Definitive Top Ten All-Time Desert Island Works of Speculative Fiction: the Novels

Whoooo, boy.  Kate sucked me into this thing yesterday (as Kate quite frequently does) wherein Matt Wallace decided to have us all make lists of our #DTTATDIWSF.  I haven’t read Kate’s list because I’m contrary and don’t want her to influence my decision.

Specfic is difficult to nail down, and so I’m just going with my gut on this one, guys.  In no particular order, these are the books I’d take with me were I stranded with only 10 novels.

  1. The Long Walk – Richard BachmanThe Long WalkI know, I know – you’re probably all shocked that THIS is the Stephen King work I chose.  It was really hard (twss!), but I finally decided on this one because it’s self-contained and the list specifies novels, which I think would mean I can’t take 6 books (cos why would I want WaG with me on a desert island?  I WOULDN’T) in one spot.  Since there is no (yet) single volume containing the whole series, I choose this one.
  2. Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron – Jasper FfordeShades of Grey
    Taking the “what if?” part of speculative seriously, my FfordeFfangirling comes into effect here.  Shades of Grey takes place at an uncertain time in the future, wherein a caste system has evolved based on what section of the spectrum you’re able to see.  The greys are (obviously) lowest on the totem pole.  This is supposed to be part of a series, but as Fforde has several other series going at the moment, I already feel as if I’m on a desert island waiting for him to write more.
  3. Job: A Comedy of Justice – Robert HeinleinJob
    I read this for the first time probably before I was old enough to really GET it.  The “What if…?” here is something you can probably guess from the title, but it’s a lot funnier and more irreverent than the biblical tale of Job.  Same overall premise, though.  Funny and thought provoking, and still my favourite Heinlein.
  4. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adamsh2g2Fuck you, I’m not picking just one.  I want them all and I can HAVE THEM ALL.  So there.  I’ve written enough about these books that I don’t need to tell you again why I love them.  If you haven’t read them, I feel really sad for you.
  5. The Man in the High Castle OR A Scanner Darkly OR The Penultimate Truth – Philip K Dick
    Shit, shit, shit.  This is one where I can’t decide.  If I HAD TO…I would probably pick A Scanner Darkly.  HAD TO.  But if I REALLY had my druthers, I’d take this:
    pkd 5 novelsBecause the Library of America kicks ass and knows exactly what I want.  SO.  I take this.  FIVE NOVELS.  Suck it, monkeys.
  6. The Lights in the Sky are Stars – Fredric BrownLitSaS
    WHY HAVEN’T YOU READ THIS YET?!  This book captures all of my feels about the space program, why I’ll be a “Starduster” for life, and gave me a character I have empathized with like no other.  Go.  Go read this.  Now.  NOW, I SAID.
  7. The Windup Girl – Paolo BacigalupiWindup GirlA lot, a lot, A LOT of people gave up on this book after a certain scene at the very beginning.  Too bad for those people, I say.  Because while it’s pretty horrific to read (especially if you’re like me and your imagination plays everything as a movie in your head), it definitely sets things up in a way that lets you know you’re not in for a pretty story.  It’s not pretty.  It’s pretty horrible, actually, but that’s definitely why this book works.  This is one of those books that I finished and didn’t know whether to start it over again or just give up on reading for a while.  Yeah.  Like that.
  8. The Flame Alphabet – Ben Marcusflame alphabetI’m just going to go ahead and say it.  This book has a low rating overall (not even 3 stars on goodreads) because people didn’t fucking get it.  The blurb makes it read like some sort of psychological thriller, which is NOT WHAT IT IS AT ALL.  This book is beautiful and haunting and I am so glad I read it with Heather because we had some of the liveliest text conversations about it.  Don’t read it by yourself.  Read it with someone you enjoy discussing books with (even if you’ll hate the thought of talking once you get into it), because reading it alone is such a waste.
  9. City of Dreaming Books – Walter MoersCoDBI have already professed my love for this book in all the words I can manage here.  I’m sad it took me as long as it did to find it, and it’s a treasured favourite already.  I would move to Zamonia if I could, were I not worried about being the only human in a land full of…other creatures.  If you haven’t yet picked up this one based on my recommendation, I just can’t do anything for you.  Sorry.  If you don’t love it within the first 10 pages, chances are you won’t love it at all and that means (to me) that you’re just dead inside.
  10. Saga – Brian K VaughanSaga1I know.  I KNOW.  I know it says NOVELS and I am fully aware that this is a COMIC.  But I’m not going to even try to compile a list of Desert Island SpecFic comics and I want to take this with me, damnit.  Look at that cover.  Yes.  That is a woman breastfeeding (the child she is giving birth to on the first page).  Listen.  I <3 Fiona Staples with all of my little fangirl heart and as long as this whole desert island situation can hold off until BKV and Ms Staples have finished this series, I will TAKE THE WHOLE DAMN RUN WITH ME.

There.  My Definitive Top-Ten All Time Desert Island Works of Speculative Fiction (for now).

I know I missed a bunch, but I kind of don’t care.  I’m pretty happy with this list.  What books are on yours?

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

In case you hadn’t already figured it out, I read A LOT. Like, a disgusting number of books in a year, what some might even deem obscene.

One of the first things Meg drew for me.  Still pretty accurate.

One of the first things Meg drew for me. Still pretty accurate.

Sidenote: I eavesdropped on a twitter conversation last year in which two authors I’d read discussed how they didn’t trust the opinions of anyone who managed to read more than 2 books a month and was so filled with righteous indignation that it not only spurred me to read FASTER and MORE, but to also remove those two authors from my reading lists forevermore. I’m nothing if not petty, yo. This is another downside to social media.


I swear I have a point.

So, you know I read a lot and if you’ve read any number of my posts, you’ve probably already been able to surmise that I do a whole lot of re-reading, as well.

I read this post today, and talking with Steve led me to examine my re-reading habits.

I have a lot of friends that NEVER re-read. I can understand why. I have over 200 unread books on my Nook already, and I know I’ll never realistically get through all of the books I WANT to read. Pretty sure my TBR list can be seen from space…so why do I re-read?

I’ve talked about this before (so many times you’re probably sick of me mentioning it), but I lived in a super small town for a lot of my childhood. We had a teeny tiny library that was only open ~8 hours a week, and I only got to visit the GOOD library once a month. I spent most of my pocket money on books, but even buying used, I was never able to buy ALL THE BOOKS.

During the summers, I’d ride my pink Huffy beach cruiser the two miles into the tiny library, spend a lot of time reading there, then carry as many books home as I could fit in my Jansport without splitting the zipper.

I’d have them all finished 2 days later, and have forever to wait until the library was open again. This was when I started my re-reading habit.

Two days til the library is open again? LET’S READ LORD OF THE RINGS AGAIN!

Finish a book and already sad that it’s over? START THAT SUCKER OVER AGAIN! <—I did this a lot.

I would read so fast that the new worlds I’d fallen into were over before I’d had a chance to fully appreciate them, and re-reading was the easiest way to get back.

Now, of course, I still read fast, but new books are just two clicks away (goddamn the future is amazing – young sj is still in awe that she NEVER HAS TO LEAVE HER HOUSE for new books), so why do I still re-read?

Because there are some books and authors that feel like home.

I re-read PKD and Tolkien (polar opposites thematically, but nearly identical in how they make me FEEL) because I know exactly what I’m getting and I find their prose comforting.

I re-read Harry Potter now, and try to recapture the excitement I felt when reading and discussing and speculating ad nauseum with my fellow DAers (shout out to Em, Megan, Jane, Sarah, Paula and MT [one of whom will be guest posting here next week, so look out for that]) while we waited for Jo to finish writing.

I re-read DT for the same reason (although primarily just the first three books).

I re-read favourites from my childhood to remind myself what it’s like to read with a sense of wonder, without the jaded yawns adult sj is prone to.

I re-read books with prose I want to cherish and words I need to etch on the pages of my mind.

I re-read things that made me laugh when I’m depressed and hating life, to remind myself that I was able to laugh once and will be able to again.

I re-read things that make me sob with frustration that my own words will never be good enough.

I re-read because I’m a reader, and some books are just too fucking precious to only be read once.


5 Book-to-Film Adaptations That Make Me All Stabbity

From a discussion I had with Heather L.

From a discussion I had with Heather L.

My world is sometimes a lonely place.  I get asked all the time why I can’t just LET. THINGS. GO. especially when it has something to do with an adaptation of a book I loved.

But I can’t.  My brain won’t let me.

I’ve already made a list of film adaptations I don’t hate and actually kind of like, so I figure it’s time to lay into the films that make me the angriest.


[adjusts rantypants]

Let’s do this.

  1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)I thought maybe I was exaggerating my feelings about this movie, having only watched it when it was in theatres, but our recent viewing for #DrunkHP decided me.  I.  Hate.  This.  Movie.  For many reasons, really, but the worst offense is the BURNING DOWN OF THE BURROW.  It served no purpose and was worthless because, oh – everything’s fine for the wedding in Deathly Hallows!  Ugh.
  2. The Golden Compass (2007)
    You guys?  This one makes me really sad AND angry.  When these books came out, I was so impressed at how dark and world-weary they were, especially for young adult fiction.  They didn’t play the “look, everything is going to be okay all the time because everything works out for everyone!” line that you see so often.  Lyra Silvertongue was a goddamn hero.   Kids died (or worse than died).  IOREK BYRNISON.  Things were grim.  And…well, the end.  Which I dare anyone to read without crying.  So, anyway, I was really excited about this movie.  I said something to my husband along the lines of “AWWWW, YESSSSSSSSSS, PANSERBJØRNE FOR THE MOTHERFUCKING WIN!”…and then we finished watching and he said “Wait, did we watch the same thing?”  Then he saw that  I was so angry I was ready to cry.  This movie was watered down to the point that it’s not even recognizable.  Afraid of alienating the fundies AND the atheists?  MAKE A MOVIE NO ONE WILL LIKE!  Hey, a kid is separated from his dæmon?  NO BIG!  It’s not like it’s the most horrifying thing anyone can conceive of.  Or…at least not if you’re in the movie.  Double Ugh.  I’m ready to cry all over again.  (Oh, and Nicole Kidman?  COME ON.  She makes EVERYTHING worse!)
  3. Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)    I’ve done so much ranting about these movies…pretty much everywhere on this blog…that I don’t know how much more I can say about them.  I could have included the first movie of The Hobbit trilogy, but I’m waiting until they’re all out to decide if they’re worse than LotR.  I’ve decided that Peter Jackson reads my blog and is now making these movies out of spite.  For some reason I have an easier time handling these travesties if I think he did it on purpose to piss me off.  Neveryoumind the timing.  I can respect a little trolling.
  4. Romeo+Juliet (1996)  True story – this movie got me kicked out of the theatre.  My hatred could stem from my intense loathing of anything Leonardo DiCaprio, but that’s not the only thing I hate about it.  THE END!  The end where Juliet wakes up BEFORE Romeo’s dead, and they both get that “Oh, HOLY SHIT!” look on their faces.  UGH.  Like the ending wasn’t tragic enough.  Let’s play this shit up for laughs and comedic timing, yeah?
  5. Blade Runner (1982)   I know, I know.  I KNOW, OKAY?  And the truth is, I used to love this movie.  It was one of the first sf films I ever loved, which is why it makes me so sad that watching it now basically makes me sick to my stomach.  Possibly because the movie has now become such an integral part of geek culture that the movie has replaced the book?  No one talks about Mercerism, cos it wasn’t in the movie.  Instead people want to talk about whether or not Deckard was an android (or, um…replicant, which isn’t used in the book at all).  Hint:  HE. WAS. NOT.  It’s NEVER EVEN HINTED AT.  The whole unicorn scene that was added back in for the Director’s Cut?  BARF, NO.  Also, Pris and Rachel were the same model-type – just so you know.  There was no need for Daryl Hannah to even be in the damn thing.

Dishonourable Mentions:

The Secret of NIMH (which I loved as a kid…before I read the book)

The Neverending Story (see previous note, although sometimes I can still watch this through kid-lenses)

Queen of the Damned (but I already wrote about that here)

What would you have picked?  Who wants to try to change my mind?

Review Haiku for Those with Short Attention Spans

I have been slaaaaaaaaaaacking on reviewing again, sorry about that.  Too many books (106 so far this year!) and if I reviewed them all, I’d have no time to read. SO!  You get a bunch of review haiku, this time without mini-reviews.  Because I’m feeling super lazy tonight.  SORRY!

Etgar Keret’s The Nimrod Flipout

The Nimrod Flipout

Shortest shorts of all
Stories, I mean – not Nair legs
Fun funny sad weird

Philip K Dick’s In Milton Lumky Territory

Milton Lumky

PKD litfic
No aliens or mindfucks

Harambee K Grey-Sun’s Broken Angels

Broken Angels

Blah blah blah blah STOP
I actually rage quit
This book was so bad

Kim Harrison’s Ever After

Ever After

It’s too late now, but
I’m going down with my ship
(Hint: It isn’t Trent)

Dakota Cassidy’s Accidentally Dead

Accidentally Dead

Nine of ten women
Agreed that the word “vulva”
Does not get them hot.

Charlaine Harris’ Dead Ever After

Dead Ever After

You’re right, Ms Harris -
We all NEEDED to know what
Sookie had for lunch.

…aaaaaaaaaand, that’s all I can see unreviewed that I wasn’t planning on talking about in more depth at some point.

Don’t forget that the Order of the Phoenix drinkalong is coming up on Friday – Same BatTime, Same BatHashtag!  See you then!

“And so the period of stable maladjustment is drawing to a close.”

dr bloodmoneyOkay, so.  Trying to write about Dr Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb without spoiling the shit out of it for people who haven’t read it is NIGH ON IMPOSSIBLE but I’m going to give it my best shot (especially since I know of at least one person reading this that was considering it for their next PKD read).

It’s made especially difficult because I have so many highlighted passages that I want to talk about, but without the context of the book, or sufficient explanation, there’s really no point.  I realized as I highlighted the 30th thing last night when I was finishing the book that I was doing it for NO REASON…unless some of you decide to read it, and then I share them with you later.

Annoying rambliness aside, listen.  This is my third or fourth read of Dr Bloodmoney and I liked it even more than the first few times.  I think that’s the case with most of Dick’s work.  You read it once, and you like it just fine (or hate it) and it kind of blows your mind a little; you read it a second time and notice many of the things you missed the first time, your mind is further blown; but then the third time, there’s that Dick Click I talked about and you’re just “HOLY SHIT, WHAT DID I JUST READ?  MY MIND IS WELL AND TRULY BLOWN!” and then everything else you read after it kind of suffers in comparison.

[Queue the mind-blowing-Dick jokes]

When I talked about Counter-Clock World (click that link up there), I mentioned that it could be considered weird in that…it wasn’t all that weird.  It was a fairly straightforward sf story, that didn’t bend your mind all that much.  The same can’t really be said about Dr Bloodmoney.  Is it what has become known as standard post-apocalyptic fare, or is it all just some really fucked up fever dreams from the mind of a madman?  It’s hard to tell, and I flip back and forth on what I think each time I read (and sometimes several times during each reading).

Don’t let that terrify you, or put you off reading it, though.  It’s still a great story, even if you read it as just straight sf.  There are battles between mutants, mistaken/hidden identities, dogs that talk, rats that can dismantle traps on their own and one of the trampiest female characters I’ve come to…well, not exactly love, but appreciate.

AND!  She still has all of her teeth.

So, really, it’s all a bit of a downer, I mean – we had one nuclear incident in the 70s, then a few years later…something  happens and the bombs drop AGAIN, leaving everyone worse off than they’d thought – but we’re humans so we try to build shit back up again.  We come up with wood burning cars, or just have horses pull the old cars around.  We can’t have real cigarettes cos THIS IS CALIFORNIA, but we CAN have a reasonable facsimile…and ooooh, will they cost you.  Booze is hard to come by, but the same guy that makes the cigarettes has a reasonable approximation of brandy.

Unfortunately there’s an Ayn Rand loving, telekineses having phocomelus who thinks he knows what’s better for us than we do ourselves.


Sorry, I’m not telling you.