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%)

ratcreature: RatCreature is buried in comics, with the text: There's no such thing as too many comics.  (comics)

[personal profile] ratcreature 2017-02-27 05:34 pm (UTC)(link)
I didn't vote in the last poll because I didn't know anything about most of the books, but fwiw I liked Prince Valiant as a kid, though it is fairly static with its art and iirc the text was often doubling what was already shown, more like illustrations than comics.

But I'm actually planning to move a Prince Valiant edition onto my shelves that my sister weeded out in her last move, as soon as I make room somewhere.Currently they are still in a box at my brother's. So for me it is a keep.
watersword: An open book (Stock: book)

[personal profile] watersword 2017-02-27 05:42 pm (UTC)(link)
I don't know any of these, but I am SO GLAD you liked The Sunbird! I am really fond of it and so few people know about it.
brownbetty: (Default)

[personal profile] brownbetty 2017-02-27 06:30 pm (UTC)(link)
The only one I have personal experience w/ is Anne Aguire, who, in her defense, writes from the id, but her id is very different than my id, and bores me silly.
rachelmanija: (Books: old)

[personal profile] rachelmanija 2017-02-27 07:31 pm (UTC)(link)
A lot of these got "fuck" on the basis that I've never heard of them but they have intriguing or intriguingly terrible titles (THE GODWHALE) so I think you should at least browse them and report back.

ETA: I missed the last poll but I love Mary Stewart and I really enjoyed Prince Valiant as a kid. If you get rid of the latter, I would pay postage and also for the book to get it.
Edited 2017-02-27 19:37 (UTC)
dhampyresa: (Default)

[personal profile] dhampyresa 2017-02-27 09:35 pm (UTC)(link)
Sunbird sounds AMAZING.

And aw poor valiant but doom potatoes!
birke: (Default)

[personal profile] birke 2017-02-27 09:39 pm (UTC)(link)
I voted K for Prince Valiant because it's boring. I did read it in the comics page as a kid, but exclusively because the cast included several women -- pretty women with great hair, which sweetened the deal for child!Birke. That is not enough to carry it for a discriminating adult.

I haven't heard of any of this poll's books or authors, so I voted F for the ones written under women's names, on the principle that women in sci-fi deserve at least a cursory read.

katherine: A line of books on a shelf, in greens and browns (books)

[personal profile] katherine 2017-02-28 04:14 am (UTC)(link)
The Godwhale for its title, and now I've found a summary and I'm even more interested.
snickfic: (Default)

[personal profile] snickfic 2017-02-28 04:43 am (UTC)(link)
I have a rule that I don't have to read a SFF book if the first named female character is a prostitute, and the first Neal Asher I tried failed miserably, so I have a perpetual Neal Asher grudge and voted K on that one.

I am amused by how many of these books currently have even splits!
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)

[personal profile] liv 2017-02-28 08:28 pm (UTC)(link)
I count myself a fan of Mary Stewart. I'm not completely sure about her Arthurian trilogy, but it does have many of her strengths: really readable prose, very compelling sense of the uncanny or even numinous. But the plot kind of drags, partly because, well, it's the Arthur myth, and partly because there isn't enough material to fill a trilogy.
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)

[personal profile] alatefeline 2017-03-28 08:43 pm (UTC)(link)
First time I've voted K without research first. But you're trying get clean off shelf space! The amount of stuff one could read and might be interested to grows faster than the amount of reading physically possible to have done; one has got to prioritize somehow. So I guessed based on 'oh I've heard of that' etc. Should be interesting to see what other people's strategies are!