Sunday Status Update: November 15, 2015

This week, the semi-triumphant return of Drizzt Do’Urden.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Drizzt: The other day, I sought solace from my lonely road at the camp of some few other wanderers. As the night wore on, we told tales of our lives, and I made my own modest contribution, relating somewhat of that dire event the poets have been pleased to dub the Time of Troubles. But ere I was half-done, some traveling player had the unmitigated gall to inform me that the epic tragedy of my life sounded “kinda silly.” I was much offended, friends, as you might well imagine, for nobly though I have striven to bear up beneath the ponderous weight of my various dire afflictions, still there are days when the travails to which these violet eyes have born mute witness do weigh most dolefully upon my secret heart! I questioned this impertinent troubadour further. Perhaps he had meant only to lionize those carefree hours I have spent in joyous adventure with the true companions of my bosom, those golden days made all the brighter for their contrast with the benighted times on solitary roads when my closest and best-loved comrade was my good sword hand? But at that point he seemed overcome with giggles of the rudest sort. I felt I could bear with his tawdry company no longer, so I left the philistines to their low humor. Why do these things keep happening to me?

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Bill: As with the past few weeks, I’ve been swamped with papers. I did manage to finish (probably thanks to its beginning life as a series of tweets), David Mitchell’s newest, Slade House. And I’m currently halfway through China Mieville’s collection of stories, Three Moments of an Explosion for tomorrow’s book club gathering.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Brad: I’m still reading Elric, but now I’ve been sucked into Patrick RothfussThe Name of the Wind. I’ve never been this pulled into the plot of a fantasy novel (including Harry Potter), and it’s been years since I’ve been this compelled to keep reading a novel! What fun!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Jana: This week I’m still reading (and loving) Black Wolves, by Kate Elliott. I read and was underwhelmed by The Gap of Time, by Jeanette Winterson, which is a “cover version” of William Shakespeare’s play The Winter’s Tale. My advice would be to stick with the Bard, particularly because Winterson’s prose and characters simply don’t match the excellence and magic of the original. I also read Moth and Spark, by Anne Leonard, and was tremendously disappointed. I was promised dragons, and instead received endless paragraphs about fancy dresses. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish and review Black Wolves soon!fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kat: I was travelling last week, so I was only able to read one book: Planetfall, newly released and narrated by Emma Newman. I’m not sure why, but I just can’t connect with any of Emma Newman’s characters in any of the four books of hers that I’ve read. They all seem dour and humorless. I just don’t like them. It took me a long time to get through Planetfall, and not just because I was travelling… A highlight of my week was meeting Sandy when my family and I visited New York City. Sandy showed us all around the Village and we spent some time in The Strand. Here’s a photo of us having dinner at his favorite restaurant, Quantum Leap:

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Marion: I spent most of the week reading The Best of Nancy Kress,  a 21-story collection published by Subterranean Press, and getting caught up on some back issues of The Economist. I also browsed through Wendy Lesser’s book Why I Read; The Serious Pleasure of Books. She is very opinionated and has curmudgeonly attitudes toward any scholarly approach that doesn’t match hers, but she’s interesting and I like the way she thinks about story-telling.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Rachael: This week I’ve gone all classic. I read Pride and Prejudice, technically because I had to teach it, but in reality because it’s more or less the best book ever. I also read Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, just because, you know, mystery. Anyway, completely irrelevant books aside, I started Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin. It’s one of those books I’d like everyone to read so we can all discuss. It’s a work of historical fiction interspersed with science fiction interludes about a planet called Zycron in another dimension that provides a weird parallel to post-war Southern Ontario. It’s so original and so, so excellent.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Sandy: Moi? I have just finished reading Ray Russell’s classic novel of demonic possession and the resultant exorcism, The Case Against Satan (1962), and hope to get a review of this book – which beat The Exorcist to the punch by eight years – out shortly. Next up for me will most likely be another novel that is spotlighted in the overview volume Horror: Another 100 Best Books, namely Jack Finney’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which I have long wanted to read. I will be reading the 60th anniversary edition, which was just released by Simon-Schuster, with an introduction by Dean Koontz…

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews StuartHaving spent the past month immersed in the worlds of J.G. Ballard and Philip K. Dick, it was time for a change of pace. I’ve also wanted to read Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword (1954), which was selected by David Pringle in his Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels, and is highly praised by Michael Moorcock as Brad mentioned last week. The audio version is narrated by Bronson Pinchot, who has an amazing vocal range and narrates with passion. As it turns out, The Broken Sword was awesome – one of the most powerful and relentlessly-dark high fantasies I’ve ever read. It’s chock full of Norse gods, demigods, Vikings, elves, trolls, goblins, sea serpents, evil witches, dark magic, mighty heroes, beautiful maidens, and above all tragedy, doomed love, and implacable fate. Highly recommended and much darker than the Tolkien school of epic fantasy.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tadiana: Unfortunately an overload of work cut into my reading time this week. I did read David Mitchell’s Slade House, downing it in one day, and enjoyed it; I’ll add my review later to Kate’s and Bill’s. I wasted one evening reading Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout (it was a Kindle freebie; they’re kind of like literary crack for me), which I believe has successfully put me off the YA paranormal romance genre permanently. In an act of personal repentance for filling my brain with such rot, I spent the next evening reading Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, which I had never read before. I’m not really a fan of Hemingway’s spare, simple prose or his testosterone-fueled worldview, but I enjoyed the novel much more than I expected. Still, I think I’ll look to other classic authors for my literary acts of penance in the future.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tim: This week I finished Ann Leckie‘s Ancillary Justice, so I did what any sane person would do and immediately began Ancillary Sword. In audiobooks, I’ve begun listening to Brandon Sanderson‘s Shadows of Self, which is engaging so far, even though I must admit that I still miss Vin. I haven’t moved very far on either of these works, though, because in the mystical land of NaNoWriMo, the war between the forces of Procrastination and those of Dedication (who may just be Lord Ego in disguise) is still ongoing. We’ve reached the month’s halfway point, and I’m about at my requisite word count for this stage, but one of my old problems is staring to loom nightmarishly over the proceedings. That is, most of the books I read are quite long, and I think I’ve internalized that style. My lumbering mess of a story will not be close to done in 50k words. Probably not even 100k. It’s getting to the point where even my protagonist seems mildly uncomfortable that we’re still introducing new characters.

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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. Jana, I couldn’t finish Moth and Spark either. I think Alix’s review, in which she refers to it as mental cotton candy, is accurate… and I wanted more dragons too!

    The Blind Assassin is my favorite Margaret Atwood book.

  2. sandy ferber /

    The next time you’re in town, Kat, we have to do Quantum Leap for brunch so you can try some of their banana pecan pancakes. Then, maybe, the Singularity bookstore in DUMBO. Again, great seeing you and the family the other day….

  3. I’m still finishing Gormenghast … and reading lots of great short stories because I just subscribed to a bunch of journals!

  4. Brad, I’m looking forward to your review of Mieville’s Three Moments of an Explosion – a friend of mine swears it’s amazing.

    Tadiana, you have a very literary form of penance. I usually just take the dog for a walk or head to the gym to clear the bad aftertaste of a book I didn’t like.

    And I guess I have to add Atwood’s Blind Assassin to the TBR pile, though I haven’t even read Handmaid’s Tale or Oryx and Crake yet!

    • I try to keep my reading in some state of balance. If I read something that’s pure drivel, I consciously look for something literary or thoughtful as my next read, to offset it!

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