Wednesday, 9 May 2012


I have always been amazed by the number of works of fiction my fellow writers seem to consume. They are always recommending this book and saying how much they enjoyed that book, while I stand in awed - and unread - amazement.

It isn't just a function of time - though that is a factor - but I've always had a suspicion that reading the works of your contemporaries can have a corrupting effect: try as hard as you might there is still a danger that you might begin to ape a style, pinch an idea, or steal a phrase. So it's for these reasons that I've religiously refused to read any novels for ... well, years. Reference works, okay ... that's necessary research but a hot SF bestseller, no way will I open its cover.

Until Monday.

We've recently moved and as some of you might know a move requires a cull of unwanted books. In my case it was a particularly vicious culling and only very few novels made the cut and most of them survived purely on sentimental reasons. I enjoyed them when I was younger and can't bear to be parted from the memories they evoke. Included in the survivors was 'The Lost Regiment' series by William R. Forstchen. These I collected when I was hopping across to the US on a regular basis (this was before Amazon and they were never printed in the UK) and every time I did I'd buy the next in the series to read on the 'plane. I loved 'em: inventive, well researched, good characterisation and exemplary world-building.

So, clearing out a box on Monday I came across #1 'Rally Cry' and couldn't resist: I started reading. BIG MISTAKE. Immediately I started I had my editor's hat on ... he's switched POV ... he should have cut this paragraph ... show don't tell ... on and on and on. I had to stop.

That's it for me and novels, but the question remains - if I reread The Demi-Monde in twenty-odd years time will I be similarly critical?

1 comment:

  1. I wouldn't want to be a "professional" reviewer - the pressure to read through so many things within a certain time would be too much and I just couldn't enjoy the thing.