Stacking the Shelves

I’m trying not to buy too many books, still, despite my book ban being over. That did not stop me from going to the library and picking up a new book/one with a voucher… Time for Stacking the Shelves a la Tynga’s Reviews!

Fiction (bought)

Cover of Lock In by John Scalzi Cover of Dreamwalker by J D Oswald

I didn’t intend to pounce on Lock In when it came out, but I spotted it in the shop today, so I thought I might as well pick it up. As for Dreamwalker, it involves dragons, so, hey! Plus, free voucher because I filled my stamp card, so.

Fiction (library)

Cover of Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock Cover of We Are Here by Michael Marshall Cover of The Sorcerer's House by Gene Wolfe

Cover of Homer's Odyssey by Simon Armitage Cover of Radio Free Albemuth by Philip K Dick Cover of Timescape by Gregory Benford

Cover of Black Unicorn by Tanith Lee Cover of Book of Skulls by Robert Silverberg

Various things for various challenges, here, plus some I’ve been meaning to read for a while — I like Michael Marshall’s SF, and I love Gene Wolfe in general. Simon Armitage’s work is generally awesome, too. All in all, pleased with this library haul.

Library (non-fiction)

Cover of the Selfish Genius by Fern Elsdon-Baker Cover of The Hidden Landscape by Richard Fortey Cover of Eating the Sun, by Oliver Morton

Cover of On My Way to Jorvik by John Sunderland

While Dawkins has more business commenting about biology and genetics than he does about babies with Down’s syndrome or religion, it’s interesting to see someone challenge some of his ideas. I already reviewed that one here. And of course, I just really enjoy the way Fortey writes.

Review copies

Cover of Unspeakable by Abbie Rushton Cover of Poisoned Pearls by Leah Cutter

I’ve been hoping for Unspeakable for a while, so thanks to Little, Brown for that! Poisoned Pearls came via LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program, which is always awesome. Thank you to them and to Book View Cafe! I think I’ve read something else by Leah Cutter and quite enjoyed it…

What’s anyone else been getting their hands on?

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Review – Behold the Man

Cover of Behold the Man by Michael MoorcockBehold the Man, Michael Moorcock

Moorcock’s Behold the Man is entirely different to his Elric books, or Gloriana, or anything else of his I’ve come across so far. Certain people might find it offensive because it undermines the sanctity of Jesus Christ, and tangles that story up in a lot of sexual and mental health hangups. Worse, the figure who becomes Jesus is not altruistic, but self-absorbed and narcissistic.

Still, I think it’s a very interesting way of looking at the story, even if I don’t like the way it portrays Christianity. In a way, it suggests the power of the Christian message: the pure message survives even through a human being’s selfishness and fallibility. The time travel aspect isn’t very prominent, and I don’t think it was really written as science fiction — speculative fiction, yes, but I wouldn’t call it sci-fi. Really, it toys with ideas of identity, predestination, time loops, etc. Technology is not a prominent aspect.

It’s an easy read, actually: I read it in about an hour. If you don’t mind Moorcock playing with basics of Christianity, then you might well find it interesting.

Rating: 3/5

Stacking the Shelves

I’m gonna have to prepare this week’s Stacking the Shelves post (a la Tynga’s Reviews) pretty quickly, as my partner is visiting and she needs looots more sleep than me, and it’s already getting late. But hey, it’s been a good week: my 25th birthday was on Wednesday, and a shopping trip was had with my partner, my sister, and one of my closest friends. Books ensued, as you might’ve guessed if you’re around here often; some bought by me, some by them for me. Plus, the week started with a day at Worldcon, although admittedly I only bought two books — one of which was just so I could get it signed. (That one isn’t included here, but for bragging rights, I now have Jo Walton’s Lifelode and Among Others signed, and Tanya Huff’s The Enchantment Emporium.)

Oh, and re: that month of not-buying-books I had: it was successful, and in more ways than one, really. As well as just stopping me buying books and spending too much money, it seems to have changed my attitude a bit. I’m not (currently) buying books for the sake of it; only books I definitely want and intend to read.

Bought for myself

100680 Cover of Timelike Infinity by Stephen Baxter Cover of Flux by Stephen Baxter

Cover of Ring by Stephen Baxter Cover of The Sun and Moon and Stars by Steven Brust Cover of Lady Lazarus by Michelle Lang

Cover of The Long Tomorrow, by Leigh Brackett

Lady Lazarus is the only really impulsive purchase on this list; it grabbed my attention because of the setting (Budapest). Stephen Baxter is a new author for me, but his books are part of a list of “best SF” I’m trying to read.

Bought for me by my partner

Cover of Avengers Assemble: Science Bros Cover of Avengers Assemble: The Forgeries of Jealousy Cover of Guardians of the Galaxy: Angela

I’ve enjoyed the Guardians film, so between that and the opening pages where Tony singularly fails to impress Gamora, I decided to continue on with the comic. And the Avengers Assemble ones are by Kelly Sue DeConnick, therefore an inevitable buy for me. One thing about Worldcon that amazed me was that on a panel where the promo picture was Ms. Marvel, and it was supposed to be talking about new and exciting things in comics, it took forty minutes to mention a female character, forty-five to mention something with characters of diverse sexual orientations and ethnic backgrounds, and no female creators were mentioned at all.

Fuck that, I’mma talk about Kelly Sue and Gail Simone ’til I’m blue in the face.

Bought for me by my sister

Cover of The Jewel in the Skull by Michael Moorcock Cover of The Mad God's Amulet by Michael Moorcock Cover of The Sword of the Dawn by Michael Moorcock

Cover of The Runestaff by Michael Moorcock Cover of The Knight of the Swords by Michael Moorcock Cover of The Queen of the Swords by Michael Moorcock

Cover of The King of Swords by Michael Moorcock

I felt like reading some more Michael Moorcock, since I read GlorianaMy sis obliged.

Received to review

Cover of Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley Cover of The Bells of Times Square by Amy Lane Cover of Cosmocopia by Paul Di Filippo

For the first one, Lies We Tell Ourselves, I’m super-grateful to a friend who works at the publisher who managed to get me an ARC. Re: Amy Lane, I think I’ve read something of hers before, but it still weirds me out slightly since I went to school with someone of that name…

Comics (issue)

Cover of Ms Marvel #7

I really need to catch up with actually reading this run of Ms. Marvel.

So, what’s everyone else been up to? Any great hauls? Anyone been resisting most amazingly? Comment, link, share!

Review – Gloriana

Cover of Gloriana by Michael MoorcockGloriana, or the Unfulfill’d Queen, Michael Moorcock

When I started reading Gloriana — maybe even before that, when I read about the premise — I was very doubtful about whether I’d like it. The way the plot revolves around the fact that Gloriana can’t have an orgasm just baffled me: it made it sound like that was the most important thing in life, which… it isn’t. Still, actually reading the book, and especially the ending, made me think that aspect of it is actually a metaphor. I understand people who find the ending abhorrent: there’s a rape scene which may seem to imply that someone who is anorgasmic just needs to be raped.

Reading both the original and revised endings, though, I don’t think that was where Moorcock was going with that. In both, he emphasises that what finally allows Gloriana to find fulfilment is not anything really to do with sex, but that for the first time in her life, she can focus solely and entirely on herself. For the rest of the book — the rest of Gloriana’s life — she’s too concerned with being a queen, with being a country. But here, in both scenarios, whether she takes control of it or not, she becomes an individual in her fear.

Now, why that had to be via sex and sexual violence is a question that’s definitely valid to ask, but it is important to read something carefully if you’re going to critique it. More immediate to me are the questions about consent concerning children and animals, which are not dealt with critically at all — rather the opposite.

In any case, all of that aside, I really liked Gloriana. Not so much for individual characters as for the whole idea, the plotting and scheming, the setting. Which is not to say that the individual characters weren’t of interest — they were, in their tangle of motivations and confusion of feelings. Montfallcon, particularly, was interesting because of the way his motivations were unveiled piece by piece, slowly. The labyrinthine world of the court as a whole, though; that, I really liked. I haven’t actually read Gormenghast, but from what I know of it, I think Moorcock made a worthy tribute to it in many ways here.

The writing itself was, to my mind, easy to read. He doesn’t go for any false archaisms, though the style isn’t contemporary, and while he piles on the adjectives and so on, I do feel that’s an intentional embarrassment of riches, like the court itself.

I can understand why people dislike this book, or never finish it, but I’m glad I did.

Rating: 4/5