Sunday Status Update: April 12, 2015

Character update on break this week. That blasted reality-warping machine has sprung a… well, I suppose it’s a gasket or something, though it’s not leaking water so much as lots of those pink elephants from Dumbo.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Jana: Calloo-Callay! I feel tremendously accomplished, even though I only read three of the books that I started last week. One of those, however, was Alex Marshall’s A Crown for Cold Silver, for which I’ll post a review later this week. I also read Genevieve Valentine‘s The Girls at the Kingfisher Club (and loved every word of it), Bill Bryson’s Shakespeare: The World as Stage, his biography of Shakespeare (witty, but didn’t tell me anything new), and started Bryson’s second book on the English language, Made in America. I still have ten books that I needto read for FanLit so that I can write reviews, another dozen or so that I want to read because I bought them ages ago, and I just picked up four books at the library on Thursday. Guys, I think I may have a problem.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews João: Early in the week I started and finished R. Scott Bakker’s Neuropath, a thriller about what Scott calls the semantic apocalypse – the idea that every psychological manifestation is the result of the firing of a specific set of neural connections and that therefore, because of our genetic makeup through evolution, what we have come to think of as love, religious belief, fear, etc, is but the the product of millennia of adaptive responses that have congregated to form what we now call consciousness. It’s a very depressing book, and its fascinating how depressing it is. I recommend having a set of strong alcoholic drinks ready for you when you finish the book. Believe me, you’ll want them. I moved onto Stella Gemmell’s The City but I am not too far into it yet.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kat:Last week was another crazy week, and this week will be worse because I’m going to have tons of grading to do, but my semester will be over in three weeks and I’ll get a break. I finished up N.D. Wilson’s children’s trilogy (100 CUPBOARDS) with Dandelion Fire and The Chestnut King. These were pleasant, but nothing special. I’m going to read some Pratchett next.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Marion: I finished Jhereg by Steven Brust; good fun, if a little talky in places. I’m halfway through Acceptance,  Jeff VanderMeer’s third volume of the AREA X Trilogy. As always, his eerie prose is lovely, but the characters ring a bit hollow, although a few of them are better explained here. I finished up Jane Eyre’s Sisters, and two other books, but I can’t remember what they were now.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Ryan: I’m still plugging away at Kim Stanley Robinson‘s The Years of Salt and Rice. It’s long, and because I always find it so intriguing, I kind of savor it as I read it. I also have bookmarks in two shorter works: John Wyndham‘s The Chrysalids and Ursula K. LeGuin‘s The Lathe of Heaven.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Stuart: Back in the reading groove finally. This week I finished Neal Stephenson‘s The Diamond Age on audiobook, I book I haven’t read since high school or college. He is such an incredible world-builder, and his vision of a post-scarcity nanotech-driven society that still has massive wealth gaps is amazingly detailed and nuanced. However, as many have pointed out, his plotting and storyline is haphazard and the events of the last 100 pages were confusing and disappointing. I also finished John Scalzi‘s The Ghost Brigades, the follow-up to Old Man’s War, and though it was very readable and fast-paced, I didn’t enjoy it as much. I’m now moving on to Kurt Vonnegut‘s The Sirens of Titan on audiobook and The Last Colony, the third book in the Old Man’s War series.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tim: This week I spent a lot more time on music than I did on reading. What little I did get done was — as is increasingly common for me — on the audiobook front. I’m listening to Frank Herbert‘s Dune right now, and I’m finding it an oddly disjointed experience. Regular Dune criticisms apply, of course — immense imaginative scope and striking imagery couched in unfashionable third person omniscient — but I’m mostly referring to this audiobook in particular. The readers are all quite good, but for some reason what begins as a full cast production keeps dropping back to a single narrator. The narrator is good at his work too, and creates some effective voices for the characters, but it becomes annoying when I grew used to Jessica or Leto sounding one way only to have them abruptly change a few minutes later. I’m very curious what went wrong with this production… I quite enjoy it otherwise.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Bill: These past two weeks I read Peter Brett’s latest DEMON WAR entry, The Skull Throne, which kept the high quality of this series intact. It took me a lot longer (about 250—300 pages) to warm up to Ken Liu’s The Grace of Kings, but I was happy I kept going as it turned out to be not only enjoyable but intriguing in many of its writerly choices. In preparation for our second Book Chat, I reread Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, which has never failed to please me ever since I first read it as a young teen back in the day. I also went through a few Bradbury short stories to read in concert with my son, though I found out a few days later he didn’t stop at the selected three or four and zipped through the whole book. This week’s poetry book was Ted Kooser’s Delight and Shadows (excellent). And as always, the Malazan reread continues over at Tor as we’re heading into the last quarter of Ian Cameron Esslemont’s Orb, Sceptre, Throne. Coming up this week—a lot of student papers . . .

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TIM SCHEIDLER, who's been with us since June 2011, holds a Master's Degree in Popular Literature from Trinity College Dublin. Tim enjoys many authors, but particularly loves J.R.R. Tolkien, Robin Hobb, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and Susanna Clarke. When he’s not reading, Tim enjoys traveling, playing music, writing in any shape or form, and pretending he's an athlete.

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One comment

  1. Jana, I found the Bryson book entertaining too. I also enjoyed Shakespeare: The Evidence, by Ian Wilson, which theorizes Shakespeare’s father as a crypto-Catholic. The foundation for the book was pretty shaky but it was interesting.

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