Mark Terry

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

What I'm Reading

October 18, 2006
Here are 4 books I'm more or less reading simultaneously, a bad habit I started in the last year.

What Terrorists Want by Louise Richardson
I heard an interview with Richardson on NPR and was intrigued. Also, Derek Stillwater will be facing off against an Al-Qaeda villain in the fourth book, which I will be starting soon, and I wanted to deepen my understanding (which isn't all that deep to begin with) of what makes terrorists tick. In addition, since I'm no longer really reviewing books regularly, I want to expand my reading outside mysteries and thrillers a bit, both to expand my writing and to expand my mind, and nonfiction books are a part of that. It's quite fascinating, although occasionally jargon-ish and depressing. The chapter on "Why Terrorists Commit Suicide," in particular depressed me. Some of it was the stories of how the neighborhoods come to the homes of the families of suicide bombers and throw celebrations, although some post-interviews with the family members have later said things along the lines of, "If I'd known what they were going to do I would have locked them in their bedroom." I was struck, with all of the Bush Administration's rhetoric about Iran, that during the Iran-Iraq War, Iranian solders, who did not even have weapons, would charge through mine fields in suicide waves, to "clear" the mine fields for later-coming troops. As I mentioned to my wife, "We should think about that story a bit before considering going to war with Iran."

Death Match by Lincoln Child.
This is a technothriller and one I've read before, but I got it into my head to re-read it. It's about a very high-tech computer dating service, and one of their "super couples," a perfect match, commits double suicide. The company hires Christopher Lash, a psychiatrist and former FBI profiler, to figure out what's going on. I was trying to figure how Child utilizes point of view, because it starts with the scene of the first deaths, then brings on Lash as the pov character, only rarely presenting the povs of other characters. It seems to me that what he does is only go to other characters when he absolutely has to. What he does do that I found very intriguing from a storytelling point of view is do a lot of cut-aways. There's a chapter that is basically a flashback to a horrible event in Lash's life, and we're led right up to it, then the chapter ends. And it's only later that we find out what happened, but even then he doesn't show us it, he just sort of mentions it. The reason it works that way is because it's backstory and because we're intrigued enough to be looking for it.

Crystal Rain by Tobias S. Buckell
SF of an unusual kind (at least to me). This is Buckell's first novel, although he's published over 20 or so short stories. I've been out of the SF arena for at least 25 years and probably wasn't reading new stuff then, anyway, so I have no idea if this is the way SF has gone. It's more anthropology than science, but Buckell's got a lyrical way of writing and a depth of imagination that's impressive. It takes place on a planet in the very distant future. Apparently at one time it was colonized by people from earth and, just like on earth, various ethnicities drifted off into different areas. The main characters are Caribbean in origin and speak a kind of patois that can take some getting used to. During some sort of intergalactic war of sorts the technology used to create wormholes was destroyed and over the last 300 years or so everybody's pretty much forgotten how to use it and have dropped down to dirigibles, sailboats and steam trains. Their worst enemies are the Azteca, which live on the other side of the Wicked High Mountains. At least two alien races, who have convinced everybody they're gods, are having some sort of war with the remaining humans on the planet as pawns. It's pretty fascinating, even if the backstory is so complex it's a little hard to get a grip on it. I've been nibbling at this a few pages a day.

Successful Television Writing by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin.
I just bought this and I keep picking it up and reading a few pages here and there. I don't know that I have any real interest in writing for TV. I barely watch it and the only reason I would write for it would be money (oddly enough, the only reason I do a lot of writing that I do). Still, I've written and published short stories and novels and written and published magazine articles, technical articles, trade articles, book reviews and all sorts of other materials, and I have written a very bad rough draft of a screenplay, but never tried anything for TV, so who knows? To-date the book is pretty entertaining, which is probably a good enough reason to read it.

What're you reading?

Mark Terry


Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

Being the up to date eand with it kind of guy I am I'm readin (some) of The Pickwick Papers.

I read classic sf when I was growing up but haven't read new stuff to speak of in 30 years or more.

8:32 AM  

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