God willing and the creek don't rise (further), I'll be going to 4th street fantasy con next weekend. I'm trying to read as many participating authors as I can before then. I'm not a fast reader, and my job is of the many-hours variety, but I've been cranking along pretty well, thanks to my Kindle, which doesn't tire my eyes. I also ordered a stack of paper books from Amazon which were shelved in the bathroom immediately upon arrival...yeah, I'm one of those. My parents shelved the World Book encyclopedia right outside the family bathroom (it didn't rate being kept in the dining room, in their estimation; the Britannica had that honor) and I credit that with getting me through any number of trivial pursuit games, plus many college classes.
Anyway, I'm mainly an SF reader, and my fantasy reading is pretty limited (Gaiman, De Lint, Clarke, some others--I'm not a complete heathen). It's been fun to take a crash course in contemporary fantasy fiction, which is SO much more to my tastes than the stuff that was popular when I was in HS & College. I instinctively avoid titles containing swords, thrones, crowns, or apprentices. Also book covers depicting horses or wolves. Not that these are bad; I just have a low tolerance for them. On the other hand, I have an excessive tolerance for elves, fairies, ghosts, inheritable curses, secret societies, otherworlds, dreamtime, artists with gifts both worldly and otherworldly, and retellings of ballads & myths. I generally expect stories to have endings, which apparently isn't required nowadays, and anything which involves a lot of undirected wandering and introspection is right out, so I'm not an ideal fantasy reader. But I'm very pleased with what I've read in the past couple of weeks.
So, here's my 4th street reading/getting-signed list, and where I am with the various elements.
Steven Brust. I started off with his Firefly novel, "My Own Kind of Freedom," and it's absurdly good - nice complex structure, character development, great dialogue, etc. Which I expected, given his reputation, but it's still a strange feeling to read such a masterful media tie-in, because the majority are more workmanlike than that. Having finished that, I've just started "To Reign in Hell," which I might manage to knock off today, if I stop blogging and go read. Also bought "The Book of Jhereg" and "Freedom & Necessity" (co-written with Emma Bull) which I'll attempt to get signed at the con, but won't manage to read before then.
Pamela Dean. I read "Tam Lin" years ago, it's one of my favorite books. I wish I had a less-beat-up edition to get signed at the con, but I love the Thomas Canty cover on my MMP and I'm not wild about the new cover.
Ellen Klages. I got her story collection, "Portable Childhoods," and read the award-winning "Basement Magic" which is wonderful in every particular. I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of the collection.
Sarah Monette. "Melusine" looked interesting but short stories are faster! Plus I've become a pretty avid short story reader lately as I work on writing my own. So I got "The Bone Key," and read the first story "Bringing Helena Back," which was totally awesome. I was a little doubtful after reading the intro, because she lays out what she's attempting to do from a literary perspective, and it's quite a tall order. Then she proceeds to do exactly what she describes, and quite brilliantly. I'll probably read a few more of these stories before I get to the con, because they're interconnected and the first one left me eager for more.
Emma Bull. I bought "War for the Oaks" as well as "Freedom & Necessity," and I'll start reading "Oaks" as soon as I finish the Brust book I'm reading. I see that her newest one, "Tombstone," is available on audible.com, so I might opt for that instead, since I can listen to it during my commute this week, and finish up during my drive to Minneapolis. It has a horse on the cover, but since it's of the western and not medieval variety, and since the book looks fantastic, I think I can overlook that.
Elizabeth Bear. Sadly the only book I have available to get signed is "Hammered" - I generally don't get MMP's signed because they're small and unhandsome--but I suspect Dreamhaven books will have something I can buy at the con to get signed. I've got "Hammered" and "Dust" on my kindle and am reading them both, but to finish one this week I'll have to flip a coin and concentrate on just one.
Patrick Nielsen Hayden. I can't get a copy of any of the Starlight anthologies on Amazon--with luck Dreamhaven will have one--but I've got his recent "For Teens" anthology in hand. Haven't had time to read any of the stories yet, but it looks like an interesting mix.
Teresa Nielsen Hayden. I read the wonderful "Making Book" a couple of years ago, and so should everybody else.
There are some other authors there, notably Will Shetterly, whose work I'd like to be acquainted with, but I only read a tiny amount of YA fiction, so nothing has jumped out at me.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I have formatted the entirety of Shadow Unit for my Kindle and am doing my darndest to read the whole thing before Friday, lest I be the lone person at the con who's out of the loop.
Am I missing anything wonderful?