If you'll tolerate it, fair readers, a moment of your time.
You might have noticed something funny going on with The Speculative Scotsman these past few weeks. Perhaps, if you've been paying particularly close attention, you'll have noted an unusual lack... a lack where not so long ago there was an abundance. I've talked about Bioshock Infinite, reviewed Limbo and Splice, speculated rather more often than was perhaps wise about Guillermo del Toro's mysterious video-game venture (turns out he's working with THQ, so all was for naught anyway).
Do you see the missing link?
As well out with it than in, I guess: I have a confession to make. Go easy on me, gentle readers, for I have been unfaithful. I've been stepping out on speculative fiction. In literature, that is. A couple of weeks ago, after reading the first fifteen pages of a handful of appealing-looking books and finding my interest not at all piqued, I realised I must be suffering from a case of fantasy burnout. My first. And what a bitch it's been to shift.
Seven months and seventy books into 2010 - hey, that a lot for me! - I couldn't just go back to my idle old ways, much as I might have liked to. So I tried reading outside my comfort zone. My literary diet tends, I'm afraid, to consist of fantasy, fantasy, sci-fi, fantasy, fantasy, horror, fantasy, fantasy, and so on. These past few weeks, behind the iron curtain, I've tried to radically alter that pattern; the better to whet my appetite for the good stuff you all want to hear about. So I read Anne Holt's 1222, a Norwegian locked-room murder mystery coming from Corvus in December. I read The Newgate Jig, a Victorian crime thriller by Anne Featherstone Hodder's sister company John Murray are publishing in early September. I read The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk and The Devil and Sherlock Holmes by David Grann. You'll hear about a few of these at a later date. The others I read not with potential coverage in mind, but to cleanse my literary palette.
And it worked. Slowly but surely, I found myself coming back to the beginning, rested, refreshed and rearing to go. A Dead Space novelisation, Martyr by B. K. Evenson, rather disappointed my renewed expectations, but between Lauren Beukes' incredible Zoo City and The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton (in readiness for The Evolutionary Void's release in a just a few, short weeks), I was won over to the cause of speculative fiction all over again.
Make no mistake: I'm ready, once more, to sink my critical teeth into some epic fantasy - either The King's Bastard or The Black Prism, I can't decide. In any event, the services you've come to expect from TSS will thus be resumed. Tomorrow, as a matter of fact.
So I stepped out on speculative fiction, and the time away, pleasant though indeed it was, only made me miss my genre of choice all the more. And now I'm wondering if it wouldn't be a bad idea to make a regular thing of this genre-neutral jaunt. Maybe every three or four months, a couple of books that don't meet the definition of speculative fiction would do wonders to reenergise my enthusiasm for the mode of storytelling I find myself so devoted to.
And I'm wondering: am I late to the party? Do you guys do something similar, from time to time? Take a little time out only to come back feeling like there's ass to be kicked? Or does the break leave you wishing your reading habits weren't so predictable? In short...
How often do you stray from speculative fiction?