Wednesday, October 2, 2013

New Worlds

I used to be able to tell how stressed out I was by how many books I had open at once. 

I’ve always got at least one book going.  That’s what I do.  I’m the sort of person who will read the ingredients list on cereal boxes if there is nothing else around, so I’ve learned to have a book with me at all times.  Sometimes two.  And depending on how irksome the world was being at any given point, occasionally more.

Once I got up to nine.

I try to keep myself to just one at a time now, since there is always a bit of re-entry shock when I switch from book to book and the whole point of all this is to minimize that sort of thing.  I get enough re-entry shock just from waking up these days.  I don’t need to add to that.

Instead, I end up immersing myself into other worlds, reading entire series of books (in order, because that’s how I roll) or focusing on one specific television series.  I end up living in that mental space for a while, and it’s a respite from the rest of reality.

It’s surprising how many other worlds there are out there that seem more appealing than this one.

I spent about six months over the past year reading all of the Discworld series, for example.  Pratchett’s world is both weirder and more humane than ours, and it’s nice to know that both of those things are possible.  Given the heartlessness paraded as principle in our politics these days it is refreshing to think that there might be a place where such a position is treated with the anger and contempt it so richly deserves.

We’re nearly done with the rebooted Doctor Who series as well.  We started this as a family project back in March, beginning with the Ninth Doctor and Rose, and slightly over a hundred episodes and specials later we have only one more episode to go before we are completely current with the series.  No more spoilers on the internet!  Oddly enough, the Doctor’s world is also both weirder and more humane than the one we live in now.  Perhaps there is a theme here.

Now I’m seven books into Jacqueline Carey’s D’Angeline series – another richly imagined world just a bit skewed off from our own.  They’re fascinating books, even if the number of people I would recommend read them is rather more limited than the number of people to whom I’d recommend Pratchett or Doctor Who.  They’re weirder in different ways, some of which you just have to slog through to get to the rest of it.  But I’m enjoying them immensely.

All those worlds, and more.

They’re nice places to visit.


Janiece said...

Just requested Kushiel's Dart from my local library. Because what I really need is another series of books in my life.

Pastor Kerri Parker said...
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tellthestories said...

Yep, Jacqueline Carey is great at worldbuilding. Also recommend her reading, but not for the squeamish or prudish.

Ever check out Guy Gavriel Kay? Also good at worldbuilding.

Julia Lawrence said...

Have you checked out the Jasper Fforde books? The Thursday Next series has a very diverting world. The Nursery Crime books are good escapist fun too. I'm now reading the second of the Last Dragonslayer books.

David said...

Janiece - They're really good books, but as Tell The Stories said they're not for the squeamish or prudish. They're largely set in a country whose sole religious precept is "Love as thou wilt," and the main character of the first three is a sacred prostitute and divinely-appointed masochist. But the world-building is fascinating and the writing generally stays on the proper side of the Lush/Purple divide.

Tell The Stories - I found that they stand up to rereading, even the third book (which was better than I'd remembered). I've read one book by Kay and enjoyed it. I'll have to look at others.

Julia - Of course I've read Fforde! :) I love pretty much everything he's ever written, from the Thursday Next books to the Dragonslayer books to Shades of Grey (which I want him to finish NOW).

David said...

Oh, Janiece - I knew I was going to like Phedre (the main character of Kushiel's Dart) when I read the tag line on the cover: "When Love cast me out, 'twas Cruelty took pity upon me." How can you not be intrigued by a setup like that?

Janiece said...

David, I'm not particularly prudish or faint of heart (lived int eh far east for many years - as a sailor), but lots of detailed sexy sexy times in a story does tend to bore the crap out of me. We'll see how it goes.

David said...

Yeah, I'm pretty much the same way as far as my reading goes.

Carey is interested in three things - sex, world-building, and political/diplomatic intrigue. I've found that a) she generally does a good job of making the sex serve the larger interest of either the intrigue or the general world-building (or both), and b) I could pretty much skim over the details of the sex without missing out on the plot or characters.

I really liked the characters and the world. The rest I could take or leave depending on my mood.

This is one of the few series I have liked enough to buy in hardback. All nine of them.

Phiala said...

I like Carey, and would also recommend the VERY different Santa Olivia.

I'm reading/rereading the De Lint Newford books right now. That's a world I would like to live in, not just visit.

David said...

I've not read her Santa Olivia series, though I enjoyed her Sundering duology. It was also different, and I loved the tag line: When all that is good in the world considers you evil, what are you?

Someday I will have to get to de Lint, too.

Random Michelle K said...

I don't like Carey because I don't care for boinking books. Nothing against her world building, there was just too much I wanted to skip. (Oh GHOD, more boinking.)

I love Guy Gavirel Kay, but he's not light reading. He builds worlds I really have to take the time to immerse myself in. But he's so worth it.

And I ADORE Charles de Lint. The advantage there is that his primary form is the short story, so, I can read a short story collection without getting sucked in and staying up past my bedtime. Not that his novels are bad or anything, but I adore his short story collections.

Janiece said...

I picked up the first Kushiel book at the library, and DUDE - IT'S 25 CDs. That's 32.5 hours, and skipping the boinking in an audiobook is problematic.

I may have to reconsider.

David said...

Yeah, they're mostly around 700pp each in print, though the last trilogy tends to clock in around 600 apiece.

The inability to skip bits at my discretion is just one of the many reasons I usually avoid audiobooks, even with my 85-mile commute 2x/week.