Sunday Status Update: May 25, 2014

This week, an entry from Galadriel’s early days as an elven political activist…

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Galadriel: Week four of the power outage in Valinor, and I must say, I am glad that Feanor isn’t bending to the Valar’s pressure. Was it the elves’ fault that the trees of light and life were destroyed? Not in the slightest — look into these things, people, the blame must lie with the Valar, whose shoddy security and preposterously slow response time allowed Morgoth and (get this) a giant damned spider to waltz in and cripple all creation single-handed. Or… well, actually about ten-handed, if you count them up, but that’s not the point. The point is that this is the Valar’s fault and it is egregiously unfair for their error to be reflected in elven taxation.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Brad: Thanks to all of Sandy’s excellent reviews of Robert Silverberg‘s best novels, I’ve continued to read the early collected short stories of Silverberg as well as his very early novels The 13th ImmortalPlanet of Death, and Chalice of Death. I just got a copy of his first novel ever, Revolt on Alpha C (1955), so  you should soon see my review of it, Volume Two of the collected stories, and the other three novels I mentioned above. On audible, I listened to Silverberg’s The Secret Sharer and Other Stories (review to come) and Haruki Murakami‘s Sputnik Sweetheart, which is the first novel I ever read by him. I discovered this tender novel, and Murakami because of it, when I was writing my very first book reviews almost fifteen years ago (for the newspaper The Anniston Star). I have also written a review of my all-time favorite SF novel He, She and It by Marge Piercy, a poet and novelist who isn’t even considered a SFF author.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews John: I just finished Night Broken by Patricia Briggs. Another nice installment in the series.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Kat: I’ve read five books since you heard from me last. I’ll put them in order of how well I liked them from least to most. Tony DiTerlizzi’s The Search for WondLa is a children’s fantasy that has a great premise and imaginative setting, but falls flat in the execution. Robert A. Heinlein’s The Rolling Stones is one of his Juveniles that features a super clever family that travels around the galaxy in a space yacht. Not one of his best juveniles, but better than many of his adult novels. James P. Blaylock’s The Elfin Ship is a humorous tale from one of the original steampunk masters. Gillian Bradshaw’s Hawk of May is an historical fantasy about Sir Gawain. Best of all was Daryl Gregory’s Afterparty which is clever and exciting. Marion and I will be reviewing that together soon. Hey, everyone, my son Nate graduates from high school this week. Now that he’s done with exams, he’s been hanging out in front of my bookshelves trying to decide what to read this summer before college starts. Any suggestions for an 18 year old slightly introverted boy?

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Kate: This week I’ve been packing my house and getting ready for a cross-town move (not far when you live in a small town). I read The Quick, by Lauren Owen, which was a lovely surprise, both for its subject matter and for its confident, poetic prose. I read Jeff VanderMeer‘s Authority,which, as Kat and Bill covered in their review, is marvelous and creepy. On audio, I’ve been re-listening to Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan, whom I love and hate in equal measure. His world is glorious, but sometimes his characterization and dialogue makes me want to tug my braid out of my head, Nynaeve-stye. I’ve just dipped into the first pages of All Those Vanished Engines, by Paul Park. On television, I’ve been finishing the current season of Once Upon a Time and beginning Penny Dreadful.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Marion: I read two works by Daryl Gregory, Afterparty, which Kat and I will be reviewing soon, and a special-release copy of We Are All Completely Fine, a novella due out in August. I enjoyed both of these books very much! I also finished Alif the Unseen, by G Willow Wilson. As a side-bonus of that delightful techno-fantasy-thriller, I looked up a couple of Wilson’s articles in the Atlantic. I highly recommend them, and I think I’m going to have to start reading the comic Ms. Marvel just to follow her story about Kamala, a woman Muslim shape-shifter.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Ryan: This week I read Athol Fugard‘s “Master Harold”… and the Boys and Bill Bryson‘s Shakespeare: World as a Stage. I was also sad to begin reading Terry Pratchett‘s Thud!my last City Watch novel.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsSandy: I have just finished reading H. Rider Haggard‘s 1919 novel Love Eternal and hope to get a review for this one written over the holiday weekend, or by Tuesday at the latest. This novel does contain a measure of fantasy content and is thus suitable for our site. In the meantime, I have just plopped a follow-up review to Jack Williamson‘s The Legion of Space into the hopper. This is a review for his book The Cometeers, the second of four books in a series that I hope to place reviews for on FanLit. As I’ve mentioned before, I hope to see Grand Master Jack more fully discussed and represented on our site, and have a bunch of reviews that I might be able to supply in furtherance of that goal.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Terry: Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been reading some shorter pieces: John Scalzi‘s Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome, which is essentially a teaser for his forthcoming new book, Lock In (and it worked: I’m really looking forward to that novel now, and it’s not out until August); Home and Hearth by Angela Slatter, an eerie story about a boy and his mother; and Nicole Cushing‘s Children of No One, which has just been nominated for a 2013 Shirley Jackson Award in the novella category. I’m also still reading Ramsey Campbell short stories from Holes for Faces, but these stories are so scary that I have to pace myself with them, which sounds odd for a horror reader of long standing, but that’s just how good Campbell is. I’m reading John Green‘s entire YA oeuvre, beginning with The Fault in Our Stars. I liked them so much that I’ve sent copies to two of my nephews who read nearly as much as I do. Finally, I’ve started The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon, which starts with such beauty and weirdness that I can’t wait to dive in — and that won’t happen until I’m done with a very pesky legal assignment that refuses to be completed. I wish someone would pay me to read.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Tim: This week I read some of Tom Shippey‘s J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century and Marjorie BurnsPerilous Realms: Celtic and Norse in Tolkien’s Middle-earth. Both are very interesting. On the novel front, I’ve been reading The City in the Lake by Rachel Neumeier. So far it’s quite enjoyable.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsBill: This week I read J.R.R. Tolkien’s translation and commentary on Beowulf (thoroughly enjoyed, the comments as much or more than the translation), Steven S. Drachman’s The Ghosts of Watt O’Hugh (just OK but a decent ending has me about to dip into the sequel), Michael Chabon’s collection of essays Maps and Legends (some good ones but overall a bit disappointing), Volume 19 of the comic Saga (thanks Brad!) by Brian. K. Vaughn and illustrated by Fiona Staples (good but too short — think I’ll wait for bundles in the future so I can immerse more fully).  I also wrapped up the end of Dust of Dreams for the Tor reread of Steven Erikson’s MALAZAN EMPIRE series, am about halfway through (and quite enjoying) Dinah Lenney’s The Object Parade, have been sifting through hiking books for Big Bend National Park, and have to soon start Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers for next week’s book club (and decide what I want to have them read next as it’s my choice . . . )

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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. Brad Hawley /

    The first few issues of Ms. Marvel have been great. It’s got depth. I was afraid it would be a token book, but it’s not so far. It was recommended to me by a female comic book artist and comic book fan, who feels that the first issues have captured and conveyed many of her teenage feelings about her coming from a different ethnic family background like Ms. Marvel’s. That made me buy on the spot.

  2. Brad;

    Thanks for the recommendation. I may have to start Ms. Marvel. I was going to say the first Marge Piercy book I read was Woman on the Edge of Time, which was clearly SF, but you’re right, she is best known as a poet. I thought He, She and It was original and tender.

  3. Brad /

    I read Woman on the Edge of Time after He, She, and It and really enjoyed it. The story Piercy tells at the end of He, She, and It is that a student came up to her and told her that Woman on the Edge of Time read a bit like early cyberpunk. Piercy asked, “What’s cyberbpunk?” And the student told her about Gibson and crew, and that’s what led Piercy to write her cyberpunk novel. I tried a couple of Piercy’s other novels but they were not to my taste. They were incredibly well-written, but not up my alley at the time I read them.

  4. April /

    Kat – do you really want book suggestions? Well, on your head be it…

    I don’t think I can think back far enough to understand what an 18 yo would like but here’s what I’d suggest at my advanced age:
    1. Wheel of Time
    2. Dresden Files
    3. Codex Alera
    4. The Adept, Katherine Kurtz
    5. Discworld, Pratchett
    6. Shades of Grey, Jasper Fford
    7. Chimera, Rob Thurman
    8. Malazan, Steven Erikson
    9. Night Angel, Brent Weeks
    10. Markhat, Frank Tuttle

    Ok, I’ve limited myself to 10. For some reason these books seem to me to be ones that would be of interest to an 18 yo. No idea why though.

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