Sunday Status Update: October 9, 2016

Character update is on break this week, but things will return to normal next week.

Kelly: Last weekend I attended Archon in Collinsville, IL, and had a great time. I learned a lot from the panel on fantastical elements in Shakespeare’s works — did you know actors were trained in huge, set gestures so that people could follow the plot even when they couldn’t hear the dialogue? Or that costumers essentially dumpster-dived for nobles’ clothing scraps, because you needed certain colors to indicate nobility on stage but weren’t allowed to actually buy such fabrics by the sumptuary laws? All kinds of stuff that makes total sense, but that you just don’t really think about. Most significant, I think, was the worldview that anything unusual or unexplainable was probably magic, while we tend to look to science first for an explanation.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun. I also finally got Ellen Datlow‘s autograph after missing her at Worldcon like a ship in the night.

Sandy: Moi? I am currently reading a collection of short stories by the great Richard Matheson, one entitled The Shores of Space (1957). These stories run the gamut from horror to sci-fi, sometimes melding both in one story to pleasing effect. The collection includes the famous story “Steel,” which was adapted as an episode of The Twilight Zone a few years later. I hope to get a review out for this entertaining collection very shortly…

Skye: I Recently enjoyed our finalist for SPFBO and one of the runners up: The Shadow Soul by Kaitlyn Davis, and The Journeyman by Michael Alan Peck respectively. I took advantage of a Kindle sale and bought A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab, The Woken Gods by Gwenda Bond, and Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I flew through The Woken Gods so a review is in the works for that one! It seems that I now have some story collections on the go with Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell, and Wastelands: Tales of the Apocolypse edited by John Joseph Adams. I’ve been chipping away at the latter for a while now, taking in one story at a time. I have loved some, and liked others so far. I have finished Dreams of Distant Shores by Patricia McKillip, yet another collection of stories. I’ve been visiting for free short fiction quite a bit lately. I’m really getting into the format. Otherwise, I have been chipping away at the backlog of reviews on my computer, hopefully that continues to go well. I also just set up a studio in the house I’m living in. Everything is organized and has a place, just right for me to tear it all apart to produce some new pieces. I’m very excited!

StuartThis week I finished Alastair Reynold‘s Revelation Space, a series I’ve wanted to read for years. It reminded me of Herbert‘s Dune, Morgan‘s Altered Carbon, Watts‘ Blindsight, and BanksCULTURE novels, but the middle portion was pretty slow-going despite lots of interesting details. So before moving on to the next installment, Redemption Ark, I listened to James P. Blaylock‘s Land of Dreams, a magical story of a sinister carnival coming to a small coastal town in the Northwest. As you can guess, it’s a tribute to Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, complete with sinister operators, plucky teens, mysterious events, and even a calliope.

Tadiana: I finally finished Spellbreaker by Blake Charlton, which did finally pull me in, but it took such a long time to do that! I also finished Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges, the most literary and challenging set of short stories I’ve ever read. Many of these stories were difficult to grasp (unless you have a much deeper background in philosophy than I do) but as I studied and reread, most of them grew on me tremendously. My other reads in the SFF genre the last three weeks have included Peter Beagle‘s mythic fantasy Summerlong, a mix of ancient mythology and the modern-day Seattle area; Jennifer Estep‘s Bright Blaze of Magic, the concluding volume in her YA urban fantasy BLACK BLADE trilogy; and an advance copy of Megan Shepherd’s middle grade fantasy The Secret Horses of Briar Hill, a lovely, bittersweet story set in a rural children’s hospital in WWII England. Currently I’m reading Rick Riordan‘s latest YA fantasy, The Hammer of Thor, which is the second book in his MAGNUS CHASE AND THE GODS OF ASGARD series. It’s pretty much just like the PERCY JACKSON series, except with more diverse characters and with Norse gods, who have settled in the Boston area in the same way that the Greek gods now make their home in New York City. The only non-SFF book I’ve read in the past few weeks that’s worth mentioning here is D.E. Stevenson’s Miss Buncle’s Book, a 1936 novel that captures the charm of life in a small English town and the various characters who live there, with all their foibles, and even gets a little bit meta, which was delightful.

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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. I forgot to send in my status. I was busy with other things and reading material for my writers workshop, so I only finished two books; THE HALLOWEEN TREE by Ray Bradbury, which I had never read, and SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, also by Bradbury because October. The bookstore clerk said he found THE HALLOWEEN TREE to be “weirdly informational” and I would concur. I got the recent Knopf edition with lovely, eerie illustrations. It is probably going to someone as part of my All Hallows Read gifting.

  2. I, too, forgot to send in my status, having spent the week dealing with a health problem. I’ve started reading THE BAZAAR OF BAD DREAMS by Stephen King, and am enjoying it very much. Otherwise, I’ve been following the election closely, which may be the cause of the health problems I mentioned.

  3. Melanie Goldmund /

    I’m currently reading Crosstalk, by Connie Willis, but holy cow, it’s so hectic. I have to stop and take breaks every so often because I get feeling hectic, too.

    • Hi Melanie! I forgot to mention that I read Crosstalk a couple of weeks ago as well. I’m not really a fan of Connie Willis’ penchant for having her characters ineffectually run around, with lots of miscommunication. But I will say that Crosstalk really came together for me in the last half or third. I hope it does for you as well!

      Skye, if you’re reading more Tor shorts I’m going to start bugging you for more reviews for SFM. Beware!

      • Melanie Goldmund /

        You’re right, I started appreciating Crosstalk more after the halfway point. :-)

  4. Kelly, I ran into (and chatted with) Ellen Datlow in a bathroom at WorldCon. She was standing behind me in the line.

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