Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ian Tregillis

Ian Tregillis lives near Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he works as a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He is a member of the George R.R. Martin Wild Cards writing collective and the author of The Milkweed Tryptich Bitter Seeds, The Coldest War and Necessary Evil.

His new novel is Something More Than Night.

Late last month I asked Tregillis about what he was reading. His reply:
I frequently have several books going at any one time, because I always have a book to read on the bus (my commute to and from work is about 2 hours/day), a book to read for fun at home, and often I'll also be reading something related to my current writing project.

My commute reading right now is Snuff by Terry Pratchett. I have been a devoted fan of the Discworld novels since I stumbled upon #2, The Light Fantastic, in a bookstore in the late 1980s. It was the funniest thing I had ever read at the time; I remember reading excerpts from it to anybody who would listen. It was amazing stuff that seemed to have come out of nowhere. From then on I grabbed each new Discworld book as soon as I could, and I've been doing that for 25 years; Snuff is #39 in the series. Nowadays, I'm a little wiser than I was back then, and so I always leave one unread Discworld book on the shelf -- so that no matter what's going on in my life, I always have at least one book to look forward to.

The Discworld books are in that rare category of works that can be relied upon to make me laugh aloud in public. (Certain Douglas Adams books and Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man are also in this category.) But I think sometimes the series doesn't get enough credit (in spite of the critical acclaim it has received in more recent years) because it's always seen in the light of its earliest entries -- as farcical parodies of second-world fantasy tropes. But as the series has evolved over the years, I've watched the books grow longer, deeper, and wiser. They're still incredibly funny, but now I read them just as much for the way they're plotted, for what they say about the human condition, and for some truly lovely turns of phrase. They have heart in equal abundance to their wit. The Discworld books are great not because they're hilarious, but because they're hilarious while still somehow being about something meaningful.

My at-home reading is A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin. I've been waiting for what seems like forever for this to come out in paperback -- it was intended as my commute reading, and since I don't use an e-reader, I didn't want to lug the equivalent of a small hardcover dictionary on the bus with me every day! Though it turns out the paperback is still so big that it's a bit impractical for my commute. I've just started it, and I'm eager to dive in and get caught up on the latest installment in the Song of Ice and Fire. I think this is an amazing series, and utterly worthy of all the praise and acclaim it has received.

My writing-related reading at the moment is A Financial History of the Netherlands, edited by Marjolein 't Hart, Joost Jonker, and Jan Luiten van Zanden. Worldbuilding is a strange and imperfect practice; for me, it usually means running around like a headless chicken while (1) panicking, and (2) trying to patch the countless holes in my knowledge that I continually trip over while trying to write a novel.
Visit Ian Tregillis's website.

--Marshal Zeringue