Sunday Status Update: October 13, 2013

Marion was playing around with The Wayback Machine and managed to unearth this historic Facebook posting from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, during her University of California at Sunnydale years:

Buffy the Vampire SlayerBuffy: So I’m all, “Well, it’ll probably be attracted to food, so we need to check the cafeteria and the student union” and Giles is cleaning his glasses and he’s all, “I believe the campus is in no danger from the, er, giant cockroach.” And Willow is like, “It’s a Cuffka. It’s a book,” and I’m all, “Well, does the book say how to kill it?” And she’s all, “It’s a book, for Comparative Lit. Kafka’s Metamorphosis.” Honestly, I’m sooooo academically challenged!

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsBill: Amongst the 80 or so college essays, this week I managed to sneak in The Last Dark by Stephen Donaldson, the final (one assumes) volume in his long-running CHRONICLES OF THOMAS COVENANT. Despite problems, it does bring the series to a satisfactory close. Review to come.

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsBrad: This week I’ve been reading manga by Yoshihiro Tatsumi. I have never seen anything like it in my life. He created a gritty manga style that is miles away from anything most of us think of when we hear the word “manga.”  And when I say “gritty,” think dark, realistic adult stories of everyday heartbreak and loneliness. Thank goodness, like Raymond Carver, he employs the short story format. If Raymond Carver were a Japanese manga artist, his work would look like Tatsumi’s. And from what I can tell, Tatsumi influenced adult manga storytelling in the same way that Carver influenced contemporary American short story writers. I have heard for years that Japanese adults read manga with mature subject matter. Until this week I had no idea what that meant. Be warned, there’s very sexually explicit content of the most depressing kind. I recommend The Push Man and Other Stories. Less disturbing, believe it or not, is his thriller Black Blizzard. I couldn’t put either work down. Even more palatable is his brilliant, long, often tender memoir A Drifting Life. This week’s reading has opened my eyes to a new world and a new genre: gekiga manga (look it up!).

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Kat: You are not going to believe how many books I read this week! Here we go: The Dreaming Jewels by Theodore Sturgeon (creepy carnival story), Venus Plus X by Theodore Sturgeon (gender-bending SF), Hearts at Stake and Blood Feud by Alyxandra Harvey (fluffy teen paranormal romance), A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (old pulp SF), The Halcyon Drift by Brian M. Stableford (creative world building), Undead and Unemployed by MaryJanice Davidson (another fluffy paranormal romance), “The First” and “The Sparrow” by Jason Mott (uninspiring short stories that are prequels to his novel The Returned), The Road by Cormac McCarthy (so depressing!) and, best of all, Balfour and Meriwether in the Incident of the Harrowmoor Dogs by Daniel Abraham (promising start to what I hope is a series). How did I read so many books? I sorted the 260 books in my Audible library by length and started with the shortest. At this rate I’ll never get to Atlas Shrugged!

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsKelly: I’m currently enjoying The Incrementalists by Steven Brust and Skyler White. Really interesting premise, and lots of mysteries to unravel. And if you found us by picking up a bookmark at Archon 37 last weekend… welcome aboard!

fantasy and science fiction book reviews Marion: I finished up Countdown City, the second book in the “pre-apocalyptic” trilogy by Ben H. Winters. It takes place 77 days before the impact of the asteroid on earth, and is as well-written and gripping as The Last Policeman. Hank Palace is the kind of character I would like to know, if the end really were coming up. He’s just such a decent guy. I also read The Bat, a mystery by Jo Nesbro. After Steig Larsson, Nesbro is the crowned king of the gloomy Scandinavian mystery writers, and The Bat was the first of the Harry Hole series. Surprisingly, it is set in Australia, introducing Harry as a Norwegian fish-out-of-water, investigating the murder of a Norwegian citizen Down Under. I liked it but didn’t love it; it was useful, however, for anyone who ever plans to write a thriller, because it provides a good template for the formula (I don’t mean that it lacks in originality). In other news, I am haunting Friends of the Library stores and Goodwills to scoop up kids’ books for October 31, re-named at our house All Hallows’ Read. Thanks to Neil Gaiman for introducing the delightful concept of giving out books as treats (yes, I do give out candy too).

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsRyan: I’m currently listening to Terry Pratchett‘s A Hat Full of Sky, one of the Tiffany Aching stories. So far, so good. I’m nearly through Sophocles’ “old weird” play, Oedipus Rex, which I enjoy more every time I read it. I haven’t read any of his other books except the MEMORY OF LIGHT trilogy, but I decided to borrow a copy of Brandon Sanderon‘s new young adult novel, Steelheart, from the library this week.

fantasy and science fiction book reviews

Terry: I was hard at work this week, and had little time for reading.  That means I was mostly finishing up books already started and already described in this space, so I won’t repeat myself.  I’ll add that I also read the new Interzone and the new Black Static, both of which are excellent.

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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 thought the Road was depressing too — good, though. We just got a hardback copy of Princess of Mars in the bookstore, part of an estate sale with lots of “collector” Burroughs — and this one has the original Frank Frazetta cover.

  2. Wept at the end of The Road. Just wept. Best love story ever.

  3. Bill — I know. I loved the part when it started raining and they had to take shelter under the picturesque covered bridge and… oh, wait, that’s not the The Road.

  4. Kat Hooper /

    I finished The Road just as my daughter’s soccer game was ending and I was trying not to cry in front of all the other soccer moms. I still do not know who won the game.

  5. No, Bill, it’s a Desperate Housewives homage called “The Bridge Games of Madison Bounty.”

    Kat, I wasn’t sure he was going to pull off that ending; both sad and yet good. Using the word “optimistic” would be going too far, but the book does not end in complete futility.

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