Sunday Status Update: November 22, 2015

This week, Kvothe grapples with some cognitive dissonance.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kvothe: The other day, someone had the gall to insult the Edema Ruh in my presence. That is the one thing I… well, actually, that’s one of the two… um. Starting again. That is one of the many and various things I cannot let pass without argument. So let me say it here and for all time: we Edema are not the thieves they make us out to be. We are innocent performers. We follow songs and stories across the world, and if ever we steal, our plunder is measured only in hearts and in minds. Well, except for me. I steal things all the time. I think I might have a problem, actually. But that doesn’t count as a black mark against the Ruh, of course, because… becauuuuse… uh…

… uh oh.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Bill: This week is finally edging into more normality, which means I was actually able to read for the first time in a month. I finished up China Mieville’s collection of stories, Three Moments of an Explosion, which was overall a bit disappointing but had some gems in it. I also read Mary Oliver’s newest poetry collection, Felicity—also disappointing (more so than the Mieville). Meanwhile Thomas Levenson’s The Hunt for Vulcan (no, not a Star Trek tie-in) was a wonderfully engaging look at the search for the alleged inner planet causing Mercury’s weird orbital discrepancy and how the search was finally ended by Einstein’s theories of relativity. Finally, in preparation for a combination book launch/memorial reading of a new anthology (Brief Encounters: A Collection of Creative Non-Fiction ed. Judith Kitchen and Dinah Lenney) I reread Judith Kitchen’s absolutely brilliant long essay (published as a book) The Circus Train, a gorgeously moving mediation on memory, dying, and living.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews João: I’m beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and my exam schedule is clearing up. I might even, gasp, begin reading regularly once more. I am going through Joe Abercrombie’s The Last Argument of Kings right now, a chapter a day because I am so stressed out I can’t focus much on what I’m reading. Though it may be because of all the stress, but I am feeling less and less interested in what’s happening with the story right now. If it isn’t about Logen, West, or Dogman, then it kind of loses my interest. Jezal’s chapters are a pain to read because he doesn’t seem to learn much from his journey (though that is kind of the meta-thing Abercrombie is doing with the trilogy I guess).

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kat: I’m still so busy that I’m not finding much time to read. This week I finished Samuel R. Delaney’s Babel-17 which has just been released in audio format. I didn’t like it as well as Marion and Stuart did, but I thought the focus on linguistics was cool. Probably by the time you read this I’ll also be finished with Give Up the Ghost, the soon-to-be-released next installment in Juliet Blackwell’s HAUNTED HOME RENOVATION MYSTERIES. I’m also halfway through Lightspeed Magazine’s Women Destroy Science Fiction which has also just been produced in audio format.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kate: The end of the semester has been crazy and I’ve been trying to keep up with my own writing, too. But I finally finished Titus Groan, the first of Mervyn Peake‘s GORMENGHAST series. I think it is a masterpiece and I can’t wait to write my review. Now I’m going back to finishing Robert Jackson Bennett‘s Mr. Shivers, because I need to get Marion’s copy back to her!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Marion: I’m continuing with The Witches, Stacy Schiff’s historical analysis of the Salem witch trials of 1692. I’m reminded of how much early American history I did not know; for example, I didn’t know that in the few years before the witch trials started, the Massachusetts Bay Colony had deposed its British governor, and the king had revoked their charter. During the trials, the colony was waiting to discover if their charter had been renewed. The subject matter is grim, but Schiff’s clear prose means that even when the book is dense it isn’t a difficult read. She can’t really be too humorous at the expense of the people she is discussing who are going to die, but she can leaven with the story with wit. One player, who acted as a recorder for some of the interrogations, consistently wrote things like “grievously tormented,” and “cruelly misused;” Schiff calls him the “adverbial master.”

I took a break to read Territory, a weird west tale by Emma Bull, published in 2007. I enjoyed it thoroughly, but there was obviously meant to be a sequel. I mean, obviously meant. Where is it?

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Sandy: Moi? I have been zipping through Jack Finney’’s 1955 classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It is the type of book that pulls the reader in instantly and doesn’t let go; absolutely compelling stuff. Loving it! I hope to get a +++ review for this one written when I return from my little Thanksgiving jaunt to the family in Florida. Wishing all my fellow Americans a very nice holiday indeed!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Skye: This past week and the one upcoming have shaped up to be the most busy two weeks of my semester. I haven’t done an awful lot of reading over the past little while, but I did fly through Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding again. My NaNoWriMo projects have also slowed down and I am pretty far behind as far as word counts go, but hitting the 50,000 word mark still does seem possible for me! I’m still hopeful about it! I have a couple projects in mind for FanLit as well, first is attempting to review all of Chris Wooding’s books as I have enjoyed them all thoroughly so far and we don’t have many reviewed yet, and second I’ve also begun reading and re-reading the comics I have on hand to see if I can review some of those. Now I have to go dive back into some assignments – wish me luck!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews StuartAfter loving the dark fantasy classic Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword (1954), I crossed another book off my bucket list, Boris & Arkady Strugatsky’s Russian SF classic Roadside Picnic (1972), about the various powerful alien artifacts left by mysterious alien visits in six Zones around the world. The book has some very interesting parallels with Jeff Vandermeer‘s Annihilation (2011), minus the New Weird Chthulhu horror elements. Not sure I really enjoyed it, but the ideas were good. However, the 1979 Andrei Tarkovsky film inspired by it is without question the most STUNNINGLY BORING AND PRETENTIOUS film I have seen in many, many years. I would strongly recommend avoiding it. Now I am moving on to Harlan Ellison‘s Voice From the Edge series of audiobooks narrated by the author himself. Check out Kat’s wonderful reviews of Volume 1Volume 2, and Volume 3. He is a brash and abrasive guy, but also one of the most brilliant short story writers ever, and an AMAZING, POWERFUL narrator. I hope younger readers give his work a try.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Terry: It’s been a very strange month for me:  I haven’t finished a single book.  I’m about to break that streak with finishing two or three this weekend:  Omens by Kelley Armstrong (which is sufficiently compelling that I read it even after pulling an all-nighter, but also has some significant problems); Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner (which I have been savoring slowly, chapter by chapter); and Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge (which won the British Fantasy Award for Best Fantasy Novel this year, and I can see why).  I’m hoping my reader’s and writer’s block both clear soon!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tim: More Ancillary Sword. More NaNoWriMo. Falling behind schedule again, but I still have hopes. I did manage to finish up Shadows of Self, though, so at least I completed something this week. It was pretty good. I think I enjoyed it more than the first book in… whatever it is we’re calling this series. Mistborn: Afterbirth? Mistborn-Again? The Vindustrial Revolution? Huh. Just checked, and apparently, it’s called (no, really!) the WAX AND WAYNE series. Okay, firstly, you have to admit I was on the right track, lol. Secondly, shame on you, Sanderson: your puns are almost as groan-inducing as mine. And lastly, I now feel very foolish because I somehow made it through two books and didn’t put together until this moment that the main characters’ names were a joke.

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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. Kate, no rush to get the book back.

    Tim, since I really like THE ALLOY OF LAW, I’m thinking I’d enjoy SHADOWS OF SELF.

  2. Tim, I didn’t notice the Wax and Wayne until I wrote my review (first book) and read it back to myself.

    • I never noticed it at all until you two just pointed it out to me. I think my middle name should be changed to Oblivious.

  3. I finished The Name of the Wind, started Brian Wood’s Northlanders again, and got sidetracked by Rachel Pollack’s 78 Degrees of Wisdom, which I’m reading straight through over Thanksgiving in preparation for Winter Break. I like to play around with tarot and do some journaling based on it between semesters, and I always start out by reviewing the entire deck of 78 cards, which Pollack’s first book on Tarot is helping me do. I’m prompted in my return to tarot by my excitement about DC’s Tarot deck, which is being released this Wednesday! The cards I’ve seen online look great. Get your copy before it goes out of print, which I’m guessing will be fast.

  4. Brad, I just went and looked at the deck and… wow! I think it would have even more meaning if I knew who all the characters were. (But Poison Ivy alone, for The Lovers? Not Batman and Catwoman?)

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