Sunday, February 04, 2007

Reading Into the Past: Week of 2/4

I haven't done this for a while (the last time was in October), so let me explain it: I've kept up a reading notebook (just titles and authors) since December of 1990, so every Sunday night (with luck), I roll three dice, and look up what I was reading the equivalent week in a year that far in the past. (I sometimes cheat the dates a bit, and always include eight days, to get more interesting books to talk about.)

So, for example, tonight I rolled an 11, so these are the books I read from January 28th through February 4th in 1996:
  • Susan Cooper, The Dark Is Rising
    Second in the series also called "The Dark Is Rising;" I'd read the first one a couple of days before, and you can see two more of them below. I was reading them for the SFBC, since I'd loved the series as a kid and the club had done well with an omnibus of Lloyd Alexander's The Prydain Chronicles. I still enjoyed them as an adult, so I put together an omnibus of this series for the SFBC later that year. (Which was a real pain, since the rights were split between two publishers, and that's never easy.)
  • Robert J. Randisi, editor, The Eyes Still Have It
    I believe this was an anthology of private detective stories; I don't own it anymore. A quick Google brings news that it was the first of four anthologies put together by Randisi for the Private Eye Writers of America, an organization I haven't heard much of recently.
  • Patricia C. Wrede, Mairelon the Magician
    A pleasant, and slightly YA-ish, tale of a young woman disguising herself as a boy in Regency England and meeting a stage magician with real magic. I'm not sure why I read this one in 1996 -- Mairelon was published in 1991 and the sequel (Magician's Ward) didn't come out until 1997. I did do a 2-in-1 of them for the SFBC eventually.
  • Susan Cooper, Greenwitch
    See above.
  • John Carey, editor, Eyewitness to History
    An anthology of short pieces -- letters, reportage, excerpts from longer works, etc. -- about major world-historical events, as written at the time by people who were there. (I think the first bit was Pliny on the destruction of Pompeii, and it ran up through, if I remember correctly, Hiroshima.) It wasn't the happiest thing to read -- major events tend to be disasters or otherwise involve mega-deaths -- but it was definitely gripping.
  • Patrick O'Brian, The Letter of Marque
    I have no idea which one this was, I'm afraid. I started the series in 1994, after Walter Jon Williams recommended it highly in The New York Review of Science Fiction, and I read one of them every three or four months after that until I ran out of them. I liked them all, but all I can say about this one is that I bet Stephen falls in the ocean at least once.
  • Michael Kandel, In Between Dragons
    Second novel by a guy who didn't write nearly enough -- well, he could still write more, I guess, and I hope he does. His best book is his third novel, Captain Jack Zodiac, but this is an odd and wonderful novel with SF and fantasy elements that doesn't settle down to being any one thing (like all of his books).
  • Susan Cooper, The Grey King
    See above.
  • Andre Norton & Mary H. Schaub, The Magestone
    A late Witch World novel, but I'm afraid I retain no memory of it. I think this was the middle book of a trilogy, each of which was written by Norton with a different co-author, which led up to a big hardcover, The Warding of Witch World, which was billed as absolutely the last Witch World novel ever, for real and for true. (Which lasted about as long as Jean Grey typically stays dead, as one would expect.)
  • J.G. Ballard, A User's Guide to the Millennium
    His collected essays and reviews, and a book I absolutely loved. Ballard's non-fiction is about his obsessions (celebrity, drained swimming pools, extremes of behavior, and so on) as much as his fiction is. I wouldn't start here with Ballard, but it is exceptionally Ballardian.
Hey! I'm back! I plan to keep doing this every week, but make no promises.

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