melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
melannen ([personal profile] melannen) wrote2017-03-14 08:42 pm
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FMK #4: Pre-Golden-Age SF

Okay, so FMK is going to be Tuesdays now. :P I forgot that on normal Mondays, a little distraction is good, but on busy Mondays I basically don't have time to sit down at the computer from Saturday evening until Monday evening, and that doesn't work so well. (and today was a snow day so I spent it sewing, it was excellent.)

Anyway, FMK #3 K winner was Tarnsman of Gor and the F winner was Kushiel's Dart. I, uh, haven't finished Kushiel's Dart. I'm 500 pages in! If it was a reasonably-sized novel, that would be done twice over! Anyway short version: I am enjoying it a lot although not ravishingly in love, have already recommended it to a friend who actively enjoys brick-sized books full of court intrigue, and keep getting Cassiel the Angel of Bromance mixed up with SPN's Castiel the Angel of... *ahem* "Bromance". I will post a fuller response either later this week or when I am finished, depending on which comes first.

I also started reading Tarnsman of Gor I know! I am breaking my own rules already! But I want to be able to make fun of it fairly, okay? And it's like, 20% the length of Kushiel. I did put the other two Gor books I inexplicably owned on the dump-unread pile, though?

This week's FMK theme: English-language SF written before 1930! here is where we find out who is voting entirely based on gendered author names

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 decide whether to keep it or not. M means I should continue to commit to a long-term relationship of sharing my bedroom with it. K means it should go away immediately. Anyone can vote, you don't have to actually know anything about the books.

I pick a winner on Friday night (although won't actually close the poll, people can still vote,) and report results/ post the new poll on the following Sunday Monday Tuesday.

Link to long version of explanation (on first poll)


Poll #18088 FMK #4: English-language SF written before 1930
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 51


The Bowl of Baal by Robert Ames Bennet (1917)

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F
10 (58.8%)

M
1 (5.9%)

K
6 (35.3%)

The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan (1678)

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F
13 (38.2%)

M
7 (20.6%)

K
14 (41.2%)

Pellucidar by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1923)

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F
9 (42.9%)

M
3 (14.3%)

K
9 (42.9%)

The Worm Oroborous by E. R. Eddison (1922)

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F
12 (52.2%)

M
7 (30.4%)

K
4 (17.4%)

A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay (1920)

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F
9 (52.9%)

M
3 (17.6%)

K
5 (29.4%)

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald (1872)

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F
21 (63.6%)

M
11 (33.3%)

K
1 (3.0%)

Ship of Ishtar by A. Merritt (1924)

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F
10 (62.5%)

M
3 (18.8%)

K
3 (18.8%)

Armageddon 2419 A.D.: The Seminal "Buck Rogers" Novel by Philip Francis Nowlan (1928)

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F
9 (52.9%)

M
1 (5.9%)

K
7 (41.2%)

The Vampyre by John Polidori (1818)

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F
13 (54.2%)

M
7 (29.2%)

K
4 (16.7%)

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1818)

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F
13 (28.9%)

M
30 (66.7%)

K
2 (4.4%)

The Skylark of Space by E. E. "Doc" Smith (1928)

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F
18 (72.0%)

M
4 (16.0%)

K
3 (12.0%)

Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift (1726)

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F
13 (31.0%)

M
24 (57.1%)

K
5 (11.9%)

Roverandom by J. R. R. Tolkien (1925)

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F
13 (56.5%)

M
5 (21.7%)

K
5 (21.7%)

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole (1764)

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F
17 (60.7%)

M
3 (10.7%)

K
8 (28.6%)

The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells (1898)

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F
19 (52.8%)

M
12 (33.3%)

K
5 (13.9%)

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1891)

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F
18 (43.9%)

M
18 (43.9%)

K
5 (12.2%)

Orlando by Virginia Woolf (1928)

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F
18 (50.0%)

M
17 (47.2%)

K
1 (2.8%)

ambyr: a dark-winged man standing in a doorway over water; his reflection has white wings (watercolor by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law) (Default)

[personal profile] ambyr 2017-03-15 01:33 am (UTC)(link)
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed The Worm Oroborous once I adapted to its, umm, very particular style.
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[personal profile] seekingferret 2017-03-15 01:42 am (UTC)(link)
Castle of Otranto is so great. There is a giant murder helmet on page one.T
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)

[personal profile] sophia_sol 2017-03-15 01:46 am (UTC)(link)
I haven't been participating in your polls because choosing books for other people to read and/or cull is somehow even more stressful than making such decisions for myself, but I'm enjoying your FMK posts a lot and I just wanted to say that!

rachelmanija: (Books: old)

[personal profile] rachelmanija 2017-03-15 01:47 am (UTC)(link)
It says 'seminal.' Ha ha.

Of the more obscure books there, A Voyage to Arcturus is worth reading. It's really, really strange. I don't even know how to describe it. I think it's an allegory but I'm not sure of what. If you fuck, at least keep fucking till you actually get to Arcturus and everyone's bodies start morphing (this will continue); I vaguely recall a totally irrelevant first chapter set on Earth that is probably just there because of at-the-time genre conventions.

I like The Princess and the Goblin but MacDonald's masterwork is the short story "The Golden Key," which I would highly recommend whether you like the former or not. It starts out a fairly conventional fairytale with old-school morals like "Wash your face" (seriously) and then turns into something really amazing and powerful. The Princess and the Goblin is fine but not his best work.

I have made multiple, determined attempts at The Worm Ouroboros and have never gotten very far. Some day I will be in the perfect mood and possibly find it entrancing.
Edited 2017-03-15 01:47 (UTC)
the_rck: (Default)

[personal profile] the_rck 2017-03-15 01:47 am (UTC)(link)
I think that Pilgrim's Progress is mainly readable as an anthropological/historical artifact.

I hated Gulliver's Travels with a passion, but I was thirteen or fourteen, so my opinion should be taken with a huge grain of salt.

I voted F on the Burroughs and the Smith because, while they're likely to contain some appalling things in terms of racism/sexism/etc., they were written with the intention of being entertaining.
ambyr: a dark-winged man standing in a doorway over water; his reflection has white wings (watercolor by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law) (Default)

[personal profile] ambyr 2017-03-15 01:48 am (UTC)(link)
Maybe?

Others have probably warned you, btw, but Worm starts with a very dull frame story...that completely evaporates after about page 30, never to be returned to again. So if you do give it a shot, just have patience until you get past that.
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[personal profile] espresso_addict 2017-03-15 01:49 am (UTC)(link)
For once a list I've actually read a lot of the contenders... Avoid The Pilgrim's Progress, it's unbelievably boring, but that's the only one of this set I'd kill. Several of these would be on my must-read list, but perhaps especially Frankenstein and The Picture of Dorian Gray. I'd love a review of Roverandom, which I haven't read; I love some of JRRT's non-Ardaverse works (especially Smith of Wootton Major) but others are decidedly odd and/or twee in all the worst ways.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)

[personal profile] sophia_sol 2017-03-15 01:57 am (UTC)(link)
Yeah, you came up with a pretty great thing for yourself here, having a committee choose your books for you!

Unfortunately I don't live near enough to your massive collection for your books to be "books I can read whenever I want but don't need to store" *sadface*
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)

[personal profile] sophia_sol 2017-03-15 02:03 am (UTC)(link)
And okay I do have opinions about some of the books on this list, actually, unlike some of your previous posts, so here:

- Princess & Goblin: I loved it when I was a kid, but upon reread as an adult I was profoundly meh about it and gave up halfway through and removed it from my collection. "loved as a kid, meh as adult" pretty much covers my thoughts on most of what MacDonald has written, actually.

- Pilgrim's Progress: I've kind of always wanted to read it because of how it features in some other books (eg Little Women) and having someone else read it and report back would be interesting!

- Gulliver's Travels: a fun read, I definitely enjoyed it
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)

[personal profile] sophia_sol 2017-03-15 02:13 am (UTC)(link)
That's exactly why I haven't actually read Pilgrim's Progress myself yet, yup.

A short story collection by MacDonald might be the way to go. In general, though, what I have said in a past review of a collection of MacDonald's stories is that he has a habit of being very nearly good, which is a frustrating kind of collection to read.... And the short story that rachelmanija mentions as being particularly good is one that I found particularly forgettable, I must say! In my opinion the most successful of his short stories is The Day Boy and the Night Girl. (I have a lot of residual childhood fondness for The Light Princess, though, as long as I read past the author's priorities to focus on the good bits.)
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[personal profile] watersword 2017-03-15 02:14 am (UTC)(link)
The Castle of Otranto is a DELIGHT.
mecurtin: Doctor Science (Default)

[personal profile] mecurtin 2017-03-15 02:23 am (UTC)(link)
Yes! And a dream-frame to connect to the real world. It's incredibly pointless. Once you get into the story, though, *wow*. The language is amazing (both for good and for bad), and the characters are so DRAMA!
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)

[personal profile] alatefeline 2017-03-15 02:26 am (UTC)(link)
Agree with both A and B here!!!
nicki: (Default)

[personal profile] nicki 2017-03-15 02:39 am (UTC)(link)
I read Gulliver's Travels in college. Mostly I wanted to smash the hero over the head with a bar stool.
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[personal profile] espresso_addict 2017-03-15 02:40 am (UTC)(link)
Roverandom's probably a really quick read, go on, you know you want to...

I wrote a YT story which slid into crossing elements of Dorian Gray with elements of a Lovecraft novella I hadn't previously read ('The Case of Charles Dexter Ward'); it's definitely one of those books that seeps into one's unconsciousness.

ETA And yes, I think that would indeed make a cool premise for a YA.
Edited 2017-03-15 02:45 (UTC)
espresso_addict: Espresso cup with steam on white background with text 'Coffee' (coffee (white))

[personal profile] espresso_addict 2017-03-15 02:44 am (UTC)(link)
I kind of want to keep a copy of Pilgrim's Progress in my library because for a couple centuries it was the one book everybody in the US and England had a copy of. Like a grounding of my library in my ancestors'.

Aie! Can't you save a copy from Gutenberg to your hard drive, or something?

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