Feb. 1st, 2008 03:53 pm
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Gene Wolfe, Soldier of Sidon

Everything I wrote about the previous two Latro books is still true. This time Latro goes to Egypt, though, so the gods are substantially more opaque. No more gimmes like "the goat-footed man, who says his name is All." Instead we've got a host of animal-headed deities and the occasional long-dead deified Pharaoh.

Latro falls in love briefly in the second book. In one of the more repulsive bits, his "friends" use this later on to exploit him and convince him to stick around. He gets a wife in this volume as well. I'm impressed by his consistency: he's loyal to his wife even when he doesn't remember that she's his wife (must be Twoo Wuv), and he instinctively distrusts the creepy woman who keeps hitting on him, even when he doesn't remember that he's married. Yay for characterization.

I really appreciated that this book opened with the reappearance of the physician who first treated Latro, way back at the beginning of Soldier of the Mist. Seven Lions's return is welcome as well, although we don't see nearly enough of him.

The ending screams "if this one sells well enough there will be a sequel." I'm not sure whether I'm happy about that or not. Mostly because, well, Wolfe is getting on in years, and his /next/ book isn't a Latro book either.

(And what the devil is the invisible baboon that hangs around the priest of Thoth?)

Gene Wolfe, Pirate Freedom

Gene Wolfe's time-traveling pirate book. Wolfe's non-series books still tend to feel far slighter than his longer works, and this is no exception. It's got great atmosphere and characters (best and truest pirates ever), it's got typically Wolfean musings on the nature of identity and the unreliability of narration, and it's a delight to read. It just . . . didn't inspire the same love in me that the Latro books, or Long/Short Sun, did. I guess someone who's got more of a thing for pirates might feel differently.

The narrator's voice feels an awful lot like Able's, from Wizard Knight. It'd be kind of awesome if he somehow tied this and Wizard Knight and another book or two together . . .

Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear, A Companion to Wolves

Anything that delivers a smackdown to Anne McCaffrey's pioneering work in the field of psychic animal companions is good by me. You know what my favorite part of this book was? The wolves don't talk. They don't think in words, they think in impulses and sensations.

There's not a lot of Intricate Plot here. Coming off of a Gene Wolfe bender that particular lack was even more noticeable than it might have been. In its place there's rock-solid characterization and society-building. (And also cold. This book made me feel the cold in a way that only _Left Hand of Darkness_ has before.)

So, the society. There are trolls, and they eat people. To stop the trolls, there's an army of big psychic wolves and the men who bond with them. The bond goes deep enough that the emotional state of one can affect the other. This causes interesting things to happen with gender, since only men can bond with wolves, and when a female wolf goes into heat, well . . .

What really disturbed me about the wolfcarls' society wasn't the gang-rape, actually. I mean, yes, disturbing, but not in quite the same way. No, what got me was the role that Isolfr (the main character, bonded to a female wolf) was being put in. Specifically, the scenes where he's being actively courted by other wolfcarls. Given useless trinkets. Flirted at (not with, /at/). Generally treated as someone who'd be swayed by such ridiculously insulting behavior. You know. As though he were female in an overtly patriarchal society. My brain snapped after about the second such scene and it took me several days to put it back together. If he'd been female I would have thought "how insulting" and moved on, but because he's male it hit me a lot more viscerally.

I didn't really understand what it was that was getting me until I read this review, and then, bam. I've been trained to reject caretaker work as lesser, as bad, and it took seeing a man first forced into and then actively accepting that role to make me realise it. Yet more work to be done in my head. (Thanks, Bear and Mole. I think.)
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
The Tor (and Ace) Doubles are a great idea. They're a way for longer short stories (~100pp) to find an audience, you get two books for the price of one cheap paperback, and they've got that neat flip-effect going on. (Plus, two covers! Don't like one? Store it so you see the other!) Of course these days the Reading Public wants six-hundred-page bricks for their seven bucks, so there's no real market anymore. But still.

John M. Ford, Fugue State

This book is made of confusion.

It apparently began life as a short story, and was expanded for publication here. Joel Rosenberg, on hearing this, said "Oh good, you're clearing up some of the ambiguities, then?" and JMF replied "No; adding new ones."

There are three or four, or maybe five (six?) stories going on, all with what are probably the same characters and concerning similar events. There are weirdnesses with memory, and what might be as full an explanation as possible at the end.

It is amazing and almost comprehensible. Even the title is a multilayered thing of beauty, in ways that aren't wholly clear until you've come out the other side and have some space for reflection.

Gene Wolfe, The Death of Dr. Island

I've read this before, in The Island of Doctor Death And Other Stories And Other Stories (yes). Unlike Fugue State, the only ambiguities are in the rather clever title. That doesn't make it any less brilliant, though. The titular doctor is a therapist with ultimate control over his environment (somewhere in the asteroid belt, I think). He has three patients, whom he helps to varying degrees.

Conceit: brilliant. Plot: quite good. Characters: of the four, two are fully realised, and two are drawn as they are mostly to support the theme. Which theme is my main problem with the book: the willingness of Dr. Island to play God with his patients unsettles me quite a bit. On the other hand, without that arrogance there'd be no book at all, and in the context of the book his methods are at least fifty percent effective.


Jul. 19th, 2007 08:22 am
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Gene Wolfe, Soldier of the Mist
Gene Wolfe, Soldier of Arete

These books purport to be translations of scrolls dating from approximately 479 BC. Latro, a soldier ("latro" is a Greek word meaning "mercenary" and probably not his original name) has been hit on the head during a battle (in which he fought for the Great King[1] against the Greeks), and can no longer remember anything for more than about twelve hours. In an effort to stave off the inevitable confusion, he writes down where he's been and what he's done. The tricky part is that Latro is a non-native Greek speaker, so he translates place names into their nearest equivalent. He speaks a great deal about the city-state of "Thought[2]," for instance, and late in the first book visits the "Hot Gates" (recently featured in the classic Frank Miller music video "It's Raining 300 Men"). So, half the fun is playing "What the devil is Latro talking about now?"

The other half, of course, is the story. Latro's bonk on the head has taken away his memory, but given him the ability to see the gods and other spirits. This is sometimes helpful, as when Theseus gives him advice during a wrestling match, and sometimes less so, as when he accidentally raises a lamia during a necromancer's seance. So interesting things tend to happen around him. And not only supernatural things; in the second book he happens to be in the company of powerful Athenians and Spartans, and watches their machinations play out in his fragmented way. It's sort of a puzzle, a "why did that just happen?" type of thing, but it works because the events themselves are compelling.

Latro's character is remarkably consistent, and we (though not he) can see real growth in a few of his constant companions. I would have liked to know more about Seven Lions, the Ethiopian soldier who stays with Latro from the beginning. Perhaps he will show up again for Soldier of Sidon.

Like most of Wolfe's books, these made me want to read them again so I can pick up on everything I missed the first time through. Not easy reads, but well worth the effort.

[1] Xerxes I; the battle in question was almost certainly Plataea ("Clay"), the land equivalent of the Persians' naval defeat at Salamis some years earlier.

[2] Athens.
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Gene Wolfe, In Green's Jungles

Short Sun vol.2. Continuing with the half-and-half treatment from the first volume. Horn's lander is taken over by inhumi [alien creatures, more or less like vampires] and diverted to their home planet of Green, rather than heading straight for the Whorl. Horn escapes the inhumi and wanders in the jungle, eventually dying and passing into the body of an old man on the Whorl. Meanwhile, the protagonist leads a war against another colony-state on Blue, and mentally journeys to Green and to Urth in the time of Severian.

Still confusing but I'm getting a handle on it. Parts seem irrelevant but probably aren't; parts that feel especially relevant aren't fleshed out. Frustrating. But still a damned good read.

Barry Hughart, Eight Skilled Gentlemen

The third of the Master Li and Number Ten Ox books; the second [The Story of the Stone] is essentially out of print. It's not as lighthearted as Bridge of Birds and even more steeped in Chinese mythology, but the humor and heart are still present. I'd really like to read more of these.

art spiegelman, In the Shadow of No Towers

Oversize comic, collecting some of spiegelman's work for the New Yorker [I think] in the months after the fall of the World Trade Center. It's alright, but the last eight or so pages are reminiscences and 'classic' comics, and I clearly lack the erudition to really understand [say] Little Nemo, or the depth of Krazy Kat and Ignatz. The first half is worth the read; the second not so much.
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Gene Wolfe, Caldé of the Long Sun

Long Sun 3, in which Silk gets put in charge of the city, more or less. There's a rebellion that's been in progress since the end of the last book that gets sort of resolved. I really don't remember a lot about this volume, but I don't doubt that it was important to the plot.

Gene Wolfe, Exodus From the Long Sun

A conclusion to the series. Some backstory revelation, an invasion of Silk's home city, and [as expected] a departure from the Whorl. The series started to fall apart just a little in this volume; the return of the god Pas in particular felt forced. That's overshadowed by the way-coolness of what's at the end of the Long Sun, though.

And then you get the epilogue, where Wolfe sets up for the next series and tacks on his standard confusing-narrator issues to an otherwise somewhat straightforward series. Bah. Bah, I say. This cheapens the work he's done building up the characters in the rest of the book. Bah. [The series as a whole is still my favorite of his work.]

Patrick O'Donnell, Mutts: I Want to be the Kitty

Cute comic strip about pets and owners. O'Donnell writes some of the best cats I've ever seen [Bucky and Catbert are parodies; Mooch is much more real], and his artwork is distinctive and functional. He's not always as funny as Darby Conley or Stephan Pastis but he's got heart, and that's worth something.

Gene Wolfe, On Blue's Waters

Book of the Short Sun volume 1. Hoo boy. The narrator issues are back in force here. The book is told in first person, but the cast of characters distinguishes between the 'protagonist' and the 'narrator.' Ow.

This is the story of Horn, a pupil of Silk's, who now lives on the planet Blue with a bunch of colonists from the Whorl. He's been sent back to the Whorl to find Silk and bring him to Blue to rule over the colony. [Silk got separated from the departing colonists at the end of Long Sun.] The book's split between two timelines: Horn writing down his journey from home to the lander that will eventually take him to the Whorl, interspersed with Horn talking about what's going on in his life right now. If this sounds confusing, it is. Adding to the confusion, the people he's hanging around with are calling him Silk, though he's convinced that he's Horn. Ow ow ow.

This isn't anywhere near as easy a read as Long Sun. I question whether it'll be as rewarding, too.
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Barry Hughart, Bridge of Birds

Mystery story set in "an ancient China that never was." Beautiful, funny, well-constructed. Third re-read; some of the plot doesn't hold up quite as well the third time through, but it's still the best Oriental fantasy I've ever read. Now if only Hughart would write more than just the two sequels . . .

Gene Wolfe, Nightside the Long Sun

Book of the Long Sun, vol. 1. Wolfe's most accessible work, I think. He's put a lot of work into building the world [er, Whorl], and while there are aspects of "see how smart I am" they aren't overpowering.

I don't really know how to talk about this series without just explaining What's Going On right up front, and where's the fun in that? Patera Silk is a priest who receives enlightenment from one of the lesser gods of his pantheon, and goes off breaking & entering a rich man's house to try and steal the deed to his church. Along the way he acquires a talking bird, meets a demon-possessed girl (or maybe she can just astrally project), becomes one of the first people in his city in a very long time to see a goddess, falls in love with a courtesan, and acquires a deadly weapon. Not much actually /happens/ but there's a lot of setup for the future.

Gene Wolfe, Lake of the Long Sun

Long Sun vol 2, in which Revelations occur. Silk, his raven Oreb, and a couple of friends visit a lake. More gods and goddesses appear, occasionally possessing people. Silk goes under the lake to an ancient complex, accidentally revives a woman who's been asleep for around three hundred years, and has a conversation with her, during which he learns little and we, the readers, learn an awful lot, such as that this series is roughly contemporaneous with the Book of the New Sun.

This series really is good stuff. There's a lot to process, but not so much that it overwhelms you (like New Sun), and Silk is a much more recognizably human character than Severian was. The book's not written in first person, either, which helps with the understanding.
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Neil Gaiman and Gene Wolfe, A Walking Tour of the Shambles

This is the sort of book that says something utterly outrageous, laughs a little too loud, and then abruptly stops laughing and stares directly at you, so that you're pretty sure it wasn't really kidding. It's ostensibly a guidebook through a scary section of Chicago ["mysteriously untouched by the Great Fire. 'Ya can't burn Hell,' one resident joked"'], and is in actuality a chance for Gene and Neil to write something fun and creepy. Probably not worth $16, but what the hell.

David Callahan, The Cheating Culture

Perhaps the most fundamentally depressing book I've read in ages. Callahan explores the widespread epidemic of cheating in modern culture: he looks in-depth at sports, education, and finance, and mentions other areas as well. I found the "how the heck did we get here" section especially enlightening: I'd heard Jonathan expound on the combination of sixties individualism and eighties greed before, but Callahan also excoriates the conservative focus on "values" for its tacit insistence that only results matter. Plus there's the Red Queen effect, where if you don't cheat and everyone else does you're handicapping yourself . . . it's an ugly mess. He offers some potential solutions in the last chapter, but overall this isn't a solution book, it's a problem analysis book. Everyone should read this one.

Ted Naifeh, Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things
Courtney Crumrin and the Coven of Mystics
Courtney Crumrin in the Twilight Kingdom

Three wonderful comics featuring a junior-high-school outcast studying witchcraft. "Coraline, only not by Neil Gaiman and a comic book" is how I once described it. Courtney's a far more believable character than the average angst-ridden teen. She's genuinely unpleasant to people, for starters. And when you see her emotional fragility it feels genuinely fragile, and not like something that can be solved by whisking her away to someplace magical.

The first volume is a collection of four short tales; the second is a complete story arc. The third is curiously inbetween: its first issue was a separate story, and then the next three belong together. The second was probably the strongest of the three but I can see an argument for preferring the third one. Good stuff all around, though.

Terry Bisson, Bears Discover Fire

The best short-story collection I have read in a very, very long time. Witty prose and ideas, good characters, and just plain fun. Includes the brilliant title story, as well as "They're Made of Meat" which can be found online, and a weird piece entitled "Coon Suit" that appeared in F&SF when I had a subscription. A lot of the shorter stories in the book have an eco-theme; in the Afterword he says that this is because A) he's conserving paper and B) if they got longer they'd get preachy. I dunno; some of them are a bit preachy already, but it's hard to see thme becoming any more so.

Jeff Smith, Bone

Sixtyish issues of epic comic book story. Originally published in nine volumes. I'd probably feel gypped if I'd had to buy nine books to get the story told here, but in one volume it's worth having. It's at its best when Smith's laying on the funny ("Stupid, stupid rat-creatures!"); about three-fifths of the way through the plot starts to get pretty serious, and I think the story suffers as a result. I do like the art, though.
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Lloyd Alexander, The Rope Trick

Huh. It's set in fantasy-Italy, and has what seems to be the standard Alexander heroine, but she came off as more of a character than just a carbon-copy of Eilonwy. Much of the book has little or no "plot" as such, at least not of the type that can be easily summed up on the jacket. The characters wander around and meet other interesting characters, and some stuff happens. The ending was a bit confusing; I think everyone died but it's not too clear. I wouldn't be too surprised if this winds up being Alexander's last book. [Sad, but not surprised.]

G.K. Chesterton, The Napoleon of Notting Hill

I now understand, partly, why people think Chesterton was such an odd duck. This isn't really sci-fi except that it really isn't anything else. . . . it takes place in a future (1984) England that's almost exactly like the England of Chesterton's day, except that the King is now an absolute monarch and chosen by lot. So, of course, they choose a nutcase for King, and he divides London into several districts, each with its own ruler and flag &c. Trouble arises when the ruler of Notting Hill refuses to let a road be built through his neighborhood, and fights [and defeats] the combined might of the rest of London. A good read; some food for thought on why we should even bother struggling.

Gene Wolfe, The Urth of the New Sun

And I thought the Book of the New Sun jumped around a lot. Severian sets out to the universe next door to retrieve a white hole to place in the centre of Urth's dying sun, and so save the planet. And that's basically the whole of it, except that he also jumps around in time a lot, explains some things from the original tetrology, meets some old friends more times than he'd expected to, and turns into Christ. Which was kind of irritating. Urth isn't interesting in itself; it's mostly interesting in light of the first four books. I'm glad I read it, if only for its coherent explanation of the Conciliator.
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Gene Wolfe, The Sword of the Lictor

Well. Well, well, well. Lots going on here, as usual: conversations with Hierodules, wrap-up of some plot threads that have been dangling since book 1, a glimpse at life in a city outside Nessus. There's also a lengthy digression from the plot [I know, I know: how could I tell?] involving a child named Severian and a giant named Typhon. An interesting digression, yeah, but I got through it and realised "Nothing just happened here." Still and all, I'm really enjoying these. They're making me think.

Gene Wolfe, The Citadel of the Autarch

Um. What the hell just happened? I swear, if I hadn't read that couple of sentences out of Castle of the Otter I would be so lost. As it is I'm only sort of lost. I think I understand what happened, but the time-travel stuff has me really weirded out. I think I'll need to reread these in a year or so. [Though on reflection, some of it makes a bit more sense. Only a bit.]

The Ascians are really neat. They're sort of the end result of Confucianism crossed with totalitarianism; they can only say pre-approved phrases, and it's not clear whether or not they have names. ["I am Loyal to the Group of Seventeen."] Dorcas is dealt with appropriately, and the apparent contradictions in her revivification aren't dealt with, but are pointed out, just like it's pointed out that Severian managed to bring his dog Triskele back to life years before he ever got ahold of the Claw. And the multiple-personality Autarch is fun as well. It was a fun trip, but I'm not too sure where it's brought me.

Scott Adams, Don't Stand Where the Comet Is Assumed to Strike Oil

Dilbert number twenty-three. The strips in this volume range from fairly funny to "ehh." Maybe it's that my snark quotient is being filled by Pearls, and I thus have less need for Dilbert's corporate-type snark.

Grant Morrison, Chris Weston, and Gary Erskine, The Filth

Interesting comic book about a secret government agency that cleans up various Illuminati-like messes. There's a lot of neat ideas in here [like the bottled secret agents], but I kept thinking that Warren 'Transmetropolitan' Ellis could have done it all so much better. Probably just a matter of taste. Doubt I'll be reading the rest of The Invisibles, though.

The intro, though, is pure gold. "WARNING: The Filth contains the active ingredient metaphor. If you are allergic to metaphor, please consult a doctor before consuming The Filth." Et cetera.
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Gene Wolfe, The Shadow of the Torturer

Vol. 1 of The Book of the New Sun. Neat. I'm definitely getting a lot more out of this than I did five years ago. Little things, like the mention of the "engines" in the Citadel, or the green moon, or just the need to go north to get to the tropics. Things that elicit responses of "What the-- oh." Severian doesn't seem to be all that distasteful a character, even if he is an apprentice torturer. I do get the feeling he's not telling the whole truth about a few things, though.

Gene Wolfe, The Claw of the Conciliator

New Sun part 2. The good: Jonas the cyborg. He alone made this book so cool. The bad: to quote Nick Lowe, "if the Claw of the Conciliator is anything more than a general-purpose plot voucher I'm buggered if I can see what." There's a lot of really well-written adventure in here, and good character development of a couple of villains, but the all-healing Claw is starting to get on my nerves. There's lots of neat stuff; some of it I understand [Jonas, Jolenta] and some of it I don't [the whole vision at the end of the book]. I really hope some sort of explanation will be forthcoming.

Ursula K. Le Guin, "The Word of Unbinding" / "The Rule of Names"

Two stories set in Earthsea. "Word" is only okay, though it ties into some stuff about the land of the dead from Farthest Shore. "Rule of Names" I read in a high school English textbook ages ago, and thought it mildly amusing. It's improved with age. And it stars one of the more interesting characters from Wizard of Earthsea. The book they're in [The Wind's Twelve Quarters is sadly out of print, so no complete Earthsea collection for me.

Ursula K. Le Guin, "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas"

Wow. Just. . . wow. Also from W12Q, but found in tons of other anthologies, and available online as well. It's short, and mostly something that's been done before, but the last paragraph is really rather impressive. Wow.

Gene Wolfe, The Castle of the Otter

[Reprinted in Castle of Days]
When Wolfe was finishing up the Book of the New Sun, Locus somehow got the title of the fourth volume leaked to them as "The Castle of the Otter," and he liked the wrong title so much he used it for a collection of essays on the BotNS. There's lots of neat stuff in here: a defence of genetically-modified cavalry on the future battlefield, a glossary for Shadow of the Torturer [including an explanation of why the torturers' portion of the Citadel is called the Matachin Tower], and some details of the publishing hassles involved in the series. [Plus a one-sentence explanation of what happens at the end of Citadel, telling exactly how the New Sun will come about. Iiinteresting.]

As an unrepentant Tolkien geek, I eat this kind of stuff up. Any and all background information on a world as richly detailed as Urth. . . it's great. Give me more. [The only "more" that I know of is the GURPS New Sun sourcebook, sadly. Oh well.]
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Jonathan Lethem, "This Shape We're In"

Short book [~50 pages]. Wild. The characters all live in a shape, which appears to be more or less humanoid, though there are some odd contradictions, and various subgroups in the shape have theories about what it is [bomb shelter after a nuclear holocaust, generation ship, etc]. I chuckled at a few bits, and then at around the last few pages, when you realise what the shape is, I was absolutely delighted. Fun to read, and there's deeper bits in there if you go looking for them.

Gene Wolfe, There Are Doors

A novel of travel between alternate realities, with a protagonist who may or may not be insane. Really, it felt kind of like the kind of thing I'd like to write, except that I don't feel like it wrapped everything up well enough. Though that may be me not fully understanding what went on. It's got a number of neat stylistic tricks, some very cool ideas, and an occasional coming-together of ideas in my head that made me suddenly realise what it was Wolfe was writing about. Still, I dunno. I'll need to read it again to understand all of the subtle sideways things going on, and I don't know if it's worth it. Life is short and there are many books to read.

Gene Wolfe, The Fifth Head of Cerberus

Okay. Reading a good, solid Gene Wolfe book is like putting together the most gorgeous, intricate jigsaw puzzle imaginable, only halfway through you run out of pieces. So you stare at what you've got and you think "Gosh, this is pretty," and you mentally fill in what of the missing gaps you can, and generally feel like with just one or two more pieces you'd really be able to see the picture, but you're just not smart enough to picture it by yourself.

Ahem. Sorry. Fifth Head is three connected novellas. The first stands on its own, and concerns cloning and the aristocracy of a small planet way out there. The second takes place on its sister planet, which may or not have been the home of a race of shapeshifters who all died out when the first humans landed there. The third takes place on both planets and concerns a character who shows up briefly but importantly in the first one, who may or not be a political dissident trying to overthrow the aristocracy.

If my summary makes no sense, that's because I'm not smart enough to conceive of the whole intricate picture by myself. I am about 90% certain that this book is the smartest thing I have ever read. I am equally certain that upon rereading it I still won't understand what went on. Unlike There Are Doors, I think Fifth Head deserves a second read.
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Gene Wolfe, "The Death of Doctor Island"

Novella, found in The Island of Dr. Death and Other Stories and Other Stories, which collection also features "The Island of Dr. Death and Other Stories" [which rocks] and "The Doctor of Death Island." "DDI," like all the best sci-fi, uses the trappings of SF as a means to talk about something else; psychology, in this case. Four [well, five] characters, one of whom is the aforementioned Doctor Island [who is, in fact, an island, and who does not die, in the neatest trick of words I've seen in awhile]. I enjoy Wolfe's short stories; they make you think, but not so much that you feel utterly lost. Everything in "DDI" makes perfect sense, albeit sometimes only in retrospect.

Lloyd Alexander, Time Cat

Alexander's first book, in which a cat and a boy travel to nine historical periods and learn valuable life lessons. None of the characters get anywhere near enough development, but the premise is cute and Alexander's prose is quite good. Not one but two precursors to Eilonwy of the red-gold hair, but only one Fflewddur Fflam, and Jason [the boy] is substantially different from Taran.

I think it is now my mission in life to collect copies of all Lloyd Alexander's books. Several of them are long out of print, which saddens me; to the left, I found his translation of Sartre at bookfair.

Neil Gaiman, "A Study in Emerald"

Gaiman's Hugo-nominated short story. I've not read any other nominees, but they'll have to be pretty strong contenders to get past this one. It starts out Victorian, just another Sherlock Holmes story, and the weird bits work their way in very carefully around the edges, until you're suddenly confronted with them head-on, and just sort of gape in awe at how effortlessly Gaiman has turned the story you're reading upside down.

Roger Zelazny, "For a Breath I Tarry"

When I first read this I thought it was the best short story ever. I no longer think that; I no longer even think it's the best Zelazny ever. ["Rose for Ecclesiastes" and "24 Views of Mt Fuji, by Hokusai" both kick far too much ass.] It's still damn good, though. Faust, starring robots and a ruined Earth that's being maintained because Man ordered it to be maintained, and so well written. . . wow. Very cool.


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"Jazz Fish, a saxophone playing wanderer, finds himself in Mamboland at a critical phase in his life." --Howie Green, on his book Jazz Fish Zen

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