Photo of man holding baby while pointing towards a playground and urban farm in the distance below
Young Geoffrey points out the woes of the world to a captive audience.

Book reviews R Edifice Rex!

(Or, I don't only watch television)

October 12, 2011, OTTAWA — This has been a holding page for not quite six months as I type; it's definitely time for an update.

As per the title, I do review books. I've even been paid for it, a gig I wouldn't mind repeating.

But whether or no, I've been an inveterate reader from a pretty young age and I like to talk about what I've read as well.

The Globe and Mail review (not to mention the Gilbert Shelton cartoon above left) not-withstanding, I actually prefer to write about art I like — though there's no denying the pleasure to be had in tearing apart crap, especially if when said crap has everyone else convinced they're reading the words of the next Jane Austen, Joseph Heller or Peter Watts.

If you've taken a look at the list of reviews already posted here at left, I suspect you won't see much in the way of a pattern other than that most of the books are fiction and that a plurality (perhaps a majority; I'm not going to make a count just now) of those fall into the science fiction and fantasy pile.

I won't call it a representative sample of what interests me, but neither is it random. I'm not usually much impressed by "little" novels and have little interest in pure genre work like mysteries or romances (though I buy John le Carré in hard-cover and loved Jennifer Crusie's Bet Me). Novels such as Samuel R. Delany's Dhalgren, Heller's Catch-22, Carol's Alice books and, or course, The Lord of the Rings are personal touch-stones, books I've read and re-read and which I fully expect to visit again, probably sooner than later.

All of which is to boast that my reading is eclectic in its variety and sophisticated in its quality; and to confess that it isn't going to much impress the folks who put together semi-official canons of this, that, or the other century.

I guess most readers' lists are similar; not random, but not carefully ordered, either. Singular, you might say.

Sometimes my hopes have been more than fulfilled, when an old favourite has taken me on a surprising new journey. Other times, a novel or series about which I have heard great things proves to be a terrible disappointment.

In any event, most of what I have so far reviewed here are books I've bought, books I was interested in and about which I had hoped I would have good things to say.

But, as I mentioned at the outset, I have also been paid for a review and have reviewed books sent to me gratis, either specifically to be reviewed or, a couple of times, from having one some kind of contest.

For the record, like any reader I like getting free books. And, since I don't yet get very many of them, I will be (almost certainly) happy to review yours or your client's. I say "almost certainly", because their are novels and other books in which I'm really not likely to be interested.

Generic thrillers or military SF? Probably not (although, if you're Lois McMaster Bujold ...). Twilight emulations or Star Trek novelizations? No, thank you (although, if you're Peter Watts and you've written a video game adaptation ...).

If you want me to review your book, your best bet is to query me first. If I say "yes", then I will follow through. I make no promises the review will be a rave, but I do promise I will be as fair as a fallible reader can be.