Recent books I have seen include:
Strange Candy (Laurell K. Hamilton)
Single author anthology and I don't think I have read any short stories by her.
(This tilts towards sword and sorcery, although there are at least two
Anita stories in there)
Forbidden Planets (Peter Crowther, ed)
Multiple author anthology, I believe.
(Quite competent and with no overlap with the other FORBIDDEN PLANETS
anthology I read)
Blood and Iron (Elizabeth Bear)
Part one of a fantasy series.
(This ran into one of my unreasoning prejudices* but is a competent example
of people in a no win situation trying to limit the losses)
* Short version: screw nature.
The Line Between (Peter S. Beagle)
An anthology. It's been a long time since I read Beagle.
(He had me at the introduction, where he explained that he used to
keep his kids occupied by telling them that if they turned their
heads fast enough, they could look into their own ears)
I also read a book by Australian Joel Shephard, CROSSOVER. On the one
hand, it definitely had some weaknesses (What is it with artificial
persons whose libidometer has been set to "spung?" Also, after a certain
point, "Gee, it's a shame you're straight" moves from "compliment" to
"sexual harrassment") but on the other hand it was nice to see a
future where there are no starving hordes, not even in the 60
million person city populated by South Asians.
My reading list for the summer includes:
Atlas Shurgged by Ayn Rand--I've read about half of it (it's a little
over 1000 pages) and find it really interesting. Her philosophy,
objectivisim, is very closely aligned with capitalism, which she came
to admire leaving Communist Russia to live in a much "freer" society
here in the United States.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera--I've heard this is
required reading for anyone living in the 20th/21st centuries. I'm
pretty sure it deals with topics such as existensialism and echoes
themes from the philosopher Nietzsche (who I'm not very familiar with).
But it isn't a philosophy text that expounds on its ideas explicity;
rather, it is a novel that tells a story, which is supposedly
entertaining in it's own right, whose meaning must be discovered by the
reader. From what I've gathered through Amazon.com book reviews the
"Lightness of Being" in the title refers to the fact that humans being
only live once, and what they do in their life is really insignifcant
in the big scheme of things. It's "Unbearable" for this reason because
faced with the fact that you are insignifcant, it is very difficult to
live a meaningful life.
100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez--I've been told this
book has similar ideas to the book directly above it. I read one of his
short stories, A Very Old Man with Wings, and really enjoyed the the
supernatural elements of the story as the title of the story implies.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov--This is a classic that I've been needing to
read for some time now.
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift--Also a classic of which I've read
the first part of three. I really enjoy the fantasy world Swift draws
up for his readers. I'm looking forward to finishing it.
The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan--I first encountered this
author reading Harper's magazine and think he has some important views
concerning the current state of our food industry. His book describes
the food industry and possible alternatives by tracing back four meals
anyone of us might encounter in a day. He starts with the worst type
(McDonald's), then moves to mass-produced organic foods (getting
better), and ends with pure organic (the best)--the type of food you
grow yourself. I can't wait to read it.
If anyone has read any of the books listed above, any comments about
them would be greatly appreciated. Also, if you've read a book you
think I may find interesting, please recommend! Thanks.
I just finished reading (for the first time) Greg Benford's installment
in the Second Foundation Trilogy -- I've had it for years, I just never
got around to reading it. Tons of fascinating ideas, including some
very extended arguments on the ideas from Asimov's stories, told in a
much more sophisticated style than Asimov used. I enjoyed it.
I also just finished reading "Foundation's Friends" -- collection of
stories honoring Asimov (before he died). Best of the lot was Orson
Scott Card's "The Originist."
I'm going to be reading the rest of the Second Foundation Trilogy soon.
I have also been reading the Travis Magee series by John MacDonald --
brilliant stuff, although not SF. I've tracked down MacDonald's two SF
short story collections and his SF novel. They're in the pile.
For my kids, I've been reading them the Oz series, in beautiful
reproductions of the original editions -- they're 5 and 9, and totally
digging them, especially the original illustrations. I've also been
struck by how much they seem to create at least some of the contexts
for Heinlein (we know he read them with great joy and love as a child,
and never really stopped loving them). I'm working on an article for
the Heinlein Journal to see what influence can be teased out from
A few weeks ago, I finished the Heinlein collection, "Off the Main
Sequence" -- has three shorts most people have never read, since two of
them were never collected, and the other one was never put in a
Heinlein collection. It's all the non-Future History SF stories --
well worth picking up.
And finally, the author I've been enjoying encountering for the first
time is Christopher Moore -- "Practical Demonkeeping", "Coyote Blue",
and "Bloodsucking Fiends." All damn funny, contemporary American
fantasy. I'm looking forward to reading "Lamb: The Gospel According to
Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal" soon...
He reminds me of a lighter, funnier version of James Morrow, who, if
you haven't read him, is a darkly bitter and brilliant writer, a kind
of Ambrose Bierce of our day. For another comparison, he's not unlike
Terry Pratchett (yet another writer I read for the first time this last
year -- don't know why it took me so long, but having started, I
couldn't stop -- and the damn books just got richer and deeper and
funnier with each installment.)
Impressive reading list!
The Marquez is one of the finest books ever written, and one I've
taught many times. Put the idea of "magic realism" on the map,
although others had played with the concept before and since. If you
like that one, try the Brazilian writer Jorge Amado -- "Dona Flor and
her Two Husbands" is well worth your time.
"Lolita" is a perfectly written book, and one that rewards repeated
readings. Like most of Nabokov's books, it's a meditation on the
nature of reality and fiction itself, and one that will keep you
guessing as to what the truth actually is in the story. Humbert
Humbert is one of the true monsters. If you like poetry, try his novel
"Pale Fire" which skewers literary critics quite nicely, as well as
creating a whole new form for the novel (but not one I'd care to see
used again particularly).
The most cost effective book purchase I ever made was a box
of used MacDonalds for a couple of bucks.
> I've tracked down MacDonald's two SF
>short story collections and his SF novel.
? I know of three SF novels : THE GIRL, THE GOLD WATCH AND
EVERYTHING, WINE OF THE DREAMERS and BALLROOM OF THE SKIES.
The book it reminded me of (while being quite different) is
A LIKELY STORY.
I don't know how closely the movie followed the book, but it's the only
movie I have actually walked out on in the last 20 years. It burned
the Eight Deadly Words deeply into my brain.
> A few weeks ago, I finished the Heinlein collection, "Off the Main
> Sequence" -- has three shorts most people have never read, since two of
> them were never collected, and the other one was never put in a
> Heinlein collection.
Aren't the the "stinkeroos", which RAH himself refused to republish?
> It's all the non-Future History SF stories --
> well worth picking up.
Actually, some of the are FH , but didn't appear in "The Past Through
"Let There Be Light"
1. That is, they're set in the same universe and appear on the chart.
Wow. I loved it. (Well, yes, I would watch Lena Olin read grocery lists,
but honest, I liked the rest of it too.)
[Re: The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera]
> > I don't know how closely the movie followed the book, but it's the only
> > movie I have actually walked out on in the last 20 years. It burned
> > the Eight Deadly Words deeply into my brain.
> Wow. I loved it. (Well, yes, I would watch Lena Olin read grocery lists,
> but honest, I liked the rest of it too.)
Interesting. It's been 20 years or so, and all I remember of my
1. It went on forever, and then kept going.
2. None of the characters deserved any sympathy or compassion, being
either wholly self-absorbed or wholly ineffectual, or both. Especially
I suppose it might be interesting to see it again some day, and see how
much (if at all) my reaction has changed. Every now and then I find a
book or film that I hated the first time, and later came to like very
much. _Walden_ springs to mind, though I plead temporary insanity due
to teenagedness for the first time.
You're right, almost 3 hours. I must have enjoyed it, because I don't
recall it being that long. Still not enough Lena Olin, of course.
> 2. None of the characters deserved any sympathy or compassion, being
> either wholly self-absorbed or wholly ineffectual, or both. Especially
> the doctor.
He was a rat about women. (Though he did make a huge sacrifice for his
wife.) His bravery and decency in other aspects of his life probably
wasn't shown until after you left.
LUD-IN-THE-MIST, Hope Mirrlees. Not a new book; review posted
PRETENDER, C.J. Cherryh. The latest in the FOREIGNER sequence, and
rather disappointing in that it takes 300+ pages to cover a couple of
days of (in)action. Cherryh characters walk a tightrope for me,
between intereting introspection and endless tedious dithering. In
this one, Bren dithers for the whole book, almost nothing happens that
wasn't easily foreseeable at the outset, and the plot is advanced
infinitesimally. Essentially, the portion of the story that I thought
would be the prologue takes up the whole book. Feh, but I'll read the
"Jani Killian" series, Kristine Smith. I'm now up-to-date on the
series. The latest one (CONTACT IMMINENT) was pretty good, although
the climactic scenes were a bit of a letdown, and mostly unrelated to
the main development section.
WHAT'S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN, Donald E. Westlake. Also not a new
book, and not SF, but a gem: Dortmunder at his pathetic finest. A
classic caper novel, with the grandmaster at top form. (I'm going back
now to fill in the various Dortmunder novels I've managed to miss over
SPIN, Robert Charles Wilson. Much like the one earlier RCW I've read
(THE CHRONOLITHS), in that it displays a somewhat dogged weariness in
detailing the travails of interesting characters coping with
incomprehensible developments as best they can, and sort of
succeeeding, sort of. I enjoyed it, but I have a limited tolerance for
this particular flavor of fatalism. The central Big Idea(s) in SPIN
are fascinating, but don't bear much close scrutiny.
A good thing you didn't judge this one by the movie :-)
Just finished: Trudi Canavan, _The Novice_
Reading: Namoi Novik, _Throne of Jade_
Next book: Jane Lindskold, _The Dragon of Despair_
Here's a list of books I read for the first time in the last year:
Here's that same list indexed by author and copyright date:
Apart from some loose odds and ends (I'm, in theory, currently reading at
least five books at once), I've read / I'm reading:
Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of
Nations - stellar stuff. Everyone should read it. It's all in there. A lot
if not most of it I knew before, but it's fascinating to find it all in a
single volume written by a single man, in 1776.
Joseph Heller, Catch-22 - greatly hailed, yet disappointing up to where I
am at the moment.
Fredrick Forsyth, The Day Of The Jackal - finally I know where all those
thriller clichés come from. While the plot is moderately good, today it
simply fails to excite, and the sex scenes are atrocious. Historical value
Theodor W. Adorno, Negative Dialectics - for goodness' sake, stay away
from this one and read Habermas instead.
Harry G. Frankfurt, On Bullshit - short and to the point, an excellent
essay in the tradition of classical analytic philosophy, and funny to
boot. Recommended reading.
Jules Verne, Vingt Mille Lieues sous les mers - this is the first time I'm
reading the untranslated and unabridged 20,000 Leagues. It's an
eye-opener. Did anyone of you ever notice that Verne's main emphasis when
giving his endless enumerations of species of sea fauna is whether they're
edible and how they taste?
I had the same reaction to "Catch-22" -- damn funny book at the
beginning, and then as the book goes on and on, it gets less and less
funny and more and more despairing. Sort of like a dream that starts
off great, then it becomes something you can't get out of -- which is,
of course, the point it's making about war.
I'm glad I read it, but I don't really want to again.
I enjoyed "Picture This" far more -- clearly not as important, but
amusing the whole way through.
My mistake. The short story collection is "Other Times, Other Worlds."
He did write the three novels you mentioned -- for some reason, I
Not having read them yet, I didn't have the titles and contents down
But if they're even close to being as good as the Magee series, they'll
be well worth reading.
Heh. Funny you should mention that...
Within a few days after finishing the book, I was flipping channels and
saw a listing for the movie. "Wow!", though I, "I didn't know there
was a film. I wonder if it's as good an adaption as the Redford
version of THE HOT ROCK..."
I knew I was in trouble when I saw the opening credits. Generic TV
theme music, generic NY street scenes, generic title graphics. Like
somebody's final class project in filmmaking 101. Not to mention
"Starring Martin Lawrence" and (IIRC) "based on characters created by
Donald E. Westlake"...
I managed to stick it out for about 7 minutes, before killing it.
As it happens, I'm currently reading DON'T ASK, an earlier Dortmunder,
and the dedication from Westlake is something along the lines of "To
Robert Redford, George C. Scott, Paul Le Mat, and Christopher Lambert
-- Dortmunders all, and who would have guessed."
I knew Redford from THE HOT ROCK, and I knew that George C. Scott was
in BANK SHOT (though I hadn't known he played Dortmunder, having never
seen the film). Paul Le Mat apparently played Dortmunder in the Gary
Coleman version of JIMMY THE KID; I wish I didn't know there was such a
thing... Christopher Lambert was in a bizarre French version of WHY
ME?, with all of the character names changed because the production
company didn't have the rights to them. Christopher Lloyd played the
Kelp character in that one, which is probably worth the price of
admission, if I can ever find a copy.
...and then there's Martin Lawrence. If that film had existed when
Westlake was writing his dedication, would have have mentioned it? Or
would the whole thing have soured him so much on films that he would
have dedicated to his Aunt Minnie instead?
You're right, there are a few Future History stories not in "Past."
And the label "stinkeroos" is somewhat misleading. As my research
showed (published in the Heinlein Journal, if you're interested), the
three stories he was referring to are not exactly the same three that
didn't end up in story collections.
I don't read the Heinlein Journal. If you'd like to summarize the
information here, I'd be fascinated to read it.
Thanks for your comments and recommendations! Good luck with your
> As it happens, I'm currently reading DON'T ASK, an earlier Dortmunder,
> and the dedication from Westlake is something along the lines of "To
> Robert Redford, George C. Scott, Paul Le Mat, and Christopher Lambert
> -- Dortmunders all, and who would have guessed."
> I knew Redford from THE HOT ROCK, and I knew that George C. Scott was
> in BANK SHOT (though I hadn't known he played Dortmunder, having never
> seen the film). Paul Le Mat apparently played Dortmunder in the Gary
> Coleman version of JIMMY THE KID; I wish I didn't know there was such a
> thing... Christopher Lambert was in a bizarre French version of WHY
> ME?, with all of the character names changed because the production
> company didn't have the rights to them. Christopher Lloyd played the
> Kelp character in that one, which is probably worth the price of
> admission, if I can ever find a copy.
I saw "Why Me?" years ago, long before I'd ever heard of Westlake
or Dortmunder. I remember it being funny enough, but nothing
great. One bit that does stick in my memory is a female terrorist
who really, really wants Lambert to do a job for her, or turn over
the gem, or whatever the plot hook was. She wants it so badly
that she's willing to kill innocent people just to show Lambert
how serious she is. The twist is, she kills innocent members
of her family.
"See that van over there? My cousin and his wife are in
that van. They're visiting from my homeland. They think
I'm taking them to Disneyworld."
"Do you see how serious I am?"
> ...and then there's Martin Lawrence. If that film had existed when
> Westlake was writing his dedication, would have have mentioned it? Or
> would the whole thing have soured him so much on films that he would
> have dedicated to his Aunt Minnie instead?
I think it was in his collection Baker's Dozen that Westlake talked
about all the trouble he had holding on to the rights to Dortmunder
and the other characters. Some Hollywood company claimed to
own the rights after some movie deal or other, but it was eventually
figured out in Westlake's favor. I would imagine that would sour him
much more than anything Martin Lawrence could do. Though given
what I've seen of Lawrence, it'd probably be close.
>Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift--Also a classic of which I've read
>the first part of three.
3. Laputa (and other places)
4. The land of the Houyhnhnms
Michael F. Stemper
No animals were harmed in the composition of this message.
Just finished _Absolution Gap_ by Alastair Reynolds--5th of what is
basically a 5 book series. Nice Fermi's Paradox take. Weird, lovingly
rendered characters and situations. I'm in the middle of his _Century
Rain_ as well. (By the way, I'd previously read all of Ken MacLeod's
novels. But I've only read _Consider Phlebas_ by Iain M. Banks. To
continue in this vein, should I read more Banks, or are there other
authors I should look into to?)
Vinge's _Rainbows End_ I mentioned elsewhere in this group. In brief,
great--but, for me, didn't live up to the promise of _Fast Times at
Varley's _Red Lightning_, sequel to _Red Thunder_, is good--I'd put it
ahead of _Mammoth_ but behind _Red Thunder_.
Read Stross's _The Clan Corporate_ which was too slight for my tastes. I
have some vague memory that what will compose the first 4 books of this
series was originally planned as 2 books. I should have just bought the
first 6 or so of these and read them together some years hence. Anyway,
very much looking forward to _Glasshouse_, which I have on advanced
order from Amazon.
Also, read some classic Silverberg, _Up the Line_ and _Shadrach in the
Furnace_. I think I'll pick up some more of these.
Some of the SF/fantasy I've read lately:
I finished the _The Dark is Rising_ sequence by Susan Cooper this month,
and quite appreciated it, apart from that very last scene.
_Wild Things_, Charles Coleman Finlay -- a short story collection
_Pushing Ice_, Alastair Reynolds
_One Million A. D._, edited by Gardner Dozois (with stories by Robert
Reed, Robert Silverberg, Nancy Kress, Alastair Reynolds, Charles Stross,
and Greg Egan -- good collection!)
_Tides_, Scott Mackay -- Has anyone else has read this? It's two of my
favorite genres, science fiction and seagoing adventure, but I almost
bounced off of it, because I just didn't care about anyone; however, I
soldiered on and it was a mercifully quick read. The writing's so... so
moronically simplistic, perhaps it was written for barely-literate
12-year-olds -- but there are far too many beheadings. Maybe kids would
like that? Whatever. (I apologize if anyone here read and enjoyed it. <g>
I just hope that the other books published by Prometheus/Pyr are better.)
I'm currently reading _Learning the World_ by Ken MacLeod.
"Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are:
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."
<*> "Ulysses" by Tennyson <*>
Books are so last century. Get with the times, man, it's about
religion and politics!
Kidding aside, the best book I've read so far this year is Spin by
Robert Charles WIlson. It is so damn good that I think everyone should
read it. (I've recommended it to all my reading pals.)
My first WIlson book, but definitely not my last. Immediately after
finishing Spin yesterday I went and picked up Darwinia. I'm only
60-some pages into it, but so far it's also great. I think I may have
a new favorite author, displacing Varley. (We'll always have Paris,
John, but you've been cheating on me with Red Thunder and Red
Lightning. Sure Mammoth was an okay attempt at making up with me, but
you could've tried harder.)
To be fair, Jaws was a very large shark. I'm not sure he had his
own gravitational pull, though.
Was it a he, actually? I can't remember if it was ever mentioned.
>Pumpkin Escobar wrote:
>> Very few of the threads here seem to be about authors or books anymore.
>> Is there nothing new worth reading or just too much to sift through?
>LUD-IN-THE-MIST, Hope Mirrlees. Not a new book; review posted
>PRETENDER, C.J. Cherryh. The latest in the FOREIGNER sequence, and
>rather disappointing in that it takes 300+ pages to cover a couple of
>days of (in)action. Cherryh characters walk a tightrope for me,
>between intereting introspection and endless tedious dithering. In
>this one, Bren dithers for the whole book, almost nothing happens that
>wasn't easily foreseeable at the outset, and the plot is advanced
>infinitesimally. Essentially, the portion of the story that I thought
>would be the prologue takes up the whole book. Feh, but I'll read the
All right, I'll agree that if I have a complaint about this book, it's
that it's a bit of "a day in the life". Which is a problem, imo, with
long-running series in general. But dithering? I found the pace
rather breakneck, myself. A lot of lovingly described action.
Explosions, chases, gun fights. Where, did the dithering come in?
Sure, Bren didn't always know exactly what was going on, but I don't
recall him actually having to make too many decisions in this one,
since it was largely atevi acting like atevi. And I have to say that
their way of dealing with politics involved a lot less bloodshed than
the human way.
>Just finished "Mind scan" and "Flash forward" by Rob Sawyer.
>Read "The Book Thief" by Marcus Zusack (not sf-older YA or adult novel
>about Nazi Germany)
>Reading "Rita Will" which is Rita Mae Brown's autobiography
>I'm sure there is other random stuff I have read in June...but it isn't
>leaping out at me at the moment...
I've been working my way through Malazan. Just got _The Bonehunters_.
Cherryh's _Pretender_. Re-read several of the Liaden stories. Gear
and O'Neal's _People of the Moon_. _Curse of the Concullens_, which
is a romance story roughly modeled after Bronte, with quite a bit of
supernatural elements in it. And some not very well-thought-out
dangling bits. What, exactly, do you owe the devil after he's rescued
you? And, just as an added fillip, the only non-supernatural people
in the book (the hero and some of his family) were members of the
Irish Republican Brotherhood, the group that later gave rise to the
IRA, and are plotting to blow up an English garrison. It's not
exactly a normal romance book.
Other Robert Wilson books -
The Illuminatus! Trilogy, by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. Tells Dan
Brown what a _real_ conspiracy is like.
Eureka Street, by Robert McLiam Wilson. A slightly speculative story about
Bob Wilson - Behind The Network. A touching memoir by the Arsenal and
There are a surprising number of other Robert Wilsons out there, but those
are the ones with which I'm familiar.
BOTW: "Enigma - The Battle For The Code" - Hugh Sebag-Montefiore
Recent collections include Lafferty's _Strange Doings_, another one
I finished 10 days ago that is frustratingly slipping my mind, and
I've just started _The Best of Keith Laumer_. I don't know what
the next collection will be. At the time, Bloch, LeGuin, and a
Poul Anderson collection were narrowly nudged aside when I picked
Novel-wise, in order to get over the severe disappointment that was
_Rainbows End_, I grabbed _The Changeling_, one of my precious few
remaining not-yet-read Zelaznys. I enjoyed that enough that I
immediately started its sequel, _Madwand_ last night.
Either RCW's _Spin_, Powers' _The Anubis Gates_, or Niven's _N-Space_
is next. (The Niven collection doesn't fit in my pocket, so isn't
a candidate for lunch-time collection reading.)
You've never read _The Anubis Gates_? You are in for a rare treat. (I
don't even envy you, because I haven't found it losing anything on
Certainly not your fault, but the typo there made me think "Atlas Shagged",
and I got brain whiplash.
>100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez--I've been told this
>book has similar ideas to the book directly above it. I read one of his
>short stories, A Very Old Man with Wings, and really enjoyed the the
>supernatural elements of the story as the title of the story implies.
I thought this was a very good read - one that stayed with me for
a long while. It feels light and is easy to go through, but it
really sunk in and had staying power long after I read it.
I have been told (including here on rasfw) that it's an even
better/stronger work if you're more familiar with the cultural
references and settings that GGM is drawing from.
Sheckley! That's what it was - _Pilgrimage to Earth_, in fact.
What a relief - that was bothering me.
Well, partly it's that I think "a lot of lovingly described action" is
not an accurate statement. It was a lot of loving described cogitation
on Bren's part, in response to action that is either not shown
directly, or so highly filtered through his thoughts that the effect is
more film strip than cinema. A shot is fired. Bren thinks for a page
about who might have fired it, whom they might have hit, what it
implies. Another shot, and some bumps from the roof. Another page of
wondering. Someone says something, which prompts 2 pages of
speculations about politics and alliances.
Now, I'm not saying that's *bad* in and of itself -- Cherryh does it
very well. But I personally have no taste for a book that consists of
ONLY that. The other FOREIGNER books flirt with my personal tolerance
for introspection-vs-doing, and this one finally crossed the line
(decisively) to the wrong side.
> Sure, Bren didn't always know exactly what was going on, but I don't
> recall him actually having to make too many decisions in this one,
That's part of my point.
> since it was largely atevi acting like atevi. And I have to say that
> their way of dealing with politics involved a lot less bloodshed than
> the human way.
Again, I have no problem with the plot, as in "what actually happened".
I just wish it had happened in the first 60 pages, and been followed
by the rest of a novel in which things are decided and done that were
not foreseeable from where the previous novel ended.
 And by 'doing' I do not necessarily mean physical actions.
Reasoning, planning, making decisions, communicating necessary
information, eliciting useful information, practicing diplomacy -- all
of those things count as 'doing' for me. What drives me crazy about
Bren is the amount of time he spends in (to my eye) *unproductive*
introspection and conversation, that is none of those things. That's
what I've called 'dithering' here and elsewhere, and I stand by it.
Surprisingly (to me), "no" - one of those odd blind spot things.
When Andrew made it one of the SFBC 50th Anniversary selections,
I bought it from SFBC, but I haven't gotten around to reading it.
It's one of the next three, though.
>You are in for a rare treat. (I don't even envy you, because
>I haven't found it losing anything on re-reads.)
That's good to hear - it was rasfw's general conversation and
feeling for TAG that led me to get it in the first place.
Besides mentioning several books in the "I really mean to read these
someday" list stored somewhere nearly unfindable in my head, you also
> 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez--I've been told this
> book has similar ideas to the book directly above it. I read one of his
> short stories, A Very Old Man with Wings, and really enjoyed the the
> supernatural elements of the story as the title of the story implies.
I had a different reaction to what others have had: That's it? That's
all there is?
Don't get me wrong, I found it an enjoyable read and I might one day
reread it, but the fuss around it doesn't seem commensurate with its
reputation. On the other hand, it begins with one of the slyest first
paragraphs I've had the pleasure of reading.
If you like this, look into the work of Jorge Luis Borges, notably
_Ficciones_ and _Labyrinths_. Borges wrote in short forms rather than
novels, though, if that's a consideration for you.
I was surprised to find that the American writer, William Kennedy was
much taken with Garcia Marquez. A book of Kennedy's essays includes an
interview with GGM and I think at least one other piece on him and/or
his work. If you're interested, look into Kennedy's _Ironweed_. Coming
to the essays after reading the novel, I thought I saw some influence at
> Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift--Also a classic of which I've read
> the first part of three. I really enjoy the fantasy world Swift draws
> up for his readers. I'm looking forward to finishing it.
One I should definitely reread. It's been too long for me to comment
I've pared the following down a bit, but it still is a bit loooong.
Sorry. This is what I've recently read:
Sean Stewart, _Resurrection Man_
Since I posted a review of this in the "Best Writers I Haven't Yet Read"
thread, I'll condense to this:
RM is strong, well-written, dark, intense and emotional, a story of a
family contending with its past and the impact of the return of magic on
their personal lives. I found the gradual unveiling of the magic and how
it works involving. Stewart deftly melds this with the story of Dante’s
family, which was compelling because their caring as well as their
dysfunction comes across as real, in particular Dante's relationships
with his brother and sister. Dante's self-involvment and his
relationship with a young woman who lives in the same apartment house he
does are also well rendered. In spite of a small reservation about how
well earned Stewart's ending was, this is a solid novel and a strong
Albert Sanchez Pinol, _Cold Skin_
Interesting novel. I'm tempted to read it as an extended metaphor, but
it's complexity makes that unsatisfactory. Part of the problem of a
metaphorical reading is that Pinol initially sets up a dichotomy of
character between the two major characters, then slowly goes about
eroding the differences, then ... well, that would be telling too much.
Anyway, ASP seems to be working out a view of human violence, the causes
of it, the causes of war (the time is shortly after WWI), and the
effects of violence. He does this by stranding two men on an island off
the shipping lanes, which is only visited to drop off a new weather
observer and to pick up the former one. One man has been there awhile,
the other is the new weather observer. They are attacked each night by
sea creatures -- which gives portions of the novel a Hodgsonesque feel.
The novel, narrated by the new weather observer, follows how he comes to
deal with his fellow human, the isolation of the island, his own past
(which ties into why he's there in the first place), and the sea
creatures, and one creature in particular.
The philosophy of the book doesn't quite convince me, though ASP sets up
the ending fairly well. Still, I find myself resisting the means ASP
employs to let the narrator reach some peace for awhile, even though
that means is plausible. Equally, I wonder about broader implications of
the dealings between the one sea creature and the humans.
Right after finishing the book, I felt I had detected an indirect
critique of Communism (nothing really as straight-forward as communism
vs. capitalism, though), and I still do, but I also thought that,
however accurate the critique was, it was also coupled with an appeal to
the spiritual. I'm not so sure about the latter now. I'm not sure
whether Pinol was implying there was an answer in Christian
spirituality, or whether he was sloughing it off as an answer to the
problems the narrator faced and which Pinol seems to imply mankind as a
Currently reading some short stories by Stephen King in preparation for
a 4 week U.S. TV series dramatizing them (TNT, starting in July). In
between other things I'm also whittling away at _Fifty-Two Stories_ by
In the near future I hope to read,
_To Kill a Mockingbird_ by Harper Lee (been saying I'll read this for
the last three or four summers, so dang it I will)
_The Unnatural_ by David Prill
_Partial Eclipse and Other Stories_ by Graham Joyce
And if by some miracle I actually finish all of those, I may get to,
_Cold House_ by T. M. Wright
_Mischief_ by Douglas Clegg
_The Rhinoceros Who Quoted Nietzsche and Other Odd Acquaintances_ by
"We're gonna need a bigger coastline!"
The All-New, All-Different Howling Curmudgeons!
In the book, I believe the shark was a she. I don't recall whether it
was stated one way or the other in the movie.
If televison's a babysitter, the Internet is a drunk librarian who
won't shut up.
-- Dorothy Gambrell (http://catandgirl.com)
In one of the later movies Jaws has a baby :-P
While I had an association with Shoggoth and started thinking of a
Rand-Lovecraft crossover. Ouch.
Live Journal: http://www.livejournal.com/users/seawasp/
>Read Stross's _The Clan Corporate_ which was too slight for my tastes. I
>have some vague memory that what will compose the first 4 books of this
>series was originally planned as 2 books. I should have just bought the
>first 6 or so of these and read them together some years hence. Anyway,
>very much looking forward to _Glasshouse_, which I have on advanced
>order from Amazon.
I'm one of Charlie's Biggest Fans and thought the first two books
(okay, first novel split into two parts) were very, very good. But I
agree with you about _TCC_. The DEA/military parts were quite
entertaining but I found the marriage politics of most of the book
terribly, terribly dull. If I wanted to read about marriage politics
I'd read, well, nothing. 'Cause I really, really, really don't want
to read about marriage politics or about a woman sitting alone in a
locked room whining about marriage politics.
Hip, world-travelling techno-business woman applying modern business
plan to backwards worlds = interesting. Changing it into a story
about who she's going to marry... or not marry... = boring.
At least things went out with a (literal) bang.
>Pumpkin Escobar wrote:
>> Very few of the threads here seem to be about authors or books anymore.
>> Is there nothing new worth reading or just too much to sift through?
>> Lots of ideas being exchanged, but it's Summer, and what have you read,
>> recommending or are looking forward to reading?
>Books are so last century. Get with the times, man, it's about
>religion and politics!
>Kidding aside, the best book I've read so far this year is Spin by
>Robert Charles WIlson. It is so damn good that I think everyone should
>read it. (I've recommended it to all my reading pals.)
>My first WIlson book, but definitely not my last. Immediately after
>finishing Spin yesterday I went and picked up Darwinia. I'm only
>60-some pages into it, but so far it's also great.
Oh, my. For some reason, I have a mental image of George Armstrong
Custer dictating a journal entry; "En route to Little Big Horn. We've
only had the one skirmish with a band of sixty Indians, but so far it's
>I think I may have a new favorite author, displacing Varley.
See how you feel in another hundred pages.
*John Schilling * "Anything worth doing, *
*Member:AIAA,NRA,ACLU,SAS,LP * is worth doing for money" *
*Chief Scientist & General Partner * -13th Rule of Acquisition *
*White Elephant Research, LLC * "There is no substitute *
*schi...@spock.usc.edu * for success" *
*661-718-0955 or 661-275-6795 * -58th Rule of Acquisition *
>David Tate wrote:
Hmm. Keyser Soze's second wife? I'll get started on the crossover
Or maybe not.
I've been 'off' science fiction lately. I recently have been into political
& history books: Woodwards' Inside Man and Plan of Attack, Clinton's
autobio, Gingrich's Never Call Retreat, a lecture series on the Trojan
I did get through Rand's Fountainhead - not strictly speaking sf unless you
want to grandfather it as unintentional a-h - and Anthem which is sf but
hardly more than a rough sketch of an outline. I do plan on reading Atlas
Shrugged to get a feel of what Rand was about but I needed a break.
So I picked up the first [in order of publication] Hornblower book which,
given the number of sf homage stories, deserve honorary sf status. I decided
on HH because I enjoyed the A&E/UK productions on TV and thought I'd give
the original books a go.
The new series featuring Mr Fantastic is not very faithful to the original
stories. Which wouldn't be a problem, but it seems to have lost some of the
verimilitude of the originals.
BOTW: "Enigma" - Hugh Sebag-Montefiore
also, i read my advanced readers copy of "variable star" RAH & spider
robinson (kicked butt...look for it in september)
and i'm waiting for "virtu" by sarah monette, which is due out next
[John D. MacDonald's sf, to wit <Ballroom of the Skies>, <Wine of
the Dreamers>, and <The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything>.]
> But if they're even close to being as good as the Magee series, they'll
> be well worth reading.
Huh. I coulda sworn the name was McGee, but on examining my memory
I'm not at all sure any more.
Anyway, whichever it is, my take on that series is that it's wonderful
in single-book doses but repeats itself too much for more.
I don't remember any of these three books as being *that* good.
<The Girl> is at least a lot of fun, especially on later skimmings
when you can speed past the bad guys. But I'm pretty sure none
has a narrator as fascinating as Travis whatever-he's-called.
I've read two other MacDonald books I can recall. One is called
<Cry Hard, Cry Fast> and I remember it as a grim story; it's been
probably two decades or more since I read it, so even remembering
that much suggests it's good. (I generally am not a fan of "grim".)
The other is a persistent guilty pleasure of mine, <Please Write for
Details>, which depicts the first year of the Cuernavaca Artists'
Workshop, started by an expatriate loser as a money-making scheme.
Here MacDonald delivers a sort of much less concentrated version
of what he does in the long series, but since he's in loose 3rd person
point of view, he has to show rather than tell (which is, I think,
why it's so much less concentrated). There are well over a dozen
characters with significant screen time, in a book of around 200 pages,
and not only *three* romances, all different and all, at least to me,
appealing, but at least three characters who grow interestingly
without romances. I'm just about certain it's not any kind of
great novel, but it's still a lot of fun.
MacDonald is an interesting example of an author who didn't stay
in sf, and the world appears to be richer for it; at least, those
three novels don't suggest to me he'd have become anywhere near as
well suited to any spec-fic sort of thing as he proved to be to
studying contemporary mores.
Anyone else we should be glad to have lost? (I mean, in a *good*
way... don't nominate, e.g., Jacqueline Susann unless you actually
have something nice to say about her!)
Joe Bernstein, writer j...@sfbooks.com
<http://www.panix.com/~josephb/> "She suited my mood, Sarah Mondleigh
did - it was like having a kitten in the room, like a vote for unreason."
<Glass Mountain>, Cynthia Voigt
> Very few of the threads here seem to be about authors or books anymore.
> Is there nothing new worth reading or just too much to sift through?
Dunno. I've been noticing fewer threads that interest me than usual,
but unsure how much of this is a change in the threads and how much
is a change in me - I've been edging away from Usenet over the past
month or so, ironically enough partly as a result of a project I
tackled for a thread here... Anyway, "threads that interest me" tends
to mean some combination of "threads about books I want to discuss"
and "threads offering a chance for really intelligent book-based
conversation". The latter can be hard to detect by subject line,
so it may be I'm just missing something. Regardless, my observation
isn't directly parallel to yours.
> Lots of ideas being exchanged, but it's Summer, and what have you read,
> recommending or are looking forward to reading?
"Looking forward to" is fairly empty at the moment; I can't think of
anything I'm eager to read as opposed to planning to read, unless
it's <In Search of the Green Lion> (title?) by Judith Merkle Riley -
I recently bought a copy of <A Vision of Light> for a buck after
for years being irritated by people shelving it as fantasy; was
thoroughly surprised to find that it sort of *is* fantasy; and
anyway pretty much inhaled the book - it's just popcorn, but a flavour
of popcorn I like. So now that I've finished it, I'm a little less
in a hurry to read the sequel than I was while reading it, but
probably will soon anyway.
Today I hope to finish <The Early History of the Israelite People>
by Thomas L. Thompson, who is one of the least competent *writers*
in the field of biblical scholarship, and who so far has not
rewarded my wading through *three* books of his with any sustained
arguments for his famously radical views on the dating of the
Hebrew Scriptures that I could evaluate. My reward for finishing
is that I can go on to quick looks at Niels Peter Lemche's <The
Israelites in History and Tradition> - Lemche is Thompson's smarter
and better-writing ally, but is *also* not real clear on what justifies
his views - and John Van Seters's <The Pentateuch: A Social-Science
Commentary>, which is nothing of the sort, but which Van Seters claims
summarises his views, so I hope not to have to wade through six volumes
of *his* stuff. (Near as I can tell, I don't actually need to take
account of Van Seters the way I'm currently dealing with these topics
in my book-in-progress, but until I've actually *read the book*, I
can't be sure.) Once done with those, I get to Thompson's magnum opus,
<The Mythic Past> (aka <The Bible as History>, which is a severely
misleading title), and then it's all downhill as I look at various
refutations, updates, and suchlike.
From there I have some books about Mesopotamian and Egyptian
literature to plough through, after which my reward is a couple
of books by Jenny Strauss Clay that may prove to be the missing link
in the theory about Homer that I'm trying to source. Then my *real*
reward is to re-read the stuff covered by chapter 1 of my history of
fantasy, this time also incorporating the stuff I didn't know about
when I first wrote that chapter a decade back. Unfortunately, there
don't seem to be any new-to-me Egyptian stories (which I like) in that
mix, and there's a ton of Sumerian poetry (which I don't like).
In theory these will fill July, after which August will be devoted to
history, archaeology, and such for chapter 3, but it's not until September
or so that I get to start re-reading fun stuff like Euripides and
Aristophanes, and reading for the first time less-fun stuff like
Thucydides, Xenophon and Polybius.
Meanwhile I've been reading modern fiction, currently slowly but
there *was* a week in there when I was pretty much ignoring Thompson.
(Something I look forward to doing for a long, long, time when this
summer is over, too!) I've recently read Tanya Huff's first six
books. These include four sort of mild fantasies (the pair
<Child of the Grove> and <The Last Wizard> and singleton <The
Fire's Stone>, all of which are secondary-world, and the singleton
<Gate of Darkness, Gate of Light>, which is vaguely urban fantasy),
all of which ring changes on the theme "young person who can't fit
in"; <The Fire's Stone> is perhaps the most fun (there are *three*
young persons, whose relations with each other are mildly convincing
but often funny), but <The Last Wizard> is probably the most interesting
(watching Huff work with and then transcend D&D stereotypes), and none
of 'em is major. Then there are two supernatural-mystery books,
featuring a PI with two lover/sidekicks, a cop and a vampire, <Blood
Price> and <Blood Trail>. The first of these repeats the fitting-in
motif but more complexly, and made me hopeful about the series; but I
bogged down in book 3, <Blood Lines>, and don't know if I'll continue.
(Does Huff ever get any more interesting, or have her recent books been
hardbacked just because of persistence or sales?)
I'm trying to get myself to read <The Sword in the Stone>,
<The Witch in the Wood>, and <The Ill-Made Knight> for the
first time (after several long-ago readings of <The Once and
Future King>), but so far have not succeeded.
I'm toying with a re-read of the Company books (just bought an omnibus
of two novels I haven't read in it) and with starting to read
Liz Williams (just bought her first book, <The Ghost Sister>).
I've been re-reading a lot.
Huh. Yawn. Well, now I know why *I* haven't been starting
interesting threads about books!
I'd say Westlake, for similar reasons.
You were right all along -- it's Travis McGee.
> Anyway, whichever it is, my take on that series is that it's wonderful
> in single-book doses but repeats itself too much for more.
Agreed. I also fear that the narrative tone that was so fresh and
vivid when they were being written has not aged well. I wonder if
that's because it has been so widely imitated?
> I don't remember any of these three books as being *that* good.
> <The Girl> is at least a lot of fun, especially on later skimmings
> when you can speed past the bad guys.
Yep. I still remember a surprising number of individual lines from
that book, which is generally a sign that I like it a lot.
> I've read two other MacDonald books I can recall. One is called
> <Cry Hard, Cry Fast> and I remember it as a grim story; it's been
> probably two decades or more since I read it, so even remembering
> that much suggests it's good. (I generally am not a fan of "grim".)
MacDonald's most famous grim standalone is _Cape Fear_, twice
cinematized. "Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum" versus "Nick Nolte and
Robert Duval" actually incites frenzy in some people.
> The other is a persistent guilty pleasure of mine, <Please Write for
The only non-McGee non-sf novels I've read are _Cape Fear_ and
_Condominium_. The latter is a doorstop about what happens when that
category 5 hurricane finally hits Miami Beach. It features the many
different viewpoint characters, mostly done pretty well, although I
imagine the lesbian relationship (pretty daring in its time) looks
rather embarrassing these days.
MacDonald also wrote some short fiction. His mystery story "The
Homesick Buick" is a classic, and much anthologized. It even almost
still works, despite depending on a quirk of anachronistic technology
-- you could re-write it today with the same effect.
> MacDonald is an interesting example of an author who didn't stay
> in sf, and the world appears to be richer for it; at least, those
> three novels don't suggest to me he'd have become anywhere near as
> well suited to any spec-fic sort of thing as he proved to be to
> studying contemporary mores.
> Anyone else we should be glad to have lost?
I'll second the nomination for Donald E. Westlake. I haven't read Mary
Doria Russell's latest (non-sf) work, but I suspect she's a candidate
for "more likely to produce a great work writing mainstream".
 Though I don't think they were talking about the Saffir-Simpson
scale back then; this was long before The Weather Channel became
>Other Robert Wilson books -
>The Illuminatus! Trilogy, by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. Tells Dan
>Brown what a _real_ conspiracy is like.
>Eureka Street, by Robert McLiam Wilson. A slightly speculative story about
>Bob Wilson - Behind The Network. A touching memoir by the Arsenal and
Actually I once read an entire thriller called ICEFIRE by Robert
Charles Wilson, only to figure out in the end that it wasn't by
the science-fictional Robert Charles Wilson.
ICEFIRE is about a super-powerful homicidal maniac who escapes
from a mental institution near the Canadian border, and the
effects on a small community cut off from rescue by a winter
It's a horror story, as you might guess, but it's got so many of
the other R.C.W.'s themes in it, you could think it was a very
early novel by the same author. How many Robert Charles Wilsons
could there be?
- David Librik
The Rand books are just great! Particularly,
"Atlas..."--good thing you paused awhile since once you
start, you won't be able to put it down. I read it at 'bout
age 17 and was pretty much philosophically brainwashed.
After 'bout 30-40 years go by tho, one sees what fallacies
and fantasies comprise the philosophy...
and how much the real world really differs from the book! :)
Still a great read tho, even for fantastic fiction.
As for what I've read fairly recently and look forward to,
Recently read, and great!:
Greg Benford, "Beyond Infinity"; John Barnes, "The Sky So
Big and Black" (part of Meme War series); R.C. Wilson,
"Spin" and "Chronoliths"; Banks, "The Algebraist"; Vernor
Vinge, "Rainbows End" (good but not as great as his other
Looking foreward to reading ASAP:
Wilson's "Blind Lake, "Bridge of years", and "Bios";
Alastair Reynolds, "Revelation Space" series;
John Barnes, all the remaining books in his meme Wars series
and any I've missed in his "Giraut" series.
After the these books I have Walter Jon Williams', "Dread
Empire" series and a few others in the to read box.
Books read and really hated:
Greg Egan, "Schild's Ladder" (I have his "Diaspora" and
Distress" in the yet to read box tho.)
Chris Moriarty, "Spin State",
Linda Nagata, "The Bohr-Maker" (Had bought a few others by
her but am in no rush at all to get to them.)
Greg Bear, "Beyond Heaven's River" (an early work but a real
stinker...hate to say this since he has been my favorite
author until his recent period starting with "Darwin's
Radio." BTW, if you haven't read his "Queen of Angels" and
"Anvil of Stars" [sequel to "Forge of God"] you are missing
Guess that's 'nuff for now... ...tonyC
Vinge, _Rainbows End_.
Lawrence Watt-Evans, _The Wizard Lord_. LWE doesn't talk much about
politics here, but I got the distinct impression from this one that
he is unhappy with the Bush Administration.
Jo Walton, _Ha'Penny_. Doesn't pack quite the wallop that _Farthing_
did, but still very enjoyable.
Lord Dunsany, _The Second Book of Jorkens_. Very enjoyable (if fluffy)
travel tales. I've been spacing this one out more than the first
volume, to better effect.
David Goldfarb |"I'm sorry officer, but ever since I started
gold...@ocf.berkeley.edu | wearing the Wonderbra I've been inexplicably
gold...@csua.berkeley.edu | drawn around town preventing crimes."
| -- Bizarro
It would seem to be a good idea - as with Iain M Banks or Michael Marshall
Smith - to leave out the Charles depending on the style of book. Except that
as seen above, there are a lot of Robert Wilsons out there.
> Anyone else we should be glad to have lost? (I mean, in a *good*
> way... don't nominate, e.g., Jacqueline Susann unless you actually
> have something nice to say about her!)
Ed McBain. He wrote some sf short stories.