Going Kindle…

I know it does not make me an early adopter in 2021, but I decided to buy a Kindle this month. It was a decision long time coming, so I decided to make use of a special offer on Amazon.de – one that we need to use in Poland, to get our stuff quickly, cheap and duty free. Curse you, Brexit…

Why an e-reader? Why Kindle? Why now?

I’ve been observed to loudly preach the superiority of paper books. The feel, the smell, the look of these physical objects are unmatched by anything the devices might offer. The books that are really important to me, I will always want to have on my shelves. My library is more than a source of reading material. It’s the extension of my self, my identity, a statement you can’t fail to notice when you enter my flat.

And I don’t even need e-reader on my vacation, I happily carry huge volumes to the beach.

But lets face it, I’ve read an occasional epub on my phone and it wasn’t super-comfortable, but I still had fun. That’s how I read a few Warhammer novels in 2020. And, full disclosure, I actually was a relatively early adopter, buying a Barnes & Noble Nook almost exactly 10 years ago. There weren’t many e-readers in Poland back then. I read a couple dozen books, buying some from Kobo, and receiving a disc with free e-books from Baen, with my first Honor Harrington hardcover.

In the long run, it did not take. Most of the e-books were not priced significantly lower than the proper versions, not all were available to me. I could not buy them from Barnes & Noble, my device’s producers, as they did not sell to my country. Kobo was the only option back then, and they were ok, but I preferred to pay for physical object, not files..

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Matt Ruff, Lovecraft Country (2016)

Author: Matt Ruff

Title: Lovecraft Country

Format: Paperback

When Atticus Turner, a Black ex-soldier fresh from the Korean war, gets a mysterious letter from his father, he goes back to Chicago, and later to a small town of Ardham, Massachusetts. Along with him goes his childhood friend Letitia and his uncle, George, publisher, writer and researcher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide, and they have to fight both the cosmic horrors straight from the Cthulhu Mythos and the no less real horrors of their fellow human’s prejudices. It’s a bit like a crossover of Call of Cthulhu and Green Book.

Ok – it’s political. My next post after Ministry for the Future, and another unashamedly political novel. Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country is a subversive pulp horror, just as Guardian quote on its cover claims, and I’ll try to say a few words on whether it’s smart further in the review 😉 I would also like to emphasize it’s solely about the book, I’ve seen only the first episode of the TV show, liked it enough to stop and order the novel, and I’m yet to go back and watch the rest of it.

Let me start with some praise for the cover – I just it. Pulpy, lovecraftian, with some KKK undertones – fits its contents perfectly, even the “now a major HBO series” sign does not make me angry. I’m happy I own a physical copy!

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Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future (2020)

Author: Kim Stanley Robinson

Title: The Ministry for the Future

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 576

Ola is somewhere in the woods, counting on me posting something this week, so I’m motivated to actually deliver on my resolution to write more in 2021 😉 There are some reviews I planned for weeks, like one of the excellent Lovecraft Country, but that can wait, as I just finished reading something big and quite popular around here. The Ministry for the Future is the latest brick by Kim Stanley Robinson, a serious and prolific author who seems to start with choosing a specific topic and develop his characters and plot from there. It might be a neolithic society he so plausibly depicts in Shaman, or humanity reimagining itself to withstand the climate change – in this one. It was quite favourably reviewed by Andreas and Bart, and so I decided to get it from Book Depository, in what might be my last order there, as they had to pause sending books here due to Brexit.

Shaman wasn’t the most thrilling of novels I’ve ever read. It was rather slow, had a limited cast of characters and a plot to fit the scale of small hunter gatherer societies at the dawn of humanity. But it was amazing! A very rewarding book, immersing the reader in the most ancient history of our species. Was it a reconstruction? No, we will never be able to fully learn how the culture was born, what these people thought and believed in. But this is as close as we can come to it right now, a very believable speculation. And, ultimately, stuff happens, this really is a novel. I’m a patient reader, I loved it!

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Max Gladstone, Empress of Forever (2019)

I’m a fan of Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence novels. They are not perfect, but they have incredible worldbuilding. He created an amazing system that connects religion, magic and economy that make his world go round in a way that is imaginative, entertaining, but also, I believe, tells us something interesting about our world. One of the definitions of great genre fiction…

So, when the time came to spend one of my Audible credits, and I learned that Gladstone’s new novel is available, I decided to go for it. It’s not part of the Craft Sequence, but it was long (I always try to get a long listen for my credit 😉 ) and I was in a mood for a nice space opera.

Author: Max Gladstone

Title: Empress of Forever

Format: Audiobook

Narrator: Natalie Naudus

Length: 19 hrs and 38 mins

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The Vacation Post

I was going to say I’m not going to complain my vacation is coming to an end, but I just did 😉 A bit over two weeks away from work, most of it spent on our Sicilian escapade, a small miracle in the Covid-infected world, and maybe an act of selfishness, but we really needed a break, and obviously we obeyed all the special rules.

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Eastern Sicily – as we only had time to see this part of the island – is beautiful, and full of history. Beauty and power of nature was represented by Etna, an active volcano that overshadows entire neighbouring area, and occasionally threatens its inhabitants. We were not in danger, but still impressed by the roaring sounds and the puffs of steam.

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