After taking 5 months to read the last book, I breezed through The Caves of Steel in just under a week. Admittedly, this was a much easier read, the first of Asimov’s robot novels, exploring the application of the Three Laws of Robotics in the context of a murder mystery. I found it to be enjoyable, and a welcome break from the harder SciFi of Red Mars.
I’m finding it interesting to compare different SciFi author’s take on the genre at this point. This Asimov work seems to mostly be a collection of future concepts (robot/human relations, Earth overcrowding, space colonization) with a thin glue holding it into a coherent story. It feels a bit like Snow Crash or Diamond Age from Neal Stephenson, with rich environments and characters, with a somewhat weak story threading them together. Asimov does a better job of ending the story without making it feel so rushed though. In both cases though, they glaze over a lot of the excruciating detail that seems to plague the harder SciFi I’ve read, which I’m finding tends to lose my interest. We shall see how this progresses as I work my way up the list.
Now though, I think I’m going to take a break from the list to read some material that’s more work-related. One of my coworkers has loaned me the dead-tree edition of We Are Anonymous. Should be an interesting read, as I did spend some time in the LulzSec IRC channel during the WikiLeaks-related attacks on EveryDNS and Mastercard.
Yesterday I finally finished Red Mars. Apparently that only took me about 5 months. Problem was I kept losing interest in the book, and so would give up on reading it for weeks at a time. But I slogged through, and finally get to move on to #94, The Caves of Steel (which I’m already about a quarter of the way through.)
It’s not that Red Mars was bad, I actually found a lot of it pretty interesting, but there were a lot of times when it just started dragging and I lost interest. The colonization of Mars, the technical challenges, the terraforming; all very interesting. The social and political dynamics; somewhat less so for me. Pages upon pages of driving across the surface of Mars? I could have done without that.
At this point, I’m probably not going to revisit the series after finishing the list, though I’ve heard Green Mars and Blue Mars are significantly different reads.
But for now, onward on the list! The Caves of Steel is a breeze to read after the last one. I had read the second book in this series a few years ago, The Naked Sun and I seem to recall I enjoyed it. At my current rate, I should be done with this one in a couple of days, and on to the next one.
Some of you may have noticed my recent tweets about finishing books now and then. A few months back I started on a reading challenge to read through NPR’s Top 100 SciFi/Fantasy book list. I have a somewhat inconsistent reading habit. I’ll find an author I like, read everything by them that I can find, then go into a lull again when I run out of their books. The intent of reading through the list is to get exposure to a bunch of different authors, and hopefully get an idea of who I like and who I don’t.
My rules for the challenge:
- Only reading books available on Kindle. This cuts the list down to about 85 entries.
- If a series is on the list, I’m only reading the first book. If I like it, I’ll read the rest later.
- Treating the list as a countdown, starting at 100 and working down to one. Hopefully this means the books will get better as I go.
I started on this late last year, and I’m four books in so far:
- #99: The Xanth Series by Piers Anthony. With 35 books in the series so far, I’m glad I choose to only read the first book in listed series, in this case A Spell for Chameleon. I’ve read some Anthony in the past, back in middle school, and I remember it being fairly juvenile stuff, and my memory served me right in this case. It’s not a bad book, but it’s pretty straightforward and plainly presented. Fun, but not terribly filling.
- #98: Perdido Street Station by China Mieville. Very different from what I usually read, but I liked it. Very rich descriptions of the setting but the reader is left to figure out a lot of the physics and politics on their own. I’ll probably be revisiting this author once the list is done.
- #97: The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. An interesting take on time travel, though probably not what most people would call SciFi, as the science has next to nothing to do with it. Good story though, would definitely recommend.
- #96: Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. I was enjoying this through the first half, till about comet-fall, after that it just seemed to be a study in how people can be horrible to each other. Maybe I just have more faith in humanity, but I’d like to think we wouldn’t turn on each other quite so quickly.
So, now I’m on to #95, Red Mars, which I started to read a few years back and lost interest in. Hopefully it’ll be better this time around.