Sunday Status Update: October 5, 2014

This week, another legend of the gallant Sir Lancelot, pulled from the Arthurian Legends.

SirBorsBors: I can remember when my family was respectable, you know. I really can. I remember when I would introduce myself and people would say “Oh, you’re named for your father, are you? That’d make you old Ban’s nephew.” People would smile and nod. Now they just ask what it’s like to be Lancelot’s cousin, and sort of smirk. This week caps a succession of bad weeks, as my sainted hero of a kinsman continued his latest “insane” tantrum. So far, he’s apparently attacked no less than six people indiscriminately, climbed into two beds that don’t belong to him, spouted suspiciously cogent “madman talk” at anyone who asked him what the hell he was doing running around naked with a bloody sword in hand (oh, yes, he’s on one of his exhibitionist kicks again, forgot to mention), and after finally tiring himself out enough to collapse, attempted to decapitate a kindly hermit who came by to patch him up. You know what the real hell of it all is? People don’t say “how awful!” anymore. They say “Oh right, Lancelot’s dropped off the rocker again. What’s he done this time?” It’s almost more than I can bear. So here you are, men and women of the court! Yes, it’s true. Lancelot du Lac, by some celestial mix-up my cousin, is once again claiming to be mad and is thus spending his days rampaging through the forest attacking anything that moves, making an ass of himself with women, stealing anything that isn’t tied down, and flying off the handle at the feeblest provocation.

So basically it’s business as usual, just more naked.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kat: I read five books this week. By far my favorite was Ian McDonald’s excellent story collection Empire Dreams which I’ve already reviewed. The other books were all just solidly average:  Legacies, the first book in L.E. Modesitt Jr’s COREAN CHRONICLESThe Doubt FactoryPaolo Bacigalupi’s new YA thriller; and Storm Surge and Deadly Shores, the most recent installments in Taylor Anderson’s DESTROYERMENseries. Time to wrap this one up, Mr. Anderson!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews KateThis week I’ve been working on research for an article I’m writing, and finishing some reviews that I had in my backlog. I’ve also picked up The Hawley Book of the Dead, a first novel by Chrysler Szarlan, a bookseller from Massachusetts. Her prose style is poetic but simple, but the plot is pretty uneven. However, despite getting frustrated with certain aspects, I can’t stop reading it because I want to know the ending, which I guess is a good recommendation! I’m also reading Monstrous Affections, an anthology of beast tales by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant, which is great, of course.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Marion: I’m reading The Last Plane to Heaven, a collection of short stories by Jay Lake. While I always loved his prose, the Lake novels I read never quite worked for me. His short stories are a different matter. Each one is a shimmering bowl of genius. This makes me realize once again just how much we lost with him this year.  I also finished Doctor Sleep, Stephen King’s “sorta-sequel” to The Shining.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews TerryI’ve been finding it difficult to find time to read this week.  I’ve started Joe Abercrombie‘s Half a King, which I’m enjoying quite a bit and wish I had the time to dive into and not come up until I’ve swiped to the last page. I’m also reading Cold Turkey by Carole Johnstone, a very fine horror novella published by TTA Press, one of those boutique publishers that make you happy that boutique publishers exist; I expect to have a review of this one up tomorrow. I’m also swamped with magazines, with Kaleidotrope‘s Autumn issue, the Summer/Autumn issue of Jamais Vu, and new issues of NightmareLightspeedFantasy and Clarkesworld having all landed in my emailbox this week.  Once again, it’s an embarrassment of riches, and all I need is the time to wallow in my pure gold of the written variety.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tim: This week, I’ve been reading Lord Dunsany‘s Time and the Gods and Rowling‘s The Silkworm. Both are fun, though for very different reasons. I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about Dunsany’s work. While I know my sensations while reading bits of his oeuvre are vaguely positive, I find it very difficult to pin down exactly what sets him apart and lends to what is a very singular reading experience.

Bill:  This week was mostly grading, but I did manage to read R.S. Belcher’s The Shotgun Arcana, his follow-up to The Six-Gun Tarot.  It was a lot of fun, but I also had some misgivings about segments.  Gary Gibson’s Extinction Game, meanwhile, I felt should have been more fun than it was.  Continuing with the “extinction” theme, while I wouldn’t call Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction “fun,” it is thoroughly engaging and informative, even as it depresses with its descriptions of the toll we humans have taken on this world.

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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. Chrysler Szarlan is one of the best names ever! And I have to get my hands on the beast-themed collection by Link and Grant.

  2. Brad Hawley /

    I’ve always wanted to read Dunsay, that title in particular. Can’t wait to read what you think of it. Perhaps you’ll motivate it to move it up in my virtual reading stack.

    I’ve been rereading for class one of my favorite novels: The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin.

    I also read a “picture novel” that actually predates Eisner’s Contract with God by a few decades: It Rhymes with Lust (1949). It’s a beautifully drawn crime novel. The story is sorta silly but fun because it’s basically run-of-the-mill pulp fiction of its time, but the artwork is fantastic: It’s by Matt Baker, one of the few African-American artists in the comic book business at the time. He’s still highly regarded for his depiction of women, particularly in the romance comics he was assigned. He died young, unfortunately. Though I couldn’t judge myself, it’s said that his depiction of women’s clothing was a very accurate portrayal of the fashion at whatever moment he was drawing.

    I still can’t figure out what rhymes with lust . . .

    Actually, the lead character’s name is a woman named Rust, and they tell you that her name rhymes with “lust” and is appropriate because she had a “lust for power.” I’m glad that they told me that. I was TOTALLY thinking something else. And I’m positive they would make that sort of reference. I know, I know: Shocking.

    I’ve continued to reread Ten-Cent Plague about the history of comics, and I started another poorly named book about comics: Is Superman Jewish? I thought it’d be terrible, but as I listen to it on audio, I’m realizing how interesting and subtle the author’s arguments are. In fact, they are so well stated and logically presented, I might use an excerpt from the book as an example of good, clear, well-orgainized argumentative writing in my college freshman writing course. He does make clear that just because a work of art is created by a Jew doesn’t make it Jewish. And that a non-Jew can create Jewish art. For example, he makes a very compelling case for why Superman, created by two Jewish men, is Jewish (though he has become less so over the years as the company through its writers has changed certain core aspects of the character) . He argues that Batman, also a Jewish creation, is anything but Jewish: He is the ultimate Wasp playboy. Also, in his looking at how Superman saves the little guy and Batman want revenge and to go after those who disrupt larger social order that would upset the wealthy, the author sees further evidence. I’m not stating his argument fully, so if you’re intrigued check out “Is Superman Jewish?”

    I started reading Bakuman again. I’m just finished volume 15. Only 5 more to go.

    I’ve also continued to read books teaching reading, writing, and research at the college level. Much fun. I’m finding great books, wonderful resources.

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