What Am I Reading?

By Betsey Wilcox

Have you ever wondered what all the other Robert Heinlein fans are currently reading? I know what my close circle of friends are reading, but what about the rest of you? Do you know what I am reading? Do you even care? No, is probably a rational answer to most of those questions. But curiosity can be a dangerous thing, especially if you bring up a question or suggestion at a THS Board meeting and get a “sounds like a great idea, you go first” answer.  So here I am, going first into a new feature in our newsletter. My one big caveat to this writing thing is I AM NOT A PROFESSIONALL WRITER or CRITIC. I am just going to describe what I have read in the past 6-8 weeks and offer them for you reading consideration.

I surprised myself with how many books I have read or listened to in the past 2 months. So, let’s talk about formats a bit. For anyone who knows me they understand that my preference is hardcover books and the better they are made, the happier I am. But wait you just said listen to. Yes, yes, I did. I just downloaded John Scalzi’s “Murder By Other Means” Audible Original. It is the second book in his Dispatcher series and is performed by Zachary Quinto. This does not mean that I will not be buying the signed limited edition that Subterranean Press is likely to publish, it just means I cannot wait to hear it now! It also means that sometimes Audible makes me an offer for a book that has been packed up for lack of shelf space, but I remember liking in the 1980s or 1990s and want to “read” again, which is how Niven & Pournelle’s “Lucifer’s Hammer” got “re-read”.

“Murder By Other Means” will be next after I finish what I am currently reading which is “Killer Come Back to Me” by Ray Bradbury. It is a collection of his short mystery/crime fiction and I am really loving it. I had read some of his longer mystery/crime fiction but none of these stories have been the least bit familiar to me. So, in honor of Mr. Bradbury’s 100th birthday, I decided to give it a try. I am not the least bit sorry that I bought this in hardcover, it will go nicely on my shelf of other Bradbury books and is entertaining.

As a Robert A. Heinlein fan, it should not surprise anyone that on my list is “The Pursuit of the Pankera” which I immediately followed with a re-read of  “The Number of the Beast”. Did I like Pankera, my short answer is yes, as I got to revisit Barsoom without having to re-read those books. I found it to be lighter than Beast. I am not going to argue the merits of each, because arguing with yourself makes your friends call the doctor! Let’s say I enjoyed them both for different reasons and leave it at that.

John Scalzi said in one of his blogs recently that one does not have to read “canon” in order to enjoy science fiction. I agree with him as far as it goes, but sometimes it helps to catch references or asides you might otherwise miss. Missing sly or blatant references can change your enjoyment of a book or series of books.  My cases in point would be the Tales of Pell series of books by Kevin Hearne and Delilah S. Dawson.  These are loosely tied together not just by setting but by characters who don’t seem to know they are dead and jump into the other books without warning.  The three books in the series, Kill The Farm Boy, No Country for Old Gnomes and The Princess Beard, are sometimes snicker funny and other times belly laugh funny but at all times well plotted and decently paced. Wait, didn’t I say I was not going to critique books? Forgive me if I stepped over that line.

Speaking of “canon” there are books that decade’s younger readers might call canon for their generation. I decided to try some from that pool thanks to Kindle offers I could not refuse. So, I plowed into the Eoin Colfer’s “Artemis Fowl” series. I have finished four of them and will go back and finish the series, just don’t know if I will go into “The Fowl Twins” series that just started. They are light and fast reads.

I also read “Good Omens- The Nice and Accurate Prophesies of Agnes Nutter, Witch” by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman in preparation for binge watching the series of the same name. Loved the book and having read the book made things in the series that got short shrift make more sense on screen.

After I listen to Murder by Other Means, I have an older Tim Powers book “Salvage & Demolition waiting patiently as well as J. K. Rowling writing as Robert Gilbraith’s new Cormoran Strike book “Troubled Blood” which was delivered today. Books are forever showing up at my house so I don’t think I will run out of things to read or re-read anytime soon. Until next time.


Betsey Wilcox