June 14th, 2013


Links I found interesting for 14-06-2013


June Books 2) Rags, by Mick Lewis

Charmagne knew she was screaming, but there was no sound in the horror truck. No echo.
Her hands were over her mouth, but she knew she was screaming.
And then the Ragman showed her things.
This is a Third Doctor novel with some fairly gritty horror elements. It wasn't at all to my taste; the same author has also done a pretty violent Second Doctor novel, Combat Rock, where I felt it was just about justifiable given the colonial situation on which it was based. Here however I felt there was no such excuse; it's a story of a rock band taken over by an alien entity and spreading Evil around 1970s Britain (where, in a dystopian alternate universe, they have started showing Blankety Blank several years before it affected our time line), attempts at pastiche flopping miserably in several places and simply gratuitous. One of the rather few Who books I really wouldn't recommend to anyone.

June Books 3) Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins

The anthem begins, but there are no faces in the sky tonight. The audience will be restless, thirsting for blood.
Sequel to the very impressive The Hunger Games, the second book in the series has our heroine Katniss once again forced to take to the combat arena for brutal contest with the champions of her world. I could see the end coming from about a quarter of the way into the book, so was a bit impatient with the characters who weren't expecting it, but the pace of the writing about short-term survival and loyalty to friends and potential lovers in extreme circumstances carries it. I went and bought the third book yesterday, so I hope it is a decent climax.

June Books 4) The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature, ed. Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn

Fantasy is not so much a mansion as a row of terraced houses, such as the one that entranced us in C.S. Lewis's The Magician's Nephew with its connecting attics, each with a door that leads into another world.
One of this year's Hugo nominees for Best Related Work, this is an excellent set of essays on various aspects of the fantasy literature, with a very strong historical introduction (apart from a bizarre chapter on children's fantasy), a middle section on various literary approaches to the genre, and a concluding section on various subgenres or "clusters", with a much better chapter on children's fantasy. When I read books like this I want i) a better understanding of books I have already read and ii) suggestions of books I might read in the future which may appeal to me, and I was fully satisfied on both points. In particular I note that many chapters referenced Rosemary Jackson's Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion, which I must now look out for. (Other individuals with more than ten references in the index: King Arthur, Jorge Luis Borges, John Clute, Sigmund Freud, Neil Gaiman, Alan Garner, Elizabeth Hand, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Ursula K. Le Guin, C.S. Lewis, H.P. Lovecraft, George MacDonald, Farah Mendlesohn, China Miéville, Edgar Allan Poe, Philip Pullman, and - way in the lead - J.R.R. Tolkien.) Strongly recommended.