Remember that wild-ass trailer for a Russian superhero movie with a werebear? The good news is that you can stream a dubbed version for free with Amazon Prime. The bad news is that it isn’t a good movie. The other good news is that it is still a fun movie, and does in fact have a werebear in it. A werebear wielding a minigun.
Friend of the Blog Alex just published his novel A Traitor to Dreams. I had the opportunity to beta read A Traitor to Dreams over the summer, and it is a good one. Check it out!
Can’t Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings.
It’s that time of year again! Time for an endless parade of year end lists. This is actually a scheduled Top Ten Tuesday topic for later this month, but I wanted to go ahead and get this one up.
2018 was a slow reading year for me. I swear I’m going to squeeze a few more in, but I’ve only read 53 books so far this year, after reading 90 in 2017. And the year started off slow quality-wise as well. But things picked up and, with the advent of the new blog, I decided to do two best books I’ve read this year post. This is my list of the best speculative fiction and related works. You can find my list of the best of everything else at Hillbilly Highways.
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Artsy Reader Girl.
Young Isaac Asimov
I should really be hitting you with an honest-to-God book review today, but: because real life intrudes, because I haven’t finished the book, because I’m inspired by reading Alec Nevala-Lee’s history of John W. Campbell’s editorship of Astounding, because Vintage Science Fiction Month approaches, and because I need somewhere to store all of the recommendations I’ve been getting, I am going to talk about reading Asimov for the first time instead. “What!?” you say, “What kind of weirdo hasn’t read Asimov?” Well, me. Two-plus years after starting Throwback SF Thursdays, I remain criminally underread in pre-1980 speculative fiction, and I am particularly underread in science fiction, which, relative to fantasy, has never been my thing.
Since I read older speculative fiction year-round, I like to focus a bit more for Vintage Science Fiction Month in January on science fiction rather than fantasy. One of my posts this year will be on Nevala-Lee’s book, and it makes sense to read related works for my other posts. So, at the very least, I will read and review a Heinlein and an Asimov. With a couple Heinleins under my belt, I have a decent handle on where to go next with his work. But I have not only not read Asimov, I don’t even know all that much about his body of work.
So I reached out to the wisdom of the Twitter crowd (don’t laugh).
Another month, another month in review! We enter that time of year where things wind down, our tolerance for Christmas music and our gratitude already expended for the year. Or at least it should. I have a major work project that I need to finish by mid-February that will heavily effect my reading, my blogging, and my ability to relax over the next two months.
Why I remain very busy, and my reading remains way off—I only finished two books in November!—it was a great blog month. November was my best month ever for blog views at Hillbilly Highways by a wide margin, and it was my second best month ever at Every Day Should Be Tuesday. Gratifyingly, much of the traffic was driven by a handful of really strong posts rather than just search traffic spikes (even if those posts were boosted by outside links or Facebook promotion).
I am feeling better about Hillbilly Highways. It continues to do significantly better than Every Day Should Be Tuesday did at the equivalent time in its blog life, although I am promoting Hillbilly Highways much harder (including with Facebook ads). I do need to continue to think about how I manage maintaining both blogs in the sliver of time left after work and family are done with me (and, uh, Spider-Man for the PS4).
I plan to work straight through the break, but I do want to get a lot of reading done. A lot of that will be for work. Otherwise, I particularly want to finish off books that are currently in progress. In Christmas breaks past, I have used the extra reading time to read full trilogies (last year was Mistborn). I may do that again. I also need to decide what I am going to read for Vintage Science Fiction Month and start my reading (in addition to Alec Nevala-Lee’s fascinating history of John W. Campbell’s editorship of Astounding, which I am reading now).
Someone else has been slacking on her reading
I continue to slowly work my way through the Del Rey collection of Howard’s Solomon Kane stories. One recent story, “The Moon of Skulls,” put me off a bit and led me to pull out one of its inspirations: She by H. Rider Haggard (I own this Haggard omnibus). Howard’s story suffers from the comparison.
Which should not be read as a criticism of Howard. Howard remains one of my top three favorite pulp writers; it’s just that “The Moon of Skulls” happens to be one of my least favorite Howard stories. And I cannot yet make any real judgment about Haggard, because She is the first Haggard book I’ve read. The comparison between the two stories, though, is I think a very interesting one.
They have a lot of similarities. Both take place in Africa. Both have white, European protagonists. Both feature lost, dead civilizations (She was a pioneering work in the Lost Worlds sub-genre). Both feature a tribe ruled by a deathless queen (in She’s case, the titular She). Both feature an incongruous white women in that hidden African tribe. Both feature explicitly Christian protagonists and a Christian worldview.