Memes of the old mold seem in recent years to have gone the way of the dearly departed dodo, and although I thought them at best a guilty pleasure then, now, much to my surprise, I find myself missing them. To wit, it was with happiness in my heart that I saw a fifteen question genre fiction book meme, mostly focused on reading and buying habits, featured on Pornokitsch a wee while back. I gather those guys got it from Gail Carriger, who traced the thing back to SF Signal.
Fast forward a fortnight—and the fact that it's taken me a fortnight to answer fifteen quick questions should tell you something about how bloody busy I've been recently—and I'm finally finished!
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro: a genre novel by all accounts, although one at its best when its fantastical trappings are left in the background. I called it "a minor work by a modern master" in my review for Tor.com—a statement I feel safe standing by despite the unadulterated praise that's been heaped on it this week.
2. What was the last sf/f/h book you did not finish reading and why?
I finish almost everything! But that's because almost everything I read, I read with a view to review, and my feeling is that to review a book fairly, you have to see it through to its conclusion.
3. What was the last sf/f/h book you read
that you liked but most people didn’t?
Hmm. Maybe Something Coming Through by Paul McAuley? I wouldn't go so far as to say most people disliked it, but I certainly liked it more than most.
4. What was the last sf/f/h book you read
that you disliked but most people did?
As above, so below. Though I didn't quite dislike it—as I put it at the time, The Death House by Sarah Pinborough is never less than "completely competent"—I certainly didn't love it, and I dare say a fair few folks did. Each to their own, of course.
5. How long do your single-sitting
reading sessions usually last?
If I have less than an hour to spend reading, it isn't often worth my while, because the longer I spend reading, the faster the speed I read at. In an hour, for instance, I might make it through fifty pages; in four, I'll defeat four hundred. It's funny.
Also frustrating, because four free hours are increasingly hard to find.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers: a formerly self-published science fiction novel which the fine folks at Hodder are hoping to bring to a bigger audience when they re-release it as an ebook in a few weeks.
7. Do you like it so far?
I'll be reviewing it soon—don't anyone act surprised or anything—so I don't want to give the game away, but do I like it so far? Hell yes.
That said, I still have half of the whole to go. It's all to play for!
8. How long ago did you buy the book you are
currently reading (or the last book you read)?
I, uh... didn't. I'm reading a review copy. But I do at least have the decency to feel bad about that, such that I'll probably buy a final physical edition of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet if it continues to kick ass.
9. What was the last physical sf/f/h book you bought?
The Bees by Laline Paull. My mum doesn't read much, and rarely could what she reads be considered speculative, so when she does recommend something along those lines, I pay attention.
She was well into this one. Not sure I am so far, but my progress through The Bees has been slow; I'll let you know how it goes.
10. What is the sf/f/h sub-genre you like the most and why?
Weird stuff really does it for me. In part because there's just not a lot of it, so it seems special in a way other sub-genres don't.
Relatedly, roll on the next China Mieville collection, Three Moments of an Explosion: Stories.
Epic fantasy can be simply brilliant—see Guy Gavriel Kay, another of my favourite fictionists—but all too often, it's forgettable and repetitive.
But on balance, I'm going to have to say steampunk. Nine times out of ten, I find, steampunk stories favours style over substance, and I've long since tired of trying to find exceptions to the rule.
12. What is your favorite electronic reading device?
The second generation Kindle Paperwhite I gifted myself last summer. I don't use it all that often while I'm at home, where of late I've had the luxury of a library, but it's been a proper godsend on holidays. Come the end of the month it'll be coming to Gdansk with me.
I'm already wondering what to load it up with...
I'm already wondering what to load it up with...
13. What was the last sf/f/h eBook you bought?
Actually, I bought twenty, some of which I already owned in physical format, by way of the Humble Subterranean Press Book Bundle. I can't resist a sweet deal, and at fifteen squids these were a real steal.
14. Do you read books exclusively
in one format (physical/electronic)?
I used to do. Reading ebooks was an age-old practice before I finally gave it a go, and old man that I am, I still favour physical editions—for the feel, the physical impression of progress and the notion of the novel as an object of artistic value—but I'm markedly more open to ebooks these days.
15. Do you read ebooks exclusively on a single device,
ie. an eBook reader, a smartphone or a tablet?
When I read ebooks, I read them almost exclusively on the Paperwhite. Occasionally I have to work with a PDF file, however, and allow me to close out this post by echoing the frustrations of the Pornokitsch kids: PDF files are a living nightmare. For those, I have my tablet: a 10.1 inch Samsung Galaxy Tab S.