I tend to read seven books at a time. I like to read short story collections and non-fiction books mostly. I have a ‘time travel books’ shelf I am working on, which if you know my work, you will not be surprised by.
I turned away from short stories in 2015 after reading a modern story collection or two at uni that was so bad, my brain could no longer tolerate the form. I’m talking about puns which were painfully obvious used as plot devices, characters who didn’t shut up and somehow managed to not have a personality, and descriptions of caravans that lasted over eight pages.
Luckily that same year I came across most of the books in this picture. I bought them as a lot, and they fixed my brain. I fell in love with short stories again.
Literature is an important thing. These days it has to attention-compete with the likes of tiktok and youtube, so less people have time to encounter it. Writer’s don’t like to admit that, but it’s true. At least one facet of a book is entertainment, and we must entertain before anything else.
There’s a whole new psychological landscape to be battled upon, and the modern style just doesn’t grip me. I find too much emphasis these days is placed on building characters through complex interpersonal drama or an ‘aesthetic’, and that the plot is often a secondary thing. I love the style of older Sci-Fi because a character will be introduced with one line and that’s it. That’s all they need. Then, when a quirk of their character is needed, it comes up in dialogue or in how they react to something. It’s efficient, and the characters mesh with the plotlines in an interesting way. And, when a passage about the characters walking through a tunnel under the evil space machine is about to get boring, the narrative shifts, the scene changes. Maybe we see something from the space machine’s perspective. Maybe a passing space squid remarks on how silly the humans look with their two eyes and their two legs and their two testicles.
So I’ve been wanting to find more things to read, perhaps stuff that’s similar to my style. My work has been compared to Douglas Adams a few times, but naturally I don’t think I’m that good. Bonus points if you know any recent releases.
What’s your faavourite Sci-Fi book right now, and why?
The Lego USB stick you can see next to the Technic mobile crane is filled with an RPGmaker game I made in 2016. I’ve been meaning to fix and release it all these years. It’s about magic cats that deal catnip in a self-aware fantasy setting, fighting against an army of interdimensional fleas. It was something I made for uni, and every now and again I find myself tempted by a career in game design. I’d have to put a few of the 11 books I’m working on down, but it might be a fun way to tell a story while I wait for my book queries to get somewhere.
My favourite Sci-Fi book right now is SPACE SCIENCE FICTION, from May 1953. I purchased it from a small bookstore in the Bluecoat in Liverpool, which is where I got a lot of my weirder books when I was at uni.
Any book by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky