Pixel Scroll 7/28 Pixels in My Pocket Like Scrolls of Sand

War, Famine, Conquest, Death, and a Puppy make up today’s Scroll.

(1) The headline reads “Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking Want to Save the World From Killer Robots” – more euphemistically called autonomous weapons.

Along with 1,000 other signatories, Musk and Hawking signed their names to an open letter that will be presented this week at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“Autonomous weapons are ideal for tasks such as assassinations, destabilizing nations, subduing populations and selectively killing a particular ethnic group,” the letter says. “We therefore believe that a military AI arms race would not be beneficial for humanity. There are many ways in which AI can make battlefields safer for humans, especially civilians, without creating new tools for killing people.”

(2) Margaret Atwood, in her article about climate change on Medium, senses perception of change is accelerating.

It’s interesting to look back on what I wrote about oil in 2009, and to reflect on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years. Much of what most people took for granted back then is no longer universally accepted, including the idea that we could just go on and on the way we were living then, with no consequences. There was already some alarm back then, but those voicing it were seen as extreme. Now their concerns have moved to the center of the conversation. Here are some of the main worries.

Planet Earth—the Goldilocks planet we’ve taken for granted, neither too hot or too cold, neither too wet or too dry, with fertile soils that accumulated for millennia before we started to farm them –- that planet is altering. The shift towards the warmer end of the thermometer that was once predicted to happen much later, when the generations now alive had had lots of fun and made lots of money and gobbled up lots of resources and burned lots of fossil fuels and then died, are happening much sooner than anticipated back then. In fact, they’re happening now.

One of the many topics she covers is the use of didactic fiction to awaken students to environmental problems.

Could cli-fi be a way of educating young people about the dangers that face them, and helping them to think through the problems and divine solutions? Or will it become just another part of the “entertainment business”? Time will tell. But if Barry Lord is right, the outbreak of such fictions is in part a response to the transition now taking place—from the consumer values of oil to the stewardship values of renewables. The material world should no longer be treated as a bottomless cornucopia of use-and-toss endlessly replaceable mounds of “stuff”: supplies are limited, and must be conserved and treasured.

(3) Of course, what people usually learn from entertainment is how to have a good time. Consider how that cautionary tale, The Blob,has inspired this party

Phoenixville, Pennsylvania — one of the filming locations for “The Blob” — hosts an annual Blobfest. One of the highlights for participants is reenacting the famous scene when moviegoers run screaming from the town’s Colonial Theatre.

(4) However, there are some fans who do conserve and treasure their stuff, like Allen Lewis, who recently donated his large sf collection:

The University of Iowa has struck gold. Not the kind that lies in the federal reserve, but one of paper in a Sioux Falls man’s basement. After 20 years of collecting, he is donating his one-of-a-kind collection of 17,500 books worth an estimated three quarters of a million dollars.

(5) And the University of Iowa makes good use of the material, for example, its project to digitize the Hevelin fanzine collection:

Hevelin-fanzines-e1437769140485Now, the pulps and passion projects alike will be getting properly preserved and digitized so they can be made accessible to readers and researchers the world over. The library’s digitization efforts are led by Digital Project Librarian Laura Hampton. She’s just a few weeks into the first leg of the project, digitizing some 10,000 titles from the collection of Rusty Hevelin, a collector and genre aficionado whose collection came to the library in 2012. You can follow along with Hampton’s work on the Hevelin Collection tumblr.

“These fanzines paint an almost outrageously clear picture of early fandom,” said Hampton. “If you read through every single fanzine in our collection, you would have a pretty solid idea of all the goings-on that shaped early fandom—the major players, the dramas, the developments and changes, and who instigated and opposed them. There is an incredible cultural history here that cannot be replicated.”

(6) The DC17 Worldcon bid has Storified a series of tweets highlighting reasons for vote for their bid.

https://twitter.com/DCin17/status/626081453638483968

It absolutely is an All-Star committee.

(7) JT in Germany has posted his picks in the Best Related Works category, and Antonelli’s Letters from Gardner ranked at the top of his personal scorecard.

Letters from Gardner by Lou Antonelli — 3 of 5 This is the one I was most interested in, as it’s about the actual mechanics of writing. It’s a series of short stories, starting as he’s trying to break into publishing short science fiction, and follows his career. Each of the stories is paired with an intro and follow-up about the changes the stories went through, including his interactions with famed editor Gardner Dozois. Unfortunately, the included sample was only just getting into the interesting part of his correspondence. It was good enough that I’ll be buying it soon enough.

(8) Another successful crowdfunding effort is bringing out Lovecraft: The Blasphemously Large First Issue, a new comic that portrays H.P. Lovecraft as “a modern-day, kick-ass action hero & alchemist.”

Writer Craig Engler is thrilled to report the copies have arrived from the printers and will be going out to donors. Lovecraft 48 pg COMP

(9) Joy: Poet, Seeker, and the Woman Who Captivated C.S. Lewis by Abigail Santamaria is due out August 4. The biography of Helen “Joy” Davidman. Katie Noah’s review appears in Shelf Awareness (scroll down).

Joy cover

While she clearly admires her subject, Santamaria acknowledges Joy’s failings: her tendency to exaggeration and even lying; the spending sprees she could rarely afford; her troubled relationship with her parents and brother. Joy’s marriage to Bill also receives an even-handed treatment. Bill was undoubtedly an alcoholic who struggled to maintain a stable family life, but Santamaria clearly outlines the part Joy played in the failure of their marriage.

Frustrated by professional and personal setbacks, Joy uprooted her life–and that of her two young sons–to travel to England in 1952. She had struck up a flourishing correspondence with Lewis, and she set out to woo her literary lion. Santamaria chronicles the difficulties of Joy’s life in England and Lewis’s reaction to her arrival, but admits that, in the end, they did fall deeply in love. As Joy’s health began to fail, her relationship with Lewis flourished, and their last few years together were blissful.

(10) When Syfy isn’t busy feeding celebrities to sharks, they produce episodic sci-fi shows like the new Wynonna Earp project.

This classic by Beau Smith which was brought to us by IDW Publishing is being given a 13 episode first season run and stars Melanie Scrofano (‘RoboCop‘,’Saw VI’) in the lead role! She’ll be playing the great granddaughter of Wyatt Earp and works for The Monster Squad. Following in his infamous footsteps, she works with the US Marshals, only in a secret department that tracks down fiends that are just a bit more sinister than your regular criminal.

(11) They’re also readying an adaptation of Clarke’s Childhood’s End — here’s the supertrailer shown at Comic-Con

[Thanks to Mark, Andrew Porter, Michael J. Walsh, Martin Morse Wooster, Linda Lewis, John King Tarpinian and David K.M. Klaus. Title credit to Brian Z.]

 

182 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/28 Pixels in My Pocket Like Scrolls of Sand

  1. I just now realize I forgot to insert:

    Bunnies, bunnies, it must be BUUNNNNNIIIEEEEESSSSS!!!!!

    Because somebody had to do it.

  2. I’ve been finding it weird to note where I abstain and where I vote against an unread book. Usually, the book I Have read has to be really really inarguably amazing. But even for that there’s an exception below.

    1. AUTHORS WHO DEDICATE BOOKS TO EACH OTHER
    The Riddle-Master of Hed, Patricia McKillip
    For example. What I’ve read of Donaldson’s, combined with the things people say about the Thomas Covenant books have convinced me I’d have to be VERY hard up for reading to bother. And McKillip is McKillip.

    2. STEPPING OUTSIDE OF TRADITION
    abstain. I’ve not read either book – I got stuck with In Evil Hour in High School, which I hated. I’ve had the impression I would not hate Marquez as a whole, especially after liking a couple of short stories, so I can’t count that experience against him.

    3. PROBABLY NOT COMPARED TO EACH OTHER VERY OFTEN
    Taran Wanderer, Lloyd Alexander

    4. STRUMMING A GUITAR AND PLAYING CARDS
    absain. I wasn’t wowed enough by Nine Princes In Amber to make a clear vote against the unknown.

    5. THE GREAT MAGICIANS MERLIN AND SCHMENDRICK
    The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle

    6. TRAVEL TO NEW LANDS AND THERE MAKE WAR
    Watership Down, Richard Adams

    7. THIS SOCIETY IS TOTALLY PREJUDICED AGAINST WIZARDS
    The Tombs of Atuan, Ursula K. Le Guin

    8. SERIOUS COMEDY
    abstain. TPB isn’t good enough to beat a stranger.

    9. SPECIAL ANACHRONISTIC BONUS BRACKET, BY POPULAR ACCLAIM
    Abstain. The Ford IS that good, but the way Cherryh is talked about, I fear so might she be.

  3. Stevie,

    Are you thinking of The Mirror of Her Dreams? I can’t remember the series title(and am in bed and not getting up to check my bookcases).

  4. Kyra sed

    I’m not being especially picky about which specific bracket the votes are coming from for a write-in.

    I didn’t think you would but I wanted to fit the match-up title.

  5. Finally I’ve read enough of the books to vote!

    2. STEPPING OUTSIDE OF TRADITION
    One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    3. PROBABLY NOT COMPARED TO EACH OTHER VERY OFTEN
    Taran Wanderer, Lloyd Alexander
    The Alexander is the best book in that series, the Lee the worst book in that series.

    5. THE GREAT MAGICIANS MERLIN AND SCHMENDRICK
    The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle
    “The Red Bull never fights. He conquers, but he never fights.”

    6. TRAVEL TO NEW LANDS AND THERE MAKE WAR
    Watership Down, Richard Adams
    I’ve giving it to the Adams because it didn’t have a bunch of inferior sequels.

    8. SERIOUS COMEDY
    The Face in the Frost, John Bellairs

  6. Rose,

    If you are inrested in weaving magic have you read Scorcerer’s Son by Phyllis Eisenstien?

  7. I see now that Kyra is a cruel but fair god and she has spared me the worst choices again by pairing books I have read against ones that I have not. It would seem the rituals were efficacious – for now…

    So only one actual vote plus some comments.

    The vote:
    2. STEPPING OUTSIDE OF TRADITION One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
    Elric doesn’t quite cut it. Jerry Cornelius is more fun but not sure what genre that should go into as he seems to be his own genre.

    Comments on others (not votes or necessarily endorsements)
    Lord Foul’s Bane, Stephen R. Donaldson – a book with oh so many problems but still brilliant. He tried for a central conceit of a thoroughly obnoxious central character and that whole aspect of the the whole series just never worked and just saddled his ‘hero’ with a bunch of issues that weren’t interesting and problematic on many levels. The bigoted small American town as a frame was a deep cliche. However, given that the apparent premise for the book was so flawed it is doubly amazing how good a series this was. [standard papal indulgence applies here on Donaldson writing a third trilogy and on anybody feeling the need to read it. Franky says ‘don’t do it’]

    Taran Wanderer, Lloyd Alexander – I read the lot but it all just didn’t stick and I didn’t re-read any, even though this was a time in my life that I’d re-read almost anything.

    The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle/The Crystal Cave, Mary Stewart – um another pair of books that crossed my eyes but didn’t engage my brain. Unicorn? I’m sure I did read it but I can only recall the movie.

    The Tombs of Atuan, Ursula K. Le Guin – the right choice for Earthsea. It is a better book and a better role for Ged.

  8. oh, yes: and I do support sticking with the Tombs of Atuan. I think it would stand alone just fine, and Tenar is even more unusual a character than Ged (and Ged was unusual when this series was started)

  9. Stevie on July 29, 2015 at 8:12 am said:

    I actually enjoyed the Gap Series, which I hadn’t expected; also the two parter he wrote whose title eludes me. I just don’t like The Covenant books…

    The space travel in The Gap series was all a bit inconsistent and hand wavey but overall it was clever how he mixed it all up with a take on Norse mythology. The Mordant’s Need pair I enjoyed but…
    …well the theme of sexual assault just keeps on appearing and when you have three major works from the same author when he uses it as a plot device it makes me dislike his books overall.

  10. 3. Taran Wanderer, Lloyd Alexander

    My autocorrect first tried for Tartan Wanderer, and then for Tarantino Wanderer. I think I’d at least try both.

    4. Nine Princes in Amber, Roger Zelazny

    Wellman makes the list and he’s up against Amber? Aieee.

    5. The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle

    6. Watership Down, Richard Adams

    7. Haven’t read either. Much as I love A Wizard of Earthsea, the opening of Tombs is so grim and hopeless that I’ve bounced off it something like four times over the decades. One of these years I’ve got to push through it and experience the rest of Earthsea…

    8. The Princess Bride, William Goldman

    And not just because it’s better than the movie.

  11. You can tell when I was a teenager, because I think I’ve read ALL of them.

    1. AUTHORS WHO DEDICATE BOOKS TO EACH OTHER
    The Riddle-Master of Hed, Patricia McKillip

    ugh Lord Foul ugh. Not to mention his “anile” problem — that being one of the words he picked up from reading the Compact OED and re-used to excess.

    2. STEPPING OUTSIDE OF TRADITION
    One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    – but I don’t actually care for either very much

    3. PROBABLY NOT COMPARED TO EACH OTHER VERY OFTEN
    Taran Wanderer, Lloyd Alexander
    – probably the high point of the series, but I loved them all.

    4. STRUMMING A GUITAR AND PLAYING CARDS
    Nine Princes in Amber, Roger Zelazny
    – later books got kind of tedious, but this one still rules

    5. THE GREAT MAGICIANS MERLIN AND SCHMENDRICK
    The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle
    – YOU FIEND!!! I absolutely love the Stewart, but there’s no comparison to the Beagle for enduring power.

    6. TRAVEL TO NEW LANDS AND THERE MAKE WAR
    Witch World, Andre Norton
    – it would have been a much harder choice if Norton had been up against *Shardik*, but I may be the only one who thinks so

    7. THIS SOCIETY IS TOTALLY PREJUDICED AGAINST WIZARDS
    The Tombs of Atuan, Ursula K. Le Guin
    – Deryni is cute, but there’s no comparison

    8. SERIOUS COMEDY
    The Face in the Frost, John Bellairs
    The Princess Bride, William Goldman
    – YOU DOUBLE-DAMNED FIEND!!!! This is the *worst*. I’ll think about it and get back to you.

    9. SPECIAL ANACHRONISTIC BONUS BRACKET, BY POPULAR ACCLAIM
    The Dragon Waiting, John M. Ford
    – another really hard choice.

  12. Anybody else enjoy The Folk of the Air, by Beagle, as well as TLU? I thought it was great.

  13. I was surprised by Kari Spelling’s suggestion that Kurtz was on a par with Dorothy Dunnett, not least because Dunnett did vast amounts of research for her books; Kurtz not so much. Nobody could accuse Dunnett of wearing her knowledge lightly, but the language was a great deal less convoluted than in the Deryni books, which in my view hover altogether too close to cod-Medieval to be comfortable.

    A more probable parallel would be Sharon Penman, who also has devoted decades to learning and writing about her beloved Plantagenets; she lacks DD’s poetic ability to put exactly the right fragment of song or verse for the maximum emotional response, but she’s still very, very good.

    Kurtz, on the other hand, treats us to gems like:

    ‘The battle had been brutal and bloody, even by peasant standards’

    on the first page of ‘High Deryni’, demonstrating that she’s totally clueless about warfare, and is apparently also a raging snob. There is a world in which aristocrats kill their enemies in a compassionate and caring manner, with due regard to ensuring that blood doesn’t get on the carpets and wall hangings, but that one travels through space supported by 4 very large elephants and and a positively enormous turtle.

    I have no problem in accepting that peasants, like all human beings, can be brutal and bloody; I do have a problem in accepting that those of the upper classes can’t. I suspect that is one of the reasons Kurtz has failed to retain her popularity whilst Ursula Le Guin has stood the test of time, and looks even better as we go forward…

  14. Msb:

    I’m more likely to reread FOLK OF THE AIR than UNICORN. I think it’s a more conventional story but with richer, more mature character writing.

  15. Tintinais

    Thank you! And as Camestros has pointed out, Mordant’s Need (the overall title for the two books) also has sexual assault, which the Gap has in spades plus torture, making that three series Donaldson has written with those themes.

    I’m pretty sure that I would view it differently if Donaldson appeared to be trying to write literary porn; I don’t think he is. For example, I think the history of his character Angus in the Gap is an effort to understand how someone can become a monster, and cease to be wholly monstrous; I think that’s worth doing, but I can certainly see why other people take a completely different view.

  16. Msb: I liked the Folk of the Air when I first read it, but I bounced off his totally-not-the-SCA SCA group when I tried to reread, probably unfairly. I like most of his books and stories though, and adore several besides TLU.

    Although, re the Last Unicorn, I have an awesome shirt one can only get as the lucky winner in the Last Unicorn movie tour:

    although it was odd to wear while heavily pregnant…

  17. Brackets, brackets; who has brackets?

    I do!:
    1. AUTHORS WHO DEDICATE BOOKS TO EACH OTHER
    The Riddle-Master of Hed, Patricia McKillip

    Going with the McKillip – which I haven’t read, but I have read Lord Foul’s Bane, and can’t stand it or anything else in that series.

    2. STEPPING OUTSIDE OF TRADITION
    One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    One Hundred Years, if for no other reason than that Marquez is one of the Latin American writers who introduced magical realism to the literary world.

    3. PROBABLY NOT COMPARED TO EACH OTHER VERY OFTEN
    Taran Wanderer, Lloyd Alexander
    Night’s Master, Tanith Lee
    Abstain; have not read either one.

    4. STRUMMING A GUITAR AND PLAYING CARDS

    Nine Princes in Amber, Roger Zelazny
    Zelazny, because the Amber series was, I think, my first exposure to the wonderful concept of parallel worlds and universes.

    5. THE GREAT MAGICIANS MERLIN AND SCHMENDRICK
    The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle

    OK, this one is really, really hard and I love both works. But I have to go with Peter Beagle, for originality.

    6. TRAVEL TO NEW LANDS AND THERE MAKE WAR
    Watership Down, Richard Adams

    Watership – again, for originality.

    7. THIS SOCIETY IS TOTALLY PREJUDICED AGAINST WIZARDS
    The Tombs of Atuan, Ursula K. Le Guin

    LeGuin, because LeGuin.

    8. SERIOUS COMEDY
    The Face in the Frost, John Bellairs
    The Princess Bride, William Goldman

    Another rough one. I haven’t read the Bellairs, and I know that the Princess Bride I adore is the film more than the novel. So…. I’ll take the cowardly way out and abstain.

    9. SPECIAL ANACHRONISTIC BONUS BRACKET, BY POPULAR ACCLAIM
    The Dragon Waiting, John M. Ford

    May my right arm wither and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I don’t vote for Mike, and The Dragon Waiting.

  18. Regarding The Last Unicorn, just as a personal note:
    I first became familiar with this story back in the mid-70s when I was in elementary school, via a stage production by Kaleidoscope Theatre at my school. Kaleidoscope was a small theatre troupe based out of Victoria, B.C., that did tours around a lot of the local schools as well as formal shows at local theatres.

    Because they were often doing single performances in school gymnasiums, they had become masters at minimal costuming and sets. (When playing to a group of seven year olds with overactive imaginations, this is generally just fine.) The butterfly in the early part of the book was played by one person dressed in a black bodysuit and a glittery/feathery masquerade mask, holding a tie-dyed sheet between outstretched arms so it would flutter about as the person cavorted across the floor.

    It wasn’t until years later I discovered the original story that production had been taken from, but it was quite a mind-blowing experience at the time.

    Kaleidoscope got me interested in stage productions for a time, though I later decided the stage wasn’t for me despite having lead roles in a couple of plays in elementary school. (When you’re dealing with nine year olds, lead roles are more likely to go to the person with the best memory for lines than the person with the best acting ability.)

  19. Gaaaah, forgot to nominate one of my abolute favourites for the 90s bracket. “The Hammer and the Cross” by Harry Harrison and Tom Shippey. It is just so great.

  20. This is the first of these – SF or F – that I’ve felt certain enough about to vote in.

    1. AUTHORS WHO DEDICATE BOOKS TO EACH OTHER
    The Riddle-Master of Hed, Patricia McKillip
    I read the Donaldson when it first came out, and like some others his thesaurus addiction put me off. (What is gained by referring to a storm as a “bayamo”? What does that word bring to the table?) I adore McKillip’s lyricism, and the little sub-stories in this book and in The Forgotten Beasts of Eld have stuck with me like tiny gems.

    2. STEPPING OUTSIDE OF TRADITION
    One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    Not a fan of Moorcock; I’ve read some Corum and maybe one Elric, and don’t find any of it appealing. For Marquez, the flying girl and the amnesia plague have stuck with me for decades.

    3. PROBABLY NOT COMPARED TO EACH OTHER VERY OFTEN
    Taran Wanderer, Lloyd Alexander
    Night’s Master, Tanith Lee
    Abstain. I haven’t read the Lee, and though I like the Prydain books – especially this one – a lot, I’m not quite confident enough to put them ahead sight unread.

    4. STRUMMING A GUITAR AND PLAYING CARDS
    Nine Princes in Amber, Roger Zelazny
    I haven’t read this particular Wellman, but I’ve read several of the Silver John stories and like them a lot. Still, the Zelazny is superb, even if the sequels steadily declined in quality.

    5. THE GREAT MAGICIANS MERLIN AND SCHMENDRICK
    The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle
    I read and enjoyed all of Stewart’s Merlin books in my teens, but they didn’t blow me away like the Beagle. “Then the Red Bull came.” – brrr!

    6. TRAVEL TO NEW LANDS AND THERE MAKE WAR
    Watership Down, Richard Adams
    Norton was my entree to science fiction; Star Rangers introduced me to the concept of Deep Time, and I devoured as many of her books as I could as a child. Still, Watership Down is incomparable. (I too have some fondness for Shardik, but found it dragged a bit more.)

    7. THIS SOCIETY IS TOTALLY PREJUDICED AGAINST WIZARDS
    The Tombs of Atuan, Ursula K. Le Guin
    No contest. I found the Deryni books a little off-putting, specifically when Morgan (I think it was) in exasperation cast a compulsion spell on – was it Derry? I thought, “These are supposed to be the good guys?” Even without that, Le Guin is masterful, and I think I agree that this is the best of the trilogy.

    8. SERIOUS COMEDY
    The Face in the Frost, John Bellairs
    I’ve seen the movie, but not read the book of The Princess Bride; though I found it witty fun, Bellairs’ juxtaposition of absurdity and absolute horror is even better than Beagle’s (though he’s lesser in other respects).

    9. SPECIAL ANACHRONISTIC BONUS BRACKET, BY POPULAR ACCLAIM
    The Dragon Waiting, John M. Ford
    Fortress in the Eye of Time, C. J. Cherryh
    Abstain. I haven’t read the Ford, and this is minor Cherryh.

  21. > “Jerry Cornelius is more fun but not sure what genre that should go into as he seems to be his own genre.”

    The Condition of Muzak was on the never-posted longlist of 64 for the science fiction bracket.

    > “Anybody else enjoy The Folk of the Air, by Beagle, as well as TLU?”

    I liked The Folk of the Air OK, but A Fine and Private Place holds a strangely special place in my heart (in part for where I was in my life when I read it.)

    > “Tarantino Wanderer”

    I would probably buy a ticket to this.

  22. I liked The Folk of the Air OK, but A Fine and Private Place holds a strangely special place in my heart (in part for where I was in my life when I read it.)

    Agreed. The Folk of the Air has some excellent bits, but A Fine and Private Place holds together better. After TLU, though, I think my favorite Beagle is The Innkeeper’s Song, though I suspect that’s a minority opinion.

  23. I looooooooved A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE when I first read it, and still think it has one of the best openings in fantasy fiction, but when I reread it recently I thought it had been overcome with adolescent angst. I still love it, but not quite as much.

    My favorite Beagle may be I SEE BY MY OUTFIT…

  24. I have read “The Last Unicorn” many times over, and “The Innkeeper’s Song” even more times.

    TLU has problems such as inconsistency and Molly being sidelined, but TIS is just about perfect.

  25. I admit that I absolutely loved both The Gap Cycle and Mordant’s Need. My brain knows that much of Donaldson’s writing is creepy and worthy of mockery but I’ll be damned if I could put those books down.

    Couldn’t appreciate Thomas Covenant, though. Not really sure why. At the time I’d have said that I the books lost me when the protagonist became a rapist, but years later I didn’t throw Lolita aside in disgust at page 20 and Humbert’s crimes were far worse than Covenant’s.

    Donaldson obviously isn’t Nabokov, but I don’t think my sixteen-year-old self had sufficiently well-developed taste to reject Donaldson on stylistic grounds.

  26. The Innkeeper’s Song is fantastic! Interestingly enough, I don’t personally think it’s the best fantasy novel of 1993. That distinction, at least for me, belongs to Strange Devices of the Sun and Moon by Lisa Goldstein-and when I read SDotSaM, I immediately marked it mentally as the book to beat that year. I still think that even more than 20 years later.

    If you haven’t read them, I highly recommend them both unreservedly. They’re excellent.

  27. Lenora Rose – OK, that made me laugh so hard that the cat left my lap. Well-played!

    Re: Donaldson. I forced myself to read the first Covenant trilogy, because respected persons told me it was deep and meaningful and it was shallow not to be able to get over the first part. I enjoyed the Mirror of Her Dreams books, until I thought about how damn passive the female lead was… Until meeting the male lead gave her a purpose. That bothered me. Then I read the first if the Gap books, and while I have worked hard to forget the details, I remember being horrified and nauseated through much of the book. And that was my “No More” point.

    No More searching through books that literally tripped my autonomic nervous system physiological responses, searching for somebody else’s deep truths.

  28. Kurtz, on the other hand, treats us to gems like:
    ‘The battle had been brutal and bloody, even by peasant standards’
    […]
    I have no problem in accepting that peasants, like all human beings, can be brutal and bloody; I do have a problem in accepting that those of the upper classes can’t.

    Actually, if I read just that (and I haven’t read the book myself), I’d assume she was making a snarky point that in any war, the peasants get the shittiest end of the pointy stick. The reason why Crecy and Agincourt resonated in medieval minds is because the nobility were suddenly served notice that longbow arrows simply didn’t give a shit how blue their blood, how splendid their armor, or how old their family.

  29. @Stevie — Regarding the Deryni, I think it’s possible you’re overlooking the fact that knights had an incentive–ransom–to take prisoner other knights who could be ransomed, while peasant soldiers had no such incentive. Hence in what was generally a far more brutal age than ours, the peasants being more brutal in warfare than the knights is quite plausible.

  30. Laertes

    Given your nom de plume I’m not hugely surprised; Donaldson’s characters would have fitted rather well. I commented earlier on how much Zelazny’s writing was influenced by his post-grad work on the Jacobean theatre.

    One of the banes of my life was trying to find floor space for all the bodies during and at the end of ‘The Duchess of Malfi’; the production took place in a small theatre with a thrust stage, the Maddermarket, built in 1921 for the purpose of Elizabethan and Jacobean plays in general, and Shakespeare in particular, in surroundings similar to their first performances.

    Unfortunately, Jacobean playwrights seemed to compete on how many people die, plus the most horrible means of them dying, and plots involving incest were de rigeur. ‘The Duchess of Malfi’ ran true to form; it is an undoubted masterpiece, in which good people suffer and die because those more powerful, want even more power and can use it with immense cruelty.

    The Duchess herself is tortured psychologically and in the end dies because her brother cannot quell his incenstuous desire for her, and thus ensures the murders her secret husband and then her; Webster’s line:

    ‘Cover her face. Mine eyes dazzle. She died young’

    remains one of the most heartbreaking lines in this or any other play.

    Staging it was immense fun, but the body count was much too high to stay where they were, so I was practically rolling the bodies off in time for the next corpse to arrive. Ah, the magic of live theatre…

  31. 1. Lord Foul’s Bane, Stephen R. Donaldson. Tricky; might have been an easier decision if I’d read the McKillip at about the same time instead of 25 years later (I knew about it, I knew it was getting good reviews – but in the old days a lot of American books were difficult to find in the UK)
    2. Abstain – never read the Marquez (on my ever-growing list of books to check out)
    3. Abstain – never read either of these (in fact, never read a novel by either)
    4. Nine Princes in Amber, Roger Zelazny. Many years ago I was blown away by RZ’s “For a Breath I Tarry”; then I found Lord of Light in the library; then I found this. Between them they pretty much mark the end of my puppyhood (which was emphatically NOT sad) and the beginning of the development of the Happy Dog I am today. Most unfortunate for Wellman to run into the Master.
    5. The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle. Beautiful
    6. Witch World, Andre Norton. Even though I can’t be sure I ever read it. I did read a fair few Nortons when I was a very young puppy, so I owe her a lot for helping to set me on the road.
    7. Abstain – never read Kurtz. (Since some people seem to prefer A Wizard of Earthsea to Tombs, can I muddy the waters and state a preference for The Farthest Shore? Just to be perverse.)
    8. Abstain. The Princess Bride is sitting on my Kindle (along with a shedload of other stuff waiting to be read). Bellairs is entirely new to me; either my education is sadly deficient or I am newly arrived from a parallel world (again!) where this gentleman does not exist.
    9. Abstain. Greatly enjoyed The Dragon Waiting, never read the Cherryh.

    I’m beginning to think that I haven’t read as much fantasy as I thought. Maybe it’s because of all those multi-volume series …

  32. 1. McKillip
    2. abstain
    3. Can’t decide. Lee & Alexander both deserve recognition, but for other books than these. Heck, add a vote for “Taran Wanderer”.
    4. abstain
    5. Beagle
    6. Adams
    7. “The Tombs of Atuan”
    8. Bellairs
    9. Cherryh

  33. > “I also just want to say that I’m impressed that we made it so far into the brackets before you made this joke.”

    I will admit that the number of times the dice have avoided totally obvious pairings has sometimes made me want to whack my head against the wall. (The 80’s bracket had two stories where someone’s heart being removed was a plot point, two stories about creating gods, two stories based on fairy legends, etc., etc., how many of these got paired with each other? NONE.) But Taran Wanderer / Night’s Master really is the first time I went, “Huh. That’s … an unusual pairing.”

  34. For bracket 4, write in Wellman’s Who Fears the Devil. Yeah, it’s a collection of stories, but they’re linked and carefully arranged.

  35. And change my #3 to a wild-card vote for Westmark (since we were talking about Ruritania the other day).

  36. And incidentally, after running this bracket, if asked, “What are the most common motifs in Western fantasy literature?”, my answer would be “1. King Arthur, 2. Tam Lin, 3. Heart removal.”

  37. Cpaca

    Unfortunately I have read the books, and her attitude doesn’t change; Kurtz doesn’t do snark since that’s completely outside her way of looking at things.

    As I note earlier, she really doesn’t seem to have done much research at all, and she doesn’t really seem to understand that blaming stuff on the peasants is ahistorical. Even if we did a quick overlay of the research about medieval warfare, we wouldn’t get this. Peasants had masters whose job it was to lead them; there was no such thing as a battle fought only by peasants against other peasants.

    To do so would destroy the social structure, because feudalism depended upon a very specific rule about who was to do particular things. Break that specific rule and everyone from the King down is screwed because order has disappeared, and without order the country will be shortly cease to be a country.

    What Kurtz apparently wanted was a world in which the combination of theocracy and the Divine Right of Kings ruled everybody. This is not something most of us want to see, however enjoyable it may (I suspect not at all, quite the reverse.)

    Lis Carey

    Thank you but no, I hadn’t overlooked it; it’s kind of hard to overlook it when you are looking at vastly expensive armour in our museums. I am the proud owner of a qualification in metal working, and thus my response when looking at an object is ‘Could I make that?”. When it comes to the armour I couldn’t make them.

    But we need to bear in mind the fact that Kurtz doesn’t say anything at all about this when she launches into her attack on the peasants, and first impressions are important….

  38. I’m abstaining from voting in this round, for a range of reasons (massively conflicted about some match ups, uninterested in others, and unable to form a complete opinion on some) .
    I will say that the only Donaldson work I’ve ever loved is his Daughter of Regals and Other Tales short story collection, especially the title story. possibly working in a shorter form didn’t give him enough time to get around to working in sexual assault themes.
    On the general disappearance of John M. Ford from the awareness of the SF reading public, his wide ranging set of subjects probably didn’t do him many favors, but the unavailability of most of his books is the real killer.

  39. I haven’t reread Lord Foul’s Bane in ages (as I mentioned, the suck fairy paid a call) but I remember not objecting to the initial rape because, from his perspective, he still believed it was all a dream. So as he gradually accepts the reality of the Land, he also has to accept the reality of his crime — that seemed like an interesting problem. 

    What I didn’t like was the way it simply got added to the relentless litany of his self-pitying self-hatred. You know, “woe is me, for I am so wretched.” There’s a point where it seems more like narcissim than remorse, but I was never sure that was the point Donaldson was going for.

    Also, it really started to bug me not only that he never uses “green” where he could use “viridian,” but that he goes on to use “viridian” EVERY SINGLE TIME. 

  40. Journey back with me to … THE SIXTIES AND THE SEVENTIES!

    I’m there, baby!

    1. AUTHORS WHO DEDICATE BOOKS TO EACH OTHER
    Abstention, but I’m going to comment anyway: I finished the first Donaldson trilogy, but felt disinclined to pick up the next one. Conversely I didn’t mind The Riddlemaster of Hed, but as I recall it was the first of a series, and I never picked up the rest, just because I’m not a great fan of riddles. I don’t remember the plot at all, just frustration with the riddles.

    2. STEPPING OUTSIDE OF TRADITION
    Elric of Melniboné, Michael Moorcock

    I’ve read some Marquez, though not this one. I’ve read lots of Moorcock, and I think I prefer Stormbringer, but whatever.

    3. PROBABLY NOT COMPARED TO EACH OTHER VERY OFTEN
    Night’s Master, Tanith Lee

    Tanith Lee. I never even heard of the other one, so I’ll take that as a metric of how likely I am to like it, because I’m an awful cheat.

    4. STRUMMING A GUITAR AND PLAYING CARDS
    Nine Princes in Amber, Roger Zelazny

    Zelazney, Amber. What more need be said?

    5. THE GREAT MAGICIANS MERLIN AND SCHMENDRICK
    The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle

    Again, never heard of the novel, though I have heard of the author.

    6. TRAVEL TO NEW LANDS AND THERE MAKE WAR
    Witch World, Andre Norton

    Norton was one of the first SFF authors I read, though the library didn’t have this particular novel.

    7. THIS SOCIETY IS TOTALLY PREJUDICED AGAINST WIZARDS
    The Tombs of Atuan, Ursula K. Le Guin

    Earthsea, LeGuin. Kerr was good, but never touched me like LeGuin did.

    8. SERIOUS COMEDY
    The Princess Bride, William Goldman

    Great movie.

    9. SPECIAL ANACHRONISTIC BONUS BRACKET, BY POPULAR ACCLAIM
    The Dragon Waiting, John M. Ford

    I’ve gone off Cherryh recently, having stalled on the fourth book of the infinite series of Translators and whatnot. Maybe I’ve got the SFF readers’ equivalent of ADD and can’t finish series longer than three, I dunno. And, actually, I prefer How Much for Just the Planet?

  41. Stevie:

    I have no problem in accepting that peasants, like all human beings, can be brutal and bloody; I do have a problem in accepting that those of the upper classes can’t.

    I’ve been mulling this over, and far from holding back (as if that even make sense in warfare) if a knight was interested gaining glory for personal valor he’d be just as violent and prone to take even more risks. Isn’t the death of Henry V’s brother attributed to a desire to make a military name for himself in that way? (I mean in real history.)

  42. Mike

    I entirely agree. I really don’t understand it. After all, tournaments had been the way in which a fighter gained knowledge and earned money; a college there to train them.

    I shall sleep on it, and see if my brain makes more sense, though I should warn you it’s grown rusty…

  43. 1. AUTHORS WHO DEDICATE BOOKS TO EACH OTHER
    The Riddle-Master of Hed, Patricia McKillip
    Lord Foul’s Bane, Stephen R. Donaldson

    I remember remarking to someone even as I was reading Lord Foul’s Bane “I don’t like this book, but I keep on turning the pages”. I still don’t like it. Riddlemaster, on the other hand….

    2. STEPPING OUTSIDE OF TRADITION
    One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    Elric of Melniboné, Michael Moorcock

    Elric is an annoying whiner

    3. PROBABLY NOT COMPARED TO EACH OTHER VERY OFTEN
    Taran Wanderer, Lloyd Alexander
    Night’s Master, Tanith Lee

    I remember much more about the Assistant Pig-Keeper than the Tanith Lee, though I know I’ve read the Lee since it’s in my library.

    4. STRUMMING A GUITAR AND PLAYING CARDS
    The Old Gods Waken, Manly Wade Wellman
    Nine Princes in Amber, Roger Zelazny

    5. THE GREAT MAGICIANS MERLIN AND SCHMENDRICK
    The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle
    The Crystal Cave, Mary Stewart

    Arrgh.

    6. TRAVEL TO NEW LANDS AND THERE MAKE WAR
    Witch World, Andre Norton
    Watership Down, Richard Adams

    Arrrrrghhhhh!!!

    7. THIS SOCIETY IS TOTALLY PREJUDICED AGAINST WIZARDS
    The Tombs of Atuan, Ursula K. Le Guin
    Deryni Rising, Katherine Kurtz

    ARRRGGGHHH! (And I prefer Tombs to Wizard)

    8. SERIOUS COMEDY
    The Face in the Frost, John Bellairs
    The Princess Bride, William Goldman

    I love The Princess Bride, what can I say?

    9. SPECIAL ANACHRONISTIC BONUS BRACKET, BY POPULAR ACCLAIM
    The Dragon Waiting, John M. Ford
    Fortress in the Eye of Time, C. J. Cherryh

    ARRRGHHHHHHH
    Someone should go into business bringing us cold forehead cloths!

  44. Jim Parish on July 29, 2015 at 2:16 pm said:

    I read the Donaldson when it first came out, and like some others his thesaurus addiction put me off. (What is gained by referring to a storm as a “bayamo”? What does that word bring to the table?)

    My wife says that’s the way he talks. Or did talk back then. She hasn’t seen him in decades.

    Kyra on July 29, 2015 at 4:40 pm said:

    My favorite John M. Ford is actually The Final Reflection.

    Me, too. Great book.

  45. [Waves hi back to Susana.]

    1. AUTHORS WHO DEDICATE BOOKS TO EACH OTHER
    The Riddle-Master of Hed, Patricia McKillip
    Lord Foul’s Bane, Stephen R. Donaldson

    Easy one.

    2. STEPPING OUTSIDE OF TRADITION
    One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    Elric of Melniboné, Michael Moorcock

    Harder, but there’s a reason why Garcia Marquez is a Nobel laureate and Moorcock isn’t.

    3. PROBABLY NOT COMPARED TO EACH OTHER VERY OFTEN
    Taran Wanderer, Lloyd Alexander
    Night’s Master, Tanith Lee

    I have to confess to not having read any Alexander. But the Lee is lots of fun.

    4. STRUMMING A GUITAR AND PLAYING CARDS
    The Old Gods Waken, Manly Wade Wellman
    Nine Princes in Amber, Roger Zelazny

    Can’t vote against Amber on this one, sorry.

    5. THE GREAT MAGICIANS MERLIN AND SCHMENDRICK
    The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle
    The Crystal Cave, Mary Stewart

    Another where I haven’t read one. But good as Stewart may be, she’s not going to display The Last Unicorn from my heart.

    6. TRAVEL TO NEW LANDS AND THERE MAKE WAR
    Witch World, Andre Norton
    Watership Down, Richard Adams

    One of my favorite books when I was a kid; I read it over and over. (Just like LotR.) I should give it another go now that I’m an adult and have read the Aeneid.

    7. THIS SOCIETY IS TOTALLY PREJUDICED AGAINST WIZARDS
    The Tombs of Atuan, Ursula K. Le Guin
    Deryni Rising, Katherine Kurtz

    Le Guin famously trashed Deryni Rising in “From Elfland to Poughkeepsie”, and I think time has proved her right.

    8. SERIOUS COMEDY
    The Face in the Frost, John Bellairs
    The Princess Bride, William Goldman

    I heard great things about the Bellairs for many years, but when I finally read it, it was a big disappointment. Beagle did the “fantasy with anachronisms” thing way better, and the ending was an annoying deus ex machina. (Nu, vg jnf n fcryy bs “fhzzba raqvat”, whfg jvgu n yvzvgrq enatr.)

    9. SPECIAL ANACHRONISTIC BONUS BRACKET, BY POPULAR ACCLAIM
    The Dragon Waiting, John M. Ford
    Fortress in the Eye of Time, C. J. Cherryh

    If you didn’t know which one of these I was going to vote for, you haven’t been paying attention. I likely wasn’t voting for anything by Cherryh anyway: many people I respect greatly adore her, but there’s something about her prose that I find impenetrable.

Comments are closed.