November 2021 Reading Thread

The Judge

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I duly finished Stardust last month. I'm not a fan of Gaiman's and although this was better than the others of his I've read, I felt it was lacking real heart.

I raced through some Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael novels, by way of comfort reading, as well as Last Act in Palmyra by Lindsey Davis, one of her Falco murder mysteries, but the only genre book I finished was Northwest of Earth by CL Moore, a collection of short stories that were pretty much all one-note, all over-heated, over-purple-prosed, with invariably beautiful women described at length although barely dressed in flimsy fabrics, each of whom creates havoc for the underwritten hero, Northwest Smith.

I've now just started something a little more controlled and readable, City of Illusions by Ursula Le Guin.

So what's on your reading list this month?
 

tobl

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there's a james abel book that i didn't read , VECTOR, and i believe there's some new jonatham maerry coming out.i asked last month but no one read SOLARIS, the antithesis of DUNE?
 

Randy M.

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[...] the only genre book I finished was Northwest of Earth by CL Moore, a collection of short stories that were pretty much all one-note, all pver-heated, over-purple prose, with invariably beautiful women described at length although barely dressed in flimsy fabrics, each of whom creates havoc for the underwritten hero, Northwest Smith.

I greatly enjoyed The Best of C. L. Moore when I read it in the '80s, as well as what I've read in Two-Handed Engine. But I had much the same reaction to this you did, making the mistake of reading the entire book at one time. As 1930s pulp went, these are good fun if taken one at a time over a period of time but I wouldn't recommend chugging 'em.

I'm critiquing a friend's manuscript, her first attempt at a novel. It's shaping up nicely but keeping me from other reading. Only managed over the Halloween weekend to reread Neil Gaiman's "October in the Chair," which I rather liked more than the first time I read it. Also Robert Bloch's "The Dark Demon," an early story of his, still greatly indebted to Lovecraft.

Next up: Darned if I know. I usually dip into some mysteries between Halloween and New Years, so I've pulled out English Country House Murders ed. by Thomas Godfrey for when I'm not reading the manuscript. At this point I'm not even sure I'll start it much less finish it.
 

J-Sun

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I greatly enjoyed The Best of C. L. Moore when I read it in the '80s, as well as what I've read in Two-Handed Engine. But I had much the same reaction to this you did, making the mistake of reading the entire book at one time. As 1930s pulp went, these are good fun if taken one at a time over a period of time but I wouldn't recommend chugging 'em.
I read both the NW and Jirel stories and greatly enjoyed both series, but I also agree that spacing between them is wise and I'd have enjoyed them even more if I had. In magazine form, they would have been encountered widely separated and when the stories were originally collected in hardcover there were two collections which each had a mix of Jirel and Northwest stories. I suspect that would have been a better way to collect them and that they should still be available that way, but things sell better when they can be sold as units, so that's the way they've been packaged ever since.
 

hitmouse

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I am going to try The Calcutta Chromosome by Amitav Ghosh.
 

Danny McG

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Today I'm reading The Dying Squad by Adam Simcox

An urban fantasy about ghost policemen - in Skegness!
 

The Judge

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I read both the NW and Jirel stories and greatly enjoyed both series, but I also agree that spacing between them is wise
There actually was one story in which NW encounters Jirel -- Quest of the Starstone, written with Henry Kuttner -- which came as something of a breath of fresh air amongst all the rest!

I think if I'd read the stories as a teenager I would have fallen for the lushness of her prose, and certainly even now I can pay due respect to it and her imagination, but even taking them one at a time and relatively slowly -- I was reading the Ellis Peters in between by way of cleansing my reading palate! -- the stories were all a bit too emotionally over-wrought for me, and Smith himself too much of a cipher. Le Guin's clarity and depth of characterisation are much more my style. But I'm glad I read them, even though I shan't be rushing out to find more.
 

Randy M.

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There actually was one story in which NW encounters Jirel -- Quest of the Starstone, written with Henry Kuttner -- which came as something of a breath of fresh air amongst all the rest!

I think if I'd read the stories as a teenager I would have fallen for the lushness of her prose, and certainly even now I can pay due respect to it and her imagination, but even taking them one at a time and relatively slowly -- I was reading the Ellis Peters in between by way of cleansing my reading palate! -- the stories were all a bit too emotionally over-wrought for me, and Smith himself too much of a cipher. Le Guin's clarity and depth of characterisation are much more my style. But I'm glad I read them, even though I shan't be rushing out to find more.
Just to note, these were early stories in Moore's career, and I found there was an exuberance of language that made me wonder if she'd swallowed a lot of Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith and not quite digested it fully.

Have you read any of the Moore/Kuttner collaborations? It's maybe one of the few instances where there was a near-perfect merging of strengths. The old timers who discussed their work would say Kuttner was an excellent craftsman but his stories were a bit clockwork, intelligent but emotionally distant. Moore, on the other hand, was all sensory and over-wrought emotion. They seemed to bring the right balance to one another, and stories like "Vintage Season" and "The Twonky" and "Mimsy Were the Borogoves" among others are much better balanced between the emotive and the intellectual.
 

The Judge

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That's interesting, thanks. These were the first stories I've read by Moore, and if I'd read any Kuttner as a teenager, I've completely forgotten it. The Jirel story to which I referred is the only collaboration of theirs I've read, and it was certainly a bit easier than the others. The anthology was a 2019 edition from the Golden Age Masterworks series by Gollancz, which I picked up in our local remainder store, and since Gollancz put out a couple of others of hers, as well as some Kuttner, I might strike lucky.
 

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Having shed myself of the obligation of reading "The Three Body Problem." I read Master Mind by Andrew Mayne in just slightly more than a day. I loved it. (Or maybe it was such a relief from the tedious previous?) He's the author of one of my favorite series The Naturalist and here he combines the Naturalist with another of his interesting characters a magician turned FBI agent Jessica Blackwood. They make an interesting and dynamic combo. After finishing this opening novel in the series. I hurried out and purchased Killer Angel the first in the Jessica Blackwood series. I'm 38% through it and it is helping me to learn more about her and her nemisis, a serial killer who is called the Warlock. Queued up, The Never Hero by T. Fillery Hodges.
 

Danny McG

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Tonight's new book (it just arrived early evening today) is Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson.
I hope it's better than his dismal DoDo effort
 

tobl

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Tonight's new book (it just arrived early evening today) is Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson.
I hope it's better than his dismal DoDo effort
i tried DODO... it can always be worst..but lets see if you get lucky... well you yill get lucky in another way i'm sure
 

Danny McG

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Tonight's new book (it just arrived early evening today) is Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson.
I hope it's better than his dismal DoDo effort
The first few chapters were a fun caper, but now the dullness factor is coming in big style....this could well be a DNF
 

Bick

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Now I’m on to Trial by Fire, which is book 2 of the Tales of the Terran Republic series by Charles E. Gannon. The first in the series, Fire with Fire, was terrific, and these books are recommended, being a lot smarter and well written than might perhaps be assumed from the cover art. This volume is the best part of 900 pages long, which would usually put me off, but it reads fast, so to speak, so I should survive it.
 

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