I have been building up my collection of Vintage SF for Throwback SF Thursday by browsing used bookstores and picking up what looks interesting by writers I recognize. There are disadvantages to that sort of scattershot approach. That’s how I wound up with two collections of Leigh Brackett’s The Secret of the Sinharat and People of the Talisman. One is a Ballantine edition titled Eric John Stark: Outlaw of Mars.
The other is an Ace Double. If you don’t know about the Ace Double, Ace used to package pairs of novellas and sell them as slim single volumes. One starts on one cover. Flip the volume over and the other novella starts from the other cover.
I am happy to announce the winner of The Guns Above giveaway. The random number generator does not lie. The winner is Christy Luis of Christy Luis Reviews: Speculative Fiction (Mostly), whose blog hiatus will hopefully be short and sweet.
Stay tuned for more giveaways! Seriously, I’m announcing one tomorrow and another in a week or two.
Posted in Sundry
The River of Teeth has a killer concept. It riffs off a cockamamie scheme to deal with invasive vegetation and a meat shortage in America by importing hippos en masse. In Gailey’s world, Congress went forward with the scheme (at a slightly different time than proposed), and instead of a Wild West we got wild bayous in Louisiana full of hippo-riding cowboys and riverboat casinos. How could you screw up such a great concept? Let me tell you in excruciating detail, gentle reader, because this book is terrible.
Just one chapter today–The Way Station, the first chapter in part 2, also titled The Way Station–but it’s a big one.
The Gunslinger has left Tull and the hermit behind. It’s not clear how long, but long enough for the Gunslinger to run out of water and nearly die from dehydration. He finally comes on two wind- and sand-beaten buildings. And a lone figure! Finally, the Gunslinger has caught up with the Man in Black. He almost kills him before realizing that it isn’t the Man in Black who stands before him, but a boy. He collapses from dehydration and sun stroke almost immediately after. When he comes to, the boy offers him water. The Gunslinger asks who he is. The boys responds that his name is John Chambers, but “you can call me Jake.”
Wait, WHAT!? I don’t really understand, or want to understand, yet, how the Dark Tower movie fits in with the Dark Tower series. But my thinking was that by pulling in Jake, they were pulling in an element from well later in the series. This dramatically changes how I think about this book. And Jake’s subsequent explanations to the Gunslinger, mentioning things like Times Square and bookbags and so forth, make clear that he is from our world. This also at least partially answers the question of the relationship between the world of the Gunslinger and our world. It’s more parallel dimension than post-apocalyptic future.
Teen boys get a bad rap. David Hartwell sneered that “the Golden Age of Science Fiction is 12.” John Rogers gibed that “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.” And this while 22% of 13-year-olds say they “never” or “hardly ever” read for pleasure, versus 8% a few decades ago. And while 30% of girls read daily, only 18% of boys do.
I don’t get why we denigrate books as written for 12-year-old boys. If a book can get a boy excited about reading, that’s a magical book!
The problem is even worse for African-Americans. 23% of white Americans say they haven’t read a book in the past year. That’s a shame. 29% of African-Americans said the same. That’s a travesty. And where do you see all of the conversation around diverse voices focused? Octavia Butler, Sam Delaney, and N.J. Jemisin aren’t going to get black boys reading. But Changa’s Safari? This is a book you can hand a kid and light a fire for reading that will never burn out. And you will enjoy it too.
Welcome to the Big Read of the Dark Tower series! Today’s post will cover my reaction to reading part one of The Gunslinger, i.e., Resumption. There was some back-and-forth on Twitter and Facebook about whether I should read the original or revised edition of The Gunslinger, but I went with the revised edition for the expedient reason that that was all that I had. I apologize if this post is a bit short; I’m in the middle of moving.
“The man in Black fled across the Desert, and the Gunslinger followed.”
And so it begins. We get some flight across the black hardpan, but a good part of this book is took up by a flashback. The gunslinger meets a hermit with a long shock of strawberry hair and tells the awful story of Tull, passed through by the gunslinger some time before.
The gunslinger picks up with a woman and inexplicably hangs out a few days until the trap he knew the Man in Black left for him is sprung and he has to kill the entire town as they attack him in a fit of madness.
So is King Arthur: Legend of the Sword exactly what you were expecting from a Guy Ritchie take on Arthurian legend? Well, I guess that depends on what you were expecting. It’s not quite Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels meets Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It’s not even quite Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels meets Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones (Were you really expecting that much Arthurian legend?). It’s that, but what I wasn’t expecting was how much it reminded me of the first Conan movie. More on that below.
More to the point, is it good? It. is. so. damn. good. There is finally a modern epic fantasy movie to rival the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’s that good, it’s that fun, it’s that epic, and it looks that good (arguably better). Oh, and the score is perfect.