It Doesn't Have To Be Right…

… it just has to sound plausible

The laden mantlepiece

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I must not buy so many books. I must not buy so many books. I must not buy so many books. I tell myself this every day, but it doesn’t seem to work.

See:

Some mainstream fiction. Strangers and Brothers, CP Snow, the second book of the series of the same name (although the first written). I read the first, Time of Hope, a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed it. Fielding Gray, Simon Raven, the first book of his Alms for Oblivion series, which I was told is similar to Snow’s. The Boat of Fate, an historical novel by Keith Roberts, an excellent sf writer best-known for SF Masterwork Pavane. The Rings Of Saturn, WG Sebald, a writer I admire much. My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time, Liz Jensen – a charity shop find, which I picked up because I enjoyed her The Rapture (my review here). And Underworld, also a charity shop find, because I’ve been meaning to read some Don DeLillo for ages.

Some science fiction: Stained-Glass World, Ken Bulmer, a British sf writer of the 1960s and 1970s. A bit of a hack, by all accounts, but we’ll see. JG Ballard’s The Complete Short Stories: Volume 1, Engineering Infinity, Arslan, and More What If? I’m looking forward to reading. The last one was a charity shop find, the other three were birthday presents.

Some first editions. The Universe of Things is for the Gwyneth Jones collection. Down to the Bone is the last of Justina Robson’s Quantum Gravity series. Back of Town Blues is for the DG Compton collection. Heat of Fusion and Other Stories, John M Ford, because he is apparently a writer of excellent sf short fiction.

A bit of a mix. Modern Fantasy: The Hundred Best Novels, David Pringle, which is sort of not the companion volume to Pringle’s Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels, because the actual real companion volume to that is Fantasy: The 100 Best Books by Michael Moorcock and James Cawthorn (which I also own). Red Plenty, BSFA Award-shortlisted non-fiction/fiction, which many folk have told me I will like (I was going to wait for the paperback, but what the hell). And Cigar-Box Faust and Other Miniatures, a signed and numbered limited edition chapbook of Michael Swanwick short stories.

Three space books. Seven into Space, kindly donated to the Space Books collection by Adam Roberts. The Space Station and Island in the Sky were both bargains from eBay.

Finally, a pair of coffee-table books. Spomenik, Jan Kempenaers, is the book of his photographic exhibition. The title refers to WWII monuments in the former Yugoslavia. Many have been destroyed, or left to fall into ruin, but Kempenaers’ book contains photos of twenty-two of the best-preserved ones. Strange, but quite beautiful, stuff. CCCP: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed, Frédéric Chaubin, is a ginormous book of photographs of many gloriously modernist buildings from the former USSR. Also strange, but quite beautiful, stuff.

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7 thoughts on “The laden mantlepiece

  1. Underworld, also a charity shop find, because I’ve been meaning to read some Don DeLillo for ages.

    A good place to start since it is one of the best novels ever written.

  2. I’ve heard of eclectic, but this is ridiculous!

    Make sure you don’t read DeLillo’s UNDERWORLD when you’re in the midst of a writing project–it was one of the five best books of the 1990′s, so good it will wreck your confidence and have you shaving your head into a tonsure and joining the nearest monastery.

  3. No, you can never have too many books! Know a person’s bookshelf and you see into their soul.

    I love the last one (CCCP) but am troubled that the link goes to Amazon, which I have a problem with for being an anti-union company…

    • The book should also be available from Book Depository. I rotate links between Amazon and Book Depository, altho Amazon has second-hand copies of out-of-print books on its site and so I often link to those.

  4. The Boat of Fate is excellent as I recall; familiar Roberts preoccupations though.
    I reviewed Engineering Infinity for Interzone. It’ll be interesting to see what you make of it.
    More What If? I’m a sucker for these counter factual flights of fancy. (What If? and What If America? are worth picking up too if you like this.)

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