Sunday Status Update: November 25, 2012

This week, in honor of his forthcoming biography, we hear from Chicago’s only Wizard registered in the phone book, Harry Dresden.

Brad: I’m still reading several novels, but I didn’t finish any. I’m still focused on short works. As you’ll see below, this week, I really felt like reading comics for the most part. I include an * before works I’d recommend.

SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS:
from Enough Rope: Collected Stories by Lawrence Block:

  • *”A Bad Night for Burglars”
  • “A Blow for Freedom”

COMICS:

  • ***Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill (Wow! Creepy stories by the son of Stephen King)
  • *** The Walking Dead, Volume 1 by Robert Kirkman (excellent, and I don’t even like much horror fiction and I hate horror films)
  • *Liar’s Kiss by Eric Skillman (great P.I. story)
  • Batman and Robin #14-16 by Grant Morrison (one of the storylines leading into Batman Incorporated)
  • reread *Demo #5-6 by Brian Wood
  • Where Is Jake Ellis? #1 by Nathan Edmondson (follow-up to a previous Jake Ellis story that I really enjoyed.)
  • *Stumptown  Volume 2 #3 by Greg Rucka (Rucka is one of my favorite writers: Stumptown is about a female P.I.)
  • Thief of Thieves #10 by Kirkman & Asmus
  • Saucer Country #9 by Paul Cornell
  • *Saga #7 by Brian K. Vaughan
  • Point of Impact #2 by Jay Faerber (halfway through the four issue mystery . . .)
  • The Phantom Stranger #2 by Dan Didio
  • Legends of the Dark Knight #22-24 by Paul Tobin
  • Batman #14 by Scott Snyder (the early part of a new arc about the Joker. Very dark. I’m not sure I like it yet.)

Harry: This week I was very busy studying my new case — which involves mysterious black fedoras that only appear in pictures of people who never wear hats — but I did make an effort to get some reading done. I tried the IRON DRUID chronicles, but for some reason I just couldn’t relate to the protagonist, some sort of wisecracking magician with a big dog. Instead, I decided to rent Lord of the Rings and A Midsummer Night’s Dream from the library again (I have a standing reservation: Jan the Librarian is good people). As my car was in the shop for the afternoon after being flattened, incinerated, digested, and finally atomized, I decided to walk. On the way there, I was beaten up twenty-four times in sixteen different alleys, but I did manage to hold the door for a woman going into the library. The fact that she then turned around and clobbered me with a crowbar can’t really detract from the warm fuzzies I got from the deed. It’s the little things that count.

John: As the Fiscal Year has finally been completed I can get back to reading.  Three reviews pending.

Kat: The football saga has finally ended. My 13-year-old son’s Pop Warner football team was in the playoffs for the championship, so we’ve been travelling all over Florida for the past few weekends. With that and hosting Thanksgiving at my house (and off the next morning for the next game), I had little time for reading. I finished Fritz Leiber’s story collection The Ghost Light and am almost finished with Kelly Link’s collection Stranger Things Happen. Meanwhile, my son’s team made it to the top 16 (nationally) and lost yesterday to the team that will represent the southeast region in the national championship games at Disney World.

Kelly: I’m off to St. Louis to see the fam. But if they fall asleep watching football, I just might sneak off and read! I’m indulging my love of historical fiction with The Second Duchess by Elizabeth Loupas, and attempting to scare the living daylights out of myself with Shirley Jackson‘s The Haunting of Hill House.

Marion: This seems to be my week for struggling with books I had trouble getting into. I’m taking History of Love by Nicole Krauss with me over Thanksgiving to give this one a second chance, and I am surprised to be struggling with Cherie Priest’s latest CLOCKWORK CENTURY book, The Inexplicables. I don’t care for the viewpoint character and that is really slowing me down. After last week’s discussion on fantasy creatures and gargoyles, it seemed like an omen when I found C.E. Murphy’s Heart of Stone in my local used bookstore, so I picked it up, but I haven’t started it yet.

Ruth: I finished J.A. Souders debut novel Renegade. This YA dyslit novel will scratch your Hunger Games itch, and the series has the potential to make it big. I’m also reading the absolutely amazing anthology Epic, edited by John Joseph Adams. I’m almost half way through and just about every story has been five stars. With contributions from authors like Robin HobbBrandon Sanderson andPatrick Rothfuss, what would you expect? I am also tearing through Second Shift – Order by Hugh Howey. This prequel to Wool is heartrending. In non-fantasy reading, I’m reading Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare for a course on literature I am taking. And then I am reading Wes Jackson’s Becoming Native to this Place, about the need for individuals to develop relationships with their resident ecosystems.

Steven: This week I’ve gone back to re-read an old favorite, The Languages of Pao by Jack Vance. It’s a thought-provoking read about the impact language has on behavior and culture, and this is probably about the 7th or 8th time I’ve read it. I also plowed along a little in a biography, Eisenhower in War and Peace, by Jean Edward Smith. I’m finding Eisenhower a much more interesting person than I would have ever thought him to be. On the “to be read” or in my case the “to be finished” side of the ledger, I still have Figures of Earth by James Branch Cabell and Dancing with Bears by Michael Swanwick. I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving week.

Terry: I had this past week off, and expected that to mean that I’d get a lot more reading done than I actually did. Somehow having a husband means that I just don’t spend as much time with books as I did in my single days — I mean, think about it, I can’t read during dinner, and that’s an hour a day right there! I did get a couple of novels polished off, though: Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch (which I liked enough that I ordered the next two in the series immediately after finishing) and Eyes to See by Joseph Nassise (which I also enjoyed). I also read the first half or so of The Uninvited by Liz Jensen, which so far seems a great cross-genre thriller with a nicely drawn main character with Asperger’s Syndrome, and Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor, which is excellent. Altogether, as you can see, I’m very happy with what I’ve been reading lately.

Tim: This week I continued David Mitchell‘s Cloud Atlas (I’m savoring it slowly as I can: Mitchell really is a remarkable author), and also read another David Gemmell book, Echoes of the Great Song. I much preferred Echoes to last week’s text, White Wolf. Where the latter tended to fall into that typical Heroic Fantasy trap of lovingly crafting scenes of combat without making the reader care about why the characters are hitting each other with swords, the former is much better crafted and perhaps the best of Gemmell’s I’ve yet read, barring — of course — the original Legend.


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TIM SCHEIDLER has recently finished a degree in English literature. He currently lives in Canada but will soon be on his way to Trinity College in Dublin for graduate school. Tim enjoys many authors, but particularly loves J.R.R. Tolkien, Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, Robin Hobb, and Jacqueline Carey. When he’s not reading, Tim enjoys traveling, playing the fiddle and bagpipes, writing in any shape or form, and pretending Kung Fu as he does it is a real sport.

View all posts by Tim Scheidler

20 comments

  1. Brad Hawley /

    Steven, your comments got me downloading more Vance samples for later (if I can make it through the next 8 days of grading, the hardest week other than finals week for me). I have loved the three books I have read of his so far.

    Ruth, would EPIC be a good intro for the fantasy novice? And are they really self-contained, well-constructed short stories or are they actually a) excerpts from longer works or b) short stories relying on knowledge of the author’s other works?

    • Some of them are set in the authors’ worlds, some not, or at least I am not familiar with their writings, and I am doing fine. Rothfuss’s story actually features Kvothe, but I don’t think you need to have read of his books to do fine with the story.

      They are not all short stories. For example, Robin Hobb’s piece is about 90 pages long, but some of the stories are under ten pages. I think it’s a great way to get a feel for a lot of epic writers and decide which ones you want to pursue more.

      • Brad Hawley /

        That sounds excellent! I haven’t read any epic fantasy (other than maybe two or three volumes), so that really does sound like a great way to sample a genre that overwhelms me.

        Thank you! I need some epically short stories.

  2. Brad Hawley /

    Magnus Ridolph by Vance sounded so cool I had to download the whole thing immediately!

  3. Brad, I love the Magnus Ridolph stories. Just be forewarned they’re written very early in his career, before he had really developed his style. Even so, I love old Magnus and the way he outwits his adversaries is humorous and enjoyable.

  4. I have The Languages of Pao on my bookshelf but have not read it yet.

    • Brad Hawley /

      Just read the first story. I loved it! I love him! What a great character. And Vance is my favorite author of the year. He’s the only new author I’ve wanted to read much more of. The Magnus Ridolph stories make me want to read Asimov’s robot/detective stories for more sci-fi meets noir.

      Who else falls in the sci-fi + P.I./noir category? I know old Harry up there conducts his supernatural detecting work on the mean streets of urban fantasy, but I don’t know much more than that. Though I’d guess the URBAN part of urban fantasy would lend itself more to noir than sci-fi. What can you experts tell me about noir + sci-fi?

      • Brad Hawley /

        I just did a little exploring and found more noir Vance, including two Miro short stories and two Bain novels. I also found an Edgar award-winning novel (can’t remember the name at the moment). Cannot wait to read all these!

        • Brad Hawley /

          Is it bad that I comment on my comments all the time? Is it appropriate to comment on my comments to my comments? I have reached the level of meta-comments.

          Seriously, though, Vance won an Edgar, a major crime fiction award, for The Man in the Cage.

          What do you Vance fans–Kat and Steven–think of Vance’s work in the genre of mystery/crime fiction? Or have you focused on his sci-fi/fantasy works?

          And no more comments to my comments (for now). I promise I will wait for someone else to speak up!

          • Brad Hawley /

            The above link is to a list of Sci-Fi P.I.s (compiled by someone who seems not to like sci-fi or fantasy very much, which I find odd on a site dedicated to P.I.s, another sub-genre of the vast playing field that is American pulp fiction. But I’ll be checking out the reading suggestions on this list.)

          • Brad, I love meta-comments.

          • Brad, I love your comments. Regarding Noir in fantasy and sci-fi, there’s a lot of fantasy, sci-fi and supernatural detective/p.i. stuff out there. The Thrilling Detective link you list below is a great place to start. Regarding Vance, I love his “Galactic Effectuator” and “Magnus Ridolph” stories. There’s also “The Augmented Agent” which I have yet to read. I’ve not read his straight mystery fiction such as “The Pleasant Grove Murders,” but I’ve heard good things about them from other Vance fans (who admittedly are probably biased.) Also much of his science fiction such as Araminta Station and the Alastor novels center around the solving of murders and other crimes.

      • The Takeshi Kovacs books by Richard Morgan (is that right?) are a good introduction to SF noir.

    • Kat, I liked it, it’s got an interesting concept.

  5. Kelly, I have Loupas’ The Second Duchess on my TBR after reading a number of positive reviews. Anxious to hear yours! Read The Haunting of Hill House many years ago, but shivered delightedly throughout!

    • I ended up really enjoying both books! Hill House will fit here at FanLit and I don’t think Second Duchess will, but I might drop a Goodreads link into a future status update or something. :)

  6. Love the Dresden entry. :D

  7. April V. /

    Marion – I had a hard time getting in to The Inexplicables for the same reason. However, do persevere and he grows on you. I really have to like the main character to care enough to continue reading but I was able to continue with this one by just tolerating the MC. I enjoyed it, in the end, but it isn’t my favorite of the series.

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