the Little Red Reviewer

A bunch of Not New books.

Posted on: October 30, 2017

I’ve been bouncing around a lot of books lately. I’ll pick something up, read a hundred pages, put it down. In one case, I got 200 pages through a book, got annoyed by it, got so annoyed that I didn’t care that i was only a hundred pages from the end, and put it down.

Oh October, month of my DNF’ing.

Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe I’m picking up books that I’m just not in the mood for. Maybe i’m picking up books that aren’t as awesome as they could be. Who knows.

I did finish two books recently. Both are book 3’s in ongoing series, both were let downs. They weren’t terrible, they just weren’t as good as the first or second books in those series, and the first two books were so good that my expectations were pretty high for book 3.  I was disappointed in both books, but I did finish both of them, so that must mean something.

When I fall into this funk of DNF’ing, of nothing meeting my expectations, of getting frustrated, I lean on some old classics.  Something that will either be a popcorn adventure, something that will transport me to another world,  maybe something with language that borders on the poetic.  You can’t go wrong with Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun.

I’ve read a handful of Gene Wolfe, some of it amazing, some of it annoying.  I’ve only read the first two books (bound together in the volume Shadow and Claw) of The Book of the New Sun, so this is my chance to read all four books and actually complete the series.  Or, I’ll get through Shadow and Claw and that book alone will cure my funk of DNF’ing.   Or, I’ll get through Shadow and Claw,  realize how many clues I missed, and read the entire thing all over again.  Any one of these results will make me a happy person.


In the category of books I can’t remember if I own or not, I bought these the other day:

please, please, ignore the huge “Blade Runner” words on the cover of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep!  This is NOT a novelization of the movie, or at least it better not be.  I read DADoES years ago, and quite enjoyed it.  I grew up watching Bladerunner, and very much enjoyed the new Bladerunner2049.   I thought I had a crumbly paperback somewhere of DADoES? But maybe not?  And there’s a chance I already have a copy of the Wasp Factory, but maybe not?  and if i remember correctly, The Wasp Factory predates The Culture?  Banks peeps, help me out! this “maybe not” problem was easily solved for less than $20.


Have you read any Gene Wolfe?

Have you read any Philip K. Dick?

Have you read any Iain Banks / Iain M. Banks?

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14 Responses to "A bunch of Not New books."

I have to laugh at the cover of Do Andoids…poor PKD. The book is sooo good and really nothing like the movie AT ALL.

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right? uggh, that cover art is embarrassing! I need to find my crumbly paperback or go buy a used copy.


I do not finish a remarkable number of books, but I always give them a fair shot. My standard is fifty pages. If the author hasn’t hooked me in the first fifty pages, then it’s not the right book for me, and I move on with no regrets. When I donate the books, I tell myself I’m letting them go so they can find their true reader.


my standard is 50 pages too. in many cases, I’ve given up before page 20, or I’m in it for the long haul. Two of the books I DNF’d, I think they are the right book for me, but i need to wait until I’m in a different mindset to read them. These two I think are springtime books, if that makes any sense?


This month, I actually F-ed a book! Wait, no, that sounds wrong. I… mean the opposite of ‘DNF’, obviously. DFed? It was a novel that I’d been wading through for months, and I finally finished it, so… yay. If only that didn’t make me feel burned out with the whole reading thing…

[hey, don’t judge me. The Count of Monte Cristo. Half a million words of a bad translation written 170 years ago, and honestly it felt at least twice that. When it’s good, it’s brilliant and thrilling, but when it’s not… it felt like a million words before the plot even started.]

Anyway, back on topic: I’ve not read Iain M Banks, nor PKD. I’ve read The Book of the New Sun, though, and iirc it just gets better in the later volumes. I’d recommend following it up with The Urth of the New Sun, which is more of a sequel than a fifth book, though it directly continues the plot of the first four. [I haven’t read the 8 novels that follow it in the cycle, though].

I DNFed a book of his short stories, though (The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories). Or, at least, haven’t finished yet. Most were mediocre, but then I hit The Death of Doctor Island*, which was truly brilliant. Unfortunately, it’s the kind of story that’s so truly brilliant that it makes you never want to touch anything the author wrote ever again, and to shout “—- you, Gene Wolfe!” whenever his name is mentioned. For a short story (novellette? short novella?), it’s impressively harrowing. But harrowingly impressive.

*yes, for those who don’t know: Wolfe’s “The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories” is a collection containing “The Doctor of Death Island”, “The Death of Doctor Island”, “The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories”, and a number of other stories.


I think my reading of Shadow and Claw is going to turn into a handful of “reading diary” blog posts. This book is so wonderfully weird, and it breaks all the rules of telling a story. it’s like falling into a dream. I love it.

I’ve experienced that – where you read something so amazing that you don’t want to read anything else by the author only to realize you’ve already read the best thing they will ever write.


Well, in this case it’s a combination of it being really good, and it being… I don’t know. It’s like if somebody killed your puppy in front of you to stop it spreading a plague. On the one hand, it may be for a good cause, and it may be done very professionally, but at the same time, there’s an instinctive aversion toward spending more time in the presence of the guy who did it. The story in question is brilliant, but it’s also manipulative and painful, and while I don’t regret reading it, at the time it made me put the book down and just… not want to pick it up again. It had thorns in it.

So kind of… I’ve seen what he can do in a short story, and yes, it’s impressive, but I’m not sure I want him to do it to me again…

[That said, I really, really liked TBOTNS, and TUOTNS, and I do intend to read more of him. I may just… need to brace myself.]


if/when you’re ready to read more Wolfe, I recommend The Sorcerer’s House and A Borrowed Man. They are, sort of, gentle? Not painful, not visceral, and certainly with a little bit manipulation, but you can feel separated from the manipulation. Those two titles are actually quite similar, so if you’ve read one the other feels a bit like a murky mirror image.


I’ll bear that in mind. I don’t think I’ve even heard of ‘A Borrowed Man’…


It is his newest novel, came out maybe 6 or 8 months ago? Surprisingly easy to read, for a Wolfe.


Ah, that would be why – I thought I at least knew his titles, but I can’t say I keep up to date with the latest releases.


Loved Book of the New Sun. Wolfe’s masterpiece. Need to reread it again. Read all of Dick and Banks SF. Liked most of Dick. Avoid his first couple novels from the 50’s and Valis(which I find unreadable). The Wasp Factory is Banks first book. It is very good but not Sf/F.

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I’ve not read any Gene Wolfe, though I feel as if I should.

I’ve read a couple of Banks novels and really enjoyed them. So far, Use of Weapons is my favorite.

I’ve read a lot of PKD. Do Androids Dream is a nice “entry level” book into the world that is PKD. I find I can’t read many of his books or short stories together because I began questioning reality too much and am far too paranoid for my own good.


oh, Use of Weapons is THE BEST Banks!! My roadblock with PDK seems to be I do just fine understanding the surface plot, but just can’t wrap my head around whatever is happening underneath. and that’s where all the meat of the story usually is, so I’m missing out.

Gene Wolfe’s famous stuff is well, super famous, but not easy to read. I guess he has that in common with PDK maybe? If you’re interested in starting with some easier Wolfe, I recommend The Sorcerer’s House. It’s an accessible short novel that has some tricks up its sleeve.


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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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