Reading for the Aurora Awards

I haven’t disappeared! Particularly after the promises of my last post.

I’ve been on vacation the past 2 weeks. You’d think that would mean I had time to do things like write. Unfortunately, no.

I spent my time putting together IKEA, cleaning house, and hiding from the big, hot sun. When it wasn’t raining. I’ve had a lot of headaches this past couple of weeks. I’ve been trying to Instagram pictures where possible.

I did, however, sneak in a little time to read two of the contenders for this year’s Aurora Award for Best Novel. I’m working my way through the nominees so that I can make an informed choice. I’ll post my full opinions when I can figure out a format that adequately explains my reasoning in a positive manner. While saying negative things about $10 bottles of wine is fun, it’s not so nice when it’s a book that you got for free because you’re judging it. Unlike the cheap plonk, the book was someone’s labour of love.

My Real Children by Jo Walton

 

I really can’t say too much about the books yet. I’m still trying to parse them. My Real Children, for instance, seemed really close to the Women’s Fiction genre with Science Fiction elements. I’m not saying it wasn’t a good book, it just wasn’t what I was expecting.

The Future Falls by Tanya Huff

The Future Falls, on the other hand, was Urban Fantasy. Not long after beginning it, I realized it was the third book in a series (that I haven’t read). There was a ton of world-building even though it’s set in Calgary (my current home town!), and took quite a while for the actual plot to get going. Most of the first third of the book was backstory on the characters, their family, and their particular dynamic within the world.

Both books took less than 24 hours for me to read. That is to say, I devoted one day each to reading and not getting distracted by the internet or what the husbeast was watching on TV. As a comparison, My Real Children seemed to go fairly quickly. The Future Falls, while it was closer to my preferred genre, was a bit of a slog. I put it down at one point and felt disappointed that I was only 58% through the book. I’m blaming it on the file type.

Duck and cover! Incoming Rant! (sorta)

If I don’t have a hard copy of a book, I will generally use my Kobo. It’s nothing fancy – the Kobo Touch has been out for years now, and as I haven’t managed to drop it in the bath tub yet, I don’t need a new one. I’m sure it would be nice to have more of a tablet-style e-reader with glossy colour pictures, but the e-paper on the Kobo is wonderfully readable. If it’s dark, you get a book light.

This has caused issues in the past where my book light died for some reason other than battery failure, and telling the staff at Chapters/Indigo that their selection of replacements was piss-poor sparse garnered the response of “just buy a new Kobo with onboard lighting.” I think I understand my parents better now because every time I countered with the fact that my OLD Kobo is still perfectly fine, thank you very much, I just got a blank stare in return.  Just puts me that much closer to yelling at the neighbourhood kids to get off my damn lawn.

At any rate, I chose the Kobo because it handles a large amount of file types, particularly EPUB. I love EPUB. It has no bells and whistles and it’s generally DRM-free. I can read it on my Kobo. I can read it on my computer. I can read it on my phone. I can take it with me wherever. The Kobo will also handle PDF files, but since the screen is about the size of a paperback novel, you have to jump through some hoops to actually read anything. To give the guys at the Aurora Awards their due, they mention that you can use a program to convert the files. Unfortunately, the way that the PDFs are formatted, it affects the way the text flows in the EPUB.

My Real Children was in EPUB format when I got it, and is wonderfully readable. The Future Falls was in PDF, and was horrendous to try reading in EPUB. Part of the slog I mentioned earlier was due to zooming, resizing and repositioning the PDF version every time I turned a page (because it was the more readable version). The Kobo Touch isn’t a high-powered device, and it takes a while to do this. Woe betide I skipped a page somewhere and had to go back after doing all the adjusting.

The Husbeast was impressed I could read the PDF at all as the text was really tiny when I’d zoom to fit a full page of text on the screen. I now know for certain that I need to get my eyes checked as I had to take off my glasses to read comfortably. Hooray myopia?

A Play of Shadow Echopraxia The Peripheral

I have two more books in PDF format that I have to read through: A Play of Shadow by Julie E Czerneda and The Peripheral by William Gibson. Thankfully, Peter Watts included the EPUB for Echopraxia.  I’m going to have to see if I can tweak my conversion program to get rid of the junk text in the EPUBs because I’m really looking forward to the Gibson book and I really want it to be a comfortable read.

Also, because “Best Novel” isn’t the only category that involves novels. There’s a full slate of Young Adult SFF books that I’m going to have to go through. I just figured I’d start with the books that likely have the higher word count.

Blindsight

I’m currently working my way through Blindsight by Peter Watts, as Echopraxia is a followup.  I’ve had Blindsight in the house for years, but have never gotten around to reading it. Shame me if you must, this is definitely a shame-worthy offense as we’ve actually met Peter (through a mutual friend). I’m only 13% into it, but that will change quickly. Having to go back to work is the only thing holding me back from another 1-day marathon read.

If you’re Canadian and think that you can bust a move reading a whole bunch of really good SFF books (and short stories, and…) by October 17th, feel free to join me! Membership is open to all Canadians and landed immigrants. Sorry, but I can’t share the books with you. Membership has its privileges 😉

Oh…and if anyone from the Aurora Awards ever sees this…may I recommend EPUB versions of the reading material next year? They tend to convert really well to the other file-types that people prefer, better than PDF.  Please?  Please with upgrades to appearance and sweetness? 😀

 

Edited 20-Aug-15: Apparently when I’m in a rush to post, I get my English and French words mixed up. So the Aurora Prize (Prix Aurora) has been edited to Aurora Award. #CanadianProblems

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