September 2019: Reading Thread

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Extollager

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Started Jenkinson's Charles I's Killers in America, new nonfiction about a couple of regicides who fled to New England in 1660. A ten-week sea voyage to get there!
 

Ian Fortytwo

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I've just received my copy of Interzone, and read The Winds and Persecutions of the Sky, by Robert Minto. A brilliant short story about a skyscraper where people living on the top floors are dirtier than those in the building basement. However the insiders want out, and then a nice twist at the end.
 

Anthoney

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I just finished Red Sister by Mark Lawrence and started Grey Sister. These are the first two books in his Book of the Ancestor series. I think the first line sets the tone well.

"It is important, when killing a nun, to ensure that you bring an army of sufficient size."
 

Nozzle Velocity

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I can also recommend Beagle's earlier fantasy novel A Fine and Private Place very highly.
I'll second that. Unfortunately, I didn't care for his road-trip memoir I Can See By My Uniform. I wasn't sure I would get through it.

Currently reading Stranger In A Strange Land for the first time in thirty-mumble-mumble years.
 

Extollager

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I didn't care for his road-trip memoir I Can See By My Uniform.
Even though I See by My Outfit was an "early" (1965) shout-out to The Lord of the Rings? That was back when it was available only in hardcover. But Tolkien's "trilogy" had, in fact, had quite a few good reviews. Beagle's remarks probably helped to make it perceived as a Youth book.
 
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Nozzle Velocity

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How are you finding it after a few decades?
Better than I remember. I began to rebound hard against Heinlein's dialogue in every book, although I read all the pre-1970 stuff. It seemed so clipped and smug, almost unreadable. Now it strikes me as a Howard Hawks film with snappy, witty dialogue. I re-read Beyond This Horizon a few years ago with the spanking scene and thinking, yeah, I could see Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn doing that in a screwball comedy. Heinlein's humor comes through to me in a way it didn't before. Also, I think Jubal Harshaw is a satire of Heinlein himself along with Campbell and Hubbard, right down to Harshaw's electrified fence. I'm almost halfway through. Word on the street is that this book gets really wordy and preachy in the second half, but I remember the whole thing being that way, so we'll see.
 

Nozzle Velocity

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Even though I See by My Outfit was an "early" (1965) shout-out to The Lord of the Rings? That was back when it was available only in hardcover. But Tolkien's "trilogy" had, in fact, had quite a few good reviews. Beagle's remarks probably helped to make it perceived as a Youth book.
That was a real surprise when he referenced Tolkien. I even checked to make sure I wasn't reading some revised edition. But I suspect Ballantine deserves more credit for exposing Tolkien to the counter-culture with their paperback editions. (Was Lin Carter behind that?) I just thought I See By My Outift was tedious and needlessly condescending. He couldn't be bothered to describe his first view of the Rocky Mountains, but he took time to complain about how Colorado Springs didn't meet his expectations. That sort of thing.
 

Extollager

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It's years since I read the Beagle travelogue and I guess I haven't felt strongly inclined to read it again yet!

As for opening up Tolkien's work to a wide (American) audience, Ace Books got in there with an unauthorized paperback edition, and soon Ballantine offered their authorized version. But Beagle's book probably both testified to, and helped to promote, LotR as a "cult book" before it was widely available.
 

Nozzle Velocity

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I just wonder how many people knew Beagle in 1965 when The Last Unicorn wasn't out until 1968. Maybe he was popular before then, I don't know. I read LotR out of curiosity because Led Zeppelin kept singing about as early as 1969. I still see those Ace LotR paperbacks in the used stores, but not very often. I've been tempted to pick them up for novelty purposes, but the shelf space around here is becoming "problematical" as they say. That's another one I need to return to. Last time I read that or The Hobbit was 1977.
 

Extollager

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I See by My Outfit was serialized in Holiday, a pretty lavish-looking magazine, so Beagle had that visibility -- or maybe it was that the book was an expansion of the magazine serial -- I'm not sure of the exact situation. Beagle also wrote about LotR for Holiday -- that's where his introduction in The Tolkien Reader came from.

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Nozzle Velocity

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Very interesting. Writing for the slicks was a lucrative gig. It seems Mr. Beagle was more well known pre-Unicorn than I thought. ISFDB shows Ace and Ballantine with LotR out in paperback in 1965, so the timing for Beagle promoting awareness of it is good. You're making a strong case, counselor!
 

hitmouse

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Pub Quiz question: which well-known SF writet was closely associated woth Holiday magazine?
 

dannymcg

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I See by My Outfit was serialized in Holiday, a pretty lavish-looking magazine, so Beagle had that visibility -- or maybe it was that the book was an expansion of the magazine serial -- I'm not sure of the exact situation. Beagle also wrote about LotR for Holiday -- that's where his introduction in The Tolkien Reader came from.

View attachment 56336View attachment 56337
I had a discussion in one of the forums, either with Ursa or Harebrain, and I was opining that there was some kind of association with LOTR and 1960's/early 1970's British scooter gangs (mods).

Looking at these covers the connection was most likely first established through Beagle.

I had vague childhood memories of some of the 'the big boys on scooters' avidly quoting Tolkien at each other
 

HareBrain

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Randy M.

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Pub Quiz question: which well-known SF writet was closely associated woth Holiday magazine?
Alfred Bester. If I recall correctly he was an editor for the magazine and, I suspect, a possible reason for Beagle getting published in it.

Better than I remember. I began to rebound hard against Heinlein's dialogue in every book, although I read all the pre-1970 stuff. It seemed so clipped and smug, almost unreadable. I re-read Beyond This Horizon a few years ago with the spanking scene and thinking, yeah, I could see Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn doing that in a screwball comedy.
Or John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. Haven't read that one but I've seen this in other works by other writers, notably Fred Brown who I recall doing it fairly well, and Fritz Leiber, which sometimes worked for me ("Four Ghosts in Hamlet") and sometimes didn't ("The Creature from the Cleveland Depths").

I'm not sure current readers, especially younger readers, appreciate how much older s.f. was permeated by so-called hard-boiled prose of the 1930s and '40s. Heinlein in particular was doing something similar for s.f. to what Hammett had done for the crime/mystery, and Hemingway for a broader literary readership, and to an extent what Howard had started in pulpier writing, paring down, stressing action (or inaction, I suppose) as indicative of character. The later you go into the '40s, the more you probably see Raymond Chandler's influence with wisecracks and quips, all magnified by the adoption of that style by the American movie industry. Somewhat tangentially, I've recently re/watched the movie versions of The Big Sleep, Farewell, My Lovely (movie, Murder, My Sweet) and The Lady in the Lake starring Bogart, Dick Powell and Robert Montgomery respectively as Philip Marlowe, Chandler's P.I. All three have the trademark wisecracks, but the way their used has pronounced differences. With Bogart they're an extension of worldly observation, with Powell a sort of self-defense and with Montgomery there's a kind of desperation under many of them, like he's about to implode under pressure.

Anyway, just my $.02, and to get back to the thread topic: Finished The Victorian Chaise Longue by Marghanita Laski. Didn't engage me as much as I'd hoped, but it certainly has an interesting premise: What if you awoke in another century and in another person's body? What if that person was gravely ill?

Extollager, if you haven't read this, somehow I feel like you'd find it of interest.


Randy M.
 
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