15 April 2012

The Deep End

Sitting on my sofa, looking out onto a grey, wet spring day my mind wanders to all the stories I've read that sing to my imagination.    I have been toying with ideas of how to introduce some of my more hardcore Sf books.  And it came to me this morning, that these books that I  am finding the most challenging to recommend are also my most unique collection of books.  I always thought I was a character reader, having fallen in love countless times but in fact I am more in love with the stories swirling around these people.

 I am a sucker for a good old story, one that pulls me in and leaves me lonely once I've turned to the last page.  To me, a good book is marked by it's ability to force me to stop reading for a couple weeks.  I cannot just jump into a new book if the last effected me deeply.  Maybe this is why I reread so many of my books and more than once.  It doesn't matter to me that I know what is going to happen it is about being able to live again in those pages; feel what I felt during the first read.  

The first book to have this effect on me was Ronald Dahl's James and Giant Peach.  I remember exactly the library book shelf that I found this book on, even recalling the pure joy of discovering all the wonders within those pages.  In fact, it was through James and the Giant Peach that I discovered Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I have yet to meet anyone not smitten with that tale but for me I would hold hands with little James Henry Trotter over Charlie any day.  As with most great children's stories, James and Giant Peach has it's darkness to it.  James parents, dead thanks to a renegade rhino (it ate them!) is a sad, abused child living with his two awful aunts.  Luck would seem to fall upon James when he is given a bag of magical green-glowing crocodile tongues which if mixed with water and 10 hairs from his head will make him happy and provide him a  a life filled with adventure.  As with most wonderful things promised for sad little boys, fate takes a hand and those very crocodile tongues end up enriching a peach tree outside of his Aunts' house rather than himself.

I cannot tell you how amazing it was to be 8, and reading a book about a giant peach that is so big that a little boy can tunnel his way to the pit and then befriend the enlarged insects living in it.   The child-like amazement that strikes me every time I read a good story is really why I have this blog.  
Warning:  The books I am about to recommend in the next couple of posts are not for the faint of heart.  If you have an issue with aliens, spiders, time travel, folded space, and/or so much scientific jargon that you can gag on it, then these books are not for you.  And into the deep end we plunge!

I am actually grinning ear to ear as I type the title out. I have been waiting impatiently to introduce this book to you all.  Of all the books I have read in the past 10 years it is this book that truly entertained me for the sheer ability to freak me into liking spiders.  That's right folks, the aliens in this book resemble arachnids, arachnids the size of people who live in a society similar to 20th century humanity.  Like all of the Vernor Vinge's books the scientific mumbo jumble is intense.  So not only have I introduced you to a book about spiders but a book that falls under the hard SF category.