Sunday Status Update: March 6, 2016

This week, Ron ponders the mystery of Hogwarts teachers.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Ron: Hermione said a funny thing the other day. I was complaining about the unholy length of McGonagall’s essay assignment (as any sane person would), and Hermione was defending her as per usual. Anyway, this time she was trying to make out like McGonagall was doing us a favor asking for a long essay. “The teachers have lives too, you know,” she said. “They don’t have to grade long papers.” And that sounds good and all, but… do they? I hadn’t heard about it. They all seem to live at the school, and I don’t ever hear of them having spouses or kids or anything. And it’s not like you can just apparate out to London for a pint with your mates whenever you like, because there’s no apparition on castle grounds and half the time we seem to locked in here by dementors or whatever. So they’re basically stuck here with us and their only social interactions are with each other. They’re like some kind of funny monastic order in pointy hats.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that I ended up feeling really bad for Professor McGonagall and wrote the essay. You win this time, Hermione.

Jana: This week I made progress with Ken Liu‘s The Paper Menagerie, and I foresee an enthusiastic review in my future. I haven’t had time to start anything new, but I’ll do my best to have the Liu review ready and posted during the upcoming week.

João: Finished Steven Erikson’s Memories of Ice and moved onto House of Chains. Memories of Ice was freaking amazing, certainly one of the best books I have ever read. I don’t usually get emotional when I read, I know a lot of people say they cry when they read books but that’s never been me. I read Flowers for Algernon because everyone said they cried at the end and I wanted to see if I would as well. I didn’t. Now, I didn’t cry while I read Memories, but boy was I close. Poor Mallet… I haven’t read much of House of Chains yet because, like Deadhouse Gates, it’s not with the set of characters from Gardens of the Moon and Memories of Ice, which I have grown to love. I’ll read it of course, but with House of Cards out now it takes a bit more effort to pick it up.

Kate: Last week, I was at WriteFest in Houston for the whole week, doing writing workshops and meeting other SFF authors and editors of Uncanny, Mothership Zeta, and Clarkesworld. This week, I’ve been catching up after my trip with class planning and grading, so I haven’t had much time for reading. But each night, I’ve been slowly making my way through V.E. Schwab‘s A Gathering of Shadows, which is a dark and exciting follow-up to A Darker Shade of Magic. I’ve also been listening to lots of podcasts, specifically Clarkesworld, and just enjoyed the fantastic stories “Everybody Loves Charles” by Bao Shu and “Blood Dauber” by Ted Kosmatka and Michael Poore.

Katie: I’ve digested an interesting mix this week. I literally just put down Stephen King’s On Writing and am suitably inspired to start writing my masterpiece. Alongside King I have been enjoying C. S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet which, considering I’ve never strayed far from Narnia, is a revelation. I’m afraid to say I’ve been so inspired by my FanLit colleagues’ reading recommendations that I haven’t read anything un-reviewed for a while (which is poor excuse for my absence). Next on my list will be something new and exciting with a review coming soon.

Marion: This week I finished up the first book in Eric Flint’s 1632 series, which is called… 1632. Large parts of it were very fun, but at the end I was struck by how purely 20th century it is. It is – the book was published in the year 2000, and it has an… optimism(?) I guess, that I don’t think we would see in this alt-history story if it were being written today. I fell headfirst into Sofia Samatar’s The Winged Histories, intoxicated by her luscious prose, and captivated by the family secrets that are glanced at and hinted at. The Winged Histories is set in the same world as her award-winning A Stranger in Olondria, but it is not a direct sequel, although I think a few minor characters from that book make an appearance. In some ways, The Winged Histories reminds me of LeGuin’s The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness, not by subject matter, but because of the detail and plausibility of the created societies. One difference; Samatar’s character are steeped in their culture and they do not tell their stories with the eye of an outsider. And I probably should have saved that insight for the review.

Stuart: This week I finished Frank Miller‘s A Dame to Kill For (SIN CITY Vol 2) and the third volume of the wonderful SAGA space opera. It’s hard to imagine two more different comics, but both are fun in their own unique ways. A Dame To Kill For seems to suggest that even the most powerful and dangerous men are mere playthings when a gorgeous and manipulative woman has her way. I wonder if he has issues with women. Meanwhile, SAGA continues to impress – it’s hilarious, brutal, romantic and moving all at once, and the storyline is extremely unpredictable. As for audiobooks, I’m planning to start Octavia Butler‘s XENOGENESIS series next, starting with Dawn. Hopefully it will be a bit less grim than the PATTERNIST series.

Tim: This week, I cycled back into superhero comics. First I read Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross (review forthcoming), and then I moved on to Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean. Finally, I reread Batman: Hush after reading Stuart’s review.

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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. I’m really enjoying Ron’s status update this week

  2. Kate, WriteFest sounds wonderful!

  3. dr susan /

    Kate!!! Stop now!! It’s a trick! There’s going to be at least one more book, and Gathering’s cliffhanger is massive! It’s too late for me; save yourself!

  4. Tim, glad to inspire you to read Batman: Hush. Jim Lee is quite the artist – can he draw anyone that doesn’t look like Mr. & Mrs. Olympia?

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