The last 5-6 weeks have been pretty chaotic for me. But, I have found solace - and even pleasure - in reading. So, without further ado:
01/05/2013 Michaelmas by Algis Budrys
01/09/2013 Green Mars (audiobook) by Kim Stanley Robinson
01/12/2013 Empress of Outer Space by A. Bertram Chandler
01/17/2013 Space Mercenaries by A. Bertram Chandler
01/20/2013 Nebula Alert by A. Bertram Chandler
01/22/2013 Glory Planet by A. Bertram Chandler
01/22/2013 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics, Vol. 2 by Mark Martin
01/22/2013 Strange Highways: Reading Science Fantasy 1950-1967, by John Boston and Damien Broderick
01/26/2013 Into the Alternate Universe by A. Bertram Chandler
01/26/2013 The Left-Hand Way (ss) by A. Bertram Chandler
01/27/2013 UFO (ss) by A. Bertram Chandler
01/27/2013 Two Can Play (ss) by A. Bertram Chandler
01/27/2013 Reaping Time (ss) by A. Bertram Chandler
01/27/2013 Obituary (ss) by A. Bertram Chandler
01/27/2013 Last Day (ss) by A. Bertram Chandler
01/27/2013 No Room in the Stable (ss) by A. Bertram Chandler
01/27/2013 The Principle (ss) by A. Bertram Chandler
01/27/2013 The Principle -- Revisited (ss) by A. Bertram Chandler
01/28/2013 Blue Mars (audiobook) by Kim Stanley Robinson
01/29/2013 From Headrack to Claude (gn) by Howard Cruse
01/31/2013 Salvage and Demolition (na) by Tim Powers
Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars
trilogy is simply amazing. One of the great literary achievements of the '90's. If you haven't read it, you should.
I found Michaelmas
hard going. It has a heavy dose of tough-guy cold war vibe, which makes it feel like a '50's anachronism, even though it comes from a couple decades later. I'm a huge fan of Budrys's Who?
, which is even more a product of the '50's. But, in the case of Who?
, it's actually a book from the '50's.
So, after the Budrys, I continued reading some of the A. Bertram Chandler titles I never got around to a decade ago when I was intensively reading his stuff (and re-reading some that I did read back then.) First up was the "Ex-Empress Irene" trilogy (Empress of Outer Space
) which tell the story of Irene Smith, empress of the Terran Empire in a universe slightly askew from the universe of the Terran Federation inhabited by John Grimes. Irene abdicates her throne (which was mostly ceremonial anyhow) marries a ship's captain, Trafford, and takes off in her former Imperial Yacht on a series of adventures. In the third and final volume, Nebula Alert
, she and her crew briefly wind up in Grimes's universe, meeting John and Sonya shortly after the time of Contraband From Otherspace
. The middle book seemed pretty muddled, but all three could've used some polishing. Chandler was testing out various series characters (Irene, Derek Calver, Grimes himself) in the early-to-mid '60's, butonly Grimes stuck around for the long haul.
The Grimes cameo in Nebula Alert
pretty clearly demonstrates why. Irene and Trafford just seem pallid and lifeless compared to Grimes and Sonya. So, immediately upon completion of Nebula Alert
, I picked up a copy of the first published Grimes novel, Into the Alternate Universe
was more like it! I'm going to continue re-reading the "late Grimes" sequence; that should take me the rest of February.
The Chandler short stories are all posted on David Kelleher's Chandler website
. They're all short pieces published in (mostly) Australian fanzines during Chandler's lifetime, often just a single joke inflated into a tale, and definitely minor stuff. But Chandler was never less than fun to read, and they are that.
The Tim Powers piece is a 21,000-word novella published as a limited edition by Subterranean. It arrived in my mail box on the 31st, and I read it before I fell asleep that night. Wonderful, as always for Powers. It's a quasi-ghost story, which gets into issues of existence-negation (again, as in Three Days to Never
.) Powers's writing seems to get more guilt-drenched as time goes on, and many of his recent tales revolve around people trying to evade Final Judgment, through supernatural means. I'm not saying it's getting tedious, but it is getting ever-so-slightly predictable.
was my semi-obligatory SF history/criticism for the month. Seems like I've been reading one every month recently. I have lots of issues of Science Fantasy, collected for the Chandler and Thomas Burnett Swann stories they contain. It always seemed like a great magazine, and in Strange Highways
, primary author John Boston has re-read and critiqued every issue of the magazine, which ran from 1950-1967. He points out some forgotten gems in its contents, as well as identifying a lot of very, very forgettable filler junk. I had fun reading this, and look forward to Boston's forthcoming 2-volume read through New Worlds
from roughly the same period.
Read a couple of GNs in January. The TMNT collection (which collects - and colors - three issues of the B&W title from the '90's) started out very strongly; the first issue made me sit up and take notice of the Turtles for the first time. Alas, the sequel duology that completes the collection was an incoherent mess. For a few minutes there, I thought I was going to turn into a TMNT fan. But I dodged that bullet.
The Howard Cruse collection was great stuff, mostly a collection of Cruse's strips from Gay Comix
in the '80's, supplemented by other one-off pieces from the '70's through the '00's I really love Cruse'e drawing and lay-outs, and his stories always had something to say, and say it in a clever and literate way. A neglected genius, if you ask me.