Wyrd Sisters: Terry Pratchett
Cowboy Angels: Paul McAuley
Urn Burial: Thomas Browne
In A Glass Darkly: Sheridan Le Fanu
House of Many Ways: Diana Wynne Jones
City at the End of Time: Greg Bear
History of the Middle Ages: Various (audio)
Wyrd Sisters Terry Pratchett
I always read a Terry Pratchett on holiday. I'm never disappointed. This is an early one, published before I realised that I would enjoy these books. Most people will know it is a Shakespearean tale, and I think the first Granny Weatherwax novel.
Cowboy Angels Paul McAuley
This is a parallel-worlds novel. An alternative US, in which Turing lived and worked at MIT, builds gates which allow it to interfere militarily in the history of other Americas, including our own universe (which they call the 'Nixon' Universe because he was in charge of the US when they first visited us). A resolutely American-centric novel in which other nations, let alone Britain, get scant indifferent attention: you wouldn't guess McAuley is British. I guess he's writing to an identified market. In form it is an exciting techno-thriller. There's a not-overly-subtle message here for its American readers though - a criticism of expansionist military interference through concretising the question 'How would you like it if someone attempted to improve your democracy by force?'.
Urn Burial Thomas Browne
Wow, what a read. An extraordinary 17th century orgy of poetic prose and wild thought. From the linguistic culture that brought us the King James Bible, but gone mental.
'The last chapters of Urn Burial beat up on wings of extraordinary sweep and power, yet towards what goal?... the voice of a strange preacher, of a man filled with doubts and subtleties and suddenly swept away by surprising imaginations.' (Virginia Woolf)
'What a melodious ascent as of a prelude to some impassioned requiem breathing from the pomps of earth, and from the sanctities of the grave! What a fluctus decumanus of rhetoric! Time expounded, not by generations or centuries, but by the vast periods of dynasties.' (Thomas de Quincey)
'It smells in every word of the sepulchre.' (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
May be downloaded from here. The most extravagant section, part five, is here.
I think I'll write about the rest later.