Reading Challenge Update (March)

Wrapping up Science Fiction Week with a Reading Challenge Update. As always, notes on what I’m writing at the end.

In February I read Spherical Harmonic by Catherine Asaro. Set in the aftermath of the Radiance War, Spherical Harmonic picks up and tidies up threads left by several other books. For some readers, this will feel like retreading the same territory, for others, this will provide some closure. I experienced a little of both, but definitely more of the latter. I don’t mind reading the same events a few times over, as long as there is a reason for it, such as a change of perspective, or a different voice. And that’s the deeper purpose of this book, that change of perspective.

It’s one of the rare first person POVs in the series, and we’re sharing the experiences and thoughts of Dyhianna, the Ruby Pharaoh. This is significant for reasons that won’t make sense to anyone who isn’t this deep into the saga. Suffice to say, we are reminded of why the Skolian Empire is a power, and what that power means.

I enjoyed getting to know Dyhianna. Her experience of the world is very different to that of the other Skolia. I also enjoyed revisiting certain events through her eyes. As always, I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

I read Spherical Harmonic for the 2015 TBR Pile Challenge.

For The Definitive 1950s SF Reading Challenge hosted by Worlds Without End, I read I, Robot by Isaac Asimov and The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury. Going in, I did not know that either of these books were collections of short stories.

I, Robot, almost reads like a novel. There is a narrative thread that carries over from story to story, as well as many of the characters. The stories trace the history of modern robotics and each challenges one to three of the laws of robotics. That last aspect got a little repetitive after a while, with a few of the stories devolving into an abstract of logic as someone figured out how to outthink the robot. But, each of the stories was amusing in its own way, if not just because this book is so OLD. Asimov’s vision of the future isn’t perfectly prophetic, but always interesting—as is his obsession with the idea that, ultimately, we will reject our own creations. We will never fully trust them. Says a lot about human nature, eh?

In contrast, Ray Bradbury’s collection of stories is extremely varied. More than a few resonated. Some lovely apocalyptic glimpses and some very amusing ideas on what the other planets in our solar system might be like. The story that stood out for me was the first one, “The Veldt”. In it, Bradbury describes a room, called a nursery, that’s something like a holodeck. Whatever the kids imagine takes over the space. The kids are currently imagining Africa, and lions, and the lions are eating something. The father can’t quite make out what the meal is, but the violence of the scene disturbs him, as does the heat of Africa, and the roars of those lions. His wife suggests they call in a psychiatrist and they do. The psychiatrist takes one look at the scene and deduces that the kids are spoiled.

Wanting to be better parents, they decide to turn off the room. In fact, they’re going to turn off the whole house. Go on a vacation from technology. Tie their own shoes, brush their own hair, fold their own laundry. The kids throw a tantrum—the meltdown sort—and so they’re allowed one last minute in the room, which they use to gruesome effect.

This story gave me the chills because it pretty much described my fear of many modern conveniences—not just the tools we use, like cellphones and tablets, but the amount of time we spend engaged by the internet. The parallels were sobering and just a little frightening.

I think Bradbury writes more elegantly than Asimov. And though he’s obviously as interested in who and what we’ll be in the future, his stories touched more deeply on the emotion of us as beings. Very thoughtful reading, and still very relevant today.

For Dusting the Virtual Shelves, I read Rule by Jay Crownover. I didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did. It wasn’t without its problems, which I can’t really outline here without giving away the BIG SECRET in the book. Essentially, this is new adult contemporary romance, and it’s well done. The ages felt authentic, as did the emotions. It’s an opposites attract deal, but when you peel away a few of the layers, these two kids (d’aww, they’re so cute when they’re twenty-something) have more in common than they suspect. My issue, the BIG SECRET, was that said secret was pretty easy to figure out. It also wasn’t handled particularly sensitively, by either the author or the characters. Also, the names—Rule, Rome, Rowdy, Jet?

Not sayin’ I wouldn’t read another book in the series, though. It was pretty cute.

March was a very busy month, writing-wise. In between working on developmental edits for Skip Trace (book three of Chaos Station), Jenn and I also had to do a lot of promotion for the release of the first book in the series, Chaos Station. So far, Chaos Station has been really well received. We’ve been getting some amazing and thoughtful reviews. What really stands out to me are the comments regarding the mix of story and romance—the science fiction elements and plot, versus the more emotional story between the guys. We worked hard to balance these to our satisfaction and so are thrilled that readers seem to agree.

We’ve also had our first review of Lonely Shore (book two of Chaos Station), and it’s awesome. Lonely Shore is due for release May 25!

Edits are complete on my contemporary short story, “Out in the Blue”, which is due to be released by Dreamspinner Press on June 1 as part of their Never Too Late anthology. Each story will also be released separately, one every day in June. I’ve also finished the first draft of the story I’m writing for the Don’t Read in the Closet event, Love is an Open Road, hosted by the M/M Romance Group on Goodreads.

So, once again, a busy month!

2 thoughts on “Reading Challenge Update (March)

  1. Levi December 14, 2015 / 10:12 am

    Nice collection! I just read Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes this fall, in which The Illustrated Man is a character. Would be neat to read that book. Also read that exact copy of I, Robot and was similarly impressed how it had a narrative thread connecting all the stories. Check out my review if you’re interested: https://leviathanbound.wordpress.com/2015/11/06/i-robot/

    Happy reading!

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