Sunday Status Update: December 22, 2013

This week, a letter from the trenches… er, the Yuletide celebrations of Hogwarts, as witnessed by one Mr. Filch.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Argus: This week, the war goes on. It’s getting harsher, but oh, they’ll learn I can be harsher too. Christmas. Bah! Fewer of the little sprats now, but the situation hasn’t improved. They’ve boiled out all their dozy, all their lazy and their one or two rule-abiding. All that remain are the dedicated fiends. Noisemakers, all hours. Evergreen needles everywhere. Snowballs flying, window panes breaking. Funny-smelling purple stuff all over the floor in the girls’ room, and someone shut up Mrs. Norris inside a Christmas parcel. Damn them. Damn them all.

And bah, humbug.

AlixAlix: This week, I compulsively ordered the next book in Elizabeth Bear’s ETERNAL SKY series, and did an irritated dance upon realizing that the third book won’t come out until April of 2014. I also continued my writerly education by reading Wonderbook, and spent a stupid amount of time trying to hand-make all my Christmas gifts. Everyone receiving wood-burned maple cutting boards and hand-sewn stuffed animals can expect to receive gift cards next year. Also, why do we not have the technology to create a wormhole between New York and Kentucky. Or maybe a magical force field to prevent all political discussion within a week of any major holiday.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Brad: I did read a few comics this week–Cosmic Oddessy by Jim StarlinMystery Society by Steve Niles (see my Fanboy Friday review)–but otherwise, as my fellow reviewers know, I have been sucked into the VORKOSIGAN SAGA, an extremely unusual occurrence for me since I’m the one reviewer here at fanlit who does not read much SFF: I review comics for the site, and Crime Fiction is my go-to-genre of choice. But thanks to Alix’s review, and of course Kat’s earlier reviews, I read Bujold‘s The Warrior’s Apprentice, “The Mountains of Mourning,” and The Vor Game. And I’m almost finished reading Cetaganda. The more I read into the series, the more I realize that these books fall into categories I already love: The Warrior’s Apprentice is an excellent coming-of-age story, and “The Mountains of Mourning” novella and Cetaganda are really SF crime fiction with Miles as P.I. And he fits well the classic American P.I. model: He’s down and out from society’s perspective, he relies more on his brain than on his brawn, his verbal wit is searing and manipulative, he follows his code of honor that leads him to follow the spirit of the law instead of the letter of the law, he is constantly underestimated, and he is despised by those of all social classes from high to the low. So, perhaps I like these books for their hybrid nature. I do not find the political and military aspects very engaging, even though I think Bujold impressively incorporates those components. I believe it’s my failing that I don’t enjoy those two major aspects of the novel that surely appeal to fans of Bujold. But her writing style, character development, dialogue, and use of narrative suspense make her great compared to any writer in any genre. So now, thanks to the reviewers on this site, I have two new favorite writers so far: Bujold and Jack Vance. (I didn’t read much, and I still wrote a long update, Terry!)

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Kat: All grading is finished, but now it’s time to prep classes for next semester, and I’m getting ready for Christmas, of course, so I didn’t get quite as much reading done as I’d like. I read two books by Robert A. HeinleinCitizen of the Galaxy and The Puppet Masters. Both are good and both have Something To Say about individual freedom, slavery, and communism. Heinlein’s libertarianism shines through, as usual… not to mention his obsession with nudity and incest….

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Marion: I’ve been getting very little reading or writing done, but on the bright side, I am become quite expert at wielding scissors, tape and brightly colored paper. I did finish Carol Berg’s third Collegia Magica book, The Demon Prism, and I’m nearly finished with The Lives of Tao, by Wesley Chu.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Terry: This has been a short story sort of week, and I’m reading from several sources:  the January and February issues of Asimov’s SF,Conservation of Souls by Yoon Ha LeeHer Husband’s Hands by Adam-Troy Castro and Women and Monsters by J.M. McDermott. Generally speaking, these are neither light nor easy stories, not from any source, but they are excellent work, and I’m glad to be reading them. I’m planning to spend Christmas Day opening gifts with my husband, cooking a lovely dinner, and reading — just reading, reading, reading, a complete joy for which I set aside too few days.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Tim: Christmas parties and academics kept me from my library for much of this week, but with no mandatory texts, I was finally able to return to fantasy. Specifically, I’m now once again reading Swords and Deviltry by Fritz Leiber, because I can think of far worse fates than a Fafhrd and Gray Mouser-tinged Christmas. Also because after Dublin weather, all this snow is putting me in mind of Fafhrd’s frozen, ice-witch-cluttered North.

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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. I just finished Cetaganda and decided to give in: I went ahead and downloaded Ethan of Athos, Borders of Infinity, Brothers in Arms, Mirror Dance, and Memory, since my primary desire was just to read Memory in the first place! And now I’m three chapters into Ethan of Athos, which I was going to skip originally. But I’m so fascinated by Bujold’s series now, I want to read even the books without Miles in them.

  2. Mirror Dance is especially fine, Brad. I think you’ll like it.

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