This’ll be the third year I’ve done a reading challenge. I never intended them to be an ongoing annual thing. But they’ve been fun so far (well, mostly), so why not?
In 2007, I reread my favourite science fiction novels: Undercover Aliens, AE van Vogt; The Ophiuchi Hotline, John Varley; Stations of the Tide, Michael Swanwick; Where Time Winds Blow, Robert Holdstock; Soldier, Ask Not, Gordon R Dickson; Kairos, Gwyneth Jones; Against A Dark Background, Iain M Banks; Metrophage, Richard Kadrey; Coelestis, Paul Park; Dune, Frank Herbert; Take Back Plenty, Colin Greenland; and Dhalgren, Samuel R Delany.
In 2008, I read (or tried to read) classic novels by authors I’d not read before: The Talented Mr Ripley, Patricia Highsmith; From Whom The Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway; Kim, Rudyard Kipling; A Question of Upbringing, Anthony Powell; Orlando, Virginia Woolf; Nostromo, Joseph Conrad; The Garden Party & Other Stories, Katherine Mansfield; My Family & Other Animals, Gerald Durrell; The Jewel in the Crown, Paul Scott; The Good Soldier, Ford Madox Ford; On The Road, Jack Kerouac; and The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand.
For 2009, I’m going to reread twelve science fiction classics. These are books I’ve not read for a long time – decades, in fact, in several cases. The list is a little idiosyncratic, for good reason. First, my taste in books is a little idiosyncratic. Second, I have very low opinions of some books which are considered sf classics, such as Asimov’s Foundation trilogy. Third, some sf classics I’ve already reread in the past few years – for example, I reread Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun last year (see here), the aforementioned Dune in 2007 (see here), Bester’s The Stars My Destination a few years before that, and likewise Pohl’s Gateway… And finally, some on the list might only be considered minor classics, but I wanted to reread them anyway. So there.
The list goes like this (in order of year of publication):
- Second Stage Lensman, EE ‘Doc’ Smith (1941)
- Jack of Eagles, James Blish (1952)
- Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein (1961)
- The Stainless Steel Rat, Harry Harrison (1961)
- The Star King, Jack Vance (1964)
- The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K Le Guin (1969)
- Ringworld, Larry Niven (1970)
- To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip José Farmer (1971)
- Rendezvous With Rama, Arthur C Clarke (1972)
- The Tar-aiym Krang, Alan Dean Foster (1972)
- Lord Valentine’s Castle, Robert Silverberg (1980)
- Radix, AA Attanasio (1981)
I’ll not be reading them in the above order – I’ll just pick and choose what I feel like reading each month. Quite a few I’ll admit I’m looking forward to. One or two I suspect might prove a chore (that’ll be Stranger in a Strange Land and Second Stage Lensman, then). But you never know. And some might turn out to be less fun than I remember. But that’s the nature of these sort of things. And part of the fun, too. As before, each month I’ll write about the book I’ve read.