Sunday Status Update: March 24, 2013

This week, Jirel of Joiry throws down the sword & sorcery gauntlet.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Jirel: Whilst trapped in an ineffable darkness beneath the earth, I came upon a certain codex bathed in light (from whence either light or text came I could not say). Tarrying there some breaths ere returning to my forlorn odyssey, I took up the volume out of a whisper of curiosity. I found it to be the account of a man’s life, a warrior called Conan of Cimmeria. I passed no more than twenty leaves ere I felt my soul ablaze with disgust: this Conan was clearly a ridiculous, affected pansy.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Kat: I was pretty busy this week, so I didn’t get a chance to read as much as usual, even on audio. I did manage to finish Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, which is one of his best books. By the time you read this I’ll probably also be finished with Isaac Asimov’s first FOUNDATION book. I’m also reading a great collection of Joe Haldeman’s stories which is called The Best of Joe Haldeman.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Kelly: This week, I set aside a couple of books I’d been having trouble getting into, and picked up River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay on the strength of Bill’s review. This is the first time I’ve read Kay since a friend’s unsuccessful attempt to hook me on the FIONAVAR TAPESTRY back in the early oughties. I’m really enjoying River of Stars — it’s beautifully written and satisfies the historical fiction craving I’ve been having lately.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Marion: I started a nonfiction book called The Secret Life of Pronouns, by James Pennebaker. So far, this is disappointing. While the idea is cool – scientifically gathered data on how various demographic groups (age, gender, financial status, educational status) use articles of speech and pronouns differently – the book is a little fluffy, and so far he’s made several leaps of logic that he doesn’t support with data. He also does that most irritating thing; giving a dramatic story that shows a surprising result, then admonishing us in the next paragraph that this is anecdotal and we “shouldn’t read too much into it.”

Fortunately, John Lawton has saved me with his atmospheric World War II mystery Black Out. Lawton writes rich, witty prose and has created an unusual character for his police detective. I finished Felix Gilman’s The Rise of Ransom City, and was completely satisfied.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Terry: I read The Queen, the Cambion and Seven Others, a collection of short stories by Richard Bowes based on fairy and folk tales. Very enjoyable; review soon. I also finished reading Crackpot Palace, a collection by Jeffrey Ford, one of my favorites. I recommend not reading his stories under the influence of Vicodin, as I did (dental work; infection), as they can give you very vivid nightmares and frighten you even when you’re awake even without pain pills. Boy, that guy can write! Finally, I’m reading Kate Atkinson‘s Life After Life, which is a thoroughly delightful novel about a woman born in 1910 who finds myriad ways to die, but manages to fix them on the next go-round (or, sometimes, the one after that or even the one after that). It’s a fantasy concept used to fullest advantage by this mainstream writer. Nothing thrills me more these days than mashups of genres, and this is one of the finest.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Tim: This week I proceeded (intermittently) with Trudi Canavan‘s The Magician’s Apprentice, but I’m finding that the further I go, the more the poor characterization is trying my patience. I feel I should be able to get some decent review fodder out of it, though, so I’m resolved to finish. I also read a children’s book, Edward Eager‘s Half Magic, which was sweet, harmless, and over in a blink.


Bill:   This week I read a lot of busted brackets (Curse your fun-to-root-for underdogdom!).  I did manage to squeeze in Robin Hobb’s newest:  Blood of Dragons, which was a little too slow for me, even for a Hobb novel.

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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. Kelly, glad to hear you’re enjoying River of Stars so far. Soon as I was done I gave it to my wife who is now halfway through and loving it. An early contender for my top ten list this year . . .

    Terry: I was curious about Atkinson’s book, based on her detective novels with Jackson Brodie (the fourth of which is currently a Kindle daily deal), which I’m a big fan of.

    Marion–nice to see another vote for Gilman’s work. Too bad on that first book–great title though!

    C’mon Iowa State–just grab the damn rebound! Oh wait, sorry . . .

    • Both my teams moved on today: the Florida Gators (undergrad) and the Indiana Hoosiers (grad). Every time they both make it this far I wonder who I’ll root for if they meet up in the final four, but they never do….

      Tim, you’re so funny!

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