Sunday Status Update: May 11, 2014

Seasons change, years change, but good old Drizzt remains a constant.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Drizzt: This week I had occasion to attend a most doleful event. ‘Twas a celebration of the life of Regis, a dear friend. I brought my dear panther Guenhwyvar, and she may have applied herself a touch too forcefully to a tray of hors douerves, but elsewise, the wake was conducted with solemnity befitting such a noble life and such a tragic demise. Each of us rose to speak of our great affection for Regis and the many delightful hours spent in his company (though, curiously, I noticed that all eulogies but mine tended toward brevity — perhaps some memo was lost in the mail).

Ah, but here we come to the most tragic hour of the tragic day. I rose to give my speech. I waxed eloquent, my friends, I confess it. Many a tale did I recall, many a happy hour recollect. My audience was enthralled. Some went so far as to close their eyes and relax, as if in deep meditation on the profundity of my words. I was reaching the very apex of my recollections, and I must own, weeping a bit in the throes of recitation, when who should appear from the other extremity of the hall… but Regis himself! Yes, he had not the simple courtesy to wait until I was finished with my oration before affecting his resurrection. Why do these things keep happening to me?

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsBill: This week I read: Unwrapped Sky, by Rjurik Davidson, which I thought didn’t quite meet its potential. Authorityby Jeff VanderMeer, which did and thus is going on my top ten list of the year. Skraelings, by Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, a young middle grade book. Set in an intriguing Inuit setting, it felt more like a short story, but it had its moments. Nothing: Surprising Insights Everywhere from Zero to Oblivion, a collection of science articles on, well, nothing.  Enjoyable enough but a bit too diffuse an organization and not surprising enough. Saga Volume 1   by Brian K. Vaughan (author) & Fiona Staples (illustrator), on the advice of our esteemed comic/graphic expert Brad.  If it weren’t five a.m., I’d be picking up Volume 2 right now.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Brad: This week I’ve been reading To Be Continued: The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg, Volume One and Silverberg’s Science Fiction 101: Exploring the Craft of Science Fiction. Science Fiction 101 is an anthology of short stories that influenced Silverberg, and the book includes both memoir and Silverberg’s extensive commentary on each story. I’m enjoying it greatly. On audio, I’ve continued to listen to my favorite Murakami novels. At the moment, I’m listening to Sputnik Sweetheart, the first novel I ever read by Murakami (which I read only because it was given to me years ago to review for a newspaper). In comics, I’ve just started the excellent She-Hulk and Amazing Spider-Man runs written a few years ago by Dan Slott (available in trade editions).

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Kat: I got a lot read this week, all on audio as usual. First was Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross (here’s my review). This financepunk story is up for a Hugo. It’s full of cool settings and ideas, but it needed to be emotionally warmer for me to fully enjoy it. Next wasRobert A. Heinlein’s Waldo & Magic, Inc which is a collection of two entertaining novellas. Next, and the best thing I read this week, was Jeff VanderMeer’s Authority. This was a weird middle book and I can’t wait for book three. Bill and I will be reviewing that soon. Lastly, I read the three novels in Mercedes Lackey’s THE LAST HERALD MAGE trilogy which is unique in that it was written in the late 1980s and features a homosexual hero. These books were too emo for me and rather standard fluffy epic fantasy.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Marion: I’m finishing up a second read of City of Stairs, by Robert Jackson Bennett, which is due out in the fall. Interesting stuff!  I also started A Splendid Exchange, by William Bernstein, a nonfiction book about the history of trade, and A Study in Revenge, a history-mystery by Kiernan Shields. On impulse, I bought Kelly Link’s Magic For Beginners from the used bookstore where I work. Why did it take me so long to read her work? It’s a lot like Karen Russell’s – and Link is also the cofounder of Small Beer Press.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsSandy:  Actually, there is not too much to update this week. I am reading H. Rider Haggard‘s 1918 novel Love Eternal, and as I said last week, it seems that there will certainly be fantastic content in this one, so that any review I write on it will fit in nicely on the FanLit site. I noticed that Grand Master Jack Williamson is sorely underrepresented — as far as reviews go — on the FanLit site, and I thought I could rectify that by supplying some older reviews of mine on this great author’s work. Just a thought.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Steven: Lately I’ve been reading (and in some cases re-reading) many of the TOR published pastiches featuring Robert E. Howard‘s CONAN character. The last week or so I’ve been reading Conan the Rogue which is author John Maddox Roberts’ take on the barbaric Cimmerian with overtones of Dashiell Hammett. Seriously, some of the plot elements seem to come from Hammett‘s Red Harvest and The Maltese Falcon. I’m actually really enjoying it.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Terry: It’s been a horrible, no good, very bad week around here, with the weight of legal work on my shoulders making me feel like Atlas hauling the world around. There’s been almost no time for reading, which is making me extraordinarily grumpy (my poor husband!). But I’m making time for a short story here and there — right now, mostly those of Ramsey Campbell, from his new(ish) collection, Holes for Faces. Today I’m going to read Anton Chekov‘s Uncle Vanya, because tonight we’re going to see a production of Christopher Durang‘s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.  It’s not fantasy, science fiction or horror, but it’s really good stuff.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Tim: This week I’ve been reading Peter V. Brett‘s The Daylight War, and slowly but surely proceeding with Jack Vance‘s The Dying Earth. I’m enjoying both, for very different reasons.

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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. Kat–I’m with you on all those reactions (I didn’t read the Stross, but I have felt that way about just about all of his work I’ve read

    Sandy–hmm, the only Jack Williamson novel I can recall reading is The Moon Children (if that was Williamson). Though I loved a lot of his stories. I’ll look forward to those reviews

  2. Brad /

    Bill — I’m VERY happy to hear you enjoyed Saga! Now that you’ve read and enjoyed Saga and Daytripper, perhaps you’ll no longer feel as if comic books/graphic novels/sequential art as an entire art form aren’t automatically not for you (as Opera still is for me, but I never give up on any art form). Let’s hope we can find more you like: I think I sent you a long list, didn’t I?

    Sandy — Thanks to you, I finished my first collection of Silverberg short stories (which I read after reading Nightwings because of your praise for it in your review). As a result, I wrote my first Silverberg review. It’s also my first non-comic book review for Fanlit. I used to write book reviews for a newspaper almost fifteen years ago, but in the past two years at Fanlit, all 60+ of my reviews have been of comic books, graphic novels, and manga. So, keep an eye out for it later this week (If it meets with Kat’s approval, of course!).

    Steven — Hammett and Conan?! Really?! That’s just plain crazy. Hammett is my favorite crime fiction writer. Every time I teach my Crime Fiction course, I teach two books by him. Every other author gets one book or a few stories. I usually teach a collection of short stories by him plus Maltese Falcon, but only because I feel obligated to cover M.F. I prefer his Continental Op. I did teach Red Harvest and M.F. last time I taught the course, but I missed the stories. His are the best crime stories ever. I particularly like the collection THE CONTINENTAL OP (last I checked it’s still not available on Kindle — only in print). Anyway, I’m very curious about these books now. It’s like telling Kat about some book that’s got the feel of Jack Vance to it . . .

    • I enjoy the Continental Op series, but I think my favorite, because it had a supernatural/creepy flavor, was THE DAIN CURSE. Of course, we have to love M.F, just for that dialogue and for Brigid.

  3. Brad /

    Just looked over my comment to Bill — hope not that one of the sentences I wrote doesn’t not not make sense to you. I think I had several issues in that sentence — forgive me. My kids are talking non-stop. I can’t even hear myself think . . .

  4. Sandy Ferber /

    I certainly DO look forward to reading your Silverberg early short stories review, Brad. Welcome back to the world of words without pictures! :)

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