• Reading

    2015 Reading Journey: Last and First Men

    by Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon (1930) This is not a novel. It’s not even really a story in the traditional sense. Last and First Men is a series of speculative future history essays. Now, the framework of the “story” is that these essays are written by a contemporary human (Stapledon) under the influence of one of the “last men”, telepathically pushing the words through his pen from a time billions of years in the future when the human race is about to be wiped from the face of the universe permanently. I knew this going in, but I thought it would be easier to get past. Early…

  • Reading

    2015 Reading Journey: Lord Foul’s Bane

    by This was a hard review for me to write, and I put it off several times. Okay, more than several. As a teenager, the Chronicles of Thomas Convenant ranked high on my list of favourite fantasy. I read both trilogies at least a dozen times between the last couple of years of grade school and the end of high school. I expected to love a return visit to the world and have the first book drag me into the second. Expectations subverted, and not in a good way. As an adult, the character of Thomas Covenant annoys the hell out of me. He’s pretty much as unlikeable as Mr.…

  • Reading

    2015 Reading Journey: A Voyage to Arcturus

    by A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay (1920) This is one of those stories where you’re frequently wondering what the author was smoking while he wrote. And the editor for that matter. And the publisher. And, really, pretty much anyone involved in getting this book to print. We begin with a séance, not the best way to open a SF novel, but then, this isn’t a SF novel, regardless of the fact that it mostly takes place on an imaginary planet circling a real star. But before we meet the three primary characters, Krag, Maskull, and Nightspore (First names? Last names? No idea.), we spend quite a lot of…

  • Reading

    2015 Reading Journey: The Lost World

    by The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle (1912) (bonus) The second of the two bonus books I snuck into the schedule. I’m familiar with, if not extremely well-versed in, Mr. Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories—and who isn’t at least familiar with the character?—but I’ve never read any of his science fiction. The Lost World is the first of the Professor Challenger stories, the first of three, according to Wikipedia. Refreshingly, we have no framing story and we jump right to the narrator’s POV. But holy sexism, Batman! The opening chapter of the book is basically about how every woman wants a man who is so awesome his light shines on…

  • Reading

    2015 Reading Journey: A Princess of Mars

    by So I haven’t been very good at keeping up the reviews for the 2015 Reading Journey, but I’m going to start to try to fix that, too. I have five done, which I’ll set to autopost over the next few weeks, and seven (yes, seven) others in various states of completion. Obviously, I haven’t been very good at writing them, much less posting them. But, let’s get past that. It’s funny that I remember Burroughs’ Venus novels from my childhood very clearly, and several of the Tarzan books as well, but never actually managed to read any of the Mars series. With the amount of time I spent in…

  • Reading

    2015 Reading Journey: Art of War

    by I actually have a couple of copies of this lying around the house, but for this year’s reading journey, I decided to read the Lionel Giles version, originally published in 1910. This is a translation I don’t have (I have the Cleary and the Ames), but is freely available online and will also give a flavour of early 20th century British English. It’s also the first annotated translation and supposedly much more rigorous than the ones that came before it. Whether it ranks among the best or not is something for Sun Tzu scholars to decide. I’m a dabbler at best. Mr. Giles gives an interesting introduction of his…

  • Reading

    2015 Reading Journey: William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back

    by by Ian Doescher I’m not big on mash ups, generally, but I saw the individual volumes of the first trilogy in a bookstore and thought it had a lot of potential to be fun. And it did have a lot of potential. It was a lot of fun. For the first couple of scenes. After that, it got old. Fast. That it’s written as a dialogue-only play with very little real direction other than characters entering or leaving helped to speed things along, but there were times I caught myself skimming for the next good line and had to drop back a page or more. I don’t think there’s…

  • Reading

    Reading Journey: In the Days of the Comet

    by In the Days of the Comet by H.G. Wells (1905)   From all of H.G. Wells’ works, I picked one that I was completely and totally unfamiliar with, and I deliberately picked one in the heart of the time frame I most associate with his writing, the early 1900s, even though I’m well aware that he continued writing fiction into the early 1940s. The opening pages of the book make me wonder if until sometime in the early 20th century it was only possible to start a novel by putting your tale into the story-within-a-story framework. Honestly, it’s beginning to be a bit of an eye roll. At least…

  • Reading

    Reading Journey: The Departure

    by Okay, so I haven’t posted much in the last few weeks (or at all in the past 4), but maybe I’m prepping a bunch of content. In the meantime, here’s the latest review from my 2015 Reading Journey. I actually finished The Departure in early April, but just got to editing the review. At least one more review is going to follow shortly. Subgenre: Space Opera (sort of). The Departure begins set on a dystopian future Earth. This would normally turn me off—I’m not much into dystopic visions as I think they’re extremely unlikely, not to mention generally depressing—as would the general slow pace and piles of description. There’s too much…

  • Reading

    Reading Journey: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

    by This book wasn’t on my original reading list to lightly survey the evolution of SF, but while browsing the free public domain Kindle books on Amazon, I got carried away downloading, picking up Connecticut Yankee and a number of others, adding this one and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World into the reading schedule. A couple of more almost made it into the mix, too, as well as some critical non-fiction by Einstein and Darwin that I’ve never read in their entirety. They’ve all made it into the TRQ (To Read Queue) for the future, a list that only ever seems to grow. But that’s all beside the…