Sunday Status Update: December 11, 2016

This week, Ron becomes a wizardly conspiracy theorist.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Ron: This last summer, I found myself in the muggle village and I bought myself a pen. Not a very nice pen, supposedly (I asked Dad — he said it was actually a pretty ordinary sort of pen), but it wrote just what I wanted and it didn’t run out of ink. It was bloody brilliant. I loved my pen. So that started me thinking, why is it that we don’t use pens? It seems like an awfully harmless bit of muggle technology. So I took my pen to Hogwarts. Do you know what happened? It broke. My pen broke. Because magic messes with muggle artifacts or something. Only… that doesn’t actually make sense, does it? I mean, it’s a pen. It’s got some ink and a little ball, supposedly. It’s not like it’s got a computer or electricity or anything. And if pens don’t work here, how come doorknobs are still fine? Seems suspiciously arbitrary. I’m beginning to suspect that it’s all a great big conspiracy, to keep us as some kind of magical Luddites, and…


… wait, what was I talking about? Oh well. I’ll go see what Harry’s doing.

Bill: This week I finished The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars by Dava Sobel, about the group of women “computers” and astronomers involved in some of the biggest discoveries at the Harvard University Observatory in the 1800s and early 1900s. And I’m about 200 pages into listening to Frank Trentmann’s The Empire of Things: How We Became a World of Consumers, from the Fifteenth Century to the Twenty-First (listening is easier than carrying around the 900-page tome). My only genre work was chapter ten of Ian Cameron Esslemont’s Assail for the reread. Other than that it’s been all final papers. For book club this week I’ll be reading Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower.

Kat: The fall semester ended on Friday, so I hope to get some extra reading done in the next couple of weeks, although I have plenty of prep to do for spring classes. Since you heard from me last I caught up with Brandon Sanderson‘s ALCATRAZ & THE EVIL LIBRARIANS series by reading books 4 and 5, The Shattered Lens and The Dark Talent. These were fun. Today I’ll finish a re-read of an old favorite: Tad WilliamsThe Dragonbone Chair. It finally came out on audio, which I’ve been waiting for for many years. I’ll probably also finish Arthur C. Clarke‘s Rendezvous With Rama which I’ve been listening to with my husband as we’ve been travelling over the past couple of weeks. Reviews of all of these are coming soon.

Marion: On a whim I picked up an historical mystery by C.S. Harris; What Darkness Brings. It’s the ninth book in a series. I had no trouble following it but it has probably ruined some suspense for earlier books. I loved the mystery, the action sequences and Harris’s description of Regency-period clothing and daily life; the spoken language threw me out of the story because it often sounded like the 20th century, if not the 21st.

I am browsing the Frankenstein anthology Eternal Frankenstein, edited by Ross Lockhart, and I started Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon. So far, I’m thrilled by it! A review will follow.

StuartAfter finishing Alastair Reynolds The Prefect, a complex detective procedural set in his REVELATION SPACE universe, I decided to listen to something light and fast-paced, We Are Legion (We are Bob) by Dennis. E. Taylor. It’s a breezy story about a young internet entrepreneur who goes into cryo and wakes up with a tough choice – pilot a fleet of Von Neumann machines to colonize new worlds or be shut off. In tone it reads much like John Scalzi‘s Old Man’s War or Andy Weir‘s The Martian. I’m heading to Hawaii to visit home for the holidays, so during Christmas I’m planning to revisit Gene Wolfe‘s BOOK OF THE NEW SUN via audiobook and finally try my luck with Italo Calvino and Jorge Luis Borges, two magic realists who have had a huge impact on the field though they were not actively part of it

Tim: This week, I finished up with Ken Liu‘s The Grace of Kings. I found it a fun read overall, though I did find myself more interested in the events than the characters at times. Since finishing that, I’ve moved on to Margaret Atwood‘s The Handmaid’s Tale, and I’ve also been reading Barbara W. Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror. Both are fascinating, although of course in very different ways.

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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. Stuart, I love Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities.

  2. wow–some of my favorite authors/books getting read this week! Handmaid’s Tale, Calvino, The Dragonbone Chair, A Distant Mirror, Rendezvous with Rama, Book of the New Sun . ..

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