Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Reading Into the Past: Week of 6/25

This week I rolled a 9, so let's see if I can remember anything about the books I read this week in 1997:
  • James Gurney, Dinotopia: The World Beneath (6/18)
    The second of two art books about a land of sapient dinosaurs. (There were later at least a couple of novels -- I think just two, both by Alan Dean Foster -- but the art books were first and most important.) Gurney provided both the art (lots and lots of wonderful full-color paintings, and probably some black-and-white stuff as well) and the text (a boy wanders around and goes "wow" at all sorts of interesting things, mostly). The art was the point of the thing, obviously, but the text wasn't embarrassing, as it can sometimes be when artists turn to fiction. (Not that it's my place to throw stones: I can't write fiction or paint.)
  • Walter M. Miller, Jr. & Terry Bisson, Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman (6/21)
    A very, very disappointing book -- the long-awaited sequel to A Canticle for Leibowitz, which Miller left not-quite-finished at his death. It's slow-moving and faintly pointless, and it's very disheartening to think Miller might have spent thirty-five years, off and on, working on this bland and deeply mediocre novel.
  • Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon, Owlflight (6/21)
    Lackey was my #1 guilty pleasure through the '90s. (And she only isn't now because the series I really enjoyed, Valdemar and Bardic Voices, are either over or in deep storage.) This is a very minor book in the Valdemar series, and I'm afraid this is the one about an incredibly self-involved young man who suddenly has every possible good thing in his world drop on his head all at once. Valdemar can be like taking a bath in warm treacle at times, but it's a very pleasant, soothing bath, which leaves one re-invigorated to go read Proust or something similarly daunting.
  • J.R. Dunn, Days of Cain (6/22)
    I believe this is his Dutchess of Malfi-in space novel, not the time-travel-to-the-death-camp one -- both are great books, though so you should read it even if I'm wrong. (One brief Amazon break later.) Nope, this is the death-camp book; Full Tide of Night is Malfi-in-space. Full Tide is slightly better, but this is still well worth reading; one of the better time-travel novels of this generation. (And I say that as a guy who does not generally run towards death-camp stories.)
  • Antonia Fraser, Faith and Treason (6/25)
    I'm afraid I have no idea what this is -- though I think Fraser is a historian -- so I'll have to turn to Amazon again. Aha! The subtitle is "The Story of the Gunpowder Plot," and slight glimmers of memory are seeping back. It's the only book I've ever read on the Gunpowder Plot, so I can't compare it to the field, but it seemed like a good 'un, and I think I picked it up because it was supposed to be definitive. (I've also always had the American Anglophile's fascination with the odder English rituals, especially including Guy Fawkes Day.)
  • Harlan Ellison, Harlan Ellison's Movie (in Edgeworks 3) (6/25)
    This isn't his adaptation of I, Robot, which was a separate book. I think this is completely original, the story he came up with when some unsuspecting studio suit said "show me what you'd do if money and taste were no object." I remember that lots of bizarre things happen, but not much more than that.

Hey! It's only Tuesday! Well, that's one week when I managed to do this early.

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