Friday, 2 November 2012

Something For The Weekend - 'Five Books That...' No. 2

Continuing the 'Five Books That Changed Your Life' theme (and in preparation of the forthcoming promotion), Den Patrick, the Science Fiction and Fantasy specialist at Blackwell writes about his picks:

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville was an absolute departure from anything else I'd read at the time. This book was heaving with ideas, baroque prose, and sprawling narrative. New Crobuzon, a city terrorized by nocturnal predators, is bewildering, harsh and fantastic. Not unlike London. This book made me think and setting finger to keyboard and trying my hand at the black art of writing Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Imajica didn't inspire me to start writing, but it did get me thinking about fiction in new ways. This book, by Clive Barker, is epic in all senses of the word; meshing a contemporary setting with magic and unsettling strangeness (and often outright horror). This is the work of a master craftsman, one who's read the rules but cheerfully disregards them. The characters are superb too, and even the supporting cast are absolutely spellbinding (pun intended).
I'd let my reading habits dwindle in my twenties. Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan, was a shot of pure Science Fiction adrenaline that reinvigorated me. This is a novel that sweats machismo from every pore, part Crime Noir, part Cyberpunk, all violent. And what could be more baffing than a client who hires you to investigate his own suicide? Warning: contains pace, heart, swagger, and more guns than a Matrix sequel. And there are two sequels with the same truculent protagonist. Heaven.
The Lies Locke Lamora is a high point of modern Fantasy, and one that impresses on account of its lyricism and the wonderful characters who inhabit the city. This is a Fantasy novel free of all the tired tropes: no all-powerful aged wizard, no boy who would be King, no thieves with hearts of gold or namelss Evil. If there is a novel to aspire to (and is completely beyond my reach), then it is this one. Scott Lynch has created something really special, and I frequently suggest this book to anyone looking for a new read.

Strunk & White's Elements of Style is a book that anyone even half serious abut writing should own. Aspiring novelists, bloggers, journalists, copy editors -- there's no one that couldn't use a little help wrangling the English language into a more beautiful shape. It's a great little book for bus journeys, where you can dip in and learn something new each time.

Den is a contributor to the forthcoming anthology, A Town Called Pandemonium (Nov 29th) and has three Fantasy books released by Gollancz in Autumn of 2013.

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