Just a couple of thoughts that just occured to me. I just finished reading Chasm City when I realized that the last 3 books I’ve read, Kiln People, Celestial Matters and Chasm City all shared similarities despite being very different subject wise.
First, and most obvious, each is a work of hard SF. Celestial Matters takes place in Ancient Greece, Kiln People takes place in a near-ish future Earth and Chasm City takes place centuries from now in another solar system. I don’t particulary try to pick up hard SF, I just happened to do that now. Each book was quite thought provoking and has its share of technological marvels. I guess that’s what usually gets me to pick up a book is the whole ‘coolness’ factor. But not always. Good stories work too. Dune for instance.
Second, each one was written in the first person. Well, Kiln People was mostly first person, with some digressions into the second person, future tense. It works though, however unusual that is. There was a time where I found reading stories in the first person to be jarring and unpleasant. I would actually go out of my way to not read those stories because I found them unpleasant to read for some reason. I don’t know why exactly. But that was a long time ago and I find, as I’ve matured as a reader (and person, whatever Scott may say) the writing style no longer bothers me as much. Although I still find Samuel Delany’s prose too dense and flowery for me to read anything by him.
Third, and most odd, each book actually used the term (or variation thereof): threnody. Now this is a word that I vaugely recalled having run across. I had an inkling as to what it meant, especilly in the context of the story where I ran across it first, Kiln People. But then it was used again in Celestial Matters. Now I know there are a lot of words that will be used between storied, but threnody is a sufficiently unusual one as to catch my attention. I figured two books in a row was coincidence. Image my surprise when it was used again in Chasm City! Unbelievable! Three random books in a random order and they all had this word which I hadn’t really ever run across, let alone used, before. I’ll never forget it now though. Another good thing about SF…