Sunday Status Update: January 17, 2016

This week, Supergirl realizes she’s an illegal alien.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Supergirl: So, I don’t really interact with modern society a lot. I don’t have a job or anything. Don’t need one. I sold Batman some of the tech from my ship a while back (before he decided he hated me for whatever reason), and he transferred some of his Scrooge McDuck fortune into an account under my name. So I have money, and I have an apartment, and occasionally I go out and punch someone and other people give me free stuff (seriously, I have like six crates of Vanilla Coke in my closet right now because I used a Coke machine to hit a villain once and it went on TV). Anyway, point is that I don’t actually have much reason to engage with human culture. Mostly I just watch Netflix.

But the other day, someone knocked on my door and announced that I was an illegal alien. So I told him okay, and shut the door. But he kept coming back and saying things about the government and how I had to get a green card and sign this form and that form. I ended up just shoving my soda crates against the door and ignoring it. I mostly use the windows anyway. So then there was this big to-do and my cousin had to get involved and everyone was super pissy at me for a while. And now I’m a legal alien. I have a visa or something? I kept telling them that I already have a visa and it’s how I pay for my apartment, but apparently that wasn’t the right visa. So whatever.

Oh, and Red Robin called and asked if I needed to marry someone to stay in the country. So that’s a thing.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Bill:This week I read Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, which was solid enough, though your response will probably depend on your tolerance for YA romance (mine has grown slim). I also read a collection of essays by James Attlee entitled Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight, which overall was disappointing but had its lovely moments. I also read a few stories in LIghtspeed and Fantasy & Science Fiction, both of which will appear in our short fiction review column. On tap is Ian Cameron Esselmont’s Blood and Bone, which I’ll be starting this week in the ongoing MALAZAN reread over at And our book club is reading David Liss’ The Devil’s Company

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Jana: This week I re-read In the Hand of the Goddess and The Woman Who Rides Like a Man, books 2 and 3 in Tamora Pierce‘s SONG OF THE LIONESS quartet, so I could write up reviews (and start chipping away at my ridiculous list of Old Stuff Which Needs to be Reviewed). I re-read a pile of short online fiction, too: “Brisk Money,” “Points of Origin,” and “The Long and Silent Ever After,” for SHORTS contributions. I also started The Impostor Queen, by Sarah Fine, a recently-published YA fantasy novel with magic and hidden queens and other fun elements. I spent less time reading than I did writing and working on upcoming posts, but I feel good about what I was able to accomplish.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kat: Only two novellas this week, but both are quite good: Lois McMaster Bujold’s Penric’s Demon, which is set in her award-winning FIVE GODS world, and Garth Nix’s Newt’s Emerald, a steampunk adventure/romance. Today I’ll probably finish Robert A. Heinlein’s The Star Beast, one of his juveniles. Blackstone Audio has been releasing a lot of Heinlein’s work recently, so I’ve been listening to them.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kevin: This week, I was pretty blown away by Brandon Sanderson’s upcoming Bands of Mourning – absolutely loved this title and amazing cover, too! Having started Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver and just finished Kate Elliot’s Black Wolves, I’ve taken a break in Adrian Tchaikovsky’s SHADOWS OF THE APT series; I am, however, planning on returning to that series at some point in the near future J There’s a ton of new releases I’m looking forward to this year, so I’m very excited about the next few months. For a sneak preview of what I really can’t wait for: Brandon Sanderson’s Bands of Mourning andCalamity, Robert Jackson Bennett’s City of Blades, Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven King, Daniel Abraham’s The Spider War, Brian Staveley’s The Last Mortal Bond, an untitled Brian McClellan novel, Django Wexler’s Palace of Glass, JRR Tolkien’s The Story of Kullervo, Naomi Novik’s League of Dragons, Guy Gavriel Kay’s Children of Earth & Sky, and tons more…

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Marion: Mostly, it seemed like I read obituaries this week; I don’t want to do that anymore.  For a while, I explored the rabbit-hole of Gene Wolfe commentary on the internet, because I just reread The Fifth Head of Cerberus. Lots of people write seriously about Wolfe; a few of them maybe a little too seriously, and I engaged in a bit of schadenfreude when I realized most of them don’t know what’s going on in those stories either. I finished Carol Berg’s second novel in the SANCTUARY series and was pleased, as always. I took some time to reread some older works of my own, which was heartening, a bit, and in one case really disheartening. At least one piece will go up on my own blog as a fiction version of a Fashion Don’t: “No white shoes after Labor Day, and no awkward-executed info-dumps.”

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Sandy: Moi? I am currently in the middle of a little Leigh Brackett reading project, to celebrate the author’s recent centennial, and have just finished the first two of five novels featuring her most famous character, Eric John Stark. I hope to get reviews of those first two books, The Secret of Sinharat and People of the Talisman, written and ready for you this coming weekend. Up next for me will be the Stark trilogy of books written in the ‘70s, the first of which is entitled The Ginger Star

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Stuart: After finishing Alan Moore‘s Watchmen and V for Vendetta, I’ve started Frank Miller‘s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. It’s strange to think I saw this comic came out back in 1986 and thought it looked cool but was too busy reading SFF books to make time for it. Since the Dark Knight has gotten the big-screen treatment from Christopher Nolan, it’s nice to finally check out the comic that first reinterpreted the Batman character. Meanwhile, I just finished the audiobook of Cormac McCarthy‘s Blood Meridian. Such a tough book to assess. McCarthy’s incredible descriptions of the rugged Southwest are impressive, but the story itself is so bloody-drenched, brutal, and unpleasant. What is the story say about human nature? Are we inevitably drawn to violence? Does this make our existence more genuine? It’s very hard to figure out the message, especially the cryptic philosophical comments of the Judge. It’s not part of the genre, but for some reason many of us have read it.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tadiana: I’ve (finally!) finished Robert Jordan‘s The Eye of the World, which at times was a bit of a chore, frankly, but in the end I deemed it worthwhile. I’m not certain yet if it was sufficiently worthwhile for me to want to plow through the rest of the WHEEL OF TIME series, but I’ll probably read the second book and then decide whether to continue from there. The remainder of my SFF reading this week has been in the short fiction area, including a reread of Ursula Vernon’s fantastic Nebula-winning short story “Jackalope Wives” and then her brand-new novella sequel to that story, The Tomato Thief, which I’ll review in our Short Fiction Monday feature tomorrow. In the non-SFF area, I reread Georgette Heyer’s delightful Black Sheep, a Regency novel, and am almost halfway through Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tim: This week I finished up with Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman‘s Dragon Wing. Review forthcoming. I also began listening to an audio edition of William MorrisWood Beyond the World. I’ve never really gotten into Morris’ work before, though hypothetically it’s right up my alley. I’m the sort of lunatic, after all, who reads Le Morte D’Arthur for fun, so I’m a member of that small segment of the population Morris was writing for (or at) with all of his self-consciously anachronistic terminology. And… yeah, well, actually that assessment is on the money to an extent. There’s nothing a liberal arts student with very esoteric interests likes better than to have someone pander directly to those fascinations. That said, it is possible to carry the conceit too far. Tolkien was very good at finding a balance between pastiche and reinvention that allowed his work to feel just approachable enough to function as modern fiction for the layman. Morris leans away from modern methods of writing character in pursuit of closer uniformity with an older tradition. Which is a shame, because the kinds of fairy tales from which he’s drawing are not exactly renowned for their nuanced characterization.

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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. Supergirl, does this mean your job at Kat Grant’s media empire is an unpaid internship? That is outrageous!

    I think Cormac McCarthy is inevitably drawn to violence.

  2. dr susan /

    I never knew Supergirl was so funny! I loved Penric’s Demon and the Sanctuary series.

  3. Marion, regarding the Gene Wolfe rabbit hole of literary analysis, did you notice a guy named Marc Aramini made some very detailed comments on my review of Gene Wolfe’s short story collection? Turns out he’s done a series of YouTube videos exploring and explaining some of Wolfe’s major works, which you might find very interesting. In the end, my feeling is that any story or book that requires an expert analyst to tell us why it is so brilliant is not reader-friendly and fails the requirement that books entertain and engage us, instead of just being obscure allegories. In terms of Wolfe’s books, I think Book of the New Sun succeeds in being an excellent science-fantasy epic with mythic overtones that can be enjoyed on many levels. The Fifth Head of Cerberus is definitely deep, but is not nearly as accessible.

    • Yes, I did recognize that name! And he has a book of Wolfe Lit-crit coming out from a small publisher this year, I think. Obviously he loves Wolfe. I didn’t really think Fifth Head of Cerberus needs pages of academic explication, but I did enjoy reading some of the essays.

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