the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for October 2011

The first post on my January Vintage SciFi not-a-challenge got so much comments/conversation, I figured it was time to do a teeny bit more planning and organizing for this thing. Cuz thanks to everyone’s (that’s YOU by the way!) excitement , it looks like it’s gonna be big and awesome.

let’s get right to the FAQs.

What counts as vintage?   I’m gonna say anything Science Fiction that was published before 1979.  Sword and Sorcery counts. Sci-Fantasy counts. short stories count. Jules Verne and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein count. Anthologies count. If it was published before I was born and you consider it Science Fiction, it counts.

What’s a not-a-challenge?  Exactly what it sounds like.  This isn’t a challenge, it’s just a fun thing to help garner some attention to all that wonderful classic, golden age, vintage SF that influenced many of your favorite contemporary writers. Other than Herbert, Asimov and Heinlein,  I’m woefully underread in the classics, so this is my chance to make up for some of that. There are no sign ups, no points, no contests, no prizes. Read one vintage SF book or 10, or 50 or Zero. Actually, don’t read 50, that would make me look like a total slacker. and then I’d cry.

How can bloggers who are participating identify themselves?  I’ll come up with some kinda badge-y jpg thing, soon, I promise. you can put it in the side bar, or in the post, or whatever you feel like doing.  If I’m really smart, I’ll start a Vintage SF tab up top on the page and you can post your links in the comments section.

On Twitter? use #vintageSciFi

Need some suggestions? There are plenty in the comments of the original post, and feel free to post in the comments what you plan to read, hope to read, or types of stories you’d like to read (first contact, space opera, YA, etc), and I’ll bet others will offer plenty of suggestions to help you out.  In fact, I already took a few suggestions from Richard:

Ok, he didn’t suggest Regan’s Planet by Silverberg, but it’s a Silverberg!  Resistance is Futile.

Hi Everyone, welcome to our last discussion of the epic middle book in The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers. (click for parts One and Two) Focusing on the end of the book, our adventures center around Frodo and Sam, who with Gollum’s help, are looking for a way into Mordor.

and as they say, one does not simply occupy Mordor. Or wait, have I got it wrong? ;)

Anyway, after running into a very suspicious but mostly friendly Faramir, they decide to take Gollum’s advice regarding the only other way into Mordor. Up many, many stairs. Into a dark, dark cave.  I still can’t watch those particular scenes in the movie, I usually cover my eyes and have someone tell me when it’s over. If you’ve seen it, you know what I mean.

I got to come up with questions/discussion starters for the end of The Two Towers, and I invited everyone to add and subtract, get creative, go whichever direction they wanted. Here’s what we started with:

Faramir strikes me as a noble, intelligent fellow, especially concerning powers beyond his control.  Had he gone to Elrond’s Council instead of Boromir, how might the story have changed?

What did you think of Shelob and her lair? Would you willingly go in there?  Yes, I know Gollum says “this is the only way”, but Frodo could have demanded they explore and attempt to find another way.

When Sam saves Frodo from Shelob, he finds himself in the vision he saw in Galadriel’s mirror.  Knowing the future isn’t always as helpful as one would think, is it?

Having always been a sidekick/helper of sorts, Sam reluctantly realizes he may have to become the Ringbearer. What do you think Sam will do with the Ring of Power? If you were the sidekick of the hero, and suddenly had the opportunity to become the hero, to finish the quest, what would you do with the Ring of Power?

The conversation between the two Orcs at the end was highly amusing for me.  Yes, it serves to educate Sam on Frodo’s condition, and Tolkien could have just left it at that, but he didn’t. The Orc’s commiserating could have been any soldiers in any war.  To me, it felt like Tolkien was humanizing the enemy, instead of the traditional dehumanizing of the enemy that you usually see in war stories. What do you think?

The book ends on a cliffhanger. Are you excited to finish up the trilogy and see how it all turns out?

The answers, after the jump!

Other blog conversations:
Geeky Daddy
Blue Fairy’s Bookshelf
Stainless Steel Droppings
Lynn’s Book Blog
All Booked Up
The Written World

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The Enterprise of Death, by Jesse Bullington

published in March 2011

Where I got it: the library

why I read it:  covered in alchemical symbols, how could I not read it?

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This book was absolutely disgusting. At times gut bustingly funny, and often intriguingly mysterious, it was still pretty disgusting. Weak stomachs need not apply, especially if reading about necrophilia obsessed necromancers didn’t make your bucket list.

The geography at the beginning of the book is purposely a little fuzzy, because as a Harem slave, young Awa is quite ignorant of where she lives (Somewhere in Northern Africa is a good guess).  While she and another house slave are escorting their Mistress Omorose to her new home, bandits strike, and the threesome never makes it where they are going.  Kidnapped by undead bandits and brought to a mountaintop (possibly in Andalusia?) the three offered a choice: become the apprentices of the necromancer who lives there, or die.  Only Awa survives.

Years pass. Awa learns the arts of the necromancer. She grows up unaware of Renissance Europe, unaware of the Inquisition and the punishments exacted on witches.  It’s not long before Awa accidentally uses her newly gained knowledge to do something unspeakable to Omorose’s raised corpse, and soon after she is cursed by the Necromancer. Could her life possibly get any worse? Omorose wants to kill her, and the Necromancer’s curse states that in 10 years he will return to obliterate Awa’s soul, but in that time frame the dead can not harm her.
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may be Vader some day later now he’s just a small fry. . .
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Behold!  Weird Al’s brilliant spoof of Episode One.  This has been out for a while, so I’m sure most of you have already heard/seen it. Complete with guitar playing Jedi, odd aliens, a horrible Padme, Weird Al with short hair, and the damn catchiest chorus ever.  To the tune of American Pie, of course.

holy crap, is that the Emperor on keys at the end??

 

and there’s more!

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one's ring ON the one ring

Happy Saturday everyone!  If it’s an autumnal Saturday, that means it’s time for a Lord of the Rings discussion.  We’re in the middle part of The Two Towers, and this week’s questions were provided by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings.

At this point in the story, our Fellowship has been split, with Sam and Frodo heading towards Mordor and everyone else heading towards Isengard.

1.  The Glittering Caves of Aglarond; Fangorn Forest:  Which of the two would you be most excited to visit once the war was over?

2.  How did you like the reunion of at least part of the fellowship at Isengard?  Did any part of it stand out to you?

3.  What are your thoughts about Galdalf’s confrontation with Saruman?

4.  We learn a great deal about the Palantir in this section.  How do you feel about Saruman given Gandalf’s speech about the use of the Palantir?  Would you, like Pippen, be tempted to look in to see what you could see?

5.  What are your thoughts about Smeagol/Gollum in this first part of his journey leading Frodo and Sam?  For those of you who’ve seen the film, are you hearing Andy Serkis in your head when you read Gollum’s lines?

6.  Sam and Frodo are not traveling in the most picturesque part of Middle-earth.  Which would you find worse, the seemingly impossible to leave mountains or the Dead Marshes?

7.  Tolkien introduces us to a lot of places in this section of The Two Towers, many just getting a mention in passing.  What do you think of Tolkien’s place names (Minas Morgul, Isengard, the Emyn Muil, and on and on)?  Do any stand out to you?  Are there any that you don’t care for?

on twitter? use #LOTRreadalong
Link your post in the comments, or tweet it to me.  Once again, thank you for joining us on our journey to Middle Earth!

Other blog conversations can be found at:
Geeky Daddy
Blue Fairy’s Bookshelf
All Booked Up
Stainless Steel Droppings
Lynn’s Book Blog
Book Den
Passages of the Pen

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The Third Section, by Jasper Kent

Published in Oct 2011

where I got it: received a review copy from the friendly folks at Pyr

Why I read it: Enjoyed immensely the first two books in the series Twelve, and Thirteen Years Later

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Taking place 30 years after the events of Thirteen Years Later, The Third Section (the third book in Jasper Kent’s Danilov Quintet) follows the children of Aleksei Danilov.  His son Dmitri is in Sevastapol, fighting off the French and the English.  When Dmitri discovers two dead soldiers, whose wounds match those witnessed thirty years earlier, he knows the creatures he helped his father hunt have returned.

Meanwhile,  Aleksei’s illegitimate daughter, Tamara, has secured a post with the Tsar’s secret police, The Third Section.  With a cover as a madam running a brothel, her official mission is informing on loose lipped politicians.  Her supervisor attempts to unnerve her by showing her his torture chambers, but she barely reacts. Tamara has nothing left to lose, what could he possibly show her that would frighten her?  When one of the working girls is found dead, covered in blood and missing her throat, Tamara begins an investigation that can’t end well.

And then we have  Yudin,  one of the most thrilling villains I have ever met.  In Twelve, Yudin, or Iuda, as he was known then, identified Aleksei as a worthy opponent. Now that the game has started, Yudin won’t back away until there is a winner. And when one is immortal, the game never has to end.  He is vicious, scientifically curious, and sadistic, and the pleasure of finally getting his point of view was a pleasurable horror unto itself.  I have no sympathy for Yudin, but his talent for deception and the long game makes him beyond  fascinating to watch.

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While I’m working on my review of Jasper Kent’s The Third Section (it was incredible, by the way), here are some fun ’round the web links for you to enjoy.

Neal Stephenson’s article on the World Policy Institute Innovation Starvation

Cory Doctorow announces sequel to Little Brother.

Cool interview with China Mieville on a cool site you should already have bookmarked.

name the Very Large Array!

Two great resources if you’re planning on joining the January Vintage SF not-a-challenge and have no idea where to start:
SF Mash-ups vs SF retellings on Kirkus. I’m interested in this “futuristic Count of Monte Cristo”.

Mary Shelley’s SF geek friends (List of SF and Utopias written by women)

New York ComiCon fun:
Cosplay fun
which came first, the chicken or the Boba Fett?
Librarians promoting reading at NYCC

that aughta keep ya busy for a while.

Terminal World, by Alastair Reynolds

Published in May 2011

Where I got it: purchased new

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I read Alastair Reynold’s debut novel Revelation Space last year, and while it was pretty good, I wasn’t as thrilled as I’d hoped to be by this award winning author.   I gave him another chance with Terminal World, and boy am I happy I did.  In Terminal World, Reynolds offers what Space Opera fans love to find: a glimpse into a possible future of humanity, technology gone  wrong, futuristic cities, and wildernesses full of danger and carnivorous cyborgs chasing steampunk airships. Wait, what?  Ahh yes, the carnivorous cyborgs. Just the first of many wonderful surprises that awaits you in Terminal World.  And who said you can’t have Steampunk space opera?

Spearpoint, the tallest structure on Earth, is the last human city.  Doctor Quillon has been hiding in it’s depths for nine years. He was always a doctor, he just wasn’t always what you or I would consider human.  Once he dwelled  in the Celestial Levels, looking down at the pathetic pre-humans below him. Now he cuts his wings off and wears glasses to hide his post-human angelic eyes.  The few people who know his true identity are corrupt themselves, or dead.  When a dying angel tells Quillon that he’s wanted back in the Celestial Levels, Quillon decides if he wants to live, he has to run.

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Welcome to our read along for J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings. Most of us just started reading The Two Towers (some of us, who messed up the dates, started reading it 2 weeks ago, and finished the section yesterday).  This week’s questions were supplied by Clint of Geeky Daddy, and he came up with some great ones!

What is your favorite part of The Two Towers, thus far into the book?
What were your thoughts of Boromir trying to defend Merry and Pippin from Orc archers?
Would thoughts would have been going through your mind if you were approached by Treebeard?
What were your thoughts and reactions of the battle at the Hornburg?
Do you like it that Tolkien has split the Company into three mini-quests? Do you wonder if the company will be together throughout the quest again?

Answers and discussion after the jump!

Other Blog discussions:
(post your link in the comments, or tweet it with #LOTRreadalong, and I’ll add your link)
Geeky Daddy
Stainless Steel Droppings
The Written World
The Blue Fairy’s Bookshelf
Lynn’s book blog
Book Den

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Think anime is all mechas or outer space bounty hunters or weird jokes you won’t get or Tokyo getting exploded? Think anime isn’t for you? think again.

Take Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, and put it far in the future. A future where a walled Paris is one of the few habitable places left on Earth and the moon has been fully colonized. A future where the rich marry for political reasons and machinations and everyone else just tries to get by as best they can. A future where the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Loosely following the original material, yet told from the point of view of the overly naive Albert, Gankustuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is as visually stunning as it is fascinating. This is an anime that you want to watch because it is well written, well voiced, and simply beautiful to behold.  The fact that you’ll be digging around for old Dumas titles afterwards is just an added bonus.

An oversimplified summary of the original story goes thusly:  shortly before the sailor Edmond Dantes is to marry Mercedes, he is betrayed by Fernand, a rival for Mercedes.  Dantes is imprisoned in the Chateau d’If, and Fernand marries Mercedes.  During his imprisonment, Dantes befriends a fellow prisoner who claims to know of a buried treasure. When Dantes escapes the Chateau, he finds the treasure, and returns to Paris.  It’s been 15 years, and Mercedes and Fernand have a son, named Albert. Introducing himself as the Count of Monte Cristo, Dantes plans his revenge on the man who destroyed his life, a slow revenge that is as beautiful as it is brutal.
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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.