Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Jason Vanhee

Jason Vanhee lives in Seattle, Washington.

His new book, Engines of the Broken World, is his first novel.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Vanhee's reply:
I have eclectic tastes in books. That’s probably what everyone says. Recently I’ve been spending time re-reading the fantasy and science fiction I read when I was a younger person: Dune by Frank Herbert (still holds up pretty well, though I get it all confused with David Lynch’s movie now); Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings (would that I could be thirteen again and really love this; alas I’m not); Elric of Melnibone by Michael Moorcock (cool and strange even now.) I tried but couldn’t manage to finish The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. Perhaps it’s that I’ve lost entirely the ability to absorb epic fantasy into my system, but the book was just too long, too tangled, too many characters.

Since I’m writing Young Adult I try to read some of that, of course. I picked up How To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford and loved the basic story (a girl and a boy become friends, the girl falls for the boy, he doesn’t fall back, sadness happens) while not liking some of the trappings (a call-in radio show was deployed far too much). I just read Stefan Bachmann’s The Peculiar and The Whatnot; they were more fun than I had expected, and darker than the covers let on, and he’s a charming and far too talented young writer who makes me seethe with only half-facetious jealousy.

I read a good amount of non-fiction. Just a bit ago I finished Cold: Adventures in the World’s Frozen Places by Bill Streever, which documents Arctic expeditions and hypothermia, winter storms and permafrost, and was fascinating. I imagine it makes a better summertime read than it would winter, but I highly recommend it year round. Also Abominable Science by Daniel Loxton & Donald Prothero, which looks into the history of cryptozoology (the “science” of hidden or undiscovered animals). I’m fascinated by cryptids, the mythical/imaginary/goofy monsters of the world: sasquatch and Nessie, yetis and moth men and all the rest. This book takes aim at several of the biggest and most popular and calmly debunks them by laying out their histories and explaining how King Kong or a prankster or wave patterns led people to believe in them. If it drags in a few places (one of the authors is far too obsessed with sea serpents) it’s still good reading.

I need to read more history, which is my most-loved serious study; I need to read more contemporary fiction, too. Donna Tartt has a new book (The Goldfinch) that is very much on my list, as her first book, The Secret History, is probably my favorite novel of all time. But there’s only so many hours in the day, and I never get as many books taken care of as I wish.
Visit Jason Vanhee's blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Engines of the Broken World.

My Book, The Movie: Engines of the Broken World.

--Marshal Zeringue