Staff Musings

October 23, 2007

What am I Reading?

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Sci Fi & Fantasy — carricee @ 11:27 pm

Lately, despite the piles and piles of new books I have to read, I’ve been rereading old favorites. I was definitely inspired by the death of Robert Jordan, author of the epic series Wheel of Time, to reread his work and hope that they find a worthy author to finish off the series. The death of a favorite author seems to me to be much more heartbreaking than one thinks it will be. Writing is a very intimate process, and if you’ve read many of their books, you’ve spent more time in their head than most people spend in each others’ – and if you particularly enjoy what you find there, it’s sad to hear of the loss to the family and real-life friends, not to mention sad to think that what was in that head will no longer leak out onto a page.

So, once I finished rereading the eleven books currently out in the Wheel of Time, I found that I still needed comforting, preferably from someone who was still around. So I picked up the perfect time-travel novel, The Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis. One of the things I like about Connie Willis’ writing is that, despite it being time-travel and set in the future, the world she writes in is undeniably ours, and she’s trying to tell a story about people, not about science or about how many fancy gizmos she can come up with. In the novel, a young historian named Kivrin travels back in time to the Middle Ages to study the culture and people, but arrives in the past ill and in a desperate situation. At the same time, Oxford (where she traveled from) is under quarantine, it’s during Christmas, and multiple university people are laid up while they try to deal with the hassles of life under quarantine and to make sure Kivrin arrived safely and will be able to return.

In the midst of all that, you find stirringly real characters, both in the future and in the 14th century. The small touches thrown in provide not just historical accuracy and a feeling of recognition about the future, but a story that can be related to  Рregardless of whether the reader is a science fiction fan or not. The Doomsday Book won both the Hugo and the Nebula awards in 1993.

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