Of scifi and Mars

Posted on December 13, 2014

Singing The Power of Love to the dogSci-fi, I am reading. (Get me.) I’ve just finished Red Mars and am now as hungry for more as colonists trying to terraform a red planet. (Seriously, get me.)

I haven’t read much scifi to date – a fact that made someone years ago I was having a Serious Bond with make it obvious I was no longer worth speaking to – but holy aliens Batman, the heady joys of having a new genre to roam around new worlds with.

I will read anything if it’s good, and recommended. I have read Stephen King and Harry Potter and even the first half of the abomination that was Fifty Shades of Shite Grey. I'm not snobby about popular. (Apart from The X Factor, but that's a whole new blog.)

And I don't require that books must be literary - au contraire, I say culturedly. But I have tried scifi, just as I have tried fantasy and I have tried historical romance. The tone in many examples, it failed me. (Quite easy to pick up, this way of writing is.)

I like naturalistic. I like micro. I like, for example, if it's a novel about landing on Mars or fighting orcs or slaying vampires, that it’s about the people/Rangers/vampire slayers doing it. (I’d like to say it’s because ‘we’re all human’, but realise I’d be spectacularly missing the point.) This is why I love Stephen King so much. A horror novel about vampires in a small Maine town, set in its present day? Bring it on, and pass me a crucifix. So scifi (and fantasy), about bigger worlds and usually more plot than character driven, hasn’t seemed like my thing.


But. Obviously, I've been reading the wrong books.

Because I get exceptionally itchy at flowery prose; and female characters only there to heave their bosoms and/or be a love interest to the manly hero manfully striding around saving the universe in moonboots like an inverse of Mary-Sue wish fulfillment; and a concept/tech point not in the book until the last chapter suddenly presented as a deus ex machina… And yes, I know Stephen King does that sometimes too...

But I did like Red Mars, So now, it is scifi I am reading. And I already love Ray Bradbury, and Philip K Dick, and John Wyndham (triffids!). And I’ve read some Arthur C Clarke but know I must read more, and read Isaac Asimov to (moon) boot. Recommendations are most welcome.

So far from my local library I have (see here for my love affair with my local library):

Andy Weir, The Martian: looking forward immensely to this one; saw it recommended on Twitter several times this week

Walter Tevis, The Man Who Fell to Earth: because I’m new to the genre, have heard of it, and assume the folk at Penguin Classics know of what they speak

Steven Amsterdam, Things We Didn’t See Coming: the power of a good blurb

In the CastlemayneAnd I also have Jacqueline Wilson’s Little Darlings and Hetty Feather, and a new Margaret Forster...

I’ve also been writing this week about Ile-et-Vilaine, the Somme Remembrance Trail, Yorkshire and Gwynedd among many others, been to the NUJ Freelance Branch social, continued my £10 a week recipes notes and, in the interest of full disclosure, worked/wrote/read quite a bit on the boat in my jammies. Well, it’s cold.

Next up on the Shakespeare reading/watching: King Lear. *capers madly on rainy moor* In Christmas hat, natch.

PS: Anyone who is equally outraged at the sheer direness, misinterpretation and Crimes Against Book that is Fifty Shades of Grey: see here


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