So, I’m rereading Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century, Vol. 1 – Learning Curve (1907-1948), because now that I own both books, I feel the need to refresh my memory before starting Volume 2.
Second reads are always interesting. Sometimes, the suck fairy has paid a visit, but generally, I find that if I want to reread a book that I first read only a few years before, it holds up well. Patterson definitely holds up, and even improves with the passage of time, especially in light of this year’s Hugo kerfuffle. I’m about a third through: Heinlein is just starting to think outside the pulps, making a steady living, but WWII happens, so our writerly hero hustles off to report in for duty.
I keep thinking of the various people who created the slates, and those who got their spot on the nomination list through slating, many of whom profess to be fans of Golden Age writers such as Heinlein, and I wonder: What would Heinlein do? I know what I think, based on his own writing, especially his essays, and the Patterson’s biography, but ultimately that does not matter. Each reader gets what they give, and for me this bio gives me a little more insight into an author who deeply influenced my own commitment to socio-economic justice, not to mention entertained me for (n+cough) decades.
Speaking of which, I’m also 2/3 of the way through Joe Abercrombie’s Half A King. I wasn’t enthused to dive into the First Law trilogy, because the only previous book I’d enjoyed at all from Mr Abercrombie is Best Served Cold, which had issues, shall we say. Not huge issues, but noticeable enough to throw me out of the story now and again. By contrast, Half A King is thus far nearly perfectly executed, as well as being a ripping good yarn.
The protagonist, Yarvi, is young, flawed, and deeply ambivalent. The plot is a fairly straightforward high fantasy hero’s journey, although if you require “magic” in your fantasy, then this might not be your cup of poison. For myself, if a story is not set in a recognizable Terran setting then I’ll call it fantasy, unless it’s clearly SF, but strictly speaking the story is thus far fiction with no recognizably mundane nations or nationalities, and some vague elf-ness in the distant past. It could end up being SF, for all I know, as I’ve got two-and-a-third books left to read, but I’m looking forward to every word.
Last but not least, I started Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen last week, and bounced out three times before I was half-way through. It doesn’t deserve being hurled with great force, but I am not going back to read Queen of the Tearling, and I’m not the least bit interested in number three. Frankly, I was both bored and squicked out.
Invasion of the Tearling reads like a YA fantasy with brutal, very personal violence. The bad guys are Tall Black Hat Baddies and the good guys are Long White Cloak goodies. There is no subtlety or ambiguity, at all. Add in the scenes that nauseated me and I was quite done, thanks, have a nice day.
What are you reading?