Tuesday 5 March 2013

Admitting Defeat | Me and All Clear

I'm sure some of you were wondering what prompted me to post a belated review [link] of Blackout yesterday. Well, there's the short answer, and the long answer.

The short answer is, I've been sitting on it for something like two years to date, and I didn't want the week to begin without blogging about something on The Speculative Scotsman. I dare say it would have otherwise: I'm covering another tutor's classes at the education centre I work at this week, plus I have a few deadlines to attend to in the meagre remains of my free time.

Oh, and it's my birthday today... but hey, who wants to celebrate being older?

But why Blackout? Why in the world has it taken me so long to publish this particular piece?

Well, because I always planned to review All Clear right alongside the first part of Connie Willis' wartime tome. It only seemed decent, considering they form a single story.

To do that, though, I'd have to read All Clear, and though I did indeed begin it immediately after finishing Blackout, I put it down soon afterwards. To the best of my recollection, I did this to remind myself that books could be good—

—but no, that's not fair. Blackout wasn't that bad. What I mean to say is that I started in on something else to remind myself that books could be enjoyable, as well as academic.

Anyway, All Clear has sat heavily in the bedside cabinet wherein I keep all the books I should really read ever since, and I realised, quite recently—whilst reading Life After Life by Kate Atkinson for review at a later date on Tor.com—that there's no reason a serious novel about the war couldn't be objectively entertaining, which Blackout (to my mind) simply wasn't.

So what happened was, I admitted defeat. I said to myself: Niall, you clearly don't want to read this book right now, and you certainly won't for a while after the lovely likes of Life After Life, so why not just file it away for the time being?

Well, dear reader... I did. And I immediately felt like a great weight had been sitting on me for years. A weight of words that I'm now without.

Happy birthday to me! :)


  1. First of all, Happy Birthday Sir!

    I've had a similar experience with Blackout and All Clear. I read the first bit a couple years back and was sorta on the fence about it. But I figured All Clear would *ahem* clear things up, and make the overall experience a mark in the "win" column. The thing is, I've never had the urge to dig into All Clear. Sure, I don't own a copy of it, but I've passed it by time and again on the shelves at used book shops, and I've never felt the urge to pick it up. At this point, I don't think I ever will.

    Why is it so hard to move on from a book/series sometimes?

  2. Many happy returns of the day, Niall!

    I tried Blackout/All Clear myself, when it was nominated for a Hugo and I wanted to be a responsible voter and read all the nominees. I never made it all the way through either. How that book won...

    Anyway, congratulations on your decision to move on!

  3. It's interesting how "book guilt" can weigh on readers. One year, I decided to read all those unread books that were on my shelves before I got anything new. I think I read half of them before giving up in defeat and getting a Jim Butcher novel as an antidote. :-)

    Oh, and happy birthday!

  4. Happy Birthday Niall! Best Wishes from Belgium ;)