Sunday Status Update: December 8, 2013

This week, Supergirl again.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Supergirl: I’ve been a journey through human philosophy lately, mostly to get back into Superman’s good books after the Halloween thing (though I’m still not sure how I was supposed to know there’s one day set aside where I’m not supposed to punch General Zod when I spot him in the act of strolling down Main Street). First I read Zeno. He said that people should keep control over their emotions, so I settled the disputes in North Dakota. Like, all of them, and I didn’t punch anybody. And Superman was really pleased and said I was learning restraint. Next I read Confucius, and he said that it’s not enough to be nice, you have to do nice things too. So I mended 100 miles of fence, delivered 482 birthday presents that wouldn’t have gotten there on time, and rescued 83 cats from trees. Superman got me cake. 

Then I tried to read Ayn Rand and Nietzsche. Superman took them away and grounded me.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Bill: This past week (and this next one) has mostly been final papers. But I did manage to read Alice Munro’s latest collection Dear Life (Nobel, Schmobel—I didn’t care for it. Call me a philistine). I also have just picked up Quintessence Sky, the follow-up to David WaltonQuintessence, and have so far enjoyed the first (according to my Kindle) sixty-one percent. Review to come.

AlixAlix: I got some good reading and reviewing done this week. I finished The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin, which was fascinating and good (review forthcoming). I also returned guiltily to the VORKOSIGAN SAGA, my longest-standing comfort reads, and wrote a review of Memory. I just barely started Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear, which has precisely the kind of lyrical-but-stark writing that I most love: “This—this was how empires ended. With the flitting of wild dogs in the dark and a caravan of moons going dark one by one.” Word.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Brad: Even though I had a huge stack of papers to grade, I did get to read some comics. I reread Alan Moore‘s Promethea Volume Two because I was teaching it for the first time, and since I hadn’t read it in a few years, I was surprised to “discover” that every page of the final issue of that volume is dedicated to a separate Tarot card of the Major Arcana, which I found quite funny since I was asking for help finding literature that used Tarot cards just a few weeks ago. My favorite new discovery this week was Rising Stars by J. Michael Straczynski. I wouldn’t have listed him as one of my favorite writers, but as I wrote the review for Rising Stars today (to be posted next Friday), I realized I had already written four reviews of his work. So I went to my shelves and pulled out some more of his books: You’ll be seeing reviews of these comics in the near future. My next favorite book was The Rocketeer by Dave Stevens. It’s a fantastic, retro pulp story with great characters and even better art. And I loved the character who is supposed to be a reference to The Shadow, my favorite old-time radio pulp hero (“Who know what evil lurks in the hearts of men . . . ?”). I’ve also continued to read the comic book series Fables, and it’s consistently good. If I can read about 100 more issues, I’ll be caught up with the current storyline. And since I’ll mention Ed Brubaker whenever I can, I’d like to say that, afterRising Stars, the highlight of my reading week was issue #2 of Velvet hitting the shelves: Moneypenny as Bond (but better). Don’t miss this one. Finally, I read Mystery Society by Steve Niles and Fiona Staples. I can’t get myself to read Steve Niles because all his comics look so horrific every time I open one when I’m in a comic shop; however, the artwork caught my eye because it’s by Fiona Staples, the artist working on the much-praised comic Saga. The story of Mystery Society, though a bit light, is hysterical and the artwork is jaw-dropping. I highly recommend this little miniseries. I read one other comic that was so bad I won’t mention it except to say I won’t mention it.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Kat: It’s the end of the semester for me, so I’m bogged down with grading and dealing with desperate students. Therefore, I read only one book this week: Max Gladstone‘s Three Parts DeadAs John said, it’s inventive. I felt a little lost in the world at times, but now that I know it better I look forward to reading the second book, Two Serpents Rise.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Marion: Haven’t gotten much reading done this week. I’m still plowing through Plowing the Dark by Richard Powers. I gave myself a short break from that and let myself read Devon Monk’s  Magic in the Bone, the first Allie Beckstrom novel. Lovely! Like a nice cranberry sorbet after stuffing myself with turkey and dressing.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Terry: This week I finished the first book in David Dalglish‘s DANCE series, Dance of Cloaks. It was good enough that I’m looking forward to reading the other two books in the series so far. Right now, I’m halfway through Wild Fell by Michael Rowe, and it’s unquestionably one of the best books I’ve read this year. It’s hard to make myself do anything but read it!

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Tim: This week I read L. Frank Baum‘s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (fun as usual — and good to do every once in a while just to reset my recollection of the book. Over time, I have a tendency to start “remembering” events that only took place in the film). I also reread J.M. Barrie‘s Peter and Wendy for about the ten thousandth time. I still regard it as among the best fairy stories ever written, and that reverence/loyalty might be a large part of my ambivalence toward Geraldine McCaughrean‘s “authorized sequel,” Peter Pan in Scarlet, which I’ve also been obliged to study this week.

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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. Brad Hawley /

    Fyi, I actually do realize my status updates are too long.

  2. Marion /

    After Adriane’s review of Runaways, I bought it yesterday and read it. (I found a new comic book store in a nearby town — neat!) Runaways is very enjoyable and thought-provoking. The dialogue of the teenagers is spot on and the world-weary eye rolling of their parents at the beginning sets up a powerful pivot on the reveal. Adriane, thanks for introducing me to this one.

    (And good for Superman!)

    • Adriane /

      I’m so glad you liked it, Marion! I’m actually rethinking giving it to My 11-yr-old because it’s maybe a little too realistic. I don’t want her to find validation for her feeling that her parents are villains.

      • Marion /

        I think you’re pretty safe. Just be sure those secret passages are double-locked before you give it to her.

  3. Brad, I like your long status updates, even though they make my “want” list increase in size.

    • Brad Hawley /

      Thanks, Terry. You’re very kind. My updates are long for two reasons: 1. It’s easier to read a ton of comics and short stories (which is mostly what I read these days) than it is to read the incredibly long books the rest of you read. 2. And I write like I lecture. My students would back me up on that claim.

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