Sunday Status Update: January 19, 2014

This week, Granuaile from the Iron Druid chronicles.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Granuaile: I didn’t read any books this week. Or last week. Or the week prior, for that matter. Armageddon is nigh, we’re constantly on the run, and transforming into animals on a regular basis doesn’t make keeping a book very easy. It’s hard to rig a tote bag so that it fits falcon, seal, horse, jaguar, and human. I haven’t read a newspaper, either. I haven’t spent much time in an internet cafe. I’m thoroughly cut off from the world.

So how the heck does Atticus somehow keep dropping jokes that people around react to as pop culture references?

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Kat: Due to some extra duties at work, the normal beginning of the semester rush, and my father’s poor health, I’ve managed to read only five books so far this year. That is unusual for me and makes me grateful for my usual low-stress lifestyle. I hope to return to it soon! Meanwhile, I read two books this week, both quite good. One of those, All You Zombies, a collection of five short stories by Robert A. Heinlein, was very short, so hardly counts. The other was Alex Bledsoe’s fifth EDDIE LACROSSE mystery, He Drank, and Saw the Spider which I’ve already reviewed.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Terry: I’ve loved Kage Baker ever since I discovered In the Garden of Iden, and I’ve read everything she’s written, I think. In fact, I’m pretty sure of it, now that I’ve read In the Company of Thieves, which Baker’s sister Kathleen Bartholomew finished after Baker’s untimely death at the tender age of 58 (much, much too young). It’s a terrific collection of stories, including only one I’ve read before (“The Women of Nell Gwynne’s”). I’ll have a review soon. I’m also reading Hard Spell by Justin Gustainis, a noir thriller about a police officer investigating cases involving “supes” — that is, the supernatural. A wizard is killing vampires for some infernal purpose, and Gustainis’s protagonist has to stop him before it’s too late (thought no one knows what happens if “too late” occurs). It has a number of first novel problems, but generally speaking, it’s fun.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Tim: This week, I read Mary Doria Russell‘s The Sparrow and John Wyndham‘s The Day of the Triffids. Both were readable but ultimately a bit underwhelming to me.  The Sparrow is one of the (surprisingly large) subsection of Sci/Fi we can refer to as “Jesuits in Space.” Generally, a novel from this category is about a devout man who travels to the stars and experiences a crisis of faith. The Sparrow is no exception, but I have to say that — while the priest’s experience was sufficiently horrific and the prose was great — it ultimately didn’t justify its cosmic setting for me. It’s a problem in a novel about interstellar travel when you can imagine taking out the interstellar travel and losing nothing you liked about the book. Space happened to be convenient for Russell, I think, but she could have told the same story in regard to some obscure destination on Earth. The Day of the Triffids suffered from similar issues… I had a hard time figuring out why the Triffids needed to be there at all. Which is especially problematic given that the Triffids — ambulatory man-sized venus flytraps with instant-kill poison stingers, which are somehow ubiquitous all over the world on the theory that if you prune the stingers, there’s no problem — represent a pretty big suspension of disbelief. I get that Wyndham was more interested in his political points than in the apparatus he’d assembled to make them, but it was still annoying to me.

Bill:  Since my last update, I’ve read, in order of enjoyment:Vicious by V.E. Schwab, The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson, Three Princes by Ramona Wheeler, Expiration Day by William Powell, with only the first two garnering a recommend vote.  In non-fiction, I read two titles in the so-far, so-good Osprey MYTHS AND LEGENDS series—Thor and King Arthur, both well-done introductions to their topics.  I also read several of the opening stories in 21st Century Science Fiction, edited by David G. Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden, quite enjoying Vandan Singh’s “Infinities” (A moving story with a lot of math in it. Really.  A lot of math) and Paolo Bacigalupi’s “The Gambler” (the future of journalism) and not so much Charles Stross’ “Rogue Farm”, which seemed utterly predicable despite its inventive creations.  I also read the play Rabbit Hole, by David Lindsay-Abaire and reread Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia.

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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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