Sunday Status Updates: January 1, 2017

Wow, we’re hitting the holidays dead on this year, aren’t we? Happy New Year’s Day from Fanlit! Also, Red Sonja.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Red Sonja: Apparently it is now a new year on the official, imperial calendar. Not sure why that matters, since that particular empire is a couple centuries defunct, but whatever. I guess it’s convenient. So! New Year. I’d managed to scrounge some coin from guarding a caravan, so I spent the night in an inn. There were a lot of very merry people drinking and talking over each other, so I started conjoining myself to the drunker groups when I noticed somebody having an attack of generosity. Got a few free drinks that way. Anyway, during the proceedings, somebody asked me what my resolution for the new year was. Apparently I needed to have one. I told him my resolution was to buy a great big coat. He mulled that over through haze of alcohol fumes and eventually told me my resolution was stupid. I told him his face was stupid. I might have been slightly drunk too. Then there was a lot of dancing, and more drinks, and I think I kissed stupid face man at the stroke of midnight. Very good time. Maybe too good. I woke up this morning, and… and I’ve done nothing else since. I expected the innkeeper to throw me out of his taproom eventually, but he isn’t even coming near me. I think I may have given an impromptu fencing demonstration last night. One of the tables is missing a leg. Anyway, I have a new New Year’s resolution: no more alcohol. Ever. Ugh. Ow.

Bill: This week I read Mitchell Hogan’s A SORCERER ASCENDANT trilogy (A Crucible of Souls/ Blood of Innocents/A Shattered Empire) which started off solidly but ended muddily. I also finished Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza, a disappointing YA space opera. My best read this week was our SPFBO entry Path of Flames by Phil Tucker, an epic fantasy that uses lots of the typical tropes but is smoothly executed.

Marion: I’ve been browsing The Accidental Dictionary by Paul Anthony Jones this week. Jones tweets and blogs as Haggard Hawks and he is a “word-nerd.” I’ve also read a couple of pieces from Words Are My Matter, a collection of essays and reviews from Ursula K. LeGuin. On Tuesday,I had to use my non-dominant hand to pry my fingers free of NNedi Okorafor’s The Book of Phoenix, because I had social engagements scheduled and I knew if I read one more paragraph, I was not going to leave the house until I finished it. It became my prime book at our New Year’s getaway.

Sandy: Moi? I have finally finished plowing through another massive anthology of stories drawn from the pages of Weird Tales magazine, the collection called Weird Tales: Seven Decades of Terror, and hope to get a review for this one out very shortly. In the meantime, I have started a new book, one of Philip K. Dick’s early efforts that I have not read before. It is 1957’s Eye in the Sky, and I am loving it from the get-go. One more thing: My very best wishes to all my fellow FanLit reviewers, and to all our loyal readers around the world, for a healthy and Happy New Year!

Stuart: Since returning to Tokyo I went straight back to work and promptly caught a cold thanks to jet-lag, the sharp change in temperature, and heading straight back to work. So I didn’t do much reading other than finishing off Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities (English edition 1974). It’s such an elusive book of imaginary cities that it defies a traditional review approach. I also finished the Jonathan Davis-narrated 4 audio volumes of Gene Wolfe‘s BOOK OF THE NEW SUN, which was excellent, but these books are also tough to review since there are so many layers of plotting, meaning and symbolism. Fortunately Kat has already reviewed them, but I may try to add some insight from Marc Aramini’s analysis in Between Light and Shadow: An Exploration of the Fiction of Gene Wolfe, 1951 to 1986.

Tadiana: The month of December was a busy one, so I’m just checking in for the first time since the beginning of the month. I’ve done a little Christmas reading: Miracle and Other Stories by Connie Willis, as well as a couple of Christmas-themed SFF stories that I reviewed in the December 23 SFF(riday) column. Other notable December reads for me were We Are Legion by Dennis E. Taylor, a delightful SF yarn that I liked as well as Stuart did, Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi, a short, laugh-out-loud collection by John Scalzi, Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson, and a beta read of White Hot that Ilona Andrews was kind enough to send me (the second book in their HIDDEN LEGACY series). Non-SFF reads were dominated by alternating brain candy romances and classics to finish up my 2016 Bingo challenge (I achieved blackout! Yes!!), including The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare, and “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor. Happy New Year to all, and sincere wishes for lots of great reads in 2017!

Terry: Christmas travel from California to the Midwest and back again allowed me to read two more of Benedict Jacka‘s series about Alex Verus, a mage in today’s London who has the gift of being able to see alternate futures in the near and mid-range future. I finished Chosen and Hidden, and enjoyed both; I’m now reading Veiled, which promises to be the best yet. I also read The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth Durst, which I enjoyed but not as much as my fellow Fantasy Literature reviewers, for reasons I’ll explain in my short review, to come soon. I still have a ridiculous number of books started and temporarily set aside, and hope to catch up with them during January. 2016 has been a bad reading and reviewing year, but I hope 2017 holds much better for me than writer’s and reader’s block.

Tim: This week, I went on something of a literary kick and started reading David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, which is fascinating and almost aggressively clever, but also a colossal brick of a book that will probably defeat me on sheer size somewhere in the middle. Ah well. I also began listening to Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. I’ve read it before, but the performance of the narrator in this edition really adds something.

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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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One comment

  1. I think Red Sonja is my favourite guest character we have. Thanks for the laughs Tim!

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