It’s WWW Wednesday. This meme is from shouldbereading.
• What did you recently finish reading?
I just finished Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson. David Lean’s classic movie has been iconic for me since before I knew what “iconic” meant (my father used to take me to the cinema sometimes, in that way of divorced parents everywhere, and I sometimes think my taste for epic fictions was born even before I read The Lord of the Rings), and Lawrence’s own narrative was research for me fifteen years ago, when I was writing the Outremer series. It felt nothing but inevitable, then, that a new biography would be research again, on a totally different project. (If Mars were a province of the British Empire? Of course Lawrence would have gone there, when he was struggling to reinvent himself far from the public eye…)
Fictionwise, I’ve most recently been reading Jaime Lee Moyer’s A Barricade in Hell, the second in her series of – well, what are they? Historical mystery ghost stories, I guess. Set in post-earthquake San Francisco, mixing police procedural with spiritualism and very tangible hauntings. This one treats with the seeming-ghost of a small girl that simply won’t be banished, and a deeply suspect peace campaigner with a sinister entourage, before America came into the First World War. I’ve read nothing quite like these books, and I highly recommend them. (The first is Delia’s Shadow, and it carries a blurb from me on the back cover, which impressed the hell out of our dentist’s receptionist when my wife pointed it out to her…)
• What are you reading now?
I’ve just got my hands on Cibola Burn, the fourth in the Expanse science fiction series from “James S A Corey”, who is really Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. I didn’t want to use the word epic again, but here it comes. These are seriously big books, treating with a seriously big idea, humanity’s leap from a colonised but containing single solar system to the limitless stars, via an abandoned alien technology. Dreadful things happen in the process, because that interface between people and business and power and desire will always be dangerous and corrupt, even before you throw heedless alien biotech into the mix, across half a dozen artificial environments where death is already just outside the door. These books aren’t helplessly grimdark, though they do treat with horror as well as hope; what they are is intelligent, intriguing, strongly imagined and strongly written, and deserving of all the praise and interest they’ve garnered.
Meanwhile, my bedside reading is relentlessly food-oriented: not so much recipe books as writing about food and cooking. At the moment, Michael Ruhlman’s books about the care and feeding of American cooks, The Making of a Chef and The Soul of a Chef.
• What do you think you’ll read next?
Ooh, now. Next. Are there treats in store? Of course there are. I still haven’t read Marie Brennan’s The Tropic of Serpents, f’rexample, tho’ again I blurbed A Natural History of Dragons. I haven’t read Vernor Vinge’s The Children of the Sky, tho’ it came out two years ago; because I want to reread A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky first. I might do that. Or there’s a whole shelf of books Karen wants me to read, favourites of hers that have just never crossed my path. Or I’ve been reading biographies of twentieth-century physicists, Dirac and Feynman; I could follow that up, maybe even read some actual quantum mechanics if I can wrap my head around it. Or…
What about you? What have you been reading lately? Put the link to your WWW Wednesday entry in comments, or just tell us!