Actually, not in the mood for SF. Funny how that goes. Picked up a thriller by a writer I'd normally read, and I'm not in the mood for that, either.
See, I'm rewriting and polishing something, which means I care about the language, the taste and rhythm, while a book that's strong on stortytelling but without style somehow trips me up. Luckily, the last book I read was Don Winslow's The Gentlemen's Hour, which scores on all counts, and Amazon should be bringing me another of his books tomorrow. At times like this in the past, I've re-read James Lee Burke books, or the more recent le Carrés.
Interesting how storytelling and poetic language are orthogonal to each other, as we computer types like to say. Interesting also how writing novels affects what you read. Walter Jon Williams has said that he reads hardly any fiction, never mind other people's SF.
Oh, well. What I've been having difficulty reading lately is fantasy. It's all personal taste, and nothing objective. I started a book by a well-regarded writer, got to the part about how magic works in that world, shook my head and put the thing down. I'm not sure whether it's the use of magic or its particular manifestation, but I'm finding it all rather silly. Or is it my angst about the Enlightenment being reversed under a tidal wave of rampant superstition? And it's the second fantasy I've put aside recently.
It's not as if Harry Potter readers think magic is really real; and if they ask JKR, she'll tell them it isn't. Plus, I wrote Paradox and its two sequels knowing full well how much I was pulling fantasy tropes into hard SF.
The latest fantasy books I really enjoyed were those of Scott Lynch and good old Joe Applecrumble, so I know the genre's OK.
So here's a question: is it possible to write fantasy without magic?
Or maybe... here's a secret... this is what's bugging me. I've been told by professionals in the field over the past five years or so that I could make loadsamoney by writing fantasy, and every time I mull over the notion, I go... No. Don't think so.
(OK, I know Bone Song and Black Blood-aka-Dark Blood are called dark fantasy in the US. But renowned bookseller Alan Beatts, of San Francisco's Borderlands Books, once said that Bone Song disproves the urban fantasy tropes: if vampires or equivalents were real, cities would be like Tristopolis, not the ones in urban fantasies. And the setting is really an alternate Earth due to history's taking a different tack several billion years ago - the clue is at the beginning of the second book, inside the Police Commissioner's office.)
Speaking of taste, I confess to never being a fan of Philip K. Dick or Jack Kerouac. More broadly, I realize that books written by people out of their heads on booze or drugs have never worked for me. (Not a pre-judgement: I learned about the people after reading their work.) I read the opposite in the excellent words of either Nanny Ogg or Granny Weatherwax in one of Sir Terry's books, expressing the notion that people who build castles in the air need to have their feet on the ground.
I have read Snuff, and liked it loads.
Well, enough of that. All I need to revitalize my mood is a sandwich and a cup of coffee. [There. Done. It worked.] Tonight's training will be a run, body-weight exercises and weights. Had a good sesh in the dojo last night, and hopefully another one tomorrow.
Keep on truckin'...