Sunday Status Update: May 17, 2015

Today’s update contains a mild spoiler for A Song of Ice and Fire. Both TV show and books are well past this point, however.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Danaerys: Today I woke up and decided “You know what? Forget Meereen. I’m leaving. It can burn to the ground for all I care. I’m going to Westeros.” I’m quite pleased with this decision, actually. I feel like I’m finally back on track. Oh, and while I’m at it, I’m issuing a royal decree: no one gets to say “words are wind” anymore. It was a good fad, we all had fun, but it’s over now.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Brad: I’m currently re-reading Cat’s Cradle, a novel I read many times in high school and in college. Back then, though I understood its dark humor on a logical level, I mainly experienced it as a wacky humorous book. Now that I’m 44 and have two young children, its darkness is hitting me much harder than ever before. Vonnegut certainly uses humor effectively to make palatable his hard-hitting messages. I’m also reading an excellent graphic novel called Just So Happens by Fumio Obata. It’s form as a Western graphic novel and not as a manga is key because it’s about a young woman returning to Japan from her adopted home in London. She is coming home for a funeral and ends up dealing with her Japanese cultural past, particularly its aesthetic tradition, as expressed via Noh theater. The author, like his main character, was born in Japan and moved to England. This graphic novel is a quiet, subtle work that, like many graphic novels light on text, can be read faster than it should be. I’ve also been reading books on the history of Tarot cards as a game and also the history of the false histories of Tarot as an occult tool for divination. The best books on these subjects, I’ve found, are written by art historians and theologians.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Jana: I’m still enjoying Hannu Rajaniemi‘s Collected Fiction, though some of the tech-related terms soar over my head, and that does slow my reading speed at times because I keep stopping to look up a concept or phrase. I started The Gracekeepers, by Kirsty Logan, and Uprooted, by Naomi Novik, which are both fairy-tale-like but in completely different ways. And I finally finished Vols. 9 and 10 of Brian K. Vaughan‘s Y: The Last Man, a series that wavered a bit in the middle, but absolutely stuck the landing. Do yourself a favor and read it already!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews João: Who knew having fun for a whole week could be so exhausting. Still, I was able to finish Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, which to be honest I didn’t think was all that great. McCarthy has a gift for setting the ambiance in few words, but qua novel I thought this to be quite weak. I’ve moved on to Stephen Donaldson’s Lord Foul’s Bane, the first of his famous Thomas Covenant books. 100 pages in and already I can tell this is considered one of the greats. Incredible use of poetic language.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kat: My new semester started this week, and I had a lot of prep to do, but it’s just one class and it’s online, so I was able to get four books read in audio format. Mercedes Lackey’s Blood Red was a dull installment in her ELEMENTAL MASTERS series. I spent the rest of the week catching up with Jack Campbell’s THE LOST FLEET: BEYOND THE FRONTIER military science fiction series. I finished GuardianSteadfast, and Leviathan. This series goes on a little long and gets repetitive, but it’s got a great hero and plenty of strong women.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kate: This week I’ve been finishing up Here Be Monsters, by Alan Snow. I’ve also been re-reading The Goblin Emporer by Katherine Addison, gearing up for a (hopeful!) interview with Sarah Monette (Addison’s real name). Finally, I’m reading a book on genetics and genetic manipulation for a writing project I’m working on. It’s called How to Clone a Mammoth, by Beth Shapiro, and it’s great!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Marion: I finished A Darkling Sea by James L Cambias. While I have some issues, overall I thought it worked. I just finished Of Noble Family, by Mary Robinette Kowal. It’s an emotional, suspenseful, exciting and layered ending to her GLAMOURISTS series. And I’m still reading The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Rachael: This week… I have returned. Even though I was on holiday for what felt like months, it now seems as though it never happened at all. Back to reality it is! And, more specifically, back to Pratchett. This week I finished The Long War (the second instalment of the collaboration between Pratchett and Stephen Baxter) but am now turning firmly back to the DISCWORLD series – nothing quite beats a Pratchett fantasy, does it? I’ve begun reading Reaper Man (thanks to Ryan for the recommendation) and as expected, there are plenty of laughs so far…

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Ryan: This week, I began George R.R. Martin‘s The World of Ice & Fire. I also have bookmarks in Emmi Itäranta‘s Memory of Water, Kim Stanley Robinson‘s The Years of Salt and Rice, and Jack McDevitt‘s Hugo nominated Coming Home.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Sandy: Moi? I have just finished reading Clifford D. Simak’s Why Call Them Back From Heaven?, a fun read dealing with cryogenics in the year 2148, and have recently posted a review for that here. I have also just posted a review for the Roald Dahl book James and the Giant Peach, even though I am, uh, slightly older than the supposed target audience for this amusing book. AND just this morning, on the NYC subway, I began my latest book, (my main man) H. Rider Haggard’s Queen Sheba’s Ring. As the last few Haggard novels that I read were NOT lost-race stories, and this one is, I greatly look forward to getting into it. Only I am reading the original 1909 edition right now, a pristine hardcover, not even musty smelling, and don’t really like taking it on the NYC subway….

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Stuart: This week I finished listening to Fritz Leiber‘s Swords in the Mist, book three of the FAFHRD AND THE GRAY MOUSER series. It’s great listening to one of the original ‘swords and sorcery’ series narrated by Jonathan Davis. This book is a mixed bag, with the highlights being “Lean Times in Lankhmar” and “When the Sea-King’s Away”. I also decided to relisten to a few stories from the first two books, since I miss some details with the audio versions, especially if I’m not fully concentrating (cycling, gym, etc). I’ve gotten two-thirds through William Goldman‘s The Princess Bride, and it’s interesting to discover all my favorite lines in the movie come straight from the original book, but it’s fascinating to see what things Goldman dropped for the screenplay, which is very meta since the book itself is supposedly reduced to just the ‘good parts’. Finally, I decided to completely revise and expand my review of A Canticle for Leibowitz, since it sparked a lively debate and changed my views on the book’s meaning.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Terry: I’ve been reading all the short fiction nominated for the Nebula Awards, and hope to have a report on the short story nominees for you on Monday (with links to free fiction!). I’m also reading Next of Kin by Dan Wells, a novella starring his teenage antihero, John Cleaver, as preparation for reading The Devil’s Only Friend, a novel set in the same universe. Finally, rather to my surprise, I’m enjoying On the Prowl, a book of four novellas by Patricia Briggs, Eileen Wilks, Karen Chance and Sunny. I picked this up in order to read Biggs’s ALPHA AND OMEGA series, starting with the establishing novella, but I find I’m enjoying all four of these paranormal romances. And here I thought I was done with romances! How did I forget the joy of reading something light and lovely?

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tim: This week I began reading Kazuo Ishiguro‘s The Remains of the Day, and because I’m apparently on another kick where I like to imagine myself a literary reader, I also flipped through a bit of Philip Roth’s American Pastoral. It was shaping up to be a classy week. Then I bought Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman‘s DARKSWORD trilogy at a garage sale, so… you know, so much for that. It was a boxed set, though! Never can resist the boxed sets.

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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. Tim, you are too funny! I have given up all pretense of being a literary reader and just read what I want to. It’s much easier that way.

  2. Welcome back, João and Rachael!

    Tim, life is too short to read pretentious books. Read what makes you happy, if at all possible!

    Sandy, I don’t think one can ever be outside the target audience for a Roald Dahl book.

    Brad, if you haven’t read it already, you might enjoy “Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms,” by Fumiyo Kouno. It’s two short manga in one volume, each dealing with the (literal and figurative) fallout from the atomic bomb which was dropped on Hiroshima. Very quiet, reflective, and personal.

  3. Ryan /

    @Rachael. You’re welcome. I’m glad you’re liking it.

  4. Brad, I’m also revisiting some of Vonnegut’s most famous works, with Cat’s aCradle and Slaughterhouse Five on deck in audiobook. You’re right, he uses his special brand of humor to make some terrible truths less painful to swallow.

    Joao, totally agree about McCarthy’s The Road. I thought that was one of the most dreary, disappointing, and overhyped books I’ve read in many years. Haven’t read Lord Foul’s Bane in over 25 years, but really liked the first trilogy.

    Sandy, I can’t believe you are reading a 1909 pristine hardcover at all, let alone on the NYC subway!

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