Last Wednesday, I was in Leeds for the launch of Adrian Tchaikovsky‘s latest novel, Dogs of War. Leeds Waterstones have a lot of good events for the discerning sf+f fan, and this was no exception. With a reading from the novel followed by an interview conducted by David Tallerman, it was an intriguing introduction to what promises to be a great read.
I made a bunch of notes on what Adrian said, notes I’ll dig out when I have time to read the book (my to-read pile already includes five other Tchaikovsky books, so it might be a little while). Dogs of War is a story that addresses human rights and the hypocrisy of war, as well as the different approaches that might be taken to artificial intelligence. Based on what I’ve heard so far, it also has one of the most distinctive character voices I’ve ever encountered. The uplifted dog Rex wants to be a good boy and please his human masters, which coming from a carefully engineered killing machine is touching, funny, and tragic. This is military scifi that doesn’t follow the usual path of military scifi.
But what I most took away from the evening was a love for what Leeds Waterstones are doing for readers. To compete with the likes of Amazon, they’re turning into more than a shop, running events that bring readers together. Just attending this book launch, I stumbled into the tail end of a regular book quiz and got to hear about a Terry Pratchett book club. It made me realise that there’s a community of sf+f fans being brought together by these events, a community I want to get more involved with.
Reading can seem like an isolated activity, but a love of books can really bring us together.
Now to go join a book club.