I’ve heard of some writers—I’ll be honest, I can’t remember their names at the moment, so this might be one of those “My best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with the girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night. I guess it’s pretty serious” kind of things.
Wait, where was I? Oh, right. Some writers don’t like to read heavily when they’re deep in their own writing. Me, I don’t think I could function if I stopped reading for that long. I’ve been reading a lot of science fiction recently because, surprise, that’s also what I like writing a lot. Here are the three that have captivated me the most recently:
This novella by Nnedi Okorafor won a Hugo Award this year. (If you’re a fan of science fiction and fantasy, you may have heard some of the controversy surrounding a bunch of frightened straight white guys who have been outraged that speculative fiction by people who are—gasp!—writers of color have been getting published and actually winning awards.) Part of me read it simply to be contrarian—I like tweaking the sensibilities of straight white guys sometimes, who mistake equity for discrimination. Here’s the thing, though: it’s just a really darn good story. It’s about a girl who’s the first of the Himba people to get a place at Oomza University, the best institution of higher learning in the galaxy. On her journey there, things take a bit of a left turn at Albuquerque, and she suddenly finds herself caught in the middle of a conflict that has nothing to do with her, but she might be the only person who can stop it before more bloodshed occurs. It’s edge-of-your-seat reading that’s also beautifully written.
The William Gibson novel that is credited with starting the cyberpunk movement may be a little bit dated in terms of some of its technology—it was published in 1984, after all—but it’s absolutely prescient when it comes to our always connected society, and it’s also a gripping story of data thieves, sentient AIs, and a shady and reclusive business clan overseeing their affairs from orbit, and often cryogenic sleep. Think a smarter version of The Matrix about twenty years before anyone thought of The Matrix.
This science fiction story by John Chu, I choose to read as a love story, really. It’s between Jake, a cyborg—whom a peace treaty now classifies as a weapon—and Tyler, a substantially modified human, both at odds, one of them very likely for his own survival and that of his kind. It’s tense and flirtatious and the game Go plays an important part in it. I’ve never played, but after reading this, I’d be interested in trying.
So, what are you reading?