Reading: Steph Swainston — The Castle Omnibus

I don’t even know why I’m reading this, so … off to Teh Internetz & search my hard drive. Charles Stross in 2011 had a post called, “What do you think is the most important novel of the past 10-and-a-bit years (published since January 1st 2000)?” After some 280 comments in which 5-10% of the authors mentioned were female, he started a new post called, “More on books” where he qualifies that with “All male authors are disqualified.” First comment is “This is going to be brief, and interesting…” Fifth is “I’ve just come to a shocked realisation that I haven’t read any female authors in the last 10 years.” Which is why, barring occasional exceptions—and in my mind I am making exceptions—I don’t read male fiction authors.

(For those who give a fuck about exceptions: 1. currently alive writers whom I’ve been reading for years: Charles Stross, China Miéville, plus an occasional couple of others; 2. new writers who are not white, like Saladin Ahmed or Ayize Jama-Everett, and come highly recommended by people who know what they’re talking about.)

Steph Swainston got mentioned a few times, both for and against ‘important’ so let’s presume this is one of the places I picked her up from. Possibly io9 … yeah maybe slash not really, I dunno. What does Wikipedia say? Trained archaeologist, gave up full-time writing to teach chemistry, dislikes much traditional fantasy for its inherent conservatism, likes writing about drug use and heavy sex—on the former, Jant, the main character in The Castle Omnibus, a winged immortal, is introduced by hanging out and searching for his stash to hit up—China Miéville raves about her (apparently, can’t find where, do assume he did based off the first score of pages).

I’m pretty sure previous me put various bits of all that together and went, “Fuck Jaaa!” Also pretty sure previous me did that some years ago, ’cos I have this feeling it’s been on my Want List for years. Ordered months ago, picked up on Thursday, began this morning. Drugs! War! In-fighting! Insects! Insect War! (Starship Troopers?!?!) 867 pages of not-large typeface and thin margins and “Of God that’s fucking heavy” when I tried to one-hand heft it. You could throw it at someone and do serious damage.