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I finished A Red Death. Mosley's dialog is sparkling, as always, and there's plenty of sex and violence (in terms of sex, Easy Rawlins may have Mike Hammer beat!)
However, I did feel Mosley's characters were a bit weak and leaned heavily on a few traits and some cliches, especially the people Easy meets at his local church who play a part in the crime. While I had an idea of who the killer was before the denouement, I totally didn't expect what his motives were. It tied up almost too neatly, like an Agatha Christie novel.
Now I'm taking a break from neo-noir pulp and reading Ellis Peters' last Brother Cadfael mystery. It's a very different style and milieu. I'm such a mystery junky!
I'm not really into punk, but those kids are pretty good. Be interesting to see where they go from here.
I finished Bring Up the Bodies. Now the wait begins... I guess I could watch the t.v. show of Wolf Hall, but I doubt the show will end before Mantel writes the last book, and I wouldn't want to watch the ending before reading it anyway.
I'm reading stuff for work right now, but also Walter Mosley's A Red Death. I wish my co-workers would leave me alone on my break so I can read. They're normally pretty good about that, but this week everyone has been chatty in the break room and I can't focus.
Now reading Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. This one is more straightforward in its chronology than Wolf Hall, but I find it leads to a slower pace and drags a bit. Even though Mantel's dialog is witty and there's lots of nice irony. I'm kind of impatient to read the downfall of the Boleyns. I hope Mantel's next book (the last in the series) picks up the pace a bit - it ought to, with the dissolution of the monastaries and such providing lots of room for action.
My copy of A Red Death by Walter Mosley also came in. Haven't started it yet, but I'm looking forward to it. It'll be less complex than Mantel, I hope, judging by Devil in a Blue Dress.
I finished Catherine Jinks' The Reformed Vampire Support Group. It was very funny, and quick-paced. The dust-jacked copy describes it as a mystery, but it is less of a mystery than a "caper" sort of novel. There were a few loose threads in the plot, but on the whole it was a quick, entertaining read with plenty of snarky dialogue and pop-culture vampire references. I plan to read her sequel, which is about werewolves, in between my other novels.
The nature of commercial publishing has changed. Whereas before publishers wanted pulp novels to be short so that they could keep manufacturing costs down and at least hope to break even on an investment in a new title, now they want to maximize their risk up front on a planned series because they hope it will have a built-in market: if you buy the first one, you NEEEED to buy the second one or will never know how the story ends. It's like a home-grown book-of-the-month club.
In mystery publishing, they up front will ASK if you plan to have your detective be a series detective. They don't like stand-alone stories anymore. But that's for mass market. If you're aiming for the literary market, such as "An Instance of the Fingerpost" or "The Name of the Rose" (to use the mystery genre as an example) then they don't care if its planned as a series or not, because the higher price, smaller print run and likelihood of being reviewed in a major newspaper or magazine are more conducive to a return on investment.
I finally finished Wolf Hall! Yay me! I am not sure I am ready to tackle the next book in the series, though I probably should read it soonish, before I forget who most of the character are. I just finished the book and can't remember who Lord Lisle is already. I think he might be the one in Calais?
For in-between the Cromwell saga: I have Walter Mosley's A Red Death on hold at the library, and The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks. I'll read whichever one comes in first.
I also have some short sci-fi anthologies I've been skimming. Nothing spectacular has caught my eye yet, so I won't mention the current ones here. I will say I did enjoy Ted Chiang's Stories of Your Life and Others, which I finished reading awhile ago; "Tower of Babylon" from that collection reminds me a bit of Robert Silverberg's "Sailing to Byzantium" in its evocation of a mythic reality.There is also one about a bicycle I really liked, but I can't remember if it is in Chiang's anthology or another one I'm reading (I have 4 currently on my Jenga-book-pile).
Although I'm not the OP, I'll go ahead and say if you aren't a Pern fan, you really oughtn't to post in the "Dragon riders of Pern fans?" thread and hate on McCaffrey. I'm sure the OP would appreciate constructive opinions of the series, but "it would be better off if it didn't exist" isn't constructive.
I was being facetious. Hence the lighter note.
I haven't been following the controversy that long. Links?
Wrote about Annie Bellet
If you read the linked article in Wired magazine on the first page of the post in the thread, she talks about why she declined her nomination. It was because she didn't want to be associated with the slate and have politics dragged into it, not because she was pressured. She explicitly states that she wasn't pressured. She felt the nomination was tainted.
I'm all for Anathem being more culturally present, but phrasing it like that makes it seem that Twilight or The Hunger Games ought to be less culturally present. That troubles me because those books have gotten tween/teen girls to read who might not otherwise. I'd rather see a girl pick up Twilight than be part of the non-reading statistic. 20% of Americans don't read a single book in a year! Are these books great literature? No. But most of what people read isn't. Do you know how many Robert Ludlum books my library has, and "oh no, we can't discard those because they circulate!" but our last copy of The Pickwick Papers? "Go ahead and toss it, because no one reads the classics!"
Truthfully, they don't. They just don't.
Pern was discounted too, back in the day. There were whole "you've got fantasy in my sci-fi" arguments about it. The kid who read Pern books at my high school got beat on for it (probably also a matter of sexism, since he was a guy and there was a girl on the cover, and "oh look, that guy over there is reading a book. This calls for a beat-down" mentality).
On a lighter note: yes, I'd love to live in a culture that valued Anathem more than Twilight; where teen girls would write fanfic about quantum physics and not get sneered at for it. But we don't live in that culture.
I was just glad to see someone aside from myself mention Dhalgren. :)
Hi Hitdice! I haven't read Dhalgren yet, actually. I've stuck to Delaney's shorter fiction. He's a hard guy to pigeonhole. There's a lot of intersectionality going on in his work. He reminds me at times of Kurt Vonnegut, and at other times he seems like the love-child of Philip K. Dick and William Faulkner.
I don't think this article was that well written. Mostly a matter of tone. Calling sci-fi "one of literature's crummier neighborhoods"? It mischaracterizes what sci-fi has historically been about by describing it as just "lazers and aliens" and also denigrates the fans, unless I'm misled in thinking the term "trufan" is pejorative. And it treats the awards as if there's some dividing line between "Sci-fi then" and "Sci-fi now." You'd think a Wired culture journalist would be more nuanced and knowledgable about the history of the genre. Even the so-called Golden Age she describes and that the sad puppies have nostalgia for (the one era of sci-fi that due to pulp presses was more about "lazers and aliens" than any other) wasn't just "Forbidden Planet" with its troglodytic, 1950s Hollywood misogyny.
Mischaracterizing what sci-fi is and has been historically buys in to that: "yes, it was all about space vixens and manly white-man's lazers, all about escapist middle-class and blue-collar fun and any serious ideas weren't read or appreciated." Have I read some of the "Planet Stories"? Yes. Are they fun? Yes. Are they more deserving of awards because of how they were written and their populist appeal than "Dhalgren" or "The Left Hand of Darkness"? No. Not more deserving. Just different. Can't we have both "big idea" sci-fi and "populist" sci-fi without someone saying "no, now you've ruined it"? And the idea that today's version of Delaney or Le Guinn is a threat to today's version of H. Rider Haggard is ridiculous. That seems to me to be what the puppies are arguing. This makes me very disappointed in Wired. It makes me very disappointed in the fandom.
I guess I'm fan-ranting.
Just had this thought: some of Kafka's work would fit right in in Nidal: "A Hunger Artist," "In the Penal Colony." Heck, a Kuthonite could have written "In the Penal Colony"!
Knowing something about Kafka's background and predilections, he'd probably be writing Nidal fanfic if he were around today.
Newbery is spelled with only 1 R. The voting structure is also very different since you need to be a member of ALA, and in the ALSC section, and then network/politic enough to become a committee member for the award. But even Newbery has its detractors; as a reference librarian there is a gulf between recommending a Newbery winner because you know it won't stink/be objectionable and recommending something you know the kid will ACTUALLY read that would never in a million years win an award (e.g. Spongebob Squarepants comic books).
Why don't kids who read SFF grow up into adult readers of SFF? I think there are lots of reasons for this, starting with social pressure as a teenager to not read "juvenile" SFF. The big exceptions of recent years (e.g. Harry Potter, The Hunger Games) are exceptional in part because they did go mainstream with the difficult-to-reach tweens/teens.
Also, the themes of Juvenile/YA SFF hew more closely to the "bildungsroman" and story structures that are also found in non-SFF for that age group (e.g. The Princess Diaries protagonist also learns secrets about the society around her and has to make a life-changing choice and decide what she'll sacrifice for family, just like Katniss does in Hunger Games).
For some kids, being assigned Gathering Blue or The Giver in school and asked to parse out its symbolism (very difficult, abstract and symbolic thinking) doesn't translate into a love for a genre that asks its readers to do that as part of their leisure time.
Sad puppies has a point about the simpler enjoyment of more escapist SFF like Star Wars... but why read a Star Wars novel when you can watch the movies/TV shows/play the videogames instead? Less thinking is involved. So what the sad puppies slate mourns - the loss of nominations for more escapist SFF - is not something that, IMO, can be reversed: the people who want Star Wars already get Star Wars, and it doesn't come between the covers of a book.
No shade to Star Wars novels fans! I'm just saying that the majority of pre-teens who love SW won't read the books or the "harder" Military SF. (Harder in the sense of "I need to read a book" not the "It's like Stephen Hawking 'hard' SF").
As much as publishers like to put "award winner" on their covers, AFIK the only place where it leads to noticeably higher volume of book sales is for the Newbery Award. Sci-fi is such a niche market starting out that I don't think anyone in the early days would do anything more than some light lobbying in the fanzines and trades (by early days I mean 1970s). $20k in 1970 dollars seems way too much to spend for something that won't boost sales - at most, you'd recoup your costs and hope it gets reissued in backlist/book-of-the-month club sales.
If you're in publishing to make money, you're in the wrong business (if your name isn't Rupert Murdoch).
We've just weeded a bunch of Pern books from my library's collection. No one checks them out anymore. Changing dynamics in the community + low circulation of sci-fi anyway. I'd LOVE to see higher figures for classic/older sci-fi, but only the current bestsellers circulate, or titles that get assigned in a classroom. Surprisingly, Heinlein's Have Spacesuit, Will Travel was on our local school's summer reading list. Very few kids chose to check it out compared to the better-known & more recent titles. I was quite happy when a patron came in yesterday and checked out Scalzi's Lock In.
With all the emphasis on STEM in America, you'd think sci-fi would be doing better, but it seems like only fantasy holds much mainstream appeal (e.g. Game of Thrones), and even that is more among the cultural elite, not the working-class people I see at my library who want books about how to pass the trades exams, beginning children's books, and DVDs.
All book-talk is accepted here, Treppa!
I'm still reading "Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantel. It's taking me a super-long time because of her writing style and the fact that people have first names that are indistinguishable (e.g. Thomas), family names, and exchangeable titles (e.g. master secretary). But I'm in the last section now, so I feel I'm getting a better grip on things.
Kirth Gersen wrote:
Thanks for this anecdote, Kirth. I love it when authors expose their process/confess: "Yes, I expected it to be s*&#ty."
Marco Massoudi wrote:
I agree. Even an experienced writer, as Mr. Logue is, seems to be having trouble with this format (though I have no evidence that the problem with the module is at all on his end... it could be an editing problem or art troubles or something else entirely).
Were editors pulled from the modules line to work on other projects?
Apparently the hobgoblin city of Hongol in Tian Xia will be in the "Distant Shores" book.
Marco Massoudi wrote:
Set, I'm surprised to hear you speaking well of catfolk, given your own heritage!
Holomog is the country where the women warriors who invaded Geb come from. It was briefly ruled by the Pirate Queen Mastrien Slash. Link: http://www.pathfinderwiki.com/wiki/Holomog
I hope the Southern Garund city is either a city in
This book isn't listed as a hardcover, and I don't know if the price of $22.99 is a placeholder. Does anyone know how many pages the gazetteer is expected to be?
Also: will the release of "Distant Shores" go along with the 2016 Adventure Path - will it feature some of the places in this gazeteer? I know that the 2016 AP is supposed to be C'thulhu themed, but that sounds more like "Distant Worlds" than "Distant Shores."
I am interested in seeing what Crystal does with Southern Garund... there are so many choices to pick for a city!
Judy Bauer wrote:
I am reading Wolf Hall right now! The second book is Bring Up the Bodies I think, though that just may be its American title. I am enjoying Cromwell's point of view, but sometimes Mantel's writing makes me confused as to who is speaking, and sometimes when Cromwell speaks it is paraphrased so I am not sure if he is talking or just thinking. But otherwise it is excellent!
Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
The comrades might also like Butler's short story collection, Bloodchild and Other Stories. Butler didn't write much short fiction, but what she has written is excellent! "Bloodchild" gets the most press and awards, but I personally like "The Evening and the Morning and the Night" the best out of the collection (or maybe I have "Bloodchild" anemia). "Speech Sounds" is also great, especially since Butler and I are both from SoCal and I know some of the places she describes in the story; I can't drive by the Music Center without thinking of that story.
I finished The Grace of Kings. It had epic battles and wily opponents in a "silkpunk" pseudo-Asian setting. I liked it, even though there is some speechifying by major characters and lots of shifts in point of view to keep track of. My favorite characters, it turns out, were the gods of the setting. Their meddling in mortal affairs, and the ways their plans go awry, were entertaining and unexpected. I'm not sure I'm going to read the sequel, though. The end of the war seemed to draw things _mostly_ to a close.
Not sure what novel I'm reading next. My book-Jenga pile is as high as ever, but I've been skimming the Year's Best SF 18 anthology I got at the library. Favorite short story so far: "Bricks, Sticks, Straw" by Gwyneth Jones. I'd love to see it turned into a CGI short feature.