Mike’s Prattle

Miscellaneous

Books Received; Lucius Shepard “How the Wind Spoke at Madaket;” “The Jaguar Hunter;” “Mengele;” “The Fundamental Things;” “…How My Heart Breaks When I Sing This Song…;” Scott Lynch – The Lies of Locke Lamora; Connie Willis – Remake

Posted by Mike on July 25, 2006

  • Gene Wolfe – Storeys from an Old Hotel
  • Fritz Leiber – The Night of the Wolf
  • Stephen Wright – Going Native
  • Jeremy Leven – Satan: His Psychotherapy and Cure by the Unfortunate Dr. Kassler, J.S.P.S.
  • Datlow/Windling ed. – The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, Sixteenth Annual Edition
  • The Worlds of Fritz Leiber
  • Jon Courtenay Grimwood – Effendi

It seems to be hot just about everywhere, but we’re down to about low 100F temperatures and it’s feeling cooler, which says a lot. Not a lot to do but try and stay cool, so plenty of reading time.

The Lucius Shepard short story marathon continues, and I’ve reached what is at least his first peak with the first three stories mentioned here and especially “The Jaguar Hunter” itself, the Nebula award winner, which is awe inspiring. Shepard’s stuff resonates with me largely because of the way he interfaces the real world (often in exotic Central American locations) with the occult, you’re never really sure what the nature of things are. “The Jaguar Hunter”s interface between the old indigenous world and the American corporate one also works well on several levels. It’s just an utterly brilliant story. “Madaket” is probably the closest I’ve seen Shepard get to a traditional horror story or weird tale, with the wind being an elemental of sorts. But it’s not just this element that makes the story tick, the juxtaposition of the stress the events have on the characters is amazing for their development. With Shepard you can feel relationships and people breathe. Mengele is an interesting moral take on the discovery of the old Nazi doctor still alive in South America, yet again Shepard illustrates all sides of a story and explores the morality therein.

The last two stories are uncollected, and as I may have said before, you can generally tell why most of his stories made it to collections, while some of the more¬†off-beat ones didn’t. The last two here don’t really strike me as being all that “canonical” for a better word, although the musical issues in “Heart” do seem closer to home. I’ve forgotten the details of them for the most part, while the previous ones still resonate.

Scott Lynch’s _The Lies of Locke Lamora_ is the megahyped high fantasy novel of the year and I hadn’t read anything like this in quite some time, being fairly burnt out on the genre. Anyway this first novel came with a ton of press including many writers like George R. R. Martin, and comparisons to Leiber’s Fafhrd & Gray Mouser series, which is what got my attention. Anyway, this is a book well worth the hype for a rip roaring read. About 100-150 pages in I was finding it an enjoyable book but nothing special, but the plot has some great twists and turns in it and it wasn’t long before I couldn’t put it down. It’s nice to see the beginning of a series where the author claims the books will be self-contained. Lotta China Mieville in the writing as well as a bit of Robin Hobb and Martin Scott in the intrigue and humor respectively. A really well done debut and a nice diversion.

Finished another Connie Willis novella (or short novel, it’s on the cusp), Remake. I’m starting to get familiar with many of her ideas, particularly her extrapolation of political correctness into the near future, here it raises its head in the movie industry where our protagonist edits old movies to remove the alcohol scenes. He meets a young lady at the party who really wants to dance in the movies, although the industry is to the point where no real actors and actresses are used, video technology is at the point where classic actors and actresses are reused in remakes. It’s mostly a romance of sorts with some interesting science fictional ideas, and in a way seems to be a precursor to the universe of Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog with the hints of time travel to be discovered. A fun little story with some clever, humorous touches.

Other than these, I’ve still been moving through Sherry Decker’s Hook House collection, I have one novelette left to go in the Roma Eterna sequence, I read a rather creepy old horror story by Hugh B. Cave to dip into his Mugunstrumm and Other Stories collection, and I started M. John Harrison’s Viriconium series.

Oh and Deadwood is mighty fine this season.

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