Booking Through Thursday: What I’m reading now

Here is this week’s Booking Through Thursday:

What are you reading right now? What made you choose it? Are you enjoying it? Would you recommend it? (And, by all means, discuss everything, if you’re reading more than one thing!)

Two books. The first is China Mieville’s The City & The City, which tied for best novel in this year’s Hugo Awards.

You may or may not know that I’m trying my hand at  writing science fiction, and I’ve been reading and rereading in that genre extensively for the past several months. My first attempts as a fledgling writer were in science fiction and fantasy, and I kind of abandoned these nurturing forms in grad school — a bad case of becoming a snobby reader — and tried to pass myself off as a “literary” writer, whatever that is, even though my published — and recently submitted —short fiction has  fantastic elements in it.

Anyhow, I decided to read Mieville’s novel to see what some of the currents of the genre are. I’m not far into the novel enough to give it an evaluation, although it’s clear from this novel, and from others I’ve recently read, that there is no reason to sneer at the actual writing. Stylistically, Mieville’s talented. He’s writing in the voice of a detective investigating a murder in a fictional Balkans city. I haven’t hit on the elements that make the novel science fiction, yet. Although, I understand there’s some hidden mystery within the mystery of an unsolved crime.

The second book, also science fiction, is Nancy Kress’s short story collection Nano Comes to Clifford Falls. Again initial interest comes in getting in touch with currents in a particular genre. That said, I recently read Kress’s novel Steal Across the Sky, a comic look at what might happen if the aliens really did meddle in our lives and then came here to make amends for meddling. I had read her columns in Writer’s Digest for years, but had not read any of her fiction.

What I’ve read of her short stories so far, I’ve liked. The title story portrays what might happen if nanotechnology were to invade a small Midwestern town, without the town fully understanding this cutting edge technology. The second story in the collection is a humor piece dealing with an argument over who owns genes donated to a pharmaceutical company to develop a flu vaccine.

Again, I’m not far enough into the story collection to give it a full evaluation, but I like what I’m reading so far.

I can say that both books are giving me a wide perspective into a open-ended genre. It’s clear science fiction isn’t just about blasting through the stars—but has it ever really been just about that?


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