From Way, Way Back in Your Reading Life

Extollager

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I've started a second reading of Moby-Dick today, which is within a few weeks of being the 40th anniversary of the start of my previous reading on the 16th of October 1975 -- and am relishing it. What gusto!
 

thaddeus6th

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That's pretty cool.

I'm probably going to re-read Three Kingdoms fairly soon, although it's only been a decade or a little more. Not quite the same, but there was an amusingly massive (maybe 16 years or more) between me reading Dragon Wing, which I really liked, and Elven Star, the sequel. [That's one of the reasons I usually reply to e-mails promptly. I'm a tiny bit absent-minded].
 

Extollager

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This note doesn't really belong in this thread -- but since I mentioned a Man from U.N.C.L.E. novel here recently (which I had read perhaps more than 45 years ago), I'll mention that I read another of Ace's novels in the series, the 4th one -- David McDaniels's The Dagger Affair. This one was better than The Mad Scientist Affair. One thing I liked in it was some sentences about the origin of Thrush as an outgrowth of Prof. Moriarty's criminal organization. See the scan if interested.

In this yarn, U.N.C.L.E. joins forces locally with Thrush against a small band that intends to kill everybody, a plan unacceptable to Thrush as well as to the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement. I'll probably give another of McDaniel's U. N. C. L. E. books a try, since this one was fun and I was also impressed by his Prisoner novel, which I wrote about elsewhere.

From Way, Way Back in Your Book Backlog
Thrush origin Man from UNCLE no. 4 The Dagger Affair 1965 McDaniels.jpeg
 

Extollager

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At the moment I'm reading The Copenhagen Affair by John Oram (John Oram Thomas).

http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/oram_john

This was the third of Ace's Man from U. N. C. L. E. books. It's also one that I've thought I might have read in the second half of the 1960s. Nearly halfway through the short novel, I have found nothing that elicits a confirming memory. It's largely set in Denmark, and a hard-drinking Irishman's remark about doing his bit there with Holger Danske during the War (p. 44) made me wonder if "John Oram" was a pseudonym of Poul Anderson, though certainly nothing else in the book would have. Our agents are trying to find an installation, possibly underground, where Thrush is manufacturing flying saucers.
upload_2015-10-2_7-29-42.jpeg


Last month I read (just possibly reread) David McDaniel's The Monster Wheel Affair, which was the eighth Ace U. N. C. L. E. book. I've been sure that I read the fifth, The Mad Scientist Affair, discussed above. And I thought that the other Ace U. N. C. L. E. book that I owned, and presumably read, was either Monster Wheel or (probably) Copenhagen.

There's one other Man from U. N. C. L. E. novel that I'm pretty sure I used to have, and presumably read, but it wasn't published by Ace; there was a Man from U. N. C. L. E. magazine for a time, and I'm pretty sure I had one issue, with The Howling Teenagers Affair.

There are probably a few Chrons people who actually find these remarks to be of interest!

Here's a guide to the Ace novels:

http://www.manfromuncle.org/reviewp1.htm
 

Extollager

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Spoilers ahead, if it matters!


del Rey, Lester. Siege Perilous. 1966.

My impression is that I bought a used copy of this Lancer paperback before June 1969, or at least that I bought it soon after. I’m wondering if it was the first sf novel I ever bought, other than a Whitman Classics edition of The War of the Worlds. I may have acquired a few books through the Scholastic Books school “club.” This one would have attracted me because of the cover art and the promise of a tale of "eerie invasion." Probably I would have recognized del Rey’s name since the town library owned juvenile sf novels by him -- Outpost of Jupiter and one or two others. I don't remember what happened to my copy of the present novel. I read it in a library copy.

Fred Hunter has been stuck on a space station for ten years, unable to return to earth because of a severe injury. I guess the idea is that earth’s greater gravity would be too much for him to survive. His wife has died and his son is now a grown man. For some reason the son has never come to the space station. Astronauts do come up in shifts. International tensions preoccupy Earth’s governments.

The space station is suddenly invaded by mysterious individuals in antiquated-style helmets. Also a madman named Paulson seems to be in charge. When the invaders are heard talking, their diction is that of pulp-style movies. Hunter, Callaghan, and Sandy, the book’s sketched-in love interest, try to figure out what to do. The men sabotage the station such that when the invaders fire three of its atomic missiles at earth, the missiles simply go into earth orbit and are destroyed by missiles fired from the planet. Our heroes try to figure out what to do to save the earth. There’s a lot of slipping around through air ducts, etc. On page 106 one of the invader’s helmets is removed to reveal an ugly alien face.

The novel is obviously contrived. Hunter’s injury and his isolation quicken our interest and get our attention in the first few pages; before long the loneliness theme is dropped and, what’s more, we, offhandedly, ultimately discover, without any explanation that has registered on my mind, that he probably will be able to return to earth after all, with his lady, who during the course of the novel has done virtually nothing. A key element of the story is that the Martians speak in B-movie lingo. It’s presumably meant to be amusing, but for me that worked against the development of much suspense or "eeriness." The movie angle has some plot justification: the Martians have formed their impressions of earth people from the movies, and Hunter is able, as the book concludes, to assure the Martian leader that we’re not really like that and are interested in fair play, trade, etc. Readers expecting a slam-bang conclusion will have been disappointed, but I was able to close the book feeling that I’d been mildly entertained ...and was glad the book wasn’t a page longer.
 

Extollager

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Just finished a second reading of Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles, at which moment I realized that when I first read it (late Dec. 1978-early Jan. 1979) I had just started my career as a teacher, from which I have just retired after 37 years of teaching (although I will continue to teach as an adjunct). (There was a one-year hiatus in there.) Hardy is not a great writer--I wouldn't think anyone would read Tolstoy and Dostoevsky and think Hardy is their equal. He is more on a level with, say, Knut Hamsun, as a writer of the emotions who, while you read, makes some of the things he leaves out or fails to take adequately into account seem shadowy; but they're not.
 

Vertigo

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@Extollager I was just reviewing this thread and immediately saw your post on Richard Adams' Shardik, which I also have on my selves but have not, I admit, reread, and you asked about other Adams stuff other that Watership down. I have also read from him, many many years ago, Plague Dogs which I remember as being very good though possibly somewhat YA (as was I back in those days!). I also noticed something I hadn't realised which is that Adams has a second book called Maia set in the same world as Shardik...

On another front I have recently been slowly re-reading Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom books (actually my third reading) but this time around I'm finding it harder to live with the older, more patriarchal, patronising and over sensationalising style. I used to enjoy that and understand it is typical of much of the writing of the day (though by no means all of it) but I now find, in my more advanced years, that I am no longer as tolerant of it. I think I'm now, sadly, giving up this rereading.
 

Bick

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Just finished a second reading of Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles, at which moment I realized that when I first read it (late Dec. 1978-early Jan. 1979) I had just started my career as a teacher, from which I have just retired after 37 years of teaching (although I will continue to teach as an adjunct). (There was a one-year hiatus in there.) Hardy is not a great writer--I wouldn't think anyone would read Tolstoy and Dostoevsky and think Hardy is their equal. He is more on a level with, say, Knut Hamsun, as a writer of the emotions who, while you read, makes some of the things he leaves out or fails to take adequately into account seem shadowy; but they're not.
I have to question your equation Extollager, wherein < than Tolstoy or Dostoevsky = not great. If you take this approach, then just about everyone who's ever written is not great. What is 'great' anyway - what's your threshold? I would contend that Hardy is the equal of many fine writers, less than some, better than others. For me, he is a writer of real stature. I would agree, however, that when he moved away from the simple pastoral tragedy to write with a greater emphasis on his liberal agendas, his novels lost some of their charm and attraction of simplicity. For me, 'Tess' is his weakest novel, a little clunky as well as less charming, but I'm unusual in having that view perhaps. I would suggest Far from the Madding Crowd and the Return of the Native are much better, and of a level of quality that makes it reasonable to call him 'great'. The Woodlanders as well, while less well regarded generally, is a fine example of what Hardy does do well. I prefer those novels to works like Silas Marner, for instance, that most critics would agree is 'great'.
 

Extollager

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Bick, there's a comprehensiveness and depth in the great authors that I don't see in Hardy, good as he is at some things. It's not so much that I want to demote Hardy as that I don't want to cheapen the praise due to the masters. If I say that Tolstoy and Dostoevsky are great, I give them their due, and if I say Hardy too is great, I reduce the gravity of "great," or so it seems to me. I'll happily agree that he is a "writer of real stature." I've read all the Hardy books you mention and also The Mayor of Casterbridge (perhaps his best), Jude, Under the Greenwood Tree, Two on a Tower, and A Pair of Blue Eyes, plus a number of tales--so I like him well enough, but I'm not in awe of him as I am of the Russians I mentioned.
 

psikeyhackr

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I have started reading the Man-Kzin Wars series. I do not know how much of this I read back in the late 80s and 90s.

Man-Kzin Wars - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



psik
Here is an interesting historical event:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/02/business/joshua-brown-technology-enthusiast-tested-the-limits-of-his-tesla.html?_r=0

The Man-Kzin War series can only be understood in relation to the future history projected by Larry Niven. There is a story by Niven where people who want to drive cars manually are regarded as crazy and there are special roads where they are allowed to engage in their insanity. :ROFLMAO:

That incident seems to imply that it would not have happened if the car had used radar sensors. The truck being white should not have mattered.

psik
 

galanx

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@Extollager I was just reviewing this thread and immediately saw I also noticed something I hadn't realised which is that Adams has a second book called Maia set in the same world as Shardik...
It's a strange book. One part of it is a quite interesting excursion into a culture at the early city-state stage where new economic classes are arising in opposition to the old established social and religious tribal elites.

The other half (interspersed throughout) is very bizarre and often explicit porn, mostly involving sado-masochism. And he screws up the entire point of the plot in the end because of that.
 

Vertigo

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It's a strange book. One part of it is a quite interesting excursion into a culture at the early city-state stage where new economic classes are arising in opposition to the old established social and religious tribal elites.

The other half (interspersed throughout) is very bizarre and often explicit porn, mostly involving sado-masochism. And he screws up the entire point of the plot in the end because of that.
Wow that sounds truly weird. Probably a good job I'm not inclined to go back to those books these days! :)
 

Randy M.

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The recent reissue of his novels prompted me to read William Sloane's The Edge of Running Water for the first time, after which I decided to reread his To Walk the Night. (The reissue, one volume, titled The Rim of Morning.)

I first read TWtN when Ballantine reissued both novels in 1980. I'd been reading Lovecraft and King at the time, as I recall, so it seemed a bit weak-tea to my younger self. Now, I find both of these quite entertaining. Giving some lee-way for being older works -- published in 1937 (TWtN) and 1939 (Edge) -- with the sense of pacing and discovery of works of the time, they work really well as sf/horror/mysteries. In each the protagonist has to work out what is happening and since it's outside the norm and into a borderland between the supernatural and the scientifically plausibe, it takes a while for him to figure it out.

One point of interest is how Sloane can allude to cosmic awe in plain, conversational language in a way Lovecraft couldn't.

Anyway, I'd recommend these for anyone who enjoys older s.f. and horror.


Randy M.
 

Extollager

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Someone here at Chrons mentioned Mack Reynolds's Star Trek novel Mission to Horatius, written for the juvenile market and published originally n 1968, apparently the first "original" ST novel. Got hold of a copy on interlibrary loan. It's not all that interesting, to tell the truth, so far, and thus faithful to the feel of some of the poorer episodes. The landing party encounters a human youth wearing warpaint and riding a "horse," and are taken by him to a vast glowing cave. The missing element, as compared to the TV series, seems to be the standard-issue babe. I guess the novel's Yeoman Doris Atkins character would have to supply that.

upload_2016-7-30_11-12-28.jpeg
 

Extollager

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I'm now approaching the conclusion of my 12th (apparently) reading of The Hobbit, first read around 1966/1967 and most recently read all the way back in 2005. I'm happy that, as I read it, I'm usually not reminded of imagery from the movies, since I didn't go and see them, although some exposure was inevitable. I'm reminded of seeing Tolkien's original art for the book, on display in 1987 at Marquette University.
 

Randy M.

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My favorite covers for LOTR and The Hobbit are still the Tolkien watercolors. They immediately put me in a place to immerse myself in the books.


Randy M.
 

Extollager

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Having just reread it fort the first time in about 20 years, what strikes me about Alan Garner's The Moon of Gomrath is that it is less good than The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and is remarkably proto-New Age. It’s about the “Old Magic”—“women’s magic” and "moon magic." The wizard Cadellin, central to the earlier book, stands aside in this one. Garner cites Robert Graves’s White Goddess in a note at the end (surely a bizarre feature for a 1963 children’s book), and, reading the book again, I apprehend that there must be some kind of Triple Goddess thing going on with the Morrigan, Angharad, and Susan.

The story is lacking as compared to Weirdstone. Perhaps there’s nothing as eerie as Grimnir in this one, nor, certainly, is there any unforgettable episode like Weirdstone's cave-journey. Garner includes lots of place-names, but the Alderley Edge milieu isn’t evoked as lovingly as in the first book. The Einheriar seem to pop up every so often in a way that, reading the book this time, seemed almost faintly comic to me. The early Brollachan material is eerie, but soon it seems that the Brollachan isn’t very well integrated into the story as a whole. I wonder if Garner wrote Weirdstone as a one-off originally, then saw how he could write a sequel using his current (?) studies of Graves etc.

Incidentally the Jeff Jones cover for the Ace paperback certainly caught my eye in 1969, when I think I got my copy, but I have never understood why the tubby, pasty-skinned warrior appears to be wearing a ballet slipper.


The back cover copy contains at least two misprints ("Cadogan" for Cadellin, and "side" for aid) and two references to Tolkien at a time when only a few paperbacks had yet done so, and those references, of course, enticed me.
 
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