ThReads Must Roll: the new, improved rolling fantasy, science fiction, speculative fiction &c. thread

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Because the old one got too long and Shakey couldn't load it. A sequel to rolling fantasy, science fiction, speculative fiction &c. thread

fgtbaoutit (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 13 November 2014 00:51 (four years ago) Permalink

Hoping to report on Report On Probability A in the near future.

fgtbaoutit (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 13 November 2014 00:54 (four years ago) Permalink

Gregory Benford: Artifact --- archaeologists uncover lethal alien thingy in Mycenean burial ground. Not brilliantly written, but interesting enough to continue with. Entertainingly, for a book written in 1985, it contains early 21st-century Greece falling apart because of a worldwide economic depression/recession

ornamental cabbage (James Morrison), Thursday, 13 November 2014 01:11 (four years ago) Permalink

lol @ thread title

Report on Probability A - was idly thinking of re-reading that recently, I remember being p underwhelmed by its central formal conceit. I expected it to be much loopier and disorienting. In general, Aldiss is v hit or miss for me (something I've read Moorcock attribute to his needing a good editor/manager, someone to set goals/targets for him). Cryptozoic is undreadable, for example, but I consider Barefoot in the Head from just a year or two later a masterpiece.

Οὖτις, Thursday, 13 November 2014 17:20 (four years ago) Permalink

Brian W. "Crazy Baldhead" Aldiss

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 13 November 2014 17:27 (four years ago) Permalink

Read rep on prob a at least twice a long time ago, didn't know anything about last year at marienbad but enjoyed the formal conceit and the last few pages made me want to high five him.

thread title capitalisation and constant reminder of that dunderheaded heinlein story is gonna make me rmde to eternity.

ledge, Friday, 14 November 2014 10:03 (four years ago) Permalink

agonising as it may be for ledge, this restart is v handy for me, as I meant to start following the previous thread after the initial poll that prompted it, and then i didn't and then it got so long that my approach of 'I must read all of it before participating' turned into hiding from the thread and not ever talking about some of my favourite strands of writing :/

Fizzles, Friday, 14 November 2014 10:41 (four years ago) Permalink

Sorry for thread title, ledge, I did it to annoy Shakey, not you.

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 14 November 2014 11:17 (four years ago) Permalink

You are not the only one who couldn't read prior thread, Fizzles. Was constantly using the search feature or wondering where something was only to learn it was further upthread.

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 14 November 2014 11:26 (four years ago) Permalink

Still slogging through the last of Atwood's Maddadam trilogy. The third book is piss-weak, slow going and uninteresting, and her stylistic flaws seem to show through more and more. Because it's sci-fi there's an attempt to be, I dunno, edgy or hardboiled or something and it's about as convincing as one of your parents trying on an ill-fitting leather jacket. Bit of a shame really, becaus eI enjoyed the first two books (Oryx & Crake / Year of the Flood) immensely.

joni mitchell jarre (dog latin), Friday, 14 November 2014 11:34 (four years ago) Permalink

I think I forgotten to say on the previous thread that another one of the best features on fantasticfiction site is it shows you the blurbs writers have done for other people's books.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 14 November 2014 14:35 (four years ago) Permalink

Cool I'll just keep pasting in stuff from prev thread everytime somebody mentions something already discussed thoroughly, as I kept etc on prev thread its own self. Speaking of blurbs, here's a good 'un from a recent library shop score, Wandering Stars, An Anthology of Jewish Fantasy and Science Fiction, edited by Jack Dann, Introduction by Isaac Asimov:
I loved Wandering Stars, and why not? Two of the thirteen stories are from Orbit, and I would have bought seven of the rest if I had got my hands on them first. If the book had nothing else going for it, it would still be a triumph to get William Tenn to write the great story he was talking about in the fifties.--Damon Knight
(Also a blurb from Leo Rosten, who wrote The Education of Hyman Kaplan, about an immigrant who tends to take over English classes with his own versions and visions of language and lit.)

dow, Friday, 14 November 2014 15:47 (four years ago) Permalink

Contents (some of these titles are corny, but the few stories I kinda remember from mags etc were good):

"Why Me?" by Isaac Asimov

William Tenn: "On Venus, Have We Got A Rabbi"

Avram Davidson: "The Golem"

Isaac Asimov: "Unto the Fourth Generation"

Carol Carr: "Look, You Think You've Got Troubles"

Avram Davidson: "Goslin Day"

Robert Silverberg: "The Dybbuk of Mazel Tov IV"

Horace L. Gold: "Trouble With Water"

Pamela Sargent: "Gather Blue Roses"

Bernard Malamud: "The Jewbird"

Geo. Alec Effinger: "Paradise Lost"

Robert Sheckley: "Street of Dreams, Feet of Clay"

Isaac Bashevis Singer: Jachid and Jechidah"

Harlan Ellison: "I'm Looking For Kadah"

dow, Friday, 14 November 2014 16:00 (four years ago) Permalink

I just looked at a full schedule of all the books on SF Gateway (presumably this is the ebook titles). It's 2599 books!
Cant remember where I found the document.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 14 November 2014 21:16 (four years ago) Permalink

UK or US or other?

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 14 November 2014 21:39 (four years ago) Permalink

Probably UK

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 14 November 2014 22:02 (four years ago) Permalink

Considerably fewer in US

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Friday, 14 November 2014 22:12 (four years ago) Permalink

Mark Sinker makes some connections (for inst., between Gothic and Futurist lit) new to me, after viewing the National Gallery's William Morris exhibition:

dow, Sunday, 16 November 2014 14:51 (four years ago) Permalink

Thanks. Surely the friend mentioned there is an ILB poster.

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 16 November 2014 14:59 (four years ago) Permalink

RMDE at that this thread title too, as well as the terrible screenname I had at the time. Don't know why I did it. I guess the door dilated and I just had to go through it.

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 16 November 2014 14:59 (four years ago) Permalink

before I forget: this Brazilian writer recently died and Clute tweeted link to very appealing SFE overview of his work:

dow, Sunday, 16 November 2014 15:51 (four years ago) Permalink

Ooh! I mean RIP but yknow

Οὖτις, Sunday, 16 November 2014 16:02 (four years ago) Permalink

Thanks. Often hard to find something like that in translation or even not in translation. Wonder if he had anything in that Cosmos Latinos anthology? Don't seem to recognize the name.

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 16 November 2014 16:03 (four years ago) Permalink

(xp, obv)

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 16 November 2014 16:03 (four years ago) Permalink

okay, "Brain Transplant."

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 16 November 2014 16:05 (four years ago) Permalink

I've only read Brain Transplant but would def read more provided stuff gets translated

Οὖτις, Sunday, 16 November 2014 16:06 (four years ago) Permalink

Hey James, tried to reply to yr kind email, but it won't let us reply directly, and the webmail form has the worst captcha evah, I refreshed it a half-dozen times, got rejected over and over and over and over and over and over. So I'll reply here: thanks, you keep up the good posts too!

dow, Monday, 17 November 2014 02:06 (four years ago) Permalink

has this been posted already?

Οὖτις, Monday, 17 November 2014 16:18 (four years ago) Permalink

Laird Barron wrote a parody of the horror/weird scene, it included jabs at Mark Samuels in particular (however serious they were intended, nobody knows), there was some discussion of this at the Ligotti forum and eventually that resulted in Justin Isis writing hilarious rap battle lyrics.
Several spread across this page

Robert Adam Gilmour, Monday, 17 November 2014 23:35 (four years ago) Permalink

The xpost link to Mark Sinker's William Morris exhibit etc is back online this afternoon. Read that before reading further, for max headroom:
When his fellow visitor/ILXor xyzzz (sic?) said it was down this morning, I told Mark, and we had this email exchange:

Mark:oh cheers, yes, the guy who hosts it (on a laptop in his spare room) sometimes has to reboot :)

me: OK, will keep in mind. I fairly recently got into Morris and those Kipling stories (if you meant "As Easy As A-B-C" and "With The Night Mail," for inst), but hadn't made the connection. Now I'm also thinking of Blade Runner's Earth, a mostly abandoned First World-as-Third World backstreet, where it rains all night in perpetual eco-ruins; also PKD's original setting, more like a slightly-future-to-us Beijing, with workers scuttling between buildings, hoping not to be singed/cancer-seeded by the invisible sun. Some later Tiptree stories too, and Mary Shelley's The Last Man, for me amazing as Frankenstein.
Probably some of Kim Stanley Robinson's later novels too, though they've gotten so long I may never know (early The Wild Shore was fine, best I recall). But I recently saw a mention of "cli-fi" as emerging trend, so we may get sick of the whole thing even before it all comes true.

Mark: Yes, Kipling’s mum was related to a famous Pre-Raphaelite in the Morris circle — his dad of course ran the Lucknow museum — and when he was boarded in England as kid (not the notorious time that became Baa Baa Black Sheep) he stayed with the De Morgans, who were also minor slebs in Arts&Crafts terms: William DM a high-end potter and tile designer (he did the fireplaces for the Titanic iirc!)

Yrs partly (Kipling's)sic-fi stories, but also the stories about ships and trains and cars — esp.the ones from the perspective of the train or ship. The ones abt cars are really intriguing: he was totally an early adopter.

me: Didn't know any of that, thanks! Will def have to read more Kipling----recently found one of his I mentioned in an anth w HG's "The Land Ironclads"---getting back into Wells, and suspect the Eloi and Morlocks might have gotten Morris (and Tolkien) going. Finally read The Lord Of The Rings, and feel like I totally/mostly get it! Specific associations re the "not allegorical, dammit!" Ring/magic can shift, but lately I think of fossil fuels as thee ancient source of modern marvels, source which must now be sacrificed to/for any chance of future lives, bearable legacy But once that ship sails off into the autumn sea, it sails, buddy. So the book is a tragedy, but fairly often experienced as a comedy, in a commedia sense: fascination of the vivid details, robustly acted out, with some mortal meat joy, and other meat conditions.

dow, Tuesday, 18 November 2014 19:08 (four years ago) Permalink

William DM a high-end potter and tile designer (he did the fireplaces for the Titanic iirc!

De Morgan Centre looking for a foothold. (Those are Tolkien's ships, right there)

alimosina, Thursday, 20 November 2014 01:24 (four years ago) Permalink

Just heard "Dream Weaver" on the radio. Wasn't there an sf writer named Gary Wright who had a much anthologized story about some futuristic luge called something like "Ice Slide"? "Ice Capades"? "Ice Rink" ? "Ice Mutants"? and then was never heard from again? I'll guess I'll see what Clute & Co have to say.

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 23 November 2014 20:44 (four years ago) Permalink

Looks like some Canadian teacher assigned it to his students to adapt as a short film. Don't think it was clemenza, though.

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 23 November 2014 20:55 (four years ago) Permalink

Can anyone tell me what on earth Science Fiction Poetry is? Poems of fantasy and horror just uses tropes of those genres but how do you achieve the conceptual framework of SF in poetry? Because without that, the tropes by themselves would just be fantasy poems or poems about radical change.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 23 November 2014 20:56 (four years ago) Permalink

If you have to ask you'll never know.

Tom Disch might have had something to tell you about it, but he is sadly no longer with us.

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 23 November 2014 21:00 (four years ago) Permalink

Oh gosh, now that you mention it, I've seen poetry in science fiction mags as far back as I can remember, though I don't remember any specific poem, at least in part because I haven't read any sf mags in a long time. I do remember there being quite a range, from short light verse (limericks, even)to much more ambitious testimonials and mini-sagas(never got much space in the page sense).
I'll have to dig up some of those zines; meanwhile this looks like a good place to start:

dow, Sunday, 23 November 2014 22:22 (four years ago) Permalink

Also notable were the infusion of a quantity of poetry into the text of Brian W Aldiss's novel Barefoot in the Head (1969)

Thinking about what Aldiss to read next, since I finished Report on Probability A , which I will give a report grade of 'A' to, and this is on my short list.

There are some poems in the anthology Sense of Wonder.

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 23 November 2014 22:51 (four years ago) Permalink

Just came across a 1962 American printing of The Long Afternoon of Earth, AKA Hothouse; unabridged edition didn't come out in the US 'til 76.

dow, Sunday, 23 November 2014 23:37 (four years ago) Permalink

Did you buy it? It is currently out of print. I loved the story/extract in the Silverberg SF 101 book, as mentioned on prior thread.

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 23 November 2014 23:41 (four years ago) Permalink

This is the abridged version I got (for 25 cents),204,203,200_.jpg

dow, Monday, 24 November 2014 00:00 (four years ago) Permalink

in terms of thematic vibe, this cover may be more appropriate, but the UK is awesome o coures

dow, Monday, 24 November 2014 00:01 (four years ago) Permalink

In your favorite online sf reference work I believe that book has the tag ***SEMISPOILER ALERT** "Space Elevator" **END OF SEMISPOILER ALERT

Junior Dadaismus (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 24 November 2014 00:28 (four years ago) Permalink

Vandermeer has come back to one he still thinks is underappreciated. The title and author seem vaguely familiar; anybody read it?

dow, Monday, 24 November 2014 05:22 (four years ago) Permalink

New Yorker won't let me link, but check out Laura Miller's "Fresh Hell" for clear lens view of profuse YA dystopias, and how the lit varies from Classic adult-aimed (later school-assigned). TNY's Amy Davidson later agrees with much but not all of Miller's take.

dow, Tuesday, 25 November 2014 17:40 (four years ago) Permalink

been reading LeGuin's "A Fisherman of the Inland Sea" (they had it at the library). I took Disch to task in "The Dreams Our Stuff is Made of" for his attacks on her, and while I won't recant on that count (he was unnecessarily harsh and dismissive), she really can let her didacticism get in the way. I can think of few fiction writers that have a more keenly developed political agenda that is so readily apparent in their work. Ayn Rand obviously (lol) and Heinlein and Scott Card I suppose. But LeGuin's well to the left of those boorish blowhards, and arguably more audacious conceptually. I wonder if I should go back and re-read the Kestrel books for any political subtext I may have missed in jr high, I always liked those...

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 25 November 2014 22:17 (four years ago) Permalink

I don't think I'll read her for a very long time unless I come across her work in anthologies. Because once Moorcock said her work was self-consciously literary and left him cold. But he was very fond of her as a person.

That really put me off and what you say here adds to that. But Wizard Of Earthsea is an attractive name so I'm not totally discouraged.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Wednesday, 26 November 2014 01:28 (four years ago) Permalink

Moorcock doesn't always make the right choices...

Even people I know who don't usually like her (or science fiction in general) tend to like this

dow, Wednesday, 26 November 2014 01:40 (four years ago) Permalink

Speaking of Tiptree's way, SF Encyclopedia provides a handy map, incl. how she fooled some (in an era or when science fiction was mostly a male preserve)
...She joined the CIA in 1952 but left in 1955 and attended college, acquiring a PhD in experimental psychology in 1967. In that year she began writing as James Tiptree, Jr, taking on the persona of an emotionally robust and engaging middle-aged man with Pentagon experience whose only oddity was that no one had ever met him. Signing herself "Tip" in her widespread correspondence, she had found a voice to speak in. But.... Maybe a deep parody of ex-military Heinlein and his ilk? To some extent? Living that on paper for a while.

dow, Monday, 11 February 2019 02:03 (two months ago) Permalink

Oops meant to include the line before the CIA, Sheldon joined the US Army in 1942, eventually going into Air Force intelligence and working for a time in the Pentagon, so there'sanother part of "Tip."

dow, Monday, 11 February 2019 02:07 (two months ago) Permalink

Reading M.P. Shiel's The Purple Cloud, billed as Edwardian apocalypse literature. Starts out pretty ho-hum - protagonist is tempted by Evil Jezebel to try to be first at the North Pole because some billionaire left a fortune to whoever managed it - but takes a turn into very bizarre weird fiction. The distrust between the party and the inexplicable natural phenomena - dead animals everywhere, diamonds lying around, a lingering smell of peach - made me think of the Southern Reach trilogy. The protagonist puts all this down to the arrival at the North Pole being another Eve-biting-the-apple moment for mankind, and the ensuing chaos is the wrath of God, but I'm putting this down to savage superstition in order to keep the vibe eerie.

Daniel_Rf, Tuesday, 12 February 2019 10:48 (two months ago) Permalink

I want to read more Shiel, although some have said (maybe up this same thread?) that The Purple Cloud is disappointing. Others liked it. Anyway, I liked this story---posted on the previous Rolling Speculative etc thread:
...and all over his face broods a universe of rainbows, dingy and fat, which from the fat vapours of the pitch bringing forth rainbows, not rainbows of heaven, but, so to say, fallen angels, grown gross and sluggish. But, years ere this, I think, I had seen the bulrushes: for, soon after the volcano came, in roaming over to the left shore of the cataract's sea---the whole left shore is flat and widespread, and hath no high walls like the right side---I walked upon a freshet of fresh warm water, and after following it upward, saw all around a marsh's swamp, and the bush of bulrushes. This is where the oysters be so crass, and they be pearl oysters, for all that soil be crass with nacreous matter of some sort, with barrok pearls, mother of pearl, and in most of the oysters which I opened pearls; with a lot of conch shells which have within them pink pearls, and there be also the black pearl, such as they have in Mexico and the West Indies, with the yellow and likewise the white, which last be shaped like the pear, and large, and his pallor hath a blank brightness, very priceless, and so to say, bridal.

― dow, Monday, January 14, 2013 10:34 AM (six years ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

That's from "The Dark Lot of One Saul," by M.P. Shiel. Had heard of him as a xenophobe, racist, anti-Semite and indeed, it seems that he was as smitten by the Yellow Peril as much as his Elizabethan castaway was the yellow pearl, to say the least. Also wanted to deport the Jews to Palestine, thus "making him a Zionist of sorts"--mots juste, Great Tales of Science Fiction eds. Silverberg & Greenberg! But in non-shit-talking stories like this, he earns the crack in his pot, a la xp David Lindsay. Other goodies in here so far from Twain, Kipling, Wells; compatible though creakier Poe and Verne. Currently reading "R.U.R."; quite a contrast so far with Shiel.

― dow, Monday, January 14, 2013 10:46 AM (six years ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

This quote is is one of the tamer bits actually; hard to avoid spoilers.

― dow, Monday, January 14, 2013

dow, Tuesday, 12 February 2019 19:32 (two months ago) Permalink

There's a new Margaret St Clair best of coming out called Hole In The Moon. I seen a database listing dating it back to 2017 but amazon says it's coming in September this year. Ramsey Campbell is editing it. It's very welcome since the last collection is becoming pricy.

Very Best Of Caitlin R Kiernan is coming out next month.

Zagava are starting to do paperbacks now. So some very desirable titles will be much much more affordable.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 17 February 2019 01:46 (two months ago) Permalink

Had heard of him as a xenophobe, racist, anti-Semite

Evidence of this in The Purple Cloud is him spending considerable time poring over the ethnic origins of corpses he finds. To be fair it's somewhat justified by the narrative - evidence of a mass exodus towards the North and West to escape the cloud of death - but still feels very much like the old guy in that episode of Community disparaging Britta as being of "dirty swedish peasant stock" or summat.

Didn't expect him to spend as much time being literally the Last Man On Earth, but I'm interested in seeing where it goes.

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 18 February 2019 09:41 (two months ago) Permalink

Just picked up the Victor LaValle-edited People's Future of the United Stated anthology, which I am very excited to spend some time exploring. I don't know LaValle's work, but a friend was singing his praises him recently (after seeing his name attached to the front cover blurb on Kiese Laymon's Long Division, which I was in the process of recommending to him), and he sounds like someone I'd enjoy reading.

The depressed somebody from the popular David Bowie song, (bernard snowy), Wednesday, 20 February 2019 23:05 (two months ago) Permalink

Some people have considered Shiel the first black speculative fiction author, which makes his race stories more interesting. Utterly crazy guy.

Machen was friends with him and some think "The White People" and "Children Of The Pool" are about Shiels abuse of his daughter.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 22 February 2019 19:55 (one month ago) Permalink

Farah Rose Smith - Anonyma

Starts out the story of a dancer and her abusive architect lover (both possess other talents) then goes into other worlds, including places that look as much inspired by extreme metal music imagery as they do the worlds of the Weird Tales circle of writers; and surreal flights into less familiar territory.

Regular expressions of emotional and physical pain that go way beyond the involvement of the architect. Much of the book is dense with fleeting successions of impressions and observations that are so ambiguous and vague that I often had trouble getting a foothold.

It only worked for me half the time, but I liked the best parts quite a lot (boats and hooks, spirit projections, the village chapter, the coffins/dance scene, and many lovely lines scattered across the book) and there's much to admire about the approaches taken. Overall I prefer Almanac Of Dust but the peaks in this book are so much higher.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 22 February 2019 20:37 (one month ago) Permalink

I've been expanding and keeping a regular close eye on my wishlists lately. Kept Leigh Brackett's Sea Kings Of Mars (supposedly the best collection you can find of her) on my wishlist, not expecting it to ever go down in price, but it did and I pounced fast. It was something like 25 pounds.

Never thought I'd regularly be spending over 30 for a book, but here we are. There's a few things in the £50-150 range that I'm really hoping will go down, but if they never do, I might just have to make some crazy exceptions. Wish I could haggle with the dealers. I could send an email but I feel that would be just too cheeky.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 22 February 2019 21:14 (one month ago) Permalink

Thanks for that link about Shiel. I'd read the novel but had no idea about him and his deranged life.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Saturday, 23 February 2019 06:41 (one month ago) Permalink

I was slightly hesitant to say Shiel was crazy because a lot of people from those times had crazy lives, the many other articles from that link are proof. But maybe Shiel was just a bit crazier than most writers.

Recently heard about a jewish writer called Oswald Levett who wrote a novel called Papilio Mariposa, about an ugly jewish man who gets his revenge on the world by turning into a butterfly with a beautiful face and eating people he doesn't like; Only german versions available unfortunately. The writer died in an extermination camp.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 23 February 2019 11:17 (one month ago) Permalink

I feel slightly bad about it, because Shiel must have caused people a lot of pain, but that page made me laugh and amused me a great deal.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 23 February 2019 12:28 (one month ago) Permalink
Nice feature that continues into the comments.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 24 February 2019 01:57 (one month ago) Permalink

Just noticed 3 lengthy Moorcock interivews on youtube. On the Savoy channel he's interviewed by Colin Greenland in the 80s and Alan Moore in the 00s, then by Hari Kunzru from last year.

His impression of slapping Elric back to life was funny. He said Donald A Wollheim was a friend but a very flawed man (wish he had expanded on this), calling him "the last Stalinist in New York".

Very interesting is his claim that the british new wave really wasn't reacting very much at all to the golden age SF, that Aldiss was the only person who had read much American SF and that the real reaction was against the stagnation of modernist writing.

His aversion to the countryside has always irked me (and his silly claim in Wizardry & Wild Romance that there was nothing to worry about in the destruction of it) but I think maybe it's just a certain kind of countryside he doesn't like, because he loves Robert Holdstock's fantasies. There's a bunch of disagreements I have but sometimes he seems to contradict things he's previously said about stories.

Talks about his upcoming fantasy semi-autiobiography.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 9 March 2019 14:32 (one month ago) Permalink

There’s a collected ebook of all six Herbert Dune books for a pound on Kindle right now

Chuck_Tatum, Monday, 11 March 2019 19:35 (one month ago) Permalink

With an unfortunately repulsive cover

Chuck_Tatum, Monday, 11 March 2019 19:37 (one month ago) Permalink

I saw that. It claims to be 7xx pages long whereas an ebook of just the first trilogy claims to be 9xx pages long...

koogs, Monday, 11 March 2019 20:44 (one month ago) Permalink

In other Amazon news, those two disch books I ordered at 4am one morning have disappeared in the post...

koogs, Monday, 11 March 2019 20:46 (one month ago) Permalink

S. P. Somtow - Light On The Sound

I first heard of Somtow over a decade ago when people would mention his book Vampire Junction as being one of the best vampire stories or even one of the best horror novels. A few years later I found out Somtow is a successful composer of operas and symphonies and that he's written quite a few fantasies. In more recent years I saw the fuller extent of his fantasy and science fiction books (unfortunately since he used write under the name Somtow Sucharitkul, sometimes databases divide his work between two different author pages), got a better sense of what he's done in music, film and television.

Some of the reviews, titles and cover art for his books are intriguing, he's very likable in his public talks... I feel an obsession coming on. I start with Light On The Sound, first part of the Inquestor series (4 books in the series, a 5th book is promised and 2 supplemental booklets about the series came out recently). Theodore Sturgeon calls it "no less than the greatest magnitude of spectacle and color since Stapledon"!

It's a story of an empire that travels the universe destroying utopias and creating extremely manufactured existences for the people they exploit. Most of the story is divided between three characters, the majority of it set on one planet, with a few brief trips to a couple of other planets. The dwellings of the Inquestors tend to be extravagant but the other characters live in very bare, deprived places which are nonetheless quite technologically advanced.

There's an invented language (explained in an appendix in impressive detail); Somtow is especially fond of joining words without hyphenating them; the perceptions of people who cant see or hear is very cleverly described in many chapters. Then there's poems and folk songs.

I absolutely adored this, I haven't enjoyed a book this much in quite some time. It's pretty close to the kind of thing I'm hoping for when I'm delving into semi-forgotten fantasy/science fiction from the 70s-80s-90s. It has the kind of scale and beautiful spectacle I to look for in fantastical weird fiction but also has these wonderful big rousing moments of a type that weird fiction authors usually don't do. This isn't weird/horror fiction but Somtow definitely can do that when he wants to. I was beaming with morbid glee at a couple of the things Lady Ynyoldeh does.
One of the best things is getting a taste of amazing things we're unlikely to ever experience. I wish I could ride the gravity devices, Udara and the Overcosm.
I also like the way it explores the mentality of the Inquestors, their ideas ingrained over centuries that even heretics have trouble shedding.

Characters too often survive and progress through incredible luck.
Why doesn't the girl recognize crying? What would have stopped her? And how did she learn to talk so fluently in such a short time?
It seems like too many instances of risks being taken for the sake of action. Why were the Inquestors so careless in going to the Dark Country? Their soldiers have so much power and they could have easily avoided this. Why was the inexperienced boy left with the sensor panel?

Some people have issues with the dialogue. It is a tad unnatural sounding at times but it's set in a very different time and place.

Some parts of the big plan near the end are ridiculous, initially this dampened my enthusiasm but there's promise that it isn't all it seems. This is probably a hook for the sequel.

One reviewer said it takes too much from Dune. I only know the Lynch film version. The brain whales are certainly similar and at one meeting with them, Dune is clearly referenced. Some of the villains are reminiscent of Dune villains but not that much. I thought there was a few other more muted references to other science fiction books. But I'd be surprised if that many of Somtow's other inventions have much in common with the Herbert books.

Cant wait to read all Somtow's other books. I might go to the Riverrun trilogy, Vampire Junction, Jasmine Nights or a collection before I read the next Inquestor book. All his books are available from his print-on-demand company.

A real buried treasure, should have a much bigger following.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 15 March 2019 21:15 (one month ago) Permalink

Somtow Ted talk
Somtow talking about making the English language work for you

He recently released a book about his time ghost writing classical music for an American guy in the 70s.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 15 March 2019 21:22 (one month ago) Permalink

Some other things about him: Barry Malzberg played violin on one of his pieces. Tim Powers, Edward Bryant and a few other sf authors appeared in a (notoriously bad) film directed by him. He written a poem for a Thai newspaper at age 11, Shirley MacLaine happened to be in the country, liked the poem and used it in one of her books.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 16 March 2019 11:22 (one month ago) Permalink

I had heard from the director, who I didn’t know anything about, that he wanted to make it, and my agent said, “Yes, he’s reputable, so go on and have a talk.” I went along expecting a clichéd, cigar-chewing guy, I and I was going to cry all the way to the bank after he had signed the contract, you know. First of all the image was completely wrong. It was a lithesome young Frenchman, rather elegant and thoughtful. I finally came down to the classic cliché question, “Tell me, why do you really want to make a film of my book?” He said, “There was one phrase in it that told me I had to make it, and it’s when there’s this dying woman and you write that ‘she has the possibility of joy’.”

I tell you this is utterly true. That sentence was the most important thing in that book for me and he had picked those six words out as his reason for making it. You can’t get much luckier than that, can you?

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 16 March 2019 19:11 (one month ago) Permalink

Getting just a bit off topic but I liked this bit about portrayals of Asian women.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 17 March 2019 21:08 (one month ago) Permalink

Vandermeer couple's Big Book Of Classic Fantasy comes in July.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 23 March 2019 17:02 (four weeks ago) Permalink

Will check library for Somtow's books. Sounds like you might like Dune too.

dow, Monday, 25 March 2019 00:55 (three weeks ago) Permalink

read THE PREFECT by Alastair Reynolds and followed that up by digging into its sequel ELYSIUM FIRE. koogs otm as far as it dragging a bit more than the first novel but I’m enjoying it despite it featuring one of my least-loved and very common narrative devices: cutting away to seemingly unrelated scenes of peripheral blank slate, unlivable characters engaging in mysterious activities which of course will pay off around page 350 and will be directly related to the mystery at the core of the novel but they’re grueling in the meantime (despite being brief asides). Prefects Dreyfus, Ng, and Sparver remain excellent characters.

omar little, Wednesday, 27 March 2019 16:59 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Just read his new novella, PERMAFROST, which was very enjoyable: only around 150p, and all the better for it. Unconnected to any other works.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Thursday, 28 March 2019 00:36 (three weeks ago) Permalink

You'd think Amazon would tell you me about these things given that I've bought a dozen of his other books from them. But no. It turns out that he has another nother book out as well, a follow up to Revenger.

koogs, Thursday, 28 March 2019 06:10 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Prefects Dreyfus, Ng, and Sparver remain excellent characters.

do any of them hold lifelong and extremely harmful grudges against each other?

what if bod was one of us (ledge), Thursday, 28 March 2019 06:43 (three weeks ago) Permalink


The other characters though...

koogs, Thursday, 28 March 2019 11:27 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I scored high at the charity shops this week, but there was a ton of stuff I didn't buy because there are omnibuses that contain this stuff, like De Camp & Pratt's Enchanter series, a lot of Brian Stableford and a Mary Gentle book with a cover I really don't like.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 29 March 2019 19:10 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Always told myself I'd go to one of these things next time they came to Glasgow but don't know if it'd be worth 32 quid for what might just be a quick look around.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 29 March 2019 22:36 (three weeks ago) Permalink

I quite like Surridge's articles, he wrote a short series about interesting but not amazing fantasy books from the 80s that show experimentation and paths not taken.

Strikes me as kind of weird that the fantasy novel boom didn't actually start until the late 70s.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 30 March 2019 18:36 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Gene Wolfe's Urf Of The New Sun was one of my charity shop finds. Quite pleased that you actually only need 5 books (four being omnibuses) to get the whole solar cycle (not including a few related shorts stories).

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 30 March 2019 19:47 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Is there a Short Sun omnibus?

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Sunday, 31 March 2019 06:35 (three weeks ago) Permalink


But I just checked around and it tends to go for unfortunate prices. Damn. Don't know why other publishers didn't go for it.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 31 March 2019 08:59 (three weeks ago) Permalink

"I quite like Surridge's articles, he wrote a short series about interesting but not amazing fantasy books from the 80s that show experimentation and paths not taken."

ooh, i should read these


i just read M John Harrison's The Centauri Device and Arthur C Clarke's Childhood's End and for all that I didn't like them they did seem to be interestingly in conversation with each other

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Sunday, 31 March 2019 11:57 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Surridge made an ebook of his reviews in 2015. I might get it someday.

I think this is the last article of that short series and he links back to the previous ones.

He links back to a good number of reviews of his favorite books here in an enormous response to puppygate.

He's only written a little bit of published short fiction but I'm definitely interested.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 31 March 2019 13:49 (three weeks ago) Permalink

To be fair, M John Harrison himself doesn't like The Centauri Device.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Sunday, 31 March 2019 23:53 (three weeks ago) Permalink


jemisin's broken earth trilogy, which i liked a lot although one particular stylistic choice may have been a little much

karin tidbeck's amatka owed a lot to platonov/zamyatin/tolstoya/etc, which is fine with me. the ending was underwhelming. god bless anyone who translates their own work into english, let alone this well

pk dick's the crack in space was kinda corny

mookieproof, Tuesday, 9 April 2019 17:31 (one week ago) Permalink

Seed Collective dedicated a song to Samuel R Delany when I saw them last Saturday :)

Daniel_Rf, Monday, 15 April 2019 09:52 (six days ago) Permalink

Just saw this:

dow, Tuesday, 16 April 2019 02:28 (five days ago) Permalink

Review of a Shiel book I found quite funny

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 20 April 2019 12:45 (yesterday) Permalink

I don't read a lot of fiction, but I did breeze through "Infinite Detail" this week. It's exactly the sort of apocalypse fantasy that resonates with me, which probably doesn't say anything good about me.

Burt Bacharach's Bees (rushomancy), Saturday, 20 April 2019 16:44 (yesterday) Permalink
Quite a fun feature from 2010. Going through the alphabet with threads (most of it is in the comments) recommending the best place to start for each author. It doesn't stick strictly to speculative fiction. Yes, this taken quite a while to read and I skimmed/skipped plenty of stuff.

Obviously not every commenter is an expert on every writer they mention, most are probably just talking about the most popular books they happened to read, but there's definitely some very knowledgeable people in there and surely some trash bingers too.

I found it most useful for the tons of female writers who I occasionally hear about but nobody in my circles seems to read, lots of writers who owe as much to Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen as much as any fantasy writer, and space opera writers. Maybe Kari Sperring, Michelle Sagara West, Sarah Monette/Katherine Addison, Melanie Rawn, Kate Elliott, Sharon Shinn, Sherwood Smith, Carol Berg, Patricia Wrede, Jennifer Roberson and so much more.
A lot of them are very popular and it just shows you how distant parts of fandom can be from each other.

And sending me on my way for finding (supposedly) good early Piers Anthony and Jack L Chalker.

Jo Walton sometimes says "start anywhere with this writer", then in the case of Poul Anderson, some considerate fan tells you which Anderson books you should definitely NOT start with.

I often skimmed over writers I've never heard of (otherwise I would be reading this for weeks more) but I was intrigued by the talk of Elisabeth Vonarburg, a French writer who has maybe a third of her work in English.


Spatterlight is branching out into Jack Vance fanfiction, starting with Dutch writer Tais Teng (comparatively little of his work is in English).

Also reading Martha Wells talking about fanfiction. Says there was lots of fanzines featuring stories of Harrison Ford characters having gay sex back in the 80s. Recently listened to an interview with someone who started emerging as an author writing gay sex stories about Star Trek movie reboot characters (makes me feel a bit old even though I'm not).

Apparently some people go nuts at writers for not writing fanfiction! But if nobody wrote their own stuff, what are you going to write fanfiction about?
Listened to this. Her novel Unquenchable Fire is in the SF Masterworks series. She's an authority on tarot cards, wrote Doom Patrol and New Gods (she hated the art she was saddled with on the latter), says that the Captain Marvel stories by Eando Binder are genius. Quietly spoken.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Saturday, 20 April 2019 17:01 (yesterday) Permalink

I'm pretty psyched for the Marlon James tbh, I liked Seven Killings.

― change display name (Jordan), Monday, January 7, 2019 3:04 PM

it's real good imo

Larry Elleison (rogermexico.), Saturday, 20 April 2019 19:27 (yesterday) Permalink

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