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Two weeks from today:

If you live in the northern hemisphere the days will finally be getting longer (omg, FINALLY).

Many people will have a stack of things that are destined to be returned for a different size/color/completely different item

I will have already posted my Favorite Books I  Read This Year blog post

we will all be saying “2018 can’t possibly be worse”

Vintage Month readers will be drafting their first Vintage blog posts of the month!!

 

I like to figure out ahead of time what  I’m going to read for Vintage Month. Or, to be more honest, I like to figure out what I plan to read. I rarely am able to get to it all.  This January will be unique, as everything I plan to read are books (and magazines) that people gave me.  These are all items that someone thought “I bet Andrea would like this”.  All of these items have been curated for me by people who care about me.  That makes them extra special!

 

Here’s what my friends knew I’d be interested in:

From my friend Andy comes Starman Jones and A Requiem for Astounding. Starman Jones is one of Andy’s favorite Heinlein juveniles, and it looks like a fun, easy, breezy read.   A Requiem For Astounding is a rare find, written by fan and historian Alva Rogers as a biography of Astounding magazine. I don’t know that I’ll be reading requiem cover to cover, but I’m sure I’ll dabble in it.  I worry I don’t have the context to get everything out of Requiem that Rogers hopes.

 

Just arrived the other day from my friend Richard at Tip the Wink, is among others, Nova by Delany, and the 9th Annual Year’s Best S-F edited by Judith Merrill.  I very much enjoyed Delany’s Babel-17, and Dahlgren looks intimidating, so Nova looks like the perfect book for me.  I’ve enjoyed other anthologies edited by Merrill, so I’m thrilled to pick up anything she edited. I glanced through the TOC to see a number of familiar names, and “Drunkboat”, which is one of my favorite Cordwainer Smith short stories. And this particular little paperback is my favorite kind of paperback – hundreds of onion skin thin pages,  economically tiny print, ultra cheap printing. It is the kind of paperback that screams “I was built to be thrown in your bag, read on the train and handled roughly.  Sneak in a few pages at every opportunity you can”.  Yes I personify and anthropomorphize books. I regret nothing.

My friend Elizabeth sent me these random Analog magazines shortly after  we met.  She is an uncanny reader of people, as the January issue includes a serialized portion of Frank Herbert’s Dune!!  When we get to those chapters in the Dune Read Along over at Red Star Reviews, I’ll be reading it from this magazine. And who knows how the text changed in the editing for the magazine to the editing into a novel?  I get a kick out of the advertisements and editorials in these magazines.  It is weird for me, to be reading these magazine issues so far removed from their context.  the editorials and letters to the editor won’t make any sense, the items that are being advertised no longer exists.   If all goes well, I’ll feel like an anthropologist.

 

That is my January plan!  what’s on your Vintage Plate?

 

 

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So, I finally finished The Citadel of the Autarch, the 4th book in Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun.    The days after I finished felt like going through tangential stages of grief.  First, I was mad “that’s how it ends!? I’ve got to read the entire damn thing all over again from start to finish now!”.  Then I was confused, by a whole tone of WTFery at the end, then I was curious and got some helpful spoilers online.  Then I experienced acceptance that Gene Wolfe is, as always, a brilliant mastermind of storytelling. Even better – these aren’t the stages of grief, but the stages of awakening.

 

As I’ve done in previous entries in this little series of blog posts,  we’ll start with new words

 

Bacele     Graisle        Orphicheide        Orpiment

 

I didn’t take much notes while reading this fourth book, but I’m laughing at something I wrote down on my scribble sheet –  “I know it is gross and taboo, but I’m surprised Severian doesn’t get more people’s memories the way he got Thecla’s (although he hadn’t planned to get hers). It seems a simple way to learn about a person’s world. Wait a minute. . .  is this narrator just someone who got Severian’s memories?”

 

Once I’d finished the book, my comment became hilarious. And only half right.

 

Some other notes I wrote down –

 

  • Love hearing Thecla’s voice, in first person. When Severian gets tired, it seems easier for her to come to the surface.
  • The Ascian in the field hospital, is he satirical?  I love the stories that were told in the field hospital. Once it’s the Ascian’s turn, Severian learns how language, story, and communication actually work.
  • The Anchorite’s house!!!  The top layers are in the future, that is SO cool!
  • One of the very last scenes, where they go back to the Inn near the Sanguinary Fields, and talk with the guy there.  Oh, that made me cry!

 

Like i said, it’s been two weeks, and I should have written this blog post when the end of the book was fresh in my mind, as everything is a little fuzzy now. Although now I better understand why everyone says you need to read this series multiple times to get all the pieces. It’s a little like walking through where Rudesind is cleaning the paintings – only a few paintings are perfectly clean at the same time, so if you want to see them all, you better walk through the galleries every few weeks, because each time, you’ll see something different.  Everytime you read this series, I imagine you’ll catch more and different things, everytime you read it you get more of a foundation for the next time.

 

Warning: major spoilers ahead.  If you haven’t read this series, stop reading now. Not only will this spoil the series for you, but our of context it makes zero sense.

Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve barely been getting any reading done. Ok, that’s not exactly true, as I finished the fourth book in Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun,  I’m about halfway through a new anthology from Subterranean Press, and I’m about 50 pages into a new space opera novel from Tim Pratt.   But that hour every evening that I’d usually be reading?  I’ve been spending it playing Stardew Valley.

 

the simplest description of Stardew Valley is that it is a farming simulation game.  You can roll your eyes, it’s OK.   In the short introduction, you are a burned out corporate employee, and then you inherit your grandfather’s farm.  You move to the farm, which includes some cleared property, some woods, and a small cabin. A few people who live in the town come by to say hi, you’re given some basic tools, you are given a “quest” to introduce yourself to as many people in the town as possible,  and then the game starts.

 

Stardew Valley is a sandbox, and every decision is the right decision.

 

Want to grow a ton of corn?  go for it.

Want to chop down some trees as use the wood to build a bigger house? go for it.

Want to grow mushrooms and make your living off of foraging? go for it.

Want to befriend the dwarf who lives in the mountain and mine for minerals?  go for it.

Want to raise animals and make artisan cheese? You can do that too.

Not my farm. this is a random image from online.

All of those are correct answers, because every way to play Stardew Valley is the right way.  The designer of the game built in seasons, and seasonal changes to the landscape. Certain crops only grow in summer or fall, there is different fish in the river and ocean at different times of year, acorns and hazelnuts are plentiful in the fall, but maple seeds are more plentiful in spring. You can make things, upgrade things, buy and sell things, befriend people if you want to, tap for maple syrup, raise farm animals, stay in the woods if you feel like doing that.  In the fall, you can just watch the trees sway in the wind and the leaves blow across the screen, and watch the squirrels and birds if you feel like it.  Every so often there is a community event that you can participate in.

there is no wrong way to play Stardew Valley.

And right now, I need something in my life that is un-screw-up-able.  I need something where whatever decision I make is a good decision.  I need something where if I just stand around and enjoy nature, that the game will tell me that was an OK use of my time.   I’m sure there are players who play Stardew Valley with the goals of having the most lucrative farm, the biggest house, the most animals, the most friends, etc, and that is also the right way to play the game!  because every and any way you want to play this game is the right way.

I did fix this bridge.

the hours i play Stardew Valley are judgement free hours.   It’s the perfect remedy to the real world, to the news, to politicians bickering, to everything.

 

so, if you’ve been wondering why I’ve been quieter than usual, less social than usual, it’s a combination of me telling the world to fuck off, and the therapy that is Stardew Valley.

 

and in case anyone is wondering:

  • I have a very small farm, mostly vegetables.  I make pickles and jam out of most of them.
  • I decided early on that I wanted to live off the land. I do a lot of foraging. I have a mushroom cave, I’m slowly getting better at fishing, and I forage a lot of nuts, acorns, berries, mushrooms, plums, and other wild foods.
  • I love having a pet cat.
  • One of my favorite activities is doing a loop of the town, foraging whatever I find, and saying hi to people

I love how immersive this game is. Summer feels like summer. Autumn feels like autumn.  the kids in the town aren’t interested in talking with me unless I give them ice cream.  The ocean is peaceful.  People are at peace with each other.

 

it’s winter!

 

Out of context, this printing of The Sword of the Lictor looks somewhat awful.  The cover art is embarrassingly terrible, and the font size of the print is just small enough that it was hard for me to read.  If I saw this paperback at a bookstore, and had no idea who Gene Wolfe was, I’d be like “dude. What the fuck.”  Here, let me give you a closer up picture:

 

 

The terrible cover art and the too small print sums up my complaints.  And now that I have that out of the way, I can get to what these Book of the New Sun posts have become – new words, questions and guesses, notes I wrote down while reading, stacks of hella awesomeness, and this far into the series there are unavoidable spoilers #SorryNotSorry.

 

Just joining, and have no idea what I’m talking about?  You can read my previous entries about the first two books of the Book of the New Sun blog entries here:

A Hundred Pages Into Shadow and Claw  – Just starting the first book, The Shadow of the Torturer

Thoughts and Questions on Shadow of the Torturer – Finishing The Shadow of the Torturer

A Little Further into The Book of the New Sun – Finishing the Claw of the Conciliator

 

And if you’d prefer a slower pace and much better thought out analysis, head over to the Alzabo Soup podcast, where they are doing a few chapters a week.

 

And if you’ve already read this series a bunch of times? No spoilers in the comments please.

 

For some reason, I didn’t start taking notes until I was halfway through the book. These books are so dense, with little gems hidden on every page, that without any notes of the first half, I feel like I’ve lost a part of my memory.

 

Not too many new words, or at least not many that I wrote down:

 

Estafette         noyade            atlantes        oneiric

 

I found it funny that Severian keeps inflating his title. Maybe this is distance from his guild, maybe he’s just trying to scare people into respecting him, maybe it’s blind ego. When we first met him, he’d usually introduce himself as “I am but a journeyman”.  He never rises to master, but in this book, sometimes he introduces himself as Master Severian. In one scene, he even introduces himself as Grand Master Severian. Maybe he’s trying to be confident, but he just comes off as egotistical.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

I’m moving through The Book of the New Sun at a pretty good pace.

I’d planned to do two posts for The Claw of the Conciliator, so I could see how my thoughts changed from halfway through the book to when I finished it.  I zipped through most of the book over last weekend, and by the time I was ready to write a post, I was only 20 pages from the end. So I finished it, and a few hours later, picked up the third book in the series.

 

Claw of the Conciliator is leaps and bounds more interesting than Shadow of the Torturer. For the length of the first book, we’re getting to know Severian, finding our footing in the world, de-coding weird words, and we’re just along for the ride. In Claw,  Severian finally gets a chance to see the larger world, his eyes are opened a little bit as to why the world is the way it is, and we start to see the consequences of some of his earlier decisions.  Also? Jonas and the Antechamber!!

 

But before we get to Jonas, new words!  Not as many as I expected:

 

Indathrene

 

Campanile

 

Thaisus

 

Pelagic

 

Cultellerii

 

I already cried a bit on twitter about Jonas.  Oh how I love Jonas!  I was fascinated by how he avoids certain conversations, and gives Severian answers that sound vague to naive Severian, but make a ton of sense if you know where Jonas came from.  I think Severian did eventually figure out, maybe? He was at least open to whatever Jonas wanted to tell him. I kept thinking about how language requires a frame of reference, and Jonas and Severian have different frames of reference. At this point in his life, Severian is still very sheltered, and Jonas, well, isn’t.  I hope we run into Jonas again. He was good for Severian.   Jonas and Dorcas seem to serve a similar purpose – to show Severian that the world is bigger than just himself.  Those two have histories, lives, and dreams that are completely outside their relationship with Severian.

 

The Antechamber!  When I figured out what the room was, and why these people were there, holy shit!  It’s not a prison, not exactly. And I can why people don’t want to leave. They are waiting for something to happen, and it hasn’t happened yet, so they don’t want to leave and risk missing it.   It’s like the rest of the House Absolute was built around this space.

 

And that dinner with Vodalus, and what they ate!  That is a royally fucked up (yet utterly brilliant) way to share someone’s memories, i can see why it is considered taboo.  But it seems to work?  Severian now knows all this stuff he didn’t know before.  I wonder what happens to the people who attend many dinners of this type, or specific dinners. Like, the whole thing is gross, but a super fascinating idea. Imagine if the alien critter that allows this to happen showed up on an episode of Doctor Who.

Read the rest of this entry »

I had to scrape ice off the car windshield yesterday morning.  All the Halloween candy has been eaten. It’s dark when I leave for work in the morning, and dark when I get home. I only have two more episodes to go in Stranger Things 2.  I’m tryna figure out what to make for Thanksgiving.

 

What’s all that mean?  It means Vintage Science Fiction Month is almost here!

 

Once upon a time, I wanted to read more old stuff. I wanted to know more about where science fiction had come from,  how science fiction authors reacted to what had come before them, and how science fiction reflected societal trends.  Our fiction can be a reflection of our society, don’cha know. That year, I decided I would read only Vintage Scifi during the month of January, and I arbitrarily decided anything from before 1979 would be Vintage, because that was the year I was born. Some people went with the 1979, some people went with whatever year they were born, some people went with something else. As with every bloggy thing I do, there were  no hard rules. The goal was to read something “older” and then talk about it online.

 

#VintageSciFiMonth is now a thing. It’s so big, I have a co-host, Jacob at Red Star Reviews.  He runs the @VintageSciFi_ (underscore at the end) twitter feed.

 

If none of this makes any sense to you, here’s a good post that explains it.  Here’s a ginormous list of a zillion Vintage reviews that were done in conjunction with #VintageSciFiMonth.

 

Thanks to Vintage Science Fiction month, I discovered Cordwainer Smith, Andre Norton, Edmund Hamilton, Samuel Delany, Joan Vinge, Kate Wilhelm, tons of fun Star Trek short stories, Hal Clement, the cheesy goodness that is Space 1999, and so much more.  I’m reading it all out of order, and completely out of context, and having a blast.

 

What can you look forward to this January?  Rumor has it there will be a Dune read along, possibly a live tweeting of the 1984 Dune movie, Cover art posts, how and where to find Vintage scifi, and I’m sure there will be Blind Dates with a Vintage Book. You know, all the good stuff you’ve come to expect!

 

Are you interested in writing a guest post for Vintage Month?  guest posts can be anything from a review of a Vintage book you read, to the old scifi short story magazines, to talking about an older scifi movie or TV show you like, to just about anything Vintage Scifi-ish.

Are you interested in hosting a guest post for Vintage month?

Sound off in the comments below, and I will do my best to connect people who want to write a guest post to people who want to host one.

 

 

This blog post started here.

I didn’t realize I was reading through it so fast, I finished The Shadow of the Torturer (the first half of Shadow and Claw) last night. The first half seemed a bit trying to get through – strange language, a world that doesn’t quite make sense, episodic stories,  and then we get to the 2nd half of the story that goes much quicker.

But first, more new words:

 

Coryphees

Anacrisis

Chiliarch

Bosquets

Deeses

Fewer unknown words in this second half.

And now for thoughts, questions, and spoilers!

Shadow of the Torturer ends very abruptly.  It’s going, it’s going, there’s a sort-of duel,  Severian gets to do his job, it goes a little more, slows down a bit, and then BAM it ends.  Yes, I get the whole concept of ending on a similar note as the start, but it was still weird.

 

Severian sure is easy to manipulate. Get a pretty girl to say hello to him, and he’ll do just about anything. And if she shows some leg?  He’s practically her slave.  He is an absolute idiot to trust anything Agia says to him, and he seems to trust everything she says!

 

The house on stilts that is in the botanical gardens – is this a view through time or into another dimension?  Robert and Marie seem of a more contemporary time.  They look out the window hoping to see mail plane, and Severian hasn’t any idea what a mail plane is. Everything about the botanical garden rooms is hella cool!  The rooms are bigger on the inside than you’d expect, it’s easy to get lost in them.  The doors to the rooms, are they doors across space and maybe time?

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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.