Neuromancer, Machine of Death, A Wizard of Earthsea, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, The Forever War. Books I read in/while sitting by the pool. It turns out a waterproof bag for your Kindle means you no longer have to read poolside. Yes, I’m still catching up on blogging books I read over vacation. Post one of two.

I know that Neuromancer (by William Gibson) is a classic, but to be honest, I wasn’t hugely impressed. Part of this may just have been that I read this in spurts over a month or so, but I never felt particularly invested in the characters. It was also difficult to follow some of the action of the story, given the heavy use of “future” jargon. Sometimes, the beginning of a genre is not the best of the genre.

Machine of Death is a book of short stories by a ton of different authors about what happens when humans produce a machine that determines the way in which people will die. In all of them, it prints out a little slip of paper with the cause of death on it. (But of course, it has a sense of humor - so getting “old age” could mean that you’ll live into your 80s, or be hit by a car driven by an elderly driver.) I was warned before reading that the quality of stories varies widely, and indeed, that’s true. However, the premise is pretty excellent, and the stories explore some of the same themes from different angles, making the whole book worth a read.

I’m not sure how I missed A Wizard of Earthsea as a child -  it’s the lesser known fantasy equivalent of Tolkein, only actually readable. Good, enjoyable, well-paced and an interesting world. Probably will end up reading the sequels soon. I’m also on a Ursula K. LeGuin kick - in my desire to read more female sci-fi/fantasy authors, I’ve stumbled upon (and been recommended) a number of her works, and so I think I’ve been averaging a book a week by her.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again is a collection of non-fiction essays by David Foster Wallace. I’ve been spreading out these essay collections because I like them so much - independent of the subject, Foster Wallace’s writing style is so fun to read. The essay this book is titled after is about a cruise that he goes on, which is definitely writing about cruises for people who have no intention of ever going on cruises. However, my favorite of the essays was one about television - E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction - which rings true even though it was published in 1993, and makes me wish that Foster Wallace had updated it to include reality TV. If you like other David Foster Wallace, you will like this book.

The Forever War is a sci-fi novel in the style of Starship Troopers (which I read before I read Starship Troopers, because I had heard [correctly] that Heinlein was a raging sexist ass.) . I enjoyed it, though not as much as Old Man’s War, which is John Scalzi’s take on the same subject. This subgenre is about telling and retelling the story of human soldiers who ship out to help conquer/protect/whatever the galaxy. If you only have time to read one of the three (Forever War, Starship Troopers, Old Man’s War) and let’s face it, if I wasn’t reading 5 books a week, I would only have read one, you should read Old Man’s War instead.