athelind: (Default)
The other day, I came home to find a note on the door from the local utility company, warning me that on Thursday, 18 Feb 2010, there would be two scheduled power outages for foir maintenance: one from 9:00-9:30 AM, and another from 2:30-3:00 PM.

On waking up this morning, I started to turn on the computer, and realized that it was 8:30. I decided, instead, to leave it turned off, and just curl up with a book until the first outage had come and gone.

At 2:20, having read the whole day without interruption, I went off to an appointment. When I returned at 4:40, all the clocks were still functioning happily, with nary a blink to be seen.

Neither scheduled outage occured as scheduled.

Needless to say, there was Stuff I Could Have Been Doing Today -- not just on the computer; I needed to get laundry done, as well.

I refuse to acknowledge that this is a subversion of my Lenten refutation of procrastination, however. The book in question is Neal Stephenson's Anathem, a 900-page doorstopper that I've renewed twice, but heretofore had only read about 140 pages. I'm now on p. 422 -- so I did something I've been putting off for more than six weeks, even if it wasn't what I'd planned.

athelind: (Default)
I'm not in the mood to watch TV, not in the mood to mess around on the computer, and it's too danged early to go to bed.

The box of "Feed Your Head" books hold no appeal, nor do the Lankhmar books that I put in the same box. Of course, the rest of my fiction is all tucked away in [ profile] quelonzia's garage, awaiting the purchase of satisfactory bookshelves.

I finished the last of China Miéville's "Bas Lag" trilogy last week, and dropped it off at the Santa Clara library. I think I need to cruise back by there and pick up a Stack of Random, just to have something to occupy my brain in these late hours.

athelind: (Default)
Almost every library I've patronized in the last four decades has used the same basic set of icons to delineate the various genre ghettos: a skull for mysteries, a stylized atom or a rocket ship surrounded by "atomic" rings for SF, and so forth. Most of them even seem to use the same company, with red ink on yellow stickers.

Why can't I find these icons on the web? I find several places selling library genre stickers, but not the classic old red-on-yellow designs.

I know they're OUT there -- I see them at my local library all the time, on brand new books.
athelind: (Default)
As Salon reminded me this morning, 2008 marks the 100th Anniversary of The Wind in the Willows. This is not merely a classic of children's literature; it is, quite possibly, the furriest book of all time.

Read it online, or pick up a copy for the holidays -- it's public domain, so you can find any number of inexpensive editions.

I first read it at the age of 38, and found that, despite being undeniably a book about Youth, it also has much to say to Adulthood and Middle Age.
athelind: (Default)
You hear a lot of discussion these days about the sudden surge of fantasy and SF epics. Some people can't fathom it. Some try to explain it by socioeconomic circumstances, claiming that hard times give a boost to "escapist" media -- and ignoring fact that the steady increase in such fantastic fare was unaffected by the boom times of the '90s. Some are actively offended by it: anything with an element of the extraordinary has been thrust into a literary ghetto for the last century and a half, and, by golly, that's where it belongs.

At least one writer has looked at the clamor to adapt SF and fantasy works a half-century old or older, and used that as evidence that the Speculative Fiction genre is so tapped out that Hollywood can't find anything new to adapt.

To me, it's straightforward. Why are all these movies coming out now? Why has it taken more than half a century for some of thse works to reach the screen?

Simple. It wasn't possible before now.

The convergence of animation and special effects has finally reached a point where entirely new realities -- or surrealities -- can be portrayed convincingly on the big screen, without recourse to full cel animation. Works that were simply unfilmable before now offer new opportunities to exercise this technology, to entice an audience eager for larger-than-life spectacle.

The question isn't why Hollywood is dredging up old works to adapt. The question is, why aren't they adapting more of them, the really good stuff?

In other words... the stuff I like?

Well, Your Obedient Serpent had a list of "Books That Oughta Be Movies" simmering on the back burner for a long while, and I'm in the mood to start posting about'em.

Farmer Giles of Ham )

The Stars My Destination )

Elric of Melniboné )
Argue about my casting choices or directorial dictates in the comments.

Hey, kids! You know you have a list of your own, so why not treat it as a meme? )
athelind: (Default)
Back in my high school years, the fantasy shelves had yet to be overrun by never-ending phone book sagas, superficial Tolkien ripoffs, and cheesy D&D-based Imprint Novels.

In those days, D&D players didn't have to suffer through the regurgitation of other people's games for inspiration. We were fortunate enough to have the primary source materials conveniently available in inexpensive paperback editions. I speak, of course, of classic Sword & Sorcery, a genre subtly but significantly different than the quest-based High Fantasy that follows the Tolkien mold.

Alas, graduation from high school began a phase of my life that demanded mobility, and that in turn demanded a winnowing of my library. In a move that seemed reasonable at the time, I purged my collection of the books I deemed easily replaceable -- after all, they'd been in print for years, and would remain in print for the foreseeable future.

And so it was that I divested myself of the works of Fritz Lieber and Michael Moorcock.

Foresight has never been one of my strong suits.

Now, decades later, I feel the lack most keenly. I would love to dive back into those worlds, and immerse myself in Lieber's wry humor, and Moorcock's psychedelic prose.

And they are no longer in my grasp.

Back in those ancient days of yore, the sagas of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser
and Elric of Melniboné were available in elegant matched sets, each volume in their respective series having a continuity of cover design, and tales arranged chronologically. Now, alas, I can find no evidence that all of the books are even in print in the U.S., much less available from the same publisher.

I would, ideally, like to restore these two classic epics to their proper place in my hoard. I know that Moorcock added additional volumes to Elric's tale in the 1990s, and I would, ideally, like to read these in the proper sequence with the older works. Similarly, there is an additional volume of Fafhrd and the Mouser that I've yet to read.

I beseech you, loyal readers: can you direct me to one or both of these series? My preference is for matched sets: all of one series, from the same publisher, in the same format. Mismatched brings out the Mister Monk in me, and the closer I can get to "one-stop shopping", the better. I would also prefer hardback over paperback or trade paperback; though I mourn the loss of editions that are both easily accessible and inexpensive, if I am going to go to great efforts to find these tomes, they should be in a format that will endure the years. I am willing to entertain the purchase of UK editions, if US editions are simply unavailable.

By and large, my preference is for new editions. Haunting the used and out-of-print shelves for a whole series can be frustrating, as I learned years ago whilst gathering my mismatched collection of Doc Smith's Lensman titles. I find it vile indeed that these works have been allowed to go out of print, when entire forests are razed for hacks like Salvatore.

(And yes, I'm looking at the Science Fiction Book Club website. Their omnibus collections appear to lack the seventh volume of F&GM, and the second of four volumes of Elric. Still, if I manage to land a decently-paying job, it might be worth my while to rejoin the SFBC for the first time in three decades...)

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