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ellen
Posted on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 - 10:48 pm:   

I recently finished and liked very much Greg Bear's new horror novel Dead Lines. It's a departure for him--a genuine ghost story (although he has written stories about the dead --eg "Dead Run").

Have just started China Mieville's new novel Iron Council.

As I start reading for YBFH #18 seriously I'll post here about that but I'd love to know what everyone else is reading.
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jack skillingstead
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 12:21 am:   

Ellen, do you ever look at On Spec for your anthology?
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marcl
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 12:41 am:   

On the stack: THE AVRAM DAVIDSON TREASURY (slowly); Vernor Vinge's A FIRE ON THE DEEP (finally); Everett Fox's FIVE BOOKS OF MOSES (uncharacteristically). I have R.A. Lafferty's 900 GRANDMOTHERS next to my computer at work and I read a few lines every time I'm stuck waiting for my computer to reboot, but I get lost and it's always the same lines, so I've been on the same page for months. Good page, though. With my youngest daughter, I've been reading "Dolphin Diaries" and "Animal Ark - Hauntings" books at bedtime; and every week I read DRAGON SLAYERS ACADEMY books to second graders, just so I have an excuse to do funny voices. I just found the whole text of Gus Hasford's THE SHORT-TIMERS online today, so I'm going to re-read that since the only copy I ever saw belonged to Richard Kadrey and the thing is criminally out of print.
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Tribeless
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 02:23 am:   

Will read Marc Laidlaw's 'Flight Risk' tonight (Sci-Fiction a few weeks ago - I transfer them to PocketPC then read as I get time).

Should be a single sitting read, so have also purchased Gibson's 'Pattern Recognition' and am looking forward to reading that.
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Chris Dodson
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 05:41 am:   

I saw Michael Marshall Smith's new novel THE UPRIGHT MAN on the paperback rack at Wal-Mart yesterday, so I picked it up. Right now I'm only about thirty pages into it, but so far so good.
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Jamie Rosen
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 05:46 am:   

Just finished Ramsey Campbell's Needing Ghosts. I couldn't help comparing it (a little unfavourably, unfortunately) to Kobo Abe's Kangaroo Notebook and Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman as I read it, but it was still good -- the final few pages were by far the best, in my opinion.

I'm also reading the latest issue of Nemonymous, with the spiffy white cover, Donald Barthelme's Forty Stories, and the nonfiction Fantasy and Horror edited by Neil Barron (I have a weakness for books of that sort.)
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John Klima
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 07:15 am:   

Well, I'll admit that I'm re-reading the Harry Potter series before the next movie comes out. I started on Monday, and I'm two books down, getting ready for the third. I may stop there since it will have caught me up to the movie. Also reading Steve Tomasula's IN & OZ, which is weirdly brilliant. Also reading Zoran Zivkovic's IMPOSSIBLE STORIES of which I am the editor. I hope to get to either Steve Erikson or Octavia Butler or Cervantes next...we'll see what mood strikes me.

Chris, is THE UPRIGHT MAN a continuation of THE STRAW MEN? I was let down a little by the end of THE STRAW MEN, although I love MMS, and would be interested if that story is continued.

JK
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Patrick Samphire
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 07:22 am:   

Not sure about everybody, but I'm reading Juliet Marillier's Foxmask, which is a lot better than I thought it would be--good tension, no clean-cut solutions--and Terry Pratchett's Wee Free Men.
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Chris Dodson
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 07:25 am:   

John: Yep, it's a sequel to THE STRAW MEN. As I said, I'm not very far into the book, so I can't comment on its quality just yet. Like THE STRAW MEN, there are a bunch of really weird, seemingly unrelated plot threads, so it should be interesting to see how it all ties together.

Chris Dodson
Journal: The Passion of the Chris
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Alex Irvine
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 07:50 am:   

I just finished IRON COUNCIL. Also at various stages of Karen Joy Fowler's THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB, Minister Faust's COYOTE KINGS OF THE SPACE-AGE BACHELOR PAD, Liz Hand's MORTAL LOVE, and Tom Robbins' VILLA INCOGNITO.

Haven't read Barthelme in a long time, but loved him when I did.
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ellen
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 07:54 am:   

Jack S: Yes I read On Spec regularly for YBFH.

John K: Nuts! Is In and Oz good? I think I got rid of it in a fit of triage to keep my apt book-free enough to get to the front door. Or...I may have it buried in my stacks.

I love MM Smith's short stories and enjoy his novels, although not as much as the shorts.
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JeremyT
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 08:20 am:   

Is The Iron Council out for us poor peons yet? :-D

I'm reading On the Road by Kerouac, The Future of Life by my favorite scientist, E.O. Wilson, The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri, Spin State by Chris Moriarty, and the June 2004 issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

On my pile to read next is Eternity Road by McDevitt (never read it. Heard it's good), Leah Cutter's second book, The Caves of Buda and Clade by Mark Budz. Oh, and when it ships, Nick Mamatas's first novel, Move Under Ground.
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John Klima
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 08:29 am:   

Ellen: I'm about a third of the way through the book. It's tone reminds me very much of Lethem "This Shape We're In". I'll let you know if it's worth finding/borrowing a copy once I'm all done :-)

JK
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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 09:17 am:   

I like these kind of threads.

Here is what I've read recently.

Riding the Iron Rooster by Paul Theroux. It is a travel narrative of his journeys on China's trains during the mid 1980's.

Crossfire by Nancy Kress. Kress is one of my favorite writers. This novel sets a rather diverse group of private human colonists to include New Quakers, a Matriarchial type group, Chinese, Native Americans and Saudi exiles on the planet Greentrees. Unfortunately, they arrive in the middle of a war between two other alien species.

The war isn't quite what one might normally think of as war. I liked this novel, but not as much as I like her Probability trilogy or Beggars in Spain.

As mentioned elsewhere around here, I've already finished Nine Layers of Sky by Liz Williams. It is nice to read a novel that is not Americanized (even I get tired of seeing Midwestern Americans over and over again). This one is set in the former Soviet Republics during the early 21st Century.

I suppose the best way to Siskel and Ebert describe it is to say it is a mix of fantasy and science fiction. We have Russian mythology clashing with the grittiness of post-Soviet life, drug abuse, stolen and broken dreams, along with a love story.

A novel of similar style might by Neil Gaiman's American Gods.

On the stack right now:

Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. I'm going to set aside a weekend to concentrate solely on this book.

12th Edition of This Year's Best Science Fiction edited by Gardner Dozois.

On standby until I actually buy the novel is Ursula K. LeGuin's The Dispossessed. Asimov's lurkers will know that I used to bag on LeGuin pretty heavily. I checked this novel out of the library and swore that if I liked it, I'd hold off on finishing the last chapter and actually buy the book.

I'm waiting (patiently) for Alastair Reynolds' fourth novel to come out in June, Absolution Gap, and more stuff from Charlie Stross.

Respects,
S. F. Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com
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chance
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 09:18 am:   

Currently reading: The All Girl Football Team by Lewis Nordon, The Barnum Museum and Enchanted Night by Steven Millhauser

And for some story research: Center ring; the people of the circus by Robert Lewis Taylor,
Medicine show by Malcolm Webber and The psychology and behaviour of animals in zoos and circuses by Heinrich Hediger, Ph.D.
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Mastadge
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 09:24 am:   

I'm reading Sholem Asch's THE NAZARENE, Angela Carter's THE PASSION OF NEW EVE, Jim Crace's BEING DEAD. Next on the pile are Jack O'Connell's WORD MADE FLESH, Michael Cisco's THE TYRANT, Paul Park's IF LIONS COULD SPEAK and Steph Swainston's THE YEAR OF OUR WAR.
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GabrielM
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 09:59 am:   

Well, I finished a couple of books on food, AJ Liebling's BETWEEN MEALS and Calvin Trillin's FEEDING A YEN, as well as a thriller by Angelica Gorodischer and a collection of short horror stories by a new, young Argentine writer. Also TH White's gossipy popular history of late eighteenth century Britan, THE AGE OF SCANDAL.

I'm now reading various things, including the Scottish writer Lewis Grassic Gibbon's PERSIAN NIGHTS, EGYPTIAN DAYS, a collection of short fantastical Orientalist stories set in the middle east; a collection of the prologues Borges wrote for the "Library of Babel" series of fantastical fiction he edited; the new John Fowles biography; Des Lewis's WEIRDMONGER collection; an anthology of Greek fantastic fiction out from Dedalus; and a collection of Meyrink short stories called FLEDERMAUS.

I'm also trying to catch up on my comic book reading. Last night I read the last six months or so of HELLBLAZER and an odd little rewrite of one of my favorite DC characters, THE CREEPER, where they change the gender and now have her hang out with the surrealists in '20s Paris. Interesting concept, uneven story, poor artwork. Tonight I'm going to try to catch up on LUCIFER. Or THE FILTH.
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John Joseph Adams
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 10:14 am:   

I just read ONE KING, ONE SOLDIER by Alex Irvine (advance reading copy), which I enjoyed quite a bit and would recommend picking up once it comes out (the last section of the book is especially good). Next on my list is THE ZENITH ANGLE by Bruce Sterling.

On audio, I'm listening to THE TAKING by Dean Koontz, enjoying it so far.

Meanwhile, I'm eagerly awaiting the release of Ellen Datlow's anthology THE FAERY REEL (as I've said elsewhere, I heard Jeff Ford and Greg Frost read their stories from the book and thought them both superb).
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John Klima
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 10:25 am:   

I read ONE KING, ONE SOLIDER a few years ago, and I'm looking forward to reading it again. I wish it wasn't coming out so far from now.... :-(

JK
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Pat Lundrigan
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 10:52 am:   

Had a half.com transaction so south (guy couldn't find _The Best of John Cambell_) so he sent me half a dozen SF books plus my money back. One of the books is the _Unknown_ anthology, which looks very interesting. I had heard about this mag, but never read anything from it.

As for books I have finished lately . . .
Caves of Steel (re-read), Aspect of the Novel, The Stainless Steel Rat, Swords and Devitry, Dreadnaught (non-fic), Davinci Code. I like variety!
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LeslieWhat
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 10:58 am:   

I just finished "Perma Red" by Debra Magpie Earling and thought it really beautiful and evocative. Next on the pile is Cabin Fever by William Sullivan, a memoir about building a cabin on the Oregon Coast. Then it's no more reading for fun unless I can get college credit; shouldn't be too difficult to arrange since I get to help make up my own reading list.
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R.Wilder
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 10:59 am:   

I'm catching up on my "F&SF" sub, several issues behind. The new "Asimov's" arrived yesterday, so that'll come next. And "Perdido Street Station" , "Left Hand of Darkness," "Orbital Decay" and "Perfect Sound Forever: The Story of Pavement (the rock band)" are on standby.
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Forrest
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 11:25 am:   

Just finished:

AS Byatt's ANGELS & INSECTS

Currently reading:

Anna Tambour's MONTERRA'S DELICIOSA
Brian Evenson's THE WAVERING KNIFE
M. John Harrison's THINGS THAT NEVER HAPPEN
SLEEPING FISH #0
Alan Kausch's REMORSE CODE AND OTHER TANTRUMS

and I'm not going into my "to be read" stack, though it is much shorter than it has been in recent years.
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Mark Hand
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 11:34 am:   

"Life of Pi" by Yann Martel is making me look forward to commuting on the subway every day this week. Dazzling and brilliant, like a really good wine.

Last week "The Island of the Day Before" by Umberto Eco made it a far more gruelling journey. Thick and chewy, like an overcooked cut of inexpensive beef.

Next week it will be "The Blind Assassin" by Margaret Atwood, which I anticipate to be every bit as delectible as the other samplings of her work I've devoured (which, sadly for my metaphor, doesn't include "The Edible Woman").
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 11:46 am:   

I think Iron Council and One King, One Soldier are both coming out in a couple of months. Alex is reading at KGB in July and I've got a story of his coming out on SCIFICTION right around then too.
He and China are doing a tour (partly) together through Del Rey.
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E Thomas
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 11:53 am:   

Mostly reading stuff for classes--currently, Bloodlines: Odyssey of a Native Daughter by Janet Campbell Hale, Warrior Women and Popular Balladry by Dianne Dugaw, Polly by John Gay, and various non-fiction articles about primates.

I also have Patricia C. Wrede's Snow White and Rose Red by my bed, which I am rereading in small sips (as a comfort read) right before I go to sleep. I found it in the local library. I haven't read it, or even seen it, since middle school.

The last purely "for fun" book I finished was Liz Williams Empire of Bones. Recommended.
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stevd redwood
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 01:26 pm:   

Forrest, do you recomend Angels and Insects? (I think I know the answer)
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ben peek
Posted on Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 10:04 pm:   

i read IN & OUT a while back, and found it a fine read. there is, i think, a problem with the end, and it could have handled a bit of fleshing in some places, but that doesn't detract from some of the really fine things done in it. plus, it's an interesting book you can debate with people about after, which is cool.

so: flawed, but always interesting, i reckon.

i'm reading the new agog anthology by cat sparks, AGOG! SMASHING STORIES. it's got some fine stuff in it.
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Mike Bailey
Posted on Thursday, May 13, 2004 - 06:19 am:   

Ursula K Le Guin's "Orsinian Tales"
http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Orsinian%20Tales
I choke down one of these stories per week or so. Le Guin writes well, in my opinion, not that she needs my compliments, but this collection is so full of stories about despair and bitter, defeated human lives that I can only handle it in small doses. There is supposedly an undercurrent of finding grace while facing insurmountable pressures, but it is so faint that it seems, at times, undetectable to me.

George Dawson, Richard Glaubman "Life Is So Good"
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0141001682/104-1967175-9601505?v=g lance
This was an unforgettable, in my opinion, biography/memoir of a 100+ year old grandson of a slave, who is still alive in Texas and just learning to read. Reading this book will likely be a life-altering experience for many people who do not understand what really happened to blacks in the last century, but beyond that, the attitude of Dawson throughout his life should shake the perceptions of even the hardiest cynic.

David Gemmel "Legend"
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1857236815/202-7525276-1199845
For it's time (the mid-1980s) this book was probably innovative, as it explores character more than some of its peers did at that time. I still enjoyed it somewhat, as I am a bit of a Gemmel fan. But Gemmel has written better books since, and so have many other authors. If you read the Amazon reviews, you will probably get a pretty accurate idea of the plot, etc., but I'm not sure how it got 4.5 stars. I would classify this as a fun junk food novel for action-fantasy readers.

Esme Raji Codell "Educating Esme..."
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1565122798/104-1967175-9601505?v=g lance
If you don't laugh out loud and grit your teeth in frustration at some point during this reading, then you might not be human. This was a great diary about an unconventional teacher's first year of teaching. LOVED IT!

Lois M. Bujold "Curse of Chalion"
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0380818604/104-1967175-9601505?v=g lance
Best fantasy novel I have read in the last five years. Maybe the best ever. 'Nuff said.
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JV
Posted on Thursday, May 13, 2004 - 06:30 am:   

"Flawed but interesting" describes a lot of what's out there, Ben! LOL!

I've recently read the following:

LOVE AND DEATH IN KATHMANDU - a book about the royal family massacre in 2001. Very good.

TRANSLATIONS FROM THE CHINESE by Arthur Walley - Chinese poetry, very skillfully translated.

ONE DAY THE ICE WILL REVEAL ALL OF ITS DEAD by Clare Dudman - spectacular historical novel with a science element about the guy who came up with the continental drift theory. Brilliant novel. It'll probably be at the top of my best of the year unless something else knocks it off.

VERNON GOD LITTLE by D.B.C. Pierre - Insane and brilliant, drags a bit toward the end, but still a good send-up of small town America and of people in general. First person narrative about a teenager accused of having helped plan and carry out a massacre at a school. Sounds hilarious, doesn't it? And yet the whole thing is hilarious, in a very dark way, and the characters are often deep enough to support the serious parts as well. Should it have won the Booker Prize? Maybe not, but it's very good.

A SERIOUS LIFE from Savoy Books - This is pure heaven. Unbelievable book. Beautifully designed like all Savoy books. It's an overview of Savoy books starting in the 1960s, but it's so much more than that. In the discussions about New Worlds, about the music, literature, and counter-culture scene, up through the present-day, the discussions of censorship (Savoy has been raided by the police more than once, as is probably common knowledge), etc., it's quite simply required reading. And a coffee table book as well--just stunning design and execution. I can't recommend this one highly enough.

JeffV

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Matthew
Posted on Thursday, May 13, 2004 - 08:44 am:   

Currently I'm reading Coming of the Terrans by Leigh Brackett, Exodus from the Long Sun for the second time, and I picked up the following comics yesterdya: Fables, Fallen Angel, and The Monolith.

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Forrest
Posted on Thursday, May 13, 2004 - 10:45 am:   

Steve,

I very much liked ANGELS & INSECTS. Byatt, as usual, has a way of understating things such that the enormity of the events being conveyed by the words are in such contradiction with the subtlety of the words themselves, that the reader is really shocked into a powerful emotional reaction. She really is brilliant in this one. She does an excellent job of lulling the reader into a steady dream, then introducing a nightmare that emerges - quite organically - from this contrapunctual interaction, if you will, between the events and the words used to communicate them. The second half of the book, THE CONJUGIAL ANGEL, is the more "speculative" of the two, but the emotional impact of the first, MORPHO EUGENIA, is utterly stunning. I must have been a sight walking down the road, jaw agape, as I read the climax of the story. Amazing stuff.

Was that the answer you expected?
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Bruce Chrumka
Posted on Thursday, May 13, 2004 - 12:08 pm:   

Recently read,

Eastern Standard Tribe by Cory Doctorow
The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson
The Confusion by Neal Stephenson
Manna from Heaven by Roger Zelazny
Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan
Floater [again] by Lucius Shepard

currently reading,

The Knight by Gene Wolfe

on deck,

Smoke by William Sanders

note to Marc Laidlaw: If you like 'The Short-Timers', check out the sequel [G.Hasford's last book] 'The Phantom Blooper'. Way recommended.
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Luke Hannafin
Posted on Thursday, May 13, 2004 - 12:36 pm:   

I have this little project going where I am trying to read all of the Hugo winning novels. I’m not going in any particular order, and I am up to 29 of 52 if my count is right. The last one was Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis, which I finished yesterday.

I am still reading The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque by Jeff Ford, and I have the 16th YBF&H next to my bed for when I am in the mood for a short story.

When it is quiet at work, I read one of this year’s Hugo nominees – nearly all of them are on line somewhere or other, (except for the novels.)

http://is.rice.edu/~pound/hugo.html

I read Legions in Time by Michael Swanwick this morning and thought the first paragraph or two was one of the best introductions to a story I had read in a long, long time.

I’d like to get to A Scanner Darkly before the movie comes out. I feel guilty for not having read The Dark yet. Ditto the New Wave Fabulists. Ditto McSweeney’s Thrilling Tales. Actually, maybe it is best not to get into what’s in the “should have read a long time ago” pile.


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steve r
Posted on Thursday, May 13, 2004 - 12:54 pm:   

Hi, Forrest, I expected a recommendation, yes, the lady is GOOD, but I didn't expect the bonus remarks. Many many thanks. She'll be in next shopping trolley.
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ben peek
Posted on Thursday, May 13, 2004 - 05:21 pm:   

jeff said:

>"Flawed but interesting" describes a lot of what's out there, Ben!<

yes, and it's a fine generic summary to use, jeff, so laugh not :-) it's also a very useful catchphrase for when describing cooking too. well, my cooking, at any rate.
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Luke Brown
Posted on Thursday, May 13, 2004 - 05:25 pm:   

I’m just finishing the last fifty pages of THE LIGHT AGES by Ian R. MacLeod. I think this is a great book, the best fantasy I've read for a while, so I’ll add my voice to the chorus recommending it. Next is Richard Morgan's BROKEN ANGELS and Jeff VanderMeer's SECRET LIFE. Also looking forward exploring Alastair Reynold's oeuvre in the near future.
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Marc
Posted on Thursday, May 13, 2004 - 05:48 pm:   

Bruce,
I read Phantom Blooper as well. I remember tearing through it and enjoying it, but little else about it. I can't say the same of The Short-Timers, which I felt was like the literary equivalent of a hand grenade going off in my face.
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mike bishop
Posted on Friday, May 14, 2004 - 05:17 am:   

Just read Jeff's The Day Dali Died and have Secret Life in the queue. And have just finished three books by Ron Rash, who was at the South Carolina Book Festival this past February, two story collections (The Night the New Jesus Fell to Earth, primarily humorous pieces, and Casualties, more serious and more lovingly crafted stories), and a novel, One Foot in Eden, about a murder in South Carolina in the early 1950s, told from five different points of view, all of them extremely well handled. And I'm going to read a collection by the young Canadian writer, Holly Phillips, In the Palace of Repose. I was interested to see that Mastadge was reading Sholem Asch's The Nazarene, a book that I seriously considered for a course I taught in January -- although I wound up doing Jim Crace's Quarantine instead. Anyway, interesting stuff here.
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Marc Laidlaw
Posted on Friday, May 14, 2004 - 11:51 pm:   

Luke,
Read A SCANNER DARKLY now. Help! I was not a fan of WAKING LIFE, and I suppose it's possible that Linklater's passage through SCHOOL OF ROCK might have given him some preternatural insight into how to make a brilliant adaptation of Dick's book, but...I don't see it. I dug up the Charlie Kaufman screenplay online, and it is a deadpan adaptation (if you can call it that), amounting to basically a straight transcription of the book. I have a lot of respect for Kaufman, who is already doing speculative and innovative storytelling of a Dickworthy sort (the early drafts of Malkovich are weirder and funnier than the final version) (Charles Nelson Reilly features prominently). I wish they would have left this book alone. ... What Hollywood gets wrong about PKD is, oh, everything. The distinguishing difference between ELECTRIC SHEEP and BLADE RUNNER is that in the novel, Deckard is doing it all for a sheep. That's Dick in a nutshell. Kaufman gets it. Does Linklater?
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ellen
Posted on Saturday, May 15, 2004 - 03:49 pm:   

Marc,
You've picked one of my favorite movies to criticize--BLADERUNNER, which I admit that I saw before reading the novel.

If I'd read the novel first I might feel completely differently, of course. But I think the movie is a masterpiece and gets better and better the more times I see it. The fact that Deckard IS doing it all for a sheep in the book makes it utterly shallow to me, compared to the life and death and humanity vs machine aspects of the movie.
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Marc
Posted on Saturday, May 15, 2004 - 11:11 pm:   

I saw Bladerunner before reading Electric Sheep, too. When I read it, I felt it was one of Dick's sloppiest and least likeable books (despite a grabbag of neat gimmicks). I'm not saying the book is better than the movie, just that the quirky things I like best about Dick are the first things that get jettisoned in an adaptation; I only used that one as an example because the differences are so clear. In a way it's as if they took the plot of Electric Sheep and invested it with the emotional lines of Man in the High Castle.
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Iron James
Posted on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 03:26 am:   

Bladerunner is one case where I liked the movie far more than the book. Rare, but it happens.
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ellen
Posted on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 08:55 am:   

Marc and Iron: Another one for me is Stephen King's Carrie. The book felt like the outline/bare bones for the excellent movie, which added the emotional components.
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JeremyT
Posted on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 09:42 am:   

I think it's really interesting that a topic about what we're reading has turned into a topic about books being adapted into films :-)

As a non sequitur - A friend of mine emailed me recently to tell me that a major studio has acquired the rights to turn PATTERN RECOGNITION into a film. As one of the best books I read last year, I am terrified at the prospect, but slightly hopeful.

As far as BLADERUNNER, I consider it the best SF movie adaptation. My favorite original SF movie of all time remains DONNIE DARKO. Which, I'll also mention, is about to be re-released in theatres with upwards of 40 more minutes of footage. Not sure how I feel about that, but I thought I'd share it too.
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ellen
Posted on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 02:03 pm:   

Off-topic for a moment. I love Donnie Darko too and will rush to see it again in the theater to see what's been added.


But...I've just read Albedo, the Irish sf/f/h magazine former called Albedo One and it looks ten times better than it did in its old incarnation. Nice looking full color cover. Some very good fiction, two of which will make my 2004 rec list:
“In the Bush” by Paula Stiles
"The Bad Magician" by Philip Raines and Harvey Welles
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JV
Posted on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 02:45 pm:   

Ellen:

I totally agree with you on Bladerunner. And Donnie Darko is such a great movie!

JeffV
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MarcL
Posted on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 07:59 pm:   

I thought Donnie Darko was long enough. If you watch the deleted scenes on the DVD, with director commentary, the director complains endlessly about all the scenes he had to cut--some of which were incredibly dull. My reaction at the time was, Thank God! At about the same time, I had watched the Ravenous DVD, and Antonia Bird was talking about the scenes she'd had to cut--most of which were beautiful, well-acted, and would have made great additions to the film. But she had excellent reasons for cutting all of them. More Donnie Darko sounds more self-indulgent. Still a great movie with one of my all-time favorite lines: "What are feces?" "Baby mice." "Ooooh!"
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JeremyT
Posted on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 08:21 pm:   

Ravenous! Now that was a bizzare movie, but one that I really enjoyed. You don't see a lot of period films involving cannibal superheroes. I found the soundtrack to ocassionally be mismatched to the action. People chasing each other through the hills intended to eat one another, all to a happy bluegrass track. Too weird.

I recommend it, though. I think Robert Carlyle is an underrated actor.

Regarding Donnie Darko's extra scenes, I think what I liked about the original cut was how it didn't come right out and explain exactly what was going on--to confirm your ideas on that, you had to watch the extras. I worry that the film will become (and I hope this doesn't sound too snooty) overly accessible. The thrill of it all for me was coming up with my own theories.
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ml
Posted on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 09:04 pm:   

Yes, Ravenous is a great and unusual period piece. And the soundtrack is one of the best things about it--especially the wheezing, clangorous opening number. For a real treat, play the director's commentary track at the Cave sequence, where Damon Albarns gasps in horror and Antonia Bird giggles gleefully at his disgust. We're supposed to be talking about books, but Ravenous is a most literate movie--one of those where it's a pleasure to hear the characters talk, because they are clearly taking pleasure in the words written for them.
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ml
Posted on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 09:07 pm:   

Oh...I'm about to start reading the 4th book (The Ironwood Tree) in the Spiderwick Chronicles to my 8 year old daughter. These are fairly entertaining, but the overall feeling is one of being ripped off by Scholastic Books. Each one is equivalent in length to several chapters of a Harry Potter novel. They are only available in hardcover, for about $10 a pop. When all 5 are available, the kids will have to pay $50 for something that amounts to something less than the average HP novel. Scholastic sometimes does paperback editions for library sales. But they sure do make the little tykes' parents pay through the nose for these. Same goes for the Lemony Snicket books. No paperback editions, and they are quite short...novella length.
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ellen
Posted on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 09:15 pm:   

Well, I'm curious about the DD director's cut so will likely check it out.

Now I have to search out Ravenous to order from Netflix if they have it.

Marc,
Since I'm such a book collector and especially like little hardcover books I've bought some Lemony Snickets and at least one of the Spiderwick Chronicles (and some I've gotten for free from the author or the publisher). They're adorable to look at. (Read? Who has time?)
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MarcL
Posted on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 09:54 pm:   

Speaking of little hardcovers that I can't bring myself to buy, has anyone read Pullman's little "Lyra's Oxford"?

I loved everything about The Golden Compass, really dug the subtle knife parts of The Subtle Knife, and found the dull parts almost outweighed the cool visionary sequences of The Amber Spyglass. But for a great chiller, I highly recommend his Clockwork. That was a two-nighter read-aloud that had my oldest daughter and I completely horrified at the end of part one, and completely satisfied at the end of the whole.

I Was A Rat was also really clever.

I find these days I get the biggest buzz browsing through the kids/YA sections of the bookstore. There are a lot fewer Star Wars novels in there.
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MarcL
Posted on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 09:57 pm:   

Ravenous, Dead Man, and now Deadwood...this is the Golden Age of Western Revisionism.
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Marc
Posted on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 10:00 pm:   

Ellen: The small, nicely bound Lemony Snickets and Spiderwick Chronicles are almost certainly aimed at fanatical Gorey collectors. Which leads me to think there must be a lot of them!

Well, if kids start off with the Baudelaire Orphans and eventually graduate to the Black Doll, then there's hope for the world after all.

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JeremyT
Posted on Sunday, May 16, 2004 - 10:07 pm:   

"I find these days I get the biggest buzz browsing through the kids/YA sections of the bookstore. There are a lot fewer Star Wars novels in there."

That's really funny and really sad at the same time, and it's even sadder that it's funny. I'd say about half of my local chain bookstore (Hastings) is Star Wars, D&D, and Star Trek.

Ah, Deadwood is glorious. Never has a show lended itself so well to the possibilities of a drinking game. If you were to drink every time you heard c-sucker... I'm really digging it. Can't wait for the next season of Carinvale though.
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ellen
Posted on Monday, May 17, 2004 - 10:08 am:   

MEMEME--Edward Gorey collector. So yeah, of course it makes sense. I've got Pullman's Lyra's Oxford. Review copy. Haven't read it. Haven't read any of Pullman although I want to read at least the first two in the His Dark Material series, or whatever it's called.

Jeremy, I'll likely rent the DVD of Carnivale at some point. The bus posters made it look gorgeous, if nothing else.
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jeff ford
Posted on Monday, May 17, 2004 - 11:02 am:   

Ellen: The Pullman stuff, the series is amazing, especially the first book, The Golden Compass. Loved it.
I'm reading, as time allows, The Bat Tattoo by Russel Hoban. I like it very much.
Also just got a copy of Robert Freeman Wexler's CIRCUS OF THE GRAND DESIGN in the mail today. It looks awesome. Great cover, great first few pages. We'll see.
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Richard Parks
Posted on Monday, May 17, 2004 - 11:12 am:   

Finally finishing up Murikami's THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE. For a change of pace (and to give my poor abused brain time to recover), just whipped through the first two BONEYARD collections by Richard Moore.
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montmorency
Posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2004 - 05:49 am:   

Just finished a debut novel called The Ghost Writer by an Australian John Harwood and, unexpectedly, throughly enjoyed it. It ends as a logical mystery novel, but the author enmeshes four mock-Victorian ghost stories with the phantom lover theme quite well and the unsettling creepiness sustains till the anachronistic finale. Some may find it absurd, but the wry humor despite the dead serious first person narrative worked well for me. It's not so great as Mrs Charbuque but very close to it. I bought the British edition but seems it'll be available in July in the U.S.

For the Gorey and small hardcover lovers, don't forget purely hilarious Philip Ardagh. He's completed two trilogies now, and the one called The Unlikely Exploits is something like Thursday Next for kids.
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ellen
Posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2004 - 09:02 am:   

Monmorency,
THanks for the suggestion. I've got The Ghost Story on my list of books to order.

I just won a Gorey I'm not familiar with on ebay--Red Riding Hood. I compared prices with ABE so I wouldn't overbid and I got it for a bit under what I could have gotten it for there. (including postage)
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2004 - 10:29 am:   

I was a Gorey freak in high school. Still have the pop-up book although it is the curse of the book collector to be angry at your parents when they inscribe their gift with a loving inscription. In the late 70's I wrote a Gorey ripoff (a story that was supposed to turn into a novel) that was a clumsy cross between The Black Doll stories and The House on the Borderlands--"The Binderwood Bewilderment" it was called. I remember sending it to T.E.D. Klein (before he was editing Twilight Zone, and was just a writer I greatly admired). In a further fit of self-dilution, I turned that surreal story into a comic strip script that appeared in an issue of CREEPIE, entitled "Curse of the Binderwoods." The most overt remaining stolen Gorey reference is the image of bicycles and clocks falling out of an open sky and crashing into the snowy front yard of a Victorian manor. Although since the strip was drawn by Isidro Mones, the whole "Victorian England" thing comes off as an Aztec Studios version. It was all very queasy.
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ellen
Posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2004 - 10:37 am:   

I discovered Gorey when working in the library at SUNY at Albany. I could not figure out what the heck was going on (as far as who it was aimed at) but immediately fell in love with his work and bought up as much as I could. Found a boxed set of one of his series in London for what would not be considered cheap, although when I bought it I felt it was pretty pricy. I've collected his collaborations with Samuel Beckett and John Updike and have two signed limited prints by him that I bought at the Gotham Book Mart.
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2004 - 02:20 pm:   

Ellen, you worked in the SUNYA library? May I ask when? I went there from 1985-1991. (and I spent a lot of time in that library! ;))
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ellen
Posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2004 - 08:14 pm:   

I was at SUNY 1967-71--a long time before you :-)
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Luke Hannafin
Posted on Wednesday, May 19, 2004 - 05:37 am:   

I'm also a SUNYA guy, around the same time as Melissa, actually.

I enjoyed Ravenous, though it does lose some inertia by the end. I thought the surprising performance there was Jeffery Jones, who manages to be creepy and funny at once. The music is Damon Albarn, but also Michel Nyman who did the music to the piano, probably my most played CD.

As for Blade Runner, it has always been one of my favorite futurist movies. I love the subtle suggestion that all is not as it seems, the harshness and the dirtiness of the machines, the ominous atmosphere. Particularly, I love the use of The Bradbury Building, (which I would love to visit someday.)

Luke





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Mastadge
Posted on Wednesday, May 19, 2004 - 05:44 am:   

My father graduated from SUNY Albany in 1974. He didn't know what he wanted to do with his life, but decided that he could probably make a living as a lawyer, so decided to go on to Yale Law School, and has spent nearly the last three decades practicing law.
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John Klima
Posted on Wednesday, May 19, 2004 - 06:11 am:   

Ellen:

Just finished IN & OZ and, at least for me, I found the ending very satisfying. It's a strange, quirky, little book. Very reminiscent of Lethem's THIS SHAPE WE'RE IN, in part due to their lengths, but also the general surreal tone to both pieces is similar to me. IN & OZ also reminded (resonated?) me of PUNKTOWN and VENISS UNDERGROUND, in that both of those pieces are love stories, albeit love stories most of us would rather not be a part of! ;)

I don't want to over-step this book either, though. It's worth reading, it's only about 150 pages--and if you've seen the book, you know how small the pages are--so you know it's not a big investment of time. I keep coming back to THIS SHAPE in that it's a story I enjoyed, but nothing that was life-changing. If you see the book (IN & OZ) pick it up, start reading it. It will either grab your attention or it won't. If it does, I think you'll enjoy it.

Boy, was that some waffling or what?

On a different note, I've just started THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS, which I found on the "Take a Book, Leave a Book" shelf in the Starbuck's in my office building. I've never read it, and I've always been interested in it.

JK
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JeremyT
Posted on Wednesday, May 19, 2004 - 08:32 am:   

John,
I'm curious, what did you leave in place of THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS?
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ellen
Posted on Wednesday, May 19, 2004 - 08:46 am:   

Luke, so did you know Melissa?

Surprising how many SUNYA alumni pop up :-)
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Luke Hannafin
Posted on Wednesday, May 19, 2004 - 09:40 am:   

Nope, Though Dan Braum did recognize me at KGB from his Albany days. (There's one more.)
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, May 19, 2004 - 10:31 am:   

Luke: Yes, agreed on the end of Ravenous and also on it being Jeffrey Jones's best performance.
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, May 19, 2004 - 02:14 pm:   

Well, here's what I will be reading!

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/artsentertainment/2001931413_smith18.html

I never thought I'd read another post-apocalypse novel, let alone a trilogy set in a new Ice Age. But I am a devout Mitchell Smith devourer, and the first two books of the Snowfall trilogy were excellent: hard-edged; peopled with, well, people; full of Smith's trademarked punch-in-the- guts; and featuring with some amazingly vivid battle scenes.
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Wednesday, May 19, 2004 - 02:31 pm:   

Wow-SUNYA's a lot more popular than I realized!

I didn't know many people. I was a recluse. ;)

Luke, did you ever have Fred Wilcox for a professor? I'd love to find a way to get in touch with him. (He said he didn't think I'd ever quit writing, even when I thought I would. I'd like to tell him he was right.)
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, May 19, 2004 - 03:09 pm:   

I've never been to Albany, but once while staying in the Catskills I drank a few memorable bottles of Albany Amber. I don't recall what I was reading at the time.
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Matthew
Posted on Wednesday, May 19, 2004 - 07:12 pm:   

Currently I'm reading Turning of the Screw by Henry James
and Tituse Groan for the second time.

I also picked up Demo #6, District X #1, and the latest issue of Boneyard at the comic store.
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Luke Hannafin
Posted on Thursday, May 20, 2004 - 06:29 am:   

A little googleing and:

http://www.ithaca.edu/facpages/fwilcox/

Is this your man?
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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, May 20, 2004 - 09:29 am:   

Marc, I'm surprised they don't mention his brilliant prison novel STONE CITY in the profile. To me. that's still his best (haven't gotten around to the sf trilogy yet).
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, May 20, 2004 - 09:42 am:   

Yes, STONE CITY is Smith's best. One of anyone's best. Years ago I bought several copies so I'd always have one to lend. Michael Shea turned me on to that book--and to Smith in general.

I don't know if you've ever seen any of the HBO series "Oz," but it's as if they took the basic premise of STONE CITY and watered it down, mashed it up, and used it as compost for a miniseries.

Terrifying novel, so intense that I almost fainted at one point. He did a couple a few years ago that I didn't find very memorable (such as his homage to the traditional Florida crime novel), but usually they are gruelling books, containing unforgettable moments.
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Thursday, May 20, 2004 - 11:38 am:   

A bit older, but I think so! ;) Thanks, Luke!
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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, May 20, 2004 - 01:37 pm:   

Marc,
At one time Dustin Hoffman optioned it but nothing came of it. I did the same--buy up books and lend them or gave them away.

Someone gave me the first year of OZ for a xmas gift. Haven't gotten to it yet. Green River Rising by a guy named Tim something or other seemed rippred off from Stone City.

I liked Due North a lot. Hated Karma liked Sacrifice the Florida one. (I got Sacrifice in galleys and it was called something else originally--I thought a better title --but of course I can't remember it).
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, May 20, 2004 - 01:56 pm:   

Tim Willocks. That book was weak...all posing.

Sacrifice felt like a tribute to Willeford and John D. MacDonald and the other Florida crime writers, but for some reason it just didn't do anything for me. I found Karma unconvincing. But Due North was one of those sucker-punch-in-the-guts books. As was the horrifying Reprisal...not consistently strong, but with an ending that made me forgive the other weaknesses.

Anyway, the Snowfall books are very strong, especially coming out of a subgenre I tend to hate. Take Jack London's "To Build A Fire" and spring forward a thousand years.
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, May 20, 2004 - 01:59 pm:   

By the way, Mitchell Smith also wrote a handful of "erotic Westerns" in the Buckskin series, under the penname Roy LeBeau. Packaged as fat double-novels, they're not too hard to find in the used bookshops, and even in supermarkets (I believe they've been reissued). Can't say I've been in the mood to read one though.
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S.E.L.
Posted on Monday, May 24, 2004 - 09:06 am:   

Most recent reads:

Year's Best Fantasy 3, Hartwell, Ed.

A Deepness in the Sky, Vinge. (re-reading)

Altered Carbon, Morgan.

Perdido Street Station, Mieville. (Just started)
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John Klima
Posted on Tuesday, May 25, 2004 - 06:24 am:   

JeremyT:

I left a copy of the most recent Robert Jordan book.

JK
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John Joseph Adams
Posted on Tuesday, May 25, 2004 - 10:09 am:   

Well *that* wasn't a fair trade. ;)
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John Klima
Posted on Tuesday, May 25, 2004 - 10:39 am:   

Well, I took four books (the other three being the first three Lestat novels for my wife) in all. I figured pound for pound it worked out for me in the end.

JK
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John Joseph Adams
Posted on Tuesday, May 25, 2004 - 11:27 am:   

Ah, that's true! I hadn't thought of it that way.
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - 11:39 am:   

I agree that Ravenous was ... unique.

I'm currently reading Count Zero. I'm late (*very* late) in discovering Gibson's work (I read Neuromancer last month), but I'm really enjoying it.

Also reading and enjoying Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino.
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Ellen
Posted on Wednesday, May 26, 2004 - 08:47 pm:   

Mahesh,
If you haven't read Gibson's collection Burning Chrome run out and buy it and read it.
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Thursday, May 27, 2004 - 05:40 pm:   

Thanks for the recommend, Ellen. I hadn't read Burning Chrome yet, and I plan on ordering it (it wasn't at my usual haunt for some strange reason...) But I finished Count Zero, and picked up Michael Bishop's Count Geiger's Blues today. Guess I'm on a 'Count' kick, heh.
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Luke
Posted on Thursday, June 10, 2004 - 05:06 am:   

I think you will be pleased that I started reading Stories of Your Life and Others last night.
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ellen
Posted on Thursday, June 10, 2004 - 09:45 am:   

Good. Hope you like it.
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Steven Francis Murphy
Posted on Friday, June 11, 2004 - 07:41 am:   

Absolution Gap by Alastair Reynolds
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Roma Eterna by Robert Silverberg
Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond

Even though I started Atwood first, I seem to be concentrating on Reynolds. More entertaining in my opinion.

Respects,
S. F. Murphy
http://sfmurphy.journalspace.com
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Mastadge
Posted on Friday, June 11, 2004 - 12:46 pm:   

NOBODY'S SON by Sean Stewart
SECRET LIFE by Jeff VanderMeer
MARKET FORCES by Richard Morgan
THE KING OF ELFLAND'S DAUGHTER by Lord Dunsany
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Friday, June 11, 2004 - 06:38 pm:   

Re: 5/20 post by Luke Hannafin (with apologies for straying off topic again.)

Thank you, Luke! That was my professor, and he did write back.
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Subterranean Press
Posted on Friday, June 11, 2004 - 06:55 pm:   

Well, I've been reading some wonderful books recently, the best of which include:

THE YEAR OF OUR WAR by Steph Swainston
PERFECT CIRCLE by Sean Stewart

in the middle of THE GRAVEYARD GAME by Kage Baker,

and will soon be into THE REBEL by Jack Dann, as well as THE TAKING by Dean Koontz.

If we include work-related reading, then novels by Chaz Brenchley, Joe Lansdale, and a few collections we're considering.

Bill Schafer
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ellen
Posted on Friday, June 11, 2004 - 08:21 pm:   

I've been hearding great things about PERFECT CIRCLE.

I plan to chomp through IRON COUNCIL (remember? I started this topic saying I had just begun reading it?) tomorrow on the train visiting my parents. I'll see how far I get into it.
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Mastadge
Posted on Friday, June 11, 2004 - 08:42 pm:   

Yeah, the reason I read NOBODY'S SON just now was because I'm so psyched about PERFECT CIRCLE. And DARK RENDEZVOUS. . .but then, I'm a Star Wars fanboy. Anyway, I wish some more of Stewart's books were in print.

THE YEAR OF OUR WAR is getting dangerously near the front of my must-read shelf. It's calling to me even now to set aside my other books and crack its covers.
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Bruce Chrumka
Posted on Friday, June 11, 2004 - 09:49 pm:   

Hi Bill Schafer,

Any word on the next Howard Waldrop collection? ToC?

Anxiously, thanks,

Bruce
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Jonathan
Posted on Saturday, June 12, 2004 - 03:38 am:   

I just finished Susanna Clarke's JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR NORRELL, which is terrific, if a little long, and am halfway through Jasper Fforde's SOMETHING ROTTEN.
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Tim Pratt
Posted on Saturday, June 12, 2004 - 10:41 am:   

I quite liked PERFECT CIRCLE, and adored Matt Ruff's SET THIS HOUSE IN ORDER, both of which I read a couple of weeks ago. Now I'm into Caitlin Kiernan's MURDER OF ANGELS, though I haven't gone far enough to draw conclusions about the story yet. Good, compelling writing, though.

Definitely looking forward to JONATHAN STRANGE, and to Steph Swainston's YEAR OF OUR WAR.
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Mastadge
Posted on Saturday, June 12, 2004 - 03:07 pm:   

Now reading Postscripts #1. I've been looking forward to it, and it's pretty good so far.
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Mastadge
Posted on Saturday, June 12, 2004 - 03:08 pm:   

By the way, has anyone read the other Small Beer novel coming out this month, Trash Sex Magic or whatever it's called? How's that?
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ellen
Posted on Saturday, June 12, 2004 - 06:56 pm:   

Tim, who published Cait's MURDER OF ANGELS? I haven't heard or seen anything about it?
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Michael Kelly
Posted on Sunday, June 13, 2004 - 11:58 am:   

Murder of Angels is forthcoming from New American Library in September.
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ET
Posted on Sunday, June 13, 2004 - 02:17 pm:   

I'm reading Snow Crash now. So far it's very very impressive.
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ellen
Posted on Sunday, June 13, 2004 - 03:11 pm:   

Thanks, Michael.
ET, I liked the first third or so of SNOW CRASH a lot but he lost me with the silly mysticism after that (from what I remember).
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Bruce Chrumka
Posted on Sunday, June 13, 2004 - 04:17 pm:   

Hi Ellen,

The Sumerian twist in Snow Crash left me cold as well but I enjoyed the book overall. I've much preferred Mr. Stephenson's later novels; Cryptonomicon [and China Mieville's Perdido Street Station were my two favorite novels the year they were published], Quicksilver and The Confusion were terrific. Haven't had as much fun with a picarseque-type historicals since Flashman.

Cheers, Bruce
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ellen
Posted on Sunday, June 13, 2004 - 09:35 pm:   

Hi Bruce,
I started CRYPTONOMICON and liked what I read of it but didn't have the time to finish it and haven't attempted the newer ones. I read his early novel ZODIAC (I think that was the title) and it was a fast read. Loved PERDIDO STREET STATION. Read a chunk of IRON COUNCIL yesterday and like it a lot. Back to New Crubezon. (that doesn't look right did I spell it wrong?)
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ET
Posted on Monday, June 14, 2004 - 05:46 am:   

I actually like the mysticism part. That's part of what I found impressive, the way he tied myths into other things, like computers.
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Bruce Chrumka
Posted on Monday, June 14, 2004 - 08:02 am:   

Hi Ellen,

New Crobuzon methinks. Zodiac was fairly entertaining. I've never been able to get into his first novel, The Big U.

Maybe there should be another topic, Books you're dying to read...The Iron Council would be high on my list [not to mention Howard waldrop's next collection, any number of books from Lucius Shepard, George RR Martin's next door-stopper, etc].

Bruce
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ellen
Posted on Monday, June 14, 2004 - 09:25 am:   

Bruce,
I'm afraid that would apply to most of the books covering the floors of my apt.
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John Klima
Posted on Monday, June 14, 2004 - 09:32 am:   

Finishing ECOPTOPIA. An interesting concept, but not very well-written. Just want to get it off my shelf and packed away so I can forget about it. Next is JACK FAUST.

JK
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Luke Hannafin
Posted on Monday, June 14, 2004 - 11:46 am:   

Melissa, glad to help.

Ellen, I am really curious to hear what you think about Iron Council. China’s reading @ KGB was one of the first things that got me into the event, which in turn was one of the things that reinvigorated me as a reader. I hope my expectations for the book are not out of hand.

ET, I hate to be Luke the talking parrot, but I’m with everyone else on Neal Stephenson; he has great ideas and cool little scenes that ultimately make him well worth reading, but in Snow Crash and Diamond Age I though he had lost the narrative thread by the end.

John, I have heard some not-so-good things about Jack Faust, but I love Michael Swanwick; I think he has a fantastic talent for being visceral and logical at the same time. I would be curious to see how you react to this one.

On a side note, I just read James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces. I wanted to dislike it after having seen the author interviewed on TV. Once I began reading it, though, I found it engaging. There is a scene near the beginning of the book that is as horrific as any fiction I have read recently.


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ellen
Posted on Monday, June 14, 2004 - 01:10 pm:   

Luke,
So far, not as blown away as by PSS and The Scar but still, very good.


What is A MILLION LITTLE PIECES about? F or nf? More details please :-)
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ET
Posted on Monday, June 14, 2004 - 02:55 pm:   

Luke, I haven't yet reached the end of Snow Crash (I'm about 70% through), so I'll have to wait to pass judgement.

Must say I was disappointed lately by endings. I thought that Amy Thomson's The Color of Distance was a good book, but found the ending disappointing. I also enjoyed Pratchett's and Gaiman's Good Omens, but felt that it lost some narrative momentum near the end.

I like Snow Crash because its mysticism appeals to me and I find it thought provoking, and because I like his humour, including the writing humour, which writers usually keep out of stories since it can be disruptive, but I feel that he carries it out pretty well. For example, calling the main character Hiro Protagonist takes a lot of nerve, and I liked it. He also has a place where he writes "after that it's just a chase scene." It just goes so well at that point, and really, an action movie would probably have done a chase scene there, and it's great that Neal Stephenson didn't, and I found the comment about it funny.
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Alex Irvine
Posted on Monday, June 14, 2004 - 05:06 pm:   

TRASH SEX MAGIC is excellent. Exuberant and sexy and a little bit angry and really, really good.

I'm looking forward to PERFECT CIRCLE myself. Read a much earlier version many moons ago, and it was swell. Can't wait to see what it looks like now.
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Luke
Posted on Tuesday, June 15, 2004 - 05:09 am:   

Ellen, A Million Little Pieces is non-fiction. It is a memoir written about the author's time in the Hazelton facility. He claims to have been an alcoholic since he was 13 and just added drug after drug until he was smoking crack and huffing gasoline by the time he was 23. At times I was a little too aware of the writer trying to be "artistic." He capitalizes random words and uses a lot of one-line dialogue like in a Mamet play. At other times I was less aware of him using these devices and it was then that I really enjoyed the book.

ET, I agree with you about the playfulness of Snow Crash; its one of the endearing things about Neal Stephenson's writing. I get the idea the his intention was not so much to write a cyberpunk action thriller, (although you could certainly read it that way,) as to write a satire of the genre, which is tricky to do without making a parody.

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ellen
Posted on Tuesday, June 15, 2004 - 08:14 am:   

ET and Luke, the playfulness is what I liked about Snowcrash. Especially the whole pizza delivery thing. (although I don't remember much more than that).
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Tuesday, June 15, 2004 - 07:52 pm:   

'Snow Crash' is another one I really need to get to. I read 'The Diamond Age' a few years back, and really enjoyed it.

I got my hands on a copy of 'Burning Chrome', and that's what I'm reading right now. Excellent stuff.
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Trent Walters
Posted on Tuesday, June 15, 2004 - 08:36 pm:   

Luke,

I agree that Snowcrash is satire, but it's rather light on the satire. It's as if he started off wanting to mock, but grooving into it as a means to another realm, entirely. At least, he doesn't seem to be interested in the same themes as Gibson--or even mocking them gently--but instead doing his own thing through a vehicle he loves (yet still takes time to poke fun at now and again).
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Luke
Posted on Wednesday, June 16, 2004 - 05:17 am:   

Exactly. Kind of like Buckaroo Banzai.
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ET
Posted on Thursday, June 17, 2004 - 12:55 am:   

Well, I do also like the "mystical" part of the Snow Crash. I think he did good development of the meme concept and the "language is a virus" idea. I love it when such things are made literal. Tied it nicely into history, too (with the help of some handwavium, but that's okay).

I did find the long explanation of everything close to the end (I'm now probably 90% through) a bit too long, but it did teach me that having a chapter break in the middle of a long stretch of info can be really helpful. It just says "you can rest now", and this small rest is quite a bit of help in not losing focus completely.
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, July 08, 2004 - 11:06 pm:   

I finally got MOONRISE by Mitchell Smith from the library and I'm about 150 pages into it. It starts fast and doesn't let up. Each book in the trilogy has featured spectacular (and spectacularly gritty) battle sequences; the series shows Smith's strengths to great advantage. The characters are the best yet: a young fugitive prince, a trio of animal-human hybrids who are wonderfully rendered both in their humanity and in their animal nature, and some flat-out beautiful writing. Smith hews close to the senses, which makes the poetic writing that much stronger. Imagine Hemingway stretching out to write a science fantasy Ice Age apocalypse series. This is well on its way to being a spectacular finish to a very strong trilogy.
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Nels
Posted on Friday, July 09, 2004 - 12:23 am:   

"We Are For The Dark" by Elizabeth Jane Howard and Robert Aickman, and a book of Katherine Mansfield's letters to John Middleton Murray. As well as rereading "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas" and trying to work up the enthusiasm for about four other books I'm supposed to be reviewing (urk) for the British Fantasy Society....
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Friday, July 09, 2004 - 07:10 am:   

I'm thinking about reading Mieville's THE SCAR next, but should I read PERDIDO STREET STATION first?
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EDatlow
Posted on Friday, July 09, 2004 - 08:32 am:   

Mahesh,
It doesn't matter. They're not related in any direct ways.

I recently read IRON COUNCIL, his new one (which IS related more to PSS) and I liked it a lot. It doesn't dazzle (initially) as do PSS and THE SCAR but it's very political, very interesting.

Also have read a couple of novella chapbooks I liked: GAME by Conrad Williams, about a couple of women ordered to brutally murder a list of people given to them by a man threatening the man who is their brother/boyfriend.

BREATHE by Christopher Fowler is very funny dark sf/horror about an office building that is poisoning its workers in order to make them work harder. Thomas Ligotti-ish in the office dynamics but Fowler's urban city noir is the overlying feel--in other words, not baroque like Ligotti.
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Mastadge
Posted on Friday, July 09, 2004 - 05:58 pm:   

Today I read Sarah Dunn's THE BIG LOVE. An amusing couple hours. I'm reading Sean Stewart's RESURRECTION MAN and E.E. Knight's WAY OF THE WOLF, the first because I'm working my way through Stewart's canon and I recently finished PASSION PLAY and NOBODY'S SON, the second because I wanted some braincandy action. I'm also working a few chapters at a time through Malory's LE MORTE D'ARTHUR. And my copy of Walter Miller's SAINT LEIBOWITZ AND THE WILD HORSE WOMAN came in today, so I'll probably get to that soon, as I quite enjoyed CANTICLE.
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ml
Posted on Friday, July 09, 2004 - 07:54 pm:   

LE MORTE D'ARTHUR is insane. Monty Python were not exaggerating everything. If anything, MP's use of over the top, barely provoked violence was quite restrained. MP&THG's wedding massacre and Black Knight duel came off like Mallory lite.
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Bruce Chrumka
Posted on Friday, July 09, 2004 - 10:01 pm:   

Hi Marc,

Moonrise was terrific. I think I got the tout on Mitchell Smith's Snowfall trilogy from you on an earlier thread. Just like to say thanks!

Also read Stone City. Brilliant, brutal, tough read. I recall Lucius gave it a heads-up when citing an influence or two for Jailwise.

Cheers, Bruce
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MarcL
Posted on Friday, July 09, 2004 - 10:37 pm:   

Glad you liked MOONRISE--you're ahead of me! (Not much time to read these days...although, curiously, plenty of time to check message boards.) And STONE CITY is a masterpiece. DUE NORTH, REPRISAL and DAYDREAMS (his first), are other favorites.
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MarcL
Posted on Friday, July 09, 2004 - 10:41 pm:   

I gather Mitchell Smith does occasional autograph sessions in the Seattle area, but somehow I miss them all. I found signed copies of SNOWFALL at the University Bookstore in Bellevue. I'm dying to get his signature into my copy of STONE CITY and DAYDREAMS. (And maybe even into BOLT ACTION and TRIGGER GUARD, his "Buckskin" Western novels written as Roy LeBeau...if he'll fess up to them.) He's a writer's writer.
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EDatlow
Posted on Saturday, July 10, 2004 - 08:45 am:   

I love DUE NORTH and have been recommending STONE CITY since I read it years ago. Every time I see a cheap copy I buy it and give it to someone. DAYDREAMS was good but had a internal inconsistency (if I remember correctly) that really bothered me the two times I read it. (of course I don't remember what it was now).

Haven't read the sf novels yet. If Event Horizon was still up you could access our interview with him.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Saturday, July 10, 2004 - 11:56 am:   

I just finished reading Jonathan Aycliffe's new novel, GARDENS LOST IN TIME. The first 3/4's of the book was absulutely riviting... though I think the final "revelations" were a bit rushed and awkward. Still, an excellent novel by one of the best writers of novel lenght ghost fiction.

-jl
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GabrielM
Posted on Sunday, July 11, 2004 - 11:44 am:   

Up in Nantucket, reading MOBY DICK, a couple of Patrick O'Brian novels and Elizabeth Hand's MORTAL LOVE.
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EDatlow
Posted on Sunday, July 11, 2004 - 01:01 pm:   

Wow, Gabe. Lucky you! I love Nantucket. How long are you there for?

Btw, I've been assured by my former colleague that Event Horizon will be back up soon. The isp screwed up.
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Mastadge
Posted on Sunday, July 11, 2004 - 01:32 pm:   

I love Nantucket too. It's where I got my treasured Ack Dog t-shirt that all the kids wearing Martha's Vineyard Black Dog t-shirts glare at at school.
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GabrielM
Posted on Monday, July 12, 2004 - 11:43 am:   

Hi Ellen. Just here for a short week of rest and repair. Back Wednesday.

I'm thinking that Chapter 42 of MOBY DICK, which deals with the the horrific connotations of the color white ("there yet lurks an elusive something in the innermost idea of this hue, which strikes more of panic to the soul than that redness which affrights in blood"), treated as a stand-alone short essay, may be one of the best examples of weird non-fiction ever penned. Positively Lovecraftian!
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EDatlow
Posted on Monday, July 12, 2004 - 12:31 pm:   

I'm embarrassed to say I've never read all of Moby Dick--I've read parts of it. Never got to that chapter. However, I do have the book, illustrated by Barry Moser so I'll have to see if I can find it.
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, July 12, 2004 - 12:36 pm:   

Moby Dick is something to re-read every few years...or at least every decade (as decades start to go past on what seems like an annual basis).
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GabrielM
Posted on Monday, July 12, 2004 - 05:53 pm:   

It's that very edition with the Moser woodcuts I've been reading.

It's certainly a great book to reread. On this occasion I've enjoyed the digressions much more than the outright plot (such as the aforementioned Chapter 42, which I think would be very appealing to any horror devotee and can be read independently of the rest of the book).

I've also found myself more sensitive to the fantastical/supernatural elements in the book on this read. Cawthorn and Moorcock chose MOBY DICK as one of their 100 best fantasy novels and although it's always seemed to me an odd choice I'm now more understanding of their view than previously.
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EDatlow
Posted on Monday, July 12, 2004 - 08:03 pm:   

Found it. And hadn't realized it's signed by Moser. I'll try to read the chapter at breaktime.
Thanks for the tip.
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T Andrews
Posted on Tuesday, July 13, 2004 - 02:41 pm:   

A friend of mine lent me her collection of Neil Gaiman's SANDMAN comics. For the last week, I've done little else but read them. I had been meaning to check SANDMAN out for years and never had gotten to it. It was great, and lived up to my expectations.
I'm reading Matthew Rossi's THINGS THAT NEVER WERE. It's fantastic, and I'm reading it one essay at a sitting...trying to make it last.
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ET
Posted on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 11:54 am:   

I've been Bradbury's The Martial Chronicles for a while now, and since it's not an easy read and it's quite a few short stories woven together, I read other things while I'm reading it. I recently finished Egan's Teranesia, and didn't like the ending -- is there a sequel? It feels like it ends at the beginning. Today I started reading Nine Princes in Amber for the, I think, fourth time. It's been quite a few years since the last time, so I don't remember that much.
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MarcL
Posted on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 12:45 am:   

I finished Mitchell Smith's MOONRISE in one large gulp, and I can recommend the whole SNOWFALL trilogy which got stronger with each book (and it started strong). The highlight of the third book is the scaling of the two-mile-high ice-wall which you barely glimpse in the first book. Tour de force indeed. I knew it was coming and I couldn't wait to get there, carried along in Smiths' expert hands. It didn't hurt that I loved the characters. I don't suppose he'll pick up another science fiction storyline, and we'll have to be content with this one, but it's enough. Highly highly recommended.

Just dipping into Charlie Stross's ATROCITY ARCHIVE after a suitable hiatus. I no longer really chain-read, lighting one book on the smoldering stub of the previous one, as I did in years of yore. I like to let them sink in a bit.
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Mastadge
Posted on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 10:35 am:   

I just finished Sean Stewart's RESURRECTION MAN. Now reading Chris Ware's JIMMY CORRIGAN and Steve Savile's THE GHOSTS OF THE CONQUERED and Kage Baker's MOTHER AEGYPT.
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Bruce Chrumka
Posted on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 11:33 am:   

I'm with Marc in a whole hearted recommendation of the Snowfall trilogy. Loved the three female leads: Sylvia-General could eat Conan for breakfast. Mr. Smith could quite easily extend it another book or three which would be just fine by me.

Recent reads: Kim Stanley Robinson's 'Forty Signs of Rain', Michael Swanwick's 'Jack Faust', Gene Wolfe's 'Innocents Aboard' and just starting Edward Whittemore's 'Sinai Tapestry'. Gonna be a fine summer for reading, particularly when I finally get my hands on Lucius Shepard's 'Trujillo'!
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 01:11 pm:   

That's interesting about THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, ET. It was one of the first science fictional things I ever read, and I had the opposite reaction. But maybe you'll like it better towards the end.

I'm currently reading DECLARE by Tim Powers.
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EDatlow
Posted on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 01:12 pm:   

Bruce, if you've never read Whittemore's Quin's Shanghai Circus you should see if you can find it too. (not that I want you to have too much to read :-).
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EDatlow
Posted on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 01:15 pm:   

Mahesh,
I zipped through The Martian Chronicles as a kid. I don't recall it being difficult or particularly dense but it firmly hooked me on sf.

I loved Declare!
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Bruce
Posted on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 01:36 pm:   

Thanks Ellen; haven't read 'Quin's Shanghai Circus' yet but gather it's quite a riot.

...and I loved 'Declare' as well. I'm a sucker for secret histories and am always looking for more. 'A Scattering of Jades' was also splendid. I'm sure Alex Irvine doesn't mind the continual comparisons to Tim Powers.

Congratulations on your British Fantasy nomination btw...'The Dark' was excellent and looking forward to 'The Faery Reel'!

Cheers, Bruce
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bryan scott cederberg
Posted on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 01:50 pm:   

just picked up 'extremities" by kathe koja

add that to gene wolfe's 'innocents aboard', elizabeth hand's 'mortal love', 'things that never happen' by m. john harrison, kelly link's 'stranger things happen', and the 'years best fantasy 4' and you'll have some idea of where my mind is at right now.
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EDatlow
Posted on Saturday, July 17, 2004 - 02:36 pm:   

Thanks Bruce. Is the damned thing posted any place? I can't find it. I'm looking forward to getting copies of THE FAERY REEL! I hope to be seeing copies in Phillie for the two events I'm hosting with some of the contributors next weekend.

Bryan, you've got a great batch of stuff to read there.
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ET
Posted on Sunday, July 18, 2004 - 10:20 pm:   

Mahesh, the reason I find the Martian Chronicles hard to read is that it's disturbing, not that its language is difficult (I love Bradbury's style) or because it's boring.
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Luke
Posted on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 06:42 am:   

I went on a Bradbury spree last year, picking up about a dozen of his books in Strand as they appeared on the shelf. I enjoy reading his books on the subway. The stories are about the length of a ride or two and they often have a woolgathering pastoral quality that takes me away from the sights and sounds of the metro.

I bought Skin by Kathe Koja when I was in Borderlands books out in San Francisco a while ago, and look forward to reading it, maybe sometime in the fall. (I may go back to Borderlands when I visit SF this weekend - what a great bookstore.)

This weekend I finished The Forever Machine. I think I could write a great college paper about it drawing comparisons with computers and specifically the Internet, and science in general, but it was not a fun read.

I started The Big Time, by Fritz Leiber this morning, which promises to be a lot more fun.
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 07:25 am:   

Ah, okay, ET. I see what you meant. I love his style, too.
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EDatlow
Posted on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 09:07 am:   

ET, although I haven't read The Martian Chronicles in many years I don't recall being as disturbed by them (although yes, I vaguely remember some creepy ones) as those in The Illustrated Man, particularly the one where it rains all the time--that was part of The Illustrated Man movie, with Rod Steiger, and it's always creeped me out--although, oddly, I've never been able to remember the ending. I guess I'll have to reread that one some day.
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chance
Posted on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 03:35 pm:   

I definitely found The Illustrated Man much creepier than The Martian Chronicles. And in the Bradbury realm I just started reading Dandelion Wine which I had somehow missed reading before.

I just finished reading The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque which was good, but slightly disappointing. I'm also reading Civilwarland in Bad Decline by George Saunders.
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Richard Parks
Posted on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 03:39 pm:   

ZELDA: A BIOGRAPHY by Nancy Milford.
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Matthew
Posted on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 07:22 pm:   

particularly the one where it rains all the time--that was part of The Illustrated Man movie, with Rod Steiger, and it's always creeped me out--although, oddly, I've never been able to remember the ending.---

If I remember right the characters make it shelter. This is the one about the astronaughts on Venus, right?
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EDatlow
Posted on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 09:52 pm:   

I think so. Not sure. All I remember is the sound of the rain. Reminds me of NYC on and off the past couple of weeks. :-)
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Lawrence A
Posted on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 01:49 am:   

I have just finished Rosemary Jackson's FANTASY - A Literature Of Subversion, published back in 1981.

It is an interesting academic thesis on the evolution of "serious" fantasy over the last 200 years or so, and how it functions as a consequence/reaction to repressed psychic strains in our bourgeois society. Distinguishes intelligently between the different roles and motives of Gothic, Faery, and the modern Fantastic. Covers Mary Shelley, Kafka, Dosteoevsky, Peake etc and many lesser known but worthy works. Also makes mention of previous academic tracts on Fantasy literature such as Todorov. I did not care too much for her Freudian interpretations of much of Fantasy narrative, but still an interesting book.
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Richard Parks
Posted on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 06:19 am:   

I think the Bradbury story about rain was "All Summer in a Day." It was set in a classroom on a planet of constant rain where the sun only came out once in a very long time. A girl from Earth remembered the sun (though she hadn't seen it in years and was really looking forward to seeing it again) and tried to describe what it was like to the others but they didn't believe her and locked her in a closet just as the sun was about to come out.
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Bruce Chrumka
Posted on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 06:34 am:   

There were two Bradbury 'rains on Venus' stories as I recall. 'The Day it Rained Forever' presented the school girl; the other one, 'The Long Rain' featured the astronauts trying to make it to a Sun Dome.
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jeff ford
Posted on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 06:35 am:   

Richard: I'm going to go check, but I remember one from The Illustrated Man where these guys are on Venus and they are trying to get somewhere and because of the rain things are constantly growing on them. They can't stop and rest, because if they do, before long, they'll become part of the landscape. Scenes of it still remain vivid in my memory from that one as with many other Bradbury stories I read long ago. I'll go see if I can find it and get back.
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Richard Parks
Posted on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 09:26 am:   

Bradbury definitely used rain as a central element more than once. "All Summer in a Day" is online in several places if anyone wants to check it out. A quick Google search will show the urls.


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Bruce
Posted on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 09:28 am:   

G'day,

The Long Rain was in 'R is for Rocket' for sure. I read it when I was twelve or so...the comment that the Venusians take up to a week to drown astronauts kept me up at night. Scary stuff.
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EDatlow
Posted on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 01:36 pm:   

It's definitely not "All Summer in a Day" that I was thinking of. The one about the astronauts sounds much more likely--remember, which ever it was--it was in the Illustrated Man movie.
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 01:50 pm:   

"All Summer In A Day" is a heck of a story, though. I read it (and saw a movie of it) years ago in school, and it's stuck with me ever since.
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Bruce
Posted on Saturday, July 24, 2004 - 10:20 am:   

I stand corrected: a tug of the forelock to Ellen, Melissa and Richard. The schoolgirl on Venus was definitely 'All Summer in a Day". It's in the collection 'A Medicine for Melancholy' where 'The Day it Rained Forever' takes the coveted last spot. 'The Day it Rained Forever' also take first spot in the collection of the same name...it is concerned with rain - obviously - but isn't set on Venus.
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ET
Posted on Saturday, August 07, 2004 - 06:24 am:   

Finished the Martial Chronicles. A lot of it isn't that disturbing, really, but it requires emotional investment. And because these are short stories, and a lot are pretty strong, I had to stop after them, think them over or just rest until I could start another one. So it took me some time, but I did like the book a lot.

I started Neuromancer now. Haven't read it before, and decided it's a classic enough to be worth reading. I'm only a few pages into it, but don't like it so far. Didn't like it from the first sentence, which was a pretty bad opening, IMO: "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."
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Ellen
Posted on Saturday, August 07, 2004 - 08:02 am:   

ET,
I love the opening line of Neuromancer. To me it's gorgeously evocative and immediately gets the reader's attention. You're the first person I've ever heard of who didn't like it ;-)
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ET
Posted on Saturday, August 07, 2004 - 10:35 am:   

I don't like gimmicky first lines, when they're just there for the gimmick, as this one seems to me. For one thing, I didn't find it descriptive, since it didn't tell me what colour the sky really was. It wasn't until a few pages later that I discovered what colour the sky was, and I can tell you that I never would have guessed. I hate reading several pages while thinking at the back of my mind "would you please tell me what the colour of the fucking sky really is?" (Especially after the second time he mentioned it.)

Secondly, while I haven't read enough of the story yet, it doesn't seem to fit it. It feels like an anachronism in the context of someone who largely lived in a virtual reality and is trying to get back there. I haven't read enough to see if the image of that television is really something that fits the world otherwise, but for now it just draws me in a different direction than the rest of the text, which feels disruptive.

I like a beginning to give me a sense of setting and character, to get me into the story. This sentence doesn't seem to me to do that (although as I said, I've yet to get enough into the story to fully judge how much of a fit it is). It seems like a sentence designed to draw attention to itself only.

I don't know, maybe in '84 it had some more meaning than it has today.
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JV
Posted on Saturday, August 07, 2004 - 10:58 am:   

I think it works great on a metaphorical level for what comes next. I thought it was great.

Re what I've been reading--Bone by J. Smith. Lovely, lovely dark fantasy comic book, now collected in one volume. Really enjoyed it. Funny, too.

JeffV
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Saturday, August 07, 2004 - 01:40 pm:   

ET, I can sort of relate. Neuromancer sat on my shelf literally for years. Anytime I picked it up, I just couldn't get into it. Not really sure why, but it just never connected.

When I picked it up again this spring, though, it really blew me away. Now I'm such a huge Gibson fan to the point that I annoy my friends and loved ones.

So, I dunno, maybe you'll change your mind as you get into it. By page 37, he had really messed with my expectations. In a good way.
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Ellen
Posted on Saturday, August 07, 2004 - 06:32 pm:   

The image is utterly descriptive --maybe there aren't any dead channels on tv any more--since I don't watch it I couldn't say ;-) But it certainly was descriptive when I was growing up.
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EDatlow
Posted on Saturday, August 07, 2004 - 06:33 pm:   

And as I recommended to Mahesh, if you really want to ease into Gibson, try his stories first.
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Mastadge
Posted on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 08:37 am:   

Jeff,

That Bone book must be well over 1000 pages long . . . is it readable at that length/size? Sometimes in thicker books, especially comics, important bits get lost on the inside margins. Is that the case here?
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ET
Posted on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 12:23 pm:   

Ellen, my TV (8 year old or so) shows a blue screen for dead channels. That actually matches the colour of sky, and so could have been a nice description, except that's not what he meant.

I'm still reading it, and it's getting more interesting, so while I still don't find the writing that great, it's not bad enough to turn me off, assuming that continues to get interesting.
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EDatlow
Posted on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 05:46 pm:   

ET I remember it being grey or deep deep green-black.
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Sunday, August 08, 2004 - 06:11 pm:   

I always thought it meant gray-white with black static.
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ET
Posted on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 02:11 pm:   

On page 7 it's described as silver (that's the first time the colour is mentioned), but elsewhere I think it's said to be grey.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Sunday, October 03, 2004 - 11:39 am:   

Just finished Conrad Williams's bleak urban horror novel about London, London Revenant. A good read.

Up next Perfect Circle, which I'll take to Maine with me, along with the many nf magazines I need to catch up on: The New Yorker, New York Vanity Fair, and Publishers Weekly.

Also in the middle of the Strange Bedfellows, the newest book in the erotic horror Hot Blood series.
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Bob Urell
Posted on Sunday, October 03, 2004 - 10:18 pm:   

C.S. Lewis's THE ABOLITION OF MAN and Demetrius's ON STYLE. And I'm pecking through Mike Moorcock's Elric omnibus, but unfortunately don't have much time to really get into it.
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Dave
Posted on Monday, October 04, 2004 - 06:13 am:   

C.S. Lewis is great. I just finished THE WEIGHT OF GLORY. Also reading Nancy Kress' BEGINNINGS, MIDDLES AND ENDS, THREE WEEKS WITH MY BROTHER by Micah Sparks, Nicholas Sparks, and I'm re-reading Steinbeck's EAST OF EDEN.
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ET
Posted on Monday, October 04, 2004 - 12:54 pm:   

I can't seem to finish Neuromancer. It just doesn't draw me in. I'm still struggling through it. Not it's on halt while I'm reading The Wizard and the War Machine by Lawrence Watt-Evans, which I picked up yesterday at ICON (the annual SF/F con here; Guy Gavriel Kay is guest of honour).
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Melissa Mead
Posted on Monday, October 04, 2004 - 02:18 pm:   

I thought Beginnings, Middles and Ends was one of the more helpful writing books out there.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, October 04, 2004 - 05:00 pm:   

ET, you might want to try Gibson's collection, Burning Chrome. His short stories are primo. If you can't get into Neuromance, you might also want to try Pattern Recognitions, although it's almost mainstream.
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ET
Posted on Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - 01:27 am:   

Ellen, after reading some Amazon reviews of Burning Chrome, I decided that I might not like it for some of the same reasons I don't like Neuromancer. There are enough other writers out there for me to read. I can make do without Gibson.
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Tribeless
Posted on Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - 02:09 am:   

ET, do you like Bruce Sterling or Neal Stephenson?
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JeremyT
Posted on Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - 09:12 am:   

Ellen,

Take an extra book. Perfect Circle is a really fast read, I found. I stayed up until I finished it, a rare action for me these days, and then last night, I loaned it to a friend of mine at around 7 pm and he was done with it by 12.

Loved that book. Do you know what the story is behind Small Beer publishing it? Hannah Bowen and I were wondering last night why it wasn't published by Ace like many of his other books.
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - 09:46 am:   

ET, if you're having trouble with Gibson's style in Neuromancer, you might find the short stories less drenched in it; there's a fair amount of variety among the stories in Burning Chrome, and even when they're cyberpunk, they're still very well constructed. Of course, my favorite Gibson short story has nothing to do with cyberpunk. It's "The Gernsback Continuum." But then, I've always been a sucker for dirigibles and flying wings, even when they're hallucinatory.

Right now I'm reading Sean Wilentz's Chants Democratic, a history of the rise of New York's working class. It's on my exam reading list. Pretty interesting book, but hardly genre.
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - 10:21 am:   

It's dizzying to see how the opening line of Neuromancer, once so instantly clear and clever that it viscerally hooked a humongous gaggle (TM) of s.f. readers, has now become so vague and baffling that it can even be interpreted to mean its opposite: utterly cloudless clear blue sky. It all depends on what the dead channels looked like when you were growing up. I guess if you disconnect your cable, you can see what dead channels used to look like. And then it helps if you're thinking of a black and white TV. I'm pretty sure Gibson would be amused by this, since he has commented that part of the pleasure of reading old s.f. is seeing the interesting ways it has weathered and warped over time. I was looking at a copy of Dad's Nuke the other day which someone sent me for a signature, and I had to laugh at the far-off futuristic date in which I set it: 1999. And I was writing it in 1984, which already didn't look too much like 1984.
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - 10:22 am:   

I'm reading CLOUD ATLAS. Just hit the halfway mark, where the story folds back on itself like an origami tesseract. Was very excited to discover M. John Harrison's LIGHT in the bookstore the other night, so that's next.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - 12:48 pm:   

Jeremy,
Thanks for the tip but I'm also taking a short novel mss I promised to blurb if I like and four months worth of New Yorkers, which I never have time to read at home. (not to mention Vanity Fair )

Don't know the story behind Small Beer's taking it on.

MarcL: Do you like Cloud Atlas? I haven't read it yet. I was disappointed by Number 9 Dream.
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - 01:58 pm:   

Marc: "the story folds back on itself like an origami tesseract"

Ow! I think my left eye just tried to look at the back of my head.
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JV
Posted on Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - 02:06 pm:   

I'm reading Jon Courtenay Grimwood's Stamping Butterflies at the moment. About 70 pages in and enjoying it immensely.


JeffV
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - 02:15 pm:   

I love the New Yorker. It's one of the few places I can find thorough analysis of a subject.

I'm in the middle of THE SCAR at the moment. I've heard good things about CLOUD ATLAS.
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MarcL
Posted on Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - 02:43 pm:   

Ellen: I've liked some parts of CLOUD ATLAS much more than others, and I am very much looking forward to getting back to them. This means getting through some sections written in a style that doesn't appeal to me quite as much.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, October 05, 2004 - 06:44 pm:   

You can always skim those sections :-)
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Lawrence A
Posted on Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - 01:38 am:   

Just finished Steven Sherrill's THE MINOTAUR TAKES A CIGARETTE BREAK. I liked it. Not outstanding or anything but quietly impressive. Anybody read Sherrill's VISITS FROM A DROWNED GIRL? I plan on reading that one in the near future.
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montmorency
Posted on Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - 03:06 am:   

I loved The Minotaur and impatiently read Visits in ARC, but that was a rather nasty mumbling that didn't go anywhere. Quite disappointed.

MarkL, I liked 2nd, 4th, and 5th parts of Cloud Atlas, and it is still the best book I read this year.
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Martin
Posted on Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - 05:35 am:   

That's a shame about Visits From A Drowned Girl. Minotaur really surprised me in how much I liked it, "quietly impressive" is right.
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, October 06, 2004 - 09:16 am:   

Montmorency: Purely in terms of style, I like the 1st and 2nd parts best; I warmed to the 4th and I'm just getting into the 5th. The 3d seems the least convincing, which is amusing because it is the closest to the present time. However, it's all good. I am a sucker for antiquated language, which is why I especially liked the 1st.
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ET
Posted on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 06:54 am:   

Tribeless, I liked Snow Crash quite a bit.

I think that my problem with Neuromancer is a combination of the writing style (self aware and so hard for immersion) and a weak protagonist. Plot is reasonable, but I can't really get engaged in it, because if all the characters died at any point, I couldn't care less except say "thank God it's over". Kind of like when Star Wars Episode 1 ended, and I couldn't care less about Qui-Gon (that was his name, right?) dying, and I was really sorry that the annoying kid didn't die. (Sadly they needed the character for the rest of the series.) At least they killed his mother in the second movie.

One of the reasons the Amazon reviews made me think of not getting his book of short stories is that they also complained about the characters and style.
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 09:25 am:   

Neuromancer was a big blast of eyeball kicks, eye candy, in a field that had felt fairly flat and prosaic in the middleparts around that time. There were lots of deeply felt, well realized characters, moving plots, etc., etc. on the shelves...but not so much of a sense of BUZZ. This was at a time when the surrounding scene, punk and pop, was nothing BUT buzz. It was a book that sort of burst the dam between what was everywhere else, and what was going on in s.f. Eyepopping poetry. If I reread Bester's most pyrotechnic books, it is also fairly hard to find a character I give a damn about. I just don't think most people enjoyed these books for the sympathetic characters. It's all about how you shake it. And Gibson was definitely shaking it. Also, science fiction on the bookstands was getting swamped to the extinction point by Star Trek and Star Wars novelizations. When Neuro came out (and to some extent, all the Ace Specials, which infused writers and readers alike with a renewed sense of what the s.f. market could be), there was a fresh feeling that we could reach a greater audience...that s.f. was breaking out of its shell a little bit. That specific book is wrapped up in, and an unintended spearhead for, a lot of changes in how s.f. was perceived...the underdrift...shifting tides...so it's interesting to see how it is perceived, now that the tides have retreated and it's just lying there on a dry sandbar, to be evaluated entirely on its own merits. I haven't read it since it was first written, so I don't really know how it dates.

That said, "Burning Chrome" and "The Gernsback Continuum" remain my favorite stories, and I miss those distilled doses of Gibson.
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 11:34 am:   

re: Gibson

I've mentioned in this thread how I hadn't read a word of Gibson's fiction until this past spring. I grew up during the period Marc described above, when "cyberpunk" was really popular and influential, but I wasn't really into the aesthetic. In fact, I loathed it. Of course, I was really reacting to the cyberpunkish residue that had permeated the culture ... when I actually began to read the stories that built the movement, I finally got it. I understood the appeal.

I expected Neuromancer to be dated in its political landscape and technology, and I was surprised by how well it held up. I also cared about Molly, and even Case, self-destructive dork that he is. Maybe I'm just weird, but I find a lot of Gibson characters to be sympathetic. Otherwise, I wouldn't bother, y'know?

My favorite Gibson story is "The Winter Market," followed very very closely by "Hinterlands," though I pretty much love them all.

(Of course, I also love all five Star Wars films, so this is just a matter of taste.)
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Ellen
Posted on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 12:56 pm:   

I find all of Gibson's characters engaging, if not sympathetic--otherwise I wouldn't have published his stories. My favorite is "Burning Chrome." I always felt "Hinterlands" showed another direction Bill could have gone in with his fiction.
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 02:14 pm:   

Yeah, aside from the total change in the usual milieu, what struck me about "Hinterlands" was the tremendous depth he builds between Toby and Charmian, in just a few pages.

What I like about a lot of the relationships in his stories and novels is the intense bond built between some characters, for good or ill. (Toby-Charmian; Angela-Bobby; Lise-Casey; Sally-Kumiko).

I usually sympathize with at least one character from the Gibson novels I've read ... but in the stories, it's hard to be sympathetic towards someone like Deke from "Dogfight."

I've turned into a real Gibson nerd.
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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, October 07, 2004 - 09:09 pm:   

I'm reading Arabian Nightmare by Robert Irwin. Ellen, have you seen this one yet? I would think this could be classified as a horror novel. So far it's really intriguing and kind of trippy.
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Ellen
Posted on Friday, October 08, 2004 - 07:19 am:   

Mahesh:

Regarding "Dogfight" I gather that it was Michael Swanwick who added the nastier aspects.

Jeff: Yesyesyes. I read it many years ago and loved it. I don't recall if it came out when I was already editing YBFH but if so, I certainly would have done a min-review of it.
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montmorency
Posted on Friday, October 08, 2004 - 11:04 am:   

MarcL (I typed it right this time): I guessed that you were referring to the generic John Grisham thriller in the 3rd part when you said some sections didn't appeal to you. Also I felt the 6th part a bit cheap stylistically compared to Ridley Walker. Still, I was impressed by the colossal ride sprinkled with Easter Egg huntings.

By the way, I read Dud's Nuke in Japanese translation about fifteen years ago. Can't fish it out at the moment but I should reread it.
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montmorency
Posted on Friday, October 08, 2004 - 11:09 am:   

Oh, I did it again. Dad's Nuke, it is.
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Friday, October 08, 2004 - 11:28 am:   

Ellen, I hadn't considered that, but that does make sense. I haven't read much of Swanwick (only STATIONS OF THE TIDE).

DAD'S NUKE and NEON LOTUS are on my to-read list.
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montmorency
Posted on Friday, October 08, 2004 - 11:28 am:   

Jeff and Ellen: have you read Andrew Crumey's Pfitz? Its structure is a bit like Arabian Nightmare, in the tradition of Invisible Cities and Einstein's Dreams. Not that labyrinthine but well written.
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MarcL
Posted on Friday, October 08, 2004 - 11:57 am:   

montmorency, yes, I reacted to them exactly as you say: generic Grisham (or Silkwood derivatives) and Ridley Wannabee. Still, they are good pastiches of those things, and in the service of the overall book, pulling necessary weight.

Must have been very odd to read Dad's Nuke in Japanese! My friend Yoshio Kobayashi said he had to write a preface or afterward for the Japanese audience, explaining the American cultural references to things like televangelism and fundamentalist Christianity in general. Did you read the Hayakawa edition with the cute cartoony cover? That picture cracked me up.

I should do a 20th Anniversary edition of Dad's Nuke. Personally, I mean. If I can get my scanner working with some OCR software, maybe I'll dump it on the net somewhere. I looked at the contract recently, and there's absolutely no prophetic restrictions regarding internet distribution...on the other hand, the lunar rights were all locked up. So I won't be emailing it to the moon.
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Mastadge
Posted on Friday, October 08, 2004 - 05:22 pm:   

Just for te record, my jee, aic, quote and backspace keys arent workin rit, so forgive spelling problems.

Im currently readin:

Merrill Beals I WILL FIT NO MORE FOREVER
Murakamis WIND-UP BIRD CRONICLE
VanderMeers WY SOULD I CUT YOUR TROAT?
Woolfs MRS. DALLOWAY
Clarkes JONATAN STRANE AND MR NORRELL
Separds A ANDBOOK OF AMERICAN PRAYER
Stifters WITIKO

aAnd I tink tats about it for now.
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Ellen
Posted on Saturday, October 09, 2004 - 07:50 am:   

Haven't read Pfitz.

Planning on reading Sean Stewart's new ghost novel next. (while in Maine) and will read Liz Hand's first pages of her new novel while here.
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Saturday, October 09, 2004 - 12:55 pm:   

Just finishing up Elizabeth Bronfen's Over Her Dead Body: Death, Femininity, and the Aesthetic. Aside from requiring at times some background in lit theory, Bronfen's book puts a new twist on some old questions.

She does a wonderful job, for example, of examining Poe's (in)famous claim (in "The Philosophy of Composition") that "the death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world." Rather than dismiss Poe as misogynist or a self-promoting crank, as others have done, she takes him at his word and asks "Why is this true?"

More generally, Bronfen examines the place and function of the dead body (and death itself) in art and literature. She brings in issues of representation as a distancing technique, and she reminds us of the consequences of aestheticizing death.

Anyone interested in representations of women, death, and dying, and who has the patience to get through some pretty dense theoretical arguments, might find this book useful, not just as theory, but as a challenge to working writers to try something different.
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MarcL
Posted on Saturday, October 09, 2004 - 10:47 pm:   

Mastadge, that list sounds like the result of a F&SF competition, especially: "I Will Fit No More Forever."
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, October 11, 2004 - 10:19 pm:   

This list seems to have taken over from WER#2...

I had jury duty today, so I brought along Cloud Atlas and got well into the latter part. I had stalled out a bit in the middle section, thanks to not having much time to read; but having pushed through that, with hours of nothing better to do, I went from liking the book to loving it.

Even the stuff that felt a bit contrived when I first encountered it, turned out to be quite moving.

...meanwhile, I was blown away by John C. Wright's Night Land inspired "Awake in the Night," so I ordered some of his other books from the library. I'm afraid I'll have half a dozen books suddenly show up all at once, and one of them is going to be Gene Wolfe's THE WIZARD, and I'm going to be in big, big trouble.

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montmorency
Posted on Tuesday, October 12, 2004 - 05:02 am:   

Marc: I cannot recall it correctly, but it was a Hayakawa paperback. Yes, that cartoony cover is on the web:

http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~yu4h-wtnb/database/hayakawa08/0772.htm

"Awake in the Night" is still available online:

http://home.clara.net/andywrobertson/nightawake.html

Though haven't read the novella yet, John C. Wright's The Golden Oecumene trilogy was one of the most impressive space operas in the last few years. His latest, The Last Guardian of Everness, is now sitting on my shelf, but I may wait till the latter half comes out. I don't mind the recent Tor's strategy to split the volumes, but at least they should publish the volumes simultaneously.
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jeff ford
Posted on Thursday, October 14, 2004 - 10:15 am:   

That Arabian Nightmare by Robert Irwin was one great read. The book is wild and beautifully written. I just sent to Amazon for three more of his novels. So far, for me, this guy is the find of the year.
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Steph
Posted on Wednesday, October 20, 2004 - 03:12 pm:   

Find of the year -- for me it's William Golding, Rites of Passage trilogy. It is something I should have read *before* writing 'No Present Like Time'. I really recommend it, not just if you're keen about ships (I am, too keen!) but for the characterisation, which is awesome.
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MarcL
Posted on Wednesday, October 20, 2004 - 08:09 pm:   

Nicholson Baker's CHECKPOINT just drifted into the library this afternoon. It looks exceedingly slim, in counterpoise to the NORRELL & STRANGE that is due to come in next.
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, October 21, 2004 - 09:29 am:   

Me: Hey, CHECKPOINT is marketed as a novel.
Other Me: Cool. I'm gonna market this post as a short story.
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, October 21, 2004 - 11:46 pm:   

And my verdict on CHECKPOINT: Meh.
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MarcL
Posted on Friday, October 22, 2004 - 09:39 am:   

I read about a quarter of Wright's LAST GUARDIAN OF EVERNESS, but found the style somewhat awkward, or maybe I just wasn't in the mood. Maybe I'll give it another shot when both volumes are out. The prose worked in that Night Land story. I've still got THE GOLDEN AGE on the way.
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gary gibson
Posted on Saturday, October 23, 2004 - 06:09 am:   

I feel I should mention 'Black Like Me' by John Griffin - a white sociologist who used medication, make-up and UV treatments to turn himself into a black man in '50's America, then goes to see how the other half live, first in New Orleans, then Mississippi. My girlfriend read it for her anthro/sociology course: I picked it up and couldn't put it down. I read a review on Amazon UK that suggested it should be required reading for schoolkids everywhere, and I'm very inclined to agree. Read this, and try and stop your jaw dropping open.
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MarcL
Posted on Saturday, October 23, 2004 - 11:01 pm:   

That was assigned reading when I was 12, and I never forgot it. I also read Papillon and Catch-22 and discovered HPL that year. What with harrowing journeys through the South, prisoners hiding stuff in their rectums, decapitation by propellor, and flying through subterranean realms on Byakhee, it was quite a year.
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Sunday, October 24, 2004 - 03:08 am:   

lol, Marc. My school's assigned reading was unfortunately never ambitious or demanding. That's probably why I'm kicking it old school at the moment and reading Jane Eyre.
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Matthew
Posted on Sunday, October 24, 2004 - 11:51 am:   

I never ever thought see the day when "kicking it old school" and "Jane Eyre" are in the same sentence.
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Sunday, October 24, 2004 - 02:56 pm:   

:-) Yes, that's just the kind of guy I am. I am a fan of the fly Bronte Sisters.


Those sounds you hear are skeletons spinning in Haworth.
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StephenB
Posted on Monday, October 25, 2004 - 06:43 am:   

Hey I'm reading Jane Eyre too. It's actually pretty good, although I find find the start a little bit slow.
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John Klima
Posted on Monday, October 25, 2004 - 09:35 am:   

Reading lots of articles on Human Information Behavior...but also trying to sneak in various part of MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN, CIRCUS OF THE GRAND DESIGN, and A HANDBOOK OF AMERICAN PRAYER.

Haven't read any of the Brontes, but I will some day. :-)

JK
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StephenB
Posted on Monday, October 25, 2004 - 09:48 am:   

I really enjoyed Motherless Brooklyn, what a character Lionel was.
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Monday, October 25, 2004 - 10:13 am:   

Hey, that's cool, Stephen! I had the opposite reaction about the beginning, but maybe I'm just in a Victorian frame of mind.

Motherless Brooklyn is another one on my list. I enjoyed Lethem's Fortress of Solitude quite a bit.

Hey, hope you enjoy the Brontes when you get to 'em, John. Wuthering Heights (one of those rare books that was assigned reading) is one of my favorites.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, October 25, 2004 - 11:19 am:   

I loved Motherless Brooklyn too.
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StephenB
Posted on Monday, October 25, 2004 - 11:32 am:   

I think Motherless Brooklyn is my favorite Lethem novel, although Girl in Landscape and Amnesia Moon come close. I also loved his novella, This Shap We're In; I'd say it's his funniest book. I haven't read Fortress of Solitude yet. I probably will eventually.
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Minz
Posted on Monday, October 25, 2004 - 12:41 pm:   

My favorite Lethem is undoubtedly GUN, WITH OCASSIONAL MUSIC. While MOTHERLESS has some wonderful prose and some entertaining characters, there's no real depth to the book. At all. Don't get me wrong, one of the better works of pure prose writing that year, but so what? At least with GUN, he was playing with genres, adding some depth to the story. MOTHERLESS is all icing but no cake. Please do understand that I did enjoy MOTHERLESS. I just didn't think it was all that. I keep waiting for Jonathan to write something important. (I haven't checked out FORTRESS yet.)
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gary gibson
Posted on Monday, October 25, 2004 - 12:45 pm:   

Jeff Ford mentioned Robert Irwin a while back, which reminded me of reading Irwin's 'Satan Wants Me' some years back. I recall finding it alternately hilarious and baffling all at the same time. It's about a kid in the Sixties who winds up in an occult sect and instead of having lots of sex like he hopes, keeps getting pulled up about his grammar. Er, or something like that.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, October 25, 2004 - 07:10 pm:   

I don't agree with that at all, Jim. It's about someone who comes into his own by solving the murder of his mentor. I think there's a lot of depth to it.
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GabrielM
Posted on Monday, October 25, 2004 - 07:42 pm:   

SATAN WANTS ME is a fun one, sort of a swinging sixties occult picaresque. Nothing Irwin's done quite matches ARABIAN NIGHTMARE, but all his novels are very much worth reading. I have a soft spot for EXQUISITE CORPSE, in which the hero frolics with Breton and Dali and assorted other surrealist luminaries.

Irwin is also a well-known expert on classic Arabian literature and edited a poetry anthology last year or so. He also came out with a guide book to the Alhambra in Granada recently, published by Yale, which is very nice.
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jeff ford
Posted on Monday, October 25, 2004 - 08:01 pm:   

GabeM: I'm just starting Exquisite Corpse, so glad to hear you liked it. I haven't seen you around in a while. Is all well?

Gary: I just purchased a couple more of Irwin's books off Amazon, and from outside reading wanted to get Satan Wants me, but ran out of possible dough to spend before I could find it. Thanks for the synopsis.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, October 25, 2004 - 09:21 pm:   

I think I read another one of Irwin's novels but can't remember which one. But as Gabe says The Arabian Nightmare is the best.

Jeff, have you read any of Jack O'Connell's novels? Word Made Flesh, his most recent, is brilliant and brutal and might be your cup of tea.
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jeff ford
Posted on Monday, October 25, 2004 - 10:07 pm:   

Ellen: Never read any, but I'll check into it. Thanks for the tip.

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Mastadge
Posted on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 - 06:19 am:   

I thought MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN was fun bot not great; the only other Lethem I've read, GIRL IN LANDSCAPE, was about the same. I'm going to give GUN WITH OCCASIONAL MUSIC a try sometime.

WORD MADE FLESH (and BOX NINE) is on my shelf, but I haven't read them yet.
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StephenB
Posted on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 - 08:27 am:   

I'm with Ellen on this one, I felt that MB went deep into the character. It's not deep in the metaphysical sense, but I think the innerspace of humanity is about as deep as it gets when it comes to literature. That is what the word deep implies anyway. Obviously the specualtive and philosophical ideas aren't as complex as some of his other novels. I haven't read Gun with Music, so I can't really coment on it, but I'm sure I'd like it. Isn't it a SF mystery?
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 - 08:56 am:   

Mastadge,
I'd read Box Nine first, just so you can build up to Word Made Flesh. ;-)

StephenB,
Yes, Gun With Occasional Music is an sf/mystery.
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Minz
Posted on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 - 09:27 am:   

Other than a wonderful and seemingly dead-on accurate portrayal of Tourette's, I didn't think he had all that much depth. He seemed to just be following the string to its end, without too much internal reflection/exploration. I don't think he really changed or transformed that much over the course of the novel--he started ankle-deep in the pool, and managed to wade in up to his knees by the end, without really indicating there's more inky depths to be explored. (IMNSHO)

Again, I really did enjoy reading it, and there was some wonderfully clever prose in the novel, but I've seen better exploration of character in any number of short stories. (And I don't read much short fiction. At least not anymore.)

MB is an entertaining, fast read that's very well written. Not bad qualities in a novel. But an important work, worthy of the National Book Critics Circle Award among many other accolades? I certainly don't think so. (Sorry to beat a dead horse. This was the core of a two-hour panel I had with Jenna Felice & Katya Reimann at a Readercon a few years ago, which obviously crystalized my feelings on the matter.)
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Forrest
Posted on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 - 11:14 am:   

Just finished Angela Carter's THE MAGIC TOYSHOP, a beautiful work with a transgressive ending that leaves you asking a lot of questions about morality, family, love, and loyalty. This novel packs a surprise left hook with a wallop!
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 - 11:38 am:   

Jim,
I disagree utterly :-)
Sorry I wasn't on that panel.
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Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 - 11:39 am:   

Minz, you might like FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE better than MB. Folks who have read most of his books have mentioned that FOS is a real departure for him. It's certainly a character-rich novel.
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John Klima
Posted on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 - 11:51 am:   

And I'm reading MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN so I can support or refute Minz's opinion! :-)

JK
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GabrielM
Posted on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 - 01:18 pm:   

>>I haven't seen you around in a while. Is all well?

Hi Jeff. Yeah, things are fine, just crazy busy and traveling a lot. I think I spent all of five weekdays in NY in September. And I'm off to London tonight for a few days. Also, my email account got fried in the spring and I lost tons of addresses. If you care to, send an email to my new one, radpulp99 at yahoo.com. (And have a drink with Mark Roberts at WFC for me.)
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jeff ford
Posted on Tuesday, October 26, 2004 - 07:48 pm:   

GabeM: Glad to hear you're well if busy. Will do on the drink with Mark, and I'll drop you a line later tonight.
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Wednesday, October 27, 2004 - 04:27 pm:   

Forrest: "Just finished Angela Carter's THE MAGIC TOYSHOP..."

I liked that one, as well. Have you tried Wise Children?

Oh, and if you liked Carter's collection, The Bloody Chamber, you might give Robert Coover's Pricksongs and Descants a try as well. Both collections rewrite fairy tales and suchlike, and both writers do so masterfully.
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Saturday, November 06, 2004 - 03:46 am:   

Just now splitting my time between Jeff Vandermeer's Veniss Underground; an anthology of dime westerns; and as much magazine fiction and essay-writing as I can get my hands on.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Saturday, November 06, 2004 - 09:39 am:   

Caught up on a bunch of New Yorker and New York magazines while traveling to and from Arizona. No novels, although I picked up Cloud Atlas a few days before leaving. Will get back to it when I can.
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Matthew Leeth
Posted on Thursday, December 02, 2004 - 07:03 am:   

Hello, I am looking for the online publication for "The Short Timers". I have searched high and low with no luck, and would really like to read this novel. Please, if anyone can give me the link or how to get ahold of it, please email me at mleeth@gmail.com

Thanks all!
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Matthew Leeth
Posted on Thursday, December 02, 2004 - 07:07 am:   

Hello, I am looking for the online publication for "The Short Timers". I have searched high and low with no luck, and would really like to read this novel. Please, if anyone can give me the link or how to get ahold of it, please email me at mleeth@gmail.com

Thanks all!
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Thursday, December 02, 2004 - 08:09 am:   

Do you mean Gus Hasford's novel? Why don't you look on ABE for a used copy? $17.95 is the lowest price I see for it.

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StephenB
Posted on Thursday, December 02, 2004 - 02:20 pm:   

That's the "Full Metal Jacket" book isn't it? I liked that movie.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Thursday, December 02, 2004 - 04:38 pm:   

Yup. That's it.I'm surprised the book wasn't reissued when the movie came out (or maybe it was).
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T Taylor
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 11:20 am:   

I just finished reading Octavia Butler's Wild Seeds ... an amazing book that won several awards. It's old (published around 1980) and I was wondering if anyone else has read it and if so, what they thought.
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 11:30 am:   

Short Timers was online for awhile...I remember linking to it, a couple years ago. It's unfortunate that it's not in print. It's an awesome novel. I think it was reissued in paperback when FULL METAL JACKET came out (I believe the copy I read referenced the film).
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MarcL
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 11:35 am:   

Matthew, it is online still at www.gustavhasford.com, which is a site purportedly maintained by Gus's cousin. It has been there for a few years. I don't know the legitimacy of its online appearance. Currently, Amazon shows paperback copies available for $50, which pretty much means that the average person who'd like to read this amazing novel is out of luck unless they can find a copy at the library.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005 - 04:26 pm:   

I'm still trudging through the last bits of 2004 material for my summary of the year. Skimmed A Carnivore's Inquiry by Sabina Murray and hated it. Affectless young woman picks up men (or rather is picked up by men) and takes advantage and around halfway through the reader realizes she's a bit more obsessed with cannibalism than she should be. A snore, unfortunately.

Skimming The Ghost Writer by John Harwood --don't really care for it either but hoping it'll perk up soon (a third of the way through). I did enjoy the Victorian mystery Some Danger Involved.
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Bob Urell
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 04:07 am:   

I'm buried in Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell right now. I'm a little ambiguous about, which may only be a function of all the short story collections I've been reading lately. A big sprawling epic seems like a lot of work, but it's kept my interest so far.
I just finished Norman Partridge's The Man With the Barbed Wire Fists, excellent stuff. It's got a weird kind of biker/cowboy/bartender aesthetic that works. I'm also taking my time with Jack Cady's The American Writer. It's just too dense to metabolize in one sitting.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 08:05 am:   

Bob, I like a lot of Partridge's short fiction. Is "The Cut Man" in that collection?
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Forrest
Posted on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - 03:23 pm:   

Just finished Rikki Ducornet's THE FOUNTAINS OF NEPTUNE and it has become my favorite Ducornet novel thus far (though it is not her newest). A beautiful book!

Now I'm in Gene Wolfe's CITADEL OF THE AUTARCH (thanks again, Minz), book 4 of the New Sun series. Can't wait to see what ultimately happens to Severian the Torturer, one of the most compelling narrators I've encountered in a long, long time.
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Bob Urell
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 01:06 pm:   

Hi Ellen,
I don't think that's in there. The book's out in my car, but that title doesn't ring a bell. My favorite of the collection was COYOTES. This is my first exposure to Partridge's stuff, and I think I liked more than I didn't, if that makes sense.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 - 03:17 pm:   

"The Cut Man" is a boxing story. It might have been published in CD first, I don't recall. I reprinted it in one of YBFH... If you google you'd probably figure out which one (or go to Norm Partridge's website). Anyway, I loved it.

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