1.12.2004

The Book

And so you've set me to an impossible task, Jonathan.... As I sit here trying desperately to think of something cool I've read, it occurs to me that I've read very few actual SF novels all year. I'm a short form kind of guy, at least of late. I've read dozens of collections, Harlan Ellison's Angry Candy and The Essential Ellison, cover to cover, no less. I've read every Bob Sheckley collection, Lucius Shepard's The Jaguar Hunter and Barnacle Bill the Spacer and Other Stories. But books, actual novel length works, not so much.
I've grown a bit impatient with the field. For the most part, it seems, we're seeing the same old recycled thing, which leads me to counterintuit the popular notion that the short form is dead. I say it's the longer stuff that's clutching its left arm and turning purple in the face. That's not to say I haven't read anything good all year. Sheckley's Dimensions of Miracles was a fun little ride. Matt Stover's two Star Wars tie-ins (don't scoff, they surprised me and Matt's a friend) were fairly outstanding, though I admit I had to swallow a lot of bile while buying them, knowing where my much loved cash was going from there. Kage Baker's Sky Coyote surprised the hell out of me, delightfully so; I didn't know that nice lady I've been calling Auntie Kage for the last couple of years could actually write so well.... However, the absolute best, the book, to segue back onto topic, would have to be Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude.
Which, of course, everyone else had alread digested long ago. Being late to the party has its advantages, however, in that the discussions I have about this book are so much more in depth, and strangely enthusiastic. There's never been, nor, I think it's safe to say, will there ever be again another writer so deeply mired in their subject. Marquez wrote an honest to god masterpiece, which is just hyperbole in most instances, but not here. But, like I said, most people had already read it long ago, so there's no sense waxing rhapsodic here. So, from this short list I see that perhaps I need to get a bit more current. Perhaps it's time to pick up Pattern Recognition.
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