Sunday Status Update: September 20, 2015

This week, Supergirl again.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Supergirl: So, back in the saddle again this week after my latest exile to the Fortress (when some of us have to sneeze, we just have to sneeze, Kal, and inconveniently placed sailboats be damned). Not a bad week to ease back into the swing of things — I stopped a robbery, I delivered some medicine, and Green Lantern (who I think felt sorry for me for whatever reason) put me in touch with an urban renewal group who wanted a building demolished. Most fun I’ve had all year. Then Saturday came along, and I had nothing else to do so I just flew on over to Gotham and kind of stopped the crime. Like, you know, all of it. Seriously, the heaviest hitter they have is some mexican wrestler-guy who can lift a car. I could probably lift a football stadium, so… you know. Anyway, turns out that was a big no-no, because all four gajillion Batgirls and Robins have been messaging me all day telling me what an asshat I am, and then my cousin stopped by to give me this long-winded speech about letting Batman feel useful, and my God, fine, all right. Let Batman keep his personal theme park. Message received. It’s not like he’s going to have an existential crisis or something just because I cleaned up his town for one day.

EDIT: Oh, goddammit.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Bill: This week’s reading included: The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley, Iron Rails, Iron Men, and the Race to Link the Country: the Story of the Transcontinental Railroad by Martin Sandler, The Best American Poetry 2015, edited by Sherman Alexie, Resurrection Science by M.R. O’Connor.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Brad: I’ll begin and end with Ray Bradbury. But, I’m going to have to get creative. Stick with me through my history lesson on censorship in the United States! On audiobook, I’ve been listening to The Martian Chronicles. Absolutely wonderful to hear these stories read aloud. This week I’ve also been reading Elric stories again, as well as one of the new collections of the early Elric comics. I did not grow up reading SFF or comics, so these tales of Elric’s adventures seem wonderfully new to me, and I feel fortunate that I get this experience in my mid-forties. I am also reading Fall Guy For Murder, a collection of EC’s adult comics from the early 1950s, right before EC’s brilliant line of comics had to be cancelled because of censorship, censorship that was so severe it purposely banned even the specific use of words found in many of the TITLES of EC’s comics! EC’s comics were written for adults and include mature stories about racism in the United States and in this collection, a story of female sweatshop workers rising in revolt to murder the beast of a man who owned the shop (after he murdered one of the women, I should add). The censorship was of a uniquely New York, Jewish-immigrant art only ten years after WWII ended, and it resulted in people today STILL equating comics solely with the superhero genre. Why was I not taught in school about this fascinating, but disturbing, fact of U.S. history? An entire ART FORM — comics are NOT a genre — that was heavily censored for decades in the United States? That’s not a minor side note of American history, it seems to me. SFF fans should also know that Ray Bradbury’s stories were frequently adapted in the pages of EC’s comics, so they basically censored Bradbury at the same time. Bradbury to Bradbury! How’d I do?

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Jana: It’s been another slow reading week for me (my kingdom for some brevity!) but I did finish Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, the latest epic fantasy novel from Bradley P. Beaulieu. I haven’t started anything new, despite the really enticing October ARCs in the mail this week — putting them on shelves instead of diving in right away has been so hard — but I said I would finish the books I’ve started, and I meant it! (We’ll see how that holds up over the next week. Upcoming release dates do keep encroaching, and my best laid plans gang aft agley.) I’m hoping to finish M. Verano’s Diary of a Haunting and to get through Erin Bow‘s The Scorpion Rules, though.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kat: I am extraordinarily busy at this time, with lots of projects going on at work. Fortunately this should ease up a little in the next few days as I start to get things under control. I am currently reading Jim Butcher‘s new book The Aeronaut’s Windlass, which is the first book in a new series called THE CINDER SPIRES. I am having trouble getting through it. It’s partly that I’m so busy, but if the book was more engaging I’m sure I’d manage to make it a priority.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Katie: I started work at a new office this week which involves a rather tiresome two hour commute by train. I grumbled, I moaned but by the end of the week have read such a volume of fantastical words I am feeling much chirpier. I have been trying to get into Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood & Co series as I enjoyed his BARTIMAEUS books. They haven’t really clicked with me yet but I will persevere. I am also re-reading Jorge Luis Borges’ extraordinary book of short stories, Ficciones. Published in 1944 they defy their length to explore a wealth of topics, from magical labyrinths and impossible books, detectives and spies to metaphysics, philosophy and theology. They are a real eye opener for any fantasy lover.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kelly: I’ve gone back to Nicola Griffith‘s Hild. I started it last year, but personal-life chaos left me unable to concentrate on it, and it’s definitely a book you need to bring your brain to. Enjoying it quite a bit this time.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kevin: This week, I was lucky enough to get blown away by N. K. Jemisin‘s The Fifth Season. I’d read THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS trilogy and loved it but thought The Fifth Season was something completely different and amazing – epic fantasy but not really epic in scope. Review to follow, I hope. I also read Bradley Beaulieu‘s Twelve Kings in Sharakhai and enjoyed it as well. It seems like there’s a load of excellent fantasy coming in the near future, so I’m very excited! On the other hand, Seth Dickinson‘s The Traitor Baru Cormorant was published on the 15th, and I found myself a copy and can’t wait for a re-read. Happy reading, everyone!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Marion: I finished The Secrets of Blood and Bone by Rebecca Alexander, a nice occult fantasy (contemporary) with a cliffhanger ending, and Amanda Downum‘s Dreams of Shreds and Tatters. I don’t know what I think about that one. I just started Charles E Gannon‘s space opera Raising Caine yesterday, and a book by Thor Hanson called The Triumph of Seeds, which is about… seeds.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Rachael: This week I finished Patrick Ness’s new offering The Rest of Us Just Live Here, which focuses not on the superhero, but the sidekick. Think of it as a homage to the Xanders and the Chewbaccas of the world. I’ve also started reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, and have been absolutely blown away by it so far.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Skye: I am currently re-reading both the KINGMAKER, KINGBREAKER duology and the follow-up series FISHERMAN’S CHILDREN by Karen Miller because between classes and assignments and readings it’s nice to sink into something I read once and enjoyed. Additionally this time around I’ll be able to write reviews! I am also part way through The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, both because I had a great time with the first one and because I may or may not get the chance to chat with him in the near future (mildly freaking out about that one). Speaking of which, I’m going to NerdCon: Stories! It’s a new conference/convention being held in Minneapolis all about stories, from their website: “Story-telling is as old as humans. In fact, it might be one of the things that helped us become humans. NerdCon: Stories is here to honor that institution with a diverse gathering of story tellers.” and so on. I am hugely excited to be going as it promises to combine both my love of stories in many forms as well as my studies in Anthropology. Hopefully I’ll meet some like-minded folks! As for FanLit, there are a half dozen half finished reviews sitting on my computer right now, but the hope is to have at least a couple of those done by the time this is up and getting read. Also in my reading pile are Lamplighter by D.M. Cornish (the prequel to which I read a while ago so we’ll see how it goes), Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley, the third installation in the GENTLEMAN BASTARD SEQUENCE, and The Skein of Lament by Chris Wooding. It’s going to be a busy couple months as I look forward to NerdCon: Stories, read lots of books, start planning a far-off wedding, prepare for NaNoWriMo, and of course complete another step in my BA too.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Stuart: This week I continued on my Robert Silverberg journey, and finished two on audiobook, Dying Inside (1972) and Up the Line (1969). Dying Inside is an intensely personal masterpiece (see Sandy’s review), one of the best New Wave SF novels of the early 1970s. As for Up the Line, it was embarrassing time travel porn, not one of Silverberg’s better moments (see upcoming review). Also am two-thirds of the way through Gene Wolfe‘s The Fifth Head of Cerberus (1972), which remains mysterious and intriguing and requires your full attention. Now listening to Silverberg’s A Time of Changes (1971), a Nebula Award winner and much better.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tadiana: I’ve just finished Gregory Funaro’s Alistair Grim’s Odditorium, a middle grade steampunk fantasy with interesting echoes of Roald Dahl‘s James and the Giant Peach. While I’m thinking about my review, I’ve strong-armed my 13 year old son (whom I’ve proudly raised on a diet of fantasy) into reading it so I can get his perspective on it. I also read Rachel Bach‘s space opera Fortune’s Pawn, perhaps (okay, certainly) not the deepest book but a very fun, light SF read. Steinbeck update: I’m halfway through now with East of Eden; I might have finished it, but I’ve been distracted by my SFF books. That kind of thing tends to happen fairly often in my life.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Terry: I’ve been mostly reading the newest Ilona Andrews KATE DANIELS book this week, Magic Shifts, and enjoying it as thoroughly as I’ve enjoyed this whole series. I’ve also started The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia, and Skein And Bone by V.H. Leslie, all of which are good reading in their own way, but Andrews just has me fixated at the moment; her books are pure fun.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tim: This week I read The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins, which was quite good. It was tightly plotted, it featured interesting characters, the premise was great, and I had to admire the way the author made pretty much every character somewhat monstrous. That takes courage. Anyhoo, next I’m moving on to The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley. I suppose I thought it was time I stopped languishing in old-school Fantasy and caught up with the newer developments.

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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. Brad, your summary of censorship in the 50s is great. I wish you would do an entire column on it (specifically the censorship of the comic form). Maybe Kate would lend you space in Expanding Universe?

  2. I’d love to. Though it might not be until Christmas break for me. Thanks for asking, Marion!

  3. Skye, first, you made me buy books (the Kingmaker, Kingbreaker series). I concede that that is not all that difficult to do, especially when I have a three-day business trip coming up and have to make sure my Kindle is fully stocked, but still. I’m not entirely sure whether I’m thanking you or yelling at you.

    Second, Nerdcon sounds amazing!

    Third, what’s this about a wedding? Spill, girl.

    • I didn’t know whether to say it outright in my ‘status update’ or just see if anyone wanted to know, but yes I got engaged this summer! I am still kind of giddy about it all, I mean is this real life? Thank you for asking, it gives me an excuse to talk about it ;)

      The wedding itself is ‘far-off’ because we want to give me time to get out of school before having to plan a wedding in earnest. Even though it’s a couple years off it is nonetheless exciting for me and my fiancé.

  4. “Planning for a far-off wedding…” Way to drop a tantalizing clue, Skye!

    And NerdCon: Stories… wonderful!

    • I am so beyond excited for NerdCon! It looks like it will be a fantastic time AND it was the brain child of Partick Rothfuss and my favourite YouTuber, so I feel like it will be something I will very much enjoy! I haven’t been to an event like it before so wish me luck :)

  5. Congratulations and best wishes to you and your fiance, Skye!

  6. Tim, Supergirl’s update made me laugh out loud! Great job. :)

    It sounds like everyone’s reading interesting stuff right now, which makes me very happy!

  7. I’ve heard so many amazing things about N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season that I may just have to break my super-strict reading list order and give the 60s and 70s SF classics a rest. It’s not like those books are going anywhere, after all.

  8. @Kat – I’m very interested to hear what you thought of Cinder Spires. I haven’t read it yet but am greatly anticipating.

    @Katie – Lockwood & Co gets better as the series goes along, the first is the weakest but those characters grow on you.

    @Kevin – I’m one of the (very few apparently) who did not like Jemisin’s Hundred Thousand Kingdoms but I’m going to try The Fifth Season anyway because it sounds good and everyone keeps telling to.

    @Skye – I loved Monster Blood Tatoo! And congratulations!

    • April, I loved Butcher’s setting. It’s really cool, but I was underwhelmed with the story and I didn’t love any of his characters. I could feel Butcher there behind the words the entire time, too, which I found distracting. Three stars. I’ll try to get that review up soon.

      Skye, congratulations!!

      • Hm. I guess I’ll have to give it a try and hope that like his other series, it takes him into the second book to make the characters and story mesh as they should.

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