Reading matters

Unless I spot something my beta-readers have missed, all that remains before I deliver Guardians of Paradise to my editor is the final read-aloud-and-tinker stage. So, with the writing pressure slackening off for a while, I’m turning my attention to my teetering ‘to read’ pile.

I was already reading two books at once, sort of: I’ve got a borrowed copy of Mark Gatiss’s saucy intrigue The Vesuvius Club stashed in my desk at the day-job, ready to give me a much-needed unreality check with my elevenses.

At home I’ve just finished The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Aberystwyth, the third of Malcolm Pryce’s Louie Knight mysteries. As with the first two books, Pryce manages to combine a decent Noire plotline with the witty absurdity of the Welsh underworld, and includes some turns of phrase Chandler might have been proud of. Next up will be an Alistair Reynolds. Not sure which one; I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

With a little more reading time I’ve also started a second book at home, specifically Rupert Sheldrake’s A New Science of Life. This is non-fiction (though some scientists may disagree), and introduces the idea of ‘Morphic Resonance’. As a Fortean who believes (to grievously misquote the bard) that there are more things in Heaven and Earth than we’ll ever be able to understand (and it’s arrogant of us to assume otherwise), I find Sheldrake’s theory very attractive. He suggests, in short, that causality is over-rated; or, if I may put it more crudely, sometimes shit happens for reasons that science can’t explain. Specifically, said shit happens because it, or something very like it, has happened before. So, an embryo developing the right number and style of limbs isn’t just down to the hardwired programming of its DNA, but is also due to a more nebulous propensity for patterns to repeat themselves. And doing The Times crossword the day after it first appeared will be easier, because a whole bunch of people have already solved it (obviously it would be easier still if you looked at the answers, but that’s not a very helpful suggestion). I’ve come across the theory of morphic resonance before, and I’m looking forward to reading about it in detail from the original source.

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