Like it says, I’m a picky bastard. Just finished up Alan Glynn’s The Dark Fields (recently made into Limitless starring Bradley Cooper) and, unusually, I don’t have anything else lined up to start on next so I’ve been looking around on Goodreads and similar trying to choose. It’s not helped by the fact that I have a bunch of fines at the library which I can’t really afford to pay off right now, plus a lot of the books I’ve got on my to-read list are obscure and not likely to be there, or available on audiobook via my Audible.com membership) – but the main issue is what I like.
I’m not as picky when it comes to movies but that is partly down to the fact it takes only a couple of hours to watch a movie but it’ll take me several weeks to get through a book and probably a year to write one so in both of those cases I’m more fussy. I tend to need some sort of fantasy element in things I read, be it slightly scifi, slightly horror or whatever. Books which are explicitly set in the real world often don’t hold my interest for long enough, or at least which are set in my real world.
The Dark Fields is a good example of what I go for as although it is set in modern-day New York there is a slight sci-fi/genre edge to it with the whole central concept of the MDT drug – my personal preference would have been for it to go further but there was enough there to interest me. I don’t know what it is in me that requires this fantasy element but, to re-iterate my central point that I’m a fussy bastard, I’m also as adverse to things which are VERY fantasy. Hard sci-fi and high fantasy have never really interested me – they often seem too far removed from relevance or spend so much time world-building that there isn’t enough meat on the bones of the story at their hearts. (I’m sure there are exceptions and I’m a fan of Phillip K Dick but on the whole this is the case).
This is true of my writing too, I prefer to write something which is neither explicitly set in the real world OR clearly set in a fantasy world. I like to create settings which could well be the real world but about which there is something just slightly off or different – just enough to make people think twice. It’s why I don’t like to name the settings too much – to refer to a real place would ground it in “our” world but to give it a made-up name would maybe clearly show it as being scifi. I don’t know why but for whatever reason I don’t like being made to choose.
I’ve got Tim Maughn’s apparently excellent Paintwork ordered up now that it’s available in print but that won’t be here for another six weeks. I may well order up my friend Wayne Simmons’ zombie thriller Drop Dead Gorgeous, depending on price and time scales for arrival, still to decide.
Let me know what your preferences are when it comes to the fantasy elements in what you read/write and of course any recommendations for what I could read next are welcome.