Throwback Thursday

Love the idea of this one, hosted here. The idea is to share a couple of the books that have been waiting on your shelves for a while, as opposed to something like Stacking the Shelves, where you share books you’ve just picked up. So here’s three I’ve picked for this week.

Cover of Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge

Fly by Night, Frances Hardinge

A breath-taking adventure story, set in reimagined eighteenth-century England. As the realm struggles to maintain an uneasy peace after years of cival war and tyranny, a twelve-year-old orphan and her loyal companion, a grumpy goose, are about to become the unlikely heroes of a radical revolution.

I’ve had this on my list for ages, since the first book by Frances Hardinge I read (which was A Face Like Glass, and absolutely excellent). I’ve nearly picked it up so many times since, but I keep wanting to pick the right time so I really get to savour it.

The Beacon at Alexandria, Gillian Bradshaw

In the Fourth Century A.D., independent and determined young Charis is forbidden to become a doctor because she is a woman. Disguising herself as a eunuch she flees Ephesus for Alexandria, then the center of learning. There she apprentices to a Jewish doctor but eventually becomes drawn into Church politics and is forced once again to flee. She serves as an army doctoCover of The Beacon at Alexandria by Gillian Bradshawr at a Roman outpost in Thrace until, kidnapped by barbarian Visigoths, she finds her destiny to heal and also to be a woman and a wife.

I wouldn’t be sure about that “finding her destiny” part, normally, but I tend to trust Gillian Bradshaw — I’ve really enjoyed most of her work that I’ve read so far. She seems to do a lot of work on her settings, although as I think on it, she tends to focus more on male characters.

The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories, Vol. 2: Outer Space, Inner Lands, Ursula Le Guin

Cover of The Unreal and the Real by Ursula Le GuinOuter Space, Inner Lands includes many of the best known Ursula K. Le Guin nonrealistic stories (such as “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” “Semley’s Necklace,” and “She Unnames Them”) which have shaped the way many readers see the world. She gives voice to the voiceless, hope to the outsider, and speaks truth to power—all the time maintaining her independence and sense of humor.

Companion volume Where on Earth explores Le Guin’s satirical, risky, political and experimental earthbound stories. Both volumes include new introductions by the author.

I’m looking forward to both volumes of this, but particularly to volume two. Ursula Le Guin has been a huge influence on me and this sounds like a pretty definitive collection. I’ve probably read a lot of them before, though not all. If you’ve never read ‘The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas’, I definitely recommend that one if you’re okay with discomforting ethical dilemmas.

12 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday

    • Hmmm. Fantasy or SF? I prefer her fantasy, and would start with A Wizard of Earthsea or, if you’ve less patience for archaic sorts of storytelling, maybe Gifts. My first was A Wizard of Earthsea — I actually did a post recently where I used it to talk about my anxiety. Also, her translation of Angelica Gorodischer’s Kalpa Imperial is amazing, and feels very like her style in general.

      SF-wise, The Left Hand of Darkness is the place people often start, though I began with The Telling. Lots of her books and short stories are set in the same world, but you don’t need to read them in order.

      The thing with Le Guin for me… she writes from a cool clear space, somehow. Even when I don’t fully understand where a story is going, there’s a kind of clarity there, a stillness and patience. Sometimes that doesn’t work for people, though I adore it — to me, it feels very tender.

    • I love Frances Hardinge’s Cuckoo Song and A Face Like Glass, so I have high hopes. Are you interested in starting on some Frances Hardinge? Could be arranged!

  1. I’m attracted by all of these, though I’m waiting for the Le Guin collection until it’s in paperback. (Which it may well now be.) The Bradshaw looks interesting too — I assume from your introduction that Charis gets to meet the redoubtable philosopher Hypatia who was also opposed by the Church and tragically torn to pieces by a mob whipped up by the misogynist Saint Cyril. I never completed the once-famous Victorian treatment of this story, Hypatia by Charles Kingsley, but I’m minded to do that soon.

    And the Hardinge looks tempting as well. A re-imagined 18th-century England? Sounds a bit like a Joan Aiken novel, and I’m a sucker for her stuff too.

    • Bradshaw’s generally good; I started with Island of Ghosts, and liked it a lot. I got the Le Guin collection in ebook, and only just got round to starting it this morning — shame on me. But I do love her style, that crystal clarity she can create.

      Frances Hardinge is generally fun, I recommend her work. Maybe a touch of Diana Wynne Jones to it?

  2. Thank you for joining in Throwback Thursday! And these look like some amazing books. 🙂 Hope you enjoy them when you get to reading them.

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