A Clarion West Reading List

Hooray for Spring Break! Now I can tackle more of my reading list for Clarion West more effectively. The instructors, of course, are Michael Bishop, Maureen McHugh, Nnedi Okorafor, Graham Joyce, Ellen Datlow and Ian McDonald.

I’ve finished Maureen McHugh’s China Mountain Zhang, her first novel and an engrossing multi-perspective future piece. The short version: China basically runs the world after a revolution in the U.S., and we’ve colonized Mars with climate-controlled habitat domes. But that’s not what it’s about. It’s a character-driven story, and I loved those characters. I didn’t want the book to end.
I’m now reading Ian McDonald’s The Broken Land, which is probably set in one of the weirdest future Earths I’ve ever read. I’m not sure I can adequately describe it in brief! It has compelling characterization, too, but I’m most intrigued by the fluid manner in which McDonald switches from third to second person, from past to present tense, as suits the scene, often in mid-scene or even mid-sentence. It feels unexpected and sometimes jarring but always appropriate.
The rest of the list:
  • Eyes of Fire, Michael Bishop
  • The Shadow Speaker, Nnedi Okorafor
  • Requiem, Graham Joyce
  • Speaking in Tongues, Ian McDonald
  • Stolen Faces, Michael Bishop
  • Desolation Road Ian McDonald
  • King of Morning, Queen of Day, Ian McDonald
I’d like to add some more of McHugh, Joyce and Okorafor’s works to the list; this was just what I was able to get at my local used book store and on paperbackswap.com. Randy Henderson, a Clarion West 2009 grad, has suggested that folks also look at the Nebula Awards Showcase for 2009, edited by Ellen Datlow. I’ve been looking over some of Datlow’s horror editing, but horror is really not my genre at all.

4 thoughts on “A Clarion West Reading List”

  1. Woo-hoo for spring break! Cheers! I've heard so many good things about China Mountain Zhang, and it's reassuring to hear you echo those sentiments. I started with McHugh's short stories, but I think I'm going to move her first novel to the top of the pile. The Broken Land sounds wonderfully untethered!

  2. I found a McHugh novella on iTunes. It's my favorite way to catch up on reading,, listening to it in my car. It was dark and graphic but a brilliant use of English to represent two languages simultaneously.I don't recall the title.

    Supposedly public libraries are also good for downloading audio, though I've never done so myself. Just a thought that can make the daily commute a more useful time.

  3. If you're interested in fantasy, you might check out The Beastly Bride, the most recent YA original fantasy antho Terri Windling and I edited or for a real feel for my range of editing The Del Rey Book of SF&F, which has mostly sf and fantasy and only a little horror.

  4. Thanks, Ellen! I appreciate the suggestions. I'll be sure to check those out and pass them along to my classmates.

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