Tag Archives: Kay

Six Other-Worldly Books

Today I’m going to talk about other-worldly books, six that stuck in my head. This group of books is not clearly Science Fiction, or clearly Speculative Fiction. One is a Fantasy more than anything else. I’ve put them together because they are all set somewhere Other. Plus they all stick in my head. Books that make you think, that you remember for a long time, these are the ones that are good, not your every-day run-of-the-mill stuff. I won’t argue that these books are great, but I will say they are all worth reading. These are in no particular order.

  1. Children of Men by P.D. James. This is not a mystery novel, it is speculative fiction. I’ve just finished listening to the audio book version for a different spin on it. I want to assign this book for a children’s ministry course in seminary. This evening, I began comparing it in my head with The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. James and Atwood are onto some similar themes I think, but they work them out quite differently. Things that make you go hmmm.
  2. Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay. So good. Kay’s best in my humble opinion. The Constant Reader thinks so too. This is the Fantasy book. Kay writes Historical Fantasy, in which his fantastic worlds bear some resemblance to some aspect of world history. This one is sort of Italian.
  3. A Scientific Romance by Ronald Wright. A twist on time travel, with apocalyptic overtones. It references The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, which I’ve not yet read. I should get on that. One thing I remember about Wright’s book is that Harry becomes king and we never find out what happened to William. (This was written before George was born.) Henry IX is a very remote and background figure in the book, but it was an interesting future what-if detail, part of a well-imagined world.
  4. The Moon is A Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein. Moon colonies and sentient machines, plus a lot of political manoeuvring, what else could you want in a SciFi book? I liked this one on audio quite a lot because the guy who read it performed the voices so well. (To be fair, others found the voices irritating.) The sentient computer is a key character in the book, which is part of what makes the whole thing interesting to me. Plus Heinlein managed to imagine a moon colony with its own evolving cultural mores.
  5. Red Thunder by John Varley. Part of the reason this one sticks in my head is the the giant engineering hack that is the centre of the plot. Home-built spaceship anyone? Oh yeah. Plus there’s a fake crocodile in a pool, and the space coast setting in Florida, what more could you want?
  6. Beggers in Spain by Nancy Kress. I read this one first a long time ago. It was recommended to me by a fellow physics teacher. This is speculative fiction that imagines what happens when people are genetically modified so they don’t need sleep. The Sleepless have 8 more hours every day than the rest of us. Think on that.

Any Other Worlds that stick in your head?

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Other Books I’ve re-read

It might sound like I’ve only read and re-read two books — Possession (which isn’t about demons by the way) and An Experiment in Criticism (which isn’t about science). In fact I’ve read many other books, and also re-read lots of those other books. For your Friday reading, here is a list of Some Books I’ve Read 3 or More Times (other than the two already mentioned).

Some Books I’ve Read 3 Times (or more)

1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

3. Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy

<Eek, I just noticed I’ve read Possession 9 times since 2004. That might explain why I keep talking about it.>

4. Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy (Just in case you thought you spotted a pattern developing above!)

5. Jurrasic Park by Michael Crichton

6. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

7. Proof by Dick Francis

8. The Runaway Jury by John Grisham (IMHO the best of Grisham’s oeuvre so far)

9. About A Boy by Nick Hornby

10. Children of Men by P.D. James

11. Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

12. All 7 of the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis

13. Killing the Shadows by Val McDermid

14. Houses of Stone by Barbara Michaels

15. Take and Read: Spiritual Reading An Annotated List by Eugene Peterson

16. Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher

17. 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing by Gary Provost

18. In A Dry Season by Peter Robinson

19. All the Harry Potter books except book 7, which I’ve only read twice so far. By J.K. Rowling

20. Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers

21. How To Read Slowly by James W. Sire

22. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

23. The Twilight of Courage by Brock and Brodie Thoene

24. The Ice House by Minette Walters

25. Girl Meets God by Lauren F. Winner

You may notice that this list is alphabetical by author’s last name. I made it by running through the database I have of Books I Have Read. I’m a little obsessive about keeping track of all the books I read cover-to-cover. And how many times I’ve read them. And when. I might have a problem.

I did notice that the first six of my repeat reads all had movie versions. I got a little worried — though I do know that when a movie version of a book I like comes out, I go and see it. Then I re-read the book, usually to get the movie out of my head. Not all of my repeats have movie versions though, so that is not the only reason I read things more than once. I usually re-read to revisit an imaginary world. Why do you re-read? Or why not?

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