , and The White Wolf's Son: The Albino Underground . Recently, it has been my privileged to "have" to read a lot of Mike's fiction for "work," while collaborating with him on putting together the forthcoming book The Metatemporal Detective, a collection of stories featuring Sir Seaton Begg and Count Zodiac (sometimes known as Elric of Melnibone). And well, truth is that nothing makes me hungry for more Moorcock like Moorcock. I'm getting all geared up for Del Rey's upcomingg reissue of the original Elric saga, while enjoying some of Mike's more sophisticated works of the last decade or so - and the recent trilogy seems like the perfect blend of both worlds. Of course, blending worlds is what you expect from the creator of the multiverse.
6. Counting Heads by David Marusek - I've been digging David's short fiction for a long time, and I really wanted to read this book back when it was the "hot" just released hard SF novel. Missed that boat, but Counting Heads is still calling out to me from its place of honor on the book shelf. Fortunately, Marusek is a slow and careful writer, so hopefully he won't accumulate a Charles Stross-sized backlist before I can read this one.
5. The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch - I started this on the plane out to World Con, hoping to have read enough of it there and back that I could justify another day afterwards finishing it up. As it was, I found out that traveling in the sky with a 14 month old baby is not the same as traveling with a six month old. So, as it turned out, I only read 50 pages. Sadly, with all the books I have in my to-read pile, it's going to have to wait until I get more than a day's break, and when I do get back to it, I'll start over from the beginning. But what I read was fantastic and has me itching to dive back in. And I feel pretty safe saying that this is the kind of fantasy I like.
4. Snake Agent: A Detective Inspector Chen Novel (Detective Inspector Chen Novels) by Liz Williams. I just can't get over this cover, another Jon Foster. I've showered so much love on it on this blog and in person - both in private and on convention panels - that I need to find out if the contents are worth their exterior. I bet they are.
3. The Ghost Brigades (Sci Fi Essential Books) by John Scalzi - I really loved Old Man's War, and since meeting John in person, I love him too. Plus, OMW was a fast-paced enough read that I did it in a record (for me) two days, which means I stand a reasonable chance of reading The Ghost Brigades sometime in the next six months. I'd like to get to it before the third book in the series comes out, and before I feel hopelessly left out by all the praise for The Android's Dream. Plus, I really want a copy of The Android's Dream too, but I'm not going to let myself buy it until I've read the Scalzi I already have. At least, I've resisted so far.
2. The Charnel Prince (The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, Book 2) and The Blood Knight (The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, Book 3) by Greg Keyes. The first book in this series, The Briar King, is still my favorite epic fantasy that I've ever read and my personal metric for judging works in the post-Tolkien tradition. I'm going to count these two books as one, since I can't very well read book 3 without first reading book 2. Meanwhile, Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself - which Pyr will be bringing out in the U.S. next year I'm happy to report - may very well have recently tied with The Briar King in the race for my affection, but Joe and I have never been thrown out of a party for drunken wrestling on the floor (yet), so I'll let Briar King hold onto the title a bit longer before declaring it unseated.
1. Geodesica: Ascent and Geodesica: Descent by Sean Williams and Shane Dix. I am just chomping at the bit to read these books. They sound like, both from their descriptions and the reports of trusted friends, just the sort of wildly imaginative, post-human space adventure I'm craving, but here's the deal: As slow as I read, it's very, very hard for me to justify reading multiple books by a writer I'm already very familiar with when I could devote that time to filling in holes in my education by reading the work of writers I've yet to experience. And, since I've worked with Sean Williams on multiple Pyr books, his brilliant sci-mystery The Resurrected Man and his Books of the Cataclysm fantasy quartet, the Geodesica duology would really be a guilty pleasure indeed. But I suspect I'd be shouting the praises of these works if I'd read them. As it is, they'll have to wait a long time. On the other hand, it occurs to me that I'm not familiar with Shane Dix's work at all. So maybe there's an angle that can bump this forward after all...