Now that I’ve completed the Spring issue of Prometheus, after a couple of delays caused by what my optician called a “corneal ulcer” in my right eye that made any bright light unbearable and migrane inducing, I have a little time for my irregular blogging. I’m getting ready to read through all the finalists for this year’s Prometheus Awards. I read F. Paul Wilson’s Harbingers when it appeared as the limited edition from Gauntlet Press, and am awaiting his latest Repairman Jack novel due out from that publisher next month. While I’m an FPW fan and like the RJ story and books, I don’t see any libertarianism in Harbingers. I enjoyed Vernor Vinge’s Rainbows End but not nearly as much as his two previous sf novels. Certain ideas and trends raised by Vinge are sobering, and I see his “You Gotta Believe Me” meme cropping up in another book, Justina Robson’s excellent Mappa Mundi (not one of the finalists, but the US edition appeared in 2006, while the original UK edition was ahead of Vinge, in 2001). So maybe it’s not Vinge’s meme after all…

I have not yet read the other three books, but Charles Stross’ Glasshouse is next on the list. I like Stross’ work, and have read all his other novels published to date save the latest Clan Corporate novel. I haven’t read anything from Orson Scott Card in many years, and nothing by John Scalzi, so those books will be interesting.

Sometimes I’m right there on the edge of new sf, but sometimes I’m way behind the times, staring over the fence at non-sf books. Currently I’m trying to finish Mark Shorer’s biography, Sinclair Lewis: An American Life. I started the book last November, but set it aside to read a dozen sf books and review most of them. I’m also in the middle of The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce, Varlam Shamlov’s Kolyma Tales (one of the many frightening results of Stalin’s gulags), Nora May French’s Poems, and Brian Doherty’s Radicals for Capitalism (which, for some reason, I feel as if I’ve already read, since I followed almost the same path 20 years ago when reading as much as I could about the history of libertarianism). I am compiling a list of fiction and non-fiction written under totalitarianism, especially the Soviet Union, possibly towards a long essay on the subject. Lest they are forgotten, writers are imprisoned and exiled for their work even now, in such countries as Vietnam, China, Cuba, Turkey and elsewhere.

Best book I’ve read so far this year: Adam Roberts’ Gradisil. I have to inquire about the current Prometheus Award rules, since the UK edition appeared in 2006, but if the 2007 US edition is eligible, I’d say at this point that Roberts’ novel is a shoo-in for the 2008 Prometheus Award. No freakin’ contest.