Monday, January 08, 2007

Books I'm Not Reading -- "The Android's Dream"

Countless bloggers write about the books they're reading. I've decided to take a different tack.

Every week, I receive dozens of review copies for upcoming science fiction and fantasy releases. Eight out of ten are immediately discarded after only a cursory inspection. (They're not thrown away, but donated to the San Francisco Library. I think.) Of all the remainder, one or two are elevated quickly to "Must Review" status. The rest go into the "Maybe, I Dunno" pile, where they sit for a couple of months. One or two titles might emerge and be read, but most eventually make that final trip in a plastic USPS bin to the library. Ave atque vale ARCs.

This feature, then, is a salute to the also-rans, the books I never get around to reading, for one reason or another. Perhaps my reasons for not reading them will prove instructive.

First up is John Scalzi's "The Android's Dream." I've heard many good things about this novel from the author of "Old Man's War" and "The Ghost Brigades," and I suspect that I would enjoy it, were I to read it. But that's not going to happen, at least not anytime soon.

The problem is that I reviewed both of Scalzi's earlier novels, and "The Ghost Brigades" even made my 2006 list of holiday recommendations. That's a heavy concentration of Scalzi for the San Francisco Chronicle in the past 18 months.

The same is true of Rudy Rucker's "Mad Professor." I favorably reviewed his new novel, "Mathematicians in Love," last month. Now comes this collection. Even though Rucker is a local author and a personal favorite, he's had his turn in the spotlight for a while.

Neither Scalzi nor Rucker should fee slighted. There are only a handful of writers whose new work gets a review from me in every single instance. I seem, for example, to be The Chronicle's default reviewer for Stephen King and Neal Stephenson. Folks such as Dan Simmons, Kage Baker, Neil Gaiman, Peter Straub and Jonathan Carroll can usually expect to fall under my scrutiny, but it's never a sure thing. I only review about 35 books per year, so I have to choose carefully.


Anonymous said...

In case you hadn't seen, John Scalzi linked your post and came up with a fantasy conversation in which "The Android's Dream" is melodramatic about how you're not reading it... Highly amusing.

Craig Ranapia said...

Well, Mr. Berry, kudos for being honest and consistent - and it says more about the ghetto status of genre fiction on most book pages than any inattention on your party. OTOH,I wouldn't mind seeing a couple of high profile 'mainstream' authors whose every tome seems to automatically get reviewed everywhere get a note along those lines.

"Dear Mr. Vidal/Updike/{insert own bete noir here):

We're passing on your latest. After all, you've had a good run from us over the years, there's only so many books we can cover in a year, and we've decided to clear some well-deserved column inches for... someone else."

Now, that would be a literary deathmatch I'd pay to see. :)