FF: In Honor of McKillip

Roary Poses

In honor of the recently late Patricia A. McKillip, I’m re-reading one of her lesser-known works, the SF novel Moon Flash.  I read it years ago and learned she brought to SF the same lyric beauty and sense of wonder that is hallmark in her fantasy.  It’s also relatively rare in her canon in that it has a sequel.

For those of you unfamiliar with this column, 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 magazines.  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.  And it’s also a great place to tell me what you’re reading. 

Completed:

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chamber.  Audiobook. At this point, structure is two intertwined novellas, each of which is interesting in its own right.  This one has more of a middle grade/coming of Age vibe than A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.

The Sound of Murder by Rex Stout.  Third person narration featuring Alphabet Hicks in the role of detective.  At the time of publication, it was centered around relatively cutting-edge technology.  Plastics, for one, sound recording for another.

The Red Box by Rex Stout.  Even without looking this one up, I could tell it’s clearly early in the series.  Archie is more of a thug.  Cramer actually lights a cigar.  Wolfe’s bookmark is ebony…  Oh, if you wonder, it’s the fourth in the series.

In Progress:

Moon Flash by Patricia A. McKillip.  Many people are surprised to find she wrote SF as well as Fantasy.  In memory of her recent demise, I decided to re-read this.

Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan Maguire.  Audiobook.  Re-listen.  Plot and characterization take second place to description in this tour of the compass points.   Fourth in her Wayward Children series.

Also:

Overall, the new Archeology magazine has some good articles, but the one of Egyptian “demons” had me wondering if the illustrations had been pulled from the wrong file, since in at least two places they not only fail to illustrate the text, they undermine it.

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11 Responses to “FF: In Honor of McKillip”

  1. James Mendur Says:

    Just read “The RIddle-Master of Hed” again, after far too long. Reading the other two books in the trilogy next. This is a case where cover art affected my judgment. I would never have picked up the books based on the paperback cover art by Darrell K Sweet. He’s a fine artist but I think someone made poor choices for that cover. The reason I even know these books is because I found a British edition cover in a used book store. That one called to me. Then, having read the first one, I gritted my teeth and bought the other two with Sweet’s covers to finish the trilogy.
    *shrug* When I was younger, the right or wrong cover could still make or break a sale for me.
    Which cover would YOU choose?

    or

  2. @JayDzed Says:

    “In honor of the recently late Patricia A. McKillip”

    Ahh, bugger. I hadn’t heard of her passing.

    Vale.

    • janelindskold Says:

      Earlier this month. She was seriously one of my heroes. Nice person, too, which is not to be overlooked. Sometimes the people who write the books you love aren’t.

  3. Beverly Martin Says:

    I didn’t know she was gone, either. I just bought The Forgotten Beasts of Eld.

    I have read a lot, but only 2 books worthy of comment. Truth by Terry Pratchett. With his typical wit, he addresses the newspaper industry. It was a fun and thought-provoking book.

    A Call to Insurrection (Manticore Ascendant #4) by David Weber, Timothy Zahn, and Thomas Pope. It was heavy on the military descriptions of the battles, but still well written with great characters.

    • janelindskold Says:

      I liked Truth. Wasn’t sure I would, but I crept up on me. I believe The Forgotten Beasts of Eld was McKillip’s first but, unlike so many with a strong start, she didn’t fail thereafter.

  4. Louis Robinson Says:

    I also missed this news. Forgotten Beasts of Eld made a rather deep impression. I’ll have to dig it out for a reread – and then sick the Beasts on my kids. Don’t think they’ve ever found them.

    Meanwhile, i just finished F**k, by Rufus Lodge. You can blame Alan for this one – saw his review, and when i found it in the TPL catalogue i just had to give it a try. I was a bit surprised, to be honest, but then, Toronto’s librarians are far less prim and proper than the city’s councilors, who once again this week failed to approve a pilot proposal to allow alcohol in city parks. They are apparently convinced that anything that goes swimmingly in Vancouver, Edmonton or London, England can only end badly in our noble city. Toronto the Good is alive and well and going on 200.

    Anyway, back to books: Lodge’s opus is comprehensive, but if you didn’t grow up on the Goon Show and My Word you might have a little difficulty grasping why people like Alan and I find parts of it side-splittingly funny. I have also picked up John McWhorter’s Nine Nasty Words again. This includes a consideration of Lodge’s title character, along with a few of its friends-and-relations; his treatment is far more erudite and complete, since he’s a philologist, but decidedly enjoyable none the less. Oh! and he tosses in 2 bonus words to start things off.

    Just for the sake of completeness, I’ll mention Dimensions of Baha’i Law – if you’re a scholar of law or religion, or better yet both, this is for you. Something of a long-term read, though.

  5. James Mendur Says:

    My first comment got stuck in moderator mode, probably because I included two links. Here’s the text from it:

    Just read “The RIddle-Master of Hed” again, after far too long. Reading the other two books in the trilogy next. This is a case where cover art affected my judgment. I would never have picked up the books based on the paperback cover art by Darrell K Sweet. He’s a fine artist but I think someone made poor choices for that cover. The reason I even know these books is because I found a British edition cover in a used book store. That one called to me. Then, having read the first one, I gritted my teeth and bought the other two with Sweet’s covers to finish the trilogy.

    *shrug* When I was younger, the right or wrong cover could still make or break a sale for me.

    The covers are up on my blog site for review.

    • Louis Robinson Says:

      Covers are always a problem. They’re supposed to catch the eye of potential customers – but can easily turn them off instead.

      Worse still, they can turn off the booksellers who are supposed to be connecting readers with books [although some people claim that bookstores don’t matter any more, i remain to be convinced]. I remember a couple of booksellers sniggering over some of Baen’s typical covers – and then more or less putting the books aside as they didn’t find them of interest, Since the ladies in question were both front-list authors in their own right, and well known in SF&F circles in the city, their opinions mattered to a lot of people. Didn’t bother Jim Baen much, of course, but it can’t have worked to increase sales.

    • @JayDzed Says:

      “Covers are always a problem. They’re supposed to catch the eye of potential customers – but can easily turn them off instead.”

      Yes indeed. Covers _are_ meant to be eye-catching, but a small number of them do so in all the wrong ways.

      There was one in particular that I still recall from my first stint working in a specialist speculative fiction store back in ’99-2000. Lots of folks picked it up, but if we ever sold a copy, I certainly wasn’t there when it happened. The blurb sounded pretty generic too, though I can’t say as I even tried reading it, purely because the cover design was so hideous. At the time I described it thus:

      “Yes, it’s eye-catching. It catches the eye in much the same way as a fish-hook.”

      In fact, it was such a bad design (and generic/bland blurb) that I even recalled the title after only a few minutes of recollection.

      You can view (a thankfully muted) the cover and novel listing here, should you feel the urge. It was much more garish in person though, as I recall, and the back cover was more of the same as the front. Doesn’t seem to have sold well for anyone, and Goodreads doesn’t have anything listed for the author after this one, so I guess they never had another book published.

      https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1835362.A_Virtual_Soul

  6. Harried Harry Says:

    I’ve seen many paperbacks or “pocketbooks” which had very garish artwork on the cover. Most of the time, it really didn’t add much to the book. I’ve seen some lately which must be aimed at the younger set since the women shown are “highly endowed” and the clothes or lack thereof, must be there to entice young males. I much prefer good artwork which reflects some of the story.

    Louis M. Bushold has decided to release some of her oldest books with new artwork. The one I saw looked pretty nice.

    I’ve been reading a number of stories posted on Amazon as “free” which are designed to entice a person into reading the books. Some of the stories are pretty good. One I’ve enjoyed is the Sydney Rye series by Emily Kimmelman. These are a mystery-fantasy but the writing is very decent.

    Enjoy your Spring and avoid any and all forest fires. New Mexico has a number of fires burning and they won’t be out till late summer. 😦

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