I don’t read a lot of fiction these days. As a teen (and younger) I was ravenous, reading mostly fantasy and science fiction with some historical thrown in. My favourite authors were Tolkien (of course), Anne McCaffery, Andre Norton, Frank Herbert (Dune), Sharon Penman and then later Heinlein, Anne Rice, Terry Pratchett and eventually I discovered at Uni.
Uni pretty much killed off my fiction reading habit. For a start I spent most of every day reading course work. Then I discovered the SCA and ever since my reading has been dominated by non-fiction. And by non-fiction I don’t mean your soft-arsed semi-fictional ‘biographies’ of people and or stuff e.g. salt, cod etc, but more hard-core reference works (medieval economics anyone?) and archeological material, London small finds & York series for example.
And then I became a librarian. Contrary to popular belief we get almost no time to read. Probably if I’d become a children’s librarian or even worked in the fiction areas I could justify reading a bit for work. But I work exclusively on the website, and at the code level rather than content creating, more and more, so if I’m reading for work it will be the wonders of html 5, or other acronyms, CSS, WCAG etc.
But in the last couple of years I have started reading fiction again. Maybe it was the stacks of books on Donna’s desk, maybe I got sick of watching DVDs when I was feeling unwell, maybe it was because things kept catching my eye. Anyway I have read some pretty good books in the last couple of years but one author in particular has made it to the top of my list – Neal Stephenson. I read Anathem last year and was awestruck. I have just finished Cryptonomicon and am ready to leap into the next one. His writing is immense. I don’t think that it will be for everyone. Cryptonomicon has a lot of math in it not to mention fairly hard-core geekiness, but as a fringe-geek I loved it. Oh and its a BIG book, nearly 1000 pages and small type, well in the edition I borrowed.
The book that I read just before it was the multi-ward-winning Wolf Hall, a biographical novel about Thomas Cromwell e.g. tudor-era historical. It was a good read, but doesn’t come anywhere close to Anathem or Cryptonomicon. Prior to the Booker awards this year Kim Stanley Robinson said that until they include so-called ‘genre’ fiction it is wrong to call them the best books of the year and I totally agree. I might have to try Adam Roberts’s Yellow Blue Tibia. By the way neither of Stephenson’s works above are really science fiction, at least not in the traditional space & aliens sense. Cryptonomicon is largely set in WW2.
Anyway I’me really looking forward to reading more and if you’re looking for a BD present one of his books would be great, used is fine. I have just put a hold on Snow Crash.