Reading


Books

Most of what I read is Fantasy or Science Fiction. Just about all the modern fiction I read falls in this catagory, or in the horror-that's-almost-fantasy catagory (eg. The Vampire Lestat).

For Fantasy, I'm finding that my tastes are drifting away from the typical swords-and-sorcery stuff and into stuff that could take place in the world we live in. Stuff like the Anne Rice novels, Zelazny's two Amber series, and some novels of urban faerie are the things I'm talking about. I guess it's because I can relate to the characters and situations more. I still consider Tolkien's stuff classic, though.

For Science Fiction, I tend to like the stuff that's part way between hard and soft SF. If it's too hard (too much detail on realistic science), the book has to be really good, or I get bored wading through all the technical gobbledygook. If it's too soft (too much handwaving), I just wonder why they bothered calling it SF and didn't make a modern Fantasy novel. Larry Niven is just about right for me. I also like some Cyberpunk, like "Snow Crash".

I'm also into conspiracy-type books. I read and enjoyed "Illuminatus", though I liked the "Historical Illuminatus Chronicles" even better. I own and have read many books by Robert Anton Wilson, and some of the ones in the bibliography of "Illuminatus". It's remarkable how much of that stuff they didn't have to make up. I loved "Focault's Pendulum". I enjoyed "Holy Blood, Holy Grail".

On poetry: I like Rudyard Kippling. That's about all the poetry I've found that I really like. I did like the translation of Dante's Divine Comedy that I read, but not so much as poetry.

My "occult library" contains large collections of Crowley, Cambpel, and Castaneda (which I like more after finding out he was lying through his teeth). I've got the occasional odd book on alchemy and hermetic ritual in there too.

Hm, random other stuff. I'm a big fan of Tom Robbins (especially "Jitterbug Perfume") and Kurt Vonnegut (especially "Slaughterhouse Five"). I liked Dracula, but wasn't amazed by it. I really, really liked Frankenstein, which is a book about parenting when you come down to it. I like what Dostoevsky I've read. Hunter S. Thompson is a blast.

Oh, James Joyce. He's amazing. You've got to read his stuff. Start on either "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" or "Dubliners". Don't read "Ulyses" or "Finnegan's Wake" unless you're sure you're ready. I've started on "Ulyses", and when I'm in the right mindset for it, there's nothing like it. When I'm not in the right mindset for it, it's extremely difficult to wade through.


Comic Books

I'm into comics. I really don't like your typical adolescent-fantasy ultray-healthy folks in tights beating things up style of comic book. On the other hand, I'm also not into your typical badly-drawn black-and-white amateurish alternative comics, either. There, that should piss just about everyone off.

My favorite comics of all time have to be in the Alan Moore run of "The Saga of the Swamp Thing", starting at about issue #20. I like just about everything Alan Moore has done, such as "Watchmen" ,"V for Vendetta" and "Miracleman", but that run of "Swamp Thing" is probably on the top of my list. Oh, for a special treat, read anything Alan Moore has written that involves Superman. He plays up just how much better than everyone else he is, and the fact that he's just not human. Superman becomes downright scary when Alan Moore is writing him, even when it's just a cameo in a comic like Swamp Thing.

I also like Elfquest (original series). I like it because the elves and trolls in there are just alien enough for me to believe they're some species other than my own, but just human enough for me to relate to really strongly. And the story is good.

Neil Gaiman is probably just below Alan Moore on my list. His work on "Sandman" is amazing. Read it.


Doug DeJulio
ddj@aisb.org