Sunday Status Update: June 7, 2015

This week, Tarzan. 

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tarzan: This week, Jane is once again in peril and I must hurry across the length and breadth of Africa to save her. Naturally, those two perfidious Russians (who I think of, I admit, as Dumb and Dumberov) are once more to blame, somehow. Also, yet another barbarian queen has fallen in love with me, so I’m forced to keep fending off her advances while I search for Jane. This barbarian queen, mind you, is very well-spoken. I have to focus on not paying attention to her when she points out that she probably wouldn’t get kidnapped as often as does Jane. I am of course devoted to my wife, but the thought is not unappealing… no. No weakness. Onward. Rescue wife, defeat Russians, save day.

Then, probably, do it all again in a month or two.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews João: Last week I finished The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard, a very anticipated novel, with an incredibly interesting premise, that starts really well but falters toward the middle, never delivering on its promise. I went on to read Tanith Lee’s Silver Metal Lover, which I fell in love with it and should have a review up this week, and am now almost finishing Volkhavaar, another one by Tanith Lee, and as close as a perfect novel as you can get. Seriously, it boggles my mind that someone could write the way Tanith Lee did. You would give your arm and sell your two unborn children to be able to write half as well as she did.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kat: Last week I told you that I liked all the books I had read the previous week. This past week seemed to be devoted to evening out the score. I got a lot done, but none of it was truly enjoyable. I started with L.E. Modesitt Jr’s last two COREAN CHRONICLES novels: The Lord-Protector’s Daughter and Lady-Protector. I thought these were pretty dull reads… until I picked up the last five novels in Roger Zelazny’s famous AMBER CHRONICLES (Trumps of Doom, Blood of Amber, Sign of Chaos, Knight of Shadows, Prince of Chaos). I read these many years ago and I re-read them in audio format this week. Now I know why I didn’t remember them and why I probably won’t remember them at this time next year. They are a severe decline from the first five AMBER CHRONICLES. I don’t recommend them, although I have to say that Wil Wheaton did a great job with the audio performance.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Marion: I am finishing up On Being Certain, by Robert A Burton, MD. It’s made me want to buy several of the books in the bibliography. I am also halfway through George Washington’s Secret Six, about Washington’s New York spy ring. This is the book that AMC used for its series Turn. The most intriguing member of the spy ring is the female Agent 355, who remains anonymous to this day. The book (mostly ghostwritten) has Brian Kilmeade’s and Don Yaeger’s names on the cover. It’s not very well written, but it is interesting!

I started Field of Dishonor, by David Weber. This is book four of the HONOR HARRINGTON series and I don’t think I’m going to finish it. I did order a copy of On Basilisk Station, though, because I haven’t read it in twenty years and I think I might like it better. Honor is such a Mary Sue, but I do like the cat.  Rounding out my reading this week, the novelette candidates for the Hugo award. I was disappointed, but maybe Terry will have a better experience. I look forward to her column; maybe she will change my point of view about one or two of them.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Ryan: I’m still reading Neal Stephenson‘s Seveneves, but I’ve had to return it to the library since there are other holds. I’ll finish it next month, I hope. In the meantime, I’ve returned to Emmi Itäranta‘s Memory of Water, and I’m hoping to finish Kim Stanley Robinson‘s The Years of Salt and Rice this week.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Sandy: Moi? I have been so sidetracked by the mundanities of life lately (work, family, social, etc.) that I have not been able to get out a review for H. Rider Haggard’s fun novel of 1910, Queen Sheba’s Ring, which I hope to do this weekend. Next up for me is a book that falls outside of our bailiwick here, an Ian Fleming collection of 007 short stories, Octopussy. (Reading Bond in June always brings me back to the days of my yute. Don’t ask.) Finally, I am excited that we here at FanLit have started a new semiregular column of sci-fi and fantasy film reviews. I have just posted some such, for films such as Monster on the Campus, The Neanderthal Man, Village of the Damned and Children of theDamned. Stay tuned…

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Stuart: Audiobooks are a revelation. They’ve solved the ultimate dilemma I’ve had until now: wanting to read, but also wanting to be active, get outdoors, and rest my eyes which face a computer screen all week. Today’s plan: hop on the train to Takao-san, a nice hike just 1hr from Shinjuku. My book for today: Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy narrated by Stephen Fry. This week I finished listening to Iain M. BanksThe Player of Games, the second book in his Culture series which I last read over 20 years ago. I also started up another favorite from high school, Kurt Vonnegut‘s Slaughterhouse-Five, this one narrated by Ethan Hawke.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Terry: I’ve spent most of the week reading the Nebula-nominated novellas, which has been a real treat — there’s not a clunker in the bunch. By the time you read this, we’ll know which one won the Nebula, but this is really one contest where it’s absolutely true that it’s an honor to be nominated in such a terrific field. I especially loved We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory, but it’s awfully hard to pick a winner; these are all so different from one another. I’ve also been trying to catch up on all the articles I’ve sent to my Kindle via Readability, but I’ve hardly made a dent — mostly because I keep adding more every day. I’ve also nibbled at a few novels that I’ve had bookmarks in (to use Ryan’s way of putting it, which I love and am now stealing once and for all).

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tim: This week, I listened to a good bit of Susanna Clarke‘s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell on audiobook, but I’m going to have to keep working at it before I get close to finished (the novel is amazing but very long, and feels even longer without the option of skimming a footnote or two). In print, I’ve also begun Tanith Lee‘s The Birthgrave, which I’m enjoying as I enjoy pretty much all of her work.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Bill: This week I read Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Crime, a mostly strong follow-up to her The Winner’s Curse. Overall, the trilogy is building nicely. Matthew Kirby’s The Arctic Circle is the first book in a new MG trilogy that had its issues, but is probably an enjoyable quick read for younger readers. KM McKinley’s The Iron Ship was one of the more fascinating openings to a series I’ve read in a while, and now that so much has been set in motion, I’m looking forward to book two (look for our interview with her on June 16th). Dawn of the Algorithm by Yann Rousselot was a mostly disappointing collection of sci-fi poetry, though it has its nice comic moments. Finally, The Oregon Trail: An American Journey by Rink Buck was an informative and entertaining mix of the historical and contemporary Trail as he and his brother did as much of it as is now possible in their own covered wagon.

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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. Melanie Goldmund /

    Dumb and Dumberov

  2. Marion, I do not like Honor Harrington either. I do hope we can get all the books reviewed, though.

    Stuart. Audibooks: I know! I don’t know why everybody doesn’t read this way! I can get so much done!! And, like you, I spend a lot of time looking at the computer screen, so I love to be able to give my eyes a rest, plus just get out of my chair!

    Tim: I am currently listening to Harlan Ellison’s “Ellison Wonderland”. He gives Susanna Clarke’s book a scathing review, calling it a “bloviating gasbag of a fantasy.”

    Glad we’re getting more Tanith Lee reviewed. I love her work.

  3. Kat, I just don’t enjoy the experience of listening to an audiobook as much as I enjoy the experience of reading the written version. I don’t know why. Given how much my eyes hurt lately, though, I may have to make some changes — at least to physical books instead of books on screens.

    Marion, I wrote about the novelettes last Sunday, and mostly have to agree that the field wasn’t all that great. I did like the novelette that won the Nebula, though — “A Guide to the Fruits of Hawai’i” by Alaya Dawn Johnson.

    Tim, I sorta want to reread Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell before watching the television series, but I do find the length daunting — even though I loved it the first time.

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