September 7th, 2016

Moose With Mug

2016 Stuff Read, #s 23-26(b)

The last month of the summer included far less actual reading than I should have accomplished, but at least I kept the audiobooks moving at a fairly rapid pace -- at the expense of my music listening. But, that's a trade-off I was happy to make. I'm sure that at some point down the road I'll set aside in a similar manner the audiobooks for a while.

23. The Black Death: The World's Most Devastating Plague, by Prof. Dorsey Armstrong, Ph.D.
(audio lecture series)

When it was released, Prof. Armstrong's lecture series on the Black Death was one of those drop everything moments for me -- especially since this was a Great Courses lecture series. In fact, I essentially ditched the audiobook of The Stand and finished it via the dead tree version just so I could immediately start on this series. I'm happy to report that it satisfied my morbid desire to know everything I can about that period and place in history -- even if much of the material was already familiar to me. I certainly enjoyed it a hell of a lot more than the Ziegler book I read a couple years ago. Finishing this and The Stand convinced me that I needed to read Connie Willis's The Doomsday Book just so I could have a thematic trilogy for my summer reading.

24. Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer (audiobook)
25. Authority, by Jeff VanderMeer (audiobook)

Speaking of trilogies, Annilhilation, the first book in VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy had been hovering near the top of my fiction pile ever since it won the Nebula. Finding out that a film adaptation starring Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaac was under development pushed me to finally start it. Thankfully, my local library system has the entire trilogy as audiobooks, which made it easy for me to immediately continue onto Authority, which I finished this morning. I already have the final book in the trilogy queued and ready to go on my iPod.

26(a). "The Story of Your Life," by Ted Chiang (dead tree)
26(b). "Cat Pictures Please," by Naomi Kritzer (online)

As was the case with the Southern Reach trilogy, the trailers for the November release of Arrival, the film adaptation for "The Story of Your Life," inspired me to pull my copy of Stories of Your Life and Others off my shelf and reread the original. It must have been quite some time since I last read it, because I had little memory of having read it before, even though it appeared in a couple different anthologies/collections that I know I read in their entirety. However, it has been at least 10 years since reading those particular volumes, so I suppose it's not unlikely that I had managed to forget all the details. In regards to the film adaptation, my one concern after rereading the story is that the narrative glue, that this story is being told as part of a larger narrative to the narrator's daughter, might be jettisoned so that the movie can simply focus on the alien first contact. I hope I'm wrong, but if I'm not that would be a shame as I found that particular aspect of the story I enjoyed most. I still look forward to seeing Arrival, but I can't help but think that I have trepid feelings similar to those that fans of Starship Troopers must have felt when they first saw the trailers for the mid-'90s film version.

Although I was half-heartedly hoping that Chuck Tingle would win this year's short story Hugo Award, I am glad he didn't. "Cat Pictures Please" was an awesome short story and totally deserved to win the award. That's all that needs to be said.