WWW Wednesday – 4/8/2015

It’s WWW Wednesday. This meme is from shouldbereading.

• What did you recently finish reading?
I fell sick sometime back in – was it January? I think it was. Not bad-sick, just lie-on-the-sofa-with-cats sick. What I needed, obviously, was hot toddies and comfort reads. Traditionally that means the Chalet School books; but I’ve been eyeing the shelves recently and thinking “Can I…? Am I ready…?” Being pale and wan and feeble, obviously I was more than ready – so Master and Commander came off the shelves, and I plunged headfirst into Patrick O’Brian. Again.

Twenty novels later, I have just this morning come up for air.

Why do I love these books so much? In part because they’re really just a single narrative, one twenty-volume novel (that in the end still comes to no conclusion, having been interrupted by the death of its creator), and I’ve always liked epic projects; because they’re immersive in the way that the best SF and fantasy can also be, building a world that’s alien and credible and charmingly detailed (even O’Brian makes mistakes – there’s once where this edition at least says “latitude” where it clearly means “longitude” – but in general the flood of eighteenth-century naval terminology is just gleefully managed); because they are novels about competence (at least when they’re at sea; on land Aubrey at least is – forgive me! – all at sea, and those are the sections I don’t like half as much; the baffled hero lost his charm for me long ago); because they are novels of compelling action but also compelling character; and over and under and around all, because they are novels of language, novels that relish the English of which they are made.
• What are you reading now?
First thing, I am returning to the book I was in the middle of when we were so rudely interrupted by that pushy O’Brian character. I had thought I could read them in parallel, but I was wrong; immersive is immersive. So now, having broken surface, I am back to Jacey Bedford’s Empire of Dust, and back to enjoying it thoroughly. It’s a first novel, and I think that shows – there are issues of pacing and telegraphing – but it’s space opera of the core kind, with betrayed colonists and malevolent corporations and psi-enabled metahumans, and totally fun.

Less fun, alas, is my bedtime reading. I have the habit of reading food-writing last thing at night, and I’m halfway through Eating India by Chitrita Banerji. I was looking forward to this, and it’s proved a disappointment. She privileges her native Bengali cooking above any other, which is wearisome; and she’s pompous, which is unforgivable. I will finish, because I do that, but I am kind of reading through gritted teeth.
• What do you think you’ll read next?
I know what I’ll be reading next week, because I’m travelling from California to the San Juan Islands off Washington State, almost to the Canadian border. That’s a full day of travelling, with added airports. That means Neal Stephenson. (See above, under “epic projects”: I always read Stephenson on planes, his are the only books I trust to remain unfinished by the time we land.) I won’t be gone long enough for a reread of the Baroque Cycle, so it’ll probably be Reamde, because it’s the only one I haven’t revisited yet.

Between here and there, though? After I finish Empire of Dust tomorrow? That’s less certain. That’s the thing about full-immersion protocols, they can kind of leave you gasping and flailing around when you surface…
 

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About Chaz Brenchley

Chaz Brenchley has been making a living as a writer since the age of eighteen. He is the author of nine thrillers and several fantasy series, under the names of Daniel Fox and Ben Macallan as well as his own. Chaz has recently married and moved from Newcastle to California, with two squabbling cats and a famous teddy bear. You can find his work in the BVC Ebookstore.

Comments

WWW Wednesday – 4/8/2015 — 3 Comments

  1. Read:
    A Medieval Home Companion by Tania Bayard
    Admirable Evasions: How Psychology Undermines Morality and The New Vichy Syndrome by Theodore Dalrymple.
    Reading:
    Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
    To Read:
    Haven’t decided yet!