My posts during April form part of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. I will be writing to a theme: book genres, largely taken from the comprehensive Goodreads list.
The world of science-fiction slipped under my radar. I'd long mocked my mother for her love of all things sci-fi on television, but one day my book club selected "To Say Nothing of the Dog" by Connie Willis as their monthly read and I laughed my way one step closer to becoming my mother! I cover Connie Willis' work in my next section, so we'll leave her there, regarding me laughing myself silly on trains, busses and in bed when I should be sleeping.
Other hard science offerings came into my life the same way, together with horror, zombies and the like. Then one month, that same club selected "The Long Earth", the first in a four-part collaboration between Stephen Baxter and Terry Pratchett. Whilst having touches of Pratchett's trademark wacky humour in the charactersation, this book is an examination of a world filled with parallel earths. With more than enough science to keep things feeling real and well-drawn, likeable characters to engage with, I was soon drawn in to reading parts two and three - because I just wanted to. Part four is out there still for my future delectation.
Having tentatively expressed my interest in science-fiction 'as long as it's not silly', I've since been offered "Red Mars" from Kim Stanley Robinson. I was utterly rivetted. It contains a great deal more hard science and less soft people stuff, so I found it a more challenging and 'brain-hurty' read (thank you CoteDAzur at Mumsnet for the use of your trademarked expression). Its another multi-parter, so I have parts two and three still to come but bearing in mind the hurtyness of the brain, they will be consumed slowly.
To make sure I didn't turn and run at this point, brain all exhausted, I was led willingly towards Dan Simmons' "Hyperion" which - yes, you'll be so surprised - turned out to be yet another multi-parter. I bellowed aloud on discovering this fact, but the ending was just so wonderful - the group protagonists all heading off to a likely death humming 'We're off to see the Wizard' - that I forgave it. Part two has since been consumed with less joy and more peeking from behind the sofa, but there's no doubting I'm in for the long haul on this one too.
Having fallen in amongst a band of science-fiction rogues, they are now throwing all kinds of suggestions around from the classics of Huxley's "Brave New World" to more modern masterpieces. My to-be-read list/pile was already out of control and is now entirely stratospheric - appropriately one might say.
I have discovered a new and very great respect for science-fiction. The world-building (of the better offerings) is carried out so meticulously that it seems to flow effortlessly into my internal visuals as I read. What science I have been able to check seems to either be 'in work', 'under consideration' or 'a valid hypothesis'. Some of it I view with a wide-eyed child-like fascination, but mostly it just flows along sounding entirely rational and feasible. Where the world-building and science are matched by well-crafted characters and tautly-plotted storylines, how could science-fiction not hold a place alongside literary fiction?
I do enjoy a touch of wit in most things and there's certainly a place for it in science-fiction, but I'm really not keen on it being played for a laugh. Cleverness is key ... both in science and in humour!
I'm learning to accept that any science-fiction book I enjoy with end up as a multi-parter. I guess when you've done such a great job with your world-building, it would be a crying shame not to make the most of it. So I shall just have to knuckle down ...
I'm not asking for a raft recommendations on this one, as its already taking up more than its fair share, but if you could suggest just one, that would be OK ...