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Reading

Last update: Mon Jan 28 10:58:58 MST 2008

Link count (unique/total): 974/1138

Here are some of the authors I've read and found at least slightly interesting. See my (in)frequently asked questions about my reading below for more details.

Someday I may even add some notes. In my spare time, of course. :)

Most of the authors listed below write SF&F; if you'd like to get a bigger list of SF&F authors, check out the SF Site's Science Fiction and Fantasy Author Links and SciFan: Books & Links for the Science Fiction Fan. The Ultimate Science Fiction Web Guide is also worth looking at.

Note that some of the authors have been 'published' only on the web.

Links are roughly divided into the following categories:

(If you perceive no difference in the above items, then like as not your browser doesn't support Cascading Style Sheets, or my style sheet doesn't work well with your browser. The styles are not critical to the page, so it shouldn't be a problem.)

Note: The automatic ISFDB links are now <span>s due to the ISFDB's hosting troubles (check What's New With The ISFDB for updates); said links will be restored if/when the ISFDB is able to process queries again.

Update: ISFDB has a new host!


The List of Authors

-A-

-B-

-C-

-D-

-E-

-F-

-G-

-H-

-I-

-J-

-K-

-L-

-M-

-N-

-O-

-P-

-Q-

-R-

-S-

-T-

-U-

-V-

-W-

-Z-


(In)frequently Asked Questions about my reading

What sort of stuff do you read?

Once in a while I'll read something else that strikes my interest, e.g. a book on archery or furniture making or whatever.

Do you read westerns/romances/mysteries/political thrillers?

No and Yes. No, in that I rarely read books that are officially listed in such genres, and Yes in that elements of all of those can be found in SF&F stories.

A few times I've tried popular mysteries and other popular fiction - and found myself bored. I'll gladly leave such books for folks who want them while I visit the SF&F aisle in the bookstore. :)

To be fair, some of my disdain for 'popular' works goes back to all the novels that I had to read and analyze in grade school. Heart of Darkness and Lord of the Flies somehow didn't measure up to Niven's Known Space, Zelazny's Amber, Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover, Spider Robinson's Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, Patricia McKillip's Riddle of Stars, etc. Perhaps, if the various bits of 'literature' had been presented with more emphasis on enjoyment rather than toil... well, who knows.

What about horror?

Not usually, esp. not the standard scary stuff; I have no particular interest in the "bogeyman's gonna getcha all!" type of story. However, some dark fantasy and dark SF stories cross over (officially or not) into horror. For example, Mercedes Lackey's Diana Tregarde series and C. S. Friedman's Coldfire trilogy both contain some fairly gruesome elements.

Do you like alternate histories?

Sometimes, depending on how well written they are; I don't like or dislike a story simply because it's an alternate history. If you're interested in alternate histories, check out Uchronia: The Alternate History List, "an annotated bibliography of over 2500 novels, stories, essays and other printed material involving the 'what ifs' of history.".

Do you attend conventions?

I haven't yet, and I don't have any plans to, but someday, perhaps....

Why don't you have ratings on the above authors?
  1. Time (or rather the lack thereof).
  2. Such ratings would, of course, be subjective.
  3. Even if one ignores the subjective nature of any such rating, the rating is still going to be almost meaningless. You might get away with rating individual stories, but trying to measure an author's entire output with a single number is worse than useless. (Which is where "Time" comes in - to be of any worth, a rating would have to be on a story-by-story basis.)
I'm curious about SF&F - what book(s)/author(s) should I read to get an introduction?

That's a tough question.

SF&F is a huge field with many shadings. Just as an example, SF stories tends to be divided into "hard" and "soft" SF. A typical "hard" SF story hinges on science in some way, e.g. the working out of implications of a known or unknown law of physics. "Soft" SF is usually less concerned with the inner workings of gadgets or phenomena. Throw in various overlapping subgenres and you've got quite a mix.

One option is to pick up a copy of Analog Science Fiction & Fact magazine at your favorite newsstand or bookstore; that will give you a small cross section of current authors.

Another option is to visit some of the pages linked to above. In many cases you'll find stuff that is hard to understand without reading an author's books, but you may be able to get some sense of what's going on.

Also, use the library! Check out some books that strike your fancy, and see what you think. Some will bore you, some with annoy you, and just maybe some will enchant you.

That's an unhelpful answer; why can't you just give me a book title or an author's name?

'Cause tastes differ. However, since you asked for it, here are some of the (IMHO) best reads, in no particular order:

What's the best book you've ever read?
I can no more answer that question than I could answer "Who's the best person in the world?" or "What vehicle is the best in the world?".
What books do you recommend for kids?
Generally, I don't - it's too easy to step on (parent's) toes. Too, kids vary more than adults (see above), which makes things harder.
I've heard about {insert author here}, but I can't seem to find any of his/her work; how can I do so?
Try any or all of these, in what ever order suits your fancy:
Are Star Wars, Tron, the X-Files, and similar movies/TV shows representative of SF&F?

Possibly, if you look only at movies and TV. No way, if you include written works. The two mediums are very different, with different abilities, handicaps, and audience profiles. Plenty of people like visual SF&F and loathe written works, and vice versa.

IMHO, if you rate both written and visual SF&F on a scale of 1 to 10, the best visual SF&F will top out at 5-8. However, such a rating is misleading unless you consider the differences between the two mediums, such as cost, number of people involved, target audience, etc.

Is all SF&F good?

Hardly! Just like any other genre, there's plenty of crud out there. In some ways SF&F is more vulnerable to bad writing, because shallow SF&F is easy to sell. ("It's got rayguns, scantily-clad females menaced by bug-eyed monsters, lantern-jawed WASP heroes, and spaceships that go whoosh in a vacuum! Have the printer run off a million copies!")

And, of course, there's the question of who's judging - one person's trash is another's treasure.

Have you read everything by every author above?

Not by a long shot! In some cases I don't intend to, in some cases I couldn't unless I wanted to track down a 2nd hand copy of a book, and in some cases I simply haven't gotten around to the rest of the author's works yet.

You've listed {insert author here} above, do you agree with all of the author's opinions/statements/etc.?

No:

You've listed {insert author here} above, do you recommend reading the author's works?

Sometimes. My main recommendation is: follow the link if you're curious, and judge for yourself.

You've listed {insert author here} above! How could you be so crass/stupid/insane/politically incorrect as to support him/her and his/her absurdity/insanity/trash/drivel/treason!

<sigh> First, please re-read the last few questions and answers above.

Second:

Finally: yes, I do sometimes read stuff that falls into the "Mental Junk Food" category. Think of it as part of a well-balanced literary diet. :) Sure, you can demand absolute perfection, but that makes for a tiny bookshelf with a very limited supply of fun.

Do you re-read books? Why?

Sure! Some of my favorites have been read through many times; in a few cases I'm on my 2nd or 3rd copy of a book, 'cause the first or second has worn out.

As to why, that varies. Some books are so richly layered that even several readings don't reveal everything. Sometimes I reread a book for the emotional charge it brings, or because I want to re-examine some of the scenarios in the book, or other related scenarios. Sometimes 'tis for the simplest reason of all: to refresh my memory (esp. of reference texts).

Is the above list complete?

No; I add names when I think about it and have a few moments to search for a valid and useful URL.

Please add {insert author here} to your list.

Your request will be taken under advisement. :)

(Translation: If and when I choose to add that author, I'll do so. I won't add a link unless/until I've read some of the author's work. (And for the few folks who've said "You absolutely MUST read this {book|author}!", let me just say that I got enough of that in grade school to last me a lifetime--admonishing me to read a book is more likely to turn me away from the book and the person telling me to read it. "Hey, you might like this book." is much safer. <grin>))

Why have you bothered to create this page?

Because I get questions about the information above, and so I'm making it available; also, it's nice to have a quick link to author sites.

Where do you get information on books?

Various sources; reviews, recommendations, references, research, etc.

Where are some good places to look for books?

Depends on what you're looking for; here are some of the sites I check:

In Kalispell, I can recommend:

(Check the phone book for others.)

What program did you use to create this page?

Various text editors and Perl; my personal preference is to do most of my web page design in a text editor rather than in a special HTML editor. A text editor gives me much finer control over the results and doesn't rearrange my code to match a semi-arbitrary model (as some HTML editors are wont to do).

May I link to your page?

Sure; I have no problem with that. If anything, I have a problem with the folks that are trying to outlaw arbitrary links, which is one of the primary strengths of the Web! Telling someone "You can't link to my site!" is like saying "You can't tell anyone about my books, and in particular you may never reference a specific page in any of them!". (And if you must block deep links, and you think the only way to do that is with a lawyer, think again. Any web developer worth his or her salt should be able to give you 5 ways in less than a minute.)

If you want to link to this page, your safest course is to use the following URL in your href:
http://mail.fvcc.edu/~rowens/reading/


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