Mike’s Prattle


Archive for February, 2006

Gene Wolfe

Posted by Mike on February 27, 2006

I’m thoroughly amazed it’s taken me over 5 years to finally get to the last “book” of the New Sun, but now that I’m into Citadel of the Autarch, I’m almost glad I waited, just so I could be a little older and more appreciative. I generally feel there’s too much out there to read anything twice, but I am pretty sure I will be going back to these, maybe after I read some more of his stuff. This is from chapter VIII  The Pelerine in Citadel. The priestess is speaking to Severian:

     “Every person, you see, is like a plant. There is a beautiful green part, often with flowers or fruit, that grows upward toward the sun, toward the Increate. There is also a dark part that grows away from it, tunneling where no light comes.”

     I said, “I have never studied the writings of the initiates, but even I am aware of the existence of good and evil in everyone.”

     “Was I speaking of good and evil? It is the roots that give the plant the strength to climb toward the sun, though they know nothing of it. Suppose that some scythe, whistling along the ground, should sever the stalk from its roots. The stalk would fall and die, but the roots might put up a new stalk.”

 “You are saying that evil is good.”

“No. I am saying that the things we love in others and admire in ourselves spring from things we do not see and seldom think about…”

Why Wolfe isn’t spoken of with the literary giants is a question up there with “Are we alone in the universe?” Beyond the prose itself, of which much praise has been lauded upon, it’s just the initiatic spirit thoroughly realized through the character, a depth and bit of realism that give a unique and vibrant character to all of his scenes.

Trying to finish 18 books before starting on anything is difficult, but this is one that won’t be a chore.


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RIP Octavia Butler

Posted by Mike on February 27, 2006


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Dan Simmons – Fires of Eden

Posted by Mike on February 27, 2006

18 to go, although I almost made it 19 in a moment of weakness by adding another book. Must … be … disciplined…

Anyway, this was the Locus Dark Fantasy/Horror award winner the year after it was released (I’d say it’s the former and not the latter), probably due to the magazine’s rabid Simmons’ fanbase than the merits of the book itself, which for Simmons is a fairly minor work. It’s basically about the remergence of the Hawaiian gods who are disturbed and making strange appearances around a luxurious corporate hotel. In fact the corporation head is probably the weakest part of the book, a cookiecutter evil, greedy character with very few redeeming qualities.

The plot is pretty tight nonetheless and resolves fairly well. Even if you thought you knew who was making it to the final battle, hints started coming early that it wouldn’t be who you expected. It was also nice to see one of his return characters from Summer of Night grown up, as in Children of Night, and Cordie Stumpf here works well as the brawn half of the two leads.

Using Gnosis grades I’d probably give it a 10 just barely as it was mostly readable all the way. The best parts had to be the diary that runs in parallel to the main story featuring an ancestor of the other protagonist, Eleanor, and Samuel Clemens blazing the trail to be later taken. Simmons writes Clemens as a character larger than life, a skeptic who is convinced sanity has fled after a series of supernatural occurences.

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Bookstore Run 3

Posted by Mike on February 24, 2006

I managed to recreate the lists of books hauled last Thursday:

  • Ramsey Campbell – The Parasite (and I managed to leave a couple of his books off the previous list as well, The Hungry Moon and The Influence)
  • Avram Davidson – Rork! (One of several pulp books I grabbed from the same store, the rest marked*)
  • Barbara Hambly – Those Who Hunt the Night
  • Kathe Koja – Bad Brains
  • Fritz Leiber – A Spectre is Haunting Texas*
  • Carl Sagan – Contact (one of several scored cheap at thirft stores, the rest marked#)
  • Robert J. Swayer – Flashforward#
  • Lucius Shepard – Life During Wartime
  • Lucius Shepard – Kalimantan
  • Paul Levinson – The Silk Code
  • Joan D. Vinge – World’s End
  • S. P. Somtow – Vampire Junction
  • Ellen Datlow/Terri Windling ed. – The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror  Fifth Annual Collection
  • Michael Marshall Smith – One of Us (hb)#
  • Charles Pellegrino – Dust (hb)#
  • Philip Roth – Sabbath’s Theater (hb)
  • Saul Bellow – The Adventures of Augie March
  • William Kennedy – The Albany Novels
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Collected Stories
  • Jose Saramago – Baltisar and Blimunda
  • Frank Belknap Long – The Hounds of Tindalos*
  • A. Merritt – The Ship of Ishtar*
  • A. Merritt – Face in the Abyss*
  • William Browning Spencer – Resume with Monsters
  • Eleanor Arnason – Ring of Swords
  • Jane Yolen ed. – Xanadu

And a few in the mail, the first two from Hippocampus Press (paying for the Blackwood got me the Merritt free):

  • Algernon Blackwood – Incredible Adventures
  • A. Merritt – The Metal Monster
  • Robert Anton Wilson – The Book of the Breast (this one has long been retitled Ishtar Rising and published by New Falcon, but I managed to find an original Playboy Press copy, which is much quainter and tackier, but far more collectible. And it has more boobs.)

Will be taking this weekend off hunting to maybe get some of this stuff read, but then again there’s a lot on the way too. Getting towards the end of Dan Simmons’ Fires of Eden, so hope to finish that one (at least).

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Kings Trade

Posted by Mike on February 24, 2006

Taking this paragraph from sacbee.com (I’d link to the article but you have to sign up) about the Brian Skinner trade:

Monia comes with promise. The 6-8, 220-pound Russian small forward was drafted by 23rd overall by Portland in 2004, three spots ahead of the Kings’ Kevin Martin. Monia didn’t sign with the Trail Blazers until last August, and he averaged 3.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 14.6 minutes per game in 23 games for Portland this season.

So Monia was drafted 23rd and only played 23 games for Portland? I like him already.

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Masters of Science Fiction

Posted by Mike on February 24, 2006

tvguide.com’s entertainment news says:

ABC RECRUITS SCI-FI’S BEST: ABC has picked up the drama series Masters of Science Fiction, which, akin to Showtime’s Masters of Horror anthology, will feature works from some of the genre’s best-known authors, including perhaps Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison and Robert Heinlein. Production on the series, currently pegged for four hourlong episodes, begins in May.

I’ve only seen a few of the Masters of Horror eps to date, although I mean to see the rest if I ever get a chance to catch up on TV stuff. The John Carpenter episodes was quite good, although one always has to keep in mind with all of them that the intent was to make ’em pretty gory.

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When promotion goes too far

Posted by Mike on February 23, 2006

A few amusing links related to a self-published author on Amazon whose promotional means would make Machiavelli proud:

It’s been making me laugh just about all afternoon.

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Happy 23rd

Posted by Mike on February 23, 2006

Today I found out my new cell phone bill is, approximately $23 a month. Later, I found out through an Amazon Marketplace bookseller that Amazon take $1.23 from shipping charges. Figures.

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Outer Music Diary updated

Posted by Mike on February 22, 2006

I’ve added categories to the site and nearly caught up with all my posts today.

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The Music/Literature Analogy

Posted by Mike on February 21, 2006

A really fun Hal Duncan interview where he compares the more literary/indepedent SF/F fantasy scene with that of music. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for quite a while in terms of the whole transgenre way of looking at music and Duncan compares the two eloquently.

He also has a very active blog which is currently being taken over by an amazingly interesting discussion on “God,” one that is bringing in animism, Bablylonian mythos and the like. Anyway, I have seen enough to go buy his first book now, although it’s currently in that pre-trade paperback release limbo. I think I’ll still go hunt down a hardcover if I can.

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