melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
melannen ([personal profile] melannen) wrote2017-02-27 12:05 pm
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FMK #2: Assorted Unknowns A-B

Yesterday I went to see Rogue One for the first time at the second-run theater. I also finished reading my book on potato gardening and installed some new old bookshelves, resulting in a dream where a squad of valiant but doomed potatoes were defending a bunker against Imperial war machines. Then there was a series of tsunamis due to Death Star strikes, I was okay because I had a life jacket on but so many books got damaged in the flooding that we had to close the library.

Anyway, I think Monday will be FMK day. So 12 books go back on the shelf, Mists of Avalon goes on the kill list, and I read The Sunbird. Mary Stewart made a valiant effort to overtake it toward the end, though. I almost never see people online talk about Mary Stewart but she must still have fans! I am also curious what y'all have against Prince Valiant; that was the only other one that came anywhere near K winning. Is there something I don't know? I remember it mostly as one of the serials in my grandfather's paper that was impossible to follow when you only visited once a month, but otherwise inoffensive and with nice art.

The Sunbird by Elizabeth Wein is only Arthurian by courtesy and not a fantasy novel at all, despite selling itself as an Arthurian fantasy novel. It's a historical novel set (I've noticed an annoying tendency for a) historical novels set in the 'dark ages' and b) historical novels set pre-18th century anywhere other than Western Europe or the classical Roman Empire to market themselves as fantasy. It says bad thing about what times and places we don't believe had 'real history'.)

As a historical novel of Aksum, though, I enjoyed it. I don't have enough reading background to judge accuracy, but from what I do know, it seemed reasonable, and she does a great job establishing setting. Diversity is great, too - only two white characters, pretty even spread of male and female characters, and a secondary character with what is implied to be Down syndrome who gets to marry a king and live happily ever after.

The Arthurian connection is just that the main character's father and aunt have major trauma issues due to having grown up in a 6th century British royal house. I've been listening to the British History Podcast so I can say authoritatively that this is possibly the most historically accurate part of the book, regardless of whether they are Pendragons or not.

In terms of the plot, technically it's about Telemakos, the son of Prince Medraut and an Askumite princess, coming of age by becoming a spy for the King of Aksum to try to uncover a plot to break the quarantine that has kept the plague out of most of Aksum. In practice, Elizabeth Wein really likes her whumpage. But! He gets to hug lots of kitties in the end, so it's all worth it.

That was a 100% accurate but possibly unfair plot summary. I did like the book! (But then I enjoying a good whumping followed by cuddling with cats.) The characters and setting were vivid and the spy/political plot worked a lot better than most I've read lately - everything was believably complex and nobody had to carry the idiot ball. This was possibly due to the spy character being fairly young, and written as not knowing everything that's going on but also knowing that he doesn't know most of what's going on. (I did have some trouble pinning down just how old he was supposed to be, but mostly it worked.) It is definitely going on the keep shelf and the 'find rest of series' list. Would recommend. Glad I grabbed out of the 'deep clearance' bin at Ollie's.

This week's FMK: SF books by authors I know nothing about and have no idea why I own them, letters A through B.

How FMK works: I am trying to clear out my unreads. So there is a poll, in which you get to pick F, M, or K. F means I should spend a night of wild passion with the book ASAP, and then decided. M means I should continue to commit to a long-term relationship of sharing my bedroom with it. K means it should go away. Anyone can vote, you don't have to actually know anything about the books.

I will post a list of 10-20 unread books that I own. Sometimes it will be themed, sometimes it will just be random. It will be a poll, and you folks will get to vote F, M, or K for each book.

F means "melannen should have a single night of ill-considered passion with it and then decide whether to turn that into a long-term thing or dump it with prejudice."
M means "melannen should commit long-term and continue to keep the book in her bedroom indefinitely."
K means "melannen should dispose of it posthaste."

This may remind people of a certain familiar game. Unfortunately I don't think DW polls have any way to force a three-way choice like in the game, so it's a free vote for each title. (Also I don't think I could agree to give up 1/3 of my books anyway.)

I will read the book with the most F votes, hopefully within the next week, and then post about it here.
I will dispose of the book with the most K votes, *if* there are enough total K votes on all titles to make a quorum (i.e., if only one person votes K in the whole poll, I don't consider myself bound to their vote.)
All other titles, I will think about very hard and take your votes into consideration!

Feel free to vote even if you only have a vague idea about the book or author. Or even if you've never heard of it but think the title is cool. That's why I bought most of these, after all.
Feel free to vote F on terrible books just because you want to make me read them.
Please leave comments with more information on the book or justifying your votes if you do have things to say!

Anon/no account votes and comments are on. Some background on me and my library if you wander here from far away: I am an SF fan and aspiring SF writer (emphasis on "aspiring" rather than "writing" rn). I would like to keep books that are good and/or important or foundational texts in the genre and/or help balance the proportion of books not by/about white dudes in my library.

Poll #18051 FMK#2: A-B
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 17


Grimspace, Ann Aguirre (2008)

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F
10 (76.9%)

M
1 (7.7%)

K
2 (15.4%)

Cradle of Splendor, Patricia Anthony (1996)

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F
10 (83.3%)

M
2 (16.7%)

K
0 (0.0%)

The Enigineer Reconditioned, Neal Asher (2006 )

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F
4 (40.0%)

M
1 (10.0%)

K
5 (50.0%)

The Blessing Papers, William C. Barnwell (1980)

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F
2 (25.0%)

M
1 (12.5%)

K
5 (62.5%)

Chimera, John Barth (1972)

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F
2 (22.2%)

M
2 (22.2%)

K
5 (55.6%)

IRIS, William Barton (1990)

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F
4 (50.0%)

M
2 (25.0%)

K
2 (25.0%)

The Godwhale, T. J. Bass (1973)

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F
6 (75.0%)

M
1 (12.5%)

K
1 (12.5%)

Transfigurations, Michael Bishop (1979)

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F
2 (25.0%)

M
2 (25.0%)

K
4 (50.0%)

Catchworld, Chris Boyce (1978)

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F
2 (25.0%)

M
2 (25.0%)

K
4 (50.0%)

The Pig The Prince and the Unicorn, Karen Brush (1987)

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F
8 (66.7%)

M
0 (0.0%)

K
4 (33.3%)

Hyperthought, M. M. Buckner (2003)

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F
7 (70.0%)

M
1 (10.0%)

K
2 (20.0%)

liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)

[personal profile] liv 2017-02-28 10:38 pm (UTC)(link)
You know that quip that gothic novels are primarily romances about houses? That's pretty much Mary Stewart to a tee. Which is why the Arthurian stuff isn't her most exciting, because there are obviously not great old English country houses in that period. I find it hard to remember which of her books is which cos they are kind of samey. I think the one you read is probably Touch not the cat. Airs above the ground has dancing Lipizzaners in it, in addition to the usual elements. The ivy tree is one of those classic impostor gothics, a bit like Josephine Tey. Also her YA / chapter book Ludo and the star horse is just gorgeous.