Sunday Status Update: August 28, 2016

This week, Red Sonja explains the name of her sword.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Red Sonja: People keep asking me the name of my sword. They seem to think it should have some very heroic-sounding name. And I keep telling them that no, it doesn’t have a name. What, do woodsmen have to name their axes now? Do farmers have to name their sickles? Maybe the nobility can start naming their favorite goblets? But no, my situation is different for some reason, or so I have to judge by the fact that when I returned from the latest job (covered in slime and griffin blood, I might add) I found that the whole village had taken it upon themselves to name my mighty, griffin-slaying sword. Oh, there were plenty of contenders. There was the artsy contingent that wanted Whisper or Sorrow, and there were the bombastic sorts that wanted Corpsemaker or Hellsbane. Then you had that extremely dotty young woman who thought my sharp piece of iron should be named Rose of Valor. They argued half the night as I tried to break away and go discreetly bathe somewhere, and the next morning I was informed that my sword’s name is Whispering Hell-Rose. Right. Great. Whatever. So today I was fighting a kelpie, and I snapped Whispering Hell-Rose clean in two. That particular sword had lasted me about a month. That’s what happens to tools when you use them hard. But sure, if anyone wants to know where lies the noble blade Whispering Hell-Rose, there’s your answer. Half of it’s at the bottom of a stream, and the other half is in a rubbish cart half a mile down the road. Go consecrate its remains or whatever it is you people do.

Bill: Been a long time for Sunday Status for me thanks to a long (60+ days, 11, 00+ driving miles) camping trip that ended at MidAmericon in KC. I won’t bother with the reading I did in that time. This week was mostly preparing for school, but I did manage to read two graphic stories: The Time Museum by Matthew Loux and Twilight Zone: Shadow and Substance (multiple authors). Unfortunately I didn’t care much for either. I also finished a collection of folktale/fairytale retellings entitled Gods and Goddesses: Stories of Heroines from Around the World by Lari Don. Language was a bit flat, but most of the tales were fun to read. Finally, I also read Billy Collins’ newest poetry collection The Rain in Portugal, which was OK. So not a great week . . .

Jana: This week I wanted to re-read N.K. Jemisin‘s The Obelisk Gate, since it really is that good, but I powered through my natural inclination to procrastinate and dove into Robert Brockway‘s The Unnoticables and The Empty Ones, which are a fun blend of punk rock beat-downs and heady metaphysics. Marion and I worked together on interview questions for Brockway, so be sure to watch this space! I also read Night Flower, a COURT OF FIVES prequel novella by Kate Elliott and started Breath of Earth, the first novel in an imaginative and compulsively readable alt-history geo-steam-punk series by Beth Cato. I’m working on reviews for everything other than The Obelisk Gate, and depending on how the weekend goes, I should be able to make some good headway.

Kat: Since you heard from me last, I read Neal Stephenson‘s Seveneves which I loved, though I admit that it was rather long-winded (something that we know to expect from Stephenson). Speaking of long-winded, I am now struggling through Peter F. Hamilton‘s The Naked God. I’m not sure why I’m doing this to myself. I guess because it’s a review copy. I’ll be picking up some of our SPFBO books this week.

Marion: The last day of WorldCon I started Nick Mamatas’s horror/mystery, (er, horror/mystery/dark comedy?) I am Providence. At an annual Lovecraft convention in Providence, Rhode Island, one long-term fan is murdered. He’s dead, but that doesn’t stop him from narrating half the book, as a relative newbie to Lovecraftia begins to investigate. And it gets weirder from there. NPR called it a “love/hate letter” to Lovecraft fandom, and I’d say that’s accurate. I can tell you, reading this book on the heels of a major convention is a definite… experience. I’m about halfway through Lian Hearn’s Lord of the Dark Wood, as characters with supporting roles in the two previous book take center stage.

Stuart: This week I finished N.K. Jemisin‘s The Obelisk Gate, Book 2 of her BROKEN EARTH series and follow-up to her spectacular Hugo Award The Fifth Season. I was so happy to see it win the award – it was well deserved and a resounding blow against the Sad Puppies agenda. The same goes for “Binti” by Nnedi Okorafor and “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang. The SFF community has proven it embraces diversity, original stories, and great writing. I also picked up Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe, 1951 to 1986 by Marc Aramini, the runner-up in the Best Related Work Category, which is a massive 826-page work that covers the first half of Wolfe’s novels and short stories. Armed with this, I plan to tackle some of Wolfe’s best-known short stories, which defeated me last year.

Tadiana: In the last couple of weeks I’ve read (and reviewed, yay!) Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley, the second book in the CHECQUY FILES fantasy series. Also read, but not yet reviewed, are Jessie Burton‘s just-published second book, The Muse, which, unlike her first book, The Miniaturist, doesn’t have any fantastical element to it unless you count a farfetched coincidence or two, Sarah Beth Durst‘s upcoming fantasy novel The Queen of Blood, and Susan Maupin Schmid’s If the Magic Fits, a charming middle grade fantasy that will also be published next month. I’m currently reading A Shadow Bright and Burning, an upcoming YA fantasy novel by Jessica Cluess set in Victorian England. In the non-SFF field, I just finished and very much enjoyed a Victorian-era mystery, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, considered by many to be the first English-language detective novel. My read of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow has stumbled to a halt. I still plan, or at least hope, to finish it, but other books have called my name more loudly than that one, which is incredibly well researched but also dense and very long.

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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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  1. Red Sonja, your life is so hard. I never really appreciated that until you started sending us your updates. Maybe they should have named your sword “Sorrowful Corpse” instead.

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