mirrorshard: A book growing from a tree branch, captioned "Books where fruit should be". (Books where fruit should be)
2014-11-08 04:46 pm

(no subject)

Oh, goodness, why didn't I know there was a Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell re-read going on at Tor.com? Fantastic insightful discussion.
mirrorshard: A book growing from a tree branch, captioned "Books where fruit should be". (Books where fruit should be)
2014-10-02 12:06 pm
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The Nine Tailors

I finished The Nine Tailors last night, and I'd forgotten just how incredibly bleak and affecting the ending is - and how Sayers does it through what she doesn't write.

Knowing rather more about Wimsey's PTSD than I did the last time I read it helps me understand the book more, but having experienced it myself makes it hit home all the harder, with a kind of helpless gut-wrenching empathy, and brings the arc of the book around to completion in much the same way as the Great Belzoni would treat an iron bar.
mirrorshard: (Justify God's Ways to Man)
2014-09-26 06:17 pm
Entry tags:

Gaude, Sabaoth, John, Jericho, Jubilee, Dimity, Batty Thomas, and Tailor Paul

I had forgotten just how good Dorothy L Sayers's writing is when she's writing about something she really loves.
mirrorshard: A book growing from a tree branch, captioned "Books where fruit should be". (Books where fruit should be)
2012-01-08 06:05 pm

Book alienation

It's been nearly ten years since I disposed of books in any quantity (ie. anything approaching 5% or so of the collection) so it's time for another cull. They come in three main categories, and if any of you want any of them, sing out now! Otherwise, they'll go to a charity shop when I have the spoons. I don't want anything for them (unless it's really valuable to you for some odd reason, in which case mine's a pint of IPA) but I can't do postage. Happy to meet up and hand things over, if you're within range or we're going to be meeting anyway in the next month or two.

First, actual decent books I have duplicates of, or know I can find again in the unlikely event of actually wanting to re-read them. Read more... )
Second, half-decent tat and books I don't want but someone might. Read more... )
Third, there's a crate or so of things I have trouble imagining anyone, anywhere, ever wanting to read. (Not exhaustive, mostly listed for comedic effect.) Read more... )
mirrorshard: A book growing from a tree branch, captioned "Books where fruit should be". (Books where fruit should be)
2011-04-03 03:44 pm

Trithemy & the smell of old books

For those of you interested in obscure conjunctions of information science, materials science, and history, and who don't read my SF blog, I've finally got around to putting up my notes from the talk I gave at Eastercon 2010. It does not, I'm afraid, contain my celebrated impression of Dr Johnson, but you can read the rest here.
mirrorshard: A book growing from a tree branch, captioned "Books where fruit should be". (Books where fruit should be)
2011-03-25 11:05 am

Reviewer's pride: or, why I don't use NetGalley

On the face of it, NetGalley looks like a fantastic service: publishers offer electronic ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) to interested parties, ie. reviewers and industry people, via a convenient aggregator website.

However, most of the ones I've had from there (including KJ Parker's The Hammer, Tom Holt's Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages, JC Grimwood's The Fallen Blade and Gail Z Martin's, er, something or other) have been offered only as DRM-laden PDFs, and with an expiry date at that—after (IIRC) six weeks, they become unreadable. Re-downloading them will reset the timer, but the publisher withdraws them from the website after they come out, so the basic effect is of a book chained to a virtual desk that the publisher then confiscates back.

This is ridiculously unprofessional of those publishers, and I find it very insulting. If they want me to consider their book for review, the absolute least I want in return is a copy of the book, physical or electronic, to keep and read as I like. That isn't to say that I won't review books I buy or get from the library, because I do, but that's my choice and in my time. Being able to read them before other people do isn't valuable to me (in fact, less valuable than reading them as part of a community with whom I can discuss them) and I'm not going to jump through any hoops whatsoever in order to do publishers a mutual favour.

Not all publishers who use NetGalley do this, of course. Carina Press (Harlequin's digital-only imprint) gave me several entirely DRM-free ebooks, which didn't suck. Not really my sort of thing, and I don't know enough about the romance genre to be able to review them properly, but they didn't suck.
mirrorshard: A book growing from a tree branch, captioned "Books where fruit should be". (Books where fruit should be)
2010-11-30 02:28 am

Reviewed: The Bone Sword

Some of you had the "pleasure" of hearing extracts from The Bone Sword, by Walter Rhein, last week. I've now finished a full review; you can read it over at The Future Fire.

I am pleased, because I have finally found an excuse to recommend a close reading of The Tough Guide to Fantasyland to a fantasy author.
mirrorshard: (The Book of Rainbows)
2010-10-14 05:48 pm

Lavie Tidhar - The Bookman

I read this last night, and you all have to know about this book. Here's an extract from my review, over at Cold Iron & Rowan-Wood:
The Bookman is set in an alternate Victorian era, and it’s intensely focused on the myths and legends of English literary geekdom. It has echoes of Alice Through The Looking Glass, Perdido Street Station, The Tempest, and The Eyre Affair, with a large chunk of Mayhew thrown in for good measure.

It’s set not long after 1887, several hundred years after an expedition to the Calibanic Isle results in the wholesale replacement of Britain’s ruling classes with giant poetry-obsessed lizards. Lord Shakespeare was the first of the great Poet-Prime Ministers; Moriarty is the most recent. And yes, that Moriarty. At the newly rebuilt Rose Theatre, Henry Irving performs his own adaptation of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner supported by Beerbohm Tree.


(Read more)

Published by Angry Robot, since January 2010 in the UK and October 2010 in the US.
mirrorshard: (Blue flower tea)
2010-10-11 04:21 pm

Book meme

Picked up from various people. This appears to be a list of 100 books or series that are important cultural artefacts - I've bolded the ones I've read, and commented on all the ones I know something about.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen - Read this for A-level, which was my first encounter with her work. I fell in love, and read my way through all the other completed novels within a few months.
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien - I loved this as soon as I started it, at 12 or so, and every time I go back to it I find new things in it, and new angles on Tolkien's concerns, his influences and the people who've imitated him or reacted against him.
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte - Read this for A-level, disliked it intensely. Should give it another try sometime.Read more... )
mirrorshard: (Default)
2010-06-11 12:39 am
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Gentlemen of the Road

For those of you who haven't read Michael Chabon's excellent novel Gentlemen of the Road, it's available in its entirety from the New York Times, in serial form. Here's the final part, which has links to each chapter on the left.

Highly recommended New Pulp—Jews with Swords and Horses, in the Kingdom of the Khazars.
mirrorshard: (Default)
2009-10-28 01:28 pm
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WoT: TGS spoiler post

I've posted a spoileriffic review over at the other blog, for those who're interested and have read it.
mirrorshard: (Default)
2009-10-27 09:24 pm
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Wheel of Time: The Gathering Storm (no spoilers)

It's well up to the standard set by past WoT books, and with the introduction of Brandon Sanderson the pace moves faster and More Things Happen. Several long-standing plot threads get cleared up (some of them offstage, thank goodness), a couple of long-term goals get achieved, a couple of characters who've been around since the early books die, and the action scene near the end is more fun to read than Dumai's Wells and less morally icky.

On the other hand, as far as character goes Sanderson paints with a very broad brush, which tends to amplify a lot of the rather tedious gender stuff which has always been a feature of the series. I'm not using "rather tedious" in the same sense as most fans, of course - it's blatantly obvious that the books are about male-female relations, and I have no problems with this. It's a fascinating subject to write about. On the other hand, Jordan always just kept hammering away with the same sledgehammer, over and over again. Yes, we know that often people don't talk to each other and thus cause problems. Yes, we know that sometimes people just try to manipulate each other rather than communicating, and that that's silly. The key words are 'sometimes' and 'often'. In this series, they're all at it, all the time, and it gets really rather depressing. Sanderson's doing the same thing still (though, refreshingly, we do get some actual information exchange between characters - some trust and some basic competence, and that's why the plot is suddenly moving) and it's still annoying.
mirrorshard: (Default)
2009-07-06 11:25 pm
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Book review

At Eastercon, we were given free books; I have reviewed one of them here.

It's Unnatural History by Jonathan Green, the first book under the Pax Britannica label from Abaddon Press, and it's uproariously, hilariously, risibly bad. It's like the hastily aborted bastard child of Bulldog Drummond and Sebastian Tombs, exhumed from a shallow grave and encased in a steam-powered armature of shiny brass.

(Elly made me post this link. In retaliation, I'm going to make her post about handling elephant poo.)
mirrorshard: (Autumn skin)
2009-01-20 03:24 pm
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Fantasy & imperialism

Somewhat incoherent - reaction-dumping. Context:


Writers (and fans, by extension) are caught on the horns of a dilemma (or possibly a gazebo): on the one hand, we don't get to write honestly about other peoples' cultural experience, because it isn't ours to write about. On the other hand, other peoples' cultural experience is really fucking cool and interesting. On the gripping hand, most of these Interesting Cultures are actually really poor and deprived and don't have luxuries like time to write, a thriving publishing industry, or even a corpus of work in their own language and cultural idiom to grow up with. Which means that if it isn't written about by privileged white people (or coconuts, or bananas) then it isn't written about at all.

Poor us, what a problem we have.

Except...

We don't. It's not our problem. Seriously. The cultural experience of imperialism is not about the imperialists. I don't give a flying fuck what keeping someone in chains, whether steel or economic or both, does to your soul. Angsting about that makes you sound like Cordelia. [Edit: That's as in Buffy, not as in Lear or Vorkosigan.]

It's really tempting to assume that a) for every problem, there's a solution somewhere, if we only work hard at it with good intentions; and that b) that solution is more likely to be arrived at by smart educated people in developed countries.

But I don't see anything to support those assertions in these cases. Problems come in a lot of different domains, which often don't share anything with each other. And I appreciate that Not Doing Anything is a) hard, b) morally problematic when you think you might have an answer, and c) a whole barrel of No Fun.

(No, I don't have a consistent, coherent answer, or a manifesto to set out, or a program of things to be done. I'm neither that naive or that arrogant. Besides, I'm a privileged white Westerner myself, and the nearest thing to an oppressed minority in my bloodline is Welsh.)
mirrorshard: (Default)
2008-12-16 02:20 pm
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[Mememe] SF books

The top fifty SF & fantasy books (where from? I don't know). Bold the ones you've read, strike the ones you hated, italicize the ones you couldn't get through. Asterisks for the ones you loved - more asterisks, more love. Plus signs for the ones you own.

I've assigned stars based on how much I loved them when I first read them, not how much I love them looking back. The instructions don't specify, but this makes more sense to me.

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien *****+
2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov **+
3. Dune, Frank Herbert
4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A Heinlein **+
5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. LeGuin *****+
6. Neuromancer, William Gibson
7. Childhood's End, Arthur C Clarke **+
8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K Dick
9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury **+
11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe *
12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr *+
13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov **+
14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett *+
17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester **+
20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey **+
22. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R Donaldson *+
24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman **+
25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl +
26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling *
27. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams ***+
28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K Le Guin
31. Little, Big, John Crowley
32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny *+
33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K Dick *+
34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement ***+
35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon *+
36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith *
37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C Clarke ***+
39. Ringworld, Larry Niven **+
40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
41. The Silmarillion, JRR Tolkien **+
42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson ***+
44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner **+
45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester **+
46. Starship Troopers, Robert A Heinlein *+
47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock *+
48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks *+
49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer **+
mirrorshard: (Act V Scene 1)
2008-12-02 01:55 pm
Entry tags:

[Mememe] Sentences

(via [livejournal.com profile] thipe)

* Grab the book closest to you.
* Go to page 56.
* Find the 5th sentence.
* Write that sentence to this post.
* Copy these instructions as a new post to your LJ.
* Don't go looking for your favourite book, or the coolest one you have -- just grab the closest one.

'No, madame,' replied Henry; 'we are going into the city with Messieurs d'Alençon and Condé. I almost expected to find them here.'

(Also, points for identifying each others' books.)
mirrorshard: (Blue flower tea)
2008-06-10 12:08 am
Entry tags:

Litgeekery

The first draft of Barry Hughart's Bridge of Birds has been posted online. If you aren't familiar with it, read this review and then immediately acquire a copy. If I owned more than one, I'd lend it out, or indeed press it on people. As it is, Fantasy Centre on the Holloway Road has a copy in stock as of lunchtime today.

Also as of lunchtime today, they no longer have copies of Archer's Goon (the first DWJ I read, and the one that got me instantly hooked); The Well at the World's End, Vol. II (with proper management, the entire North Sea could be restocked using the amount of cod in William Morris's fantasy novels, but they're still a really good read. They remind me irresistibly of The Deed of Paksenarrion); Randall Garrett's Too Many Magicians, which I've been wanting to read for a while;The Tombs of Atuan; and Isidore Haiblum's The Tsaddik of the Seven Wonders which is a wonderful Sheckleyesque romp through Jewishness.

Incidentally, I've also been updating my free book bookmark list. It's not even slightly comprehensive, but if it's on there then a) it's freely downloadable and b) I think it's worth reading. It should also be c) legal, or it it isn't then it's there by mistake. Other recommendations gratefully accepted.

I went to see Wolves at the Window at the Arcola Theatre the other evening, with [livejournal.com profile] friend_of_tofu - it's a dramatization of many of Saki's short stories, woven together into a more-or-less continuous narrative. Seeing Louis performed with a swaddled-up teddy bear adds a wonderful level of uncertainty to the presentation. Highly recommended, and it seems like rather a good theatre overall.

Wednesday, I'm going to the ABTT Theatreshow with my father, to geek out over shiny new lighting toys and pretend to be a real lighting designer.

For those of you who haven't been following it already, I recommend Freakangels, by Warren Ellis & Paul Duffield. First episode & archive.

That seems to be more or less it for lit-geek type updating, so I'm going to go and start clearing off enough of the kitchen table to try mounting some prints. And wrestling with my laptop power cord/socket in the hope that it'll consent to stay charging for more than ten seconds at a time.