Archive for the ‘Other People’s Stories’ Category

FF: Mythic Fiction

July 23, 2021
Roary Pokes His Nose in a Good Book

My reading this week is richly indebted to myth and folklore: Arabic, Biblical, Norse, Egyptian, and more.  Although The Valkyrie has become foundation material in its own right, as with the works by Powers, Wagner used mythic as a foundation for a story unique to his own vision.   

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. 

Recently Completed:

Declare by Tim Powers.  I’ve only read this one once, and I know a lot more now about the time period in which it is set.  The problem with secret history/alternate history as a form, is if you don’t know what’s being played with, you miss some of the fun.  This was good but had an atypically detached narrative voice that (based on a comment within the book itself) was clearly intended, but I don’t think served the material well.

In Progress:

The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers.  Audiobook.  I don’t usually read two books by the same author at the same time, but someone failed to return my print copy of this one, and finding that there was an audio was tempting.  One complaint.  Accents are important in this, as if voice pitch, and, while the reader is good, he rarely gets these right.

The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers.  The “secret history’ in this novel comes from a combination of events in the lives of several of the most prominent figures in English literature, including Byron, Shelley, Keats, and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.  Read this, and you’ll never read their poetry and fiction quite the same way…

The Valkyrie by Richard Wagner, translated and annotated by Frederick Paul Walter.  This new translation is lively and accessible.  Although I know the basic story, I found myself having trouble putting this down.  Illustrated both with modern line drawings and a host of archival material.

Also:

I’m debating whether or not to renew some magazine subscriptions…  I don’t seem to have time to catch up…

FF: Powering Up

July 16, 2021
Roary Says: “I Declare!”

This week I’m immersing myself in the weird worldview promulgated in the fiction of Tim Powers.

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. 

Recently Completed:

Legion by Brandon Sanderson.  Audiobook.  This is a compilation of three novellas that are so interdependent that I don’t think the third would have the same impact if you hadn’t read the first two.  First is good, often funny.  Second has more complex plot, quite good.  Third is much darker, but has a fairly satisfactory conclusion.

In Progress:

Declare by Tim Powers.  I’ve only read this one once, and I know a lot more now about the time period in which it is set.  The problem with secret history/alternate history as a form, is if you don’t know what’s being played with, you miss some of the fun.

The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers.  Audiobook.  I don’t usually read two books by the same author at the same time, but someone failed to return my print copy of this one, and finding that there was an audio was tempting.  One complaint.  Accents are important in this, as if voice pitch, and, while the reader is good, he rarely gets these right.

Also:

Finished the most recent issue of Smithsonian

FF: Writing to the Editor

July 9, 2021
Persephone Contemplates the Evolving Nature of the Hero

Remember how I complained last week that an article in Smithsonian mispresented Albuquerque?  It ended up bugging me enough that I wrote a letter to the editors.  I’ll let you know if they choose to print it.

Maybe if they don’t, I’ll post it here!

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. 

Recently Completed:

The Quest for Theseus by A.G. Ward (editor and author).  A heavily illustrated (with photos of art, coins, etc.) look at how the myth/legend Theseus of Theseus evolved, and how different time periods seized on different aspects of the story.  Five authors contribute material, with Anne G. Ward contributing the bulk.  Much enjoyed.

In Progress:

Legion by Brandon Sanderson.  Audiobook.  This is a compilation of three novellas that are so interdependent that I don’t think the third would have the same impact if you hadn’t read the first two.  First is good, often funny.  Second has more complex plot, quite good.  Third…  I’m still listening to it, but it’s gotten very dark and very scary, in part because the author has done a good job of making me care about his characters.

Also:

Two issues of DreamForge Anvil.  This is a new iteration of the magazine once known as DreamForge.  It’s sort of a hybrid between a fiction magazine and a writer’s workshop.  Behind the scenes looks at editor’s notes and author response are available, and some articles deal with the craft of writing.  I’m only reading the stories, and glancing at the editor’s notes.

The stories are not as strong as those in DreamForge, in part because many are shorter, and many are “beginner” pieces.  However, this does not mean they are weak, and as with all stories, your reaction may be different from mine!

FF: And Now

July 2, 2021
Baby Quail

In this photo, a baby quail marches happily across the gravel in our front area. You may need to look carefully, as he is not much bigger than the gravel!

This is one of the about a dozen chicks (featured with their dad in this week’s WW) who have been delighting me and Jim.

I’m happy to announce that I’ve finished the revisions to Aurora Borealis Bridge, the second of my forthcoming “Over Where,” series.  While I catch up on various and sundry jobs, I’m feeling a bit more ambitious about my reading.

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. 

Recently Completed:

Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayer.  My library doesn’t have this as an audio, so I pulled this one off my reading shelf.  Many people dislike because it’s “mystery light,” but I love the language, and the focus on the characters.

Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie.  Audiobook.  Poirot doesn’t appear until toward the end, making me wonder if Christie was encouraged to change a “stand alone” into a series book.  Either way, he does a good job.

In Progress:

Legion by Brandon Sanderson.  Audiobook.  Just started.  I rather like Sanderson’s opening author’s note.

The Quest for Theseus by A.G. Ward (editor and author).  A heavily illustrated (with photos of art, coins, etc.) look at how the myth/legend Theseus of Theseus evolved, and how different time periods seized on different aspects of the story.  Five authors contribute material, with Anne G. Ward contributing the bulk.  I’ve dipped into this, but never read cover to cover, and am looking forward to it.

Also:

Back issues of Smithsonian.  I’ve reached the current one, and enjoying, despite a very annoying misrepresentation of Albuquerque that implies it owed its relative stability to the arrival of the railroad, when it had been in place long before.

FF: When An Author Is Too Good

June 18, 2021
Mei-Ling’s No Fool

When, this past week, I finished In the Frame by Dick Francis, I decided to try another of his novels.  However, the one we chose started out with a liberal dose of tension, including shouting matches, profanity, and both physical and vehicular violence.  I couldn’t take it, so I’ve put it aside for a time when my life is a bit less unsettle. 

Sometimes an author is too good at what they do!

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. 

Recently Completed:

In the Frame by Dick Francis (Really by him, not by his son, Felix).  Audiobook.  I’m a sucker for stories that feature art, and the author’s note about how he came to write this one was fascinating.  Enjoyed very much.

In Progress:

Fool’s War by Sarah Zettel.  Future SF with intelligent AI characters.  Would be done, but my reading time this last week got traded for other things a couple of times.  It still holds up very well.  Recommended.

Clouds of Witness by Dorothy L. Sayers.  Audiobook.  I could probably recite parts of this one along with the reader, but that’s okay.  Ian Carmichael does a brilliant job.

Also:

Not much.  This last week really wasn’t my own, and when it was, I wrote.

FF: Sinking Back Into

May 21, 2021
Persephone Is Sourcerous

This week I’ve managed to sink back into my writing, but still finding time to read.

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. 

Recently Completed:

Midwinter Murders by Agatha Christie.  Audiobook.  Winter-themed short story collection.  Material includes a bit where Agatha Christie talks about the Christmas banquets she remembers from her childhood (and which were the setting for her novel, The Affair of the Christmas Pudding).

Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett.

Sourcery by Terry Pratchett.  Set relatively early in the Discworld, all the wizards except for the Librarian and Rincewind have very little individuality, which weakens the impact of a story in which the wizards are offered power beyond their wildest dreams. 

In Progress:

Hummingbird Wizard by Meredith Blevins.  Despite the title, a mystery with light brushstrokes of magical realism rather than a fantasy.

Poirot Abroad by Agatha Christie.  Audiobook.  A new combination of short stories in which the setting is supposed to be “abroad,” but they really stretched the justification, since most stories are still set in England.

Also:

Finishing up various magazines.

FF: But That’s Okay!

May 7, 2021
Mei-Ling Sniffs Out A Good Book

Squeezing in reading between a lot of other demands on my time, but it’s always there.

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. 

Recently Completed:

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie.  Audiobook.  Re-read. 

The Labors of Hercules by Agatha Christie.  A short story collection, with the “frame story” of Hercule Poirot doing his version of the mythical labors

In Progress:

Juniper Wiles by Charles de Lint.  De Lint’s first novel set in Newford for many years.  New POV character helps make this a gateway book into a complex setting, while pursuing a story of her own.

Midwinter Murders by Agatha Christie.  Audiobook.  Winter-themed short story collection.  Material includes a bit where Agatha Christie talks about the Christmas banquets she remembers from her childhood (and which were the setting for her novel, The Affair of the Christmas Pudding).

Also:

Putting in the garden is cutting a bit into my reading time, but that’s okay!

FF: One Thing Leads To Another

March 12, 2021
Roary, Now Eleven Month Old

Last week, I finished Yoshitoshi’s One Hundred Aspects of the Moon, and found myself thinking about how I’d like to read some of his source materials, many of which serve as Japanese cultural underpinnings.  So I am doing so…  I come by my scholar nerd impulses honestly!

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. 

Recently Completed:

Yoshitoshi’s One Hundred Aspects of the Moon by John Stevenson.  Years ago, Jim and I attended a show at the Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe that featured this series of Yoshitoshi’s later prints.  Very intellectually and creatively stimulating.

In Progress:

The Renaissance by Will Durant.  Audiobook.  Having spent a lot of time on the papal states, including looking at which popes may not have been as bad as often represented (including Alexander Borgia), we’ve moved to art and architecture.  Current focus: Raphael.

Kojiki translated and extensively annotated by Donald L. Philippi.  The title means “Record of Ancient Things” and the text was completed in 712.  A mixture of mythology, folklore, history, and legend­­—with a healthy dose of genealogy—this was created for political reasons, to explain the descent of the Yamato, but also from a desire to preserve older traditions.  I’m really happy to have the extensive footnotes and appendixes, all of which are well-written.

Someplace To Be Flying by Charles de Lint.  I’ve deliberately put off re-reading this until I could read fresh. 

Also:

Back issues of Smithsonian.  Now reading about dogs. 

FF: Focus

March 5, 2021
Plump and Rounded, Coco Contemplates the Moon

This week, I find myself back in mostly non-fiction territory.

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. 

Recently Completed:

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart.  Good but more anxious, less ironic, thus less fun.

In Progress:

The Renaissance by Will Durant.  Audiobook.  Touring some of the smaller cities in Italy.  (The Italian Renaissance is the focus of the book.)

Yoshitoshi’s One Hundred Aspects of the Moon by John Stevenson.  Years ago, Jim and I attended a show at the Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe that featured this series of Yoshitoshi’s later prints.  We were so fascinated, we bought the book.  I read the parts focused on each print pretty much immediately, but only skimmed the introduction.  This time I started there.  Fascinating mixture of history and biography.  Now I’m reading the text that goes with the individual prints.

Also:

Back issues of Smithsonian.  The article on Yellowstone was fascinating, even if the writer should have had an archeologist check some terminology, especially since the article was focused around archeology!

FF: Finished Up

February 12, 2021
Persephone Relaxes With A Good Book

I haven’t chosen what novel I’m going to read next, but am sampling a variety of shorter works, most of which aren’t holding my attention.  Probably I need to go stare at my bookshelves and see what appeals to me.

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.

Recently Completed:

Agent of Change by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.  I’ve meant to try a Liaden book for years, and am finally getting there.  Strong characterization, even of minor characters.  Great setting.  Plot is action-packed, after the fashion of a spy thriller.  Oh, and I loved the Turtles (aliens).

In Progress:

The Renaissance by Will Durant.  Audiobook.  Looking at the shifting of visual art styles from Medieval to early Renaissance.

Also:

Back issues of Vogue.