Sunday Status Update: November 17, 2013

This week, Drizzt again, because it’s just too easy to make fun of the poor fellow.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Drizzt: This week I attended the theater, taking my dear Catti-Brie along to witness the glories of a fine drama well-performed. I was obliged to inform her, however, that this particular production of The Dwarves of Dwarrowdulf (which is not Dwarrowdelf However Much it Sounds Like It) was missing its finest cast member, a fine dwarf named Reborin who was slain in a goblin assault two years beforehand. It was a great shame, and while the play continued to entertain, its brilliance was stifled without its leading man.

Then Catti-Brie pointed out Reborin’s name on the program. Apparently he survived the goblin assault by a mixture of divine intervention, excellent table manners, and his lucky deck of playing cards. And after I had spent all night lamenting his demise! Mortifying. Why do these things keep happening to me?

AlixAlix: This week has been reading-light and writing-heavy. I did finish and review the wondrous Hild, which was so good that all of you should drop what you’re doing, unless you’re literally holding a human child, and go order it. I’m getting back into Delia’s Shadow now. I’ve also been happily accumulating links for next week’s WWWednesday, which I’m taking over from the hard-to-follow Terry Weyna.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Bill: This week I read The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Brad: This week I’ve continued to read works by Osamu Tezuka, as well a wonderful biography of this great “God of Manga.” I’m also reading several books about the Tarot: Though I’m finding out what each card means from a Judeo-Christian perspective (in the famous Rider-Waite-Smith deck), I’m mainly interested in the history of the Tarot and how the pseudo-Egyptian history of the Tarot emerged. As for actually using the cards: I see them as wonderful thinking and writing prompts, much the way dreams journals are often kept. I approach the hero’s journey implied by the cards as someone intrigued by Jung and Joseph Campbell, but mainly as one who believes stories are how we give our lives meanings. So, I’ve been “reading” cards this week, too. My daughter and I did our first “reading” together and had a good time coming up relevant, personal, meaningful stories in the cards. Did I cheat on my status this week? Does this stuff count? I also read the NECRONOMICON this week. Of course, I DO believe in it.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Kat: Everything I read this past week was by audio, which is often the case for me. I have so little time to sit down so when I do, I like to multi-task. For example, even when I watch TV (about 1 hour per week), I do email on my iPad at the same time. Audiobooks allow me to do something else while reading. This is usually a jigsaw puzzle (the more pieces the better!) or a mindless game (such as Bejeweled Blitz) on my iPad. Yes, I like to be efficient! And, of course, much of my reading is done while driving. So here are the audiobooks I read this week, in order of enjoyment (from lowest to highest): The first three books in P.C. and Kristin Cast’s HOUSE OF NIGHT series: MarkedBetrayed, and Chosen. These were sub-standard YA paranormal romances. Just Another Judgement Day, book nine of Simon R. Green’sNIGHTSIDE series. This was too repetitive and predictable. Hexes and Hemlines, book three in Juliet Blackwell’s cute WITCHCRAFT MYSTERY series. Wonderful on audio. And, the best thing I read this week was Gail Carriger’s Etiquette & Espionage which was a fun quirky YA steampunk adventure.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews

Marion: I was out of town most of last week and didn’t do much reading, actually. Before I left I finished Dream London, by Tony Ballantyne. It looks like he has a loyal following. I was disappointed in a book I found derivative, and a main character I just couldn’t warm up to. While I was on vacation I started reading Was by Geoff Ryman. Ryman wrote one of the best (and most controversial) short stories I’ve ever read: “Pol Pot’s Beautiful Daughter.” Was is not about Pol Pot or Cambodia; it’s about The Wizard of Oz. I mailed the book back to myself along with coffee beans and T-shirts, so I am tiding myself over with The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson until my box arrives. My airplane book was Elaine Pagels’s latest, Revelations: Visions, Prophecy and Politics in the Book of Revelation, about the particular book of revelations, authored by John of Patmos, that ended up in the New Testament. As always, Pagels is a master at providing context and this slim volume is packed with it.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Steven: I’ve been re-reading Isaac Asimov‘s robot novels. Currently I’m on The Robots of Dawn, the third of his mysteries featuring Elijah Bailey, an Earthman detective and his partner, a “Spacer” robot, R. Daneel Olivaw. Asimov waited over two decades after writing the second novel in the series, The Naked Sun, before penning this one. I think it was worth the wait, because this novel maintains the quality of the first two, in my opinion.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Terry: I’ve been finishing up a few things here and there, but the real happy news this week is that I picked up Brandon Sanderson‘s Steelheart. It’s really swept me up, and I’m enjoying it enormously. Ryan and I seem to have a difference of opinion on this one (his review is here), which always makes things interesting. I’m eager to finish the novel and get that discussion going.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Tim: This week I read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. It’s a little different than I remember from high school. I’m also part of the way through George MacDonald‘s The Princess and the Goblin, which I am so far enjoying very much. MacDonald has a way of writing simple, child-friendly prose without actually talking down to his reader. 

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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 /

    As reviewers, we get into discussions via group emails. This time, we started discussing Tarot because I joked in an email that I only had time this week to read three tarot cards–the Fool, The Hanged Man, and Death. Then another reviewer asked if I just used the Major Arcana or the Major and Minor together. My answer to that led me to mention a book on Tarot that some of you might find interesting (I’ll include that email below). And then reviewers started discussing literature featuring Tarot cards and decks. So Kat thought we should move this discussion onto our site in case some of you want to join in. I’ll post my email, and then I’ll let my fellow reviewers post their comments. We’d love to hear from the rest of you on Tarot or Tarot & Literature!

    I use both Major and Minor Arcana. I’ve become quite interested in the Tarot and have both Crowley’s Thoth deck and the Rider-Waite-Smith. I just found a book on Tarot that I believe is excellent: The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination by Robert M. Place, who gives both the false and most likely accurate histories of the development of the Tarot deck(s), and he accurately explains WHY, HOW, WHEN, and BY WHOM these false histories came to be so widespread.

    Mainly, I sought out his book because no popular books I had read yet on tarot gave an accurate history. They jumped into divination too quickly for my taste. Now, with his book, I think I’ll be able to use the Tarot deck better based on what ideas actually could have gone into the Tarot of Marseilles deck (the oldest complete deck that can still be purchased and upon which most later decks were developed) and which ideas were imposed later by 18th and 19th century occultists.

    For me, reading the deck is potentially enlightening, though I don’t believe in it in the same way some do. I approach it from the perspective of Jung and Joseph Campbell. I believe by using the deck, I can be prompted to focus on aspects of my life that are bothering me that I’m just ignoring. To me, it’s like keeping a dream journal or using writing prompts while journaling, except with the Tarot, the prompts are visual and not just verbal AND the tarot is developed on the Judeo-Christian ideas with which I am familiar. So, the Tarot deck is NOT spiritual (the CARDS, in my opinion, are not connected to a higher power); however, I believe the Tarot has the POTENTIAL of being spiritual (I am connected to a higher power).

    I’m still working through these ideas. They are very much a work in progress!

  2. The Greater Trumps by Charles Williams, is a good old fantasy about the Tarot. It was written in the 1930s. Rosemary Edghill’s “Bast” mysteries also include some Tarot stuff.

    My favorites (fiction) are The Solitudes and Love and Sleep by John Crowley, the first two books of his Aegypt Quartet.

    The most I’ve been able to track down is that the cards themselves come from a 14th century gambling game called Tarocchi.

  3. Kat – LOVED Etiquette & Espionage.

    I know I’ve read tons of books with tarot in them but of course none of them are coming to mind right now. I’ll have to think on it.

  4. I last read Little Women about five years ago and was just blown away by how sad I found it (and not over Beth’s death); sad and angry. I think as a kid I took the coziness of it at face value, while now I just know too much about her life and keep thinking about how the family was not as happy as she painted it, she didn’t want to be writing that genre at all, she didn’t find the love she imagined for herself (casts that “Be kind to the old maids” section in a different light), and so on.

    Alix, Hild sounds fantastic. I don’t know why I’m making the connection between the two, but you simply must read Matthew Kirby’s Icefall if you never have.

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