After a relatively unproductive summer on the TBR front, I made up for lost reads and overcame my projected numbers. I am still drawing from my stack of TBR cards, but I’ve also added books from my shadow list. Oooh… shadow list… more on that below.
A steady month of blogging, with one review posting each week. This pace will probably continue, although I might double that for a few weeks in November.
The Kappa Child (2001) by Hiromi Goto
I loved this Tiptree-winning novel about phantom pregnancy, abusive family systems, and LGBTQ romance much more than I expected. I kind of regret summarizing it as being about “phantom pregnancy, abusive family systems, and LGBTQ romance” because it makes it sound like every other book on the literary shelves, which doesn’t convey the novel’s crisp, weird essence. Okay, forget that I said it’s about phantom pregnancy and abuse and romance. It’s not about those things…
Tales of the Dying Earth (2000 omnibus) by Jack Vance
I said I would just stick to the Cugel stories, but I ended up reading the entire thing… which made me wish I had just read the Cugel stories, and maybe that first volume, but I should have skipped the Rhialto stories. Rhialto is boring.
Cuckoo’s Egg (1985) by C. J. Cherryh
I think I enjoyed reviewing this more than I enjoyed reading it. It’s basically written for Middle Grade-Young Adult readers, which means my mind probably drifted a lot while I was reading this, but when I sat down to review it, I discovered a lot of little nuggets that made this book slightly more than just a kids’ book. It’s also interesting to note that its arc is very similar to that of Ender’s Game, its 1985-Hugo shortlist peer.
The Time Ships (1995) by Stephen Baxter
Seeing as this BSFA-winning novel is an *authorized* sequel to The Time Machine, I also included a mini-review of H. G. Wells’ 1895 classic. The Time Ships is inventive and true to form, though I was disappointed that Baxter spent most of the time Nivving-out on machinery and didn’t shine the spotlight on Wells’ more central socioeconomic extrapolations.
I managed to read all of the books drawn for the month and reviews will be posting over the next few weeks. A quick rundown:
Brown Girl in the Ring (1998) by Nalo Hopkinson
Urban fantasy that’s a bit on the thin side, though the horror elements did invoke real physical reactions. (I nearly vom’d during a particularly gory scene, although it may have been food poisoning.)
This Immortal (And Call Me Conrad) (1965) by Roger Zelazny
My first Zelazny! More macho than I expected.
Three to Conquer (1955) by Eric Frank Russell
Body snatcher fic with a gumshoe atmosphere. The word slut is used at one point, so…
Destiny Times Three (1945) by Fritz Leiber
A brilliant little WWII-inspired piece about alternate timelines that was meant to be much grander.
Short Fiction Read
My long, lazy reads have been replaced by short fiction collections and I. Finally. Finished. Dangerous Visions (1967). It’s mostly just straight white dudes palling around with other straight white dudes, and it just reinforced my opinion of solicited themed anthologies because contributors gotta force out something that fits The Theme, and maybe it’s just too forced and not very inspired, so maybe the editor just needs to say, “Never mind, everybody, I’m cancelling the book. Not enough good stuff came in.” I realize that DV is significant for delivering New Wave to the mainstream, but I’m just not buying that this stuff is 1967-dangerous when I’ve read older stuff that’s much more incendiary, (and from the same writers!). And anyway, you can’t call it Dangerous Visions and then put Larry Niven in it. You just can’t. (And Niven’s was one of the more interesting pieces, believe it or not, and it was weird because it was all about organ donation paranoia, which is something I’ve never understood and it’s probably because I’m too young and missed that controversy, but seriously, when I’m dead, you can have whatever you want.)
But anyway, Dangerous Visions. I’ll talk about that later. Lol.
The Shadow Books List…
If you follow me on GoodReads (which you should, because I have no idea how to find people on that site, and there are lots of scary people on that site, but since I mainly just dart in-and-out on social media, GR makes it easy for me to creep on people’s reading choices while I’m waiting in line in the grocery store. But only if they find me first because, as I said, I can’t figure out how to find people). Ahem, anyway, if you follow me on GoodReads, you may have noticed that I detoured from my vintage TBR and started reading more recent releases again:
The Girl in the Road (2014) by Monica Byrne. Yes.
Elysium (2014) by Jennifer Marie Brissett. Yes.
Yes, I’m up to something… more to come…
Books to be Read:
Time to draw again! What books will I be reading this month?
Brightness Reef (1995) by David Brin
I’ve already started this. I had to really amp up my disbelief suspension system in order to enjoy Startide Rising (1983), but an old short I recently read by Lisa Tuttle has instilled my greater appreciating for dolphin uplift fiction. Still, Brin is hit-and-miss with me. I thoroughly enjoyed Glory Season (1993) but finishing Kiln People (2002) was a chore.
Not This August (1955) by C. M. Kornbluth
I enjoyed The Space Merchants (1953), and people say Kornbluth is the better half of the Pohl/Kornbluth duo, although I do have a great deal of respect for Pohl from what I saw in Man Plus (1976), which I think a lot of readers have unfortunately dismissed.
Grass (1989) by Sherri S. Tepper
I knew I would end up drawing this right after admiral.ironbombs reviewed it. I knew it.
Spin (2005) by Robert Charles Wilson
I read this one a long time ago and enjoyed it. I remember very little, and I suspect my tastes may have changed and I might not be so satisfied this time around. We’ll see.
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1965) by Robert A. Heinlein
Finally. I’ve read some of his worst, now I get to read what people call his best. Talk about setting aside prejudices… I can do this. (Plus, we all know I’ll be reading McDonald’s latest release, Luna, very soon, and I bet this will make for nice background reading for however McDonald decides to blow away the old Heinster.
Long Lazy Read/Short Fiction Collection:
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree, Jr.
While everyone else is reading Letters to Tiptree, I’ll be reading this. (Already started. Loving it so far!)
Monthly Book Tallies:
Total books read: 8 – Take that, August, with your lame books read tally!
Total books about:
Aliens: 4- 2 invasions, 1 capitalist hegemony of the cosmic kind, 1 just normal aliens, you know.
The Multiverse: 3
Robots: 0 (this dry spell has got to end. I like me some robots!)
Organ donation paranoia: 2 (includes that Niven short from DV)
Too much macho (or maybe the novelty of reading old SF award noms has worn off and my abnormally high tolerance has finally reached its tipping point): 3
Hydrogen-powered continental bridge that metaphorically acts as an umbilicus between cultures, characters, & sanity: 1 (Can there be more, please?)
Worst book of the month: Three to Conquer (1955) by Eric Frank Russell
Best books of the month: The Girl in the Road (2014) by Monica Byrne and Destiny Times Three (1945) by Fritz Leiber. Shivering brilliance, those two. Legitimate flaws, but goosebumps.
See you next week, when I discuss the pros and cons of psychic babies.