Sunday Status Update: October 4, 2015

This week, Kvothe.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kvothe: Ordinary week at the Waystone Inn. I poured drinks and washed glasses, shucked ears of corn and grilled steaks. I wiped the bar and fed the fire and dusted the mantel and slid ever closer to the collapse of my identity and the final ruin of my life’s ambitions. You know. Same old, same old. There was one piece of interesting news this week, mind you. Apparently my story is going to be adapted into some kind of multimedia entertainment event, which Bast assures me is very prestigious. Apparently I’m going to be a play, and a sort of long-form serial, and also a game. I have no idea how they’ll manage all that, seeing as most of what I recall is just me messing around at the University, but whatever the public wants, I suppose…

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Bill: Fighting off a bad bacterial chest infection this week, so not a lot of reading. I did however finish Kameron Hurley’s Ascendant Empire, which I found weaker than its predecessor, The Mirror Empire. Thanks to their brevity, I also read two graphics: Drones by Chris Lewis and Ghosts and Girls of Fiction House! edited by Michael Price. The first had strong potential thanks to what it was attempting, but I thought failed hugely in the execution, while the second is interesting more as a historical record (Fiction House published in the 40s and 50s) than as story. Reviews to come for all . . .

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Brad: This week I have been reading Ted Chiang’s Stories of Your Life and Others, as well as Silverberg’s Tower of Glass. I also just read and reviewed Neil Gaiman’s six-issue The Sandman: Overture, which just wrapped up this past Wednesday after two years! I’ve continued to read more Grendel stories by Matt Wagner, and I hope to review soon the first two of four Grendel Omnibus editions available from Dark Horse. Also, I’m halfway through the comic book cult classic Enigma by Peter Milligan, an eight-issue series from the mid-90s that was long out-of-print. Look for a review of Enigma soon. And for fans of pulp adventure stories and art, check out my review of Five Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Gray that was posted yesterday. Finally, if you’ve never read it, I hope you’ll check out my updated Manifesto on Why We Should Read Comics, also posted yesterday.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Jana: This week I finished Last Song Before Night, by Ilana C. Myer, and should be posting a review shortly. I also read Becoming Darkness by Lindsay Francis Brambles, an alternate-history YA horror novel which asks “What if the Nazis won WWII?” with the added twist of a global vampirism plague. It’s mostly quite good, with lots of allusions to literary predecessors like Dracula. I also read “A Questionable Client,” a prequel/introductory short story to the KATE DANIELS series by Ilona Andrews. Next I’m going to start The House, by Christina Lauren, another YA horror novel (’tis the season!) about Bad Things living in a spooky house.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Jason: This week I finished William Sloane’s The Rim of Morning: Two Tales of Cosmic Horror. Hint: It’s really good. If you like Lovecraft or are looking for a good October-smoke-filled-air-and-chill-blown-leaves kinda book… this is it. My review is complete and currently in very capable editorial hands. I have a couple older reviews that will be new to FanLit and should be posted in the next couple of days and/or weeks, including the very smart and philosophical The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, a good but not great From a Buick 8 by Stephen King, and the 1864 sci fi/fantasy classic from Jules Verne, Journey to the Center of the Earth.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kat: Two novels and two novellas this week. Who Goes There? is John W. Campbell’s scary story that inspired The Thing. Robert Sheckley’s Alien Starswarm is a space opera that’s supposed to be funny but which I found dull and juvenile. Scott HawkinsThe Library at Mount Char was an edge-of-your-seat horror story that was fantastically unique and nearly too intense for me. There were several scenes during which I wished I had not been driving or eating. John Flanagan is back with a new prequel series in his RANGER’S APPRENTICE saga.The Tournament at Gorlan tells of Halt’s early days with the Rangers and fills in some backstory. I complained that the end of this saga had a lot of repetitive filler and it’s the same case here. It doesn’t help that I read it after the Hawkins’ book during which I was hanging on every word.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kate: This week I stopped progress on everything else I’ve been reading and paid full attention to Austin Grossman’s Crooked, which is easily the best book I’ve read this year. I finished it yesterday, and can’t stop thinking about it (or talking about it to family, friends, and perfect strangers). Of course, the reading experience was greatly enhanced by the audiobook narrator, Kiff Vandenheuvel, whose Nixon impression was delightful–just enough to get a sense of his voice, but not so much as to be a caricature. I also went out and bought a hardback copy just to have, because it was that good. If I didn’t have a bunch of papers to grade, I’d plead “recently fell in love with dead President and clandestine wizard Richard Nixon,” ignore all duties, and read it again immediately. Actually, do you think my students would accept that excuse?

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Kevin: This week, I’ve been hooked by Kameron Hurley’s The Mirror Empire. I loved the premise of this novel and can’t wait to read the sequel! It comes out on October 6th, the same day as Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Mercy, book three in her celebrated trilogy. Squeeeee!!! I also just realized Jim Butcher’s new book, The Aeronaut’s Windlass, came out today; I’ve been agonizing over whether or not to read it, leaning towards a yes. Here’s to many good reads in the very near future!

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Marion: I finished Charles E Gannon’s space-opera Raising Caine and  review will follow soon. It was a thrill ride! I also read the first book in Naomi Novik’s TEMERAIRE series, His Majesty’s Dragon. I loved the relationship between Temeraire and Laurence, and the “fantasy” 1800s Britain was well-done, but I didn’t understand where the dragons came from. We had a lively discussion about Ayn Rand on the site last week, and it reminded me that my favorite used bookstore had a copy of Jennifer Burns’s The Goddess of the Market Place; Ayn Rand and the American Right, so I picked it up. I’m only into Chapter Three but it is fascinating reading. Whatever I might think of her philosophy, it’s breath-taking to see a person completely, successfully reinvent themselves.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Sandy: Moi? During this time of the year, my reading preferences tend to veer away from sci-fi and into the realms of dark fantasy and outright horror … naturally enough, I would suppose. I have just (finally) finished reading Jessie Douglas Kerruish’s 1922 lycanthropy classic The Undying Monster, and hope to get a review of it (and the 1942 film made from it) out very shortly. Next up for me will be the collection entitled Half in Shadow, by Mary Elizabeth Counselman, which I was fortunate enough to acquire in the Arkham House edition (if that means anything to anybody out there). Lots of thrills and chills in store for me, I expect…

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Stuart: This week I dedicated to J.G. Ballard‘s The Drowned World (1962) and The Crystal World (1966), both part of David Pringle’s Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels. After the first listen, I found it difficult to absorb both stories, as the characters are detached even though the imagery is vivid and hallucinatory. Certain audiobooks require a lot of concentrated listening, so I listened to both a second time. I discovered that I much preferred The Drowned World, with its languid depiction of humans slipping back into Triassic Age dreams and their own neuronic pasts. As for The Crystal World, it also features some amazing images of crystallization, but I didn’t care about the characters nearly as much. I also finished Gene Wolfe‘s The Fifth Head of Cerberus (1972), a novel made up of three novellas that are strange and mysterious, but reveal every so slowly some extremely subtle and intricate connections. Next up are J.G. Ballard‘s The Concrete Island (1974) and High-Rise (1975), the latter of which is a good counterpoint to Ayn Rand‘s The Fountainhead (1943) according to Brad thanks to its negative view of the architectural hubris of erecting towers (did I get that right?). Finally, I squeezed in Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49(1966), which is neither SF nor fantasy, but was chosen for David Pringle’s Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels. I doubt it would even make the cut for our Edge feature, but I’ve always wanted to try Pynchon and it’s his shortest book.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Terry: I’m still reading everything I was reading last week, but I’ve added a few other novels to the rotation. The novel getting most of my attention right now is The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley. I’m a third of the way through and I have absolutely no idea what’s going on, and am having trouble keeping track of who’s who, which means I have notes everywhere. That isn’t to say I’m not enjoying it, but wow, it’s a tough one. I’ve also started The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies by Martin Millar, which is a crazy book about the war between Athens and Sparta, the playwrights at work then, and the gods and goddesses who meddle in their lives. Finally, I’ve started Maplecroft by Cherie Priest on Marion’s recommendation, and it’s a joy; good prose, a wonderful voice for the first-person narrator, and the complete craziness that comes with writing in a Lovecraftian world.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews Tim: This week I read Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass and Anthony Ryan‘s Blood Song. I’d initially given up on the latter book, but I went back to it this week for no particular reason I can figure out (sometimes my brain confuses me). Both of these books featured unstoppable warriors being very aloof and too-cool-for-school, and I began to wonder if I was having a kind of theme week. Reviews forthcoming.


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TIM SCHEIDLER, who's been with us since June 2011, holds a Master's Degree in Popular Literature from Trinity College Dublin. Tim enjoys many authors, but particularly loves J.R.R. Tolkien, Robin Hobb, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, and Susanna Clarke. When he’s not reading, Tim enjoys traveling, playing music, writing in any shape or form, and pretending he's an athlete.

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7 comments

  1. Kat, I hope you didn’t read parts of Th Library at Mount Char while you were eating barbeque!

  2. I’ll be interested to see the spectrum of reactions to The Mirror Empire on here . . .

  3. Ha! Tim, I love your Kvothe entry! “multimedia event”–had me cackling.

  4. Terry, how is Maplecroft so far?

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