April 1st, 2006

20111112, Marilee

Dangerous Visions edited by Harlan Ellison

I remember when I first read this, the ideas were striking. Almost 40 years later, re-reading it for the book group, there's nothing dangerous and not a lot of visions, either. Two of my favorite stories are in this book: "The Day After The Day The Martians Came" by Frederik Pohl, and "Gonna Roll The Bones" by Fritz Leiber, but they were not enough to overcome the forewords and introductions. Harlan's ego oozed out of the introductions in such plenty that I expected the book to be glued together by it. It was lucky if there was a paragraph on the actual author because the rest of the intro would be about Harlan.

The most egregious egoboo Harlan gave himself was when he asked Robert Bloch to continue his Jack the Ripper series, but in the future. Bloch came up with "A Toy for Juliette," a story that was complete in itself and rather satisfying. Harlan didn't like what Bob wrote, so he wrote a story to follow it, "The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World," which, like the title was too long and rather diffuse.

Harlan is GoH at Minicon in two weeks and having reread this so recently, I'm not sure I'll be able to look him in the eyes without saying something.
20111112, Marilee

The Capclave 2005 Chapbook honoring Howard Waldrop

This is one of those books where you open the front, read about halfway through, and then the words turn upside down, so you turn it over to the other front and read another story from there. The covers are by Carol Emshwiller and very evocative. The first side is titled "The Horse of a Different Color (That You Rode in On)" and starts with an introduction of Howard by Eileen Gunn. There's a picture of Howard and we find he's moved back to Austin, and then there's the named story. This is one of those stories where Howard takes people from different eras and milieus and has them talk together. I'm not fond of this style.

The other front of the book is titled "The King of Where I Am" and is straightforward stfnal story that starts from a real incident in Howard's life and then takes off. I thought this was a great story, and was pleased to see that the Hugo nominators agreed with me. I'm pretty sure this chapbook won't be for sale, but you can find all the nominated short fiction online.
20111112, Marilee

Jupiter by Ben Bova

I would have liked this more if there had been more science and less religion. One of his major themes was that although there are those nasty atheists and those awful Christian fanatics, there are nice Christians in the middle. I know individuals who have been careful to point this out lately, but not in quite as sustained a stream.

There are some interesting bits of bioscience in here, plus the required love and heartbreak. Some of the writing was odd -- twice he uses three-word phrases to explain something except that two of the words mean the same thing which makes him look rather stupid in the medical area (e.g., heart rate, blood pressure, pulse).

If you're fond of reading about the happy middle winning over the horrible ends and don't mind reading about religion, you'll like this book.