Although the climax of Bringer of Light might be exciting for the characters, it’s turning into a bit of a death-march for the author. Between writing it and doing a temporary but full-time day-job I’ve not got a lot of brain left.
However, I am one of those writers who is lucky enough to be able to read fiction whilst writing it – even if I don’t have time to read as much as I’d like to – so I thought I’d pass on some reading recommendations, both of them series.
Charles Stross’s ‘Merchant Princes’ series is pleasingly hard to pigeonhole. I suppose you could call it political slipstream fantasy, if you had to apply a label. This is a series that does need to be read in one go, as it’s a single story split over six books. It manages to combine page-turning adventure with sharp political and social insight: for example it applies a hard and painful dose of reality to the fictional trope of an adopted child turning out to be a princess. It’s also less than complimentary about American foreign policy, but that’s fine by me, as so am I.
Jasper Fforde’s ‘Thursday Next’ series can be read as stand-alones. This is fortunate, as I find them rather like champagne truffles: rich and very moreish but liable to lead to upsets if you gobble the whole lot at once. If my first recommendation was hard to quantify, this one’s impossible, so I won’t try. I do love how Fforde makes me care about Thursday, and rail against the injustice visited upon her (even when she doesn’t remember it herself – he plays some interesting tricks with memory), whilst at the same time making me grin at his wit and marvel at his skill. Damn the man and his prodigious talent. I’m currently reading The Well of Lost Plots, which confirms my suspicion that the process of writing a novel has very little to do with the author him- or herself. Fforde’s recent book Shades of Grey is actually SF, so I’ll be looking out for that one.
Apologies, by the way, for the strange formatting issues on this blog. I use a mega-wide screen and so didn’t realise that importing the picture of the new cover for Guardians of Paradise a few weeks ago had messed things up. I have resized the image, so hopefully the problem should be sorted now.