I spend the best part of two hours every weekday travelling on a variety of trains and in that time I get through quite a lot of books. There was a time when I used to buy a newspaper and do the cryptic crossword, but my favourite paper folded, and since then I have more or less stuck with books.
Several years ago I realised that I was unconsciously selecting women authors. This is partly because I enjoy a good historical romance. However, when I branched out into reading science fiction, I found that I gravitated towards such authors as Anne McCaffrey, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Marge Piercy, Sheri S Tepper and Olivia Butler. I do read a book by a man now and again though: recently I enjoyed a book which was co-authored by the astronaut Buzz Aldrin. I also like Clive Cussler's writing.
I am going to add to this page as I read or re-read books that I would like to share with you.
Maybe one day, if I can't find any evidence that it has been done already, I might try and put together a chronological list of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover novels. The order one reads them in really doesn't seem to matter, but I'd still like to be able to place them into the appropriate time frames in Darkovan history.
I have added my own personal rating system to the authors I have discussed. My favourtes get but if I find an author too heavy-going they are lucky to get . The others are somewhere in between. I'm sure there will be those of you out there who will disagree with my ratings. It could make for a lively discussion, either by email or in my guestbook. I am also interested in further reading suggestions, so please get in touch if you've read a book you think I would enjoy.
Unlike most of what I have written about on this page, Jonathan Aycliffe's output is not science fiction. The library that I borrowed The Matrix from thoughtfully marked the spine with an "H" for horror, and it wasn't the sort of book to treat as bedtime reading if you wanted to be able to sleep in the dark. I'd probably think twice about reading a book of this type even when working a night shift and sleeping by day. However, it was excellent for reading on the train and I will be on the lookout for more of Jonathan Aycliffe's output. He also writes as Daniel Easterman, and I might go looking for some of his work under that name as well.
I recently read a very long novel called Encounter with Tiber which was co-written by Buzz Aldrin and John Barnes. I found it very interesting and will be looking out for other books on which Buzz Aldrin has collaborated.
I started with Sam Gunn, Unlimited and I enjoyed it so much that I will definitely be dipping into more of Ben Bova's output. Ben Bova writes a good yarn. Sam Gunn reminds me a bit of Crocodile Dundee: over the top, but quite plausible at the same time. I was glad that I had read the Buzz Aldrin book before I got hold of Ben Bova's book, because Ben Bova does make a few assumptions about technicalities which I would not have understood if I hadn't already encountered them and had them explained by Buzz Aldrin. Mind you, Ben Bova isn't the only author guilty of this: science fiction books in general could do with a glossary at the back for the elucidation of new readers: I must have read several of Anne McCaffrey's books before I worked out that FTL was Faster Than Light!
I have read quite a few of the Darkover novels, and I have also read some of Marion Zimmer Bradley's other novels. The quality and complexity of the Darkover novels varies enormously, which is only to be expected considering that they span Marion Zimmer Bradley's complete writing career. I think that the best one I have read so far is Sharra's Exile, which is a mature Marion Zimmer Bradley novel. I have recently read The World Wreckers, which was published about ten years earlier than Sharra's Exile, although the events which take place in it follow the events in Sharra's Exile. The thing I liked best about The World Wreckers was the interaction of the Chieri with humans, while Sharra's Exile appealed to me because of its troubled central character.
I have read the Xenogenesis trilogy. In fact, I liked it so much, I have read it twice, and I might get it out of the library and read it again one day.
I came across The Book of Night with Moon recently when browsing in my local library. It isn't the first book I've read which uses the concept of "gates" or "doors" to get to other universes, but it's the first one I've read where these "gates" are looked after by wizards who are also cats. Humans don't realise it, but the cats are actually the sentient species with the most power. I'll be looking out for more of Diane Duane's books.
I have only read one book by Anne Gay. My local library has a book of hers in stock, and it is the sequel to a book which they don't have. I decided that I would like to read the books in sequence, so I requested an inter-library loan and obtained the earlier book, titled Dancing on the Volcano. I found it very heavy-going, and only the thought of how much trouble the library had gone to on my behalf kept me reading. I put it in my briefcase each morning and made sure I had no other reading matter on the train with me, and I did eventually complete reading it. I am undecided about whether to borrow the sequel.
Anne McCaffrey is a firm favourite of mine. I started with her Talent and Tower & Hive series and didn't get round to her Pern books until I had practically exhausted her supply of other books.
Ursula K Le Guin is an author with whom I don't get on very well. The only book of hers that I have finished is Four Ways to Forgiveness. I believe that there are more books set in the same universe as this book: actually a collection of four short novels, and I would like to read more of them. I have found some of Ursula K Le Guin's work rather heavy going, and a set of short stories I borrowed from the library included some which I found pointless and incomprehensible.
My favourite Marge Piercy book is Body of Glass, which follows the development of an illegal cyborg. This is one I will be borrowing from the library again.
Lethe interested me right from the start because it is set in Australia. It describes a world where pure humans can no longer go outside and new human species are evolving. This book is primarily about the new species who have developed altermode and activate their gills when underwater. It's also about the aftermath of the Gene Wars which left the world in the condition described in the book. It's almost a detective story. I didn't figure out the significance of the title before the closing chapters of the book, when the author mentions it, but those of you who know your classics might.
I have read quite a few of Sheri S Tepper's books. I have also given up on a couple. My favourites are probably Grass and Raising the Stones, but I also enjoyed The Gate to Womens Country.
Last Revised: 5th November, 2005.