Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Summer Reading List - Vance

One of the great things about writing for this blog is getting reading recommendations from my awesome co-conspirators, Way more than I can ever hope to keep up with, certainly, but this year a few have made my annual Summer Reading List.

That means that this year's list includes some works I've missed by a couple of legendary writers, and some brand new works by folks that may one day become legendary authors. We can hope, right?

1. Discovering Aberration, by S.C. Barrus

S.C. Barrus contributed a guest post to Nerds of a Feather awhile back on Isometric Role-Playing Games. At the time, he was readying his steampunk novel Discovering Aberration for publication. The summary reads like a Victorian-era Indiana Jones adventure, and to me that sounds awesome. It's a big book, and I'm a man with an unreasonable number of demands on my time, but this is at the top of my to-read list this summer.

2. Zero Echo Shadow Prime, by Peter Samet
A friend of mine, comic book writer Mark Landry ( did the cover art for this, and showed it to me awhile back. I thought it was awesome, and Mark told me I should read the book. He'd read it multiple times throughout his time involved on the project, and spoke very highly of it, so I was happy to get my little e-inkstained fingers on it. With a female-centric story about the singularity, robots, consciousness, and immortality-through-technology, it's got my expectations high. And check out that cover!

3. Planks, by S.C. Harrison

Our intrepid monthly Adventures in Indie Publishing columnist D.E.S. Richard interviewed S.C. Harrison for this site and subsequently reviewed her horror collection Planks. After reading the review, I immediately bought the Kindle edition...and then didn't read it. But I intend to do so now! Usually I do a lot of horror reading in the fall, not just because of Halloween, but because I love fall and horror and the grey days and long nights have always made the two feel compatible for me. But this year I'm bloodying up my summer, and I've been promised in Planks a collection of interrelated short stories that do a masterful job of world-building.

4. Pale Fire, by Vladimir Nabokov

When I read Lolita years ago, I had the annotated edition. Not only did I love the book, but I found myself loving it all the more since I had the ability through those annotations to see so much more of what laid beyond the surface than I would have been able to grasp without them. Nabokov had an unmatched gift for prose that continues to astonish me. So how I have not managed to read Pale Fire — in which a fictional scholar introduces, includes, and fully annotates the final poem of a fictional poet — escapes me. That's three levels of Nabokov. I just hope I can keep up.

5. The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick

I have read probably a half-dozen of Philip K. Dick's novels and a handful of short stories, but never this one. To be honest, beyond knowing that it's an alternate history where the Axis won WWII, I'm not even really sure what it's about, and I don't care to investigate since I'm willing to let myself be surprised by the journey he wants to take me on. After all, V.A.L.I.S. isn't really about whatever the summary of the plot says it's about, anyway, and Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said starts off being about one thing and winds up being about something else entirely, so I'm just excited for the journey.

6. Science Fair Season, by Judy Dutton
This is the only non-fiction book on my list this year, and another entry in my bought-it-on-Kindle-didn't-read-it-yet file. Judy Dutton spent time immersed in the competitive world of serious science fair competitors (not me — I tried to make an automatic dog-walker like on The Jetsons with some leftover carpet scraps), and these days I would so much rather read about kids getting bent out of shape through science competition and aspiration than out of sports competition and aspiration. The book's a couple of years old now, but the kids are probably still in their late-teens, and I for one am looking forward to reading about those that may one day make all the wacky sci-fi shit in lots of these other books I'm reading come true. 

Posted by: Vance K — cult film aficionado, unapologetic lover of bad movies, and Nerds of a Feather contributor since 2012.