Sunday Status Update: April 28, 2013

Today we hear from Tara of Helium, daughter of John Carter of Mars.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Tara of Helium: Today a most vexing matter disturbed the peace. My noble father John Carter, Warlord of Mars, came to visit together with my mother Dejah Thoris and my brother Cathoris. My father and brother fell to sporting, performing great feats and leaping in the air, displaying their superior strength for the amusement of the Barsoomians there gathered. At first all seemed well, but as he watched the idle play, the brow of my husband Gahan grew furrowed and his expression dark, until I asked him what so troubled the Jeddak of Gathol.

“Truly,” said my beloved, “I realized not that John Carter’s strength was passed to his son.”

“That is strange, for it is no secret,” I replied. “Were you more often in Helium, you would often see Cathoris perform such feats as these.”

“So,” he said, “the strength of John Carter is entirely hereditary.”

“Yes,” I said, confused.

“Then what do you mean,” he said in a voice of great passion, “by getting kidnapped by every damnable creature on Barsoom and letting me fight them all off alone? I am but a red man of Mars, and it seems I know nothing like your native strength.”

“Oh,” I said, much taken aback. “Well… I thought perhaps you might wish to prove your love. Do not fear. I was much impressed each time you bled for me. It was terribly romantic.”

It was then that he stormed away. I fear I have made him angry.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Brad: This week I’ve been busy primarily with end of the semester work with students who are writing research papers on all the wildly diverse literature I like to expose them to in Freshman Writing–from Haruki Murakami to Jane Austen to Steve Martin to the short stories of Somerset Maugham to Ed McBain‘s 87th Precinct novels. I even have them read, of course, comics and graphic novels: This semester we read Frank Miller‘s Batman: Year One and Ed Brubaker‘s Criminal.  So, I’ve been revisiting all these these favorite works of mine. As for new works, I stumbled upon the recent release on Kindle of Harlan Ellison‘s first novel, Web of the City, a crime novel that offers a sympathetic portrayal of gang members and what it does not just to boys, but also to girls, even specifically the way they are mistreated by boys. Reading this novel led me to watch the excellent documentary on Ellison–Dreams with Sharp Teeth–and download a few more early novels and collections of short stories and essays. I just started Ellison Wonderland and am loving it.  His is a wonderfully deranged and creative mind in which to spend time. I’ve even started listening to his audio recordings of his own work thanks to Kat’s recommendation.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews John: Finished up Antiagon Fire by L.E. Modesitt jr. and I still love the IMAGER books. Just started  Sharp the second book by Alex Hughes. Super busy with work and kids playing soccer, so my reading time has been curtailed… sadly!

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Kat: This past week I got involved with Jack Campbell’s LOST FLEET series which I’m reading in audio format. I read the first four books: DauntlessFearlessCourageous, and Valiant. It’s a good story that’s well-told, but it really could have been told in half the number of books. The lost fleet is wandering around the universe trying to get home and they’ve been doing that for four books now. It’s a never-ending cycle of mine fields, space battles and hypernet jumps with an occasional POW rescue or mutiny thrown in. Fortunately I really like the main character, Black Jack Geary.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Steven: This past week I’ve been reading the original FOUNDATION TRILOGY by Isaac Asimov, trying to read it as if I were a modern sci-fi reader who was reading it for the first time, in preparation for a review. Like a lot of the books I first read decades ago, sometimes nostalgia or loyalty tends to color my perceptions of a work. While I think it’s a valid part of my reviewer persona to mention that bias, I still want to make the reviews relevant to new sci-fi readers when discussing classic sci-fi, it that makes sense. On the non sci-fi front I’ve been reading Lemons Don’t Lie by the late great mystery (and sometime sci-fi) writer Donald Westlake, writing under his pseudonym Richard Stark. It’s a spin off from his famed PARKER series, about a crook who pulls off elaborate heists, robberies and burglaries. The main character is this book is a sometime partner with Parker, named Alan Grofield, who runs a local theater when not committing illegal acts, using the money from his ill gotten gains to subsidize the arts, so to speak. Pretty good quick read that made me want to read more about the character.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Terry: The flood waters are rising; I may soon drown under the inflow of new books. But what a way to go!  I read I Don’t Want to Kill You by Dan Wells, the third book in his JOHN CLEAVER trilogy (Wells says there aren’t going to be any more, though in the next breath he says maybe someday he’ll write a book with the same characters — but for now, the trilogy is over, and what a wonderful and horrible way for it to end!). I also read Blue November Storms by Brian Freeman, a horror novella about five friends and a meteorite. Doesn’t sound scary? That’s because you don’t know what the meteorite does to wildlife. I’m not sure what I’ll read next — it’s like deciding which drop of water in the ocean I should drink. Oh, I know! I’ll read the two Nebula-nominated books I haven’t read yet.  Yeah, that’s a plan….

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Tim: Another slow week this time around. I read a bit more of Evangeline Walton‘s Prince of Annwn, and also started on the simply titled Mars, by Ben Bova. I’m not far into it yet, but it’s whetting a fascination I seem to have developed with Mars as a romantic “older world.” Burroughs, Bradbury, and Lewis apparently did a lot more to my subconscious than I realized. There’s supposed to be another Martin/Dozois anthology called Old Mars coming out sometime this year, and I now think I’ll have to reserve a copy on Amazon — or at least wishlist it.


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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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2 comments

  1. April /

    I think it is interesting that Brad is talking books being taught in his class and Steven is reading the trilogy that I spent a full semester on in college (Foundation). We studied it for politics and international relations. It was a very interesting class.

    • April, I wish my international relations class had been that interesting. Maybe I would have made a better grade!

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