Aardy R. DeVarque (aardy) wrote,
Aardy R. DeVarque

Books that I read in March

Books that I read in March:

13. Leiber, Fritz. The Knight and Knave of Swords (245 p.)

14. Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Black Arrow (337 p.)

15. Kaye, Marvin, ed. Masterpieces of Terror and the Supernatural : A treasury of spellbinding tales old & new (623 p.)
(Contents: Dracula's Guest, by Bram Stoker; The Professor's Teddy Bear, by Theodore Sturgeon; Bubnoff and the Devil, by Ivan Turgenev; The Quest for Black Claveringi, by Patricia Highsmith; The Erl-King, by Johann Wolfgang Von Goëthe; The Bottle Imp, by Robert Louis Stevenson; A Malady of Magicks, by Craig Shaw Gardner; Lan Lung, by M. Lucie Chin; The Dragon Over Hackensack, by Richard L. Wexelblat; The Transformation, by Mary W. Shelley; The Faceless Thing, by Edward D. Hoch; The Anchor, by Jack Snow; When the Clock Strikes, by Tanith Lee; Oshidori, by Lafcadio Hearn; Carmilla, by Sheridan LeFanu; Eumenides in the Fourth Floor Lavatory, by Orson Scott Card; Lenore, by Gottfried August Bürger; The Black Wedding, by Isaac Bashevis Singer; Hop-Frog, by Edgar Allan Poe; Sardonicus, by Ray Russell; Graveyard Shift, by Richard Matheson; Wake Not the Dead, by Johann Ludwig Tieck; Night and Silence, by Maurice Level; Flies, by Isaac Asimov; The Night Wire, by H.F. Arnold; Last Respects, by Dick Baldwin; The Pool of the Stone God, by A. Merritt; A Tale of the Thirteenth Floor, by Ogden Nash; The Tree, by Dylan Thomas; Stroke of Mercy, by Parke Godwin; Lazarus, by Leonid Andreyev; The Waxwork, by A.M. Burrage; The Silent Couple, by Pierre Courtois; Moon-Face, by Jack London; Death in the School-Room, by Walt Whitman; The Upturned Face, by Stephen Crane; One Summer Night, by Ambrose Bierce; The Easter Egg, by H.H. "Saki" Munro; The House in Goblin Wood, by JOhn Dickson Carr; The Vengeance of Nitocris, by Tennessee Williams; The Informal Execution of Soupbone Pew, by Damon Runyon; His Unconquerable Enemy, by W.C. Morrow; Rizpah, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson; The Question, by Stanley Ellin; The Flayed Hand, by Guy de Maupassant; The Hospice, by RObert Aickman; The Christmas Banquet, by Nathaniel Hawthorne; The Hungry House, by Robert Bloch; The Demon of the Gibbet, by Fitz-James O'Brien; The Owl, by Anatole Le Braz; No. 252 Rue M. Le Prince, by Ralph Adams Cram; The Music of Erich Zann, by H.P. Lovecraft; Riddles in the Dark (original 1938 version), by J.R.R. Tolkien)

16. Shiga, Jason. Meanwhile (76 p.)

17. Moorcock, Michael. Elric of Melniboné (132 p.)

18. Moorcock, Michael. The Sailor on the Seas of Fate (128 p.)

19. Moorcock, Michael. The Weird of the White Wolf (114 p.)

20. Clarke, Arthur C. The Nine Billion Names of God (240 p.)
(Contents: The Nine Billion Names of God, I Remember Babylon, Trouble with Time, Rescue Party, The Curse, Summertime on Icarus, Dog Star, Hide and Seek, Out of the Sun, The Wall of Darkness, No Morning After, The Possessed, Death and the Senator, Who's There?, Before Eden, Superiority, A Walk in the Dark, The Call of the Stars, The Reluctant Orchid, Encounter at Dawn, "If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth...", Patent Pending, The Sentinel, Transience, The Star)

March total: 1,895 pages
2011 total to date: 5,644 pages

The Knight and Knave of Swords is a Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser book. It's much like the others, though except for a story featuring what amounts to a grand tour of Erewhon, it's pretty much all set not in Lankhmar but an island in the far, far north. Decent as Erewhon stories go, but not up to the bar set by "Jewels in the Forest" or "Bazaar of the Bizarre".

The Black Arrow is set during England's Wars of the Roses. I haven't read much either fiction or nonfiction with that setting, so that was somewhat educational for me. It's a juvenile story, though, and so doesn't quite get into the depth or detail that I'd've preferred. I'd put it about on a level with Kidnapped; Treasure Island is better. One thing that struck me is the similarity in names between the houses of "Lancaster" and "York" here and the houses of "Lannister" and "Stark" in George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones series.

Masterpieces of Terror and the Supernatural contains some good stories, but doesn't live up to its title, even after knowing that the editor defines "terror" to mean "suspenseful horror" as exemplified by the cutting-back-and-forth version of Hitchcock's famous "bomb under the table" example. A few of them aren't either "horrific" or "supernatural" at all (such as the original Gollum section from The Hobbit). A better title would be "Marvin Kaye's favorite short stories and excerpts that didn't fit in his earlier collection of ghost stories".

Meanwhile is basically a giant choose-your-own-adventure graphic novel with literal lines to follow rather than "go to page X" instructions. It's really rather well done, and math geeks can marvel at his assertion that his plot tree turned out to be an NP-complete problem.

I'd previously read one or two of Moorcock's much-later Elric books and was somewhat confused, but these are chronologically the first and are much more accessible. I suspect they're also the origin of Dungeons & Dragon's Elemental Planes and elemental summoning spells. (They're definitely a co-source, with Poul Anderson's Three Hearts & Three Lions for the Law-Chaos alignment axis, and arguably for the old "alignment languages", and possibly a few other elements. Also a co-source with lots of other books for some of the general "adventure questing" feel, though most especially where planar travel to parallel dimensions is involved.)

Having now read 2001, 2010, Childhood's End, Rendezvous with Rama, and now The Nine Billion Names of God, I have concluded that Arthur C. Clarke is a talented writer, but is way overrated. I did laugh a bit at "The Reluctant Orchid"'s spin on H.G. Wells' "The Flowering of the Strange Orchid" (which is, of course, very similar to Little Shop of Horrors).

Feudalism: Serf & Turf
Tags: books, reviews

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