Mike’s Prattle


Books Received; Robert Reed “Baby Fire;” “Father to the Man;” Lucius Shepard “The Night of White Bhairab;” “The Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaule;” “Reaper;” “The End of Life as We Know It;” Connie Willis “Uncharted Territory;” Fritz Leiber “The Automatic Pistol;” “Smoke Ghost”

Posted by Mike on July 17, 2006

  • Jeannette Winterson – Sexing the Cherry
  • Gardner Dozois, ed. – The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Fourth Annual
  • David Madsen – Confessions of a Flesh-Eater
  • Carol Emshwiller – The Start of the End of It All
  • Frances A. Yates – Giordano Bruno & the Hermetic Tradition
  • R. Scott Bakker – The Darkness that Comes Before
  • Asimov’s (a box full, plus some F&SF, Amazing, If, Analog and Hitchcock’s extras)
  • George Turner – Drowning Towers (aka The Sea and the Summer)
  • Theodore Sturgeon – A Saucer of Loneliness (Complete Stories, Vol. 7)
  • Peter Ackroyd – Hawksmoor
  • Brian Hodge – Lies and Ugliness
  • Sadegh Hedayat – The Blind Owl

Had a nice, peaceful weekend. Been reading a lot of shorts lately, although I’m plugging away at Scott Lynch’s “The Lies of Locke Lamora” as well, which is the first “epic/high” fantasy I’ve read in quite a while. It comes with a considerable amount of hype, including a George R. R. Martin blurb on the cover. So far it reminds me of a cross between the intrigue of Robin Hobb and the sassiness of a Steven Brust or Martin Scott. A lot of fun, if not particularly literary or deep (yet).

I was glad to finish Robert Reed’s Sister Alice series of novellas. I found it difficult to be interested in any of the main protagonists, all more or less posthuman, which probably made it difficult to stay with the story which seemed to revolve around a catastrophe a group of posthumans were responsible for. Some interesting future ideas, but the fourth novella Baby Fire, seemed like an elongated chase scene for the most part and the wrap-up novella wasn’t particularly satisfying.

Shepard’s work, in chronological order, improves as it goes, although it’s rather obvious why certain stories were anthologized, while others left to obscurity. Being more or less in the middle of his World Fantasy Award winning collection The Jaguar Hunter means it’s mostly good stuff, and I was particularly impressed with “The End of Life As We Know It,” a story about a couple on vacartion and at the end of their relationship and trying to hold it together even when impossible. It’s another example of why Shepard is often considered magical realist, the fantastic elements are often left unexplained and enigmatic. “Griaule” was also pretty interesting, although it’s another story that comes with a certain amount of hype that probably detracted from the impact. But as a different take on the high fantasy genre, it’s a worthwhile diversion. Anyway, I’m glad I decided to visit these in order as there’s a definite forward progression and I’m feeling like I’m starting to get into a peak period.

Haven’t read any Connie Willis since “Passage” which left me with a certain feeling of depression or malaise (which is different from most of what I’ve read that left with me with a sense of optimism). So I went for a short novel or novella which seemed to operate around a couple of famous planetary prospectors in a future universe where political correctness is at an all time high. The typical Willis humor is on display as is the clever writing, although I felt this to be something of a minor Willis work, a view into gender interaction under the guise of a romp.

Also read a couple Fritz Leiber shorties from the early days, both from the Night’s Black Agents collection. Most of the Leiber I’ve read are various Fafhrd & Gray Mouser shorts, which are long time favorites, but these two are from the Weird Tales era, one a rather unusual urban ghost story (at least for the time), the other a story about a strange, magic gun. Both fun, neither anywhere close to Leiber’s considerable and best work.

I actually spent most of the weekend with The Avram Davidson Treasury, which is definitely worth its weight in gold. Read my first Eszterhazy story as well as a bunch of others. Too early on Monday morning to remember any specifics, but those can wait until I’m done with the collection.


3 Responses to “Books Received; Robert Reed “Baby Fire;” “Father to the Man;” Lucius Shepard “The Night of White Bhairab;” “The Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaule;” “Reaper;” “The End of Life as We Know It;” Connie Willis “Uncharted Territory;” Fritz Leiber “The Automatic Pistol;” “Smoke Ghost””

  1. Sherry Decker said


    I can’t help wondering how you got a copy of Hook House & Other Horrors, since I didn’t send it to you and my publisher says she didn’t either. CVery curious. Also, have you had a chance to read any more of it? There is one story in particular I wonder if you liked or disliked and I’m waiting to hear : )


  2. Mike said

    Hi Sherry, I believe I bought the book through Amazon. If memory serves me right, I saw it featured on Jeff Vandermeer’s blog, although I could be mixing it up with something else. It might have been something that sounded good on Amazon.

    I’m still reading through the book, I think I’m about at the halfway mark. Much of the time I try to mix up my short fiction reading with several writers so that I don’t blur stories together. I am definitely enjoying it though, “Hicklebickle Rock,” “The Clan” and “Heat Wave” were the last few I read and I liked em all. Will say more when I post about the book.

  3. Sherry Decker said


    It might well have been Jeff VanderMeer’s blog where you saw it mentioned. He walked me down the plank, and I was quite honored. Glad to hear you’re enjoying the stories so far.

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