Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A pair of reviews

Josh Young, who very recently turned in his long-awaited debut novel, Do Buddhas Dream of Enlightened Sheep?, wrote a detailed review of Rod Walker's Mutiny in Space at Castalia House:
One of the things that I’m grateful to my parents for is that they made sure I knew the value of media from by gone decades. I grew up watching Arsenic and Old Lace, Charade, and North by Northwest. When I watched This Island Earth it was with wonder and without the ironic overlay of MST3K. And as much as I enjoyed Encyclopedia Brown and Choose Your Own Adventure books, I spent way more time reading things like Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus, Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, and Andre Norton’s Star Rangers. I say all this because I want you to understand that when I say Rod Walker’s Mutiny in Space is the product of a by-gone age, I’m giving it the highest praise I can.

I’m not sure that Mutiny in Space would be considered a juvenile, but it’s clearly got that adventure in its DNA and an old-timey vibe. Even though Nikolai’s world has things I never remember seeing in the juveniles– video games, artificial gravity, quantum entanglement– there’s plenty in it that conjures up the memories of all those old adventures I used to read. The heroes are bold and heroic, the villains villainous and craven. And looking at that sentence, it seems ridiculous that I’d have to type “the heroes are heroes and the villains are villains,” but I think we all know the world well enough to understand why that’s refreshing. I mean, heck. I intentionally use a grey morality in my own writing, and I’m part of a group or writers that are theoretically not fond of those things.
If you enjoy old school Blue SF and you haven't picked this one up yet, you really should. I mean, I'm the editor and I can't wait to see what Mr. Walker has up his sleeve next.

On the fantasy side, the Hugo-nominated Appendix N author Jeffro Johnson demonstrated the superlative nature of John C. Wright's excellent Iron Chamber of Memory by selecting a series of choice quotes from the book.
The book that all of these passages are taken from is Iron Chamber of Memory by John C. Wright. And while you’ll see contemporary authors ranging from Saladin Ahmad to Terry Brooks, N. K. Jemisin, George R. R. Martin, and Patrick Rothfuss incorporated into the latest iteration of D&D’s “inspirational reading list”, I’m doubt any of those additions are going to be anything like this. Fantasy role-playing and the genre of fantasy in general have just changed too much over the years.

Speaking for myself, reading this book… it was as if someone had read everything I liked about Appendix N books and everything I disliked about post-1977 science fiction and fantasy… and then made a novel that addressed every single point I’d made about them. It’s astonishing, really, but this is the book that has forced me to retire my “they don’t make ’em like this anymore” spiel. Today’s fandom may be divorced from its roots for the most part, but I think it’s fair to say that the depth and breadth of classic science fiction and fantasy informs nearly every paragraph of Wright’s stories.
Speaking of book reviews, I just finished reading Roosh's new book, Free Speech Isn't Free. I'll write a full review soon, but suffice it to say that it is very detailed, very good, and very useful in the manner of SJWAL. I think I must have highlighted 12 or 15 quotes for future reference.

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Anonymous Big Bill June 15, 2016 11:50 AM  

Every time I read "Jeffro" I think of his brother "Anfernee".

Anonymous jm June 15, 2016 12:03 PM  

Been waiting a while for Young's book. Really looking forward to it.

Blogger Happy Housewife June 15, 2016 1:14 PM  

The only thing Patrick Rothfuss inspires in me is drowsiness.

Blogger Jon M June 15, 2016 1:34 PM  

We are in the nascent stages of a fantasy rennaissance. I finally got around to reading the first issue of Cirsova, a sff collection (to which Jeffro contributed a work of non-fiction), and it's another throwback to a better time. The stories feel like the kind of freewheeling planetary romance and anything-goes fiction of the mid-20th century.

Blogger Gaiseric June 15, 2016 1:35 PM  

Well, he's certainly right about one thing: nobody can credibly say that John Wright is divorced from the roots of the fantasy genre.

Blogger James Dixon June 15, 2016 2:24 PM  

If I hadn't already decided I want to read Wright when I finally have time, those excerpts would have convinced me. :)

Anonymous Napoleon 12pdr June 15, 2016 2:47 PM  

One part of being in this community that I'm most grateful for has been the discovery of good science fiction and fantasy again. I was raised on the classics - Heinlein, Doc Smith, Asimov, etc...but the only writers I bothered with after ~1990 were Niven, Pournelle, and David Feintuch. I'd switched to Age of Sail fiction.

Now, there's a new generation of writers putting out first-rate work. Which is heartening, for the dreams they sow will be the reality the future will reap.

Anonymous Leonidas June 15, 2016 3:23 PM  

Mr. Young's story "NegEv" is, hands down, the best short story that I've ever published. It was absolutely brilliant, and I couldn't believe how lucky we were that he submitted it to us. I'm absolutely looking forward to his debut novel, and I can't wait to read it.

Anonymous LastRedoubt June 16, 2016 1:27 AM  

@2 Happy Housewife

I tried, and could not finish "Name of the Wind"

The main character's seething bitterness, constantly having the rug yanked out from under him pointlessly (and in a forced way) and just... it was horrible. I grew to loathe the main character.

Blogger Roy Lofquist June 16, 2016 4:10 AM  

Ain't these intertubes wonderful? I just ordered and received 2 books with about 6 mouse clicks in under 5 seconds!

Blogger VD June 16, 2016 4:27 AM  

The only thing Patrick Rothfuss inspires in me is drowsiness.

He's awful. Even worse than Robert Jordan at his tedious worst.

Anonymous Zeedub85 June 16, 2016 7:46 AM  

Delurking to comment on "Mutiny In Space." Makes me want to get out my old "Traveller Book" and start making character sheets and deck plans. Really good stuff.

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