Gateway drugs to genre fiction

Quite a big part of the enjoyment I get from genre fiction, books, movies and often even music, is when I discover the connections and inspiration. It’ a very rewarding experience, and the motivation behind my ongoing project to familiarise myself with the great classics of fantasy and s/f. It’s great, but it is also quite hermetic. It’s hard to discuss such things with the uninitiated. I find it easier to devise long term plans to hook my nieces on genre than to recommend something to a mature reader/viewer who might be open to some light genre.

Lets make make it purely technical, not about the importance of keeping an open mind and appreciating people with other hobbies, different cultural needs etc. 😉 It’s going to be strictly about the titles and techniques helpful to hook people on our stuff!

We’re also talking strictly adults here (and I mean mature readers, not necessarily readers over 18). Getting kids to enjoy genre is a different topic, something easier in my experience, and quite wonderful, but not what I want to explore today.

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Recently bought, or a short summertime post.

It’s a very hot August in Krakow, Poland, and if you escape to the mountains on the weekend – you better start your hiking very early to avoid the scorching Sun. The caves were very cold though, yes – but muddy. So, I was supposed to write something around the last weekend, but I just couldn’t, and I have a book I want to review that will have to wait at least a week… I decided to just write a few words about my latest book-buying spree.

I buy a lot, about 2/3 used – 1/3 new. This year I decided to slow down a bit in 2018, so I’ve only bought 70 books, versus 135 last year (that is, during the entire 2017). It’s August already, so that is a slight progress 😉 Maybe I’ll even succeed in staying under 100? I’ve started my spreadsheet in 2003 and… let’s agree, it’s a costly addiction. Not as costly as cigarettes, but its objects do not go up in smoke, they occupy more and more space in my flat…

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Book piles and reading habits

Piotrek: Inspired by a recent post by an author capable of following over a dozen books at once, I reflected on my own reading habits. It was illuminating, as I realised they’ve changed quite a bit over the years. I’d certainly have trouble simultaneously reading fifteen books 😉 In fact, I used to be a strict serial monogamist in my reading, but I relaxed that rule a bit. First, I’ve added audiobooks – I usually read one dead-tree book and listen to something else (not at once 😉 ). I’ve reached “Guards! Guard!” in my Pratchett audio-re-read that way 🙂
My Pratchet set

Side note – I enjoy early Discworld novels even more than I did reading them for the first time, twenty years ago. Some are better than others, but there are no weak links so far and I find myself raising the ratings for most (excluding ones that already had top marks, like Equal Rites).

Ola: I’m rather flexible in the aspect of number of books I read in any given time. Sometimes it’s only one book – but that happens on the rare occasions I devour a book in one-two sittings. Sometimes it’s three to four novels, on different mediums: one or two in paper (one in paperback, the other one in hardcover which is too heavy and cumbersome to be toted around in a bag or backpack ;)), one on Kindle, another one in audiobook, and of course there is always a handful of non-fiction books I’m reading simultaneously. Right now it’s Luttwak’s “Strategy”, Girard’s “Violence and the Sacred”, Polish version of Campbell’s “A Hero with a Thousand Faces” and a book about secret life of mushrooms by Hofrichter… Not to mention comic books 😉

komiksy_1

 

Piotrek: There are, of course, some almost-books I’ve got started. Serial fiction, like fanfics, various essays etc… The swallow up my reading time and I’ve restricted amount I read in order to process more books. There are quarterlies I still subscribe to, but haven’t read in some time…

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Old year, new year…

Yet another year is coming to an end, and traditionally it is time to summarize past twelve months and make some resolutions for the next cycle… here we’ll cover blogging and reading.
Piotrek: Re-enchantment has changed a little. There are less posts – 71 vs 103 in 2016. Were we (and especially I) lazy? A bit, maybe, but as most of the traffic is generated by a limited number of most successful texts, I don’t think it’s a problem that we gave up on our previous two-posts-per-week schedule. We update regularly, and there are more two-shots, conversations that seem to be more popular, and certainly fun to make, but also more time consuming. So – I’d say the blog fares well.
Ola: I didn’t check it, but it also seems to me that our entries keep getting longer, turning into small essays 😉 We also seem to have less “meta” posts – something that we should focus on remedying in 2018.
Should we mention the Gallery ;)?

 

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Shadows of the Apt. Visionary, masterful, sometimes annoying.

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Spoiler alert! Unless you’ve read till the end of book 8, don’t go further 😉

Adrian Tchaikovsky is one of our favourite modern genre authors. There are several proper reviews and many favourable mentions here. I’ve just finished volume 8 in his 10 book long Shadows of the Apt series, I’ve read Spiderlands, and a few doorstopers patiently wait on my shelves for the right time. I trust this author, and I don’t feel the need to read everything at once. I know I won’t be disappointed, so I can wait. Although, if he keeps publishing two books a year, I might speed it up a bit, there seems to be quite a few stories left in him.

Shadows of the Apt are becoming one of my all-time favourite series, and  two final instalments would have to be really terrible to change that. I essentially agree with everything Ola wrote in her review, but I would like to share a few thoughts about one topic, something important for genre literature in general, and here presented with art and vision, in my opinion, unparalleled. Czajkowski makes the clash of magic and technology one of the central issues here.

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When genre meets history and theory of warfare – a few links.

A short text, just to share some great links. Not random links, mind you. There is a recurring theme in my posts, and that is historical realism. And there is something many of the books reviewed here share – war as a topic.

People I admire enough to recommend their creations today, approach the crossroads of genre fiction and history/theory of warfare from two different angles. The first one is more serious, and fairly common. History buffs judging the realism of various novels or movies are using tools like YouTube to spread the good word. Some of them are really good, and entertaining. The other one… here represented by one blog I lately read religiously, is even more entertaining, gives the appearance of fanfiction, but for an attentive reader provides a great learning opportunity.

So lets start with The Angry Staff Officer, a blog by a genuine active duty officer (US Army) with a penchant for history. And genre fiction. He wrote a series of Star Wars posts, but does not limit himself to science fiction. He retells our beloved stories as Stormtrooper’s officer’s reports, or describes the action of Wind in the Willows as an example of small unit warfare as seen by US Army doctrine. Sweet. It’s a joy for people like me, who know a little about it, but for newcomers it’s also a very educational. I wonder, how many of us thought about the logistic and maintenance problems of space warfare?  Very cool stuff.

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