The Circle of Authors

Is there anything better than discovering a new author and then plowing through their entire collected works one after another?  Is there anything worse than when you get to the last page of the last book?  It’s like the end of a romance.  The death of a love affair.

I know everyone in the SF world knows John Scalzi, but as I’ve said before, I’ve been largely out of touch with that whole genre for quite some time.  I found him in a way that is odd but probably verging on the edge of becoming routine.  By its narrator.

I’ve been hooked on audio books for a long time now.  My phone is always loaded up and every time I go walking or climb into my car, I fire up the latest novel on my playlist.  Last year, I got the audible version of Ready Player One which was narrated by prince of all geeks Wil Wheaton.  He did such a good job, I went looking for other books he had narrated.  That led me to Fuzzy Nation which introduced me to John Scalzi.

The quality of the narrator is an interesting added dimension to publishing.  After all, even the best written book is going to suck if you have to listen to someone read it badly.  Two of the most prolific narrators sound false to me for reasons I can’t quite quantify so many books are simply not audible options in my case.  I was just lucky that some of Scalzi’s best work is read by one of the best narrators out there.

Currently, I’m listening to Craig Wasson read Stephen King’s 11-22-63 and I have to say he may be the best reader yet.  It doesn’t hurt that the book is stunningly good, of course.

I came to King through the trailer for Kubrick’s version of The Shining.  I’ve mentioned this before but I was so terrified by that trailer that I went out to read the book first as a way of inoculating myself against the movie.  If I remember correctly, I then read Salem’s Lot, The Stand, Carrie and Dead Zone one after the other.

From King (via The Danse Macabre) I got to Peter Straub.  I lost an entire summer in the late 1970s reading everything Straub had written up to that point. A marathon that culminated with Shadowland, one of the most confounding, perplexing and thrilling fantasy novels ever written.

After you find an author and consume their bibliography in one bacchanalian orgy of obsessive reading, you always come back to read their latest stuff when they come out with something new but it’s never like that first time.  It’s like a pleasant dinner with a former flame.  You enjoy yourself but you can’t help remembering the passion that once was.


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