The other week I did something that I almost never do – went into a bookstore and picked out some books in the scifi section by authors I didn’t know in the hopes that they might be somehow good. Generally I acquire books by overheard reputation or prior experience with the author(s).

So far my experiment has proved largely fruitless. I finished Leviathan Wakes by James A. Corey (a pseudonym) and Heaven’s Shadow by Goyer and Cassutt. The first was a reasonable 80-page novella with a 480-page introduction – I’m dead serious. If the book had begun on page 481, I would be singing its praises. The second was a reasonable enough first-contact story, but like most of them, it doesn’t stack up well to Rendezvous with Rama or the Eight Worlds scenario, which I prefer for their study of expected alien indifference/antiapathy.

I’m still rereading A Song of Ice and Fire, but that’s going to take awhile. A Feast of Crows in particular is providing to be like wading through a sea of a thick but pleasant-tasting maple syrup.

I decided to switch to experimental mode after by reading lists like this one from NPR on the 100 best scifi works (really it covers fantasy and scifi), and realizing I had read most of them (my count on that particular list was 57 of 100, with 21 of the first 25 and almost all of them that represent series. It’s not a very good list, BTW – should be by author). Of the other 43, most were automatic turnoffs, some I’d already tried and gotten burned on, with only a handful suggesting future reads are in order.

This means I’m getting saturated. There are still good stories out there, surely, but they’re getting harder to find. My father, who likes hard scifi but dislikes fantasy, has an even grimmer search.

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