Steve reads stuff he shouldn't in 2023

Keskustelu75 Books Challenge for 2023

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Steve reads stuff he shouldn't in 2023

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 1, 8:28 pm

I'm Steve, 54, a technical services librarian at a medium-sized public university. I live in Missouri with my wife, son, mother and my running partner Buddy. This is my 14th year with the 75ers.

My reading follows my whims, but is heaviest with science fiction and fantasy. I also read mysteries, thrillers, and horror. I don't read enough non-fiction, but when I do it covers a range of subjects including history, language, popular science, unpopular mathematics, running, library science, and shiny stuff. I've also been reading a lot of books that have been challenged or banned, and I expect that to continue, hence my thread's title, "Steve reads stuff he shouldn't."

I'm usually reading at least three books:
(1) something on the Kindle app, which I read whenever I'm standing in line or when the lights are off;
(2) a paperback, usually from my own shelves, which I read while walking Buddy; and
(3) something borrowed from the library, of which there is usually a larger stack than I can reasonably expect to finish and which I call "The Tower of Due." Here's what it looks like now:

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 3, 3:52 pm

(A) The DAWs

For several years now, I've been reading through the catalog of DAW, the first American imprint exclusively devoted to science fiction & fantasy publishing. It launched in 1972 under the editorship of Donald A. Wollheim (hence the name), and continues today, publishing new books at a rate faster than I'm catching up. Last year I read 14; this year I hope to aim for about one a week but realistically I think I can get 30.

DAWs so far: 0
Next up: The Final Circle of Paradise by Arkadi and Boris Strugatski

(B) Bestsellers

For the last few years, Liz (lyzard) and I have been reading through American bestsellers at a rate of one per month. I stayed caught up to Liz through most of 2022, and am feeling good about 2023.
Bestsellers so far: 0
Next Up: The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub

(C) Banned in Boston

Another project I've been co-reading with Liz is a list of books that were "banned in Boston."

Banned in Boston so far: 0
Next up: The Sorrows of Elsie by Andre Savignon

(D) Banned Here and Now

In the U.S., we currently have an epidemic of book challenges and bans targeted especially at school and public libraries, with the intent of silencing all perspectives other than straight cisgendered white evangelical Christian ones. One of the things I do in response to this is to read the books the banners would like to see disappear.

Banned so far: 0
Next up: Can't Take That Away by Steven Salvatore

Diversity goals

Left to itself, my reading skews straight, white, and male. For the last few years I've tracked proportion of non-straight, non-white, and non-male authors in an effort to be more conscious of this. Last year I read: 20% LGBTQ, 23% authors of color, and 49% women and nonbinary authors. (Targets were 15, 20, and 50.) Targets this year are again 15%, 20%, and 50%. Recommendations welcome.

(E) Not Straight: 0 (0%)
(F) Not White: 0 (0%)
(G) Not Dudes: 0 (0%)

Other Good Intentions

Continue more series than I start. According to the spreadsheet where I keep track, I have started but not finished 309 series. My insufficient strategy for managing that number is to continue more series than I start and to finish a series every now and then. Last year I started 20, continued 27, and finished 5.

  • (H) Series started: 0

  • (I) Series continued: 0

  • (J) Series finished (or up-to-date): 0

tammikuu 1, 8:11 pm

Reserved for The List

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 1, 10:05 pm

** The Perry Rhodan Post **

Perry Rhodans so far: 0
Next Up: #203 Die Stadt der Verfemten by William Voltz

For those who have never encountered it: Perry Rhodan is the hero of a weekly German science-fiction serial that is marketed as the world's largest science fiction series. I don't know whether that claim is true -- no doubt it depends on how one measures "large." Measured by words in print, PR has few if any competitors, certainly neither the Star Wars nor Star Trek franchises, which are relatively puny. The main series has been continuously published since September 1961 in weekly novella-length adventures. The current issue is number 3202. The English translations of these episodes ran to about 100 pages per, so we're talking about a story 320,000 pages long and growing. And that's just the main series. Besides the main series there have been over 400 standalone paperback novels, not to mention spinoffs (the spinoff series Atlan ran for 850 episodes), reboots (the reboot series Perry Rhodan NEO appears biweekly and is currently in its 294th episode), miniseries, video games, comic books, and one comically awful movie.

* Why am I reading this?

I first encountered the series as an exchange student to West Germany in 1986. I fell in love with everything about the series: the complicated backstory, the cheesy plots, the lurid covers, even the cheap newsprint. At that time I had access only to the latest issues and random back issues as I discovered them at flea markets so plots were frequently opaque, which actually added to the series's appeal. A couple of years ago I discovered that digitized back issues could be bought in packages online: I started from issue number 1, and all of that love came back.

So my reasons for reading are multiple and personal. It's about nostalgia, maintaining language skills, and feeding my inner middle-schooler. I wouldn't necessarily recommend the series except in small doses for curiosity's sake. But neither will I apologize: I love this crap even (maybe especially) when Perry Rhodan is an asshole. Which, actually, is most of the time.

* The Story So Far

Each episode is a standalone story, but the narrative is organized into story arcs, mostly running to 50 or 100 episodes. The arcs are usually separated by significant chronological gaps, which serve the marketing function of making the beginning of a story arc a good entry point for new readers.

Episodes 1-49: The Third Power (1971-1984)

The series begins with the first manned lunar mission in 1971. On the moon, Perry Rhodan and his crew discover a foundered spacecraft of the Arkonide Empire. Rhodan eliminates cold-war hostilities, establishes a Terran government capable of dealing with extraterrestrial threats, builds bases through the solar system, and assembles a team of psychically-talented mutants (*ahem* predating the X-Men by two years). He also meets IT, a disembodied benevolent superintelligence that offers Perry and other Terrans an anti-aging treatment.

Episodes 50-99: Atlan and Arkon (2040-2045)

The Terrans face multiple threats: the powerful interplanetary Arkonide Empire; the "Springers," a society of galactic merchants; the "Aras," a race of unscrupulous physicans, and the Druuf, inhabitants of a parallel universe that temporarily overlaps ours. Perry also meets Atlan, a practically immortal Arkonide who has been living on Earth since prehistory waiting for an opportunity to go home.

Episodes 100-149: The Posbis (2102-2112)

A united Terran/Arkonide empire faces new challenges. First, Terrans discover Arkon's progenitors the Akons, who regard both Arkonides and Terrans as inferiors. Then, the Milky Way galaxy is attacked by two extragalactic invaders: the Posbis, machine/biological hybrids hostile to all biological life; and the Laurins, invisible warriors hostile to the Posbis and anyone who gets in their way.

Episodes 150-199: The Second Empire (2326-2329)

The superintelligence IT flees the galaxy in order to avoid some looming danger. No longer able to offer the anti-aging treatment, IT scatters 25 immortality devices around the galaxy. Searching for the devices, Terrans encounter two new threats: first, Hornschrecken, ravenous fast-reproducing caterpillar-things that can eat a planet smooth as a billiard ball within weeks; also the Hornschrecken's mature form, the Schreckworms. The second threat is the Blues, rulers of a second interplanetary empire on the "east side" of the galaxy, and who are allied with the Schreckworms and are also hostile to Terrans -- in fact, to any life other than Blues. Following a war with the Blues, Perry Rhodan is kidnapped by a would-be usurper from a Terran colony world. While Rhodan is absent, imperial treaties with Akon and the Blues are strained, and the Alliance with Arkon is strained to the breaking point.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 3, 2:52 pm

The last Perry Rhodan update brought us to episode 190. Perry Rhodan and his closest advisors Atlan and Reginald Bull, along with Melbar Kasom and Andre Noir, have been missing for some time and are widely presumed dead. They are of course not dead but have survived a series of adventures: kidnapped by insurrectionists; abducted by Kahals, aliens with advanced technology which they barely understand; then transported to an uniabited planet on the galaxy's edge. Perry and friends manage to send a weak distress signal, which is picked up by a crew of mouse-beavers but also by the Blues.


Perry Rhodan 191: Tschato der Lowe = "Tschato the Lion" by William Voltz

The mouse-beaver "Admiral" Gecko and his crew have located Perry Rhodan, but in a system swarming with Blues battleships. They make a desperate play to call more Terran ships for help, but mostly just attract more Blues. Fortunately their call is also received by the Terran ship LION, helmed by Nome Tschato, master tactician and scourge of arms smugglers.

Perry Rhodan 192: Die Kriegslist des Akonen = "The Akon's Stratagem" by William Voltz

Having fought of the Blues to rescue Perry Rhodan, a small fleet of battle-damaged Terran ships carries him back home. But en route they meet a lone Akonish convoy smuggling illegal weapons to the Blues. Such an easy target, the Terrans commit what ships they can to apprehending it. But the convoy turns out to be bait for an ambush ...

Perry Rhodan 193: Panik im Sonnensystem = "Panic in the Solar System" by Kurt Brand

Perry and his missing team return to Earth, but have no time for R&R: the parliament of Terran colony worlds has met to discuss dissolving the Terran Empire, and a terrorist organization has launched a destructive campaign of bombings on Mars, the Moon, and Earth.

Perry Rhodan 194: Die Heimliche Invasion = "The Secret Invasion" by Kurt Mahr

As the Terran-Arkonide Empire falls apart, Perry hopes to keep Earth and its colony worlds unified. Complicating that goal is the government of Plophos, who see themselves as Earth's successors. In this episode, a Terran team goes undercover on Plophos to create an underground rebellion ... Or at least, the appearance of one.

Perry Rhodan 195: Der Sturz des Sterndiktators = "The Fall of the Star-Dictator" by Kurt Mahr

Undercover Terran agents lead a rebellion against the authoritian leader of Plophos. Lots of sneaking and fighting and narrow escapes.


Perry Rhodan 196: Planet der letzten Hoffnung = "Planet of Last Hope" by K.H .Scheer

Last Hope is a hell-planet: boiling hell on the day side, frozen hell on the night, and on the twilight border a secret Plophosian outpost where scientists try to reverse-engineer the Terrans' most powerful weapons. Most scientists work against their will, so news of the Plophosian dictator's fall leads to a showdown between those who want their freedom and the dictator's loyal taskmasters.

Perry Rhodan 197: Höllentanz der Riesen = "Hell-Dance of the Giants" by William Voltz

Nome Tschato and the crew of the LION discover a derelict Akonish ship, apparently damaged when it collided with something in hyperspace. Investigating, the crew suspect neo-molkex, the schreckworm-stuff used for armor on Blues ships. Their theory is confirmed when they find a nearby planet covered with the stuff -- but also swarming with creatures that seem to feed off it.

Perry Rhodan 198: Die letzte Bastion = "The Last Bastion" by H.G. Ewers

Iratio Hondro, ex-dictator of Plophos, has been on the run since his overthrow in episode 195. Most recently he has been hiding out and plotting revenge with his most trusted followers on planet Opposite. Following last episode's events Hondro's hideout is exposed, but he's not going down without a (monster robot) fight.

Perry Rhodan 199: Arkons Ende = "Arkon's End" by Kurt Brand

As the Terran worlds are distracted by Perry's wedding with Mory Abro, the Blues attack Arkon. There's stuff to like and to not here: yay space battles; Yay Mory for retorting to Perry, when he tells her to sit this one out, that she was a resistance fighter long before she was his girlfriend; but wtf Atlan for a creepy monolog about survival of the strongest.

And that's a wrap on the 4th Perry Rhodan story arc, "The Second Empire." I'm pretty excited about the next arc, "The Masters of the Island," which is the first 100-episode story arc and where a lot of fans feel the series first hits it stride.

tammikuu 1, 8:12 pm

Happy New Year all!

tammikuu 1, 8:37 pm

Happy New Year Steve!

tammikuu 1, 9:05 pm

2023...weren't we supposed to have flying cars by now?

...wait...we do...helicopters. Never mind, I forgot we're living in a sci fi novel.

tammikuu 1, 9:55 pm

Welcome back, Steve!

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 1, 10:07 pm

>7 PaulCranswick:
>8 richardderus:
>9 drneutron:

Welcome, and happy new year Paul, Richard and Jim!

tammikuu 1, 10:11 pm

Happy New Year, Steve!

tammikuu 1, 10:38 pm

Hi Steve, I have you starred.

tammikuu 2, 1:37 am

>11 ronincats:
>12 kgodey:

Welcome Roni and Kriti!

tammikuu 2, 8:03 am

Happy New Year, Steve. I hope 2023 is a good one for you. Maybe we'll see each other in Iowa City!

tammikuu 2, 8:25 am

>14 BLBera: Welcome Beth! I'm definitely open to meetups in the area.

tammikuu 2, 9:33 am

Happy new year, Steve! We may end up sharing some reads off the recently-banned lists. I got started last year on the top ten most banned in 2021 and hope to read some more this year as well.

tammikuu 2, 11:47 am

>16 bell7:. Welcome Mary! Happy New Year!

tammikuu 2, 12:11 pm

Starred, of course.

tammikuu 3, 1:33 pm

>1 swynn: Hiya Steve. How could I not drop a star on a thread with a title like that?

I also very much hear you on the Tower-of-Due; I have a bag of no longer renewable books to go back to the library today, which includes 2 unstarted books and one that I started but didn't finish for lack of time. And that's after heroic efforts to finish them, and an extra week of loan time because of the winter holiday season.

tammikuu 3, 3:07 pm

Hi, Steve - starred of course! :)

I'm getting an itch to take on some of your banned books though I *really* don't need another category... :D

tammikuu 3, 5:14 pm

>19 ArlieS:
>20 lyzard:

Welcome Arlie and Liz!

Re: Tower of Due: the struggle is real.
Re: needing more categories: Of course not, but did you really need the last fwumpty-seven categories? ... well, yes, you probably did once you thought about them. So, you know, think about it.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 4, 12:19 pm

1) Assassination Classroom, vol. 1 by Yusei Matsui
Date: 2012

Manga is mostly a Not My Thing thing, but Amber (scaifea) has been reading through this series and it sounded like it might be an exception. It's about a class of outcast high school students trying to assassinate their teacher, a creature who has destroyed the moon and promises to do the same to the earth if someone doesn't kill it first. Sure, the creature is a psychopath, but it also happens to be the best teacher the class has ever had. It's as nuts as it sounds and (surprise!) My Thing after all. I'll continue this one.

tammikuu 5, 12:51 pm

tammikuu 5, 1:04 pm

>22 swynn: year's off to a very unpredictable start over here....

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 6, 10:26 am

>23 scaifea: Thanks for the rec, Amber!

>24 richardderus: More predictable stuff coming. I'm working now on H.W. Brands's Our First Civil War, which is this month's pick for a local book club. It's fine, but I don't think Brands is making his point very well -- I'm actually struggling to figure out what his point *is* -- and it's slow going at times, with lots of excerpts from 18th century letters and documents. Assassination Classroom provided a nice contrast.

tammikuu 6, 10:55 am

A belated Happy New Year, Steve! I hope to get a lot of sci-fi recommendations from you as I try and expand my reading in that area.

tammikuu 6, 11:43 am

Welcome, Stasia!

tammikuu 10, 2:46 am

Happy reading in 2023, Steve!

tammikuu 16, 3:10 pm

2) Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison
Date: 2021

Follow-up to The Goblin Emperor, which I read back in 2015 when it was nominated for a Hugo. This volume foregrounds a secondary character from the first book, a sort-of priest who speaks to the dead, occupied here with investigating a murder. I liked this better than the first, which was too heavy with petty court intrigue for my taste. (And was the whole point, so definitely a me thing.) This one has less intrigue but still the world and the heart. Maybe I won't wait so long to pick up the third.

tammikuu 16, 3:12 pm

3) The Mystery of the Silver Spider by Robert Arthur
Date: 1967

Eighth in the Three Investigators series, and the weakest so far. The prince of a tiny European monarchy invites the boys abroad to attend his coronation. The US government gets involved, and employs the boys as "junior agents" inside the castle. It's less a mystery than a Ruritanian adventure, and feels out of place in the series, though I probably liked it fine when I was in the target audience.

tammikuu 16, 3:32 pm

4) Our First Civil War by H. W. Brands
Date: 2021

It's another retelling of the American Revolution, this time mostly from the perspectives of Ben Franklin and George Washington. It focuses more on diplomacy, and personal reflections than on battles, and frequently works in excerpts from correspondence and memoirs. It's fine for what it is, but it isn't the book it presents itself to be. In the introduction Brands talks about how everyone forgets the Revolution was a civil war. (Do we really? What exactly does this claim even mean? Are there Revolutions that aren't civil wars? How does viewing the Revolution as a civil war shed light on later civil conflicts?) Brands also seems to promise insights about patriots and loyalists that he never delivers. In his wrap-up, Brands claims without evidence that post-Revolution historians quickly recast the Revolution as a foreign conflict between "Americans" and "British." This is also a very interesting claim, and I wish Brands found it interesting enough to explore.

tammikuu 16, 3:47 pm

>30 swynn: Yes, the "junior agent" bit stretches credulity beyond the breaking point, doesn't it? Like you, I'm sure I liked it when I first read it as a kid.

tammikuu 16, 3:47 pm

5) Assassination Classroom, vol. 2 by Yusei Matsui
Date: 2012

Second in a manga series about a class of outcast high school students trying to assassinate their teacher before he destroys the earth. In this volume we meet a new teacher/professional assassin/sex object, learn a little more about the school, and join the students on a class trip. I'm no fan of the hypersexualized new teacher -- one of the tropes that often turns me off in manga stories. More intriguing to me are revelations about the students' institutional role.

tammikuu 16, 4:11 pm

>30 swynn:

I was taken aback during this re-read to realise they were, literally, spying! A very odd beast, as highlighted by the fact that all I remembered of it was where the spider was hidden. :)

>31 swynn:

I think the demonisation of the British that tends to mark any depiction of the Revolutionary War these days has begun to obscure the fact that a hell of a lot of Americans were fighting for the British: you only see events from the POV of those who didn't. There's a sense of it now as Americans fighting an invader rather than brother-against-brother, and the inconvenient truth that it was a civil war is lost or ignored.

(To give an odd example, this piece of history was relentlessly hashed over by the dreaded Elsie books, but entirely in terms of patriotic Americans and evil Britishers. So that sort of thing started early.)

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 16, 8:49 pm


>34 lyzard: I think the demonisation of the British that tends to mark any depiction of the Revolutionary War these days has begun to obscure the fact that a hell of a lot of Americans were fighting for the British: you only see events from the POV of those who didn't. There's a sense of it now as Americans fighting an invader rather than brother-against-brother, and the inconvenient truth that it was a civil war is lost or ignored.

I think this is probably true, and I want to know more about it, and that's my central frustration with Brands's book. He lays out interesting questions about the Revolution as a civil war and what forces compelled participants to choose sides. But instead of exploring these questions, the main body of the text just rehashes the revolution. Brands's discussion of the Revolution-as-civil-war stops and starts with "X was a patriot" and "Y was a loyalist."

In fairness, he does foreground the relationship between Benjamin Franklin (patriot!) and his son William Franklin (loyalist!) as an example of how the conflict strained family relationships. But I want the claim, "The Revolution was a civil war" to have more interesting consequences than just "Some Americans sided with the English against the patriots." What proportion of the colonials were loyalist? Brands doesn't even guess. What does it mean to say that the Revolution was an American civil war, when the loyalist leadership, power structures, and financing were mostly British? (Or were they? Brands doesn't say, but implies that they were.)

If Brands's point is just that some Americans were loyalists, then that's just boring and hardly needs 450 pages to explicate. I'm puzzled that it's needed at all. The history curricula I've encountered since Junior High School taught that the colonials were divided. And the historical fiction that lives rent-free in my head -- My Brother Sam is Dead, Octavian Nothing, Fenimore Cooper's The Spy for some reason -- depends on loyalists for its plots. So, what texts or conversations does Brands have in mind? He never says. When you cite Elsie Dinsmore, you've offered more support for Brands's argument than Brands ever does.

I think Brands's claims, properly sharpened, are probably true, so for me it's a huge missed opportunity -- interesting things to explore, but no interest for exploring them.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 16, 9:20 pm

>35 swynn:

You appreciate that I come at this as a complete outsider: I've never studied the subject, just picked up my knowledge in scraps from reading and movies. I don't know it in detail, but I know enough to know when I'm being offered a skewed or edited version of events.

As an outsider, then, I tend to get what has filtered through as acceptable for history-as-entertainment, rather than history as such.

Sometimes it's both: for example, in the Elsie books we eventually get the story of Major John André, which I already knew from the movie, The Scarlet Coat. Those books bang on endlessly about Benedict Arnold (and occasionally make a case for him), but that's as far as they go in acknowledging the split views---probably because that involved an individual grudge, not a broader philosophical divide. They have no interest in Americans who weren't "patriots".

And if I can make another observation from my own perspective - and if I can be forgiven for saying this at all these days - the French seem to be another inconvenient truth. :)

tammikuu 17, 12:43 pm

>36 lyzard: I appreciate your extra-American perspective, Liz. I also suspect that my own asocial habits of information-gathering mean that I'm frequently clueless about what my neighbors think.

And yeah -- I share your sense that French (and Hessian) participation in the Revolution is deemphasized or even disregarded today, though it certainly loomed large in the colonials' understanding. Beans certainly does not ignore this, focusing as he does on Franklin who spent much of his time in Paris during the war, advocating for the patriots. I think Brand does a better job showing that, from another perspective, the American Revolution was a theater in a larger European conflict, than he does showing that it was an American civil war.

tammikuu 24, 3:51 pm

Well, well, well...what have we here?---

...a work of historical fiction by an American author, with an American protagonist, set just before the War of Independence, that demonises the British?? Say it ain't so! :D

Anyway. Having pondered, if you want to start with the earlier Auel books, I guess we can do that; and we may as well space them out rather than cramming. So if it suits you, we'll start with The Clan Of The Cave Bear next month and go from there? (Unless you're already cramming, in which case we'll revisit.)

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 24, 6:35 pm

>38 lyzard: I think I can pass on that one, but yeah ...

I read the Brands book for a RL book group, and can report that my take on it was a minority one. Most others in the group agreed that they had never thought of the Revolutionary War as a civil war, and felt that Brands's book was a valuable corrective. In particular, the relationship between Franklins Sr. and Jr. was an effective demonstration of how the Revolution tore families apart. (Also Franklin père was kind of an asshole. We agreed on that, at least.) Puzzlingly, this is the same group with which I read The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, which I thought did a much better job of portraying divisions among colonials than Brands did.

One member of the group felt that Brands spent too little time discussing the experience of Black colonials and especially enslaved people. This too was a minority view, though I thought it was spot on and spoke to missed opportunities in linking the Revolution-as-Civil-War to longer-term divisions in the republic. I think part of the reason for this omission is that his method relies too heavily on personal memoirs, letters, and the kind of documents that enslaved people were prevented from producing.

It's very possible I'm missing the point because it wouldn't be the first time.

I also expect that Brands is right about American narratives quickly slanting to pretend that righteous American colonists presented a united front against the wicked British. I just wish he'd told that story instead of reducing it to an unsupported throwaway claim.

But: Earth's Children. I'm wrapping The Talisman tonight, and was going to start The Clan of the Cave Bear after that, but will be happy to kick that down the road to February.

tammikuu 24, 4:49 pm

>39 swynn:

Black and enslaved colonials do not tend to rate a mention in the 'entertainment' versions of the story. I would agree with your group member that this is a very neglected (or deliberately ignored) aspect of the story.

Apropos, the protagonist of Captain Nemesis comes from a slave-owning South Carolina family and the novel slides over this with an assertion that English hypocrisy on the subject of slavery is worse than actual slavery, and then interrupts the New Englander who is obviously about to argue the point. There is also an assertion that sailors in the British navy were treated worse than American slaves. Because, British! :D

Weirdly enough, the point at which the book absolutely has a point, the pressganging of random Americans, isn't pursued.

Anyway--- The Clan Of The Cave Bear in February it is, then.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 25, 5:01 pm

>41 swynn: *English* hypocrisy on the subject of slavery, huh? Never mind the actual slavemasters who start a war because they feel they've been done unto the way they've done unto others. Brands quotes a letter from Washington stating exactly this. "They treat us the way we treat our slaves!" The very nerve.

I finished The Talisman last night, and ended up liking it more than I did at the halfway point. The homoerotic thread, though -- where the first half is heavy with homophobic anxiety and slurs, but then the second half where Jack and Richard have a sort of romance -- I'm not sure how to read all that and am still pondering.

tammikuu 25, 2:52 pm

>41 swynn: I stalled out in the first half (quarter, actually, I think) of The Talisman. I'm encouraged to go back and see if I can slog through the mess in the front...

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 25, 5:25 pm

>42 jjmcgaffey: Valid response. I won't promise the rest isn't a mess, but there is at least a point where it picks up.

tammikuu 27, 3:20 pm

6) Paper Girls Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan
Date: 2018

More time-hopping shenanigans, and the various plot threads are finally starting to come together.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 27, 3:37 pm

7) Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, September-October 2022

It's a mostly-satisfying issue. My favorites were the ones by Reynolds, Arnason, and Egan.

Solidity by Greg Egan
Omar falls asleep in class and wakes up in a different one -- in a world where object permanence is broken, where people and possessions can disappear as soon as you let them out of your sight

Sparrows by Susan Palwick
Set on a college campus in the face of a unspecified, probably climate-related, disaster; everyone else has left campus because what's the point in staying? But Lacey stays to finish and submit her term paper because what's the point in anything else?

Things to do in Deimos when you're dead by Alastair Reynolds
A space-merchant faces a sort of virtual afterlife on Mars's moon Deimos

BAKEHAFU OK by Jendayi Brooks-Flemister
A sex worker in Tokyo accepts all clients, including human/animal hybrid Bakehafu

The Rules of unbinding by Geoffrey A. Landis
Just another genie-in-a-bottle story

One night stand by Eileen Gunn
Terry brings home the wrong man for a one-night stand, which leaves her dead and her daughter abducted. Terry's ghost sticks around for the investigation.

Bonus footage by Marissa Lingen
Humorous story about the star of a reality-related travel show, who visits dangerous locales on different planets.

Island history by Lia Swope Mitchell
Diary of a scientist researching an epidemic of madness on a remote island.

Grandmother troll by Eleanor Arnason
A teenage girl wakes a troll while visiting her family's summer home in rural Iceland.

The extraterrestrials are coming! The extraterrestrials are coming! by Peter Wood
Earth receives a message that extraterrestrials will arrive in thirty days. Politicians scramble to spin the story.

The rise of Alpha Gal by Rich Larson
A young scientist develops a serum that causes permanent severe allergy to red meat. Next question is how to use it .

The Court Martial of the Renegat Renegades, Part I by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
The first half of a short novel from Rusch's Diving Universe. It involves a spaceship returning from a mission one hundred years after setting out, ony half its crew remaining, and its original captain among the lost. The survivors are brought up on charges of mutiny.

tammikuu 27, 3:43 pm

8) Generation Loss by Elizabeth Hand
Date: 2007

Cass Neary was once a promising young photographer, documenting the excesses of the punk music movement. But she also participated in the same excesses and now she's washed up, strung out, and scraping by. Then her agent offers her an interview with a reclusive artist who lives on an island off the coast of Maine. Partly for the money, partly because the artist was a personal influence on her own work, Cass takes the job ... and steps into a mess of scandal, resentment, and rivalry. It's a noirish crime thriller with a dislikeable, barely functional hero. I enjoyed it much.

tammikuu 27, 3:58 pm

>41 swynn:

The point comes up when the characters start their career as anti-pirate pirates by hijacking a loaded slave-ship---but having brought it up, the novel shifts away from the subject as soon as it can.

If you can't deal with historical reality, you probably shouldn't be writing historical fiction. Or at least, don't (unnecessarily) make your hero a southerner.

It's hard to say if we're meant to interpret that as thematically connected or if the former is just "shit that happens". Mid-80s the latter was probably the daring part of it - not that the feelings are there, but that they're expressed so frankly - and the boys just young enough that they could get away with it.

Maybe the positive spin would be that it's another form of "twinning"? - don't let this garbage stop you loving and caring for your friends. :)

tammikuu 30, 12:57 am

>47 lyzard: Re: Revolutionary War fiction. Oh dear, I feel myself intrigued and I really do not need to slide down a rabbit hole of Revolutionary War fiction. I still haven't read Winston Churchill's Richard Carvel, but remember reading that Churchill was so kind to his British characters that some reviewers thought Churchill himself was British. But I really really don't need that project ....

And The Talisman: In 1984 I would have read the first half with less discomfort, and would probably have wondered whether the authors really meant to imply a romantic relationship. Now part one is itself creepy and the part two is not subtle at all. Times are different, and I'm a different reader. I'll be interested to see how the television series handles it.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 30, 6:37 pm

9) The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub
Date: 1984

This was the bestselling book in the U.S. in 1984, also the first appearance of Stephen King here at the top. I expect we'll see him again.This one is a boy's adventure: twelve-year-old Jack Sawyer sets out on foot to cross the United States from New Hampshire to California in order to save his mother's life. Along the way he shifts into and out of a parallel world he calls "The Territories," a sort of pseudo-medieval fantasy world. The Territories and Jack's world are intimately linked, and in unpredicatable ways: events in one world can cause disasters in another, and (nearly) everyone has a counterpart or "twin" in the other world, whose fates are linked. Jack's mother for instance is a queen in the Territories with a sickness related to real-world Jack's mom who is terminally ill with cancer. If Jack can make it to California and retrieve The Talisman he can save his mother in both worlds.

Some thoughts, because my take on this book is still not coherent, and might not become more so without a reread, and I'm not interested in that just now:

By design it's episodic and pacing suffers occasionally, especially in the first half. As Jack acquires friends and experience, though, the story also becomes more engaging.

Stylistically this feels much more like King's book than Straub's, and I am not a fan of King's rambling prose style so that was sometimes a barrier for me as well.

There's some talk above about the tension between some homophobic anxiety early on and a positive same-sex attraction later, but I still have nothing enlightening to say about it so I'll just note that it's here and I found the contrast not easily resolvable.

tammikuu 30, 11:26 pm

LOL. I stalled out in The Talisman by Sir Walter Scott. Which also starts out with a lot of homoerotic anxiety and slurs. I wonder if it settles in the latter half, as King's does...

tammikuu 31, 11:54 am

>50 jjmcgaffey: Yeah, I expect that's a very different book. :D

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 31, 5:12 pm

10) Two Travelers by Sarah Tolmie
Date: 2016

Here's one from the 2016 Locus Recommended Reading List, which doesn't seem to have caught on, which is a shame. It contains two fantasy stories about outsider experiences. The first seems to me to be a parable about neurodivergence, and the second a story about immigration. Of the two the second is more powerful, exploring the differing responses to birth home/found home among the members of an immigrant family. But both are quite good, and I'll seek out more of Tolmie's work.

Dancer on the Stairs (which you can read here on Strange Horizons) is a novelette narrated by a women who wakes up on the staircase of an multilevel mansion. The stairs are crowded, and access to floors is strictly regulated by guards who demand payment in specie the narrator does not have. Eventually she finds someone to sponsor her, but even then she is clearly an outsider, as the mansion's residents live by an elaborate code of social ritual which nearly everyone seems to understand intuitively but herself.

The Burning Furrow is a novella about a family who has moved to the United States from a fantasy parallel universe. In our world, the family runs a diner; in their own, the father is a freedom fighter. He appreciates the safety and routine of his new home, but also misses the adventure and respect of his birth home. Others in the family -- the man's wife and two children -- also balance advantages of two worlds and their disadvantages, and each reaches their own conclusions about preferred realities, all different and none simple.

tammikuu 31, 5:12 pm

11) The Red Box by Rex Stout
Date: 1937

Fourth in Stout's mystery series featuring eccentric orchidist Nero Wolfe. In this one, theatrical producer Llewelyn Frost arrives at Wolfe's home to beg the detective to investigate the death of a model by poison chocolate. He even convinces Wolfe to venture outdoors in order to visit the crime scene. But when Wolfe's investigation raises suspicions about his niece Helen, Frost orders Wolfe off the case. Pfft. As if. There follows a series of new clients and more bodies -- one of them the victim's boss and probable target of the chocolate poisoning Boyden McNair, who dares to die in Wolfe's very presence and makes the case personal (that is, even more personal than unwanted exposure to fresh air did). The solution is complicated and seems to emerge folly formed from nowhere, but the banter between Wolfe and his assistant Archie Goodwin makes the series worthwhile.

tammikuu 31, 5:52 pm

12) Paper Girls Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughn
Date: 2018

Time-traveling shenanigans continue, with storylines converging. Looking forward to the conclusion.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 1, 1:29 pm

13) Can't Take That Away by Steven Salvatore
Date: 2021

Finally fulfilling my promise to "read stuff I shouldn't," I submit for further signal-boosting this YA book that has been the target of book bans. It appears on the list of books that Texas lawmaker and swamp lizard Matt Krause wants to remove from libraries. And according to PEN America it was removed from shelves in the Collierville, Tennessee school district.

It's about Carey Parker, a genderqueer highschooler and Mariah Carey lamb who dreams of being a diva. Carey has a new boyfriend and a star role in the school production of "Wicked," but also a queerphobic teacher determined to sabotage any performance that might feature "boys kising"; they also have to deal with a bully who believes that if a nice guy like himself can't get a date then it's probably the queer kid's fault. It's very YA, and Carey's diva ambitions are a bit much (Carey wants to participate in the show only if they can be the star -- I mean I love you kid, but breathe a minute will ya?) but I appreciated that they get support from peers and from sympathetic faculty. I especially like its treatment of hate as a community problem, and organized resistance as a strategy for dealing with it.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 8, 3:43 pm

14) Anthologie jüngster Lyrik = (Anthology of Recent Poetry), edited by Willi Fehse and Klaus Mann
Date: 1927

Here's a collection of interwar German poetry which appeared in the Nazis' "Black List," books to feed the flames of the book burnings that swept Germany in 1933. It's not clear to me exactly why this one was banned, but with a foreword by Jewish author Stefan Zweig and an editorial credit and afterword by the openly gay and vocally antinazi Klaus Mann ... well, it's not like they needed much excuse. The content is to my ear mostly innocuous, though mine is admittedly not the most sensitive. Still, there are selections with pacifist, erotic, and urban themes that could not possibly have improved its chances.

Here's a piece by the socialist poet Hanns Vogts, who seems to have sensed what was coming:

Es kommen wieder die Tage,
die Dämmerungen des November.
Wo aus der Stille, des In-Uns-Seins
wir aufbrechen lassen die Schleusen des Muts.
Wo wir die Winde Wollen,
die uns tragen
trotz Föhn, Samum und Hurikan,
wo wir die Lichter giessen ....
Licht über violette Brücken
von Leibern, grüssend Verfall.
Verfall trotz aller Ethik, Demokratie
und der Allerwelts-Menschlichkeit,
trotz schönster Hymnen von Einigkeit, Recht un Freiheit

Das haben alles gekannt wir.
Das war unsere Jugend
mit achtzehn Jahren.

Es kommen wieder die Tage,
die Dämerungendes November --
Wo wir, einst achtzehnjährig,
den Sieg in schrägste Menschenschädel hämmern.

The days are coming again,
the twilights of November.
Where from the quiet of the being-in-us
we let open the floodgates of courage.
Where we want the winds
that carry us
despite Föhn winds, samum and hurricane
where we cast the lights ...
Light over violet bridges
of bodies, greeting decay.
Decay despite all ethics, democracy
and ordinary humanity,
despite prettiest hymns of unity, justice, and freedom.

That all knew, we.
That was our youth
at eighteen years.

The days are coming again,
The twilights of November --
Where we, once eighteen,
Hammer victory into the most deviant human skulls.

helmikuu 8, 2:52 pm

You bouncing from angsty YA to interwar socialist German poetry delights my heart. :)

Listen, my man---I don't know if you've been peeking ahead, but I just finished Horizon (thanks again!) and I at least am going to have trouble with our next banned book, which is "The Sorrows Of Elsie" by André Savignon, a translation of his La Tristesse D'Elsie. It isn't in LT, which speaks for itself.

I have no access at all to this; and while there are a few copies around, they're quite expensive. So unless you've already done something, I'm content to skip this one; and if you have done something, this time I'm splitting it with you, okay?

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 8, 3:36 pm

15) Stolen Focus by Johann Hari
Date: 2022

Johann Hari talks about an epidemic of attention problems, which he links to a number of factors in our current environment: some because of diet, some because of stress, and a whole lot because of pervasive and profitable technology designed to distract us. Hari gives a few suggestions for improving things on an individual level but also argues that only so much can be done without systemic change. We have currently given media and advertising companies free reign to intrude and manipulate our attention at will. The controls we demand -- "opt out" features or communication settings -- are meager and mostly serve to let us pretend that any problems can be blamed on failures of personal responsibility. And yeah, this all sounds about right. Unfortunately, I don't see the systems landscape improving soon. Quite the opposite, alas.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 8, 3:35 pm

>57 lyzard: Yeah, it's hard to get. I just received my copy yesterday, via ILL from the University of Alabama. So the disposition of this copy will be back to Tuscaloosa.

Considering the difficulty with access, though, you're welcome to skip it. After all, you gave me a pass on The American Caravan for weaker reasons.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 8, 3:46 pm

>59 swynn:

Ah, lucky you! It was never released here.

I hate skipping things but I think this time I'll have to. Read it at your leisure and I will look forward very much to your take on it. :)

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 14, 11:21 am

Academic library anecdote. We report various statistics annually to ACRL, the Association of College and Research Libraries. This year somebody misspelled "external" in their reporting rules, instructing respondents instead to report funds received from "eternal bodies."

And now I'm thinking that as a state institution we probably aren't allowed to accept such revenue. Also that, all things considered, it's probably just as well.

helmikuu 14, 8:41 am

helmikuu 14, 11:35 am

16) The Looking Glass War by John Le Carré
Date: 1964

This is Le Carré's follow-up to The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, and apparently intended for readers who found that work romantically naïve. It's a cynical gem about a British intelligence agency trying to gather information about a possible military buildup on the East German border. But "The Department" is so plagued by nostalgia, overconfidence, budget constraints, and bureaucratic rivalries that the adventure can end only one dreadful way. I can't say I "enjoyed" it but I do admire it

helmikuu 14, 11:45 am

17) Assassination Classroom, volume 3: Time for a Transfer Student by Yusei Matsui
Date: 2013

Third in a manga series featuring a class of misfit high-schoolers whose alien teacher has promised to destroy the Earth if they don't assassinate him by the year's end. I think I need to slow the pace on these, because the joke is wearing thin for me.

helmikuu 14, 5:39 pm

>63 swynn:

I never really understood that attitude to The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, but yeah...romanticise THIS. :D

helmikuu 15, 10:15 am

>65 lyzard: Right? I thought TSWCIFTC was pretty stripped-down and grim. But TLGW resets the bar.

helmikuu 15, 1:20 pm

>64 swynn: Same. I'm reluctant to stop completely, though, because I feel the need for completion. And I want to know if they actually get him in the end...

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 15, 1:23 pm

>67 scaifea: Exactly. I know that it wraps up, and want to know how, but (one, two, three, ... ) *eighteen* more volumes? It's making me think the horrible words: Maybe I should just watch the movie.

helmikuu 15, 1:26 pm

>68 swynn: Maybe I should just let you know what happens in the end when I get there and take one for the team...

helmikuu 15, 2:43 pm

>69 scaifea: I would probably read that spoiler. But I'll probably also read at least one more volume, just in case the plot gets moving again soon.

helmikuu 15, 3:43 pm

18) Bayou Folk by Kate Chopin
Date: 1894

It's a collection of 23 stories, mostly set in rural Louisiana near Natchitoches. The stories range from humorous to poignant, sometimes both. They're heavy with phonetically-rendered dialect, a trend whose time I am glad has passed, but was part of the regionalist technique so it's silly to criticize Chopin for doing it. Chopin's Acadian characters are nuanced and sympathetic, though Black and Native characters are less so. Given the times it could have been much worse, and it's worth saying that Chopin's attitude seems to me not actively hostile toward her characters of color. Her prose is clear and efficient, and the best stories combine history, setting, characters, and anecdotes into twisty parables. I especially liked "A no-account Creole," about a romantic rivalry between a New Orleans businessman and local man of little ambition and much passion; and "A gentleman of Bayou-Têche," an ironic dig at the local-color movement and its impulse to turn human beings into caricatures.

helmikuu 16, 9:46 am

>71 swynn: I love Chopin's stories.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 16, 12:09 pm

>72 BLBera: I was familiar only with The Awakening and "The Story of an Hour," which I read thirty-something years ago for an American lit survey course. I've re-read and admired The Awakening since then, but never dipped into her other work. This sample was rewarding, and I'd read more.

helmikuu 21, 8:42 pm

>71 swynn: Sarah Orne Jewett was my intro and outro to local-color writing. Some good stories but more set-pieces than plots...a major part of the local-color movement.My mother called her writing "an excuse to hog the conversation to tell yet another version of the same story" and sadly for me that was my impression of Kate Chopin, too. It's been a good long time since I read her stories and I've never cracked one of her (two?) novels but the cult adulation of her in recent years hasn't helped. I admire you for being so scrupulously fair in your review.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 22, 12:19 pm

>74 richardderus: I was going to say that my exposure to Sarah Orne Jewett is only from a college survey course where we read (I think) "The White Heron." But checking my reading history, I see that I read A Country Doctor, and Selected Stories and Sketches back in 2014, probably for a Maine read when I was doing the 50 states challenge. My comments at the time indicate that my response was lukewarm. And now I barely remember it, so that's probably accurate.

I liked the Chopin stories better. Her sense of humor helps a lot, in distinction to what I remember of Jewett. I understand why readers are introduced to Chopin's work through The Awakening and "The Story of an Hour," but I think those pieces also lack the humor of the stories in Bayou Folk, which is unfortunate.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 22, 1:02 pm

Apropos of nothing, I picked up the Chopin collection because I've been admiring "a-book-a-year" lists that I've seen on some other threads (Liz's, for instance.)

Thanks to the Bestseller challenge, I discovered that I have the 20th century covered. The 19th century has rather more gaps. But why start with 1800? How far back might one go? Any date is arbitrary, and my interest tends to decrease with distance, but still ...

So I've been toying with the idea of "a book a year" beginning sometime in the 18th century. Leaning toward 1719 (Robinson Crusoe) or maybe 1764 where the good stuff starts (The Castle of Otranto). I'd thought about 1688 for Oroonoko but the thought of filling in the thirty years between that and RC was daunting. That gives me a lot -- but not an impossible lot -- of slots to fill in the twenty or thirty years I have left.

Anyway, this potential project has been occupying a weirdly large portion of my idle thoughts for the last couple of months, so I might as well give in and see how long the impulse lasts.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 22, 6:19 pm

For those interested, here's what I have so far.

1719 Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (Reading)
1720 Captain Singleton by Daniel Defoe
1764 The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
1777 The Old English Baron by Clara Reeve
1782 Letters from an American Farmer by Hector St. John de Crevecoeur
1813 Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
1814 The History of Nourjahad by Frances Sheridan
1818 Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
1821 The Spy by James Fenimore Cooper
1823 Koningsmarke by James Kirke Paulding
1826 The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
1837 Eveline Mandeville, or, The Horse Thief Rival by Alvin Addison
1839 A Hero of Our Times by Mikhail Lermontov
1840 The Pathfinder by James Fenimore Cooper
1841 The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper
1843 A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
1846 Typee by Herman Melville
1847 Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
1850 The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawhtorne
1851 Moby Dick by Herman Melville
1852 Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
1854 Walden by Henry David Thoreau
1855 The Warden by Anthony Trollope
1861 Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
1862 Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev
1864 Notes from Underground by Fyodr Dostoevsky
1866 Crime and Punishment by Fyodr Dostoevsky
1869 War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
1872 Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
1874 Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
1876 The Adventures of tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
1878 Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
1880 Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace
1883 Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
1884 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
1885 The Rise of Silas Lapham by William Dean Howells
1886 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
1887 She by H. Rider Haggard
1889 A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain
1890 The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
1894 Bayou Folk by Kate Chopin
1895 The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
1896 Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz
1897 Dracula by Bram Stoker
1898 Edison's Conquest of Mars by Garrett P. Serviss
1899 The Story of the Treasure Seekers by Edith Nesbit
1900 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

helmikuu 22, 12:59 pm

>75 swynn: I'll have to read Bayou Folk, was on Project Gutenberg so I've downloaded it. Can't sleep on the chance to make a new authorial acquaintance.

helmikuu 22, 2:16 pm

>78 richardderus: Hope you find some good in it, Richard! Either way I look forward to your thoughts.

Also: it's great to have you around again!

helmikuu 22, 4:38 pm

>79 swynn: Thank you, Steve. It's a great feeling to be able to be around, I must say!

helmikuu 23, 3:36 am

>76 swynn:, >77 swynn:

You're familiar with my blog, right? YOU DO NOT WANT TO GO DOWN THIS ROAD!! :D

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 23, 9:22 am

>81 lyzard:

Probably not. Fortunately, I'm blessed with a short attention span so when my enthusiasm runs out I'm confident I'll find two other projects to keep me busy.

helmikuu 23, 11:57 am

Are you only reading books you own? Catherine Maria Sedgewick (an ancestor of Kyra, in case you're interested) wrote a bunch in the early 1800s. Much better than Fennimore Cooper. I know there are more early American women writers who have been more or less forgotten.

helmikuu 23, 1:04 pm

>83 BLBera: Thanks for the suggestion, Beth! Catherine Sedgewick was not on my radar, so I've added her works to the list of candidates.

helmikuu 23, 3:42 pm

>82 swynn:

Su-uu-uu-re ya will.

That's a great list, BTW, and I shall watch with interest. :)

helmikuu 26, 5:40 pm

19) Kecksies by Marjorie Bowen
(1976, stories originally published 1907-1933)

Oh now these were fun: old-fashioned, atmospheric ghost stories that remind me of the tales of Arthur Machen and M.R. James, which (have I mentioned?) I love. I'm not sure how I've failed to learn about Marjorie Bowen all this time, but am delighted to discover her now.

The Hidden Ape (1933) A scientist reconsiders his opinion of his assistant after the assistant saves the scientist's son in an accident. He had always thought of the assistant of something beneath him -- but they were both surely human, after all? Or not ...

Kecksies (1925) A couple of dandies take shelter in a country house when caught in a storm. There they find a wake being held for a man who had been an enemy to one of them. They devise a cruel prank which backfires.

Raw Material (1933) Prompted to tell a ghost story, an experienced barrister who has seen many things in his career offers up a story of an elderly miser, a missing fortune, and a meek couple who may or may not be murderers. And, of course, a ghost.

The Avenging of Ann Leete (1923) The painting of an unidentified woman leads to a dark story about unrequited love and slow vengeance.

The Crown Derby Plate (1933) A collector of china goes looking for the single plate missing from her collection. She tracks down the house where the collection was originally sold, and has a very odd encounter with its resident.

The Sign-Painter and the Crystal Fishes (1909) The most unusual story in the collection, this one is a a sort of dream fantasy about a sign-painter who is robbed of a crystal fish -- and his eventual vengeance.

Scoured Silk (1918) An eccentric old scholar takes for second wife a personable young woman -- but he retains a strange preoccupation with his first wife, and a stranger interest in introducing his new wife to his first.

The Breakdown (not previously published?) A rail passenger inconvenienced by a breakdown late in the day, decides to walk the final leg of his journey. En route he finds a inn where wishes are granted.

One Remained Behind (1936) A deal-with-the-devil story about a would-be sorceror and an ancient grimoire with ambiguous instructions.

The House by the Poppy Field (not previously published?) A man inherits a house that is not exactly *haunted* but rather haunted by the absence of the ghosts that one feels *ought* to haunt such a place. By the house is a poppy field, in which a mysterious man mows and tells a story about the previous owner who tried to raise the dead.

Florence Flannery (1924) The newly married Florence Flannery moves into her husband's mansion, where she learns about another Florence Flannery, long dead, who left a curse on the family.

Half-Past Two (1928) Returning to his apartment late at night, a man encounters an intruder hiding in his room. The intruder explains he is hiding from someone with whom he has an appointment which he intends to avoid.

helmikuu 26, 5:47 pm

20) Baptized in Tear Gas by Elle Dowd
Date: 2021

Elle Dowd is an activist and ELCA pastor who participated in protests in and around Ferguson MO following the murder of Michael Brown. Here she shares her experiences and offers guidance, especially for white folks who want to get involved in social justice activism. Enlightening and challenging.

helmikuu 26, 5:49 pm

21) How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi
DAte: 2020

When a homophobic classmate threatens to out Amir to his culturally conservative Iranian-American family, Amir runs away -- and lands in Rome, where he finds a second family among a group of gay American expats. It's awkward and funny and offers a hopeful resolution.

Also, according to PEN America is has been "banned pending investigation" in schools in Tennessee and Texas.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 28, 10:41 am

22) The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison
Date: 2022

Second in the "Cemetaries of Amalo" series, set in the same world as Addison's The Goblin Emperor. The CoA series features an elf cleric who can read the last thoughts of the dead, and uses the skill to solve mysteries. I'm enjoying this subseries more than I did the original novel, since it focuses less on court manners and more on plot. But in all the books I appreciate Addison's characters and how she finds sympathy even in her villains. Apparently it's planned to be a trilogy, so we can expect one (and only one) more CoA book. I look forward to it.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 26, 6:28 pm

>86 swynn: I've never heard of Marjorie Brown before, either, but you've put her on my radar with this overview. Thanks, Steve!

ETA: I couldn't find that particular volume anywhere, but Kobo has The Complete Works of Marjorie Bowen for a mere $1.89 — while they are selling some of the individual titles mentioned in your review for 89 cents each. Seems like the bundle might be the way to go here ...

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 27, 4:11 pm

>86 swynn:, 90

Be aware that Marjorie Bowen wrote in a number of genres under a number of pseudonyms, so depending on what you want, you may need to search out other names.

You can find many of her books for free here (as well as a breakdown of her identities).

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 27, 4:31 pm

>91 lyzard: The Complete Works ebook is listed as more than 3,000 pages, so if she's written other stuff that isn't contained in it, I'll just have to learn to live with the disappointment, I think!

ETA: And now that I've gone back and looked at the description on the Kobo website, I think it's fine: "Margaret Gabrielle Vere Long, who used the pseudonym Marjorie Bowen, was a British author who wrote historical romances, supernatural horror stories, popular history and biography."

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 27, 4:42 pm

>92 rosalita:

If it really is complete that must be an amazing collection! I have come at Bowen sideways: one of her things is historical fiction based on true crimes (her "Joseph Shearing" novels) and I've read a few of those rather than the supernatural stuff she's better known for.

I also keep threatening my blog with her trilogy of novels about William of Orange but haven't psyched myself up to those yet. :)

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 28, 10:42 am

>90 rosalita:
>91 lyzard:
>92 rosalita:

Before Liz linked to the Roy Glashan page (which looks like hours of fun), I picked up a collection of her stories for a similar price for the Kindle. But sometime soon I'd like to start with her first novel, The Viper of Milan, which, sez Wikipedia, was rejected by several publishers who considered it inappropriate to have been written by a young woman. And that's what I call an advertisement. Freely available at Project Gutenberg and the Roy Glashan page, so the only excuse to wait is ... well, all these other books ...

helmikuu 27, 4:44 pm

>93 lyzard:

Yyyyyeah...but give me a yell anyway, I guess. :D

helmikuu 28, 1:19 pm

>76 swynn: >77 swynn: Oooh, I've been working on this for myself for a few years now. Good luck - I've had fun with it so far.

maaliskuu 2, 12:22 pm

>96 scaifea: Do you have your list posted somewhere? I'd like to take notes ...

maaliskuu 2, 9:38 pm

>77 swynn: I've read 21 of those. Good luck!

Glad to see you're enjoying the Addison books. I think she does such a good job with them.

maaliskuu 3, 12:54 pm

>97 swynn: I don't; I just have it in an excel file. If you PM me your email address I'll share it with you...

maaliskuu 3, 3:42 pm

>98 ronincats: I agree; I ought to pick up Angel of the Crows while I'm waiting for the next. Have you read it?

maaliskuu 3, 3:43 pm

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 3, 5:50 pm

23) Lagoonfire by Francesca Forrest
Date: 2021

Second in the author's Tales of the Polity series, featuring lead character Sweeting, job title Decommissioner Thirty-Seven, whose occupation is decommissioning deities whose moment of belief has waned. Decommissioning transitions gods to mortal existence, allowing them to live out their lives in quiet dignity and public safety. In this entry, officials suspect that Sweeting botched a decommissioning job. Flooding at a development project seems supernatural, and bears the marks of the sea god Laloran-morna, whom Sweeting decommissioned years ago. But Sweeting doubts that conclusion, and her unauthorized investigation leads her to suspect an even older deity -- one who was not only never decommissioned, but whose very existence Sweeting's employers are not prepared to acknowledge ...

I quite liked the first in this series (The Inconvenient God) and this is a satisfying follow-up, developing background and adding to the politics Sweeting has to navigate. There's room for many more stories here, and I hope Forrest continues to write them.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 3, 4:39 pm

24) Paper Girls 6
Date: 2019

Nice wrap-up. I think I get what was going on now. I mean, mostly? Okay: I'm still fuzzy on details, but clear on the fact that it was a blast.

Those who have seen it: was the Netflix series worth your time?

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 3, 4:16 pm

25) And What Can We Offer You Tonight? by Premee Mohamed
Date: 2021

Set in a near-future world ravaged by climate change and capitalism: Win is a courtesan murdered by a client who faces no consequences due to his extreme wealth. But then Win isn't dead anymore, and starts behaving like someone with a grudge and nothing left to lose. (What, after all, are they going to do, kill her? Been there.) Win's friend and fellow courtesan Jewel has to decide whether to join Win in her plan for retribution, or play it safe to preserve her own precarious comforts. It's a dark meditation on friendship, dignity, and justice, and I loved it.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 3, 4:59 pm

26) Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Date: 1719

If you had told me that Robinson Crusoe was about a shipwrecked slave trader who spent his time in isolation constructing a miniature empire and having a religious crisis in which God reveals that the greatest sin isn't failing to love one's neighbor but rather failing to obey one's parents, I'd have thought you were (1) exaggerating and (2) talking about the subtext. Nah, y'all, that's the damn plot.

Can't say I enjoyed it, but it is ... very interesting. I've heard other readers complain about pacing in the first half, with tedious accounts of supplies and so on. And yes, pacing is all over the place, but I found it much less boring than I was expecting. Less boring and also more strange.

maaliskuu 3, 4:43 pm

>105 swynn:

It's very curious, isn't it, the wildly inaccurate versions of stories that filter through to us?

And I say that as someone who has just read The Hunchback Of Notre Dame. :D

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 3, 4:56 pm

>105 swynn: Having only been exposed to adaptations and one severely abridged version of Hunchback, I'm now intrigued by what I've missed.

But for Robinson Crusoe: yeah, this is a very different story than I expected. (And what's the episode about fighting wolves in France all about?)

There is a sequel that I both don't want to read and also think I can't not.

maaliskuu 3, 11:09 pm

>100 swynn: I've read Angel of the Crows - note that I think Sherlock Holmes is an annoying know-it-all and Jack the Ripper is - in himself, too nasty to read about and also way overdone and over-written-about.

And I adored this story of a Sherlock Holmes(ish) with some very odd twists and a Watson with even more, hunting down (among others) Jack the Ripper. I don't know how she does it but the story is _amazing_.

>107 swynn: Huh. I had never seen that there was a sequel... tempted, although most of what I remember of the book was that I didn't enjoy it much.

maaliskuu 4, 3:40 pm

>103 swynn: Premee Mohammed was a featured writer at my work library a few years ago (she was a delight to work with) and I'm so happy to see her getting so much recognition in the last couple years.

maaliskuu 4, 3:43 pm

>107 swynn:

I can't say that I would recommend it - I was reading it chiefly to check whether my vague memory of the plot-aspect that always gets ignored was correct (it was) - but of course YMMV. You'd better enjoy dissertations on 15th century architecture, though. :D

maaliskuu 6, 4:28 pm

>108 jjmcgaffey: That's a strong rec for Angel of the Crows. I've requested it.

I think the best thing to do about my impulse to read the Crusoe sequel is to read other books until the impulse passes. On the other hand ...

>109 MickyFine: I have another of hers coming soon: The Annual Migration of Clouds is on my stack for sometime this month. So great when you hear that an author you've enjoyed is also a good human being.

Speaking of meeting authors: I've recently learned that Katherine Arden will be a guest at my library's annual Children's Literature Festival. I'm pumped to meet her and will for sure have a copy of The Bear and the Nightingale for signing ...

>110 lyzard: Like I say, maybe wait til it passes? But as it happens I have a long drive coming up, and LibriVox has a recording for free ....

maaliskuu 9, 6:21 pm

27) The Mystery of the Screaming Clock by Robert Arthur
Date: 1968

Ninth in the Three Investigators series of juvenile mysteries. In this one the boys are between cases, so when Jupiter Jones discovers an odd clock among the new acquisitions of his uncle's junkyard, he proposes investigating its origins. The odd thing about the clock is its alarm, which is the sound of a human scream so blood-curdling that the boys speculate it could be a heart-attack-inducing murder weapon. The investigation has the boys meeting D-list Hollywood celebrity and of course eventually a nefarious criminal plot. Nothing much to say about this: it's the kind of thing the Three Investigators do, and they do it just fine.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 9, 6:25 pm

28) The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel
Date: 1980

A Cro-Magnon girl, separated from her birth family in an earthquake, is taken in and raised by a clan of Neanderthals. The girl learns herbal medicine from the clan's healer, and teaches herself how to hunt with a sling. Her wide-ranging curiosity challenges the clan's rules about division of labor, and her independent spirit is challenged by the leader's heir apparent. I read this one in the mid-1980s when I was in high school. Full disclosure: my curiosity was piqued by a review that described the series as loaded with sex. On that point this first volume is a disappointment: there is little sex and what there is, is nonconsensual ick. But I liked the book then, and liked it again this time, for its setting and its construction of a strange and (mostly) plausible alt-human culture.

maaliskuu 17, 2:31 pm

29) DAW # 218: The Final Circle of Paradise by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky
Date: 1976 (Russian original 1965)

Ivan Zhilin arrives in an unnamed resort town, ostensibly as a tourist but actually as an agent investigating a series of mysterious deaths. The resort is, on the one hand, a sort of paradise where all material needs are met; and on the other hand, a chaotic environment home to multiple gangs and special -interest thugs. There are also rumors of a drug that offers the ultimate state of well-being, and just may be the reason behind the deaths. Ivan's investigation quickly goes awry, as his contacts turn out to be unreliable.

Or something. The storyline goes in multiple directions and I frequently didn't know what was going on. Thematically it seems to argue that satisfying material comforts for the masses will lead to mass laziness and violence -- not a theme I expect from the Strugatskys. Of their work, this is easily the darkest and least optimistic that I've encountered so far. It's likely I'm missing something. Some of its social commentary almost certainly has referents I just don't recognize; also, ISFDB says that this is the fifth book in a series, not all of which are available yet in English. In short: I didn't like it much, and can't recommend it, but also suspect strongly that I just didn't get it. Maybe I'll reread it someday.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 17, 3:03 pm

30) The Secret Skin by Wendy N. Wagner
Date: 2021

June Vogel returns to her family estate, a mansion on an island off the coast of Oregon. June does not have fond memories of the place and would not have returned except that her brother asked her as a special favor, to watch over her niece while brother honeymoons with his new wife. The house is haunted, the child odd, and when June's brother and new sister-in-law return unexpectedly early things get complicated.

It's very aware of the tropes it invokes, and often waves to its predecessors. I mean, it begins: "Last night I dreamt of Storm Break ... "; for someone more familiar with gothic romance, I expect there are many more allusions and in-jokes than caught my eye. Even as a genre ingenue though, I enjoyed the story and the suspense.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 20, 3:06 pm

*** Pedantry Warning ***

I've been reading another 18th century text and and am struck by the frequency of it's -- with the apostrophe -- as a possessive pronoun:

Have -- you no Charms -- or have not I a Heart? -- A most susceptible and tender Heart -- Yes, you may feel it Throb, it beats against my Breast, like an Imprison'd Bird, and fain wou'd burst it's Cage! to fly to you, the aim of all it's Wishes!

The possessive "it's" happens frequently enough that it's clearly not an error but rather editorial policy. (Yes, the random capitalization is also weird, as is the use of an apostrophe to elide letters that are silent anyway -- or were they? -- focus, Steve, focus ... ) In a 21st century text the possessive it's would make my teeth grind but apparently in 1720 it's was okay, so I went to Merriam-Webster for therapy and thought others might be interested:

Around 1600 it's began to be used—and it had an apostrophe, just like a possessive noun would. ... This apostrophe form of the possessive remained extremely common throughout the 17th century and was used by the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Jane Austen. The version without the apostrophe only became dominant in the 18th century—probably because it's was taking on a new role, replacing the contraction 'tis.

More here.

Well dang I've read Jefferson and Austen and never noticed this usage, or if I did probably sniffed at the editors (and I expect it's "corrected" in modern editions). But knowing it now, I guess I'm just going to have to find another pet grammatical peeve.

maaliskuu 20, 4:07 pm

I appreciate this deep dive and look forward to hearing what your new pet peeve will be. :)

maaliskuu 21, 9:12 am

>116 swynn: Jane Austen
That's exactly where I have noticed it. And yes, it takes some effort to calm the visceral reaction.

maaliskuu 21, 10:52 am

>116 swynn: I remember when I first learned this, it was a real blow to no longer be able to turn my nose up at anyone misusing "it's/its" in any writing. I don't think I've recovered from the shock to this day. Sometimes I wish I was one of those people who never let facts get in the way of a good peeve.

maaliskuu 21, 10:55 am

>116 swynn: Interesting! Like the pedantic hollering over singular "they," pedantry about English usage can always be proved wrong. We've mugged the world's languages for syntax, grammar, and vocabulary for centuries, and invented what we couldn't find to steal, so getting one's back up over "errors" is simply a waste of energy.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 9:54 am

>117 MickyFine: I look forward to it too Micky! But honestly I'm leaning toward the position Richard describes - what I've spent my life thinking of as grammatical laws are mostly conventions and conveniences, and are as arbitrary as any alternatives. Calories burned on huffery are better burnt otherwise. (Now watch me smolder "literally" as an intensifier. Or ya'll. Urgh. See how well I've learned my lesson?)

>118 qebo: Good to see you Katherine! I've only read Pride and Prejudice and it was in a modern edition, probably with updated spellings & punctuation. But yeah ... if it's is good enough for Austen then maybe I should get over it.

>119 rosalita: We feel each other's pain Julia!

>120 richardderus: This is where I want to be. There's barely a rule that didn't used to be different, or isn't prone to change by some generation arriving soon. Embrace it, Steve.

maaliskuu 23, 6:13 pm

31) Grim Tales by Edith Nesbit
Date: 1893

It's a collection of ghost stories for adults, by an author who wrote mostly for children (The Railway Children, The Treasure Seekers, etc.) They're fine: mostly predictable, but the best have the creepy atmosphere you look for in such stories. The standout for me was "Man-size in Marble."

The Ebony Frame
A working-class man inherits a fortune including a family mansion, in whose attic he finds two remarkable portraits: one of an impossibly lovely woman, and the other of himself in cavalier dress. He hangs the woman's portrait in his dining room and finds himself calling to it ... and she answers ...

John Charrington's Wedding
The narrator never expected May Forster to marry John Charrington, and even after their engagement wasn't sure whether Forster really loved him. But cutting across the country through a graveyard one afternoon, the narrator overhears Charrington promise Forster that he'd even come back from the dead if she wanted him ...

Uncle Abraham's Romance
The narrator's aging uncle relates the one romantic thing that ever happened in his life: the girl he used to speak to in the churchyard, who may have died a hundred years earlier.

The Mystery of the Semi-detached
A young lover visiting his fiancee discovers the door of her semi-detached standing open. Venturing inside he wanders through an empty house, until he arrives at her room where he finds her dead body. Fleeing the house, he informs the police who investigate only to find nothing out of order: in fact, his fiancee answers the door proving it had all been a dream. Except he can't shake the feeling of doom ...

From the Dead
When Ida Helmont presents Arthur Marsh with a letter proving that Arthur's fiancee Eliza is in fact in love with Ida's brother, Arthur realizes two things: (1) he must grant Eliza her freedom and (2) Ida Helmont is in love with him. The two couples go on to wedded bliss, until the day that Ida confesses the letter was a forgery.

Man-size in Marble
Two artists buy a home in the country, and hire a "tall old peasant woman" to keep house. The woman quits after three months, telling a superstitious story about a nearby church, where the altar is flanked by two marble knights, who, it is said, go walking on All Saints Eve.

The Mass for the Dead
A young musician returns from years of study abroad to learn the woman he loves is marrying another man whom she does not love. The night before the wedding the musician hears a mysterious funeral mass, and he determines to see her one last time.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 23, 11:13 pm

32) My Body Is Not a Prayer Request by Amy Kenny
Date: 2022

Author Kenny discusses disability rights issues from the perspective of church. (Though the points she makes have broader application.) Kenny describes her experiences with mobility issues and chronic pain, and how her church experiences have been welcoming or distancing, and how to do better. It made me think, and changed my perspective on a couple of points, so it's definitely recommended from me.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 23, 6:30 pm

33) The Sorrows of Elsie by André Savignon
Date: 1927

Sailor Pat Donovan thinks he has fallen in love when he meets the English girl Elsie Farquhar and shares an evening of chaste flirtation and a "virginal" kiss. Donovan's bunkmate Graham Howard sees the girl on Donovan’s arm as they part, and himself falls in love at the sight of her. Weeks later, when Elsie returns all of Donovan’s letters (some unopened) with a note saying simply, "As if love was the great business of life, the only thing that mattered!" Howard sees Elsie's reply as an opening for his own overtures, and soon the two are rivals in love – in each other’s eyes though hardly in Elsie’s. Their rivalry soon becomes bitter, culminating in a brutal duel in which each man cuts off digits from the left hand of the other, each man’s stoic endurance of the injury somehow proving the worth of his love. The story of this duel finds its way back to Else, who can hardly believe it. But then one night after she resists a stranger’s advances, he shows her the stump of his arm and tells her that it is he, Howard. Elsie is repulsed, but also fascinated by this "man who for his love for her had risked his life." Oh child.

Howard leaves in a huff (to resume the duel, as it turns out) but Elsie finds herself more perplexed than ever about what love is, what it ought to be, and whether she will ever achieve the ideal. She spends the rest of the book trying on various notions: she resides briefly with a puritanical family of strictest sexual mores until the man of the house is revealed as a not-especially secret womanizer. She rooms with a girl her age who cultivates close relationships with older men, and learns that (1) one can thus make a living, and (2) different ethical systems hold for different economic classes. Eventually, tired of being disappointed in idealized versions of love, Elsie seeks out a purely physical relationship without love at all – but even that fails to meet expectations.

It’s not hard to see why it was banned in Boston. There are brothels. There are prostitutes. Men of upright character behave shamefully. Sex neither requires marriage nor impends calamity. People say "virgin". It's enough to make Boston quake. On the other hand, it's harder to imagine that anyone would find it titillating. The story's central preoccupation is the relationship between ideas of love and the physical act, and Elsie's ponderings are abstract and navel-gazey. If you're looking for the naughty bits you’ll have to be satisfied with "Then she fell into his arms."

The prose reads smoothly, mostly (yay for the translator), though it's aimed at a literary audience and sometimes doesn't know when another image is too much. The most striking image, of course is its account of sailors mutilating themselves for love -- which is probably the one thing I'll remember about this book a year from now -- but nothing else meets that early promise. One can't help thinking that the censors might just as well have let it be forgotten.

maaliskuu 23, 6:39 pm

>123 swynn: Awomen, Sister Lady.

maaliskuu 23, 6:43 pm

>124 swynn: ...doesn't that just sound simply catatonia-inducingly tedious...

Steve...I'm getting worried many truly blah-minus reads! Cram in some Piserchia or a soupçon of Serge Brussolo before you go off reading altogether!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 24, 10:29 am

>125 richardderus:
>126 richardderus:

Awomen, Sister Lady.
Hear hear. Despite the religious context and maybe even because of the same, it's a message I needed, and appreciated.

...doesn't that just sound simply catatonia-inducingly tedious...
In spots, yes.

... so many truly blah-minus reads!
Better stuff is icumen in, including one recommended by yourself.

maaliskuu 24, 10:42 am

>127 swynn: Better stuff is icumen in, including one recommended by yourself.

I'm glad whichever one I recommended wasn't a meh-minus read. Those get less and less tolerable for me. I'm abandoning things I do not love quite readily post-Event...who knows which read will be my last? I'd prefer to go out on a high.

maaliskuu 24, 6:11 pm

34) Corregidora by Gayl Jones
Date: 1975

Ursa Corregidora is a blues singer, and an heir to generational trauma: she is the carrier of stories passed down from her grandmothers, who were victims of unspeakable abuse at the hands of the man who enslaved them and the culture which endorsed and protected him.To ensure that their experiences will not be forgotten, it is Ursa's responsibility to bear her own daughters and pass the memory on to them. So when her husband pushes her down the stairs, causing a miscarriage which leads to a hysterectomy, Ursa loses not only her ability to bear children but also her very reason for being. As she recovers from the injury and its treatment, she also has to confront the history she has received in order to find a way forward.

It's short, uncomfortable, infuriating, and exhausting. It's also bone-shaking powerful, and something I've been somehow unaware of for fifty years. Thanks Richard for mentioning this author and recommending this book as an entry point.

maaliskuu 24, 6:22 pm

35) Diving Into the Wreck by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Date: 2009

First in Rusch's "Diving" series. I picked this up because the latest entry in the series was just serialized in IASFM and I read it and dug it and now I'm going back to the beginning. This entry is essentialy three novellas, two of which had previously been published in IASFM (though unread by ). They follow the far-future adventures of a character known only as Boss, who makes a living "diving" into derelict spaceships. Unfortunately for her, her latest find is a very old wreck and incredibly dangerous one: a ship from humanity's distant past, at coordinates it should never have reached, carrying working examples of forgotten stealth technology which is better left forgotten. But because it offers clear military advantages, the goverment is of course interested in resurrecting it. We have adventure here, with mystery and spooky atmosphere, supporting a David-and-Goliath story. Nothing to not like, and so I will read some more.

maaliskuu 24, 6:37 pm

>129 swynn: Oh...this one...yeah, no chance of ~meh~ here! Love it or hate it, you'll come away with a serious opinion about this story.

maaliskuu 24, 6:39 pm

>130 swynn: MUCH more the thing. I'm so glad this one spoke loud and clear to you.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 27, 6:26 pm

36) The Hunt for Vulcan by Thomas Levenson
Date: 2015

In the 19th century, the young, ambitious (and apparently insufferable) astronomer Urbain Le Verrier, investigating the stability of the solar system -- e.g., will the moon crash into the Earth and if so, when -- rigorously applied Newton's laws to the observed positions of the planets. Based on calculus and the motions of Uranus, Le Verrier concluded that there most be some undiscovered planet affecting Uranus's orbit; he also predicted about where the mysterius planet would be ... and damn if Neptune didn't turn up right where he predicted.

That kind of success begs for more success (though it rarely makes its subjects more sufferable), and Le Verrier carried out his calculations on the rest of the planets. Most of the others behaved very Newtonishly, except for Mercury, which repeatedly failed to obey the math. Therefore, Le Verrier reasoned, there must exist an undiscovered planet affecting Mercury's orbit, and should be found somewhere between Mercury and the Sun. A generation of astronomers searched for (and sometimes sighted) a planet which it turns out doesn't exist. The mystery was ultimately solved by Einstein, whose general theory of relatively explains Mercury's orbit more or less completely.

Levenson describes the hunt for Mercury and Einstein's solutions, with lessons about how science proceeds when observations don't match theory. If it sounds interesting I expect you'll find it so: it's fun, short, popular, and accessible. By "accessible" I mean "no math" which given the subject is no small accomplishment.

maaliskuu 27, 5:58 pm

>116 swynn: I struggle with grammar peeves, too. The magnanimous part of me knows that only dead languages don't change and if you can understand what's trying to be conveyed then the language is working just fine. But. BUT. I also just want people to know and use the rules!! *sigh*

>123 swynn: Oooh, that one looks good!

maaliskuu 28, 10:44 am

>133 swynn: I was teetering on the edge of Wishlist Cliff, and your "no math" promise pushed me over. So thanks, Steve.

maaliskuu 28, 1:34 pm

This conversation suddenly twigged in my brain that there's a whole book about this coming out soon: Like, Literally, Dude: Arguing for the Good in Bad English. It's been on The List since I ordered it for work but it may catch your fancy as well.

maaliskuu 29, 2:06 pm

>134 scaifea: Re: rules: Same. (And I personally of course, along with my preferred authors, should be allowed to break the rules when I please because after all I know them. I am nothing if not inconsistent.)

>135 rosalita: I hope you like it if you get around to it, Julia!

>136 MickyFine: Oooh, thanks for the rec, which is right up my alley. In fact, I think I'll request a copy for the library ...

maaliskuu 29, 2:25 pm

37) The Disaster Tourist / Ko-Eun Yun
Date: 2020

Yona is star employee at her travel agency, which specializes in disaster tourism: she plans and organizes vacations to sites visited by natural or human-made disasters. But lately, her star seems to be waning: she has attracted the unwanted sexual attention of her supervisor, and her tasks seem to be going to other workers. Things come to a crisis when she is ordered to take a vacation, and strongly urged to take one of the agency's own underperforming packages to evaluate whether it should remain in the company catalog. It's a make-or-break assignment that could either mean new opportunities for Yona in the company, or her departure from it. The tour goes more or less as expected: awkward and underwhelming, and Yona ponders the industry's ethics and her participation in it. But s on the return trip, Yona is separated from her group and must overstay her itinerary -- it's then that she sees the actual conditions of the vacation destination, and learns the perverse incentives of disaster tourism.

It starts out as a business novel set in the tourism industry, then at about halfway it takes a sharp turn into Kafkaland. The plot twist is both bizarre and scary plausible. I'd read more.

maaliskuu 30, 7:59 am

>137 swynn: Ha! Yep, we who love the rules are sometimes above them because we love them.

huhtikuu 8, 8:11 am

Like, Literally, Dude is also entirely up my alley, so I'll be adding that to the ever-growing TBR list as well.

By the way, I just finished Out of Darkness all in a rush this morning and will look forward to your thoughts on it. Reviews on the work page are *very* divided.

huhtikuu 8, 12:36 pm

>138 swynn: A great switcheroo novel is hard to pull off, and it sounds to me like this one gets really close to getting it right. Of course, that could be my cynical lefty heart resonating with the capitalism critique....

Happy weekend's reads, Steve.

huhtikuu 10, 8:56 am

>138 swynn: Well, you got me with that one!

huhtikuu 10, 10:57 pm

>140 bell7: Comments on Out of Darkness coming soon. I didn't like it as well as I'd hoped, and the climax in particular went in a direction that I first didn't buy and then thought was too much.

I took a peek at the comments you posted yesterday, and agree with your observation that the book's opponents take passages out of context. Even the passages the haters complain about reflect common sentiments that every high schooler will recognize. It's definitely a book for high schoolers, and I agree it belongs in school libraries.

huhtikuu 10, 10:58 pm

>144 swynn: Well it certainly spoke to my cynically lefty heart

huhtikuu 10, 10:58 pm

>145 swynn: Hope you like it Jim!

huhtikuu 10, 11:07 pm

38) The Annual Migration of Clouds by Premee Mohamed
Date: 2021

Set in a near-future Alberta devastated by climate change and plagued by an epidemic of an untreatable fungal parasite. The adolescent narrator Reid and her mother live hand-to-mouth in a fragile and shrinking community outside the cities. So when Reid receives an invitation to attend university everyone recognizes it as an escape from a dead-end existence (except those who think it's an elaborate con -- and dang, it may just be an elaborate con). But Reid must also think about those she may leave behind, especially her ill mohter, and so takes a dangerous risk to balance the scales. It's bleak story about what we owe ourselves and what we owe each other, and I want a sequel.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 11, 12:37 pm

39) Love in Excess by Eliza Haywood
Date: 1720

Count D'elmont has just returned to Paris from the Nine Years' War, and reader he is a fine piece of manflesh. Every woman who sees desires him, but only the Lady Alovisa dares to declare her love. We can only assume that Alovisa is not a reader of romances, because she declares her love in an anonymous letter not suspecting that this will lead D'elmont to pursue another. Complications ensue. The plot is dense and involves love, deception, infidelity, love, mistaken identity, disguise, love, scandal, kidnapping, love, revenge, honor, true love, and swooning. OMG you would not believe the swooning. It is ridiculous. Also I kind of dug it: there is never *not* something happening, and events often deliver the impending disaster they continually promise.

huhtikuu 10, 11:48 pm

40 The Castle in Transylvania by Jules Verne
Date: 2010, French original 1892

Jules Verne's "Château des Carpathes" is the opposite of what you expect from Verne: its plot focuses on an apparently haunted castle and supernatural events. The residents of a Carpathian village are concerned when a nearby abandoned castle shows signs of activity. They send two men to investigate, who return with fantastic stories of mysterious lights and noises and forces that make the castle and grounds impenetrable. Shortly afterward, two travelers pass through the town, hear the story, and investigate. There is some effective atmosphere and fun adventure, but it's unfortunately spoiled by a tired love story, a few too many improbabilities, and a random dash of antisemitism.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 11, 5:37 pm

41) The Valley of Horses by Jean Auel

Follow-up to Auel's Clan of the Cave-Bear, in which the Cro-Magnon girl Ayla was raised in a clan of Neanderthals. CotCB closed as a change in leadership forced Ayla's banishment from the clan, making her effectively dead to her former family. In this one, Ayla sets out on her own, hoping to find others of her "kind" but more immediately concerned with finding shelter and sustenance. She finds an ideal location in the titular valley, where she spends several years living on her own, gathering food and herbs, adjusting her perspective to her solitary condition, and domesticating a horse and mountain lion. Meanwhile, a couple of Cro-Magnon brothers, Jondalar and Thonolan, set out on a sort of Wanderjahr, looking for their place in the world and talking about love. They briefly settle down with a Cro-Magnon tribe where Thonolan falls in love and gets married. But when tragedy strike, the two set out again, only to encounter a mountain lion. The lion kills Thonolan and severely wounds Jondalar. Ayla saves Jondalar from the lion, and brings him to her cave where she nurses him back to health and he teaches her how to speak and make love.

As mentioned above, I first read Clan of the Cave Bear in high school and was surprised by how well I liked it (and by how little sex it contained). It held up on re-reading, and I was optimistic going into The Valley of Horses. Alas, this one was a miss for me, and not even because of the porny sex scenes, which are several. (I don't exaggerate much when I say that Jondalar's penis is a character all its own.) What bothered me more were the characters' modern sensibilities and obsessions that make it read less like Clan of the Cavebear than The Flintstones without the jokes. Throw in a mostly eventless plot, and it adds up to a slog of a read.

huhtikuu 11, 6:11 pm

>148 swynn: I think Verne was on the government's side in l'Affaire Dreyfus of 1898, so it might be a dusting of his anti-Jewish personality for real. I don't remember where I read this, but I remember thinking "oh boo hiss Jules!" This one sound like a real chore to read, so I think I won't.

>149 swynn: Sad when a re-read goes south, Kalliope taking aim at your reading life, somehow.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 12, 9:15 am

>150 richardderus: It was deflating to encounter it, since I don't remember ever hearing about Verne's antisemitism before -- but a few Google searches now suggest to me that it was a recurring theme in his work, though mostly in lesser-known books. And yeah, in the Dreyfus affair he was apparently on the side of the devils.

The expected defenses exist: Verne was a product of his time, he was not as bad as others, he occasionally said nice things about Jewish people. All of which are probably true to some degree and also beside the point.

huhtikuu 16, 5:35 am

It took me a while to find you.

>4 swynn: >5 swynn: You have awakened many good memories of great reading material and a good friend.
He collected the booklets and was a huge fan.
Until I moved out and we lost touch, he let me borrow the first 1,000 episodes of the series. I enjoyed it very much. Some of the writers have also written good books outside the series.

You have read some books I love and some I will certainly read.
It's a bit late for a happy new thread, but I wish you all the best for the new week!

huhtikuu 16, 8:22 pm

>152 SirThomas: Welcome Thomas! And thanks for your memories of Perry Rhodan! I'm enjoying the series, and that reminds me I'm way overdue for an update. I'll have to add one soon

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 18, 10:07 am

42) Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez

Naomi is a Latina teenager who moves with her half-siblings to live with her stepfather, who works in the East Texas oil fields. When Naomi was younger her stepfather sexually abused her, so she is not enthusiastic about the move but her grandparents' declining health make it necessary, and her stepfather's recent religious conversion gives the move a veneer of safety. But Naomi isn't in her new home long before she encounters signs of trouble: she is refused service at the Whites-only grocery store, encounters prejudice at school, and her father's religious conversion proves fragile. The one bright point in her life is a boy, Wash, whose skin is even darker than hers and with whom she absolutely should not fall in love. It's not a pleasant book, and is not meant to be: racism is ugly, sexual abuse is horrifying, and the story goes in an ugly, horrifying direction. When a disaster occurs at the white school, the community's anxieties and loss provoke mob violence.

There is frank description of sex and sexual abuse, and unflinching treatment of racist prejudice. The direct handling of controversial issues has earned the book awards, but has also caught the attention of haters who challenged it onto the American Library Association's list of "Most Challenged Books."

For me, the story makes a few missteps, especially in its resoluton. There's a bit near the end where a lynch mob is diverted by a preacher who convinces the mob to hang its victims in effigy rather than in fact. This seems unrealistically optimistic to me, in that (1) the white preacher resists, rather than participates in, the lynching, and (2) the mob is open to criticism. It's an implausible twist whose only purpose is to spare the victim for an even more vicious death later on. The later scene's setup feels contrived and its violence gratuitous. For me, it raises a question about the boundary between criticizing violence and getting a thrill out of it. Which I think is a good question to ask, considering how much media we have that gets a thrill out of uncriticized violence. Not a book I'd recommend, but way the hell not a book I'd ban.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 16, 9:39 pm

43) Red Cavalry by Isaac Babel
Date: 1926

Isaac Babel was a Russian Jew, and also served with the Red Army in the Soviet-Polish war. Red Cavalry is a collection of very short pieces inspired by his experiences, which highlight the casual violence and maddening illogic of war, edged with dark satirical humor. The volume I read included Babel's war diaries, which are bleak and sobering.

Red Cavalry was burned by the Nazis and suppressed by the Soviets. With his satire in Red Cavalry Babel made enemies, some of whom saw to his execution on fabricated charges of espionage and treason.

huhtikuu 16, 9:45 pm

44) DAW #219: Spectrum of a Forgotten Sun by E.C. Tubb
Date: 1976

Fifteenth in Tubb's space opera series featuring Earl Dumarest, orphan of Earth trying to find his way home. In this one, Dumarest gets caught up in a heist gone wrong, trapped on a plague ship, then drafted into serving as champion to a disgraced aristocrat. The action is fun as usual, though the misogyny is strong.

huhtikuu 16, 11:01 pm

45) The Helios Syndrome by Vivian Shaw
Date: 2023

Devin Stacey is a "Contingency Communications Specialist" for the National Transportation Safety Board -- which is a way to say without sounding crazy that he talks to dead people for air crash investigations. What's even more far-out are the faceless pilot haunting him and the inexplicable crashes he has been investigating. It's a fun story with an engaging voice that leaves plenty of room for follow-ups, which I would read

huhtikuu 19, 10:20 am

>155 swynn: Is your edition the Pushkin Press one? It's on my Kindle. I keep putting it off because it's pretty tough sledding for a casual read.

>157 swynn: Looks good to me. Sold!

huhtikuu 19, 12:05 pm

>158 richardderus: No, mine was from Norton. It included a handful of uncollected Red Cavalry stories and Babel's war diaries. And you're right: it's not a casual read.

And hope you like the Shaw!

huhtikuu 19, 12:25 pm

>159 swynn: I think the Pushkin Press edition is only the collection not the diaries. I guess I'll see when I get to it. Whenever that ends up happening.

The Shaw looks like a good read. I'll let you know when I have read it.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 20, 9:48 am

46) The Mammoth Hunters by Jean Auel
Date: 1985

Third in the Jean Auel's "Earth's Children" series of historical dramas featuring Ayla, a Cro-Magnon woman who was raised in a clan of Neanderthals. In this one, Ayla and her new Cro-Magnon boyfriend Jondalar leave their secluded idylls in the valley of horses to join up with the Mamutoi, tribes of Cro-Magnon mammoth hunter. They join a tribe, who invite Ayla and Jondalar to join based on Jondalar's invention of the spear-thrower and Ayla's skill in making fire using flint and iron. Events follow: Ayla is drawn to a half-Neanderthal child in the tribe; Jondalar worries what their new clan will think of them when they learn that Ayla is herself the mother of a half-Neanderthal chld; she domesticates a wolf cub; she is initiated into the mysteries of the Mamutoi; one of the Mamutoi resents her presence; and Jondalar acquires a romantic rival. This last is the central and most exasperating thread of what passes here for plot: Jondalar loves Ayla and Ayla loves Jondalar but there's a Black guy in the Mamutoi tribe and there's exactly one way to find out what he's packing. Both A & J are unclear about how exclusive they expect each other to be and it doesn't occur to them to just talk about it. Jondalar wants Ayla to go steady with him but won't say so, and Ayla would prefer Jondalar over the new guy except now he's acting all standoffish and weird. (And if that sounds more like High School Problems than Cro-Magnon Problems then you and I have something in common.) One conversation would resolve the problem but Auel has six hundred pages and a plan to stretch the angst out for every bit of it.

It's not all bad. Auel's accounts of stone-age customs and technology are consistently interesting. But she often has trouble shifting from exposition to dialog, with the effect that it's often difficult to sort her modern explanations from her characters' prehistoric perceptions. The awkwardness is often jarring: after a musical performance described in musicological detail one character comments, "What strange, asymmetrical, compelling music." Yes, that is an actual line of dialog uttered by a caveperson who does not even understand that sex makes babies but has a refined musical palate. It's a mixture of fun and frustrating that would be more appealing if only it didn't run so damn long.

This was the bestselling book in the U.S. in 1985, which was the point of reading the series this far, so now I get to stop and that is fine with me.

huhtikuu 19, 2:18 pm

huhtikuu 19, 4:08 pm

>162 richardderus: *whew* indeed

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 20, 5:43 pm

47) American Hippo by Sarah Gailey
Date: 2018

In much contrast to The Mammoth Hunters this offers plenty of plot, action, and plain fun. I had read and enjoyed River of Teeth years ago, but put off Taste of Marrow to a point that when I finally picked it up I realized I had to re-read RoT to know what was going on. So hooray for this omnibus edition, which includes both novellas and a couple of short stories. They're caper stories set in an alternative 19th century America where feral hippos roam the Mississippi. It leaves some things unresolved, and other things ignored, but it's fast, light, and has hippopotamuses.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 26, 1:13 pm

48) Grimus by Salman Rushdie
Date: 1975

I'm actually not entirely sure what the book is about, but the story follows a young man who falls through a hole in the Mediterranean and arrives on the shore of an island of immortals. The hero is looking for his sister, but also a cure for immortality, and most importantly a place in the world. His search takes him on a surreal journey up the island's mountain. "Magical realism," I guess it is, but it feels like a fantasy written by an author who thinks worldbuilding is for nerds: the world feels incoherent and events random. It would be easier to dismiss except that Rushdie writes so well on a sentence level, and works in so much wordplay, puzzles, and literary allusion that the prose is fun in spite of the impenetrable story, even if many of the jokes go over one's head.

huhtikuu 26, 3:19 pm

>164 swynn: The having of hippopotamus es/I is the thing I enjoyed most about that series. There really is just a scandalously small hippopotamus presence in modern fiction.

huhtikuu 26, 3:21 pm

>165 swynn: one of Sir Salman's that I have never heard of before. Don't think I'll be rushing out to get one, either. I like my conventions honored, even if not observed.

huhtikuu 27, 7:07 am

>167 richardderus: It's his inaugural novel, and feels a lot like a clever young author flaunting his cleverness. I think your choice not to rush is the right one.

huhtikuu 28, 7:30 pm

>168 swynn: not being a completist, I am sure I can ignore it.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 16, 12:47 pm

49) Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala
Date: 2021
Raffy is a high schooler who's into crafting and especially cosplay. He enters a local cosplay competition but finds himself pitted against his ex-boyfriend Luca, for whom Raffy's fire still smolders. The angst is thick: Raffy's art-world mother disapproves of his lowbrow hobby, Luca has to play straight to cope with his religious family, and friends/frenemies/ex-friends complicate the drama.

I liked parts and I eye-rolled parts -- I may have sprained an an extraocular muscle on the suddenly-tidy ending -- but I'll still give it respect for pissing off the haters, since it appears on (Texas state representative and probable lizard-person) Matt Krause's list of books to remove from school libraries.

Read banned books, y'all.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 16, 12:57 pm

50) The Shadowglass by Rin Chupeco
Date: 2019

Third and last in Chupeco's "Bone Witch" fantasy series, about a super-smart super-magic teenager who accidentally learns she can raise the dead and change the world. I wasn't crazy about the first but I got all three in an omnibus collection so continued with the second which I liked better and so here I am on number three. I'm still not a fan: the series is too angsty, too preoccupied with explicating the world's complicated rules, and framed with a dual-timeline gimmick that I don't think helps the story at all. But given the first two volumes, this one delivers as satisfying an ending as I could have asked for.

toukokuu 16, 1:12 pm

>170 swynn: Based on the hate monger's blacklist I'll go get one.

toukokuu 16, 6:22 pm

>172 richardderus: Yea! I hope you even like it.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 16, 7:29 pm

51) Honeymoon With Murder by Carolyn G. Hart
Date: 1988

Fourth in Hart's "Death on Demand" series, featuring bookstore owner Annie (Laurance) Darling. This is the one where Annie Laurance becomes Annie Darling as she marries her boyfriend Max. Unfortunately for Annie and Max, their honeymoon must be postponed due to murder: Annie's friend and bookstore employee Ingrid Jones has disappeared, leaving the body of a local creep dead in her empty house. Police conclude that Ingrid is a murderer on the run, but Annie is certain her friend has been kidnapped, and all postmarital festivites must be postponed until she can solve the mystery and clear Ingrid's name. The solution here stretches belief, but the series's bread and butter are its eccentric characters and its frequent allusions to other mysteries, and on those points it delivers.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 16, 7:29 pm

52) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Date: 1925

I was an English major who somehow never landed in a course where Gatsby was required, so my sense of it has been based on a few excerpts and so many conversations and lectures about that damn green light that I could probably convince you that I'd already read it. But I hadn't; it was just a text I intended to get around to someday.

Well, I've gotten around to it and now I get it. It's brilliant, and still resonates. Although I can't help feeling that if Fitzgerald thought he'd seen grotesque wealth and toxic ambition and uncrossable class boundaries he might've bothered to live another hundred years and kept taking notes.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 16, 7:27 pm

53) Madam de Beaumont by Penelope Aubin
Date: 1721

While strolling on his seaside estate, a Welsh gentleman spies "a maid of exquisite beauty and shape" standing in the opening of a cave. He discovers that the girl and her mother are exiles from France and have taken up residence in the cave under diminished conditions: they have only one servant and but a fraction of their furniture. The mother, Madam de Beaumont, is the child of a French nobleman and an English woman from a Royalist (albeit protestant) family who had fled to France with James II. Through a series of unlikely events Mme. de Beaumont married a young French lord against his catholic father's wishes. When she refused to convert after years of education and exhortations, the father determined to separate them. Mme. de Beaumont and her young daughter departed for England where they could practice their religion in peace but alas their ship foundered on the coast of Wales and they set up house in a surprisingly cozy cave. Upon hearing this story, not to mention smitten with the younger Beaumont, the Welsh gentleman determines to restore the lives of the De Beaumonts and marry the maid. It's a frenetic plot, with characters constantly being moved around to France, to Sweden, to Wales, to the next county over; there are family issues, highway robbers and more missing persons than you'd expect could be lost in the pages of such a short novel. It's busy, prone to moralizing, and a little bonkers, but there is never nothing happening and it engaged my enjoyment better than that crackpot colonizer Crusoe did.

toukokuu 17, 1:38 pm

>175 swynn: I'm glad it lived up to the hype for you, Steve. I read it for high school English and have loved it ever since. Probably due for a re-read, actually.

toukokuu 22, 2:20 pm

>177 MickyFine: It definitely did! Now I'm ready for Nghi Vo's retelling, The Chosen and the Beautiful

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 22, 5:54 pm

54) A Plunge Into Space by Robert Cromie
Date: 1890

Eccentric scientist Henry Barnett discovers how to manipulate "forces" to negate Earth's gravity. Barnett's explorer friend MacGregor organizes an expedition to Mars, assembling a team including a novelist, an artist, a politician, a journalist, and a businessman. (All the skills necessary for taming a new world, I guess.) They launch from a site in the Alaskan wilderness, where they first slaughter some natives before taking their message of peace into space. The spacecraft functions through managing the forces of planetary gravity: as Barnett cancels the effect of Earth's gravity the ship is caught by that of Mars, and the explorers feel as if they are falling toward their destination -- hence, "plunging" into space. Arriving on Mars, they meet an ancient race living in utopian anarchism, along with a beautiful Martian maiden, for whose attentions the crew compete. Eventually the Martians ask the crew to leave, on grounds that their attentions to the Martian girl are not entirely proper, and that the politician and businessman just won't stop talking about parliamentary government and banking. I mean, I'd kick 'em out too, wouldn't you?

It's a little difficult to know how to read this: the adventure parts are not bad, but the utopian travel narrative is muddled and silly, and one is tempted to read the whole thing as a satire on the Vernish adventure genre it seems to imitate. But if it is a joke, it's an exceptionally dead-pan one because you never get the feeling that it's intended as such, and what critical commentary I can find seems to take it at face value. Even more to the point, it was originally published with an introduction by Jules Verne (reproduced in the Hyperion Press "Classics of Science Fiction" edition, which is the one I read), who would hardly have been inclined to participate in the joke. Most interesting is how the plot anticipates better-known stories like The First Men in the Moon and The Cold Equations.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 24, 4:51 pm

55) The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Date: 1719

Robinson Crusoe was such a success that Defoe rushed a sequel to press the very same year. Following the adventures of the first book, Crusoe has settled down and started a family. But he continues to long for adventure and particularly to see his island again. Upon the death of his wife, Crusoe buys a merchant ship, appoints his nephew commander, and arranges to have it stop for a few days at his former island home where he checks in on the Spanish castaways and English mutineers whose hands he left it in. The first half of the book recounts their story, which involves internal conflict until they must band together against the threat of hostile neighbors. Crusoe and a shipwrecked priest spend time hand-wringing over the thought that some of the men are living with native women as husband and wife without benefit of clergy. They must be married for the sake of their souls; but they cannot be married until the women are converted. This is apparently Very Important. Having put his little colony in order, Crusoe then travels further around the world through more adventures. They stop at Madagascar, where one of the Europeans rapes a local girl; the natives react by capturing the rapist and hanging him, which the sailors regard as an outrageous overreaction, so in retaliation they respond by slaughtering the natives and burning their village. Crusoe objects, and so finds himself marooned once again. This time, however, he is fortunately closer to civilization and makes his way back to England through Cambodia, China, Russia, and Germany. More adventures are had: he is mistaken for a pirate, meets a Catholic priest who Crusoe decides is almost as good as a Christian (yay for ecumenicism, I guess), and destroys a pagan idol for Jesus.

It is difficult to sympathize with RC's 18th century preoccupations and prejudices but it's consistently interesting, often for reasons Defoe probably did not intend.

toukokuu 25, 9:25 am

56) The Last Ocean : What Dementia Teaches Us About Love by Nicci Gerrard
Date: 2019

The author lost her father to Alzheimer's. Some of his last months were spent in a hospital during COVID, and she is convinced that the isolation contributed to his decline. This book is collects her thoughts and experiences, and things she has learned about dementia. I've mentioned that my mother is in the early, maybe middle, stages of the disease -- anyway, she has progressed to a point where she can no longer live independently. I was hoping for some insight and maybe some guidance but didn't feel I got it from this book. It's well arranged, and well written, but it's not a practical guide, and (for me) not especially informative, but rather a collection of essays and meditations on mostly affective aspects dementia. I appreciate the author's openness about her own experience, but I find that my response is lukewarm. Others have loved it, and reviews are uniformly positive, so let's assume it's a mismatch between what it is and what I was looking for.

toukokuu 25, 9:35 am

>181 swynn: We're early days in the dementia literature and haven't yet got critical mass on the concerns we need to address. Memoirs like this are going to fall by the wayside and be replaced with more actionable stuff but there is no critical mass of information needing to be disseminated.

Frustrating, isn't it?

Maybe something broader about eldercare could help...?

toukokuu 25, 12:18 pm

>181 swynn: Being a non-fiction librarian at a public library I can't resist the urge to provide some alternatives that might be more what you're looking for. Use or ignore as suits you:

The 36-Hour Day - Nancy L. Mace
Creative Care - Anne Basting
Dementia: A Very Short Introduction - Kathleen E. Taylor

This last one is right on the border of being 5 years old, which is when I start getting hesitant about recommending for medical material but this series is really great:

Alzheimer's Disease & Dementia: What Everyone Needs to Know - Steven R. Sabat

toukokuu 29, 4:13 pm

>182 richardderus:
>183 MickyFine:

Funny thing is, I'd picked it up without even realizing I was looking for something. I'd seen a recommendation for it and thought, "Oh, that's something I can relate to," and it was only while reading that I realized I'd really like to read something else.

Thanks for the suggestions, and the recs! I'd already found The 36-hour day, which sounded more like the book I wanted The Last Ocean to be and it's on the way!

toukokuu 29, 5:20 pm

>184 swynn: I hope it's useful!

kesäkuu 2, 3:57 pm

>186 swynn: There can be only one.

kesäkuu 4, 7:06 pm

>186 swynn: so adorable! signed, the guy with over 13,000 Kindlebooks alone and less than 20 years to go

kesäkuu 5, 5:33 pm

>161 swynn: I lost track of your thread. The Mammoth Hunters. This series went downhill so fast that this book was my last I could read, all those years ago. I did have a go at The Plains of Passage a few years after this when it came out but I couldn't tolerate it. You gave a very nice summary of the mess of Mammoth Hunters.

Glad to see you haven't completely forgotten the DAWs.

Tänään, 3:37 pm

>187 ArlieS:
>188 richardderus:

Right? The whole "You can only read one book at a time, so just buy your next one and put everything else on a 'someday' list" .... well, I'm glad it works for him.

>189 RBeffa: Hi Ron! Yes, I'm happy to have left the Earth's Children series after book 3.

And DAWs: I'm going through them less fast than I used to but haven't forgotten them. There's an Elric book up next, which I hope to read this month.

Tänään, 4:31 pm

I have fallen far behind in reviews, so what do y'all say to a Saturday sprint?

57) Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance and other stories by Tobias S. Buckell
Date: 2023

Here's a collection of fifteen hard-sf stories by Caribbean author Buckell. I first encountered Buckell through his story for the New Suns anthology, "Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex," a story about a cabbie in a Manhattan turned intergalactic tourist trap. That story is included. Several others are set in a future world where Earth has been colonized by hypercapitalist aliens. These are the kind of stories you'd expect to find in Analog, only without the libertarian politics. I liked 'em, and will look for more.

Tänään, 4:36 pm

58) Can't Nothing Bring Me Down by Ida Keeling
Date: 2018

This is the memoir of centenarian sprinter Ida Keeling, who took up running in her sixties and set records into her 100's. Somewhat to my disappointment, only about 20 of 200 pages are about running. Instead it focuses on her struggles as a black single mother in early-20th century Harlem. For what it is, it is an interesting and valuable document; and kudos to Ida for the life she lived. I just wanted more running.

Tänään, 5:24 pm

59) Chasing Whispers by Eugen Bacon
Date: 2022

This is a collection of stories by the author of Mage of Fools, which Richard recced to me last year with excellent reason. I'm afraid I found this collection more opaqe than MoF: bluntly, I did not always know what was going on. The cover story features a woman who starts having hallucinations after eating the bark of a magical tree. Other stories involve mermaids, skinless girls, and a raven campaigning to be a witchdoctor's familiar. All have gorgeous prose, vivid surreal imagery, and narratives that demand close attention.

Tänään, 5:34 pm

60) The Phoenix and the Carpet by E. Nexbit
Date: 1904

Sequel to Nesbit's Five Children and It. In this one, the children hatch a Phoenix egg and go for adventures on a flying carpet. Mostly fun with the expected mix of "that didn't age well" moments.