Olaf Stapledon’s Future Histories: Last and First Men (1930) and Star Maker (1937)

LastandFirstMen2

“This is a work of fiction.” (p. 1)

It’s unfair of me to combine reviews of Olaf Stapledon’s fraternal twin opuses, Last and First Men: A Story of the Near and Far Future (1930) and Star Maker (1937), both of which are distinct and singular fictional pieces, yet the vast scope of both novels has dazed me in such a way that all I can really do is think of them as a pair, a pair which I think of fondly, reflect upon regularly, and recommend heartily. Their metaphysical and conceptual grandeur is so significant, I am more than a bit mystified in the review department. Is there anything fresh to say after 80 publication years, two billion future history years, and one star maker mind meld? Continue reading

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Shorts about Shorts! Short Story Collections I read in 2015

Normally, I spend my lunch hours trying to not drip salad dressing on my keyboard, but this year, I promised myself I would interrupt my daily toil to close my office door and read during my lunch hour every day. No email, no clients, no spreadsheets.

(Excuse me while I snicker at my silly January 2015 self.)

That maybe happened like three times. Damn you, capitalist work guilt, which doesn’t even make sense because I am a public servant, but I just can’t close my door to read a book because people might need me. I just can’t.

I’ve gotten a little bit better about taking my lunch hour this fall, which requires physically leaving the premises, but the truth is, I’m just not very good at, nor am I motivated to, read short fiction. I know it doesn’t make sense, but it takes a long time for my wacky attention span to focus on a book. Short fiction doesn’t provide for that kind of luxury, and a lunch hour of ducking the dreaded “what are you reading?” question doesn’t help.

Anyway, I got through a small number of short fiction collections this year. Here they are, in the order in which I read them:

Shorts about Shorts! Continue reading

Davy (1964) by Edgar Pangborn

Davy1A coming of age tale set a few hundred years after a nuclear catastrophe in post-Holocaust U.S., Edgar Pangborn’s 1964 Davy envisions an East Coast of ruined states (Connicut, Penn, Katskill), populated by suspicious villagers, roving caravans, and defected soldiers. Styled as a memoir, Davy, in his early adulthood, recounts life, love, and loss as he shucks his indentured servitude for a life of adventure, while his adulthood friends punctuate the narrative with occasional corrective, albeit sometimes annoying, footnotes.* Continue reading

The Claw of the Conciliator (1981) (Book of the New Sun #2) by Gene Wolfe

TheClawoftheConciliator1The following is a transcript of a conversation between From Couch to Moon and Gene Wolfe. Not really, but just go with me on this. (Click here to see the first part of this conversation.)

Hey Gene, the Claw of the Conciliator sounds like a metal song. Has anyone done this yet?
Continue reading