At the moment I'm about at the middle of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
which is an alternate history of Great Britain at the time of the Napoleonic Wars in which magic takes place as created by the two title characters. I think the author meant to mimic a style of English literature of that period (but I'm not an English major so this is only a guess). The first part of the book is somewhat stilted in that it is written with the assumption that the reader would have a schoolboy's knowledge of the history of magic in Britain up until the start of the book in 1808, so I'm sure that there are bits and pieces at the start of the novel that would make more sense to me now that I have that schoolboy's knowledge, partially supplied by the copious footnotes.
My paperback edition is 1006 pages so I expect to be at this book for a while (though I might pick up something a bit breezier in a couple of weeks if I haven't finished it by then). While it has won a number of science fiction/fantasy awards, I can only recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading alternate histories because this is particularly detailed.
I've finished it. While somewhat dissatisfied with the ending because in some ways the author doesn't really end the story, there were other aspects of the ending which I won't detail which did work for me. I do recommend it but only for people who like alternate histories.
I understand that there is a companion anthology of short stories and novelettes
by Susanna Clarke taking place in this same universe. I think I will pick that up but it might be a while before I get to it.
I was ill yesterday so I practically gobbled down in a couple of hours John Scalzi's Fuzzy Nation
which is a "reboot" of H. Beam Piper's "Little Fuzzy" (to paraphrase Scalzi: sort of like Abrams' "reboot" of Star Trek but with better science). I've not read the original Piper novel but now I want to. Basically Scalzi started this book as a personal project with no intention of publishing it, but after showing it to his agent who said that it was pretty good, Scalzi (or his agent) then approached the estate of Piper and negotiated an agreement to allow Scalzi to publish it.
It's a fun and quick and enjoyable read, but it is an example of a Scalzi characteristic: to borrow the Dungeons and Dragons term, all of his main characters are lawful types or under the control of one of them. They might be lawful-good or lawful-evil or maybe lawful-chaotic, and some aren't above pushing and bending the rules to the point that others might consider them broken, but generally they follow the rules. While this enables his stories to be wrapped up, it is sometimes rather simplistic. Still, I recommend it.