Friday 29 January 2010

I have never been a fan of the literary genre of SciFi. This might come as a surprising confession, coming from someone whose main hobby is painting SciFi and Superheroic miniatures, but it's true. I like SciFi in films or as TV series, but as a genre of books it has always seemed impenetrable. They seem to vary from hack writing, with little literary attributes, to self-indulgent, naval-gazing tosh.
It's not that I am not drawn to the genre. I always find myself looking at the section in the library or bookshop labeled SciFi and Fantasy. Now this is mostly because I am a fan of the fantasy Genre (Robert E. Howard, Niel Gaiman, Michael Moorcock etc), but also because I find the cover art and titles of the SciFi books so damn enticing. The trouble is when I flip the book over and read the blurb I am usually left feeling unsure if I should commit the time and effort to the book.
The main problem is that I am a very slow reader- I get through about a book every three months. Added to this the fact that I buy at least twenty books a year, I think it's not hard to see why I have a substantial backlog of unread books (similar to my unpainted mountain of lead figures in the garage- Supply always outstrips demand).
Which brings me on to the point of this rather rambling preamble, namely that I have discovered a fantastic new website called Starship Sofa. Well, in truth, its not a new web site, it's been going ages, but it's new to me. This web site is an online magazine dedicated to Scifi literature, but best of all, they have free audio-stories to download as podcasts (off iTunes- for FREE!). Each podcast is about an hour in length, and is a professionally narrated short story by some of the top names in SciFi. Well they tell me their top names in SciFi, but I wouldn't really know, not being a fan. A top-name-in-SciFi I did recognise was Michael Moorcock, which was the main draw for me, but I have listened to five of these stories now, by different authors, and have enjoyed each one immensely.
The stores vary a lot, from near future dytopia, for far-flung future near-fantasy. All of them are well read, and entertaining, and best of all, there's over a hundred of them, so there is enough to keep me going. At about an hour in length they are ideal to listen to while painting, or ironing (a job I hate).
Next time I'm in the bookshop or library I will no doubt be drawn to the SciFi and Fantasy section. Perhaps this time I won't be put off by the blurb. A universe of opportunity is at my feet- One small step for me, one giant...yeah well, you know the rest of it.

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