Making Peace Is a Deep, Pulpy Adventure

“Actually,” another twitch at his deep voice, and a slight hunching of her shoulders, “we are here to take you into custody, under authority of the Keepers.”

The room was silent.  I wondered who would claim ownership of my estate in the event of my untimely death.

It took me a little while to get into it, but Making Peace sneaks up on you.  Smith has crafted a fine debut.  The steady stream of action is complemented by a lot of heart.

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Vintage Science Fiction Month: Lord of Thunder Lacks the Thematic Weight of The Beast Master

Lord of Thunder is the sequel to Andre Norton’s The Beast Master.  It is the much easier book of the two to find, but it is also the much weaker book.  Which isn’t to say that it is bad.  It is to say that if you want to read the first book—and you should—go ahead and pick up the omnibus version.

Lord of Thunder sees Hosteen Storm on a new adventure on the wild Arzor.  I didn’t find the adventure quite as satisfying.  More importantly, Lord of Thunder lacks the thematic weight—the feelz, for you kids out there—of The Beast Master.

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Waiting on Wednesday: C.L. Moore

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme designed to highlight future releases that was formerly hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  But with Jill away and no enforcement mechanism I am free to run wild and piss all over the social contract.  In all seriousness, I am going to start participating in Waiting on Wednesday* in the future.  Today?  Today, though, is C.L. Moore’s birthday, and I am not going to let that pass by without flagging her work.

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Guest Review: If Anne Rice and Geraldine Brooks had a novel baby, Octavia Butler’s Fledgling would be it

By A. Heishman

Let me explain.

I am fortunate enough to work at a high school where the librarian is an amazing resource for little known gems.  So when I requested “junk reading that a isn’t about a princess and isn’t about a long lost magical item,” Fledging emerged from the stacks.  As a science fiction teacher, I love Octavia Butler and her wonderful brand of dystopia.  I had expected a bit of the same in Fledgling, her only vampire novel.

That’s right. Vampire novel.  Octavia Butler.

Fledging was Butler’s last novel and, if I’m being honest, her worst one. However, in the genius that was the Parable series, a vampire novel doesn’t really stand a chance.  Arguably, Fledging is an exercise in writer’s block; Butler struggled with the curse for years before her unexpected death.  I can completely comprehend Fledgling as a writing exercise or perhaps a way to re-invigorate her writing.  If looking to read Fledging in admiration of Butler . . . just don’t.

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Vintage Science Fiction Month: What The Beastmaster lacks in Fidelity to the Source Material, it makes up for in Weirdness

First things first.  If you’ve read Andre Norton’s The Beast Master—or, better yet, read my review of the same—you should know that the movie adaptation—and it is, technically, an adaptation—has little to do with the book.  Of course, in the more likely event you have seen the movie and haven’t read the book, you should know that the book bears little resemblance to the movie.  But they are both tremendously entertaining works of pulp adventure and both well worth your time.

Both are products of their time.  The Beast Master book was published the same year Rio Bravo was released (penned by Leigh Brackett).  The Beastmaster movie was released the same year as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Conan the Barbarian.  Should we be surprised one is half Western and half planetary romance and the other is pure sword and sorcery?  (I will take advantage of the slight variation in the name to distinguish the two from here on out.)

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Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions—who needs them!  They mostly deal with boring stuff like diet and exercise.  I only want to talk about books.  So bookish resolutions.  Those are still cool.  So cool I gave you a bonus resolution.  [Now two!  Because I rather egregiously forgot one.]

Top Ten Tuesday now lives with Jana at The Artsy Reader Girl.

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Vintage Science Fiction Month: The Beast Master is Half-Western, Half-Planetary Romance

I had a heckuva time finding this book.  Like any kid from the tail end of Generation X, I had seen the Beastmaster movie countless times on cable as a kid.  And I picked up at some point that the movie was (loosely) based on a book by Andre Norton.  Andre Norton being one of the writers I wanted to highlight with Throwback SF Thursday, I knew I had to cover The Beast Master.[1]  There was just one problem.  Every used bookstore I set foot into had roughly a shelfful of Norton (Adam Whitehead has her #10 on his SFF All-Time Sales List).  The sequel, Lord of Thunder, was the first Norton I picked up, and one of the first vintage SF I picked up.  But it took trips to close to a dozen used bookstores before I finally found a copy of The Beast Master.  (Assuming you don’t already own the sequel, just go ahead and pick up the omnibus.)

It was well worth the hunt.

To call the movie loosely based on the book is generous, so set aside any preconceived notions you may have based on the movie.  The protagonist has an animal team and the similarities end there.  Where the movie was pure sword and sorcery, The Beast Master is half-Western and half-planetary romance.  If you have any doubts about that combination, Norton fulfills its potential to the fullest.  I don’t talk much about gameability, but I think it is very likely that Gary Gygax was thinking of this book specifically when he listed Andre Norton in Appendix N.

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