You’ve probably already read my review of The Guns Above and my interview with the author, Robyn Bennis. You haven’t? Go do that now!
Ok, welcome back. So now you probably want to read it! But maybe you are a poor (hey, we’ve all been there). Lucky for you, Tor Books was kind enough to send me a hardcover copy, and I am giving it away. What do you need to do for a chance to win? See below. What should you do if you win? Well, read the book, obviously. A book left unread is like a pupper left unpetted.
I’ve had my eye on Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series for a while. And I’ve been wanting to do either a re-read series or first read series at Every Day Should Be Tuesday. What better reason to finally get off of my butt (figuratively…I’m literally sitting down at the moment) and get started than the AWESOME trailer for The Dark Tower movie?
I hereby announce my Big Read of The Dark Tower series. Every Monday I will post a recap and reaction to what I read the week before. I’ve read The Stand and The Eyes of the Dragon, so this won’t be my first encounter with the Man in Black. And of course a lot of stuff has filtered down through pop culture over the years, and I watched the trailer and will watch the movie when it comes out (I probably won’t be done with the Big Read by then).
The Narrow Land is a collection of six short stories and one novella by Jack Vance. This was my first exposure to Vance after The Dying Earth. What it doesn’t have is the magic of The Dying Earth stories. But it is better by a large margin than the average collection of short stories you would see today. The stories remind me a lot of the original Twilight Zone, which I tend to consider the platonic ideal for science fiction short stories.
The Narrow Land
This is the title story represented by the cover art on my copy. It’s a mix of pulp weirdness and New Age interest in social science fiction. Lizardmen crawl out of a primordial ooze. Some develop more crests than others. Vaguely does some interesting things with gender, but ultimately it’s all worldbuilding and little story.
The Guns Above starts out in media res. Or maybe a little more after media res, beginning at the end of a battle. Wait, what? I wouldn’t have minded seeing that battle, but we will get plenty of that, and the book starts at the beginning of the story. Josette Dupre, courtesy of surviving an airship crash that her captain did not, just became the first female airship captain in the history of the Corps. That’s the good news, as much as anything that requires one to go back up in an airship can be considered good news. The really bad news is that the newspapers are making her out to be a hero, which is dangerous when they are also making General Lord Fieren out to be a fool.
The result is one of the best books I’ve read this year, and it has been a very good year. More gushing below the fold.
Skitter is the sequel to The Hatching, one of my favorite books from 2016. The Hatching gave us a spider apocalypse, because getting your face eaten off by zombies just isn’t scary enough. The Hatching jumps around among a seemingly enormous number of POVs, advancing the story and giving us slice-of-life vignettes in equal measure. It’s extraordinarily well done, reminiscent of The Stand and World War Z but exceeding both. Or at least I think that it will, because, unlike those two books, The Hatching was just the opening salvo in a trilogy.
So what’s the verdict after Skitter? No verdict, I’m afraid. Skitter is just the second part. I won’t be able to pass final judgment until I read the last book. And Skitter does suffer under the weight of Second Act Problems. But I haven’t lost faith in the series and story as a whole.
PC Bushi beat me to the punch, and Jeffro wrote a full retrospective back in 2014, so I’m not going to do a full review of At the Earth’s Core.
First, some fun facts from an Edgar Rice Burroughs panel at JordanCon. Working as a war correspondent during WWII, ERB accompanied a squad of paratroopers on a mission. Before jumping out of the plane into a warzone, each walked over to him, shook his hand, and thanked him for teaching them how to be a man. The latest Tarzan movie was the first time the Burroughs family thought filmmakers really “got” Tarzan. Dejah Thoris’ first name is pronounced “Dee-zha.”
At the Earth’s Core is the second ERB book I’ve read, after Pirates of Venus, and I have to say that I like it better. Not that it doesn’t have similar flaws to Pirates of Venus, but it’s got a little more of that ERB magic and I just had more fun reading it. I have a complete set of the Venus books, but I think I’ll return to Pellucidar first if I can snag a copy of the second book anytime soon.
UPDATE: Team Jordan has released an announcement. The real news, in my opinion, is buried in the comments. Per Alan Romanczuk (Alan is on Team Jordan), “We understand that [showrunner] Rafe [Judkins] and Ted are currently in discussions with a number of content distributors/networks, and that negotiations will be concluded soon.”
It’s been a big week! I went to JordanCon for the first time this past weekend. I’m not going to give a Con report, but it was a blast, and I am going to throw some pictures in below.
But there are more important happenings from last week. We learned almost a full year ago that a Wheel of Time TV series was in development with a “major studio.” This after a wee bit of legal uncertainty. Robert Jordan (or the Bandersnatch Group) sold the rights to Red Eagle Entertainment shortly before his terminal illness and untimely death. Nothing came of that, as is wont to happen in these things. Those rights were due to expire.
Red Eagle Entertainment attempted to extend those rights with what is known as an “ashcan copy.” That is, their license for the rights, much like oil exploration rights, was set to expire unless they made some defined progress in production (as far as I know, the agreement at issue has never been made public). The ultra-low budget pilot, essentially a late-night infomercial, was designed to meet those contractual requirements and trigger an automatic extension of its rights. Was it legally sufficient? Who knows. Not my area of expertise, and I imagine both sides had no trouble finding able counsel willing to argue either side. The parties entered into a confidential agreement, so there is much that we may never know. The most likely scenario is that Red Eagle Entertainment was able to negotiate some sort of financial stake and a figurehead role as executive producers, with real control passing back into the Bandersnatch Group’s (i.e., the Jordan Estate) hands and the hands of the aforementioned major studio.