Experience life and death…and more death, how about some more!? Would you like something to drink or eat with that? No? *pouts* ok…
Instead you can hear a confession from the author, David Edison, and hear about what he would have kids reading in schools/English classes. Oh yes and be sure to enter the GIVEAWAY for a copy of THE WAKING ENGINE courtesy of Tor Books below!
Read my review of THE WAKING ENGINE
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Hello, My Shelf Confessions! I am David Edison, author of The Waking Engine, and I am guest-blogging all up in here.
Since I am lucky enough to be unconstrained by a pre-assigned topic, let’s get confessy. Shelf confessy.
Here’s my first shelf confession: I was that awful kid who never read the assigned books in English class. This may or may not be apparent from the utter lack of Nectar in a Sieve-itude in my writing, or perhaps from the way I incorrectly drop “Miss Havisham” references in cocktail conversation:
“I feel so pretty tonight, and full of demure propriety just like that stunner, Miss Havisham! Right? Why are you taking away my drink? I need that drink. To live. Like Miss Havisham. Stop punching me! Sheesh, what a Dickens.”
I read Great Expectations, obviously. And John Knowles’ A Separate Peace, and all of Shakespeare. Also most of the Georgian/Regency/Victorian stuff, because my mother often implied that Mr Darcy was the ideal man, and that got my intention. I prefer Heathcliff, because I like it dark and stormy and am working up to a Lizzie-Bennet-level of self-respect.
But mostly? Mostly, I ignored the canon because [SPOILER] it’s freaking boring. Somehow, I survived, and I promise never to proselytize in favor of skipping assigned homework, but I’m totally not sorry.
Because I was reading David Eddings and Bram Stoker and Frank Herbert. What kind of society skips Dune in favor of Moby Dick? Are you kidding me? I mean, sure, that sperm scene was a hoot, but if you’re going to force 15-year-olds to read about crazy white men obsessed with the natural world, give them sandworms and god-emperors, for the love of all that’s spicy!
I know I’m not alone, fellow genre readers: school has this wicked way of squeezing out any potential love for reading, especially if the young potential-reader in question likes spaceships and/or unicorns. And who doesn’t like spaceships and/or unicorns?
So I decided that most of my English homework was optional, and instead I read all the space tales and unicorn operas I could get my hands on. Peter Beagle won’t exactly rot your brains, so I came out just fine. Arguably, a young reader who is self-directed in her reading choices will come out just fine no matter what, but I can’t help wondering how many would-be-readers we lose in the process. I once had a teacher try to forbid my 5th grade class from reading Eddings, because she would rather have had us read non-fiction about Paul Revere. (Hi, Mrs. Mendelsohn, if you’re still out there, fighting to get kids to stop reading books! You were terrible, and I’m glad my awesome mom put a stop to your evil plans.)
The number of similar stories I have heard since, it is a mind-bogglingly stupid number. All genre fans are aware of the pervasive anti-genre bias, so I know that you’ll understand, dearest reader. The question I put to you, then, is this: how would you rebuild the canon, from the mind of a reader who does not loathe unicorns, starships, and monstrous beasties?
On my syllabus, I’d put Dune, The Last Unicorn, Tolkien, an Iain M. Banks ‘Culture’ novel, the first volume of whichever epic was most popular that year, and Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint, and that’s just for starters. With that set, you’d get feminism, transhumanism, queer theory, ecology and political science, and actual tears from young readers. Which sounds sadistic but is, IMHO, the sign of a young reader who will continue to flip pages all of her life.
What books would you add to Mister Edison’s Not-Awful English Class, and why? Confess!
Welcome to the City Unspoken, where Gods and Mortals come to die.
Contrary to popular wisdom, death is not the end, nor is it a passage to some transcendent afterlife. Those who die merely awake as themselves on one of a million worlds, where they are fated to live until they die again, and wake up somewhere new. All are born only once, but die many times . . . until they come at last to the City Unspoken, where the gateway to True Death can be found.
Wayfarers and pilgrims are drawn to the City, which is home to murderous aristocrats, disguised gods and goddesses, a sadistic faerie princess, immortal prostitutes and queens, a captive angel, gangs of feral Death Boys and Charnel Girls . . . and one very confused New Yorker.
Late of Manhattan, Cooper finds himself in a City that is not what it once was. The gateway to True Death is failing, so that the City is becoming overrun by the Dying, who clot its byzantine streets and alleys . . . and a spreading madness threatens to engulf the entire metaverse.