Books Ron Read in 1998

A year in (parentheses) is the book's publication date; a date in [brackets] is the date I finished the book.

Comments on the Year 1998

Whew. Like the White Queen, I'm working my way backwards from 2000 on these pages. I read more books in 1998 than in 1999 or 2000: roughly one a week if you take into account the ones I didn't record. This was the year I discovered the brilliant SF writer Barrington Bayley, and the spiritual descendant of Wodehouse, Joe Keenan. I also read a book, Handbook for the Positive Revolution, that led me to create a a website.

Mm-mm! Them's good readin'!

  1. A bunch of books I didn't record.

  2. Greg Egan, Diaspora (1997) ... The thing that impressed me the most about this book -- and there are many things that impressed me -- is that Egan, instead of merely telling you about higher universes, or giving you a bare glimpse, as in the "further up and further in" sequence at the end of Narnia, actually shows them to you for half the book. My other favourite bit is the description of what it's like to see in five dimensions. All this, in the hardest of hard SF. [~Feb]

  3. More books I didn't record.

  4. Edward de Bono, Handbook for the Positive Revolution (1991) ... I like to describe this book as "how to spin the planet on its axis without spilling a single drop -- of blood." "Positive" is the keyword here. See the Positive Revolution FAQ [~Apr]

  5. Barrington J. Bayley, The Pillars of Eternity (1982) ... Philosophical SF novel by an author frequently compared to Philip K. Dick. Would a Stoic still be stoic in the fires of Hell? [10 Apr]

  6. P.H. Cannon, Scream for Jeeves: A Parody (1994) ... P.G. Wodehouse's characters meet those of H.P. Lovecraft. Unspeakable abysses of madness yawn, and hijinx ensue. [30 Apr]

  7. Stephen Baxter, The Time Ships (1995) ... One of the two "non-canon" sequels to Wells's The Time Machine that I know of, the other being Morlock Night, by K.W. Jeter. Ambitious. Doesn't limit itself to 19th-century science, but brings in nanotech, mind uploading, all the latest goodies. [1 May]

  8. Barrington J. Bayley, The Fall of Chronopolis (1974) ... A pretty good SF novel set within a strange universe where time moves in cresting waves. Bayley reminds me of Vonnegut's Kilgore Trout; his writing can seem really bad on the surface, but the ideas and worlds he creates are brilliant. [3 May]

  9. Rudy Rucker, The Sex Sphere (1983) ... Typical early Rucker romp. Lots of sex and drugs to go around when a hypersphere invades Earth. Or something. If you like Rucker, you'll love this Rucker. [13 May]

  10. Daniel Quinn and Tom Whalen, A Newcomer's Guide to the Afterlife: On the Other Side Known Commonly as "The Little Book" (1997) ... Strange little volume that purports to be a channeled edition of the handbook you mysteriously end up with shortly upon arriving in the afterlife. Quinn is better known for his cult novel Ishmael, which I have not read yet. [16 May]

  11. Spider Robinson, Callahan's Crosstime Saloon (1977) ... I don't like the series myself. I don't like "Spider's" politics, I don't like his sentimentalism, and I don't like his constant negative oscular pressure to the late Robert Heinlein's progenitive organ, but my wife Marty loves the Callahan books, and I read this one aloud to her at her request. [17 May]

  12. Barrington J. Bayley, The Zen Gun (1983) ... More Bayley; see comments elsewhere on this page. Not one of his better books, in my opinion, but many other Bayley fans love this one. [24 May]

  13. Barrington J. Bayley, The Grand Wheel (1977) ... Bayley has turned out a brief masterpiece. All about a galactic gambling syndicate. Rife with speculation about luck and synchronicity, the nature of reality, and, yes, games. The scene where a superintelligent computer generates a new reality-warping game based on the Tarot-like symbolisms of thousands of planets is priceless. [24 May]

  14. Philip K. Dick, The Game-Players of Titan (1963) ... How do you bluff a telepath? Mad genius PKD answers that and other questions (but mostly leaves his questions unanswered) in the course of a novel about an extremely complex metagame played between humans and, er, Vugs. Only the future of reality is at stake. [25 May]

  15. Iain Banks, The Player of Games (1988) ... About an all-encompassing, galaxy-spanning metagame and the man who sets out to crack it. Some of the game penalty scenes in this novel require a reader with a strong stomach. (Oh, sure, it's all fun and games until somebody puts an eye out!) The comparison with our own culture is hard to miss. [3 Jun]

  16. Some other books...
  17. Kerry Wendell Thornley, Zenarchy (1991) ... Excellent political tract about peace through universal enlightenment by the co-founder of Discordianism. Read the etext. [~9 Jul; reread]

  18. Barrington J. Bayley, Collision Course (1973) ... Another fine Bayley book, this time about a capsule universe divided into halves where time runs differently. Terrific weirdness. See other Bayley reviews on this page. [12 Jul]

  19. Robert Anton Wilson, The Walls Came Tumbling Down (1997) ... RAW has been venturing into screenplays quite a bit lately. Since he's such a fringe writer, they're unlikely to be produced, but they're fun to read. This one is quite moving, and just as weird as usual. [14 Jul; reread]

  20. William James, Pragmatism (1907) ... A classic of philosophy by one of the founders of Pragmatism. James has me halfway-convinced of his definition of truth, but only halfway. Read the etext. [22 Jul]

  21. Arthur B. Hancock and Kathleen J. Brugger, The Game of God: Recovering Your True Identity (1993) ... Why we should forgive God for all the suffering in the world. (Hint: Life is a Game, and guess who is God...) [~22 Jul; reread]

  22. Umberto Eco et al., Interpretation and Overinterpretation (1992) ... A solid sally against literary deconstruction by the critic better known for his novel The Name of the Rose, with counterpoint from a few other critics, including pragmatist Richard Rorty. [~25 Jul]

  23. Bart Kosko, Fuzzy Thinking (1993) ... Interesting book on a new kind of mathematics. Especially fascinating if you're a dabbler in non-Aristotelian logic systems, like me. [14 Aug]

  24. Tibor Fischer, The Thought Gang (1994) ... Plato set a Philosopher-King over his Republic -- why then shouldn't there be Philosopher-Bandits? Every bank robbery the Thought Gang commits employs a different philosophical rationale. Hilarious. [early Sep]

  25. Barrington J. Bayley, The Soul of the Robot (1974) ... One of Bayley's best works, and more character-driven than usual. The protagonist is the only conscious robot in a world of (1) conscious humans and (2) other robots who are not conscious. He seeks to know why, and to attain power, a strong character somewhat reminiscent of Gene Wolfe's Severian. [19 Sep]

  26. Stanislaw Lem, The Chain of Chance (1978) ... A minor science fiction mystery novel by one of the greatest SF writers ever. Date given is for the translation from Polish. [20 Sep]

  27. H.G. Wells, God the Invisible King (1917) ... An attempt by Wells to create a sort of stiff-upper-lip Victorian Christianity without Christ but with a (mortal) God. Thought-provoking. Read the etext. [26 Sep]

  28. Bruce Sterling, Holy Fire (1996) ... Sterling's thoughts on the intersection of art and high tech, in the form of an SF novel. A certain amount of Dead Media musing and immortalist thought is in here too. [27 Sep]

  29. Gina Cerminara, Insights for the Age of Aquarius (1973) ... Really excellent scientific examination of religion (any religion) with General Semantics leanings. I hope to have her "50 Insights" summary up at the Positive Revolution page if she'll grant me permission. [4 Oct]

  30. Barrington J. Bayley, The Rod of Light (1985) ... A sequel to The Soul of the Robot (above). As good as the first book. [5 Oct]

  31. Peter J. Carroll, PsyberMagick (1997) ... Treatise on Chaos Magick by a master practitioner. [10 Oct]

  32. Barrington J. Bayley, The Seed of Evil (1979) ... Very good anthology of Bayley's short work; see other Bayley reviews on this page. [17 Oct]

  33. Barrington J. Bayley, The Star Virus (1970) ... Why are Earthmen such scum? Early Bayley; doesn't show the same fullness of ideas as his later work, but still worth reading. [3 Nov]

  34. Joe Keenan, Blue Heaven (1988) ... A hilarious Wodehousian comic novel set in Gay New York by a man who later became executive producer for the TV sitcom Frasier. Recommended by the author of Scream for Jeeves (above). [5 Nov]

  35. Spider Robinson, Callahan's Lady (1989) ... Read aloud to Marty at her request; see comment on Callahan's Crosstime Saloon above. [20 Nov]

  36. Greg Egan, Luminous (1998) ... Superb collection of short SF by a living SF great. The title story is about aliens (of a sort) who attempt to change the laws of our mathematics (we were changing theirs by accident, you see...) [21 Nov]

  37. J.R.R. Tolkien, Tree and Leaf (1964) ... An essay by Tolkien on fairy tales and a delightful allegory about the afterlife (starring a suspiciously Tolkienesque figure). [Nov]

  38. Joe Keenan, Putting on the Ritz (1991) ... Sequel to Blue Heaven (above), and just as funny. [27 Nov]

  39. Barrington J. Bayley, The Knights of the Limits (1979) ... Shockingly good collection of Bayley's short SF. The opening story, "The Exploration of Space", is a tour de force account of a variety of other worlds in which the laws of spatiality are different, as described by an extrauniversal alien who looks like a chessboard knight. And you thought Flatland was all there is to it! [3 Dec 98]

  40. Barrington J. Bayley, The Garments of Caean (unabridged British edition, 1989) ... What if "clothes make the man" were not a truism but actually true? The galactic civilisation of Caean is based on the technology of cyborging its citizens with intelligent clothing. Be sure to get the British edition from Pan; the American edition has been chopped like a bad suit. [~18 Dec]

  41. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring (1948/1954) ... Can it be that you haven't read The Lord of the Rings, voted Book of the Century in a recent British poll? This is Part I. [~Dec; reread]

  42. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers (1948/1954) ... Part II of The Lord of the Rings. [~Dec; reread]

  43. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King (1948/1955) ... Part III (the conclusion) of The Lord of the Rings. [24 Dec; reread]

If you click on a book title in the index, the link will usually take you to a page where you can buy the book, although sometimes I have linked to an information page, in the case of books that aren't generally available. Similarly, if you click on an author's name, the link will take you to a page where you can buy books by that author. Although I have had to be creative with books that are not readily available (such as self-published or small-press books, or books in Esperanto), usually the purchasing links will point to the online home of the brick-and-mortar Powell's City of Books, in Portland, Oregon.

Books Ron Read | Ron's Info-Closet

Ron Hale-Evans