FF: Thoughts on Action

Too often books are dismissed as “slow,” because the action has little to do with physical danger.  Sad, because danger to the “soul” or “self” is really far more dramatic than any number of near misses by bullet or sword.

Kwahe'e Reads Titan

Kwahe’e Reads Titan

For those of you just discovering this feature, the Friday Fragments lists what I’ve read over the past week.  Most of the time I don’t include details of either short fiction (unless part of a book-length collection) or magazine articles.

The Fragments are not meant to be a recommendation list.  If you’re interested in a not-at-all-inclusive recommendation list, you can look on my website under Neat Stuff.

Once again, this is not a book review column.  It’s just a list with, maybe, a bit of description or a few opinions tossed in.

Recently Completed:

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.  Audiobook.  Would a modern reader sit still for the philosophizing?  I’m not sure but, if not, it’s a pity.  Without it, the book is just creep show.  With it, there’s both greater creepiness and deeper redemption.

Whiskey and Charlie by Annabel Smith.  They’re twins.  They’re not close as brothers.  When William “Whiskey” is hit by a car, Charlie finally confronts the reality of their relationship – rather than the version of it that he’s held on to for many years.  I liked very much.

Attack on Titan by Hashima Isayama.  Manga.  Volumes 2-4.

In Progress:

Light Thickens by Ngaoi Marsh.  Audiobook.  Have read before, but decided to read again.

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rumdell.  Quirky.

The Great Mythologies of the World volume one in the Great Courses series.  Audio.  Finished Greek and Roman.  Only one disk on Celtic??  And the “lecturer” couldn’t consistently pronounce Cuchulain???  I realize there are variations, but this really made me wonder about her “expertise,” or if she was just reading someone else’s script.  Now on to Norse.

Also:

Tried several books that ended up not holding my attention.

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16 Responses to “FF: Thoughts on Action”

  1. Louis Robinson Says:

    Came across a minor treasure this week: Baen has reissued Mirabile, Hellspark and another collection of short stories by Janet Kagan as e-books. I was vaguely aware of her, but all but a couple of essays were published while we were down in the Caribbean, so I never really saw them. OTOH, I think Mirabile is a book I saw at Bakka in Toronto on a trip back, and have vaguely been looking for ever since. You know how it is: if you don’t write it down, you’ll probably not find it again when you can afford it..

    The Mirabile stories are a hoot – although I’m seriously considering whether torches and pitchforks should be installed as lawn ornaments outside every genetic-engineering lab in the world. Just as encouragement, you understand 😉

    ‘No Known Cure’ is just plain chilling. On several fronts. All I’ve read, so far.

    • chadmerkley Says:

      I just a read a sample from Mirabile. I’m sold.

    • Jane Lindskold Says:

      Janet Kagan wrote one of two Star Trek novels I thought were excellent. In fact, it was almost a pity she used the ST setting, because it provided an inadvertent spoiler for the ending.

      UHURA’S SONG in case you wonder…

      • Louis Robinson Says:

        I wasn’t. People have been asking about it, but Toni hasn’t said anything. My guess is that her estate doesn’t own the copyright.

    • Alan Robson Says:

      Thank you. Time to blow the dust off the credit card. Mirabile is brilliant. Hellspark is fun. But the collection of short stories is what I really lust after. I’ve never read any of her short stories before…


      -Alan

  2. chadmerkley Says:

    Non-fiction: The Lost Book of Moses by Chanan Tigay. About an antiquities dealer in Jerusalem in the 1860s and 70s who had obtained some scrolls that had portions of Deuteronomy on them, with some major textual variants from accepted versions. An expert at the British Museum declared them fakes, and the dealer committed suicide. Were they actually fakes? The Dead Sea Scrolls show that such things actually do exist. Are the scrolls still extant? What happened to them after the dealer’s death? Can they be examined with modern methods? Very, very interesting.

    Also, several YA titles by Shannon Hale, since Jane mentioned her in previous FFs. Love them. She puts her characters into some pretty deep ethical questions. I especially recommend Book of a Thousand Days and the Princess Academy series. The title and the cover art don’t do them justice.

    • Jane Lindskold Says:

      Your reading sounds excellent.

      And SO glad you liked the Shannon Hale novels.

      Something I’ve been thinking about lately is that YA novels seem to be more willing to tackle those ethical questions without ever becoming “downers.” Adult novels seem to either ignore in favor of plots built around action and puzzle.

      Could it be that “adults” need escape more than we realize?

      • Peter Says:

        I think it’s more that “adults” need escape more than we’re willing to admit…

        (I can’t remember who said it off-hand, but my favourite comeback to those who poo-poo “escapist” entertainment is “You do realize that the people most concerned with escapism are prison wardens, yes?”)

      • chadmerkley Says:

        Ethical questions in YA novels: Could it be that dealing with complicated ethics is part of simply growing up? The mostly-teenage characters in the novels are at an age when the worlds stops looking just black and white, Developing a meaningful ethical structure just fits in with developing maturity.

        Shannon Hale’s books address things like the ethics of going to war, or starting a political revolution, bending the law for a fairer outcome, as well as more individual problems like shading the truth, lying to protect someone, dealing with relationships of all kinds…being able to cope with these issues is part of being an adult.

  3. henrietta abeyta Says:

    SELF-ADVOCACY I’M SURE IS A BIG THING ABOUT HOW YOUNG ADULT AND ADULT BOOKS ARE WRITTEN DIFFERENT.

  4. henrietta abeyta Says:

    LIKE ONE OF THE WOLF QUOTES I READ THIS WEEK SAID CONCENTRATE LOOKING AT DIFFERENCES OF EACH OTHER AND MISTAKES TOO, YOU’D NEVER WANT YOUR MISTAKES TO CRUSH YOU.

    I JASMINE OLSON DEAR JANE LINDSKOLD, THINK ONE OF THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCES IN THE YOUNG ADULT BOOKS IS THEY TALK A BIT MORE ABOUT STAYING FLEXIBLE AND STRENGTHENING YOURSELF, WHILE ADULT BOOKS ARE MORE ABOUT NEVER LEAVING EACH OTHER OR GOING A FAR DISTANCE TO A NEW PLACE.

  5. Paul Dellinger Says:

    Reading e-book version of “I Am Mr. Ed…Allan ‘Rocky’ Lane Revealed,” about the B-western star (one of my childhood favorites) who became the unbilled voice of TV’s talking horse.

  6. Elene Says:

    About that Great Courses course– one on Liszt by Robert Greenberg drove me berserk with mispronunciations of commonly-known names of people in the composer’s life and with factual errors. I actually asked for (and got) a refund! Just could not listen. Yet this guy’s courses are popular and sell a bunch. I’m used to high quality from them. At least, I think so… maybe I’m learning other stuff that’s wrong in their courses and I don’t know it!

    • Jane Lindskold Says:

      I haven’t been thrilled, I’ll admit. I listened to a “course” about a WWII politician. The “expert” had a background in something completely unrelated. My impression was that he was no more than an audiobook reader who happened to have a PhD and be teaching at a college so they could recite this at the opening of the piece, skipping, conveniently, his lack of qualifications on this particular subject.

    • Louis Robinson Says:

      Pronunciation isn’t part of the training of classical musicians – and a lot of North Americans are of doubtful competence even in their own language. When you add the fact that common English pronunciations of foreign names are generally dubious at best, figuring out who is right or wrong can be… interesting. If you actually speak German or Hungarian or Italian or French, it can go well beyond interesting. [and on any given day it would take me less than an hour to round up 3 Francophones to trash my French – none of whom would agree on exactly where I got it wrong] Move people around Europe the way they did in the 19th century and things go rapidly downhill: I use a French pronunciation of Chopin. All I know about the Polish original is that it isn’t what I say. Oh, and that I don’t always recognise the name when a real Pole says it.

      I’m serious about that. Diction isn’t at all the same thing. Even when your repertoire is words, you don’t learn the language, you learn the aria or chorus or whatever as a whole, regardless of whether you can speak the language it’s written in. It can be amazing how a singer who has just turned in a flawless 90 minutes of English song turns out to be barely comprehensible when interviewed. [AFAICT, speech isn’t a necessary art for pop musicians, but that’s another matter]

      • Jane Lindskold Says:

        I certainly don’t speak perfect English and in pronunciation of non-English I’m aware I mess up as often as anything. That said, I think the reader I was listening to could have at least chosen ONE pronunciation for Cuchulain and stayed with it.

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