Oooooh, now this looks interesting…

A new book (and universe) by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. The Long Earth. One of the “editorial reviews” seems to give the best summary. Here’s a partial excerpt:

Kirkus Reviews

Eccentric, reclusive genius Willis Linsay of Madison, Wis., publishes on the web instructions for building a strange device consisting of a handful of common components, some wires, a three-way control and a potato. A flick of the switch (“west” or “east”) sends the builder into an alternate Earth–one of a possibly infinite sequence–where there are no humans at all, though there are other creatures descended from hominid stock. Some people are natural “steppers,” able to step into the Long Earth without any device. Another minority are phobics, unable to step at all. Steppers can take with them only what they can carry, while iron in any form doesn’t cross. Thanks to the strange circumstances of his birth, Joshua Valienté is a natural. The transEarth Institute, a wing of the huge Black Corporation, offers him a job exploring and reporting on the new worlds. His partner in the enterprise will be a zeppelin inhabited by Lobsang, a distributed artificial intelligence whose human component was once a humble Tibetan. Meanwhile, back on Datum, the original Earth, officer Monica Jansson grows increasingly concerned about the anti-stepping rants of powerful demagogue Brian Cowley. Thousands of steps from home, Joshua runs into another independent-minded stepper, Sally, who turns out to be Willis’ daughter. They visit a community, Happy Landings, founded thousands of years ago by natural steppers and trolls, gentle hominids who communicate via music. But both trolls and their viciously homicidal cousins, elves, are step-fleeing toward Datum from something very scary indeed.

You can pre-order it now, and it comes out June 19.  I’ve already added it to my B&N Nook Library (I guess it will show as a “free preview” when it comes out and I can order it then). It also reminds me that I need to get caught up on my Discworld reading, and get my dead-tree library caught up as well – I have every Discworld book up through Going Postal, but I’m missing a couple of the ones after that.

On a related note, yesterday was payday, so one of the first things I did was buy the e-ARC of Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter Legion. I’m about halfway through (I had to recharge my Nook, and didn’t feel like reading on the computer screen or while tethered), and I’m liking what I see so far! Keep ‘em coming, Sir!

Other books I’m currently reading:

Freehold, by Michael Z. Williamson (Pretty good so far.)

The Two-Space War by Dave Grossman and Leo Frankowski (Good premise, but the frequent poetry gets really tedious if you aren’t into that kind of thing – which I’m not.)

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Reading List

I found this over at Daddy Bear’s Den. NPR’s list of top 100 SF and fantasy books. Like DB, I’ve bolded the one’s I’ve read.

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert *
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin
6. 1984, by George Orwell***
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
25. The Stand, by Stephen King
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson**
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
64. Jonathan Strange, Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke***
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
74. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony*
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

If there’s a star, I haven’t read the entire series (yet). Two stars means it’s “in progress”, and three means I’ve partially read it but never finished. The “dagger” (†) indicates it was required reading for school and not something I would have read willingly. The ∞ means I very highly recommend it.

Right now, I’m reading E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman series. So far, it’s pretty good. If you’re interested, the first book, Triplanetary, is available for free at Project Gutenburg, in multiple reader formats plus html for reading online.

[Edited: I didn't see Going Postal in the list when I first posted this.]

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New acquisition – book blogging

Not too long ago, Tam put up a post talking about e-books and e-readers. While I opined that I do like the convenience and generally lower price of e-books, I prefer real books. I also noted

Generally, I see ebooks as supplements to real books, anyway. I’ll buy the physical copy of books I like enough about to make part of my collection (which ends up being most of the books I read), but if I don’t like it, I’ve spent less on the ebook than I would have on the hardcopy.

Both have advantages and disadvantages, and one is not a complete replacement for the other.

E-books are nice. The e-readers are more compact and easier to travel with than most regular books, and they give you the ability to carry as many books as you would like at once without having to carry around an extra suitcase (or more) just for books. With free e-book sites like Project Gutenberg and Baen’s free library, you can download an amazing number of free books that are DRM free – some of which are also out of print and hard to find. There are, of course, the big sites of Amazon and Barnes & Noble for paid titles, even if they are DRM restricted, and there are some publisher sites out there as well – foremost among them being Webscription, which is run by Baen publishing, where all titles are DRM-free and some advance copies of new titles are offered before the official publication date.

But, even with all of these advantages, nothing beats holding a real, paper book and reading the printed words off an actual physical page. If I buy an e-book, chances are that I will also eventually buy the physical book as well. For some books, having a physical copy is simply as mandatory as breathing.

My latest acquisition goes beyond even that.

The Hobbitt - green leatherette collector's edition

The Hobbitt by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbitt by J.R.R. Tolkien is one of those books that just cries out for you to own a hardcover, leather-bound* edition. With a $35 price tag, plus my B&N membership discount, plus the recent release of pictures from the upcoming movie, I just couldn’t resist any longer. So today it is mine. This is a boxed edition, and both the box and book appear to me to be well made and quite elegant.

The Hobbitt - side view

The Hobbitt by J.R.R. Tolkien - side view, unboxed

As you can see here, the cover and spine are decorated in red and gold leaf, with the title and author information in both English and in dwarf-runes.

The Hobbitt by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbitt by J.R.R. Tolkien - illustration

It also contains several beautiful illustrations, in addition to the original maps.  And yes, I did use my Nook Color to hold it open for the picture.

A beautiful edition of a wonderful work of literature. Now, I just need to save up and get the similar edition of The Lord of the Rings. The 50th Anniversary Edition looks good, but I do really want the Red Leatherette Collector’s Edition – a callback to The Red Book of Westmarch from the story.

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* Leatherette in this case, but I think true leather-bound books are only rarely made these days, and this is as close as I’ll probably ever actually be able to afford.

More Reading (I do that a lot)

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein

Currently Reading

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
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