My friends and I have a running joke that people we admire are our “tv boyfriends” or “action movie girlfriends” or whatever. We use this to describe people we do not know, will probably never meet and can only admire from afar. We find this exceptionally funny, but I’m pretty sure that to the uninitiated it sounds kind of creepy. No, we don’t actually think we’re in a relationship with these people, it’s just shorthand for “ZOMG!! THEY ARE SO AWWWSUMMMMM!!!!SQUEEEEEE!!!!!!”
With that explanation in mind: I’m totally cheating on Steven Erikson with Eric Flint right now.
I was initially leary. I mean, I love the alternate history gaming as much as the next History Major with a mad on for Medieval Europe, or Byzantium, Medieval Russia (which period essentially lasted until the 1860s for those playing along at home) or whatever. I’ve engaged in my fair share of drafting novel outlines about, “What if the US had remained neutral in WWII?” or “What if Nicholas II had actually pulled his head out?” I picked up 1632 on the recommendation of a friend. And it sat,unread, on my shelves for ages.
Then I discovered the Baen Free Library of E-books, and a book called Mother of Demons that sounded interesting. Without paying any attention to the author, I downloaded it, and read it on my phone during my bus commute.* The book completely gripped me. I couldn’t quit reading it, much to the Geek Husband What Rules’s annoyance when he picked me up from the transit center in the evenings. The characterizations were fairly nuanced, the alien culture incredibly interesting. I was a skidge annoyed that the “peacenik” was female, but she is also their salvation, so it redeemed itself in my eyes.
After reading it I decided that I needed to check out more books by this author, and scrolled back to the coverpage on the file: Eric Flint. Well, I’ll be damned. So I went home and downloaded 1632, 1633, and The Grantville Gazette. Again with the grippedness. Currently, I’m reading An Oblique Approach, which he wrote with David Drake, who I knew primarily from his contributions to the __________ in Hell anthologies (i.e. War in Hell, Heroes in Hell, etc…). Again, I can’t put it down. I love it, and get more than a little resentful when my bus gets to work, or my stop on the way home.
He writes humor, as well as gut-wrenching sorrow very, very well. I’ve enjoyed his books immensely, and picked up 1634 at Powell’s in Portland this last weekend, in spite of the fact that I wasn’t going to buy any books. (I also picked up Knitting Lingerie Style and the sequel to House of Dark Delights by Louisa Burton). I’m looking forward to working my way through the massive catolog he seems to have already spawned, and many more.
*I love e-books for the commute. No page turning so you don’t have to worry about elbowing anyone on crowded buses. I’m far less likely to drop my phone than a book, and I needed to recover from the tendonitis engendered by trying hold Mr. Erikson’s books aloft one-handed. I read them on my Blackberry with the Mobi e-book reader software.