Recent Books (Recenter Books Edition)

Since the end of November last year, I’ve done three things relevant to my reading:

  1. … struggled to get over a bad cold.
  2. … cut back on using social network sites (and especially cut back on wading into arguments with idiots).
  3. … made an effort to spend more time reading books instead of internet glop.

The first was both involuntary and unpleasant, but has definitely helped with the latter two endeavours, which in contrast were a concerted effort (and were, obviously, quite linked to one another).

On the other hand, I also traveled, which usually takes a bite out of my reading time: not that one cannot read while traveling, but I tend to try make the most of time in a different place, and spend less time sitting with a book. 

Even so, the fruit of these efforts is, in part, that I have a few more books to discuss than usual. It’s worth noting, though, that some of the books I’ve read in the past few months aren’t in this post: I mentioned some already in a post about Icelandic books I’d read, and I’ve got maybe two dozen RPG book review posts sitting in the drafts folder, just waiting to be published, as well as a couple of posts about verse (one by troubadours, the other by moderns) waiting to be filled enough to bother making public, and a post about Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Moon series that I only just put up online a little while ago. 

So anyway, this post, though, is a mix of general fiction and nonfiction that didn’t line up with anything else thematically, or whatever. 

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Reading Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Moon Trilogy: The Moon Maid, The Moon Men, and The Red Hawk

Well, the next in the set of Edgar Rice Burroughs books I’ve tackled are his Moon stories. The series consists of one novel (The Moon Maid) and two sequel novellas (“The Moon Men” and “The Red Hawk”), the latter of which Ace published together under the title The Moon Men. I read the former in late 2018, and the latter just today, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on the whole series: the lunar adventure and romance, the pulp war stories, and the inevitable weird racial fantasy of postapocalyptic cowboy-and-Indians-and-moon-men and all. Oh, and naked Japanese hill-pygmy warriors. 

Yeah, these books are kinda strange. 

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Reprint in Lightspeed!: “The Incursus by Asimov-NN#71″

UPDATE (23 Feb 2019): I’m a bit late on this, because I was traveling for a pair of events in Los Angeles and Riverside that I’ll blog about soon, but anyway, an update: this story reprint is now live for non-subscribers over on Lightspeed’s website

Original Post: I’m a bit late on this, thanks to the Lunar New Year holiday over here in Korea, but I’m very pleased to announce that my short story “The Incursus by Asimov-NN#71″ is appearing as a reprint in the February 2019 issue of Lightspeed, alongside a lineup of work by Matthew Baker, Elizabeth Bear, Carrie Vaughn, Crystal Koo, KT Bryski, Ashok K. Banker, and Dennis Danvers., plus some reviews and and interview with Lilliam Rivera.  

Stories become available at different points throughout the month—mine goes live on the 21st of February, and I’ll add a link here when it does—but as always, you can get access to them all now if you purchase an ebook version of the issue or get yourself a subscription… and that will include a reprint of Kat Howard’s novella “Hath No Fury”  as well as an excerpt from Micah Dean Hicks’ Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones, on top of the content that will become available on the website throughout the month.

“The Incursus by Asimov-NN#71” is basically my take on what’s actually wrongheaded about our popular conception of AIs and how the “Turing Test” as most of us understand it is self-congratulatory nonsense. It was written one afternoon in Saigon back in 2014, back when the world didn’t feel like it was collapsing at quite the same head-spinning pace that has since become almost normal to us, but when I had just read Thomas Ligotti’s The Conspiracy Against the Human Race and been thinking about how it related to work by people like Thomas Metzinger and Susan Blackmore (especially in this mode, though she’s been on my radar all the way back since The Meme Machine).

Those following the inside baseball will know already that this story originally appeared a few years ago at Big Echo. I’m so flattered that John Joseph Adams enjoyed it enough to want to reprint it. 

Fugue for a Darkening Island by Christopher Priest

See that image above? That’s a map of heavily populated places where, by 2050, it’s estimated mass flooding is very likely to occur on a yearly basis by 2050. (It’s taken from here.) The relevance to this book review will be clear, if you read on. 

I will start by saying that I wrote this long reflection on what is ultimately an obscure novel about a refugee crisis in Britain back in November, when illness forced me to rest for a couple of days and I finally read it after having it around for literally decades and never having gotten past the first few pages.

Please don’t mistake the length of this post for an endorsement of the novel. When I write something this long, it’s usually because I’ve been discomfited, and in ways I think aren’t completely (or perhaps consciously) intentional on the author’s part. (Let alone keeping up with whatever controversial things the author has said online to make people hate him. Okay, I peeked, but I am shrugging right now.) This is a book that made me very uncomfortable, but which also, because of the parts it unsettled me with, also felts very much of a piece with the world we’ve found ourselves in. 

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