Prose & Pixels

Prose & Pixels #11: Books About Video Games

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Prose & Pixels is a feature that combines two of my loves: books and video games. Here I’ll discuss all sorts of things to do with the two, whether it’s recommendations, influences or just a good old chat.

Today I wanted to share a selection of books that feature video games as a major plot device.

I’m always excited to find a book that features or is set in a video game. It’s so fun to combine these two interests of mine and see how they interact. Normally I end up wanting to play the video game myself… So here is a selection of books where video games play a major role.

Erebos by Ursula Pozanski

Erebos

When 16-year-old Nick receives a package containing the mysterious computer game Erebos, he wonders if it will explain the behavior of his classmates, who have been secretive lately. Players of the game must obey strict rules: always play alone, never talk about the game, and never tell anyone your nickname.

Curious, Nick joins the game and quickly becomes addicted. But Erebos knows a lot about the players and begins to manipulate their lives. When it sends Nick on a deadly assignment, he refuses and is banished from the game.

Now unable to play, Nick turns to a friend for help in finding out who controls the game. The two set off on a dangerous mission in which the border between reality and the virtual world begins to blur.

I haven’t read Erebos, but it sounds like an interesting concept. From the blurb, it sounds like less of the book takes place within the game than others on this list, and that it is perhaps a bit of a psychological thriller. It was originally written in German, and was translated into English a couple of years after original publication.

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

Michael is a gamer. And like most gamers, he almost spends more time on the VirtNet than in the actual world. The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and it’s addictive. Thanks to technology, anyone with enough money can experience fantasy worlds, risk their life without the chance of death, or just hang around with Virt-friends. And the more hacking skills you have, the more fun. Why bother following the rules when most of them are dumb, anyway?

But some rules were made for a reason. Some technology is too dangerous to fool with. And recent reports claim that one gamer is going beyond what any gamer has done before: he’s holding players hostage inside the VirtNet. The effects are horrific—the hostages have all been declared brain-dead. Yet the gamer’s motives are a mystery.

The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker. And they’ve been watching Michael. They want him on their team. But the risk is enormous. If he accepts their challenge, Michael will need to go off the VirtNet grid. There are back alleys and corners in the system human eyes have never seen and predators he can’t even fathom—and there’s the possibility that the line between game and reality will be blurred forever.

I read and reviewed The Eye of Minds by James Dashner in June this year, after it had been sitting on my Netgalley shelf for a while. It comes from the same author as The Maze Runner, and whilst I didn’t find it quite as enjoyable or fast-paced, it was still a fun read. The third book in the series (The Mortality Doctrine) was released last month.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

It’s the year 2044, and the real world has become an ugly place. We’re out of oil. We’ve wrecked the climate. Famine, poverty, and disease are widespread.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes this depressing reality by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia where you can be anything you want to be, where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade is obsessed by the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this alternate reality: OASIS founder James Halliday, who dies with no heir, has promised that control of the OASIS – and his massive fortune – will go to the person who can solve the riddles he has left scattered throughout his creation.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that the riddles are based in the culture of the late twentieth century. And then Wade stumbles onto the key to the first puzzle.

Suddenly, he finds himself pitted against thousands of competitors in a desperate race to claim the ultimate prize, a chase that soon takes on terrifying real-world dimensions – and that will leave both Wade and his world profoundly changed.

I have written a LOT about Ready Player One in the past – I’ve reviewed it, shared five reasons why you should read it, recommended it to YA readers, listed it as one of my top ten books of 2013, made it part of my definitive sci-fi reads challenge and listed it as one of my top ten sci-fi reads overall. So, yeah. I like this book quite a lot. It can be a bit hit and miss depending on when you grew up and if you’ve always loved video games, but most other people I know who have read it absolutely loved it too.

Elusion by Claudia Gabel

Elusion

Soon, Elusion® will change the world and life as we know it.

A new technology called Elusion is sweeping the country. An app, visor and wristband will virtually transport you to an exotic destination where adventure can be pursued without the complications — or consequences — of real life.

Regan is an Elusion insider. Or at least she used to be. Her father invented the program, and her best friend, Patrick, heir to the tech giant Orexis, is about to release it nationwide. But ever since her father’s unexpected death, Regan can’t bear to Escape, especially since waking up from the dream means crashing back to her grim reality.

Still, when there are rumors of trouble in Elusion — accusations that it’s addictive and dangerous — Regan is determined to defend it. But the critics of Elusion come from surprising sources, including Josh, the handsome skeptic with his own personal stakes. As Regan investigates the claims, she discovers a disturbing web of secrets. She will soon have to choose between love and loyalty… a decision that will affect the lives of millions.

I’ve not read Elusion and found it especially for this post. It sounds like the program within the book, Elusion, is a Second Life type game, where the player can become whoever they want, and do whatever they want. It seems to have received quite mixed reviews from my Goodreads friends though!

The .hack// series

.hack//Legend of the Twilight Volume 1

Old-fashioned role-playing games have experienced a renaissance on the World Wide Web. Twins Rena and Shugo are two middle-school students who enter ‘The World’ as level one game characters. When Shugo’s character dies, he is transported to another level where he is entrusted to bear the Twilight Bracelet by the mysterious Aura. Shugo must find out who Aura is and why she gave him this powerful weapon to protect his sister from the peculiar characters in ‘The World’.

The description above is for .hack//Legend of the Twilight, which is one of my favourite manga series. However, there are lots of different .hack// series with different story arcs and characters, all set within ‘The World’. Most of them have also been adapted into anime series. If you’re thinking of trying them out, I’d recommend you start with this one – it’s fairly short and a good introduction.

Armada by Ernest Cline

Armada

Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe. And then he sees the flying saucer.

Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada — in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.

No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills — as well as those of millions of gamers across the world — are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little… familiar?

Yep, another Ernest Cline book! Armada was released earlier this year, after a long, long wait. I was lucky enough to get a review copy, and reviewed the book a couple of months ago. It didn’t have quite the same wow factor as Ready Player One, but it might work better for those who don’t get all the 80’s/video game references in the previous book.

What books about or set in video games have you read and enjoyed?

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Thoughts

Thoughts #43: My Favourite Manga/Anime

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When I was younger, I was really into anime and manga. This started at about the age of 14 or 15, and carried on until I was about 20 or so. Whilst I no longer read manga or watch anime on a regular basis, there are a few series that have really stuck with me, ones that I know I can go back to whenever.

Fruits Basket

Fruits Basket

My first ever manga series, and the source of my online name, I absolutely fell in love with Fruits Basket when I first read/watched it. It’s about a young girl called Tohru who, through various circumstances, ends up living with the Sohma family. However, the Sohmas have a slight problem – the family has been cursed for generations, with 12 members of the family at each time transforming into an animal of the zodiac when under great stress or when they are embraced by a member of the opposite sex. It sounds very silly – but it’s honestly one of the most heartbreaking and wonderful series ever. I love every character, and Tohru is an adorable protagonist.

Death Note

Death Note

Oh Death Note. I remember the day I first watched you – I popped on the DVD, and eight episodes later, I was still sat there. This series is about a young, highly intelligent student called Light who discovers that when he writes names in a certain notebook, those people die. He can also dictate way and time of death. What begins as a crusade to rid the world of criminals turns into a high profile police case, which Light himself becomes involved in as part of the investigation team. This series is so so wonderfully dark and amazing – and the manga artwork is just fantastic. In fact, since it’s on Netflix I may have to do a re-watch…

Azumanga Daioh

Azumanga Daioh

Azumanga Daioh is one of those series I can put on when I’m feeling down and it will pick me up. The manga is presented in comic strips of four panels (although some stories cover slightly more), with humorous little stories in each. The anime explores some of these panels further, but is generally very loyal. It follows a young girl called Chiyo, who enters high school at the age of 11. A child genius, she soon finds herself an eclectic group of friends, each with their own zany personalities. One of the funniest mangas I’ve ever read.

K-ON!

K-On!

K-ON! was an absolute delight to watch – admittedly I haven’t read the manga. It’s about a girl who decides to revive her school’s music club, and the girls who end up joining. Together they form a band, and each episode pretty much revolves around their practice sessions – or lack of them. This series has produced some wonderful songs too.

Absolute Boyfriend

Absolute Boyfriend

The plot of Absolute Boyfriend is rather… well, typically manga/anime. A young girl accidentally orders an android boyfriend online, and after discovering she missed the deadline for the ‘trial period’, she has to pay for him. Okay, it sounds really really weird – but it’s actually seriously cute.

What are some of your favourite manga/anime series?

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #17: Supernatural

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The TV series this week is: Supernatural.

Supernatural

Two brothers follow their father’s footsteps as “hunters” fighting evil supernatural beings of many kinds including monsters, demons, and gods that roam the earth.

This is the fourth of this feature covering Supernatural, as I hope to be looking at this series in more detail. So many creatures and urban legends are featured that it opens up a choice of so many more books!

Enjoyed ‘Bloodlust’ (Season Two, Episode Three)?

Vampire Hunter D Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton Let The Right One In

‘Bloodlust’ is one of the episodes featuring the vampire hunter named Gordon, so here I’ve picked out a couple of books featuring vampire hunters and their prey. Vampire Hunter D by Hideyuki Kikuchi and Yoshitaka Amano is a well-known manga, and later anime series, in which humankind are recovering from control by vampires known as the Nobility. Every village and town wants a Hunter to protect them from these bloodthirsty creatures. Although I’ve not read any of the Anita Blake novels, Guilty Pleasures is the start of a very popular series by Laurell K. Hamilton. Like Gordon, Anita is a vampire hunter – but in this case, vampires are mostly protected by law. I’ve also included Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist because despite not featuring vampire hunters, it’s very strong as far as vampire novels go. It’s so very gory and graphic that it made me feel physically sick in certain parts. If you like your stories gory, then look no further…

Enjoyed ‘Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things’ (Season Two, Episode Four)?

Fever by Wayne Simmons World War Z by Max Brooks Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

This episode featured a young girl resurrected as a zombie by her best friend, who was in love with her. Fever by Wayne Simmons is very much a traditional zombie novel, with plenty of guts, gore and foolish characters that you just KNOW are going to become zombie dinner! I won a copy from Goodreads a few years ago. World War Z by Max Brooks was recently adapted into a film starring Brad Pitt (and Peter Capaldi as a W.H.O Doctor!!). Unlike Fever, this focuses more on the human reaction and sheer terror than the actual people getting their faces eaten… so if you want something a bit less squirm-inducing, this may be the better choice! Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion may be even better for the squeamish: it’s a rom-zom novel! It follows a young man, known only as ‘R’, who falls in love with a human girl. This one was also been recently adapted into a film, featuring Nicolas Hoult.

Enjoyed ‘Crossroad Blues’ (Season Two, Episode Eight)?

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle Raven's Gate by Anthony Horowitz The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

This episode plays on the urban legend of people selling their souls to the devil at a crossroads for eternal youth, beauty, talent or other things. The hellhounds then come to take their souls. What I loved about this episode is that it was named after, and also featured, the song ‘Crossroad Blues’ by Robert Johnson – a gorgeous piece of old blues. Supposedly Johnson sold his soul to the devil for his talent, which allowed him to create the familiar blues sound we know today! Perhaps the most well-known of the Sherlock Holmes books, The Hound Of The Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle is the story of a giant ghostly hound, supposedly haunting the Baskerville family for generations. When the case is brought to Sherlock he originally dismisses it as nonsense, but perhaps there is something behind it… Hellhounds also make an appearance in Raven’s Gate by Anthony Horowitz, and are described as having rotten flesh. And finally, hellhounds appear as a form of Shadowspawn in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. Their saliva is poisonous, and much like the hellhounds in Supernatural, once they’ve set their sights on prey they do not give up until they’ve caught it.

Are you a fan of Supernatural? Do you have any recommendations to add? Are there any TV shows or films you’d like to see in this feature?

Misc.

Reads for April Fools’ Day

April Fool's Day

Yes, it’s the first day of April, which means it’s also April Fool’s Day! Have you played any evil tricks yet? Spotted any funny jokes or pranks? Today I thought I’d share some of the funniest and most humorous books that I’ve read, perfect for a day like today.

Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart

Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart

Oh Miranda, how I love you so. If you’ve not heard of the wonderful Miranda Hart, she is a British comedian and actress, and absolutely 100% relatable – and hilarious. Her sitcom, Miranda, is a semi-autobiographical portrayal of a single woman in her mid-thirties (34 IS LATE TWENTIES!) who runs a joke & gift shop. Miranda manages to get herself into the most awkward of situations, is quite possibly the clumsiest person alive as well as just slightly socially inept… Many of the things that happen to Miranda in the sitcom actually happened in real life, either to Miranda Hart or people she knows. In this book, she discusses some of the more embarrassing horrors she’s lived through, so prepare to both laugh out loud and cringe – but it’s SUCH FUN!

Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson

Anything by Bill Bryson

I think I’ve mentioned Bill Bryson on the blog a couple of times before, but if you’re looking to start reading some travel writing then in my opinion, he is definitely the place to start. With a wonderful sense of humour and a brilliant way of turning even a mundane story into something amusing, each of his travel books have never failed to make me laugh. He has a way of observing and noticing things that might not be fascinating on first glance. He’s written about travelling through Europe, along the Appalachian Trial, Australia, Great Britain and the USA (on several occasions), as well as an autobiography.

Azumanga Daioh by Kiyohiko Azuma

Azumanga Daioh by Kiyohiko Azuma

One of my favourite manga series, Azumanga Daioh is the tale of a group of high school girls, and centered around the character of Chiyo. Chiyo is a child prodigy, already approaching the end of high school at the age of eleven. Her friends are a group of misfits: the sporty one, the clever one, the ditzy one, the tomboyish one, the mischievous one, but these stereotypes don’t get old. Unlike many manga, it’s presented in four-panel comic strips – some are continuations of ones before, but mostly you get a new story every page. It’s absolutely hilarious and also completely adorable.

Mort by Terry Pratchett

The Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett

Pretty much any of the Discworld books are perfect if you want a humorous read. Terry Pratchett’s unique and brilliant sense of humour is unparalleled. My particular favourite of his is Mort, but with over forty books in the series alone there’s plenty of choice. And you don’t even need to read the series in order: some characters occupy multiple books, some only appear the once, plotlines and events vary greatly, and he’s even written some for children. But you can guarantee that each one will have you laughing.

What are some of the funniest books you’ve read? Do you have any recommendations?

Past Features

Turning Off The TV #11: Tron Legacy

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Welcome to my regular Thursday feature, Turning off the TV! In this feature I recommend books similar to TV shows or films you may have enjoyed, both series and specific episodes.

The film this week is: Tron Legacy.

Tron Legacy

Sam Flynn, the tech-savvy 27-year-old son of Kevin Flynn, looks into his father’s disappearance and finds himself pulled into the same world of fierce programs and gladiatorial games where his father has been living for 20 years. Along with Kevin’s loyal confidant Quorra, father and son embark on a life-and-death journey across a visually-stunning cyber universe that has become far more advanced and exceedingly dangerous. Meanwhile, the malevolent program CLU, who dominates the digital world, plans to invade the real world and will stop at nothing to prevent their escape.

Yep, I’m mixing it up this week with a film instead of a TV series! I’ve chosen Tron Legacy, a film I particularly enjoy for its visuals and soundtrack. It’s the sequel to Tron, released in 1982, and is just slightly more visually impressive… If you’ve not heard the soundtrack by Daft Punk, I recommend giving it a try. And now onto the recommendations!

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

I read and reviewed Ready Player One near the beginning of 2013, and I’m so happy to see that more and more of my blogger friends are reading (and loving!) it. Set in the future, where a massively multiplayer game called OASIS has become most people’s reality, the story follows a young man called Wade. Like everyone else, he spends most of his time on OASIS – and it becomes even more important to him after the creator of the game announces a lottery. The first person to solve his riddles and achieve the highest score will inherit both his fortune, and control of the OASIS. It’s packed full of 1980s references, as well as tributes and alludes to various video games, and is pretty much the nerd’s perfect book. I absolutely loved it, and frequently recommend it.

Lockstep by Karl Schroeder

Lockstep by Karl Schroeder

A more recent read of mine, Lockstep isn’t set in a virtual world – but it is based on one. On his way to claim a planet for his family, Toby McGonigall finds himself stuck and drifting in space. When he awakes, he finds that fourteen thousand years have passed, and many planets now operate on the ‘Lockstep’ system: hibernate for three hundred and sixty months, stay awake for two. To his shock, Toby learns that his family are still alive – and they are the ones ruling the system. His brother Peter is a tyrant, and has based the Lockstep system and cities and planets within it on a virtual reality game that he and Toby created and played as children. It also has a pretty cool cover, which I now know is by Chris McGrath, thanks to Carl!

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang

I read In Real Life just the other week, and a review will be coming soon! It’s the story of a young girl, Anda, who plays an online game called Coarsegold Online. She gets accepted into a females-only guild, and has to prove herself in order to be promoted to a full member. One of her fellow guild members, Lucy, invites her along on a quest – only it’s not an official one. They’ve been asked to rid the game of gold farmers by killing them on sight. However, Anda gets to know one of the gold farmers, who also plays in his spare time, and begins to question what is right and wrong within the game, as well as the real world. It’s a sweet story, that picks up on more real world issues and morals than many similar books. Plus the artwork is gorgeous, which doesn’t hurt!

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

The Eye of Minds by James Dashner

I haven’t yet read The Eye of Minds, but I have a copy on my Kindle, thanks to Netgalley. However, I think it sounds pretty perfect for fans of Tron Legacy: set in our future, it follows Michael, who spends most of his time in a virtual reality game called VirtNet – as do most of the world’s population. The trouble begins when hackers start attacking the game, and taking players hostage. Michael finds himself recruited by the government in order to try and stop these hackers from taking over – but there’s a chance this could have a major impact on his life, blurring reality and virtual reality.

The .hack//Legend of the Twilight series by Tatsuya Hamazaki

.hack//Legend of the Twilight Volume 1 .hack//Legend of the Twilight Volume 2 .hack//Legend of the Twilight Volume 3

I think this is the first time I’ve included any manga in this feature – but the .hack//Legend of the Twilight series is one of my favourites. At only three books long (and twelve episodes in the anime) it’s a nice short series, especially if you’ve not read much manga before. The story follows two twins, Rena and Shugo, who decide to play an online game called The World together. But when Shugo’s character dies early on in the game, he finds himself in a strange bonus level – where he is given a bracelet by a mysterious lady called Aura. After making friends with a few more experienced players, Shugo and Rena aim to find out exactly who Aura is – and that’s when players of The World start dropping unconscious at their computers.

Are you a fan of Tron Legacy? Do you have any recommendations to add?

Author Interview, Giveaway, Sci-Fi Month

Sci-Fi Month: Author Interview with Jaine Fenn

For today’s Sci-Fi Month post, I have an interview with the very talented science fiction author, Jaine Fenn! I first came across her work when I won a copy of her short story collection, Downside Girls, through LibraryThing. I really enjoyed the stories as an introduction to her Hidden Empire series, and she was one of the first authors I thought to contact when I came up with the idea for Sci-Fi Month. At the end of the post, there is also a giveaway for a copy of Downside Girls, open internationally.

Don’t forget to check out the schedule for the rest of today’s posts. You can also Tweet about the event using the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.

Interview

Rinn: I first encountered your work when I read your short story collection, Downside Girls. Do you plan on writing any more short story collections?

Jaine: I love short stories, and have written plenty of them. I like the idea of themed collections, and at some point I’ll gather up all my alternate history and fortean stories – although they aren’t SF as such – and then, as with Downside Girls, add a new story or two to complete the set.

Rinn: Did you have any particular inspiration for the Angels and the Sidhe (from Jaine’s Hidden Empire series)?

Jaine: The Angels – female flying assassins with implanted blades – come in part from two books I read at an impressionable age: William Gibson’s Neuromancer and the Miller/Sienkeiwicz graphic novel Elektra: Assassin. The concept was too cool not to use, though I added the bit about flying.

The Sidhe are more complex because the ‘real’ Sidhe are the Celtic fey folk, treacherous, otherworldly and rarely seen. The Sidhe in my stories are aliens who gave themselves this name when they encountered humanity. They did this with knowing irony. There’s a lot more to be said about that, but it’s a story for a later date.

Rinn: Which of the Hidden Empire books did you most enjoy writing?

Jaine: Now there’s a tricky question. I’ll always love Principles of Angels, because it was not just the first in the series, it was the first novel I wrote. And rewrote, over a number of years. The easiest book to write was Guardians of Paradise, partly because it brought together the stories started in Principles of Angels and Consorts of Heaven, and partly because it is a (sort of) romance, and I find romance easier to write than straight SF. In some ways Queen of Nowhere was great fun once I’d got into the main character’s head. But each book brought moments of elation and surprise, and I enjoyed them all, in different ways.

Rinn: The most recent Hidden Empire novel, Queen of Nowhere, was published this year. Do you plan to write more in this series?

Jaine: Oh yes. I’ve got plans for four more books, one of which I’ve started. Having said that, I’m not sure when they’ll see print. Queen of Nowhere ended one plot thread – or rather, changed the game – and I wanted to take a break from the series after it. As it turns out I’ve got caught up in a number of other projects, including a return to short-story writing. Watch this space, as they say. Well, watch www.jainefenn.com.

Rinn: Your series does not necessarily need to be read in order, and the books work as standalones. Which character did you most enjoy writing, and were there any you wanted to bring in the story purely because you enjoyed writing them?

Jaine: Another tricky but interesting question. As with novels, the characters you’ve spent the longest with will be the most special to you, so I like writing Taro (irritating to everyone else though he can be); Nual’s more challenging, and because of her unique worldview I’m sparing in writing from her viewpoint, but then she hasn’t reached her full potential yet. As every writer knows, characters tend to take on a life of their own: Bez, who played a relatively minor role in Guardians of Paradise, ended up getting her own book!

Rinn: Who or what are your influences as a writer?

Jaine: So many… Here’s a few: Manga, Iain M Banks, Ursula Le Guin, cyberpunk, Larry Niven, C.J. Cherryh, Philip K. Dick and Mary Gentle.

Rinn: What five science fiction novels would you recommend to my readers?

Jaine: It depends on whether they are SF aficionados or new to the genre. If I had to pick five relatively recent SF books I think everyone should read I’d go for: The Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams; Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson; The Player of Games by Iain M Banks, Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson and The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin.

Rinn: What do you like to spend your time doing, when you’re not writing?

Jaine: Reading, though my ‘to read’ pile only ever gets bigger, not smaller. I also enjoy walking in the countryside near my home in Hampshire, a hobby that fits in well with being a writer, as I use my walks to consider plot points or get to know my characters. I play the odd role-playing game, and in the summer I take part in historical re-enactment events. Like a lot of writers, I also have a part-time day-job; in my case I run a small charity.

Rinn: Do you get involved in the science fiction community online very much?

Jaine: Not as much as I’d like to, due to lack of time. I have a Facebook presence and I’m sporadically on Twitter as @JaineFenn, but there are loads of great blogs I’d like to check out.

Rinn: Where/when will your next appearances be – I know you appear at quite a few cons – like BristolCon this past October.

Jaine: I’ll be at Novacon, which will be the last of a number of cons in a very busy autumn. I’ll probably go to Picocon, a small one-day convention in London, and I’m still trying to work out whether I can get to Eastercon, as the logistics are a bit complicated for me this year. And then of course there’s the British Worldcon, LonCon, which I’m really looking forward to.

Thank you to Jaine for letting me interview her!

About Jaine

Jaine Fenn is a science fiction writer, hailing from the United Kingdom. She has written several short stories, and the Hidden Empire series of books, which can either be read as standalones or in order. A sci-fi fan since she was a young girl, she discovered the world of fiction through Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea, and began writing at a young age. She now also runs her own charity.

Jaine’s books include Principles of Angels, Consorts of Heaven, Guardians of Paradise, Bringer of Light, Queen of Nowhere and Downside Girls.

Jaine can be found on Goodreads and Twitter, and you can also visit her website.

Giveaway

Thank you to Clarion Publishing for providing this giveaway! Giveaway widget removed after migration to WordPress.

Misc.

A to Z Bookish Survey

 
When I saw this great bookish survey created by Jamie at Perpetual Page Turner, I knew I had to join in. Credit also goes to Jamie for the image above.
 
Author you’ve read the most books from:
Natsuki Takaya, due to reading all of the Fruits Basket manga – after that it’s Jacqueline Wilson. I loved her when I was younger. But if we’re talking about authors I still read, then it’s Terry Pratchett.
 
Best sequel ever:
I’m going to cheat and say sequels, with the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series. I really can’t decide which of the books is my favourite, they’re all amazing and build perfectly upon each other.
 
Currently reading:
The Returned by Jason Mott (for a blog tour) and The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett. The latter is taking me far too long to read since I don’t tend to like reading on the Kindle too much. But I better get used to it…

Drink of choice while reading:
Tea. Duh. Though I have been known to indulge in the occasional Southern Comfort and lemonade. Often whilst reading The Southern Vampire Mysteries.
 
E-reader or physical book:
I guess I already answered this one. Definitely a physical book, but I really need to get used to using an e-reader. I’m planning on going to university abroad for my Masters, and I can’t really take my books with me…
 
Fictional character you probably would have actually dated in high school:
Errmmm. Maybe not in high school/secondary school… but I’d quite like me a bit of Eric Northman, thank you please.
 
 
Glad you gave this book a chance:
Lonely Werewolf Girl by Martin Millar. Quite unexpected!
 
Hidden gem book:
Incarnation by Emma Cornwall. I’m afraid that this might get lumped in with all the other YA vampire stuff, when in actual fact it’s a wonderfully written semi-retelling of Dracula, from the point of view of one of his victims. 
 
Important moment in your reading life:
The same as Jamie, and probably many other bloggers: discovering Goodreads. It made it so much easier to keep track of what I was reading/had read, find new books, work out what to read next, and most importantly of all: find fellow-minded book lovers!
 
Just finished:
Dead to the World (Southern Vampire Mysteries #4) by Charlaine Harris. For the third time. I recently discussed the series after reading the twelfth and penultimate book, bought the entire five seasons on DVD and started re-reading the series again. As if I don’t have enough to read already without re-reading!
 
Kinds of books you won’t read:
Erotica, pure romance (it’s okay mixed with another genre, and as a minor part of the book, but otherwise I just find it pretty dull), paranormal romance (or rather, I’m more selective), overly graphic books (squeamish), any sort of fiction that pushes religious views on the reader. I’m also not a massive fan of poetry (unless it’s Ovid. Ovid is awesome).
 
Longest book you’ve read:
Hmm… if you count The Lord of the Rings as one volume, then that maybe? One book I’m currently reading – but currently have on hold – is Shogun by James Clavell, which clocks in at around 1200 pages. But most recently, I think it was probably IQ84 Books 1 & 2 by Haruki Murakami, which was amazing and very, very odd – true to his style. Oh, and I can’t be forgetting A Song of Ice and Fire – each book is at least 500 pages long. I’ve read plenty of thick, door-stop books: it comes with being a fan of the fantasy and science fiction genres.
 
Major book hangover because of:
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I received a free copy a while ago, but was preparing myself for it because of all the reviews I’d read, people saying they bawled and bawled. Well I finally got round to reading it a few months ago, and I started off like this:
 
 
“Oh I’m so happy to be reading this book, I’ve heard such great things about it from everyone; it’s easy to read and actually quite funny – I was not expecting that. And yeah, it’s quite sad but there’s a lot of humour injected into it, why were people bawling their eyes out?”
 
Then, about three quarters through, just one tiny little moment did this to me:
 
 
“Oh. That’s why.”
 
And from there on out, I was sobbing and bawling until the end of the book, and after. Thanks, John Green. Thanks. (but seriously though, it was amazing)
 
Number of book cases you own:
I myself own two, plus a big shelf for archaeology/ancient history related books, and now the books are escaping onto the mantelpiece… but as for my family – well… look here.
 
One book you have read multiple times:
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien. I’ve read it at least once every year since I was eleven (apart from last year actually…). So around ten times, I think.
 
Preferred place to read:
 
Quote that inspires you:

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”

This is something that Jojen Reed says in A Dance with Dragons, by George R.R. Martin. 

Reading regret:

Not reading much at all during the first two years of university. I felt kind of guilty for reading non-archaeology related books. But I had so much free time! Think of all the books I could have crossed off my ‘to read’ list

Series you’ve started and need to finish (all books are published):

The Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons and The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris. I just need to read the last book for each of them!

Three of your all-time favourite books:

Ah, this is a hard one! Okay… I’ll pick each from different genres. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (fantasy), Hyperion by Dan Simmons (sci-fi) and The Secret History by Donna Tartt (thriller/mystery). There’s so many more I wish I could add to that.

Unapologetic fangirl for:

J.R.R Tolkien and anything to do with Middle-earth. My first foray into website creation was at the age of 13, and I owned several Lord of the Rings related fansites from that age until I was about 17 or 18. I would quite happily live in the Shire.

Very excited for this release more than others:

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding, because of the wonderful feelings the first two books give me. I hope it lives up to the hype!

Worst bookish habit:

Reading several books at once because I want to hurry up and review them, and thinking that reading several at once will help that. But it doesn’t. Because I flit between them constantly and often pick up another book.

X marks the spot: go to the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.

Your latest book purchase:

Wards of Faerie (Dark Legacy of Shannara #1) by Terry Brooks.

ZZZ-snatcher: book that kept you up WAY too late:

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicles #1) by Patrick Rothfuss. I read it for my book group, Dragons & Jetpacks, and we pretty much all loved it. I kept thinking ‘one more chapter…’ but it has really short chapters, so I felt cheated and would read one more… then rinse, and repeat.