June 2023 book blog

After months of fairly concentrated reading (Tchaikovsky and indies) my June reading list turned out to be a really mixed bag.
If you know my likes, you know that I like a themed anthology. I started to read ‘Tesseracts Nine: New Canadian Speculative Fiction’ in April or May, dipping in an out of the book when I fancied a treat. This is one of a series of speculative fiction anthologies by Canadian writers, and I read it for the first time shortly after publication in the mid 2010s. This was a farewell re-read, as my house refuses to stretch. It has an introduction by Geoff Ryman and an afterword by Nalo Hopkinson, who are the collection’s editors, and twenty three varied stories and poems packed in between. I will comment on the ones that made the biggest impact.
‘Lemmings, in the Third Year’ by Jerome Stueart, is a nicely pitched commentary on animal research that I remembered from the first read. The name Candas Jane Dorsey on a story always raises expectations, and ‘Mom and Mother Teresa’ doesn’t disappoint. It’s funny, sharp and very pointed, I loved it. ‘See Kathryn Run’ by Elizabeth Vonarburg is presented as a joint translation from the original by the author and Howard Scott. It is my favourite story in the book, and follows one woman’s adventures in other dimensions as she seeks to direct her own fate. Sarah Totton’s ‘Jimmy Away To Me’ is a tale of love and displacement that echoed with me for days after I’d read it. ‘Mayfly’ by Peter Watts and Darryl Murphy is still, barely, speculative fiction, but it doesn’t seem that far from reality these days. Pat Forde’s ‘Omphalos’ was a little hard to get into at first, but persistence paid off and I loved this story about tech, politics and futurology.
Fast forward a couple of decades, and we get ‘A Desolation Called Peace’ by Arkady Martine. This was one of my December books. For new readers, ‘December Books’ are books that arrived on the shelves as birthday or Christmas gifts, or books bought with vouchers that arrived as birthday or Christmas gifts. Anyway, I’m an absolute sucker for weird aliens and sf writers who make them believable, and the ‘enemy’ threat in Book 2 of the Teixcalaan series / duology / ? is as weird as they get without going all Adrian Tchaikovsky all over the page. This book takes us away from the Teixcalaan capital and sends its heroines flying around the universe in a desperate attempt to understand a) each other b) the politics of the military system and c) the alien enemy. It’s a hugely enjoyable story with plenty of politics, humour, action and romance centred on four of the main characters from the first book. Loved it.
My third June read was Stephen King’s ‘IT’. Most of my re-reads these days are goodbyes, but I really hope that this one isn’t. There’s a waxed paper boat riding a torrent of storm water. It’s forever the scene that means that there is horror to come. This doesn’t feel like re-reading a book, it feels like going to visit old friends and talking about the bad old days. I was in my very early twenties the first time I read this book. I’m nearly sixty now and I still love it. It feels like the blueprint King book, kids, the power of imagination, love and friendship, and the use of human proxies by an ancient evil.
My fourth and last June book was actually finished in July, but I’ll include it here, as I spent the last week of June reading it. I was already reading ‘Babel when I started to read this book. I’d picked up ‘Werewolves of London’ from the charity bookstall in a local supermarket. This copy is falling to bits, is very, very foxed, and has quite a lot of tears and creases, leading me to realise just how long ago 1990 was for a cheap paperback book, and also to decide that this read is its last one, it’s going to the great Pulper in the Sky (or in the paper recycling plant, one or the other). I decided to take a break from ‘Babel’ because I was taking a charity stall to a local craft fair and didn’t want to take a hardback book to read. ‘The Werewolves of London’ was on the top of my tbr pile.
It’s a slow paced novel that meanders around the question of Creationism, but not in the Christian sense; dipping into the nature of humanity, reality and individuality. The eponymous Werewolves of London take something of a back seat in the book, with the main characters being somewhat unsympathetic. I admit, I struggled to finish this book, but I was interested enough in the plot to battle through to the end. Another couple of co-incidences leapt out from this book. Firstly, the last book that I finished was King’s ‘IT’, which featured a werewolf and a monstrous spider, as did this one. Secondly, the dedication mentioned the film ‘Clash of the Titans’ which I just watched all the way through for the first time ever.
So, apart from the Arkady Martine book, this was pretty much an eighties / nineties revival month, with two re-reads and two new re-reads. July beckons now, I’ll tell you soon about more summer reads.

This entry was posted in Book blog and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *