Saturday, July 11, 2009

Taking a Chance in a Bookstore

I did something incredibly risky yesterday. It's something I can only remember ever doing twice before in my life, and one time it did not turn out well. What is this incredibly risky venture, you ask?

I bought a book after only ready the back cover and the first page.

Some of you are rolling your eyes and thinking how ridiculous that sounds. Some of you always pick books at random, that's how you have found the greatest books ever. I, however, have never done that. I only buy a book if someone recommends it or I read a really great review online.

The problem is that I have out read my friends. They come to me for book recommendations. Generally everything they're reading, I've already read. Online reviews are also risky since my taste's and my fellow blogger's tastes don't always line up. All of this adds together to mean that I have no idea what I should be reading right now, other than Ben-Hur or the Wheel of Time.

I was at Barnes and Noble yesterday and I really wanted to buy a new book. I wanted to read something that was new and exciting. However, I had no basis to judge other than the blurbs on the back and a quick read of the first page.

I immediately ruled out any hardback books. I am definitely not willing to spend twenty dollars on an author I know nothing about. So I searched among the sci-fi/fantasy section and I picked up a book called Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton.

So what about the blurb and the first page convinced me that this was the book I should read?

The first thing that caught my attention was that it is actually science fiction. If you have perused the scifi/fantasy section recently, you'll realize there is an awful lot of fantasy. Most of the scifi is Asimov and Pohl, the stuff written by the greats decades ago. I rarely find great modern sci-fi. This book was written in 2004, so it's defintely new. If it's any good, I've found an amazing and rare thing.

The second thing that convinced me is that the book is nearly one thousand pages long. I often buy books on their length. In fact the one time buyring a random book did turn out well for me, I bought it simply because it was the longest book at the book fair. That book was Martin the Warrior by Brain Jacques. I buy long books because they're worth the cost and they will take longer than an afternoon to read. Somehow it makes a book less enjoyable when it only takes an afternoon to read.

However, I have to say the thing that really sold me was when I skimmed the first page. The character on the first page is "NASA Captain Wilson Kime". NASA. In a scifi book. How awesome. So many scifi books are so distant in the future that they don't reference NASA or the way Earth is now. I love NASA, and any scifi book that can put it in its first page is something I want to read.

I'm only one hundred pages into the book so no review for you guys yet, but I do have to say you should pick it up and just read the prologue. It was fantastic, ironic, and wonderful. Whether the entire story was worth the read, the prologue definitely is.

I'll definitely write a review when I finish reading it, so that you won't have to pick a random book off the shelf, taking the risk that comes with spending $8.99 on a book.

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