What I have been reading…and reading…

I have been a fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy for most of my adult life (not a trivial span BTW) but had, so far, managed to avoid the mega book series that fantasy writers, especially, seem to regularly churn out.  Don’t get me wrong, some of these marathon reads have been very popular and supposedly well crafted.  It is just that I am basically lazy and I couldn’t bring myself to commit to them for the long haul.  Besides, there were plenty of wonderful stories that somehow found a way to end in the space of one volume.

Recently, however, I noticed that HBO was running a series based on the latest of these unending sagas, George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones .  Then one of my book club members mentioned that she had made it through the first four books ( a new one has just been released) and liked them a lot.  My curiosity was hopelessly peaked.  I picked up a really cheap used copy of the first book (just curious mind you) and started to read.  You can probably imagine the rest.  I am now midway through the third volume and feel that I have been reading this story for most of the year.  I usually wait until I have finished a book to post a review but I felt like I had better make this review an installment effort or I wouldn’t ever get it out.  If Mr. Martin can take 8 volumes to write his book, I should be able to write the review in several installments, don’t you think.

I must admit that Martin has structured his story in such a way as to maximize the level of interest.  It is a big story with a huge cast of characters scattered over a vast imaginary map.  The reader is soon made aware of the principals and of their relationship to one another but then their separate adventures scatter them to the four corners of their world so that each is basically grappling with their own  set of circumstances.  Each chapter jumps from one of these stories to the next with only occasional interaction between the main characters.  It feels like you are reading several, only slightly, related novels at once.  I am sure that the stories will all eventually lead to an integrated whole but that is many volumes away so, for now, the characters are all on their own.

I will update this review as I progress.  The novel is supposed to cover eight very fat volumes.  That doesn’t even count the HBO series that I probably have to view now.   It is quite the project and I am not sure I am up to the task to be honest.  I’ll keep you posted.

What I am reading

Just finished reading Earth Abides, by George R. Stewart, and have to say I was completely blown away. I have had this book on my “to be read” list for a long time and I am glad I finally picked it up. The book was originally published in 1949 and I must admit I was expecting a dated science fiction story with little connection to my experience or todays realities. I was so wrong. Not only is the book still relevant it almost seemed to speak directly to our times.

In writing this book, the author stripped away the meaningless detail that we all use to define our lives and instead told his story at the basic level at which all people actually live their lives, no matter the time and place. The result was a story that was just as fresh as if it had been written last year. If you want to really understand what civilization is all about, and how it relates to humankind and to our world, read this book. You will not regret it.