Saturday, September 06, 2008

Escapist Literature

A stack of Books, a pile of laptops and some knitting - some things to distract from the trials and tribulations of everyday life. I should also include a nice glass of red in there and a bit of dark chocolate. Life has been frantic, to say the least - the strain of daily juggling work, child, home and commuting has resulted in my retreat into the world of books and fantasy.
I've always been an avid reader - one of the stories from my past tells how I was seen riding my bike to school and reading at the same time. It was on the grass verge of a quiet suburban street but it gave people who only read the racing pages something to gossip about.
My recent reading has been very escapist, comprising quick and easily digested stories I can finish in a few nights; Science Fiction and Fantasy feature strongly along with the odd biography.

Most of the titles were inspired by a poll run by SFX magazine to find the Top 100 SF and Fantasy books. There are so many titles in this genre that I normally wouldn't know where to start and this was a fantastic source of information about authors and titles.

The top 4 were,
1. Terry Pratchett
2. JRR Tolkien
3. Neil Gaiman
4. Douglas Adams

All are names I am well acquainted with and I was pleased to see my favourite author at no. 1 postion. It was also good to see the number of Australian writers included in the list, especially Australian female writers.

With the help of my local libraries I was able to indulge myself in discovering new writers and characters as well as trying out books I had seen on the shelves but knew little about.
So far my book bag has contained;

Jim Butcher: The Dresden Files - Constantine meets Harry Potter in Chicago. Lots of Buffy style biffo and Matrix style greatcoats.
Richard Morgan: Altered Carbon series - Body-hopping mercenary with a conscience and (of course) a big gun.
Mike Carey: Felix Castor series - another Detective Exorcist with a limited wardrobe - this time an ex-army great coat with big pockets to hold important weapons like chalk and string.

On the Edge - Richard Hammond's tale of how he recovered from the massive crash of a Jet Car and how it affected his family and friends. I bought this book instead of waiting for it to become available at the library because I was amazed that he survived, seemingly unscathed by it all. The book showed the reality of his recovery and the 'normal' face he presented to the world.

Up til Now - William Shatners autobiography - imagine Danny Crane writing this with the odd promo for the his website and Captain Kirk action figures. The style is light and tongue-in-cheek but pretty honest about his triumphs and failures in his very long and busy acting career. "Get a Life"

Waiting on the pile are;
Light - M. John Harrison, The Cure of Souls - Phil Rickman, Son of a Witch - Gregory Maguire.

Last but not least is Matthew Riley - the ultimate adventurer in the grand old tradition of hair raising escapades - pursued by the dark forces of Russian, Chinese or American bad guys with guns and whiz-bang electronics devices that would make Q jealous. A James Bond meets Indiana Jones type of fellow that doesn't make any demands on the reader - except for the huge suspension of disbelief. Ripping good yarns!