Sunday Status Update: October 16, 2011

October, like the Mississippi, just keeps rollin’ along…

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Bill: This week I finished Diane Ackerman‘s One Hundred Names for Love, a memoir covering the period of time following her husband’s stroke that left him suffering with aphasia — a severe reduction in the ability to construct and/or understand language, a tragic loss for a man who as a poet and novelist had reveled in language for decades. In moving evocative language sprinkled with metaphors and analogies drawn from her experience as a naturalist author, she recounts the immediate shock and the slow recovery over several years that led to West returning to the life of a writer. The title is drawn from the hundreds of pet names he once had for her and had lost. A beautiful work. I also read (reread) Philip K. Dick‘s fantastic Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, a work that well stands the test of time (and yes, it was the basis of Bladerunner, but as good as that movie is, you really need to read the book).

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Greg: I finally finished the first book of Richard K. Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs series. Kovacs is my kinda guy! :) I hope my forthcoming review will do it justice. In fact, I loved it is so much (going along with the last Thoughtful Thursday) that I plan to read all of Mr. Morgan’s books. This time I’m serious, like within the next year. However, first I have to decide whether to read the next Kovacs book, Broken Angels, or The Steel Remains, which as I understand is along the lines of my favorite sub-genre, Sword & Sorcery. Right now I just started reading The Hunter from the Woods by Robert McCammon; a collection of short-stories and novellas that look to be prequels of his best-seller, The Wolf’s Hour.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews John: So excited to be reading Clay and Susan Griffith’s Vampire Empire: Rift Walker.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kat: This past week I finished these books on audio: Ursula Le Guin’s Changing Planes (I always enjoy Le Guin’s ideas), Michele Paver’s Wolf Brother (very nice children’s novel), and Fritz Leiber’s fifth LANKHMAR novel, The Swords of Lankhmar (okay, I admit it: I have a crush on Fafhrd). In print, I have just barely started Rod Rees’s The Demi-Monde. This is a strange one and is likely to be something I won’t feel neutral about. Either I’ll love it or hate it, I think, but it’s too early to tell which.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kelly: I’ve been in a reading slump lately, and have decided to attack the logjam by skipping a little ahead in my reading pile. Chloe Neill’Drink Deep is going with me on my camping trip this weekend. After the killer cliffhanger at the end of the previous book, Hard BittenDrink Deep is bound to break my slump, because I’m so desperate to find out what happens! Also going with me is Eve by Anna Carey. That’s also an attempted assault on the slump, since as a YA dystopia it’s a little off my usual beaten path. Or, in my case, my usual dark alley full of things that go bump in the night.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Marion: I finished Holder of Lightning by S.L. Farrell and a review will follow. I treated myself to Goliath, the third book in Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy. I followed one of Bill Capossere’s recommendations and read Icefall, by Matthew Kirby. This is a book for young adults but I fell into it and didn’t surface until I was finished. Bill pointed out what an awesome job Kirby did of creating tension and suspense as the middle child of the king struggles to figure out who among them, in their snowed-in refuge, is the traitor, but there is a second story here, intertwined with the mystery, and it’s about Solvieg finding her own voice. Kirby uses spare prose and perfectly chosen details to spin this winter’s tale. Bill, I am so glad I read your review and sought out this book!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Ryan: I’ve been reading George R.R. Martin‘s A Dance With Dragons. I was not very impressed by A Feast for Crows, but am enjoying the series a bit more now that Tyrion, Jon, and Daenerys have been (for the most part) safely returned to us.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Terry: I finished reading Patrick DeWitt‘s The Sisters Brothers this week, and am still trying to make up my mind what I thought about it. It’s an odd story of a pair of gunslingers during the days of California’s Gold Rush, narrated by the kinder and gentler of the gunslingers. I also returned to The Cemetery Girl by David Bell, which is getting complicated and therefore more interesting as it moves along. I’ve also spent a lot of time trying to decide which books to pack for a vacation that’s coming up later this month: do I bring all the World Fantasy nominated books that I haven’t read yet? Stick to my Kindle in order to avoid the weight? Bring the books I’m dying to read next? In the old days, when I was single, I used to pack an entire bag with books for every trip, but now that I’m married, vacations hold less reading time and more romance —  it’s a fine trade-off, but I nonetheless sometimes still long for the vacations on which I read a book a day.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tim: This week I reread Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, which was as good as ever but made itself tiresome by refusing to yield even a halfway decent paper until I’d wrestled with it for a few days running. So no, Brave New World, I shall not love you anymore. You are too thematically blatant to make me sound clever for analyzing you, and thus I shall be attending the Christmas party with an Orwell book, thank you very much. On the fantasy front, I began reading Hounded by Kevin Hearne. I’m enjoying it so far, although I have the disconcerting feeling that Hearne might don a snow white robe and kowtow to a boxed collection of THE DRESDEN FILES every night before sleep. I also, on the recommendation of a friend, began Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War. I actually like it a great deal, though pure Science Fiction is generally not my cup of tea (it’s not the fiction, it’s the science. As an Arts Major, the natural enemy of all things Scientific, I generally spit and hiss when confronted by a statistic or a projection of technological advancement). The styling is to-the-point and almost laconic but still manages to put across a kind of grandeur. I now feel somewhat silly, in fact, for not reading the book previously, despite numerous others telling me I should.

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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. Greg–my two cents on the Kovacs novels–they are linked thematically but not by plot. Broken Angels takes place on a completely different planet several decades later, and has a different sensibiity. As long as you remember about the cortical stacks, you’ll be able to pick the story right up even if it’s been awhile since you’ve read Altered Carbon.

  2. Marion, I’m so glad you enjoyed Icefall. It’s obviously one of my favorites this year, and I so want others to react the same way.

    Greg, Marion’s right on the Kovacs. And I say continue with them while you’re with the character. Especially as the fantasy one is ongoing so you won’t get full satisfaction, and I don’t think his stand-alone ones match up in quality–they’re fine but not Kovacs-good

    Terry–Kindle. Save the weight (and the over-the-top cost of the weight if you’re flying)

  3. Thanks Marion and William for the input on Morgan’s books (Marion I actually remember getting that impression from your awesome review of those books.)

    The thing is; I’m just so whimsical about what I want to read. Out-of-the-blue yesterday, it just hit me that I want to read The Wise Man’s Fear.. and that’s been out how many month’s now??? Like everyone else, I loved The Name of the Wind, but when Wise Man came-out, I didn’t care much. Then all the sudden for no apparent reason, that book is on my mind now.

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