Our reads in June 2021
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Timothy Zahn - Heir to the Empire✔
Nicola Griffith - Ammonite ✔
Poul Anderson - Brain Wave✔
C M Kornbluth - Not This August ✔
Charles G Finney - Circus of Dr Lao✔
Joanna Russ - Picnic on Paradise✔
Murray Leinster - Med Ship✔
John Wyndham - The Kraken Wakes✔
Andre Norton - Star Guard✔
from other genres
Edward Eager - Magic or Not?✔
Laurie Lee - Cider With Rosie✔
Katie Fforde -Wedding Season✔
My current choices seem to be taking forever since they're long: Martin Chuzzlewit by Dickens, and the 810 page Napoleon: a life by Roberts. I predict a bunch of shorter works in the near future... :-) Oh, and a delightful book of essays on books, libraries, and reading: The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel -- highly recommended!
After a break with a book on the Soviet aircraft designer Andrei Tupolev, I shall return to genre with Peter Nicholls' The Science in Science Fiction, which has somehow evaded being read since I bought it new in 1982!!!
I wonder if the fact that you're reading it 40 years later will add an extra layer to it. Enjoy!
I've been on a mini Silvia Moreno-Garcia kick lately. Finished Gods of Jade and Shadow last night, which I thought was quite good. The other Garcia book I read recently, and which I liked even better, was Mexican Gothic. A creepy tale in the vein of Stoker's The Lair of the White Worm. I thought it was a better riff on that particular conceit than Stoker's.
Now back to Foreigner with #14, Protector.
''Abalone, Arizona, is a sleepy southwestern town whose chief concerns are boredom and surviving the Great Depression. That is, until the circus of Dr. Lao arrives and immensely and irrevocably changes the lives of everyone drawn to its tents. Expecting a sideshow spectacle, the citizens of Abalone instead confront and learn profound lessons from the mythical made real - a chimera, a Medusa, a talking sphinx, a sea serpent, witches, the Hound of the Hedges, a werewolf, a mermaid, an ancient god, and the elusive, ever-changing Dr. Lao. The circus unfolds, spinning magical, dark strands that ensnare the town's populace: the sea serpent's tale shatters love's illusions; the fortune-teller's shocking pronouncements toll the tedium and secret dread of every person's life; sensual undercurrents pour forth for men and women alike; and the dead walk again. Dazzling and macabre, literary and philosophical, The Circus of Dr. Lao has been acclaimed as a masterpiece of speculative fiction and influenced such writers as Ray Bradbury.''
If this book was published today I think it would be a cult classic.For 1935 it it absolutely amazing.
I was so lucky to get it on Kindle for only £1.99. I can now go back and savour it anytime. Cool. :0)
Now reading Valkyrie's Song, the fourth book in a superior fantasy series.
Want to finish Ammonite and John Carter of Mars this week,and then read some non SF,such as Cider with Rosie before reading Heir to the Empire,not my cup of tea,but is on several WWEnd lists
Besides the condescending tone of the writing, the other thing the book lacks is a decent story. There is a germ of an interesting idea but the narrative is very messy with too many viewpoint characters, many of whom get very little page time, development, or resolution.
I can only conclude that 1965 must have been a thin year for nominees. At least I can say that I've checked another one off my Hugo list. That makes #54 of 69.
Finished The Mask of Dimitrios. Interesting pre-WWII thriller, an author retraces the criminal career of a ruthless crook across the Balkans.
Still trying to finish Road Seven (I suspect it's going to be DNF), and have started re-reading The Scholars of Night (having scored the eARC of the new edition).
I found it quite amusing.
I did have R A Lafferty's bonkers Past Master lined up,but dont think my old brain could cope. Yep,good old bland John Wyndham will be much more suitable! :0)
Now reading Nocilla Lab, the third of the trilogy. Only marginally genre.
The best cold-war thriller you'll ever read.
Now look what you have done. You do realise I am going to have to check out the veracity of your statement. You can chalk up a direct hit. BB right between the eyes.
ETA: Now that I have checked availability I see the copies available are prohibitively expensive and it will be Sep 2021 before viably priced copies will be published. Until then.
>48 Maddz: Sorry! (she says unrepentantly). I'm not surprised the original paper editions are expensive - they're long out of print and probably now rather collectable. I got the eARC from NetGalley and I'm just about to post my review here now I've logged that edition.
The result is what I imagine a series of bad acid trips would be like. The message I took away from the whole debacle was that if we could have what we truly desire it would destroy us. Be careful what you wish for.
I'm a big fan of Delany's fiction, and my favourite is Dhalgren. I find his short fiction often better than his novels. Empire Star, a novella, is excellent (and was published together with The Ballad of Beta-2 in the UK).
Given to me from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program in mistake, but the publisher said to keep it and sent me my original request as well.
It's taken me the best part of a year and 3 tries to read it; I kept stalling and my reading slump last summer didn't help either. Basically, 2 guys go cryptid hunting in a independent territory of Iceland. Both guys are basically losers; one is a perpetual student about to flunk out of his graduate programme, the other is an author who had a run-away best seller with what purported to be an autobiographical account of an alien abduction.
I had a hard time caring about either character and spent most of the book wondering why they were supposed to be remotely interesting.
Not my cup of tea at all.
Next up is a re-read of Banks' Against a Dark Background.
Not too bad a year really in SF. Fun Winston classics for the young lads,Heinlein and Norton's exciting juveniles. And a few other not so bad books,including:
Poul Anderson - The Broken Sword
Isaac Asimov - Caves of Steel
C S Lewis - Horse and His Boy
Hal Clement - Mission of Gravity
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Richard Matheson - I Am Legend
J R R Tolkien - Lord of the Rings
not too bad,really. :0)
Recently read The Price You Pay, a non-genre title from Nick Harkaway, (writing under the alias of Aidan Truhen). What a riot - but not for the easily offended. For anyone who has experienced reading Harkaway, this is him with no filter. At. All. I loved it.
Currently e-reading Terra Nullius. Interesting start. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of reading a couple of online blurbs, which ruined the premise/twist. Oh well... early going but at least the writing is good, thus far...
Also nibbling my way through From Dark Places. A short story collection from the author of the Planetfall series.
>77 RobertDay: Yeah, I usually try to avoid even reading book blurbs. In this instance, I was choosing books for a specific reading challenge on Worlds Without End. It was down to Terra Nullius and another title and I ran across more information than I wanted to know. Ah, well... it truly is a first-world problem.
I know people really like these books, but I have a bad feeling that for me, they may have peaked with All Systems Red...
Halfway through A Desolation Called Peace and The Ministry For the Future. Even though both are good, I am having a hard time getting through these. The latest Hillerman mystery Stargazer has become available via the library, so I will probably read that before I finish the other two.
Check out this poll, they are asking for votes.
>98 Karlstar: Which one have you read already? The only real stand-alone I listed there is Angelmaker. The others are books in a series with The Fifth Season being the only one that is book #1. The Bone Clocks is also sort of a stand-alone but it does tie in loosely with most every other David Mitchell book, most especially The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. I don't at all suggest reading the Bennett or Newman series out of order as there will be spoilers for the earlier books.
1 Klara and the Sun
2 Nocilla Lab
3 America City
4 Lonesome Dove
5 Crimson Darkness
As for Crimson Darkness, see... https://medium.com/p/the-sf-utensil-crimson-darkness-4793800e0eca
The Nocilla trilogy is available here in a 3-volume slip-covered edition. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and translated by Thomas Bunstead. Added to my Amazon wish list at $16.99.
"A bromance of the old west, filled with racist and sexist stereotypes.
The author himself eventually expressed regret about the popularity of the novel. In the preface to the 2000 edition he wrote: 'It's hard to go wrong if one writes at length about the Old West, still the phantom leg of the American psyche. I thought I had written about a harsh time and some pretty harsh people, but, to the public at large, I had produced something nearer to an idealization; instead of a poor man's Inferno, filled with violence, faithlessness and betrayal, I had actually delivered a kind of Gone With The Wind of the West, a turnabout I'll be mulling over for a long, long time.'"
Although not at all great literature, I immediately read and enjoyed Gideon the Ninth to cleanse my brain.
Just finished reading Jemisin's The Inheritance trilogy. I read the first book when it came out, but for some reason I skipped the next two. It was pretty good (/understatement mode).
Remember the good old days when nobody worried about coronavirus because we all had tuberculosis?
>109 SFF1928-1973:. LOL, yes. And kudos to Larry McMurty, R.I.P., who in the end recognized that people were using his work to mythologize about the American West. Lonesome Dove was written in 1986, and he should have known better.
Just check out the list I have been avoiding for years! lol
Game of Thrones
Eye of the World
Name of the Wind
Mists of Avalon
Time Traveler's Wife
The Way of Kings
Gardens of the Moon
Furies of Calderon
Perdido St Station
Some of the most beloved and revered books around! lol. I have no wish to read any of them.Got 200 pages into Mists of Avalon and Name of the Wind and almost expired with boredom. attempted Anathem and found it very similar to The Name of the Rose,but with maths instead of christian sects. Gave up at page 50. As with Game of Thrones.
Fantasy just isnt my cup of tea! :0)
One Hundred Years of Solitude only 200 pages long,took me a whole month. I read a short chapter, 7 or 8 pages while eating my porridge (something else I have little enthusiasm for) and tossed it aside till the next day. :0) Doubt if I'll ever read more Marquez. lol.
>111 vwinsloe: It was pretty obvious - to me, at least - that McMurtry had sanitised the Texas Rangers, and the villains were completely over-the-top villainous, when there probably wasn't much difference between them and the Rangers.
If the book mythologises the Wild West it does so to a much lesser extent than decades of Hollywood movies. I enjoyed the book because it was so much amusing than I'd expected, given the only Western novels I'd read previously were by Cormac McCarthy and Daneill Woodrell.
I agree about the old Hollywood westerns, and I imagine that Western pulp novels are the same or worse. Lonesome Dove is obviously better than all that, but really just incrementally.
I was thinking the other day that if George R.R. Martin ever gets tired of writing A Song of Ice and Fire he could maybe hand it over to Brandon Sanderson, who seems to be writing everything now.
Really weird because most of your list is fantasy.
Personally I would have kept going with Anathem - the first 50 pages or so is setting the world up. Plot does happen eventually. TBH I didn't find it at all similar to The Name of the Rose (not that I am sure that would be a bad thing) but obviously YMMV.
Next read a couple of detective novels - Murder by Numbers, the latest 1950s-set Langham & Duprée novel by Eric Brown, good period detail but the central mystery was a bit obvious; and The Fine Art of Invisible Detection by Robert Goddard, in which a Japanese widow goes head to head with a ruthless Japanese financier, and it's all to do with Iceland and a mysterious auction only for the super-rich... wasn't bad.
Reread Use of Weapons, which I've always maintained is the best Culture novel, and the reread did not disappoint. Even though I last read it 30 years ago, I remembered the twist, so it didn't have the same power as on my previous read. Now I want to reread all the early Culture novels...
Perhaps I can accompany an enjoyable reread of Night in the Lonesome October with it for Halloween reads!
I am still working my way through the Culture. Next up will be Inversions,but not for a while.I am having fun reading classic pulp.
I am reading my first Doc Savage: Man of Bronze. Totally bonkers,but great fun How many years is it since I read about a car with running boards,with men hanging on like in the Keystone Cops? Now we are off into the jungle to locate and battle the Feathered Serpent. Ridiculous but fun.
I wouldn't say yes to finishing ASOIAF, if asked. (And I don't think they'd ask me.) I'd respectfully decline. I wouldn't be right for the job for many reasons. I wouldn't want to put in the content that the series has, and part of that is due to my religious faith, part of it is just who I am. I don't shy away from difficult material, but I prefer not to get explicit. Honestly, when I read it in George's work, I often just cringe. I don't think it fits in prose; I think it looks tacky. But that's almost 100% due to the my religious leanings. I realize that others don't read such scenes in the same way as I do.
(More at the link.)
Later: Wow, it's really good, Just gave it 4 stars.
>112 dustydigger: Cryptonomicon is great, in my opinion! For different reasons, so are Game of Thrones and Eye of the World. If you are a Tolkien fan, Silmarillion is good too, though you may want to read Beren and Luthien and Fall of Gondolin instead and read the good parts without some of the boring parts. On the other hand, if you plan on watching the Tolkien 2nd Age tv show, that material will be in The Silmarillion.
Old friends on this group know however that I have NOT enjoyed previous encounters with Stephenson - e g Snow Crash and Diamond Age. The group got a lot of entertainment from my struggles.How could I not like Stephenson? Or even greater heresy around 2016,Kim Stanley Robinson? And I had better keep quiet about my less than stellar encounters with P K Dick,some fans might have heart attacks.:0)
So Crypto,not being fantasy will probably finally be read,but there is no hope for epic or high fantasy.I adored and have reread Morte D'Arthur and LOTR innumerable times over many many decades,and nothing seems to live up to them. I am sure G R R Martin got so frustrated with the whole genre of rip offs (Shannara aarrgghh!!!} and so decided to rip it all apart,get rid of all heroes,make it all shades of grey,or bloody red as a reaction to all those young boys with magic swords ,hidden kingdom heirs,kindly wizards a la Gandalf etc etc etc.Personally I think the swing has gone too far but shows little signs of dying down yet.
I can read some fantasy in the Mercedes Lackey Charles De Lint or Emma Bull areas,and love urban fantasy,Lovecraft,Machen et al,so its only high fantasy I am really allergic to.
Cryptonomicon is a completely different type of novel from those other two Stevenson's. A lot, lot less cyperpunk action and more historical thriller type novel. Of course, not everyone has the same tastes.
What about non-high fantasy stuff, like Barbara Hambly? Alternate history?
I guess we all have our own various "rules" to pre-select the books we read in the hope of getting the most out of our reading time.
>134 vwinsloe: With all the enthusiasm here for Klara and the Sun it looks like I'll have to move that higher in the to-read pile.
>143 pgmcc: Sometimes we have very different tastes in books! I read Drood and I did like the historical setting, but I can't say I liked the book.
I was apprehensive approaching the Simmons book. I wondered what was he going to do with the story. I am not a great fan of someone other than the original author continuing a work or series that has been left incomplete.
Once I started Drood I realised
When it got to the supernatural elements I thought, "Oh! We are going full fantasy or horror story." I changed my mind when I got to the end. I realised he was playing on the supposed adiction of Collins and all the supernatural was due to his drug taking. That is why I felt I would be upset if I were a descendant of Collins. The story made him out to be much more addicted to drugs that I believe he was. To an extent it was damaging the reputation of someone who was not around to defend himself.
As I said, I started looking into events in the lives of Dickens and Collins, such as the train crash in which Dickens and his young lady were involved, and found that Simmons had done his homework. He is a good writer, but I am not always drawn to his stories. Despite that I have read and enjoyed a few of his works.
So, I thought it was a good book, but not great, but it was worth it given the research rabbit holes it sent me down.
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