Thursday, 8 January 2015

That to which we aspire...

As this year has started busily with regards to my other job (that's right, folks, I have decided that from here on in I will be referring to myself as 'a full-time writer who does a little bit of business consultancy and auditing on the side' rather than referring to my writing career as some kind of sideline or hobby - besides, referring to myself as a writer first-and-foremost gives me a recusant, bohemian air...methinks), I haven't had the opportunity to really throw myself into any of the far-too-many writing projects that I want to tackle this year (such as The Curious Case of God vs Pratt, Deus Magnus, the follow-up to Red Plus Zone, the Minstrel Yan poem, etc) - instead, what little spare time I've had so far this year has been devoted to my other target - reading as many of the SF Masterworks as possible.
And I'm not sure I could have started off with two better books :)

The first is The Lathe of Heaven by the fabulously named Ursula Le Guin (helpful picture of the cover below).
I wanted to read one of her books after I heard her name mentioned in Dominic Sandbrook's fascinating 4-part TV series:
The Unearthly History of Science Fiction
If you haven't watch it, check it out - it's really good!
I couldn't get hold of The Left Hand of Darkness (it's on my list though) so I went for The Lathe of Heaven instead...and I certainly wasn't disappointed.
I'm not going to go into great detail about it (I'm not very good at dissecting and analysing books) - instead, I'm simply going to say that it has a fabulous concept at its core (the ability of a man to change reality through his dreams, and another man's desire to control that ability) and, just as fascinating from my perspective (because I'm a writer, remember), it is written with a wonderful, flamboyant prose. Here's a writer who is determined to use the full pantheon of words, someone who won't shy away from using precisely the right noun or adjective just out of fear that the reader may not understand it - that's an approach I really, really like (after all, looking up a word is what a dictionary is for!)
I'd summarise The Lathe of Heaven as exactly the sort of science fiction novel that I, as a writer (refer to my earlier point) aspires to write.

The other book I have read since the start of the year?
Actually, it's the second element of this two-part offering (another helpful image below), both by Czech writer Karel Capek (the man credited with bringing us the word ROBOT...which is predominantly the reason why the play 'RUR' is the first of the two parts of this book - it's okay, and would be interesting to see on stage, but it's not what I'm going to wax lyrical about!)
The War with the Newts (which is what I'm going to wax lyrical about) I found to be incredibly engaging and very, very clever, because it really is more of a critique of all that is wrong with mankind - yes, it has some baggage from the time it was written (1936) but that doesn't detract from the underlying premise, which is that that which we take advantage of and treat badly may just come back and bite us in the ass!!
It's just groovy!


So there you have it, folks - two really, really good books for your perusal and delectation.
Hopefully, one day in the not-too-distant future, someone will be kind enough to say something similar in their blog about something which a writer called Andrew Ritchie has written.
He's a full-time writer who does a little bit of business consultancy and auditing on the side, don't you know...