Sunday Status Update: May 5, 2013

This week, we hear from Drizzt Do’Urden, who has had a terrible time of it indeed.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Drizzt: This week, while I was staying with my good friend Regis, I found he had scheduled a party or gathering of some sort. Mindful that the guests might believe I had come to massacre them all — due to my dark elven countenance and the storied malevolence of my race, that which I alone have escaped, woe is me — I resolved to spend the evening with my hood raised, writing poetry in my journal. Ere long, I had shed more than a few lamenting tears for the wickedness of my detested kin whilst in the throes of composition, and perhaps drew too much attention to myself. A small child drew close and asked me the names of my scimitars. “This is the noble blade Twinkle,” I replied, “and that is its brother Icingdeath.”

The boy seemed impressed enough, as well he might have been. Unfortunately, his mother overheard (no doubt imperfectly) and somehow came to the conclusion that I was some sort of flamboyant pastry chef. Rather than be forced to reveal my true identity and horrify them with my visage, I spent all day in the kitchen making cupcakes for the party. Why do these things keep happening to me?

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Brad: This week, though I’ve continued to read some stories and essays by Harlan Ellison, I’ve spent most of my time using Amazon’s wonderful Immersion Reading technology to both listen to and read simultaneously Somerset Maugham‘s great coming-of-age novel Of Human Bondage. It’s been fifteen years since I’ve read it, and it’s even better than I remembered. It’s one of the great canonical English novels, and I highly recommend it. If you have a Kindle Fire HD, you can download the free book and then get the 27-hour audio book for the bargain price of $1.99! I also started rereading one of my all-time favorite contemporary crime novels–Silent Joe by T. Jefferson Parker–because I noticed it was on sale on the Kindle for 99 cents (Don’t pass this deal up if it’s still on sale). Finally, I started the novel The Devil You Know by Mike Carey. Carey is primarily a comic book writer and has written my favorite Sandman spin-off series: Lucifer. He wrote that series for just as long as Gaiman wrote Sandman (and with Gaiman’s blessing), and I think it’s often just as good as Sandman, both in terms of writing and art. At the moment they are just starting to reissue this often difficult-to-find series. If you are a Sandman fan, look for Lucifer and pick up each volume before they goes out of print again (as happens to even the best comics in trade collections in the comic book industry).

fantasy and science fiction book reviews

Kat: I’m between semesters right now, so I had plenty of time for reading this week. I finished Jack Campbell’s original LOST FLEET series with Relentless and Victorious. I enjoyed this series, but it could have been a couple of books shorter. There are some spin-off books that I’ll probably read, too. Now I’m involved in Brandon Mull’s BEYONDERS books. I finished the first book, A World Without Heroes and am working on the second book, Seeds of Rebellion. This is a middle grade series in which a couple of likeable protagonists (one boy and one girl) get sucked into an alternate world where they will challenge an evil emperor (a la NARNIA). It’s fairly entertaining and should please the target audience.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews

Marion: I spent the weekend at DisOrient Film Festival in Eugene, Oregon, so while I watched 19 movies, I didn’t get very much reading done. Nineteen is not as impressive as it sounds, since many of them were short features. I did finish The Red Plague Affair, by Lilith Saintcrow, the second in her series about a strange steam-punk city that’s only a bit like London, and I started Catherynne Valente’s The Orphan’s Tale, In the Night Garden. The interweaving of the tales is wonderful. And I want to recommend one short film that is neither SFF nor a book, but it is great; A Flicker in Eternity. This documentary uses the journal and drawings of a young Japanese American man who was interned with his parents, and later enlisted in the army. It isn’t that Stanley’s story is new; it is that his own words and drawings bring him to life in a way I haven’t seen before.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews

Steven: This past week has been quite busy with school matters, and I don’t foresee that situation getting any better any time soon. Still, I was able to get in a little bit of reading, not completing any of the following, but reading part of Second Foundation by Isaac AsimovColossus: The Collected Science Fiction of Donald Wandrei, and Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindberg, and America’s Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941, by Lynne Olson. The first is the concluding part of Asimov’s original FOUNDATION series, the second is a collection of stories by pulp writer and Arkham House co-founder Donald Wandrei, who is one of my favorite pre “Golden Age” pulp era writers, and the third is a wonderful history of the national debate over whether or not the United States should get involved in the European struggle of early WWII in the years preceding the events of Pearl Harbor. Reading this one makes me want to go out this summer and check out some of the WWII based Alternate History novels such as The Man in the High Castle, by Philip K. Dick and SS-GB, by Len Deighton. As always, the books begging to be read continuously cause me to revamp my future reading plans. Best wishes and happy reading everybody.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Terry: As much as I love science fiction, fantasy and horror, every now and then I need a break.  That means that I spent this week reading Bossypants by Tina Fey and Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell.  The first was reliably funny, while the second is an intriguing mystery set in London during the reign of Queen Victoria and featuring Thomas DeQuincey, the author of “Confessions of an Opium Eater,” as an important character.  But, of course, I can’t let go of the SF/F/H entirely:  I’m reading the Nebula novellas and novelettes for the next couple of Magazine Monday columns so that I can have all the Nebula-nominated short fiction reviewed before Nebula Weekend in two weeks.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Tim: This week I started Stina Leicht‘s Of Blood and Honey. It’s certainly an interesting novel, with the sorts of themes that would usually engage me (Irish faeries of any stripe are generally a solid bet with me), but I’ve been moving embarrassingly slowly on it. I did spend part of the week in music practice for an event last night, but it doesn’t really explain away the general slow crawl I’ve been managing through the text. Perhaps it’s just one of those books that’s difficult to return to once set down. More likely I’m just easily distractable in good weather.

Bill:    I finally finished final papers on Friday so was able to sneak in some actual pleasure reading for the first time in a what seems like forever. I sped through Brandon Sanderson’s newest YA offering The Rithmatist in a single sitting, enjoying it despite a few flaws (review coming soon).  My early candidate for book of the month of May though was Colum McCann’s latest, Transatlantic, a beautifully written, moving, smartly-constructed novel whose ending really lingers. Highly, highly recommend it!

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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 — I couldn’t finish Of Blood and Honey, so if you do, I will be interested in your opinion of it.

  2. April /

    Kat – I enjoyed World Without Heroes but it wasn’t nearly as spectactular as I could have wished and the hype presented. Enjoyable but something is missing that would make it great. Not sure what that something is though. The best middle grade I’ve read in ages is Foundling by DM Cornish. If you haven’t read that series, give it a try.

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