Listen to it at Pseudopod. Read the text here.

I’m usually not fond of short fiction that tackles issues like discrimination or abusive relationships, or anything like that. The main reason for this is that these stories are hard to pull off. Either the point is missed completely, and I feel like an idiot for not picking up on the themes, or the writer is simply too heavy-handed and it becomes nothing more than a dressed-up sermon on how I should live my life.

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I had mixed feelings when I picked this up. On the one hand, I was very excited, because I loved Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. On the other hand, I was wary, because I loved Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

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Listen to it at Escape Pod.

To me, science fiction is a tricky genre. This is mostly because I’m almost ashamed to admit that I read it. I remember, a few years ago, a friend of mine was aghast when I admitted I liked reading scifi. Even though she was fond of flimsy teen romance books, I cared about what she thought, and that moment of shock and horror still haunts me on some level.

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Finding stuff to read

May 29, 2008

This might seem rather redundant, but it’s worth recording.

I’m a fiction nut. I love finding and acquiring new things to read. I like buying books, I like getting books, I like finding books. I also like giving people books, but that’s not relevant. Here are my main methods of getting stuff to read.

  1. Bookshops
    Yes, this is pretty self-evident. There are few things I enjoy quite as much as spending time in my local bookshop, combing through the shelves. I lose a lot of money at that place.
  2. Second-hand bookshops
    Maybe not as self-evident. I’m lucky enough to live near a huge second-hand bookshop. I don’t lose quite as much money at this place, but I do get a lot more books. A lot of people dislike these places on prinicipal–they like having something new, and the idea that someone else owned a particular book before them is repulsive. I can understand that, but the only thing I like more than a new book is an old book. I have a volume of Milton’s work which is over 100 years old, and has pencil notes scrawled in it by one of the previous owners. I got it from a little second-hand bookshop in a small town in Devon, and it’s one of my favourite possessions. Give second-hand bookshops a chance–especially if you’re on a tight budget.
  3. Libraries
    I used to live in my local library. Due to circumstances, I hardly visit now. However, libraries are perfect for people who are still figuring out what they like, or people whose wallets can’t keep up with their reading habits.
  4. Project Gutenberg
    If it’s public domain, it’s online. Project Gutenberg has an extensive collection of classic works, free to download. If you don’t mind reading from your monitor, or you have a love of printing lots of stuff, this is the place for you.
  5. LibriVox
    This is something of an extension of Project Gutenberg. If you don’t like reading from your monitor and you’re not keen on printing lots of stuff, but you love listening to audiobooks, LibriVox is where you want to go. Free audio versions of public domain works. There are a number of truly excellent readers. There are, however, some truly abysmal ones, as well. Still, it’s free.
  6. Podcasts
    If you’re into ‘genre’ fic, you might have heard of Scott Sigler. He recently had his novel Infection picked up by Crown Publishing, and it was released in April 2008. He started by giving his novels away online, and lots of other authors are doing the same. Check out for the best of what’s available online. All the podcast novels listed there are also available for free.
  7. Serial novels
    The penny dreadfuls of our time? Hmm, maybe. Either way, there are a lot of novels being serialised online. Anyone can decide to give their work away for free-all they need to do is set up a blog, and they’re off. I’ve yet to run across a directory that weeds out the best from the rest, so I don’t have a reliable resource for quality fiction (and when I say ‘quality fiction’, I’m basically referring to typos/grammar/spelling/other technical issues, as most everything else is subjective), but will make sure to keep track of any gems here.

What to expect

May 29, 2008

Here’s what to expect from this blog in a nutshell: thoughts about fiction.

It won’t be restricted to a certain genre, so you can expect anything. I read novels, short stories, plays, and even the occasional poem. I read literary fiction, YA, spec fic, thrillers–I’ve even recently come to appreciate old chick lit.

Because of the various things I do, I’m required to read a lot. I like to keep track of what I read, and I like to share my thoughts as well. Unfortunately, I don’t really get to do the latter as much as I’d like, hence this blog.

Another reason I started this, is because I’ve noticed that people tend to limit themselves to a certain type of fiction–whether only to novels, or only to novels involving both unicorns and flamethrowers. I used to be the same, but I’ve had my literary horizons broadened. I was so chuffed with this, that I wanted to do the same for others out there (or at least for whoever manages to stumble across this little blog).

Should the material I discuss be available online, whether from Gutenberg or under a CC license, I’ll link to it. It won’t really be a present, as it was available anyway, but see it as a nudge in the right direction.