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swynn's thread for 2019: volume 3

This is a continuation of the topic swynn's thread for 2019: volume 2.

75 Books Challenge for 2019

Join LibraryThing to post.

Aug 2, 1:23pm Top

I'm Steve, 50, a technical services librarian at a medium-sized public university in Missouri. This is my 10th year with the 75ers. Expect a mixture of the following, in decreasing density:

Science fiction and fantasy
Crime & mystery novels
Popular history (American, mostly)
Popular science
Library science/history of the book

Also, I tend to read impulsively so there will also be not necessarily categorizable things that happen capture my attention. Absent other impulses, priority usually goes to things that must be returned to the library. This is a stack generated more by whim & hope than by plan, which I call "The Tower of Due." Here's what it looks like now:

Edited: Sep 9, 9:32am Top

(A) The DAWs

For several years now, I've been reading through the catalog of DAW, DAW is the first American imprint exclusively devoted to science fiction & fantasy publishing. It launched in 1972 under the editorship of Donald A. Wollheim (hence the name), and continues today, publishing new books at a rate faster than I'm catching up. Last year I read 30 of them, and hope to read at least 31 this year.

DAWs so far: 26
Next up: Avengers of Antares by Kenneth Bulmer

Perry Rhodan

Perry Rhodan is a weekly science fiction serial that has been published continuously since 1961. I read 75 of these last year, and set up a separate thread for it. I'm still enjoying them, but have slowed the pace to give myself space to read some other German-language science fiction. So my plan is to keep posting on last year's PR thread, which is here: https://www.librarything.com/topic/279193

Perry Rhodans so far: 2
Next Up: Der Mann mit den zwei Gesichtern (= The man with two faces) by Clark Darlton

(B) Bestsellers

For the last few years, Liz (lyzard) and I have been reading through American bestsellers at a rate of one per month. I'm running behind, but will catch up someday.

Bestsellers so far: 5
Next Up: The Miracle of the Bells (1946) by Russell Janney

More Not Straight Not White Not Dudes

My reading list skews white and male. Go figure. Last year I tracked proportion of LGBTQ, non-white, and female authors in an effort to be more conscious of this. Even so, my scores weren't great: 6% LGBTQ, 8% authors of color, and 33% women. I'd like to do better. I'm aiming for: 10% LGBTQ authors, 15% authors of color, 50% women. Recommendations welcome.

(C) Not Straight: 7/98 (7%) (3 books down)
(D) Not White: 11/98 (11%) (4 books down)
(E) Not Dudes: 40/98 (41%) (9 books down)

Other Good Intentions

(F) Read more off my shelves.
So far: 19

(G) Read more stuff recommended by friends and relatives.
So far: 8

Continue more series than I start. And finish one every now and then, sheesh.

  • (H) Series started: 25

  • The Band series by Nicholas Eames
    Berserker series by Fred Saberhagen
    Birthgrave series by Tanith lee
    Carve the Mark series by Veronica Roth
    Children of Time series by Adrian Tchaikovsky
    Colony series by Michaelbrent Collings
    Danielle Cain series by Margaret Killjoy
    Girl from the Well series by Rin Chupeco
    Greenglass House series by Kate Milford
    Hidden Cities series by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon
    I Bring the Fire series by C. Gockel
    Illuminae series by Annie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
    Interstellar Patrol series by Christopher Anvil
    Jumbies series by Tracey Baptiste
    Kalte Krieg series by Dirk Van Den Boom
    Lady Astronaut series by Mary Robinette Kowal
    Maggie O'Dell series by Alex Kava
    Murderbot series by Martha Wells
    Pallahaxi series by Michael G. Coney
    Persons Non Grata series by Cassandra Khaw
    Steerswoman series by Rosemary Kirstein
    Stillhouse Lake series by Rachel Caine
    Templar knights series by Joseph Nassise
    Tensorate series by J.Y. Yang
    Year's Best Fantasy Series

  • (I) Series continued: 20

  • Adventurers Guild by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos
    Darkover series by Marion Zimmer Bradley
    Dray Prescot series by Kenneth Bulmer
    Dumarest of Terra series by E.C. Tubb
    Eyes trilogy by Stuart Gordon
    Henry Rios series by Michael Nava
    Hooded Swan series by Brian Stableford
    Jumbies series by Tracey Baptiste
    Kalte Krieg trilogy by Dirk Van Den Boom
    Machine Dynasty series by Madeline Ashby
    Marcus Didius Falco series by Lindsey Davis
    Noon Universe series by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky
    Rim Worlds/John Grimes series by A. Bertram Chandler
    Seeker series by Arwen Elys Dayton
    Setni series by Pierre Barbet
    St. Mary's series by Jodi Taylor
    Stella Hardesty series by Sophie Littlefield
    Titus Crow series by Brian Lumley
    World's End series by Lin Carter
    Year's Best Horror Stories

  • (J) Series finished (or up-to-date): 7

  • Eyes trilogy by Stuart Gordon
    Hooded Swan series by Brian Stableford
    Jumbies series by Tracey Baptiste
    Seeker series by Arwen Elys Dayton
    Adventurers Guild by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos
    Kalte Krieg trilogy by Dirk Van Den Boom
    Machine Dynasty series by Madeline Ashby

Edited: Sep 9, 9:31am Top

For recordkeeping purposes, I'm noting the challenges filled by each read in parenthetical codes at the end. The letters correspond to the challenges in the post above.

1) Naked Statistics / Charles Wheelan
2) Bring Back Yesterday by A. Bertram Chandler (I)
3) Berserker's Planet by Fred Saberhagen (AFH)
4) The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish (DE)
5) A Second Chance by Jodi Taylor (EI)
6) Ball Lightning by Cixin Liu (D)
7) Gender and the Jubilee (E)
8) 1975 Annual World's Best SF (AF)
9) Catching Fire (EGI)
10) Banned in Boston by Neil Miller (C)
11) Swan Song by Brian Stableford (AFIJ)
12) What I Believe by Bertrand Russell
13) The Enchantress of World's End by Lin Carter (AFI)
14) Escape Attempt by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky (I)
15) Greenglass House by Kate Milford (EH)
16) Das Lied von Bernadette by Franz Werfel (B)
17) The Transition of Titus Crow by Brian Lumley (AFI)
18) A Bad Day for Mercy by Sophie Littlefield (EI)
19) Disruptor by Arwen Elys Dayton (EIJ)
20) Twilight of the Elves by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos (GIJ)
21) Damsel by Elana K. Arnold (E)
22) The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion by Margaret Killjoy (CEGH)
23) Illuminae by Annie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (EH)
24) The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco (DEGH)
25) Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine (EH)
26) The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein (EGH)
27) A Perfect Evil by Alex Kava (EGH)
28) Merlin's Mirror by Andre Norton (AEF)
29) Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race / Renni Edo-Lodge (DE)
30) The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal (EH)
31) Boy's Life by Robert McCammon
32) All Systems Red by Martha Wells (EH)
33) Strange fruit by Lillian Smith (BCE)
34) The Book of Poul Anderson (AF)
35) iD by Madeline Ashby (EIJ)
36) The Birthgrave by Tanith Lee (AEFH)
37) The Heretic by Joseph Nassise (H)
38) Flight or Fright edited by Bev Vincent and Stephen King
39) Background to Danger by Eric Ambler
40) The Year's Best Horror Stories, Series III (AFI)
41) QualityLand by Marc-Uwe Kling
42) The Robe by Lloyd Douglas (B)
43) Becoming by Michelle Obama (DE)
44) America's Bank by Roger Lowenstein
45) Games Psyborgs Play by Pierre Barbet (F)
46) The Enchanted Planet by Pierre Barbet (AF)
47) Mind the Gap by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon (GH)
48) Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky (H)
49) Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames (H)
50) The Whenabouts of Burr by Michael Kurland (AF)
51) The Twilight of Briareus by Richard Cowper (AF)
52) The Jumbies / Tracey Baptiste (DEH)
53) Carve the Mark / Veronica Roth (EH)
54) Bladesman of Antares / Kenneth Bulmer (AFI)
55) A Twist at the End / Steven Saylor (CG)
56) Wolves / C. Gockel (EH)
57) I Am Watching You / Terea Driscoll (E)
58) Circus Parade / Jim Tully
59) Nightshade / Stanley R. Moore (F)
60) Genesis / Michaelbrent Collings (H)
61) Venus in Copper / Lindsey Davis (EI)
62) Undertaker's Moon / Ronald Kelly
63) Artemis / Andy Weir
64) Beyond the Galactic Rim / A. Bertram Chandler (I)
65) Heritage of Hastur / Marion Zimmer Bradley (AEFI)
66) Canopus / Dirk Van Den Boom (H)
67) Far Rainbow & The Second Invasion from Mars / Arkady & Boris Strugatsky (I)
68) The Star-Crowned Kings / Robert Chilson (AF)
69) How Town / Michael Nava (CI)
70) Total Eclipse / John Brunner (AF)
71) Epitaph for a Spy / Eric Ambler
72) Hammers on Bone / Cassandra Khaw (CDEH)
73) Eye of the Zodiac / E.C. Tubb (AFI)
74) Forever Amber / Kathleen Winsor (BE)
75) The Second Book of Fritz Leiber (AF)
76) Why We Don't Suck / Denis Leary (G)
77) Aume reist / Dirk Van Den Boom (I)
78) The Book of Andre Norton (AEF)
79) The Art of Logic in an Illogical World / Eugenia Cheng (DE)
80) The Year's Best Fantasy Stories (AF)
81) The Demon Breed / James H. Schmitz (G)
82) Rise of the Jumbies / Tracey Baptiste (DEI)
83) Star / C.I. Defontenay (AF)
84) Warlord's World / Christopher Anvil (AFH)
85) The Cuckoo's Calling / Robert Galbraith (E)
86) The Rule of One / Ashley & Leslie Saunders (E)
87) Time Slave / John Norman (AF)
88) A Trail Through Time / Jodi Taylor (E)
89) Rax / Michael G. Coney (AF)
90) Huon of the Horn / Andre Norton (EF)
91) The Black Tides of Heaven / J.Y. Yang (CDEH)
92) One-Eye / Stuart Gordon (F)
93) The King's General / Daphne du Maurier (BE)
94) Two-Eyes / Stuart Gordon (F)
95) Love & Courage / Jagmeet Singh (DG)
96) Lot / Bryan Washington (CD)
97) Three-Eyes / Stuart Godron (AFIJ)
98) Beggars of Life / Jim Tully
99) America's Women / Gail Collins (E)
100) New Suns : original speculative fiction by people of color (D)
101) Neverworld Wake / Marisha Pessl (E)
102) Soldier, Ask Not / Gordon R. Dickson (AFI)
103) The Girl with All the Gifts / M.R. Carey (H)
104) Avengers of Antares / Kenneth Bulmer (AFI)

Edited: Aug 2, 3:22pm Top

By way of mid-year checkin, I note that I am ahead of pace to complete the DAW goal: 24 of 31. And I have about 15 volumes of mostly smooth sailing until the next Gor novel ("Tribesmen of ...") turns up, so that goal shouldn't be a problem. There's a Lin Carter at #180 but at least it will be short, and in any case turns up after I meet my 2019 goal.

My diversity goals, on the other hand, will need some attention. I was aiming for 10% LGBTQ authors, 15% authors of color, and 50% women. Those percentages currently stand at 7%, 10%, and 40%, respectively, so work must be done.

I'd put off Perry Rhodan this year in order to read some longer German works. That has worked okay: I've read 4 novels auf Deutsch, but I'm missing PR so might get back into those. If I do, I almost certainly won't write the lengthy summaries: I'm well behind on those and find myself unmotivated to catch up.

And bestsellers. I feel I owe Liz an apology, because I started the year behind and have only fallen further. I've gotten a good start on The King's General, but Liz's warnings about the tedious religious novels that follow make me think my pace is not likely to pick up. I need to get back to the Boston challenge too.

Aug 2, 2:11pm Top

>4 swynn: I have a reccy for your QUILTBAGgery section: Lot: Stories by phenom Bryan Washington, a Blatino queer youth from Houston, writing about his poorboyhood. I'll get a review up this weekend, but it's definitely got my seal of approval.

Happy new thread.

Edited: Aug 2, 2:55pm Top

>5 richardderus: Noted and ILL'd. Thanks!

Aug 2, 3:36pm Top

Happy new thread, Steve. Thanks - I guess - for posting the pictures of the meet up. I take it the rest of your journey went smoothly?

Aug 2, 5:11pm Top

Happy New Thread, Steve! Loved the meet-up pictures.

Aug 3, 1:23pm Top

Happy new thread!

Aug 4, 11:11am Top

Happy new thread, Steve!

Edited: Aug 4, 9:35pm Top

88) A Trail Through Time by Jodi Taylor
Date: 2014

Fourth in Jodi Taylor's "St Mary's" series, featuring disaster-prone time-traveling historians. In this one, um, let's skip all the timey-wimey complications and say that Max and Leon go on the run from the Time Police for actions taken earlier in the series. Chaos ensues.

My affection for this series continues to grow. Among the reasons I love it are now the looks Mrs. Swynn shot me as I read the bit about St. Mary's too-successful reenactment of Alexander's siege of Tyre, while Mrs. Swynn was trying to watch some psycho-of-the-week crime show. Which, I infer from her memorably irritated expression, was not as humorous as the St. Mary's activities. Or maybe not funny at all really.

Edited: Aug 8, 9:43pm Top

89) DAW #170: Rax by Michael G. Coney
Date: 1975

The author describes this in an introductory note as "a love story, and a war story, and a science fiction story, and more besides." The "more besides" includes an affecting coming-of-age story, featuring Aliki-Drove, a young man chafing at the officious irrelevance of his father, a mid-level government bureaucrat. Drove's family vacation at a beachside town, near which his father is supposed to inspect a new cannery. In his free time, Drove associates with people he oughtn't and sort of likes it, embraces an identity separate from his parents, and falls in love at least twice -- and around him civilization falls apart, first with an outbreak of war and then with planetary cataclysm.

I'm just saying: it's possible that following John Norman will make anyone a virtuoso just by comparison, but I'm calling this one a DAW gem, one that I'd never have read if not for this project.

Cover is by Josh Kirby.

Aug 8, 10:00pm Top

>12 swynn: My opinion is not news, so yay is all I'll offer.

>13 swynn: And there's a sequel awaiting you! And you *could* read the two-volume set in German (Träume Von Pallahaxi)! W00t!!

Aug 8, 10:34pm Top

>14 richardderus: A sequel you say? Goodness, you're right! Looking forward to it, probably auf Englisch.

Edited: Aug 8, 10:47pm Top

My brother offers the following diabolical "escape room":

You are in a room with a well-stocked library and a comfortable chair. There are two clearly marked exits. You have one hour to escape.

So ... if I admit defeat before I start, can I still spend the hour?

Aug 9, 10:52am Top

>16 swynn: Heh heh heh.

Aug 9, 3:10pm Top

Any interest in a DAW#657? I'm deaccessioning my 1985 paperback of Free Amazons of Darkover.

Aug 9, 3:34pm Top

>16 swynn: ...
...I don't get it...escape from Heaven? Why ever?


Aug 9, 4:34pm Top

>18 ronincats: Hi Roni! No, but only because it's already on the shelf. Thanks for thinking of me!

>19 richardderus: Agreed. The only thing to escape is the attendant who is scheduled to interrupt me after an hour. I wonder whether I can use the bookshelves to barricade the exits ....

Aug 9, 6:12pm Top

Happy New Thread, Steve!

>13 swynn:

I think you earned a gem, recent things considered.

>16 swynn:

Perhaps the problem is that the room has no wi-fi connection, and you've just realised that the next book in your series is only available electronically...

Aug 9, 11:50pm Top

>22 richardderus: I do miss Kramer and that show about nothing.

Happy new thread, Stephen. Have a great weekend.

Aug 10, 9:48pm Top

>21 lyzard: Funny you should mention that, since the sequel to Rax was originally released as a PDF on the author's website, and is most conveniently still available in that form ...

>23 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul!

Edited: Aug 10, 10:45pm Top

90) Huon of the Horn by Andre Norton
Date: 1951

On his way to pay allegiance to Charlemagne, the young Huon Duke of Bordeaux is tricked into killing the King's son and heir. For penance Charlemagne sets Huon an impossible task: Huon must travel to the Saracen city of Babylon, whence he must retrieve a handful of the Emir Gaudy's beard and five of the Emir's teeth, kill the Emir's chief lord, and kiss the Emir's daughter. Silly Charlemagne. He only thinks the task impossible because he doesn't know how medieval romances work. Huon succeeds, of course, with the help of Oberon king of the fairies.

This is an "adaption" of a 16th-century English translation of a 13th-century French poem. It has weirdnesses associated with the age of its source: it's very episodic, squishy about time and continuity, and quirky about ethics. (In one passage the narrator refers to Huon as having a "humble and contrite heart" as he slaughters a roomful of Saracens, for example.) But there's enough incident and spectacle to keep things moving, plus it's short enough to run out of pages before it runs out of welcome. Of course you've got Norton's highly mannered prose -- the Wikipdeia article calls it "quasi-modern English" -- but it works in this case, adding atmosphere and also distance for the story's odder bits.

Aug 10, 10:40pm Top

Happy new thread :)

Aug 10, 10:44pm Top

>26 figsfromthistle: Thanks Anita!

Aug 10, 11:14pm Top

>25 swynn: I possess a Kindlebook of that from some Megapack or another...I remember not liking it when I was a youff, but have no recollection of why. Permaybehaps that phauntaisee tinge. (I was chary of all things fantasy by the time I picked that one up.) As it's already a sunk cost, I'll probably at least cast a jaundiced orb across it one day.

Aug 10, 11:50pm Top

>25 swynn: I have paperbacks of all of Norton's works, so of course I have that one. Been a LONG time since I read it, though.

Aug 11, 9:48pm Top

>28 richardderus: Knowing your feelings about epic fantasy, I'd figured it wouldn't be among favorites even if you'd read it. For of fantasy-plague is it sore infected.

>29 ronincats: I wouldn't campaign for a reread. But the first time through was time well spent.

Edited: Aug 11, 9:49pm Top

Middle-Earth politics:

Saruman for wizard! You know, to appeal to moderate orc voters.

Aug 11, 11:05pm Top

>31 swynn: HA!! Loved that. Thanks!

Aug 12, 10:43pm Top

>32 richardderus: Happy to share!

Edited: Aug 12, 11:17pm Top

91) The Black Tides of Heaven / J.Y. Yang
Date: 2017

Set in an alternate China ruled by a cruel empress with the help of "slackcraft," a sort of elemental magic that only elites can practice. Secretly in the unmagical multitude a revolution is rising of "machinists," rebels who build tools and weapons that can be used by anyone regardless of magical skill. The story follows a pair of twins, Akeha and Mokoya, children of the empress, who are given to a monastery as payment for services rendered. As the children grow, however, Mokoya shows a talent for prophecy, which makes the empress interested after all - but only for Mokoya. Akeha, on the other hand, finds his own way and joins the Machinists.

One of the central ideas is that children are born genderless, and remain so until they reach some realization of gender identity, after which point they choose "he" or "she" and there is some sort of slackcraft ritual to establish their sex. When Mokoya reaches her decision long before Akeha is ready it complicates the division between them -- a division further complicated when Akeha reaches his decision and deals with the fact that they are both in love with the same man.

It's a novella, so it's short, but it covers a good span of time, from the twins' infancy to adulthood. The novella's length just isn't up to doing the story and the worldbuilding justice. There are bits that are effective, but mostly it feels like a prequel to the story the author *really* wanted to write. I understand that the second book has tighter focus, and I'm intrigued enough to check it out.

Edited: Aug 13, 12:06am Top


Or, non-running post I should say, since achy ankles have kept me from the real thing. I've only put in 4 miles that I can honestly call "running," but have walked daily. Weigh-in is too scary to think about.

Mileage last week: 4 miles.
Mileage this year: 456 miles
Longest run: 2 miles
Target mileage this week: whatever I can convince my ankles to give me.
Monday weigh-in: ---

Soundtrack: Ohne Dich (schlaf' ich heut' nacht nicht ein) by Melarima

A not-running week deserves a not-running soundtrack, and this is the earworm that's been stuck in my head this week. It's a cover of a 1986 song from boy-band Münchener Freiheit, a cheesy overproduced synth-pop product that is a little embarrassing today. But in this cover Melanie Lochner's pensive, expressive voice over Amir Nasr's fingerstyle guitar are so appealing to make me wonder what I was ever embarrassed about. (This is why, for the record.) I could do without the overdubbing that starts around 3:15, which for me breaks the illusion of intimacy, but the arrangement is otherwise so right that I'll forgive 'em.

Aug 16, 10:32pm Top

92) One Eye / Stuart Gordon
Date: 1973

In a postapocalyptic future, the city fathers of Phadraig practice a eugenic religion which enforces "norm purity" and exiles or executes anyone with physically or psychically disfigurig genetic mutations. Things are not all well in Phadraig: an increasing number of new births face exile or death, and outside the city the warlord Khassam is gathering mutant troops to attack. And now one young mother's unclean baby boy is not just any mutant: he is the one-eyed "divine mutant" who is prophesied to bring chaos to the world. The child has a few allies, who help him escape from Phadraig with the help of a mechanical golem, confront a mad misshapen wizard in a wilderness tower, and then face Khassam -- all as a preface to, you know, disrupting the whole damn world.

First in Stuart Gordon's "Eyes" trilogy. This is a re-read in preparation for the third and last book, which is next up in the DAW project. I remembered few details of this volume, except that I remember liking it pretty well. I think I liked it even better this second time, being prepared for its excesses -- which are considerable. On to the second, which I remember liking less and which I hope improves on rereading and with volume 1 fresh in mind.

Cover is by Tim Kirk.

Edited: Aug 18, 10:39pm Top

93) The King's General / Daphne DuMaurier
Date: 1946

This was the bestselling novel in the U.S. in 1946. Honor Harris, in defiance of her family, falls in love with the disreputable Richard Grenvile. But before they can marry, Honor is injured in a riding accident and left without the use of her legs. She calls off the marriage, which transforms their love affair into a friendship which lasts longer than any marriage probably would have done. When war breaks out between the Crown and Parliament, Richard becomes the Royalists' most effective officer but also more disreputable than ever. Grenvile's faults go well beyond a disregard for social forms: he is abusive, cynically manipulative, and cruel even to his own son whom he unaffectionately calls "Spawn." Honor is not blind to Richard's faults but she also recognizes qualities of leadership and charm. As Parliamentary troops threaten Cornwall, Honor moves to her sister's country estate Menabilly -- whose mansion has a forbidden room, a secret passage, and a dark history, which together with the emotionally stunted hero make the novel as much a gothic anti-romance as historical fiction. I liked it, and probably would have finished much faster if not for the book slump.

Edited: Aug 20, 3:58pm Top

Yay for Hugos!

Here are the winners that most interest me:

Best novel: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
Best novella: Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
Best novelette: "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again" by Zen Cho
Best short story: "A witch's guide to escape" by Alix E. Harrow
Best series: Wayfarers by Becky Chambers
Best graphic story: Monstress, vol. 3: Haven by Marjorie Liu
Best young adult book ("Lodestar Award"): Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Best dramatic presentation, long form: "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse"

I didn't participate in Hugo voting this year, and so didn't read all of the nominated works. I have, though, read Kowal's best-novel winner and think it's pretty damn deserving. Also a couple of years ago I saw Kowal do a reading at the Kansas City Worldcon and can report that she's also an engaging storyteller in person. Beside the point maybe, but my impression of her is very positive and I'm happy she's won.

I haven't read Artificial Condition, but I loved All Systems Red so I ought to fix that.

I think I've mentioned that I seem to be immune to the charms of Becky Chambers's Wayfarers series. But plenty of others aren't and that's okay.

Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Blood and Bone was the only book I've read from the YA nominees this year, but the others would have to be pretty spectacular to make it a bad choice.

Aug 20, 4:14pm Top

>37 swynn: I loved that book! That one and The Glass Blowers were deep favorite reads of my high-school self.

>38 swynn: Don't, whatever you do, miss Alix Harrow's story! Loved it immoderately.

Martha Wells's Murderbot is so much fun, no?

Edited: Aug 21, 8:54am Top

Some good winners there. Kowal's book was great, as was Wells'. I haven;'t read volume 3 of Monstress yet, but it's on my list.

Aug 21, 9:41am Top

>38 swynn: I very much enjoyed the murderbot series but in truth it was a novel broken into 4 pieces. The first one won the hugo last year I am pretty sure. All 3 followups were nominated but the author withdrew the last 2 books. Artificial Condition was very entertaining but this strikes me as a cheaty sort of win. Artificial Condition was the only nominee that I read so I can't comment on whether others deserved the win.

Aug 21, 12:02pm Top

>39 richardderus: (Adding The Glass Blowers to the Someday Swamp.)

Fortunately, the Harrow story is freely available online (), and can add it to the list of "excellent choice"s for this year's Hugos.

Yes: yay Murderbot! I've ILL'd book #2, so will get to it soonish.

>40 drneutron: I haven't much gotten into graphic lit in years, but will keep Monstress in mind when the mood strikes.

>41 RBeffa: The 2018 win for All Systems Red was one of the things that prompted me to pick it up.

The new trend for separately-published novellas intrigues me, and I'm curious to see how it develops. I did not think it would take off, so I'm surprised and pleased that Tor seems to have figured out how to make it work. I've wondered, though, whether publishers might use the new market for serialized novels rather than standalone works -- and if so, is a novella-length episode of a longer work really a "novella?" I don't have any strong feelings either way at this point, but I eagerly await the heated dispute.

Aug 21, 12:35pm Top

Serialized novels are just about as old as the genre. So many of the early Edgar Rice Burroughs novels. So many SF novels in Astounding/Analog. I would imagine there were rules for this sort of thing. There are plenty of cases where a successful novel or short story was expanded into a novel. That to me is something different. In recent years there has been a rebirth of the novella, and the Murderbot series seems to be an intentional act to put a novel out in 4 pieces, just like many SF novels were done in years past. My gut feeling is that repeats should not be allowed - fine if a part wins as a novella and then that category is closed. When they are all done let it run as a novel when it is republished or acknowledged as such. Seems pretty straightforward to me.

Aug 21, 12:56pm Top

It is interesting how the development of ebooks has brought back an old and venerable practice that mostly died out with the pulp magazines. One result is that, for the first time ever, I had read all the novellas nominated! Since I didn't subscribe to the magazines (NOT being much of a short story reader), often it was a good year if I had read even one. And I think authors like having the novella option--Bujold is doing it with the Penric series and a lot of new authors are breaking into the field at novella length.

Just for fun, I'm recommending a poem included in my latest ER book, Best of British Fantasy 2018. Most of the stories didn't do much for me, but the Godziliad, found here, is well worth it!

Edited: Aug 22, 2:26pm Top

>43 RBeffa: I get the concern that a single work could dominate the awards for multiple years, but it's a situation that is happening already. I don't see a strong difference between a novel served up as multiple novellas and a very long novel served up as multiple novels. One could argue (and someone probably has) that the Broken Earth trilogy is really a single work that won "best novel" three times. In any case, I think phrasing the rules to prevent multiple wins by parts of a single work without also excluding things one didn't intend to exclude would be tricky, and enforcement would be contentious. But I think I see your point.

>44 ronincats: Yay for novellas! It seems like it wasn't that long ago I'd read arguments that we really didn't need three different categories for works less than novel length works: Who knows a novelette from a novella? they said. But everybody knows what a novella is now.

Aug 22, 12:46am Top

94) Two-Eyes by Stuart Gordon
Date: 1974

Second in Gordon's "Eyes" series, and another re-read to prepare for book 3. In the first one, a group of adventurers helped the one-eyed "Divine Mutant" escape from the city of Phadraig, where it found an army and released chaos that would reshape the world. In this second entry, the Divine Mutant's madness is spreading like a plague; those who cach it have disturbing dreams, uncontrollable rage and destructive behaviors. Liam is one of the adventurers who helped One-Eye in book one. He is also a musician whose instrument is a sirena, an odd stringed thing he found in some ruins. He discovers that his sirena can be used to fight the madness in his audience ... or to exacerbate it.

As hoped, reading this immediately after One-Eye helped me appreciate it, though it's a less accessible story. Much of the action is surreal, and music drives the plot, so the prose is thick with purple abstractions. Still, it's a fun bonkers story and I think I'm ready for the conclusion.

Cover is by Peter Manesis

Aug 22, 1:11am Top


Ankle issues continued through early last week, but things started picking up by the weekend

Mileage last week: 6 miles.
Mileage this year: 462 miles
Longest run: 2 miles
Target mileage this week: 12 miles
Monday weigh-in: ---

Soundtrack: Serpents of Eden by Dawn of Ashes
BPM: 89

I'm not generally a fan of death metal, but DOA's industrial version makes me want to run. In a good way.

Aug 22, 2:03pm Top

I'm sure the debate about novellas/fractured novels/novelettes will continue in fandom's accustomed inclusive and rational fashion. I shall eagerly await the outcome.

In other news, Two Eyes sounds so much better in your review than in my few comps. Sad that he died so revoltingly young.

Aug 23, 12:24am Top

>48 richardderus: I share your optimism.

I'm quite enjoying the series. Three-Eyes will be the last of Gordon's works in the DAW project, but I might seek out some of his other works. "The Bikers" series, about "a group of monster-like motorcycle gangs that were terrorizing contemporary Britain," sounds like the kind of nuts that could be .... well, just about anything preceded by the phrase "over-the-top".

Edited: Aug 23, 2:32pm Top

95) Love & courage by Jagmeet Singh

(Touchstones, ugh. Why is it that "Love & Courage" is the 44th suggestion for a touchstone to "Love & Courage"? Coming in 40 places behind "Masada"?)

Jagmeet Singh is the leader of Canada's New Democratic Party. He is also a son of immigrants and a Sikh. This is his memoir, and like so many political memoirs it's very short on politics, apparently designed to show that he's a good guy you'd want to vote for. And damn it, it works. He seems like a good guy. I want to vote for him. It's a good story, plainly told, about his experiences with harassment and abuse, his family's struggle with his father's alcoholism, and the ways his family has supported each other anyway. Resilience wins. Compassion wins. Love and courage win. I wonder if the Canadians would mind exporting some of this stuff southward?

Aug 26, 12:38pm Top

>50 swynn: I think we'll hang on to him to balance out the whole political scene. :)

Aug 26, 8:28pm Top

96) Lot : Stories by Bryan Washington

Date: 2019

Up in post number 5 of this thread, Richard recommended this collection of stories for my annual goals of reading more diversely. It fits two: "More not straight authors" and "More not white authors."

The stories are set in a working-class neighborhood in east Houston. Most of them follow the experiences of a young gay man as his family disintegrates: his parents' marriage falls apart, the family restaurant struggles to be sustainable, his homophobic older brother veers into drug dealing while his sister veers anywhere else but here. The neighborhood and Houston itself is in flux, in the aftermath of a hurricane (Harvey, one assumes), but also as a function of transient populations and just the ways Stuff Changes.

It's good. And it is exactly the sort of thing one hopes to discover when making resolutions to read more diversely: perspective and experience that one simply does not otherwise encounter. It's a delicious bonus that Washington writes so well: his style is deceptively plain with its short sentences and simple vocabulary, but then an image whacks you up the side of the head -- "Houston is molting. The city sheds all over the concrete." -- and you realize Washington has been sparring with you all along.

There are stories here that knock your breath out. For me, those were "Wayside," in which the narrator has a brief internship in drug running and learns harshly that being gay is more despised and dangerous; "Lot," in which the narrator's family loses the restaurant, illustrating that not only can't you go home again you can't even stay home if you try; and "Waugh," a story of unforgivable betrayal in a self-chosen family of street hustlers. Those were standouts for me but the others are very good, with only a single exception which seems to be trying to make a point I just don't get. Its point-making involves baseball, so no surprise I don't get it. Richard has done story-by-story commentary, so I'll point you to his thread for details. He dislikes the baseball story too so that's some consolation.

Aug 26, 8:31pm Top

>51 MickyFine: Well, if you must. In fairness to my home country we have a few gems too. In the state of my current residency, the decent ones seem to have trouble staying elected, alas ....

Aug 30, 1:11am Top

97) DAW #171: Three-Eyes by Stuart Gordon
Date: 1975
Tagline: Confrontation at a world's end

The Divine Mutant is on the rise; his madness spreads like a contagion. But there is also a surprising resistance from a small group who have learned a Song to fight the Mutant's madness. The Mutant has numbers on his side but the resistance has some powerful allies like Cuyahogan, a giant golem who assisted the Mutant in his escape from Phadraig back in Book 1 but now has recalled that chi* hates the little tyrant and now has the single aim of killing him. (*Cuyahogan chooses hir own pronouns and goes by "chi, hir.") The Mutant's forces and those of the resistance converge on an underground bunker which holds the key to the Divine Mutant's power -- and also the secret history of the apocalypse.

This is the finale to Gordon's "Eyes" trilogy, a postapocalyptic fantasy full of Big Ideas. It does exactly what it needs to do. It brings together characters from the first two books and throws in a couple of new ones. It fills in the world's backstory, which is weirder than I'd guessed and a nice surprise. I do wish Gordon were a better prose stylist, but no complaints about the fun story.

Cover is by Michael Whelan.

Aug 30, 1:19am Top


Still haven't weighed in, but I feel like I'm finally getting the mileage back to where I can start calling myself training again.

Mileage last week: 12 miles.
Mileage this year: 474 miles
Longest run: 3 miles
Target mileage this week: 14 miles
Monday weigh-in: ---

Soundtrack: Shut Your Mouth by Garbage
BPM: 90

Sep 2, 6:27pm Top

98) Beggars of Life Jim Tully
Date: 1924

Earlier this year Liz and I read Circus Parade, Tully's memoir of life as a circus roustabout. Before he joined the circus, Tully had been a hobo, crossing the country in empty boxcars, working odd jobs for spare change and bumming meals where he could find them. This is his account of those years and it has the same mix of nostalgia and casual violence. There is no child or animal abuse quite like those of CP, but there is a lynching scene even more disturbing than CP's. Despite the violence, Tully praises the freedom of a tramp's life. There's an appealing bit near the end where he describes how he found a literary education on the road, stealing books from public libraries.

"When whipt of life and snubbed of prudes I could talk to old Sam Johnson with his strange blending of the naive and the philosopher. I could still love Goldsmith. I could hear Chatterton saying-- 'I'm a poet, sir.' I walked with him through the streets of London, I cried when he took the poison. I could stroll down an English lane with Coleridge and meet John Keats. I could stop while Keats turned and said, 'Let me carry away the memory, Coleridge, of having held your hand.' And I could hear Coleridge say afterward, 'There's death in that hand.'"

I stole books from libraries. I stole them whenever I could. I would often carry two or three of them with me and hide them. It would not be wise for a bum to be caught with a library book. He would have to explain. Bums have so much to explain. It would be rather embarrassing."

Sep 2, 6:30pm Top

>56 swynn:

Really nice, Steve!

I did a short review of the film supposedly based upon this a while back, but even then I gathered that it and the book had precious little in common (now I know!). It does deal with the tramp's life but it doesn't find much other than misery and violence in it. (Of course, in that case one of the tramps is a girl...)

Sep 2, 9:22pm Top

>52 swynn: I am so so glad that Bryan Washington wrote a winner for you too! I am still thinking about Waugh's young men. Gawd.

>54 swynn: Poor prose was so much less a problem Back in the Day because there was so little pressure to produce anything but. Another way I'm glad to know things are different now.

>56 swynn: Oh dear, will nothing ever change for the poorest of the poor? Rachel Ingalls went there, too, in Theft from Something to Write Home About. Sad to say, there's never been a day when the poorest don't have a lot to answer for. Disgusts me.

Edited: Sep 2, 10:35pm Top

>57 lyzard: (Of course, in that case one of the tramps is a girl...)

Oh no there ain't.

My library has the film, so I'll get & watch it. From the Rotten Tomatoes description, though, I think Louise Brooks's part is based very loosely on an actual character in the book:

Jim (Richard Arlen), a wanderer, comes upon young Nancy (Louise Brooks), who has just killed the guardian who was trying to rape her.

There is no Nancy in the book, nor is there any girl-disguised-as-a-boy who takes up with Jim. But I think the character is derived from Edna, a prostitute first mentioned early in the book as "the prettiest little girl that ever sold her body in Rabbit Town." Much later we get her story, which is disturbing -- also one of the most memorable episodes in the book, so it would have been impossible for the screenwriters to ignore. And probably equally impossible to film as it was written. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I suspect a project intended simultaneously to shock the audience and to sanitize the text.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, Nancy was the very-near victim of a "guardian." But there was nothing very-near about Edna's experience, as she was routinely raped after her mother's death by her father and brother:

Edna was not quite eighteen. She had been seduced by her own father at fourteen and then an older brother carried on the work. She had a very low opinion of men.

Eventually, Edna became pregnant and had to leave town.

At fifteen she ran away to ----- in a delicate condition. She went to a hospital and told the head nurse of her condition, as she wanted to talk to a person of her own sex. That woman heard the story and said tersely, 'I'd shoot 'em both if it was me!'

Edna replied, 'I think I will!'

Edna's baby died only a few days after birth. The head nurse gave her a few dollars, with which Edna bought a gun. Stopping only briefly by her mother's grave to share her plans, Edna went home.

The father turned, in surprise at seeing her, and died the next moment. Two bullets ripped through his brain, and he fell across the hot stove and rolled on the floor.

The brother jumped and ran quickly through the door, a bullet flying after him and going through his left lung.

Edna walked quietly to the police station and said, 'I've killed my father and brother with this gun. I told my mother I would this afternoon!'

She was six months in jail, and was tried and acquitted. She told me this tale one evening when the lights burned low in Rabbit Town.

Edited: Sep 2, 10:58pm Top

>59 swynn: And it occurs to me I have to take back my claim that there is no child abuse like there is in CP because there is, obviously, that. Unlike CP, the victim gets some agency. And justice.

Edited: Sep 2, 10:47pm Top

>58 richardderus: Thanks for the rec, Richard! Yes, "Waugh" will stay with me for some time too. I'm not familiar with the Ingalls story, so will have to seek it out.

Sep 2, 11:48pm Top

>61 swynn: My review has a link to the OP edition.

Edited: Sep 3, 12:03am Top

>59 swynn:, >60 swynn:

Yeah, you can just see the bare bones of it there. Very sanitised, although the film does open in the wake of her shooting dead the man who took her from an orphanage as slave-labour; however she shoots him before he can do more than "maul" her.

I wrote it up here; the same post has a piece on the film adaptation of Black Oxen too.

Sep 3, 12:40am Top

>62 richardderus: Happily, it's available through my library consortium and should be on its way to me soon.

Sep 3, 12:44am Top

>63 lyzard: Interesting. The Wallace Beery character is in the book, but moments of redemption he has none. Nobody would say he "wasn't such a bad guy" because really, he was.

Sep 3, 12:51pm Top


Mileage last week: 14 miles.
Mileage this year: 488 miles
Longest run: 3 miles
Target mileage this week: 15 miles
Monday weigh-in: 253

Soundtrack: Backdoor Man Bernard Allison
BPM: 89

I spent Sunday at the Bowlful of Blues festival in Newton, Iowa. The headliner was Savoy Brown -- who were terrific -- but the highlight for me was Bernard Allison's band. So here's one of their pieces at a tempo very close to the ideally runnable 90 BPM.

Sep 3, 9:52pm Top

>65 swynn:

Sounds right. The film character suddenly gets twisted into a different person.

Really...what kind of person would rather look at Wallace Beery than Louise Brooks?? :D

Edited: Sep 11, 3:42pm Top

99) America's Women / Gail Collins
Date: 2003

Since 2017 or so, I've become a fan of Gail Collins's columns in the New York Times. I'm happy to report that Collins brings the same conversational tone, dry humor, and eye for interesting anecdotes to this volume of women's history. She covers the colonial era up to about 1970; a follow-up volume, When Everything Changed, covers the most recent half-century; and a forthcoming volume, No Stopping Us Now, promises to cover similar territory with a focus on ideas about women and aging.

Collins calls special attention to contradictions: the contrast, for example, in the antebellum American South (and elsewhere) between ideas about white women as fragile flowers and black women as sturdy workhorses. Or ideas about schoolteachers, which swiftly went from "necessarily single" to "what is wrong with you that you can't find a husband." Or women in "men's professions": in the 1940's women were considered too fragile and unsophisticated to fly airplanes -- but when they managed to do so anyway were given dangerous assignments for which male pilots were too valuable to risk. Which makes Mary Robinette Kowal's "Lady Astronaut" series sound just about right.

There are plenty of ironies and historical quaintnesses, many of which will be familiar or at least unsuprising to anyone who has read some historical fiction. But for me there were also some deeper insights into American history. For example, I had never realized how closely entangled the suffragist and temperance movements were, and I had the vague and mistaken idea that their respective activists moved in different circles.

Readers looking for an academic treatment may find the tone a bit light, though the content is thoroughly documented in endnotes. I found it sufficiently engaging and informative that I'd like to read the follow-up. Someday.

Sep 11, 2:10pm Top

>68 swynn: An excellent read, and you're closing in on triple digits! W00t!

Spend a happy Wednesday reading.

Sep 12, 7:26am Top

>68 swynn: I feel the same way about Gail Collins' columns, and this book. Her unwillingness to let us forget that Mitt Romney once transported his dog on the top of his car never fails to make me giggle.

Sep 16, 12:35am Top

>69 richardderus: Thanks Richard!
>70 rosalita: The amazing thing is that it really is possible to forget that story ... so yes thank you Gail Collins for rfreshing that memory when needed! Have you read When Everything Changed?

Sep 16, 5:09am Top

>71 swynn: I have not read that one. I'll have to look for it at the library.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2019

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