Sunday Status Update: October 25, 2015

This week, Galadriel’s back and thoroughly bored with an eternal forest of breathtaking beauty.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Galadriel: Another week gone. They do seem to just blur by after you get into your 1200s or so. Caras Galadhon is exactly the same as ever. Exactly. Same people, same scenery, and if Celeborn tries to bring up changing the name of the forest back to Laurelindórenan one more time, I will shove him right off into empty air. Which I could do quite easily, actually — it occurs to me that we might have more guests if we installed some manner of handrails up here. Hm. Maybe I’ll bring that up. Everyone will probably be horrified, but that will be amusing too, in its way.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Bill: Another slow reading week thanks to work and writing responsibilities. I did manage to read City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett, finish listening to Alan Lightman’s The Accidental Universe, and continue with Steven Erikson’s Crack’d Pot Trail for the reread at Tor. I’m now listening to Nicholas Carr’s book on automation — The Glass Cage — and plan on picking up Bennett’s sequel, City of Blades, this week, but with lots of incoming essays and rehearsals for a staged reading of a play in process, I’ll probably need one of the book’s divine miracles to finish it.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Brad: This week I read a SFF comic called Descender by Jeff Lemire; it’s really good and anybody who likes Asmiov’s robot stories should read this one immediately. Since it’s the first volume in an Image series, as is usual for Image, it’s priced at $9.99, when most trades at the Big Two sell for at least twice that. I finally read the twelve-issue miniseries Global Frequency by Warren Ellis, and it was as good as I’d heard. I’ve started reading the old Marvel series Ultimate Galactus, as well as monthly issues coming out in the new series (with an old Marvel title): Secret War (which won’t be collected in trade until next year). On audio, I continue to listen to Asimov’s Robot Dreams. And every time I open my Kindle, I get sucked back into the world of Elric. It has been a great week for reading, but a terrible one for reviewing. I don’t know when I’m going to find the time to review all these great comics! But I did post two reviews yesterday, one of which continues the Sandman series of reviews I’ve been working on for too long now. I’m up to volume five: A Game of You.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Jason: This week I’ve been reading a cosmic horror/mystery mashup by Jonathan L. Howard called Carter & Lovecraft. It was just released and is already receiving some nice reviews. I won’t spoil anything, but I’m aiming to have my FanLit review ready by end of next week. Just in time for Halloween. I’ve been horror-focused the last month, but should be moving into Jack McDevitt science fiction with a pair of reviews in December, including his upcoming release, Thunderbird.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews João: Let’s see,  from my last reading update to this one I finished Paul Kearney‘s A Different Kingdom, which I didn’t find particularly compelling but could identify the tremendous skill Paul Kearney has, and I think anyone who enjoyed Holdstock‘s Mythago Wood should give it a try. Then I read Jo Walton’s My Real Children which I had been dying to read since it came out but I am sad to say that I found this book a complete bore. Normally I enjoy Walton’s way of approaching characters, focusing more on their daily lives while at the same time advancing the story forward, but it just didn’t work in this one, particularly because there is no real story. I wanted to write a review to this one but I don’t have anything positive to say about it so I will refrain from writing it. K.J. Parker’s The Last Witness was pretty weird, not in the usual K.J. Parker voice I am used to, but in the end everything payed off. I started Elizabeth Bear’s THE ETERNAL SKY trilogy with Range of Ghosts, where kind of like A Different Kingdom before, I admire the technical aspects but I found myself a lot of times just losing interest in it. I will continue reading the trilogy however since they aren’t the usual behemoths of epic fantasy and there’s room for it to grow on me. Now I am reading Jo Walton’s The Philosopher Kings and all is well in the world and Jo Walton continues to be one of my favorite writers.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kat: I promised myself I wouldn’t do this, but I started a new series this week: Juliet Blackwell’s HAUNTED HOME RENOVATION MYSTERIES. I read the first four books: If Walls Could Talk, Dead Bolt, Home for the Haunting, and Murder on the House. These are pleasant paranormal cozy mysteries, but they’re nearly indistinguishable from Juliet Blackwell’s other paranormal cozy mystery series called WITCHCRAFT MYSTERIES. As always, Xe Sands does an amazing job with the narration of the audio versions.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Marion: I’ve had a feast of good-to-great books this month, and this week I finished two of them: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, and Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie. Jemisin combines outlandish imagination with really good writing to pull off a major feat of creativity, and Leckie brings her elaborate distributed-consciousness, end-of-Empire-saga to a completely satisfying conclusion, (and I write that as someone who had my doubts.) I also enjoyed some of Mary Oliver’s dog poems this week, in her collection Dog Songs, and browsed a bit more in Ursula K. LeGuin’s revised Steering the Craft.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Rachael: This week I have gotten wonderfully sidetracked by other genres and, er, Shakespeare (Macbeth, anyone?). But then I picked up Lauren BeukesShining Girls, which was a great move. It’s so dark and weird (possibly heightened by the fact that I just finished Macbeth) and I’m very much enjoying it so far.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Stuart: Having spend three weeks in the world of J.G. Ballard, it was time to move on to The Collected Works of Philip K Dick on audiobook. I really enjoyed these stories. I then listened to the four PDK stories that inspired the films Minority Report, Total Recall (“We Can Remember It for You Wholesale”), Paycheck, and Screamers (“Second Variety”). PKD’s stories may have inspired many films after his death, but they are quite different from the film versions. My favorites were the first two stories, which have complicated plots but are also rip-roaring adventures. After that, I switched gears and went old school with Ray Bradbury‘s The Illustrated Man, which did not click for me at all, very much like The Martian Chronicles. I know many readers revere Bradbury as a giant in the genre, but I just find the stories so hokey and dated, and the small-town characters get on my nerves. I prefer his novels Something Wicked This Way Comes and Fahrenheit 451. Next up will likely be PKD’s Radio Free Albemuth and the brash, incendiary short stories of Harlan Ellison.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Terry: My reading has been all over the place this week — a few pages here, a few pages there, an article about politics, another article about books.  I didn’t start anything new and I didn’t finish anything (except the articles); I’m slowly and happily enjoying everything I’ve already started.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tim: This week I listened to the audio version of Jim Butcher‘s The Aeronaut’s Windlass, and I have accepted Rowl as my personal lord and savior. I have to admit that I’m not so enamored of Gwen and Ben the Victorian Wonder Cousins, but as it’s the first novel in a new series I suppose that while everyone must be introduced, not everyone can actually be central.  In print, I’ve been seduced by nonfiction for the present, but that can’t last (if prior evidence is anything to go by).

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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. Rachael, I thoughtThe Shining Girls was amazing, and so was her next book, Broken Monsters. I have an interest in municipal bankruptcies and the toll they take on people (because I’m a morbid, morbid person) and her description of Detroit is three-dimensional and visceral.

    • Ha! I know, it’s wonderful so far. I’m loving the contrast between beautifully crafted prose and macabre gore. Moxyland is already on my bookshelf!

  2. Stuart: You and I are treading many of the same literary paths (except Ballard). However, I’m glad you are the one writing reviews. I never seem to finish the short story collections I dip into. I act like they are candy jars, and I just stick my hand in and grab a few and then move on to something else, coming back in a month or 5 years (I never know). I spent 1988 to about 2010 being incredibly systematic in my reading of authors and genres and periods of literature, and now I am not at all. It’s very refreshing, but it makes me an unpredictable reviewer! I even get sidetracked from comic book series, and often I stop reading a comic book in the middle of a trade edition. If it gets any worse, I’m gonna need bookmarks for my 22/24-page monthly comics!

    • Brad, I have been trying to stay extremely disciplined this year because I have a very clear list of authors that I have never given their proper due, and this year that has included Philip K Dick, JG Ballard, Robert Silverberg, and Gene Wolfe. The audiobooks have definitely made it easier, because when I’m walking and listening I don’t face any distractions, but if I’m at home trying to read, then there is family, TV programs, and the Internet all trying to get a piece of my time.

      I think there is another issue that FanLit reviewers face that is unavoidable: every week we read about all these enticing books and comics being read by someone else and feel an unstoppable urge to read those books as well! It’s the harsh reality we all face :-)

      Anyway, I enjoy reading up on what everyone is doing, but have managed to stay the course on my TBR list. Good luck, Brad! Comics should generally not need bookmarks~

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