Sunday Status Update: January 29, 2017

This week, Batman again.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Batman: Field report for January: joined the Justice League in an interstellar war against the New Gods. Confronted their cosmically superpowered leader myself, stared him down. Returned to Gotham following the crisis’ resolution, and was promptly knocked out and taken captive by Two-Face (a deranged lawyer with no particular combat expertise). Naturally I escaped, but I must admit that sometimes my life seems bizarrely dichotomous, as if my Fate is written by a completely different hand when I’m in Gotham. Perhaps some kind of psychological complaint is to blame? Maybe I subtly let down my guard while at home. Must watch for this. Final note: have at last determined the method whereby Wonder Woman avoids wardrobe malfunctions in combat. Very surprising. Had expected some kind of adhesive inside the bustier, but it seems that… [remainder of entry unreadable due to heavy rent in paper, as if from a sword]

Bill: This week I finished some lingering collections:
The Long, Long Life of Trees by Fiona, engaging essays about, well, trees.
What Playwrights Talk About When They Talk About Writing, a series of compelling interviews by Jeffrey Sweet with about 20 American and British playwrights
Comics Confidential: Thirteen Graphic Novelists talk Story, Craft, and Life Outside the Box, another fascinating series of interviews, these by Leonard S. Marcus

I also read a slew of old Thor comics. Sure, the faux Shakespearean language can be a bit much, but I quite enjoyed them beyond the nostalgia factor. Some great panels artistically, love the sci-fi/fantasy trappings of Asgard, and was pleasantly surprised at some of Thor’s higher-level musings on human nature

Finally, over at, we wrapped up our reread of Ian Cameron Esslemont’s Assail. Feel free to check in with us on the 17th when we begin reading Steven Erikson’s Forge of Darkness 

Marion: I continue to enjoy and learn from Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. I read both of the MR MYSTIC urban fantasies by Alyc (pronounced “Alice”) Helms; The Dragons of Heaven and The Conclave of Shadows. Helms is masterfully blending conventional urban fantasy with caped-and-masked hero fare. Nice stuff. And I’m halfway through Paul Crilley’s funny/weird/suspenseful Department Zero. It’s Lovecraftian, with a High Priest of the Elder Gods who sounds like he took a Tony Robbins motivational speaking class, and a mentor who is very attached to the word “groovy.”

StuartThis week I began the new audiobook The Found and the Lost: The Collected Novellas of Ursula K. Le Guin (2016) and decided to listen again to the stories that make up 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. On a second listen,  I discovered these stories are about more than slavery, oppression, and revolution. The back stories of each Ekumen envoy are fully-developed and not just a narrative device to allow insights about Werel and Yeowe from the outside.

Terry: It’s been a few weeks since you last heard from me in this round-up, but I’m afraid you haven’t missed much — my reading is still surprisingly scattered, and I keep putting books down without finishing them. Not because they’re not good, mind you, but because my mind is more focused on work and politics (being a political activist takes up a lot of time, I’m finding, but it sure is fulfilling!). That said, I’ve finished Path of Flames by Phil Tucker for SFPBO, which I liked enough that I’ve already purchased the next book in the series, The Black Shriving, something I rarely (if ever) do with self-published books. Having rediscovered my love for long works of epic fantasy with Tucker’s work, and being prompted by’s reread, I’ve started Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson, and I’m enjoying it mightily — I keep wanting to stop everything else and just devote hours on end to immersing myself in this world. I’m also reading The Poison Eater by Shanna Germain, which has an interesting first person narrator. I’m curious to see where this one goes.

Tim: This week, I began reading the manga Trigun, by Yasuhiro Nightow. So far, it’s an interesting addition to the “Space Western” genre, though the tonal shifts common to shonen manga seem to be particularly frenetic here (the series seems to bounce back and forth between comic and serious whenever it feels like it). I’ve also begun looking at Michael Moorcock‘s The Dancers at the End of Time.

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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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