A Break, Finished/”Titan”/What I am Reading

An observant audience will notice I took a little time off; ironically as I had time off from work, I found myself a bit lazier. I also had some home projects to work on, etc. I did do some reading, however.

There appears to have been a point in 70’s-80’s sci-fi that was just… horny. I read John Varley’s “Titan” and was alternately bored and left chuckling with its descriptions of centaur dicks (they have THREE SEX ORGANS), clone twin sex, and, well, sex in general. Oddly, for a book which concerns itself so much with fucking, the actual sex scenes are along the lines of “and then they totally did it, and it was super sexified and they both came and stuff”. I have nothing against smut, but even 15 year old me would have trouble finding this ‘engaging’, and I had no internet to get my smut from. 

There’s some degree of imaginative stuff in here; some of the non centaur creatures are interesting in their own way, but so much of it involves magic that the book is more fantasy than sci-fi, despite having spaceships and the like. There’s an alien that smells like cinnamon and apples, for some reason. The entire book leads to a Wizard of Oz conclusion. It was probably the thing I read this year that I disliked the most, outside Poe’s “A Descent into the Maleström”. And I might actually dislike the Poe slightly less, as it contained 100% fewer vivid descriptions of giant centaur dicks. 

It’s well-regarded in some circles, and was apparently shortlisted for both Hugo and Nebula awards; which leads me to believe that at some point Varley’s hornyness was somehow more cutting edge than it is now, but the whole thing was just oddly clunky for me. I had trouble telling most of the characters apart, aside from the lead, and they are really one note: One of them is defined only by a crush on the lead, one of them is a doctor, etc. 

But my biggest complaint? There are no rules– the world is run by a God who is all powerful and also oddly dumb and capricious, but isn’t really bound by anything. When we have nothing to grab ahold of in terms of understanding, and anything can happen at any time, we have nothing to put us in the story. We don’t understand because we can’t understand, and the super magic amazing world becomes a bore. 

I’ve bitched enough. 

I also re-read “The Sun Also Rises” and it held up well. I may write more in depth about it, but it’s well trod ground, and I don’t know that I have much to add.

What I am Reading:

“Milkman” – Anna Burns. This won the Man Booker Prize a few years back; someone in my Martini club recommended it, and I like to talk books with them, so I have given it a shot. Thus far, it’s proved to be interesting, but also quite verbose. It’s set during “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland, and does an excellent job of bringing the outsider into the strange and awful world of that conflict. 

I really should finish up the wretched sea, but my time gets more and more divided as the year comes to a close, so I’m focusing on a thing at a time. I’m taking a big trip at the end of the year, and so I will be looking for some lighter fare for that– if any of you have some suggestions in that regard, slide them my way; I would appreciate it. 

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