Sunday Status Update: October 27, 2013

This week, Tarzan.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Tarzan: This week I perused Milton‘s Paradise Lost, as well as several books of English criticism. I have learnt that my life may be a Robinsonade, but also may not be. Very confusing. Nonetheless, fascinating. My reading has become ever more eclectic since I succeeded in teaching myself to read several months ago. I often write now, when the mood takes me. Still, I yearn for speech such as is written of in my books. Yet I can find no way of moving from written to verbal communication or vice versa.

Except writing out my name phonetically. That’s different. For some reason.

AlixAlix: Well, last week I gave up on The Magician King until I’m in a more tolerant mood. I switched to Robin McKinley’s newest release Shadowswhich was excellent young adult fantasy fun, but nothing like McKinley’s mid-eighties glory (review forthcoming). The rest of my time this week has gone into curriculum writing and a series of epic battles with my 1970s-era floor furnace (I won, but there were heavy losses on both sides).

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Brad: This week I’ve continued my reading of Osamu Tezuka‘s works. The more I read, the more I understand why he’s known in Japan as The God of Manga. I now believe that he might very well be The International God of Comics with no peer in the world. I’ve only barely broken through the surface of his great body of work, particularly since only a small portion of his total output has ever been published in the United States: Tezuka published over 150,000 pages of comics in his lifetime! After starting with Astro Boy, I turned to his mature works aimed at an adult audience: Buddha and Black Jack, neither of which I’ve finished yet since Buddha is eight volumes long, and Black Jack is seventeen volumes long. This week I finished the amazing, two-volume Apollo’s Song (see Friday’s review in which I beg you to read this brilliant work of art). Now I’m reading Barbara, the story of a famous Japanese novelist who discovers and takes in a young alcoholic woman living on the streets: He both despises her and finds he can’t live without her as she becomes his artistic muse. I love Tezuka’s writing. It’s interesting at the level of narrative, and though I feel like I know little of artistic techniques in general, I am in awe of his art. Everything I read. Every person I talk to mentions how brilliant his art is. As recently as last night, I talked to an artist who praised Tezuka’s artwork saying how he often stops mid-story to stare at a panel, stunned by Tezuka’s talent. I now have a new favorite writer–he’s certainly in the top ten of my favorite writers of all time in any genre and any art form, from novels (Austen) to poetry (Millay) to drama (Shakespeare) to lyrics (Dylan) to comics (Brubaker) to manga (Tezuka).

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Kat: My reading was eclectic, as usual, this week. I’ll put them in order by how much I enjoyed them, from least to most. Ursula Le Guin’s The Telling, while often lovely, was heavy-handed and nearly plotless. Andre Norton’s The Defiant Agents, the third book in her TIME TRADERS series was not as good as the first novel (I skipped the second because it’s not available in audio format). Terry Pratchett’s The Light Fantastic, the second DISCWORLD novel, was entertaining, but pales in comparison to later DISCWORLD books. Edith Nesbit’s The Enchanted Castle was another of her charming children’s fantasies. To my surprise, the book I liked best this week was Patrick Rothfuss’s graphic novel The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Dark of Deep Below. This was a cute dark story and I love the art by Nate Taylor.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Marion: I finished Tina Connolly’s fantasy Copperhead, sequel to her Nebula-nominated novel Ironskin. Fans of Anne Bronte’s Tenant of Wildfell Hall will enjoy picking out the homage and the ‘Easter eggs’ in this one. I re-read Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys. I remembered this as starting off light and amusing and becoming darker, with a bittersweet ending. To my surprise, that is exactly how I felt this time too. How does he do heartrendingly serious and wryly funny at the same time? As a change of pace, I started Elaine Pagels’s book Revelations, which is her analysis of the biblical book of the same name. Tidbit Number One; this particular Book of Revelations (“Revelations” were about a dime a dozen) barely made it into the canon. There’s a new fun fact on every page, written as usually in her clear straightforward prose.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Ryan: This week, I began reading The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. It is about city planning, but many fans of urban fantasy will enjoy it and I can imagine China Miéville in particular consulting The Death and Life of Great American Cities on a regular basis. I am still listening to A Hat Full of Sky, by Terry Pratchett, which remains a strong DISCWORLD entry. At work, I am about to start rereading Jon Krakauers Into Thin Air and Truman Capotes In Cold Blood with my classes.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Terry: It feels as if it’s been a long time since a novel grabbed me by the throat and insisted that I read it through and through.  I’ve been reading so much short fiction that sometimes I wonder if maybe my attention span has been affected!  So you won’t be surprised to learn that this week I read four issues of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, including the fifth anniversary double issue.  I’ve also returned to Paula Guran‘s anthology, Once Upon a Time, which is jammed with good rewritten fairy tales. I finished the last installment in Seanan McGuire‘s Indexing, which I suspect I would have enjoyed more had I read it as a completed book instead of as a Kindle serial.  I was also in and out of a ridiculous number of novels, including Darkness First by James Hayman, a mystery, and The Alchemist of Souls by Ann Lyle.  I think what I really need is a long, uninterrupted period of time — three or four hours — in which to sit and read, which means I’m counting down the days until my Christmas staycation.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Tim: This week I was mostly reading novels for my course: Shane, by Jack Schaefer; Hondo, by Louis L’amour; and Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs. As the discerning readers amongst you may have realized by now, we’re into the Western/Adventure section. In other news, finally settled in new accommodation, so huzzah for that (aside from some last minute wrap-ups).

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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. Hélène /

    I just finished unpacking a few days ago, “so huzzah for that” indeed! It’s a great way to renew acquaintance with old “friends” and make discoveries. I re-read The black flame by Weinbaum which is among the first funny SF books I got (some forty years ago – gasp!-, I guess that makes it a ve-ry-old-friend…) and decided to buy The Best of Stanley G. Weinbaum to celebrate the new housing. So from an old shiny silvered cover, typical of French SFF covers in the 70s, to an ebook,I have come full circle.

  2. Marion, I know you’re not much into audiobooks, but Lenny Henry’s performance of Anansi Boys is one of the best I’ve ever heard. You can hear a sample here:

    • I know this is old, but I just finished the Anansi Boys audiobook (I’ve read the book, you know, a dozen times-ish) and I would just like to add OHMYGOD that was good. I don’t understand how he did English, Caribbean, and American accents plus about a dozen different animal voices, plus male and female characters, plus an excellent sense of timing and humor all at the same time. Like, Jim Dale, I might have a new audio-crush.

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