For the past several months I’ve been asking every author I interview to recommend a couple books. I’m going to start sharing those as a weekly feature every Friday until I run out.
We start with Scott Lynch, author of the “Gentleman Bastards” sequence. The series kicked off in 2006 with The Lies of Locke Lamora and the fourth entry, The Thorn of Emberlain, is due later this year. I spoke with him in March at the Tucson Festival of Books.
So, Scott Lynch, what books do you recommend?
There’s lots and lots of them. I’m making a serious attempt to tackle my to-read list, which is more appropriately referred to as “The Obelisk of Shame.” Seriously, there are 300 or so books that loom over my nightstand like Stonehenge.
This was another artifact of depression, before I wrote Lies I read 100 books a year easily. I was working hard on a personal reading project, Hugo winners, Nebula winners, World Fantasy winners. At the height of my depression I went to reading like five. 2008-2009, maybe a half-dozen books, tops. And I discovered that reading was a habit you needed to relearn. I’m back up to about 60 or 70 books a year and I want to get back to that 100 books a year. That would take a chunk out of my to-read pile. I keep telling myself not to buy new books, but that’s bullshit, of course I’m gonna buy new books. But…
This is the nepotism hour. I think Sarah Monette (Addison’s real name) deserves all the attention she can get. She’s another author who has been through some dark and miserable years and I want to throw that book at everyone I can and see who it sticks to. I understand it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it was mine, so I’m recommending it to everyone I can.
It’s technically YA. I’m not super interested in mixed martial arts, and this is mixed martial arts in space. But it takes on deeper meaning. I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m enjoying it and its scooting along well. If you like YA sci-fi and you like MMA, this book is tailor-made for you. Zero gravity martial arts, very cool.
I’d read a little by him but never sat down and read a whole bunch knowningly. I’ve discovered him in the past six months and I really, really like him. (Elizabeth) Bear here has been the driving force behind me reading him. It’s marvelous, just marvelous. It’s contemporaneous with The Lord of the Rings, they were both released around 1953-1954 and they are completely different takes on Norse mythology. The feel is completely different. Anderson’s atmosphere and his text, The Broken Sword is grimdark 50 years early. It has so many things going for it. It has the Ragnarok feel, that everyone will meet their end, but not in that modern “Oh God, rocks fall, everybody dies” way. This is mythic.
And there is this one scene — every now and then as a writer you come across a scene that you just wish there was some way you could just directly lift, it’s so good. The elves in The Broken Sword have one of the coolest dance scenes in fantasy literature. If the book was 300 pages of crap, it would be worth it for these three pages of brilliance, but I’m not going to spoil it. Just go read it.
Elizabeth Bear interjected here: “Get the 1970s re-edit. I differ from Michael Moorcock here, but it’s a vast improvement. Anderson went through and fixed the problems and streamlined the book.”