It’s 11:00:30 PM, I’m sitting at work, it’s raining outside, and I have 160 pages to read.
Okay, not quite 160 — really just 133 pages. I’ll finish Time To Go House tonight. The key is speed reading. If I’m reading properly, I should be able to read the approximately 80,000 words in front of me (at a high count) in 80-100 minutes. It’s 11:03 – away I go.
11:23:40 and I just got to page 204 of Ringworld. Big arguments and starseed lures and evolutionary control! This is one of my favourite parts of the book. And the sunflowers got poor Speaker-to-animals. Everyone gets angry at Nessus because they figure out that the puppeteers interfered greatly in the evolution of humankind and the kzin. They all feel ashamed that they’d been so manipulated so easily, and through this passage, deal with it. Nessus is off on his own somewhere, terrified that they’ll all try to kill him over it, and Speaker-to-Animals gets seriously burned by an invasive strain of photoreflective sunflowers.
11:28 and it’s time to start the hardest bit of my reading: The God Particle. My eyes are already a little sore. 11:58 and I’m done – that’s definitely a harder read! Finished off to page 274. This was the continuation of the description of how particle accelerators operate, some design choices made in making them (electrons, protons, colliding beam, straight vs circular, etc) and then it became all about the discovery that symmetry is broken, with a thrilling blow-by-blow account, given by the author as an actor in the discovery. Pretty cool stuff.
Next up: finishing Time To Go House. It’s 12:03 and I’m off — only 17 pages to read. Done at 12:14. It got pretty preachy there for a bit about the Vietnam war, but I can’t really blame the author. I had a good nostalgia moment reading about the food along the side of the table, the mouse-dance, the stair game, and lining Smalleata’s house. I’m glad to have had a chance to re-read this, even at lightning pace.
Last but certainly not least: Red Mars. I haven’t read this before; it’s fiction and it seems reasonably dense, but I’m very strongly interested (and I read the first 25 pages a week or so ago, they were great). Hoping to get 40 pages done to take me to page 63, in the next 23 minutes or so (that’ll round it out at about 100 minutes with some breaks). Quick note a minute or two later: italicized text (which there’s a few pages of at the beginning of the chapter) is very hard to read quickly.
12:28 was when I started, and 1:18 is when I finished! It’s as I feared: this book is too interesting! I lapsed very seriously into slow reading — that’s 50 minutes on 40 pages, when it should have been 20. I had read 20 pages in about 15 minutes, so I wasn’t far off track at the start. Beyond it being interesting, it’s also late at night, and this was the tail end of the reading — as I know from last week, spreading the reading out (and doing it earlier in the day) is important.
Anyway. This was a step back in time to before the opening events of the book, describing the initial journey from earth to Mars. It’s touching on the politics, the people, religion, all sorts of things. I’m never sure I trust Kim Stanley Robinson’s descriptions of vast groups of people, but for the sake of fiction I can accept them. Provided I can speed it up a bit, this will be an interesting read. My only real complaints are the occasional burst of italics and some sections that seemed to regurgitate earlier points over and over. Lots of writers do that (I mean, hey, just read these blog posts), but I would expect it to get pruned by editors to the point that a reader wouldn’t notice it. Maybe it’s just because I’m purposely speed reading? Ha!
Good reading. Have to start before 11:00 PM tomorrow! Very, very glad I got back into the swing of read-and-blog, and accomplished near to my goal of 160 pages. All said and done, it took 140 minutes instead of 100, and I probably spent 20 minutes of that time writing / rubbing my eyes, so it wasn’t a bad effort.