Looking ahead to 2013, two of my favorite "non challenges" are coming up fast.
Once again, Little Red Reviewer is hosting "The Vintage Science Fiction Not a Challenge". Any science fiction that appeared before 1979 is eligible. It runs for the month of January.
Meanwhile over at Stainless Steel Droppings, Carl is coordinating "The 2013 Science Fiction Experience". Since it goes for January and February, it overlaps with the Vintage Not a Challenge.
The first books I will be reviewing are:
Perry Rhodan #2: The Third Power by Walter Ernsting
The Door Through Space by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Cap Kennedy #2: Slave Ship from Sergan by Gregory Kern
I will also be participating in the "Dragonflight" readalong.
Other challenges will be added during the year.
In 2012, I only read and reviewed 14 books. During my teen years, it was not unusual for me to read three to four books a week. For 2013, I set a goal or reading and reviewing 50 books. Based on my reading levels of the past few years, this looks like an impossible goal. But if you don't set the bar high you never know what you are able to accomplish.
I will also be tracking my short story reading this year. My goal for this year is to read a minimum of 52 stories.
In recent years I have got in the habit of watching television shows that are okay just because the television is on. I have gone back to reading even when others in the house are watching shows. I do plan on continuing to watch shows that I like (Doctor Who) or always wanted to see (Fringe). I now have the first four seasons of "Fringe". It is a show that one of my best friends (Terry) raves about. He also gave me "Lost Girl Season 1" and both seasons of the old "War of the Worlds". At some point, I plan on returning to my re-watch of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and my first time viewing of "Farscape".
As far as graphic novels go, I have the following ones ready to read:
Cerebus: High Society (this is a re-read)
The Comic Book History of Comics
Daredevil Vol. 1 by Mark Waid
GrimJack: Killer Instinct
Invincible Vol. 16 to date
Lord of the Jungle Vol. 1
The Manhattan Projects Vol. 1
Vampirella Vol. 1 (of the current series)
Warlord of Mars
Based on this list, I had best get back to reading.
Friday, December 21, 2012
|This is the start of my 2013 list of books to be read. I know I won't read all of them but it does make me realize how many books I already have. The list includes books I have but never read and books I want to re-read.
|Chasm City||Alastair Reynolds|
|Transit to Scorpio||Alan Bert Akers|
|The Tar-Aiym Krang||Alan Dean Foster|
The White Dragon
|A Hostage for Hinterland||Arsen Darnay|
|The Purgatory Zone||Arsen Darnay|
|The Siege of Faltara||Arsen Darnay|
|The Kar-Chee Reign
Masters of the Maze
|Night Walk||Bob Shaw|
|Hellhole||Brian Herbert & Kevin Anderson|
|The Gates of Eden||Brian M. Stableford|
|Rhapsody in Black||Brian M. Stableford|
|Singularity Station||Brian N. Ball|
|Brothers of Earth||C. J. Cherryh|
|Cyteen||C. J. Cherryh|
|Foreigner||C. J. Cherryh|
|Hammerfall||C. J. Cherryh|
|Hunter of Worlds||C. J. Cherryh|
|Merchanter's Luck||C. J. Cherryh|
|Voyager in Night
Northwest of Earth
|C. J. Cherryh
C. L. Moore
|The Drowning Girl||Caitlin R. Kiernan|
|Floating Worlds||Cecilia Holland|
|The Inverted World
Star Trek Typhon Pact 1: Zero Sum Game
Star Trek Vanguard 1: Harbinger
|Destination: Void||Frank Herbert|
|Dune Messiah||Frank Herbert|
|Mindship||Gerard F. Conway|
|Starmaster's Gambit||Gerard Klein|
|The Quantum Thief||Hannu Rajaniemi|
|The Mind Net||Herbert W. Franke|
|The Orchid Cage||Herbert W. Franke|
|Consider Phlebas||Iain M. Banks|
|The Lucifer Comet||Ian Wallace|
|Miracle Visitors||Ian Watson|
|Under Heaven's Bridge||Ian Watson & Michael Bishop|
|Forward the Foundation||Isaac Asimov|
|Foundation and Earth||Isaac Asimov|
|Foundation's Edge||Isaac Asimov|
|Pebble in the Sky||Isaac Asimov|
|Prelude to Foundation||Isaac Asimov|
|Robots and Empire||Isaac Asimov|
|Second Foundation||Isaac Asimov|
|The Currents of Space||Isaac Asimov|
|The End of Eternity||Isaac Asimov|
|The Gods Themselves||Isaac Asimov|
|The Naked Sun||Isaac Asimov|
|The Robots of Dawn||Isaac Asimov|
|The Stars, Like Dust||Isaac Asimov|
The Best of IF Vol. 3
|J. R. R. Tolkien
|Inherit the Stars||James P. Hogan|
|The Blade Itself||Joe Abercrombie|
|The Heroes||Joe Abercrombie|
|Seeklight||K. W. Jeter|
|The Dreamfields||K. W. Jeter|
|Queen of Candesce||Karl Schroeder|
|Sun of Suns||Karl Schroeder|
|The Star Fraction||Ken MacLeod|
|The Stone Canal
Land Beyond the Map
|The Disappeared||Kristine Katherine Rusch|
|Fleet of Worlds||Larry Niven|
|Inferno||Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle|
Under the Green Star
The City Machine
Lords of the Starship
Out of the Mouth of the Dragon
|Siege of Wonder
Prince of Thorns
The Handmaid's Tale
Mothers and Other Monsters
Maureen F. McHugh
|Eyes of Fire||Michael Bishop|
|The January Dancer
Theft of Swords
Star Trek Stargazer 1: The Valiant
Star Trek Titan 1: Taking Wing
Michael J. Sullivan
Michael Jan Friedman
Michael Martin&Andy Mangels
|Antares Dawn||Michael McCollum|
|Nifft the Lean||Michael Shea|
|American Gods||Neil Gaiman|
|Clay's Ark||Octavia Butler|
|The Name of the Wind||Patrick Rothfuss|
|The Quiet War||Paul J. McAuley|
|The Walls of the Universe||Paul Melko|
|The Windup Girl||Paulo Bacigalupi|
|Pandora's Star||Peter Hamilton|
|Dark as the Sun||Philip Jose Farmer|
|Dayworld||Philip Jose Farmer|
|The Wind Whales of Ishmael||Philip Jose Farmer|
|The Stone God Awakes||Philip Jose Farmer|
|A Maze of Death||Philip K. Dick|
|A Scanner Darkly||Philip K. Dick|
|Clans of the Alphane Moon||Philip K. Dick|
|Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?||Philip K. Dick|
|Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said||Philip K. Dick|
|Martian Time-Slip||Philip K. Dick|
|Now Wait for Last Year||Philip K. Dick|
|Solar Lottery||Philip K. Dick|
|The Divine Invasion||Philip K. Dick|
|The Game-Players of Titan||Philip K. Dick|
|The Man in the High Castle||Philip K. Dick|
|The Man Who Japed||Philip K. Dick|
|The Simulacra||Philip K. Dick|
|The Transmigration of Timothy Archer||Philip K. Dick|
|Valis||Philip K. Dick|
|We Can Build You||Philip K. Dick|
|Philip K. Dick & Roger Zelazny
|A Circus of Hells||Poul Anderson|
|A Knight of Ghosts & Shadows||Poul Anderson|
|The Day of Their Return||Poul Anderson|
|The People of the Wind||Poul Anderson|
|The Peregrine||Poul Anderson|
|The Rebel Worlds||Poul Anderson|
|The Trouble Twisters||Poul Anderson|
|Trader to the Stars||Poul Anderson|
|World Without Stars||Poul Anderson|
|Fourth Mansions||R. A. Lafferty|
|Blake's Progress||R. F. Nelson|
The Best of Raymond Z. Gallun
|R. M. Meluch
Raymond Z. Gallun
|The Martian Chronicles||Ray Bradbury|
|Forbidden Sanctuary||Richard Bowker|
Lord of Death and Life
Robert E. Vardeman
|The Shrouded Planet||Robert Randall|
The Best of Robert Silverberg
|Hawksbill Station||Robert Silverberg|
|Kingdoms of the Wall||Robert Silverberg|
|Project Pendulum||Robert Silverberg|
|Tower of Glass||Robert Silverberg|
|Up the Line||Robert Silverberg|
|Bridge of Ashes||Roger Zelazny|
|Creatures of Light and Darkness||Roger Zelazny|
|Damnation Alley||Roger Zelazny|
|Doorways in the Sand||Roger Zelazny|
|Eye of Cat||Roger Zelazny|
|Isle of the Dead||Roger Zelazny|
|Jack of Shadows||Roger Zelazny|
|Lord of Light||Roger Zelazny|
|The Dream Master||Roger Zelazny|
|This Immortal||Roger Zelazny|
|To Die in Italbar||Roger Zelazny|
|Today We Choose Faces||Roger Zelazny|
|Trumps of Doom
|Psychoshop||Roger Zelazny & Alfred Bester|
|Nova||Samuel R. Delany|
|City of a Thousand Suns
Driftglass and Other Stories
|Samuel R. Delany
Samuel R. Delany
|Out of the Dead City||Samuel R. Delany|
|The Einstein Intersection||Samuel R. Delany|
|The Jewels of Aptor||Samuel R. Delany|
|The Towers of Toron||Samuel R. Delany|
|The Lies of Locke Lamora||Scott Lynch|
The Best of Stanley G. Weinbaum
Stanley G. Weinbaum
|Making Money||Terry Pratchett|
|The Color of Magic||Terry Pratchett|
|More Than Human||Theodore Sturgeon|
|The Dispossessed||Ursula K. Le Guin|
|The Lathe of Heaven||Ursula K. Le Guin|
|The Left Hand of Darkness||Ursula K. Le Guin|
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
In the climactic finale of The Corwin Saga of The Chronicles of Amber, the man clad in black with a silver rose at his throat takes it upon himself to draw a new pattern, so that there may yet be order in the universe, regardless of the outcome of the war between Chaos and Amber. In order to do this, he will have to travel with the Jewel of Judgment beyond the bounds of order and chaos, to a no man's land where the coming storm will not be able to harm him. But many forces are out to thwart his mission, including his brother, the traitorous sorcerer Brand.
My heart would always race when I received a new issue of Galaxy Science Fiction and the cover featured a new Amber story by Roger Zelazny. The November 1977 issue showcased a cover by Wendy Pini. Corwin is staring at the Jewel of Judgement. In the background we see a storm rapidly approaching while in front of Corwin is a more pastoral land. And the story never slows down after this point.
This one has it all. People live, people die, worlds are born, all of reality is threatened with destruction, secrets are revealed. Everything I wanted in a story was packed into this series. Including the basis for the next five book arc. Unfortunately, Zelazny was planning to write a third arc for the series when he died. A few short stories appeared but we will never find out what he had planned for the rest of the series.
The Chronicles of Amber receive my highest recommendation. I know I will return for my fifth reading in a few years.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The series is the story of star pilot Grainger, who is forced by circumstances, after his own ship is destroyed in a disastrous crash, to accept a job flying a new ship, the Hooded Swan, that is a fusion of human and alien technologies. She is faster and more manoeuvrable than any previous design, but despite the opportunity offered, Grainger resents the fact he is employed simply as a pilot but denied the position of Captain, and cannot resign at any time during his two-year contract without dire financial penalties that he regards as thoroughly unjust. In fact Grainger regards his terms of employment as making him little more than a slave, or at least an indentured servant. However, left little alternative by his financial situation, Grainger takes the job, and carries out a variety of assignments for his new masters, accompanied by the unwelcome alien symbiote sharing his brain.
My first exposure to Stableford's writing was his short story "An Offer of Oblivion" that appeared in Amazing Science Fiction. It is part of a loosely connected series that is followed by the very good "Captain Fagan Died Alone" from "The DAW Science Fiction Reader". They are worth looking up. After I enjoyed his short story I went in search of his novels. In the 70s, i was limited to what was in the library and new books on the newstands in our small town. That is when i first found the last two books of this series ("The Hooded Swan"). The final two books were some of my favorites from that era.
Now I am going back and reading the series from the beginning. I found this first story a disappointment. Stableford violates one of the rules of writing. He spends much of the early part telling us about events instead of showing them to us. The elements of a good novel are all there but the execution undercuts the effectiveness of the story. Based on my memories of the later books, I think this is just a temporary problem that the author corrects with future books. I will find out when I read book two ("Rhapsody in Black").
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Book four of The Chronicles of Amber features Corwin on a trip to the true Amber. He discovers the source of the Black Road and finds out what it will take to repair it. He also determines that his father (Oberon) is still a master strategist. His hand is guiding the pieces into place for the final battle. The final page had a big revelation that had me anxious to read the next book when I first read it.
Rick Sternbach supplied the cover to the May 1976 of Galaxy Science Fiction that featured part 1 (of 3) of the serial. One of the many reasons I loved Jim Baen's time as editor of Galaxy was because he published "Sign of the Unicorn", "The Hand of Oberon", and "The Courts of Chaos". This is not the kind of story you would expect Sternbach to draw the cover for but it is a fascinating different type of cover for him.
The first five books of the original Amber series remains one of my favorite series. It is hard to discuss events from this book without revealing too much.
The author appears as "Roger" a pipe smoking guard in the dungeons of Amber. The guard is writing "philosophical romance shot through with elements of horror and morbidity." This is fitting since one of the main themes is the true nature of reality.
All I will say is that Zelazny plays fair with the big final revelation. When re-reading the series you can see where he planted the clues to this one. Like all good mystery writers, he gave the reader a chance to solve the puzzle.
Anyone who likes fantasy epics, parallel worlds, hard boiled main characters, and great mysteries will love this series. I can not recommend the first five books too highly. The second five are still good but are a step down from the original five.
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
As a sign of my age, I have to admit that I remember picking up J. M. DeMatteis’ original stories of I, Vampire. It ran as a series of short stories in the old “House of Mystery” title in the seventies. Marvel Comics had the excellent “Tomb of Dracula” by Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan. DeMatteis came up with a new vampire series that featured original characters. Although it did not live up to the Wolfman/Colan classic, “I, Vampire” was a good series in its own right. I had my doubts as to how good the new series would be. They were laid to rest when I read a creator owned book by the same author (Joshua Fialkov).
Fialkov is rapidly climbing my list of favorite current comic book writers. He kept the same basic idea for the basis of the series. Andrew, a vampire, opposes the other vampires. He wants to live in peace with the humans. His lover, Mary also becomes a vampire but she embraces the dark side of the curse. Over the ages she has taken the name Mary, Queen of Blood. The two have been locked in a love/hate relationship. Mary wants to take over the world. Andrew goes after her forces and tries to destroy them.
In this first story line, the battle makes its way to Gotham City. Guess who becomes involved? Of the DC superheroes, Batman is one of the better fits for this series. The mood and atmosphere seems perfect for Batman. As the story ends, an even bigger threat emerges…
The combination of excellent characterization and story telling by Fialkov and the moody art of Sorrentino make for a very interesting book.
Highly recommended for fans of vampires, or just well told stories.