June 2021 book blog

‘Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang’ is a Kate Wilhelm book that I’ve wanted to read for decades. It was one of the books that I bought with my December gift vouchers and I wasn’t disappointed. It looks at the survival of a family after a creeping apocalypse has destroyed civilization. The family gathers their considerable resources together and retreats to a remote homestead where they make their plans and hope that future generations will hold to the dream.

And then I gave in that itch that ‘The Vampire Tapestry’ had planted in my brain. The protagonist of that book is called Weyland, and the name had reminded me of the tales of Weyland / Wayland Smith, and the first time I encountered the name, back in the 80s. So, I dug out Julian May’s ‘Saga of the Pliocene Exiles’ which I’ve not read for at least fifteen years. When the saga was first published, a friend bought me the second book. Which, of course, meant that I had to buy the first book, and subsequently the third and fourth as they were published. I’ve read them many times, and certain scenes are firmly embedded in my brain. They also take me right back to the kitchen of the student flat that I shared with some very close friends. We were all reading that saga, along with the Thomas Covenant books and the Belgariad. Anyway, the books deserved another read and they got it. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the saga, the premise is that a significant percentage of the human race has developed psychic powers that were strong enough to attract the attention of other species in the galaxy; and Earth and its colonies are now part of a pan species spiritual and mental unity. As with any paradise, there are misfits, and luckily for them a curious scientist has succeeded in opening a one way gate into the Pliocene, six million years in the past. A trickle of discontented citizens of Earth, a few dozen a week, pass through the portal into a world that has already been colonised by a dimorphic race of alien beings, the Tanu and the Firvulag. And the fun begins.
As I’d bought half a dozen brand new books in June, I’ve sent the set to a charity shop. I hope they don’t get pulped, there’s a couple more reads left in them at least.

I rarely buy books from supermarkets, but I’d noticed ‘Later’ by Stephen King on the shelf at Sainsburys and couldn’t resist. It’s one of his ‘Hard Case Crime’ stories, and a stable mate for ‘Joyland’ and ‘The Colorado Kid’. I wasn’t expecting a reunion with the entity formerly known as Pennywise. I loved this book, and pretty much devoured it in two sittings. It’s going back on the shelf for a future re-read.

Speaking of shelves, they need purging, but I don’t like to say goodbye to a book unless I’ve checked it first. ‘Song of Kali’ by Dan Simmons has been waiting for a read for several years, I bought it secondhand but hadn’t got round to reading it. It’s well written, but not quite what I’m looking for. I could see a certain scene looming and realised that I didn’t want to read it, so I abandoned the book part way through. I don’t often do that, although maybe I should. So many books, so little time …

So, in summary, June was a bit of a nostalgia fest. The Wilhelm took me back to the sf of the seventies, when I first started reading the genre. The May took me back to the eighties, and the King, as always, dragged me into his world and reminded me that it’s high time I re-read IT. Maybe sometime this year ?

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