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Simple Meme: What Book Are You Reading Now?

Here’s a simple Meme…answer the following questions:

  1. What Book Are You Reading Now?
  2. Why did you choose it?
  3. What’s the best thing about it?
  4. What’s the worst thing about it?

Here are my answers…

  1. The Spiral Labyrinth by Matthew Hughes.
  2. I chose it in preparation for reading the newest book in the sequence, Hespira.
  3. The best thing: It’s accurately described as “Sherlock Holmes meets Jack Vance’s Dying Earth“. What’s not to like about that?
  4. The worst thing: One plot twist confused me to the point of going back and skimming a past chapter — all for naught. My confusion was soon explained. A clarifying sentence earlier on would have helped my slow, addled brain.

Now it’s your turn!

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

29 Comments on Simple Meme: What Book Are You Reading Now?

  1. Dennis Sorensen // February 6, 2010 at 1:33 am //

    1. Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding

    2. The many positive reviews online (many compared it to Firefly = I’ll buy it) and the rather fantastic cover.

    3. I’m only about 100 pages into it, but like most reviewers, I just find it to be great fun, and I really like the characters.

    4. Haven’t finished it yet, but I suspect the worst thing about it will be the wait for the ‘sequel’, which won’t be out for a few more months.

    I’m also reading The Futurist by Rebecca Keegan (a James Cameron biography), and The Cartoon History of the Modern World – part II by Larry Gonick. I’ve also just started looking through Spaceflight by Giles Sparrow (I love these BIG astronomy books).

  2. 1. Under the Dome, by Stephen King

    2. I’ve been reading King for over 20 years and the reviews on this one were just great.

    3. A somewhat return to the old King tropes.

    4. I think it’s just too long for the kind of story it’s telling. I know that’s something that King (and his editors) just can’t seem to control but… 1000 pages? Come on, it could be a tad shorter and no harm done.

  3. pawel_z_wrocka // February 6, 2010 at 6:52 am //

    1. “In the Garden of Iden” by Kage Baker.

    2. I got a free ebook from Tor long time ago, but I haven’t got to read it until recently due to the terrible cover. When I learned that Kage Baker was terminally ill, I regretted not having read anything by her and decided to give it a try. Before I read half the book, I had bought the next one in the series.

    3. The whole idea of immortal time travelers (well, sorta time travelers), the description of their attitudes toward humanity, the description of the 16th century England.

    4. The main character naivety is good for the plot and funny, but it makes impossible for me to relate to her. But the comedy is worth it. 

  4. 1) Last and First Men – Olaf Stapledon

    2) Saw it in my local library and grabbed the chance to read what is regarded as one of the all time great sci fi novels.

    3) The vision expressed by Olaf in this novel is literally mind blowing, it covers billions of years of ‘future history’, with mankind rising and falling numerous times. The fact that some of his predicitions are actually very accurate sumaries of human nature and if looked at sideways have come true.

    4) Given the scope of the novel its understandable that the actual story telling elemtents are completely missing, instead the reader is presented with just the broadest of brush strokes covering millenia with occasional closer focus applied to events but still no real detail. Also this book is very much a product of when it was written (late 1920s) where some of the science envisioned has already been surpassed or the assumptions made by the author are just wrong.


    I would also like to suggest a 5th question.

    5) Would you recommend this book to others, and why?

    5) Well worth giving a read, if only to try and get your head around the issues the author is discussing. Just be aware the 1st part of the novel struck me as ridiculous, but only because he supposed a future (from 1930 – now) that is at times VERY different to what we know actually happened.

  5. 1. Into the Looking Glass, John Ringo

    2. I wanted to try Ringo again after a negative previous experience.

    3. Competent protagonists that drive the narrative forward

    4. The liberal-bashing politics is getting old, fast. 

  6. 1. Ruby’s Spoon by Anna Lawrence Petroni 

    2. To be honest, though my interest was piqued by an article last month on The Guardian running down the 10 most promising debuts of the year, this is the first ARC I’ve recieved from the novel’s publisher, and I’d like to demonstrate to them that The Speculative Scotsman can be relied upon for timely – if not necessarily positive – coverage.

    3. The Black Country setting, the down-to-earth characters, a startling prologue.

    4. I’m finding the heavily-inflected regional dialogue to be nearly impenetrable.

  7. 1,  The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart by Jesse Bullington

    2, I’ve been after some properly dirty, realistic, medieval fantasy for years; nothing else has got close yet (even Abercrombie, Lynch and Morgan can’t help but bring Hollywood gloss) but I still keep looking. It does have a lovely, clever <a href=””>piece of art</a> on the front too 

    3, Only 70 pages in, but so far it is venal, disgusting, brutal, desperately funny – and just a little bit too slow-moving.

    4, The slightly slow pace so far – and that may be cos I’m reading it in snatches, inbetween whole other novels and novel proposals. A big telling-off for publishers Orbit, though – why no credit for the fabulous cover artist? (Istvan Orosz, btw – Jesse is gracious enough to thank him in his Acknowledgments.)

    and, 5, Yes, if you don’t get offended by realistic violence, disease, casual murder, and horse-eating. And if you do, well, you ain’t hanging out with us anymore anyway.

  8. theproffet // February 6, 2010 at 8:16 am //

    1.  Roderick by John Sladek

    2.  I’m always on the hunt for works of at least semi-classic status or critical merit–and found this in a used bookstore for cheap . . .

    3.  The humor, of course, but also his erudition in a sense of play with other authors.

    4.  Sometimes the aformentioned erudition is daunting–I know I’m missing some aspects . . .

    5.  I’ve already recommended it to fans of early Vonnegut and Dick.

  9. The Other Log Of Phileas Fogg by Phil Farmer.

    I chose it because I needed a comfortable break from review reading, Farmer is one of my comfort zones and it was not yet time to start re-reading the Riverworld series.

    Best thing?  It’s a non-fiction treatise on Verne, presented as fiction.

    Worst?  Are you kidding?  It’s Phil Farmer!

  10. I’ve got two on the go, so I’ll include both of them…

    1.  a. Under the Dome by Stephen King.

    b. Dark Water by Koji Suzuki


    2.  a.  Because it’s Stephen King, and I’ve been reading his work since Cujo was a pup.

    b.  Because I enjoyed the original Ringu and heard that his writing was even better.


    3.  a.  It’s Stephen King, and say what you like about his pop culture status, on his worst day he’s better than most of the other genre writers, if only for his characterizations.

    b.  It’s different.  It’s not stuck in the same tropes and conventions as western horror, so it gives a fresh look at a tired genre.


    4.  a.  It’s a thundering blunderbuss of a novel, lacking any of the depth or characterization of King’s other work, and getting through the darn thing is requiring hipwaders and alcohol.

    b.  I don’t know if it’s the translation or the author’s idiom, but the language is stiff.  Nevertheless, that’s a small price to pay to discover a new author.  I’ve heard Suzuki described as a Japanese King, but I would say more like a Japanese Ramsey Campbell.  Good stuff so far.

  11. 1. The Risen Empire by Scott Westerfeld

    2. Because I like everything else by Westerfeld that I’ve read (Midnighters, Peeps, Pretties).

    3. It’s entertaining and exciting space opera.

    4. I haven’t read far enough to figure that out yet.

  12. 1. I’m re-reading To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis.

    2.  It’s my turn to lead the discussion in my book group, and they never read sf/f because they “don’t like it”.  (How do they know if they never read it?)  I thought this would be a good introduction.

    3. Either the humor, or the references to other literature I love, or the questions it asks about who’s really in charge.

    4. It ends.  On the other hand, when I’m done, I’ll start Willis’s Blackout.

    1. The Affinity Bridge by George Mann
    2. got into a bit of a steam punk bender after reading Stephen Hunt‘s three books 
    3. liking the story and setting, mostly interesting characters
    4. the writing is a little stilted at times, but nothing that story doesn’t overcome 

  13. 1.  Toll the Hounds, by Steven Erikson

    2.  Book 8 in a series I’ve enjoyed so far, and I will be re-reading the entire series for a blog discussion in the near future.

    3.  It’s set in the most complex fantasy universe I’ve ever encountered.

    4.  Almost 300 pages in, it’s still mostly set-up – which is common with the later books in this series.

  14. 1. Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay

    2. Because a new Kay novel is reason to celebrate.

    3 & 4. Still too early in the novel to answer either of these, but you’ll know as soon as I post my review to my site. So far he’s on form.

  15. 1.  Robot Dreams by Isaac Asimov

    2.  A friend purchased it for me for Christmas and I was in the mood for more of Asimov’s short fiction.

    3.  The best thing about it is that it was unexpectedly not *just* robot stories, so I’m getting to sample some of Asimov’s non-robot-related short stories and I have enjoyed several of them. The title story is excellent.  And the Ralph McQuarrie illustrations are great.

    4.  The worst thing about it is exactly the same as the best.  I put it on my wishlist due to my positive experience with I, Robot, assuming it was a collection of more robot stories, which is what I was wanting to read.

  16. james arbuckle // February 6, 2010 at 5:24 pm //

    1) i am reading paul j. mcauly’s “newton’s wake”.

    2) i am ever fascinated by better and better ‘hard’ science fiction.

    3)the best thing about it is the post-human story line and the technology.

    4) the worst thing about it is the weak characters and the dialogue.

    1. Kage Baker’s upcoming novel, Not Less Than Gods.
    2. Baker just died — far too soon — and it’s published by Tor, a division of Macmillan (which has had Certain Troubles with part of its distribution chain lately). So I thought both of them could use my tiny bit of support. Plus, of course, Baker was an amazing writer of adventure stories.
    3. Best: that it’s just as engrossing and zippy and plain fun as her earlier books.
    4. Worst: unless there’s another novel halfway through the editorial process (and I’m hoping that’s so), it’ll be the very last book of new Kage Baker prose.
    5. I’d recommend Baker to SFF readers who love adventure and fast-moving stories (though not to the SFnal types who read only to work out the equations in their heads and nitpick background details), but I’d recommend starting the Company series at the beginning, with In the Garden of Iden.
  17. 1. Mad Ship, by Robin Hobb

    2. I’m re-reading the Liveship series to refresh the world in my mind before I start on her new series, which is set in the same general world.

    3. I’m seeing things in the story that I didn’t see the first time I read it, and that’s a GOOD thing.

    4. I still can’t visualize the figures on liveships size-wise and oriented correctly.

  18. “Inherent Vice” by Thomas Pynchon

    Because I must read all Thomas Pynchon books.

    It is relatively comprehensible.

    A lot of music references that I am not too familiar with.



  19. I’ve made my contribution to the meme on my blog.

    Good topic!


  20. Good titles, folks!

    @And: Heh-heh…I was going to ask that but then hedged since I was asking about a book not yet finished.

    @Carl: What you want is Asimov’s The Complete Robot collection, which contains the stories from the I, Robot and The Rest of the Robots collections. The only missing story is “Robot Dreams”, which you’ve already read.  Yes, the title is a bit misleading.

    @Andrew: +5 for the capitalized “Certain Troubles”. 🙂  Baker’s Company books are one of the few “Chosen Ones” that are on a physical shelf, ready to grab — including a couple of SFBC omnibus versions.  (As opposed to my virtual shelves — boxes of books that require a hard hat to locate and time off of work to find.)

  21.  Ted Chiang – Stories of Your Life and Others

    These stories are everything they are advertised to be — entertaining and mostly brilliant. Must-read material for any genre fan.  Noticed that this is getting a reissue soon.  Much deserved.  Favorite is “Understanding.” which is such a well-executed concept.

    Steve Erickson – The Sea Came in at Midnight / Our Ecstatic Days

    Erickson isn’t brought up much in genre circles, but the lyrical prose and dream logic that drive his narratives shouldn’t be lost on anyone looking for beautifully written, uncategorized genre fiction.  Fantasy thought, fever dreams, elastic time — its all there somewhere.  Erickson should be a household name.


    Looks like Marasek’s Mind Over Ship is up next.  Counting Heads sold me.  I’m hoping for more of the same from that story.  Can’t wait.

  22. Correction-

    The Chiang story is titled, “Understand.”

  23. 1.  The Peace War, by Vernor Vinge

    2.  Because a friend recommended Vinge’s Rainbows End, and up ’til then, I hadn’t read any Vinge.  I enjoyed Rainbows End enough to immediately seek out the rest of Vinge’s novels.

    3.  Excellent characterization, and a character-driven plot.  It doesn’t matter what genre I’m reading; those two items hook me every time.

    4.  There are only a half dozen or so Vinge novels.

  24. Thanks John!  I keep forgetting to go through the table of contents of The Complete Robot to see just if it really was, er, complete.

    Boden: I added Chiang’s book to my library queue.  I’ve only read a couple of his short stories but I was impressed with both of them.


  25. Science Fiction The best of the year 2006 Rich Horton

    I like to read SFF anthologies a couple times a year

    It’s in Trade and some of the stories are,ok

    its taking me way to long to read it. 


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