Saturday, March 24, 2007

Reading Into the Past: Week of 3/18

This week the number is 13, so let's see what books I was reading in 1994:
  • Gardner Dozois, editor, The Year's Best Science Fiction, Eleventh Annual Collection (3/13)
    Like clockwork, the end of winter means that I'm reading the annual Dozois bug-crusher. But that doesn't mean I can remember what stories were in it in any given year...
  • Dennis O'Neil & various artists, Batman: Venom (3/14)
    From evidence below, I seem to have been investigating the whole "Knightfall" plotline this week. I don't recall exactly why, at this point, but I think we were going to offer the novelization of that storyline (by Denny O'Neil, as I recall), and the publisher wouldn't actually let us see any of the prose of the novel itself -- only the comics published to that point. This one was backstory of the nasty new villain.
  • Michael Z. Lewin, The Way We Die Now (3/14)
    A mystery novel with a great title (playing off, of course, an Anthony Trollope novel you all should have read by now). I read a couple of Lewin books in those days, but I can't remember anything about them, or the name of his detective. And I haven't seen his name in a while, so I suspect he's out of the business. I'm pretty sure I liked them, though, since I know I read more than one of his books, so...if you're looking for a solid '80s PI writer, here's one.
  • Dennis O'Neil, et. al., Batman: Sword of Azrael (3/15)
    Another "Knightfall" sidebar (or was this one a prequel? sequel?), about the nutbar who took over as Batman for a while while Bruce was temporarily paralyzed. (Yes, that's what I said. It's comics, don't ask questions. And don't ask why Barbara Gordon couldn't get the same treatment, either...)
  • Fritz Leiber, Conjure Wife (3/15)
    Tor had published this and the book below as a great 2-in-1, so I was re-reading them (and vaguely hoping to do something with them in the club). Now that contemporary fantasy is hot, is there any chance I can get people to read books like these? This one has some strong female characters in it, including the hero's wife, who is a witch....I suspect the sexual politics here are not what the modern, female, vampire shagger audience wants, though.
  • Fritz Leiber, Our Lady of Darkness (3/16)
    An even better contemporary fantasy, from the peak of Leiber's powers (the '70s). Every fantasy reader should read this at least once before they die.
  • Doug Moench, et. al., Batman: Knightfall: Part One: Broken Bat (3/18)
    The first half of the big "Knightfall" storyline in comics form. I have to say I wasn't all that impressed by it; "big event" comics storylines are usually lame.
And at Lunacon that year, I was reading Simon Schama's Citizens, which I finished on the 24th. (Ah, the mid-90s, when I was reading big, important non-genre books at conventions. Where has the time gone?)

1 comment:

James Nicoll said...

"I read a couple of Lewin books in those days, but I can't remember anything about them, or the name of his detective."

In this case, it was Albert Samson, the cheapest detective in Indianapolis.

Lewin's other series at that time featured an extremely cranky cop named Leroy Powder, who worked the night shift mainly because nobody wanted to work with him and he didn't really want to work with anyone else. Powder was also from Indianapolis, so he and Samson crossed paths from time to time.

Samson's girlfriend Adele Bennington got her own book but just one: 1988's "And Baby Will Fall". As I recall, in his own books Samson only refers to her as "my woman" and in return she seemed to think of him in much the same terms as a poorly house-broken pet.

In the 1990s, he had two books about the Lunghi family in Bath, whose patriarch became a PI when he learned that former POWs were not allowed to become policemen in post-war Britain. As I recall, Lewin lives in Bath and has since the Nixon years.

I believe that he is still publishing books, if not at the same rate as the 1970s and 1980s and fairly sure that there was a Samson book as recently as 2004.

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