Sunday, February 26, 2006

Reading Into the Past: Week of 2/26

This week I rolled a ten, and so I'll be looking at the books I was reading this week in 1996:
  • Year's Best SF, edited by David G. Hartwell (2/19)
    The first of his now decade-long series; I'm afraid I can't tell you from memory what stories were in it. But it was worth reading then, and I bet it would still be worth reading now.
  • Royal Flash by George Macdonald Fraser (1/20)
    This is the second in the "Flashman" series, about a minor character from the minor classic Tom Brown's Schooldays romping across the mid-Victorian world in the fashion of a cad and a bounder. They're all splendid fun (and, if you're not careful, you'll learn some history along the way), but they get even better in the middle books. Oh, and kids: there's quite a bit of sex in them. (That'll take the curse off the "history" thing.)
  • Badlands by Steven Grant and Vince Giarrano (1/21)
    Some kind of graphic novel. Further I can't say; it's completely unmemorable.
  • John Byrne's 2112 by John Byrne (1/21)
    Doesn't an evil cyborg time-travel back to our time ("our time" being the early '90s) at the end of this short graphic novel to start the events that lead to the dystopian future depicted herein? Something like that, anyway. People were saying at the time that this and the related "Next Men" series were Byrne's best work, but I haven't heard that in a while.
  • Two Much! by Donald E. Westlake (1/22)
    This is the one about a guy who pretends to be twins so that he can marry twin heiresses. It's not major Westlake, but it's a decent mature-period Westlake comic novel, which means it's funnier than seeing a man get hit in the crotch on national television. (And we all know that is about as funny as it gets in America.)
  • Silicon Snake Oil by Clifford Stoll (1/23)
    This was probably a "the Internet boom is going to crater Real Soon" book, which would make it visionary if it hadn't been published in 1996, when the boom still had plenty of life in it. [Checks Amazon.] Well, I was half right: it's a book about how the Internet isn't all it's cracked up to be, how it won't change civilization and how the Internet e-commerce boom (which, come to think of it, hadn't quite gotten started in February of '96) wouldn't happen. It might be a funny book to read these days, but I know I don't have the time for it.
  • John Byrne's Next Men, Book One also by John Byrne (1/23)
    A small number (I want to say five) of genetically engineered, super-powered teenagers break out of the laboratory they were created in and discover Everything They Knew Was Wrong. It was a pleasant enough version of that old story, but this is to comics what Generic Dark Lord Trilogies are to fantasy.
  • Riverrun by S.P. Somtow (1/24)
    I originally read this, and loved it, when Avon published it about five years earlier. I said, at the time, "this is going to be a trilogy, and so it will make a great SFBC omnibus!" So I waited.
  • riverrun ii: Armorica by S.P. Somtow (1/24)
    Avon published this a bit later, but I didn't read it then; I was waiting to read it all for the omnibus (to make sure it worked that way).
  • Yestern by S.P. Somtow (1/25)
    Time passed. Empires rose and fell. One particular empire was called White Wolf -- a Georgia gaming company, flush with money from the success of some odd Goth diceless roleplaying games -- decided to go into the SFF publishing biz. (Apparently because the principals liked reading the stuff, and with no more plan than that.) They made some interesting publishing choices, and some even more interesting design choices (such as printing the title of one horror anthology in raised white letters on a white background, under a vellum overwrap). Along the way, they resurrected this trilogy, got Somtow to write (or maybe just publish) the third book, and slammed them all into one volume for initial publication (which was probably not the best plan, but it was par for the course for White Wolf, and saved me the bother of creating an omnibus). Oh, the books themselves? Excellent. A wonderful family portrait crossed with alternate-worlds fantasy adventure with just enough of the mythic to make it resonant. Everything I've read of Somtow's has been wonderful, but he's had horrible publishing (and/or audience) luck, and seems to have mostly left our shores.
  • Beyond Einstein by Michio Kaku and Jennifer Thompson (1/26)
    Kaku is a physicist and a science popularizer, so I'm sure this was about string theory, or whatever flavor of TOE was particularly popular in 1995. Details, if any, have not been retained in memory.
Did that boy have a life? Did he even have any idea what a life was? Sixty years from now, my grandkids are going to ask how I spent the Go-Go '90s (or whatever they end up calling it) and I'll have to say, "Well, a read a hell of a lot of books, I guess..."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Badlands by Steven Grant and Vince Giarrano (1/21)
Some kind of graphic novel. Further I can't say; it's completely unmemorable.

Good neo-noir crime story, about the man who actually shot JFK (not entirely of his own free will). Well, I liked it, anyways. Recently back in print.

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