This Week in Books and Reading

I finished Two Graves by Lincoln and Child. I can’t say there was a happy ending, but events took one astonishing turn after another. Honestly, if you like plot twists galore, you should read this series. I wonder where I’ll get my adventure/suspense/mystery fix after I finish these books. I think I saw someone recommend James Rollin’s books as something to read if you love the Agent Pendergast novels. I follow James Rollins on Facebook, and he has a most likeable personality and intriguing looking action adventures.

two graves

Science Fiction author Gregory Benford has a thoughtful post up Journey to the Genre’s Core that seems to say that “Hard Science” science fiction is more palatable to the masses because it is more grounded in reality, rather like good non-fiction. I personally have always liked Hard Science best because it extrapolates what could be from what we know or dream now. For me, it could present a vast array of possible futures, which are exciting to think could happen given their pretty solid science foundations.

Benford: You can’t help noticing that the bestseller lists carry the names of hard SF stalwarts – Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke – and not the Sturgeons, Pohls and Bradburys of the same vintage. Question is, why?

Partly, I suspect it comes from the fact that the public likes fiction deeply grounded in the real world. It’s long been known that nonfiction top bestsellers (leaving out diet books etc.) outsell fiction top bestsellers by a typical ratio of 2:1. Similarly, the didactic fiction of Mitchener et al sells better than the best thrillers. Even in as fanciful an area as SF, these biases probably hold sway. Hard SF benefits from this basically American taste; as Charles Platt remarks in Science Fiction Review 51, “I open a nonfiction book, or a rigorously realistic novel, with the definite expectation of discovering new and interesting information,” and to his surprise, most of his friends do, too.

This takes away from the dreams and visions I’ve always enjoyed, and instead of science fiction being the “Literature of Ideas”, it makes it seem like a cheap overlay on some non-fiction speculation.

wonder stories

Boar Island

A new Anna Pigeon novel will be out on May 17th for Nevada Barr’s vast readership.

From the wonderful Strand Magazine, a recommended list of Mystery Books to Read in January.

Strand Magazine

The Edgar Award nominees for best mysteries published last year are out. Awards are given out in late April this year so you have plenty of time to read the nominees and discover some new favorite authors.

Edgar Award


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