I’m re-reading books quite a bit currently, old favorites. I suppose that’s how you know they are old favorites; you revisit them more than once. Some books you decide to pick up again don’t gain status as favorites. Revisiting those only recalls your initial impression and you don’t read them again. That impression might not be negative, but it doesn’t incline you to a third go-round.
Sometimes a book does not live up to your memory of it, or to its reputation. Sometimes a book is, in as an objective fashion as you can manage, excellent but no thoroughly enjoyable.
I’ve, at last, worked my way through a couple of massive, minor classics: Little, Big (John Crowley); and Stand on Zanzibar (John Brunner.) “Worked my way through” suggests the process was a chore rather than entertainment. I don’t think that’s entirely accurate, though it might be fair to say that I appreciated both works more than actually enjoyed them.
I’ve been reluctant to write this one. You know the ubiquitous maternal aphorism “If you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all. “ And I dislike offering particularly critical opinions of other writers. After all, who am I to judge.
But I’d read positive comments regarding Sign of the the Labrys. With my prior experience in mind, I had the library find a copy for me through inter-library loan instead of shelling out cash from my own pocket to procure a copy. I began it with somewhat higher hopes. Now, unfortunately, I have to offer an opinion. That makes me a bit uneasy.
What I’m going to do is provide my opinion in two sections. First, Sign of the Labrys as literature. Second, Sign of the Labrys as an Appendix N contributor to the development of Dungeons and Dragons.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m usually reading multiple books at any given time. (Not simultaneously of course. Let’s not be ridiculous.) I have a workout book, a lunch book, a book on the toilet tank, a book in my library, and one book on CD in each vehicle. Here is a rundown of the current books in progress.
You may have known it, but it came as a surprise to me: Don Pendleton wrote science fiction. Mind blown, right?
Wait, maybe I should back up a step. I’m proceeding under the assumption that you are all familiar with Don Pendleton. That could be a mistake, what with the assuming and all. Don Pendleton is known for writing the long-running men’s adventure series The Executioner. You may remember seeing these paperbacks in the checkout aisles at grocery stores back in the eighties, the covers featuring a dark haired man with a gun (that would Mack Bolan himself, the eponymous executioner), a hot chick in the mid-ground, and maybe some armed baddies in the background. The books were probably shelved next to others with such titles as Stony Man, or Phoenix Force.
I think I’ve read a couple of the Mack Bolan books. I vaguely remember reading one in a library in Hawaii. And I think I read at least one of the related titles. I seem to recall reading one back in high school, about the same time my friend up the street was running me through solo Top Secret adventures (though that may be trick of the memory creating false cross-references.)
So anyway. That Don Pendleton. He also wrote science fiction. I just finished The Guns of Terra 10, a 1970 paperback that almost reached 190 pages in length. How was it? Really, not as bad as you might think. Pendleton was actually playing with some interesting themes. Or perhaps he’d just finished reading A Brave New World while sitting through re-runs of Star Trek. But to give him credit, he did seem involved in the idea of human genetic engineering and its potential long term consequences. He also worked out his own baloney FTL concept instead of relying entirely upon handwavium engines. I particularly enjoyed his idea of twin guns, one firing matter, the other anti-matter, with the two meeting at the aiming point. Pretty cool.
I won’t go so far as to recommend it. But if you have the hankering for the sort of fiction in which fist-fights lead to friendship and understanding, or are in the mood for loving, extended descriptions of breasts, or want to enjoy a crew of uneducated, agricultural yokels essentially dropping into the bridge of the USS Enterprise and working the controls with no appreciable concern for the learning curve — then, hey, this might be the book you’re looking for.
“What are you reading, Ken?” I assume you are asking for purposes of today’s post.
I’m glad you asked. As usual, I have several books going at any one time. This week I finished “The Hunted” by Elmore Leonard. Typically outstanding work. It is also an example of how cell phones have changed everything. The same story could not be written as a contemporary piece. Still, excellent 70’s-vintage Leonard.
Perihelion Science-Fiction magazine published a bit of flash fiction I was commissioned to write for an article on The End of the World. (Read that last phrase in a pretentious film trailer voice, with a dramatic pause between the second and third word.) It’s a brief read, a literary hors d’oeuvres. Here it is, if you want a snack.
I know I’ve already mentioned that I have a short story in Mama Tried. It is a straight up crime piece, no rocket ships or wizards. I’m rather proud of it, though I suppose I’d prefer the title had been spelled correctly. It’s Copperhead Road, not Cooperhead Road. Well, no use crying over spilled beer. A single, anguished tear ought to do. The reason I bring it up is that I received my author copy. So I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the stories. And seeing if their titles are spelled properly.
I’m over two-thirds of the way through Bernard Cornwell’s latest, The Flame Bearer. I’ll probably finish it today. Even strapped for time to read, I still power through Cornwell’s stuff like a chainsaw through pudding. He writes utterly compelling drama. It is familiar territory. I have the Cornwell beats down by heart, and I know how it is going to end. But it doesn’t matter, I’m still swept along by this relentless tide of action.
So, enough of this web log post. I’ve got a book to finish.
And that wraps up another Orycon. Technically, as I write these words, the con is still ongoing in the sleepy manner of a con winding down on a Sunday. But it is over for me. I finished my last panel and drove home to help host the joint birthday party for My Beautiful Wife and the Heir Apparent. (Happy birthday, girls!) Before the guests arrive I’m going to write down some impressions of the convention.
At what point during parenthood do you begin getting a full night’s sleep again. I’m nearly at the three-year mark and I’m still not there. I’m tired. I mention this because I was considering today’s post with my head on my wife’s shoulder. She asked if was sleeping, or thinking, or dreaming. I asked if I could do all three. Because, as I just alluded to, I’m tired. But that exchange brought to mind a paper I’d written during college, back in the antediluvian days of the late 1980s-early 1990s for a class on “The Lord of the Rings.” Yes, I received university credit for re-reading the trilogy. I’m not ashamed. The point is, I wrote about dreams, and the perilous realm, and seeing beyond the veil within the context of LOTR. So, I figure it is appropriate for a post on this here web log of mine.