Sunday Status Update: May 22, 2016

This week, Sir Bors gets just a touch sarcastic.

SirBorsBors: Sir Tristan toppled out a window the other day, or so the gossip-mongers tell me. The fall was evidently quite spectacular, and he ended it by landing in a grocer’s cart, quite displacing the turnips. The event would have been amusing but ultimately inconsequential had not the grocer then looked up and calculated that Sir Tristan could only have fallen out of one particular window in the keep — that window belonging to the bedroom of Queen Isolde. Naturally, King Mark had to pay a certain degree of attention to the scurrilous rumors that began to be whispered upon this revelation, and he questioned Sir Tristan most closely. Tristan admitted that he had indeed entered the queen’s bedchamber, but had only done so at her chaste request, in order to kill a spider. Upon entering and being confronted by the arachnid menace, however, he was stricken by abhorrence and lurched against the wall to recover himself. Most inconveniently, the wall happened to be not a wall at all but a window, leading to Sir Tristan’s abrupt and painful introduction to the turnip cart. When asked how he came to be in a state of near-total undress during his fall, Sir Tristan explained that he had removed his armor due to the extreme heat of the day, and is accustomed to wear only a set of breeks beneath, so as to toughen his flesh for the rigors of war. Queen Isolde apparently nodded vigorously as this intelligence was conveyed to her husband, and waxed poetic on the extreme loathesomeness of the spider.

King Mark, being King Mark, is by all reports entirely satisfied by this excuse. Sir Tristan has once again taken up his post guarding the upper floors of the keep. Queen Isolde presumably remains all alone in her bedchamber doing nothing all day, if the complete lack of progress on her latest weaving project is anything to go by. Meanwhile, a vogue has begun among the young fighters of the court to wear no shirts beneath their armor, though Sir Tristan has unaccountably given up this practice himself. The spider remains at large.

Bill: This week saw the last of final papers (well, technically done two a.m. Monday morning), so I’m looking forward to being able to do more reading and writing. I did manage to finish Zero K by Don DeLillo this week (review is up), while grading and wrapping up Ian Cameron Esslemont’s Blood and Bone for the reread.  Like Jason, I’m about a fifth of the way through Justin Cronin’s City of Mirrors, though unlike him I did not begin at the start of book one (only one massive reread at a time).

Jason: I’ve been quiet the past few updates because I’ve dedicated six reading weeks to Justin Cronin ‘s The Passage trilogy. I’d already read The Passage, which is reviewed on FanLit, but it’s been a few years and I wanted to catch myself up before digging into the sequel, The Twelve. I finished The Twelve this week and am already 20% through the concluding novel, The City of Mirrors, which will be available this Tuesday. I’ve enjoyed all three and am excited to pass along my thoughts in the coming weeks.

Kat: I only managed two novellas this week. Down in the Bottomlands by Harry Turtledove was entertaining. I believe that was the first Turtledove story I’ve ever read, but it won’t be the last. Burn by James Patrick Kelly was the author’s reaction to Thoreau’s Walden… I don’t think he liked it much. Both of these stories were award winners. The Turtledove story won a Hugo and the Kelly story won a Nebula.

Katie: Getting a new job is proving much more stressful than I anticipated and when I get time to read it’s mainly legal notes. But things are cooling off and I’m back in the game. I’m reading Guy Gavriel Kay‘s The Summer Tree which has for some reason always passed me by. I’m not enjoying it anywhere near as much as I thought I would. The incessant passive tense is driving me mad but perhaps It’s a symptom of reading in a time of stress. Anyway a bumper load of new books is on its way to me and I’m so looking forward to having time to read them.

Marion: I finished Vonda McIntyre’s gleaming fantasy novel The Moon and the Sun, set in the court of the Sun King, exploring faith, science, feminism and mer-people. A review will follow. Then I read Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman (the review is already up.) Reverting to a lunar theme, I started the first book in the MALAZAN BOOK OF THE FALLEN series, Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson. Just as I was about to throw in the towel (or close the book) Tatttersail showed up, and after that the story started to coalesce. And there’s a magical, possibly evil, puppet — EEEEEE! So I’ve decided I like it now.

Sandy: Moi? I have just started a book that has been sitting on my shelf at home for many years, waiting patiently to be read: Poul Anderson’s 1954 classic Brain Wave. This book features a fascinating central conceit … that Earth has just emerged from a force field of sorts in which it had been traveling for several million years, with the result that the IQs of every living being on Earth go up drastically overnight. I very much look forward to getting into this well-remembered piece of ‘50s sci-fi…

Stuart: This week I listened to Connie WillisTo Say Nothing of the Dog, a comic Victorian time travel novel that won the 1999 Hugo and Locus Awards. I figured it would get me in the mood for our upcoming trip to London and Oxford, but after listening to half of it I knew it wasn’t my cup of tea. It’s a tribute to light-hearted Victorian novels, especially Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat (1889). It’s definitely whimsical, but I couldn’t take the characters or time travel mechanism seriously. Instead I listened to Elizabeth Ann Scarborough‘s The Healer’s War, a an intense fictionalized treatment of her time as a combat nurse in Vietnam that won the 1989 Nebula Award. It’s narrated by Robin Miles, who also narrated N.K. Jemisin‘s The Fifth Season. In comics I finished Vol 5: A Game of You of Neil Gaiman‘s SANDMAN series, which was my least favorite so far. 

Tadiana: This last week I read T. Kingfisher‘s Toad Words and Other Stories, a delightful (and occasionally dark) collection of retold folk and fairy tales, and several shorter online SFF works that I’ll review in our SHORTS feature. Currently I’m (rather slowly) reading Guy Gavriel Kay’s latest epic work Children of Earth and Sky and also (much more quickly) Rachel Neumeier‘s The Keeper of the Mist, an engaging YA fantasy.

Terry: It’s been a bad reading year for me so far, but this week I managed to squeeze in a couple of books.  First, I finished The Young Elites by Marie Lu, which did not impress me too much; I’m working on a review explaining why. On a more pleasant note, I read Fran Wilde‘s Updraft, which just won the Andre Norton Award for young adult fiction.  I’m really looking forward to Cloudbound, another novel set in the same universe, due out in September.

Tim: This week, I began reading Ray Bradbury‘s I Sing the Body Electric, which is fun so far. I’m in the process of writing my review of the next DEATH GATE CYCLE book, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman‘s The Hand of Chaos, which has mainly consisted of smashing my face into the keyboard over and over. At some point, I’m sure I’ll get it edited into something more or less readable (just as soon as I figure out what exactly what I want to say about this one).

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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. Sandy; I keep waiting for that IQ thing to happen!

    I didn’t love TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG, but then, I didn’t love THREE MEN IN A BOAT either, although it is a perfect example of its type. Willis did an excellent pastiche — maybe just too excellent.

  2. Katie, I did not like that GGK novel nearly as well as his other books.

    Marion, I didn’t know you had a think for evil puppets. How interesting.

    Sir Bors, thank you for the update. I’m sure the spider was ferocious.

  3. Marion, I’m pretty sure either Kat or Tadiana will get around to To Say Nothing of the Dog soon, and hopefully they’ll have a more positive response. I guess I’m just not big on Victoria whimsy (I don’t even like period dramas like Downton Abbey).

    Sandy, I just had a burst of insight – I think the US has been trapped in that IQ-draining force field for the last year, which explains why people are supporting Donald Trump, so I am fervently hoping we pass through it before November!!!

    Jason, I read Bill’s and your glowing reviews of Justin Cronin’s The Passage, so I did pick up the audiobook (all 37hrs of it for 1 credit) for an eventual listen, but I will do Stephen King’s The Stand first.

    • sandy ferber /

      I wish the explanation were as simple as that, Stuart, but I fear it is something even more complex and difficult to understand….

  4. Marion,
    If you’re not a fan at the end of Gardens, give book two a try. There’s a many-year gap between the writing of the two, and I’d say it shows. If you still don’t like the series, then you’re probably good to not read the next 10,000 or so pages . . .

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