Books I Wish Had a Sequel

Have you ever read a book and wanted more? It ends, but you don’t want to leave the characters?

I’ve had this feeling a few times. I want to know more, about the characters, about the world. The book has ended, but the character’s life is still going on and I want to know what further adventures they have.

I have had this feeling with a few books.

1) Carnival by Elizabeth Bear 

This is first book I read by Elizabeth Bear. It has a fine ending. The heroes get their happy-ever-after, after a fantastic adventure and the genuine possibility that one of them might not make it and the other would be left forever scarred by the loss. Well, they both make it. But I want to know what happens next. Is there a war or something? The next book doesn’t have to use the same main characters as this one, but it would be nice.

2) The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson
Personally, I think Brandon Sanderson has a lot of space in this world to expand. Maybe with the main character, maybe not. But certainly he could expand on the emperor or one of the other minor characters. I think he should!

3) Trouble and Her Friends by Melissa Scott

This is the first book I read Melissa Scott and the first cyberpunk I ever read, too. It ends on a hopeful note. But the question I want answered: what happens next? Something must happen next. They get out of all that controversy and nothing happens? Do the characters find happiness? Maybe just a short story? I am not asking for a lot.

4) Sunshine by Robin McKinley

In all honesty, this book never felt finished to me. It really, really needs a sequel. It needs to be a series. Seriously.


A is for Adventure

My first A is For post for the A to Z challenge! Yes!

Pretty much all of the stories I read/watch can be described as adventure stories. This includes, especially in books, romance , fantasy, science fiction and mystery. There’s lots of murder and mayhem and packed with action.

(Yes, I avoid all the sweet, sentimental romances in favor of the ones where the heroine kills the evil villain who wants to take over the world. Or where he is setting buildings on fire or killing all the women who remind him of his mother.)

Adventure stories don’t exist as a category. Or in any case I don’t see it in libraries or bookstores. I think it may have once a long time ago. Maybe it still exists in children’s fiction; I don’t know.

But, oddly, I am more willing to tolerate lack of action in movies/TV than in books. I mean, shows like I Love Lucy, The Addams Family and Dennis the Menace. Yes, yes, just lately I’ve been watching the classics. They are good, funny and filled with all sorts of mishaps. But I suspect I would get tired of them in full length novels pretty quickly.

Is that odd?


Judging a SciFi Book by its Cover

I was searching the web for more info on books I read a long time ago and happened across several covers:

If I had seen these covers in a bookstore or library, I would have thought they were general fiction or something like that.

Except I know that Kate Elliott (the writer I was looking for) writes fantasy/science fiction. These covers don’t look science fiction to me. Not at all! And these books are supposed to be science fiction, i. e. take place on a different planet.

Is that odd? For me to decide a book’s genre from the cover alone?

You’re not supposed to judge  a book by its cover, but I was. I don’t think I ever realized before that I pigeonhole books based on the cover. I thought I did that from the back cover copy.


Dexter and Children

LOVE the bloody smilie face!

I’ve recently (a few weeks ago!) finished watching a couple of seasons worth of episodes of Dexter. Than I found that the show is based on a book, so I decided to read those too.

The first book is Darkly Dreaming Dexter. It is already different from the first season and I am okay with the differences. Well, I am not one to get very upset if things change when moving from print to screen. I can usually flow with the changes.

Dexter knows himself to be a polite, neat monster, faking all human emotions.  Than these lines jumped out at me:

I genuinely wouldn’t care if every human in the universe were suddenly to expire, with the possible exception of myself and maybe Deborah. Other people are less important to me than lawn furniture. I do not, as the shrinks put it so eloquently, have any sense of the reality of others.

But kids-kids are different.

So are kids not human than? Only the adults mean less than lawn furniture to Dexter? Maybe Dexter is not nearly the monster he thinks he is?

From a character development point of view, giving Dexter some feeling for kids makes him less repulsive a main character. That could be enough reason to put that in. But is that the reason?

I don’t know and I am slightly puzzled now.


fantasy · science fiction · Writing

Dare I call myself an Indian Speculative Fiction writer?

This article in Strange Horizons talks about Indian SF. It asks what Indian spec-fic is and what elements define it.

It strikes home, because I am Indian and I write fantasy. Yet I don’t know if that makes me an Indian speculative fiction writer.

Nine Indian writers try to answer this question. Some of them say Indian spec-fic is spec-fic that’s written by an Indian.

A lot of them talk about what it means. Do you have to be Indian? Do you have to live in India? Does it have to be published in India? Does it have to be set in India or inspired by India in some fashion? What if you are non-Indian living in India?

A lot of them couldn’t really say what elements make a particular work Indian spec-fic. Probably because there is so little of it, you can’t point to any single element and say: this makes it Indian spec-fic.

As for me, I am Indian. But I left India so young I remember hardly anything. Visits are infrequent. So I will likely never be published there. A few of my stories are inspired by Indian things –  folktales, music, movies – but no one has ever recognized the influence (too diluted, I suppose). But people invariably comment on the creativity of those stories, a lot more than my other stories.

I doubt that’s enough to call myself an Indian spec-fic writer. That’s odd. I’ve puzzled over the oddness for years, ever since I realized I want to write fantasy and there are hardly any Indian fantasy writers on the library shelves. I suspect there might be more SF set in India than there are Indian spec-fic writers. I’ve no words for how weird that makes me feel.

Then there’s the third question posed by the article. How does the audience (western/eastern) affect the style/content of a story? I tend to think of this as part of that are the usual world-building issues – what and how and when to describe something. The other part is using things like existing rituals or clothes or dance and things like that. I usually don’t use stuff like that, because I don’t want to devote the word-count to describe in the detail required to see the thing and doing less would be confusing. Also, because it isn’t important enough to the story to require lots and lots of description.

This last is probably the reason why even the Indian inspired stories don’t come off as Indian. The details that would make people think “Oh, Indian” are not present.

The thing is, if I knew my readers were Indian, I probably would put them in. Just a line or two, probably, as opposed to a paragraph or two.

So . . . I am editing details out. I have mixed feelings about that. It’s why the Strange Horizons article hit me so hard.

I am still not sure if I am right to do so. It finally depends on the needs of the story, yeah. But still. I don’t want to confuse anyone. I don’t want to use a hundred words to describe a minor, almost non-existent event. Especially when the story is less than thousand words long.

General · reading

Book Hoarder and Book Lover

@litchat had a discussion recently about book lovers and book hoarder, based on this post.

A book hoarder is someone who buys books and holds on to them. Lots of people do this, I think.

eReaders and eReader apps make this easy. But less obvious. (No rooms, tables and floors covered with books.)

A book lover is just someone who loves books. For knowledge, for pleasure, for how it feels to hold, for the words inside, for any number of reasons. But, I imagine, a book lover doesn’t necessarily hoard books.

Me, if I could, I would be book hoarder. If I had the space. A lot of book lovers would, I think.

It’s interesting, because I’ve always assumed all book lovers are also book hoarders. Or would be book hoarders, if it was possible.

Right at the moment, I have more book ARCs than normally published books. That’s because I’ve ended up donating/giving away/throwing away/selling other books. (That’s hard to do with ARCs) And textbooks. I got a few of those, too.

I guess that doesn’t make me a hoarder? But I do have an eReader and that could turn me into a hoarder. If I had actual physical copies of all the books in my eReader, every surface would be covered in books. So maybe that makes me a hoarder.

I don’t know. Do you hoard books?


fantasy · reading

Ruined for Most Prose

On Sunday I finished reading River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay.

On Monday I tried to start another book.

I only managed a few pages. The new book’s prose couldn’t compete with Guy Gavriel Kay’s prose. I found I couldn’t read it, couldn’t focus on the story beyond the words.

I don’t want to name the author, because, truthfully, she’s not a bad writer. I’ve read her other books. I’ve enjoyed her books before and never had a problem with her prose. It’s as good as most other writers out there. It works.

But it can’t compare with the prose in River of Stars. It just can’t. The prose is poetic, vivid and clear. It is a pleasure to read and it works on many, many levels. I hadn’t quite realized how much I enjoyed the prose until I started something else.

It is difficult to go from poetry to plainness.

I have never ever reacted like this before. (I think I waited a while when I read my last Guy Gavriel Kay book before going on to read something else.) It’s amazing.

I’m amazed. I feel like I may be ruined for most other prose. I am not sure what else I can read – who else I can read! – that will be as good.


Expecting a First Book to Begin a Series

I read a description today and assume there will be a second book. That it is a series.

It’s a YA dystopian book, one Acid by Emma Pass. (Yes, I haven’t read enough of those yet.  LOL)

I’ve looked at Fantastic Fiction, at Goodreads, at Amazon and the author’s own website. There is nothing to indicate anywhere that it is indeed part of a series.

But the book description (from the author’s website):

ACID – the most brutal police force in history.
They rule with an iron fist.

They see everything. They know everything.

They locked me away for life.

My crime?
They say I murdered my parents.

I was fifteen years old.

My name is Jenna Strong.

It feels like it should be a series, you know? From this description, I expect a series, maybe a couple of series.

One that unravels the murder when Jenna is fifteen, maybe another one down the road that explores the revolution that takes down Acid, possible from the POV of another character.

Maybe an open-ended series, maybe not. It could go either way and there is no telling from this description.

I haven’t read the book, those are just assumptions I am making from the description.

But I am not finding anything that states there will be a second book. I wonder if my expectations are being shaped not from this description, but from other YA dystopian books that are series.

I still – still! – cannot quite convince myself this book isn’t part of a series.

reading · science fiction

Quotes from the Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction, Part Three

So I was reading the Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction again these past few days. Despite trying for a long time now, I have yet to actually finish this dense, gigantic tome.

I have posted random quotes from it before here and here.

I felt inspired to read the feminist theory chapter. 😉 It was written by Veronica Hollinger.

Although sf has often been called ‘the literature of change’, for the most part it has been slow to recognize the historical contingency and cultural conventionality of many of our ideas about sexual identity and desire, about gendered behaviour and about the ‘natural’ roles of women and men.

See, if it really was the literature of changes (or ideas, which I have also heard SF called), you would think odd and new ideas about gendered behavior would be right up SF’s alley. Don’t you think? It shouldn’t have been slow to recognize things like that.

Feminist theory contests the hegemonic representations of a patriarchal culture that does not recognize its ‘others’. Like other critical discourses, it works to create a critical distance between observer and observed, to defamiliarize certain taken-for-granted aspects of ordinary human reality, ‘denaturalizing’ situations of historical inequity and/or oppression that otherwise may appear inevitable to us, if indeed we notice them at all. The concept of defamiliarization – of making strange – has also, of course, long been associated with sf.

This, yes. As a writer, I don’t believe lofty goals like this should be the first aim of fiction (any fiction!). IMHO, the first aim of fiction is entertainment. But this makes a dandy secondary goal to shoot for. How to do it is another question . . .

It is also significant that many challenges to the conventions of male/female relations have focused on a radical critique of these relations as based in the inequities of what Adrienne Rich first identified as ‘compulsory heterosexuality’.

I am not entirely what this means, but it sounds interesting.


Book Expo America 2013, Day 1

I went to the BookExpo today. 🙂 I got there later than I intended, but I am okay with that.

I got on the line to for Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas. The line was gigantic. One of the staff pointed us in the direction of the real line and told us the line had been building for the previous hour – and I got there exactly on time. It took pretty much the whole hour to get to the front and I think they were almost out of books. The staff started counting people (I suppose to match the number of books remaining). LOL

on line for Crown of Midnight thirty minutes and the beginning of the line is not yet in sight

I got a few of the author signings I really wanted – Brandon Sanderson, Sarah Mass, Susan Cooper.

I did get some interesting titles from authors new to me as well.

  1. The Returned by Jason Mottsomething about dead people coming back to life
  2. Dark Lord: A Fiend in Need by Jamie Thomsoninteresting back cover blurb
  3. Constance by Rosie Thomas
  4. Born Wild by Julie Ann Walker
  5. Inhuman by Kat FallsInhuman had no back blurb, but the cover was interesting and looked fantasy-ish.