Sunday Status Update: January 22, 2017

This week, Ayesha.

Ayesha: Week 148,893. As my prophesied love Kallikrates still apparently hasn’t seen fit to get reincarnated and return to me, I once again had to come up with my own amusements this week. So I decided to fake my death. I gathered my people together, climbed up the side of the mountain, made a great big speech about existential despair and the human condition (totally wasted on my audience), and jumped. Four hundred feet onto solid stone. Well, it took them a while, but eventually they decided I was really dead and they ought to decide on a new leader. Some of them wanted democracy, and some wanted a monarchy, and it was all very fascinating, really. Of course, eventually some big lout decided to make himself king on the spot and started punching, so I had to get up and blast him. Then, of course, it was back to the usual awe and horror and religious fanaticism. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted.

Jana: This week I picked up some shorter works of fiction, and as a result, managed to get a fair amount finished. I read a 2016 science fiction short story, “Ye Highlands and Ye Lowlands,” and a 2017 ghost story/light horror novella, Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day, by Seanan McGuire; they’re very different thematically (and completely unconnected), but they each convey her tremendous sensitivity for loss and regret. I’m pleased to say that McGuire, both as herself and as her alter-ego Mira Grant, is rapidly becoming one of my go-to authors. Harper Perennial is re-issuing Pat Frank’s classic Cold War-era novels, so I read Forbidden Area this week and plan to read Hold Back the Night next week, with reviews to follow. I also read Kim Liggett’s debut YA horror novel, The Last Harvest, which was enjoyable but owes a heavy debt to Ira Levin’s masterpiece Rosemary’s Baby, so the “twists” weren’t really that twisty for me. Again, review to follow. And I have a review-in-progress for Battle Hill Bolero, the final chapter in Daniel José Older‘s BONE STREET RUMBA trilogy, which was flawed but generally good. For my own entertainment, I read Deanna Raybourn’s second novel in her VERONICA SPEEDWELL mystery series, A Perilous Undertaking; she captures Victorian-era England well, and her lepidopterist/amateur sleuth Miss Speedwell is quite the firebrand. If anyone else enjoys reading about adventures in that time period and is looking for a “lady detective” series, I highly recommend this one.

Kat: As I keep mentioning, my job is keeping me really busy lately, so it’s been a long time since I finished a novel. But this week, I did finish my re-read of Tad WilliamsThe Stone of Farewell, the second in his MEMORY SORROW AND THORN trilogy. It recently came out on audio in preparation for a new novel set in Osten Ard which came out a couple of weeks ago (and which I’ll get to soon). These books are not quite as awesome as I remember, mainly because I don’t have the patience for such a slow pace anymore, but Tad Williams is a great storyteller and an excellent word builder. I’m looking forward to reading his new work!

Marion: I read two thrillers this week; Hester Young’s The Gates of Evangeline, and, based on Kelly’s review, Arrowood by Laura McHugh. They were both atmospheric and engrossing. Right now I’m reading Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. This is the book that inspired the movie. (While the three main characters in the film were historical figures, much of what transpires in the movie is condensed and many characters are composites. You should still go see it; it’s a great movie.) I’m also reading The Fuller Memorandum by Charles Stross.

Sandy: Moi? I have just finished reading one of Philip K. Dick’s more undervalued novels, Vulcan’s Hammer (1960), and have immediately started to read another one of his books from that same year: Dr. Futurity. This one also suffers with a very poor reputation, but I have never let that stop me from reading any book – or seeing any film, for that matter – from creative people who I have long admired. I hope to get a review of this one out very shortly…

StuartLast week I finished Walter M. Miller‘s A Canticle for Leibowitz (1960), and basically my views remain unchanged. I recognize the message that mankind continues to repeat the mistakes of the past, including nuclear destruction, but I couldn’t connect with his view of the role of faith and religion in the world. Next, I moved on to Ursula K. Le Guin‘s Four Ways to Forgiveness (1995) a set of linked stories about the two worlds of Werel and Yeowe, the former which colonized the latter using a light-skinned slave populace. When the Ekumen recontacts these worlds after long absence, this triggers a revolution among the slaves (“assets”) of Yeowe, which threatens to spill over to the slaves of Werel as well. It’s a heavy-duty exploration of the long-term effects of racism, oppression, sexual politics, and social structures.

Tadiana: It’s been a busy three weeks since I last checked in on our Sunday status updates. My SFF reads in the past few weeks: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, a medieval Russian folktale inspired fantasy; Tempest: All-New Tales of Valdemar, a rather forgettable anthology of short stories edited by Mercedes LackeyJust One Damned Thing After Another (THE CHRONICLES OF ST. MARY’S #1) by Jodi Taylor, a time-travel adventure that owes more than a little to Connie WillisOXFORD TIME TRAVEL series, in plot ideas if not in style; Fionn: Defence of Ráth Bládhma by Brian O’Sullivan, one of the ten finalists in the SPFBO contest; The Rising by Heather Graham and Jon Land, a YA SF suspense novel, and Agent of the Crown by Melissa McShane, a somewhat romantic fantasy in THE CROWN OF TREMONTAINE series. In non-SFF land, I read Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, a dual-timeline novel centered on the roundup of Jews in France during WWII, and I’m working on finishing up The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Tim: This week, I finally got back from my residency, so I’ve been able to get back into some more reading. It’s mostly been light stuff, though, as I promptly caught a bad cold and my ability to focus dropped to nearly nil. I’ve been reading Alan Moore‘s Miracleman series (although I suppose we’re now just calling it The Original Author’s Miracleman series, as Mr. Moore evidently does not want to be connected with the reprints), and also listening to Michael J. Sullivan‘s Age of Myth on audio, though I’ve only just begun.

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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. Ayesha, have you checked Tinder? ‘Cause I think your man has reincarnated.

  2. Tadiana, I was planning to start that Jodi Taylor series since I’ve been collecting the books at Audible. I look forward to your review.

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