melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
melannen ([personal profile] melannen) wrote2017-03-28 03:15 pm
Entry tags:

FMK #6: Beloved Authors

So last week's FMK loser was Ben Bova's The Multiple Man, and tbh my only qualm with dumping that one is that I will no longer have a nice big pile of books with MEN in their title. Well, and also feeling a little bit bad for Jamie Madrox.

The winner was The Female Man by Joanna Russ! (The Bester was surprisingly close for awhile, probably because the Russ was getting a lot of M votes. Predictably.) I will be putting up a response for that one when I have finished reading it.

This week's theme is "Authors who have at least one series on my 'definitely keep' shelf but I am kind of afraid to branch out to their other stuff in case I don't like it". This should be a fun one!

How FMK works, short version: 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 Tuesday, and write a response to the F winner sometime in the next week.

Link to long version of explanation (on first poll)
Poll #18117 FMK #6: Beloved Authors
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 59


Westmark by Lloyd Alexander (1981)

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F
18 (48.6%)

M
16 (43.2%)

K
3 (8.1%)

Harvest of Stars by Poul Anderson (1993)

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F
7 (29.2%)

M
3 (12.5%)

K
14 (58.3%)

The Spirit Ring by Lois McMaster Bujold (1992)

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F
20 (52.6%)

M
11 (28.9%)

K
7 (18.4%)

Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly (1986)

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F
21 (61.8%)

M
10 (29.4%)

K
3 (8.8%)

Captive Universe by Harry Harrison (1969)

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F
7 (28.0%)

M
1 (4.0%)

K
17 (68.0%)

The Wanderer by Fritz Leiber (1964)

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F
8 (33.3%)

M
5 (20.8%)

K
11 (45.8%)

The Changeling Sea by Patricia McKillip (1988)

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F
14 (48.3%)

M
14 (48.3%)

K
1 (3.4%)

Space Viking by H. Beam Piper (1963)

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F
6 (25.0%)

M
6 (25.0%)

K
12 (50.0%)

Nation by Terry Pratchett (2008)

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F
10 (25.6%)

M
26 (66.7%)

K
3 (7.7%)

The Sleeping Dragon by Joel Rosenberg (1983)

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F
8 (40.0%)

M
3 (15.0%)

K
9 (45.0%)

Forge of the Elders by L. Neil Smith (2001)

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F
5 (22.7%)

M
2 (9.1%)

K
15 (68.2%)

The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge (1980)

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F
23 (69.7%)

M
8 (24.2%)

K
2 (6.1%)

The Nargun and the Stars by Patricia Wrightson (1973)

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F
12 (54.5%)

M
7 (31.8%)

K
3 (13.6%)

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen (1992)

View Answers

F
16 (44.4%)

M
17 (47.2%)

K
3 (8.3%)

sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)

[personal profile] sophia_sol 2017-03-28 08:13 pm (UTC)(link)
An interesting collection this week! There's several books on this list I want you to read just so I can get a better sense of whether I want to read them. I gotta put in a good word for Nation though - I think it is my favourite book Terry Pratchett ever wrote, which is saying something considering how many excellent books he wrote.
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)

[personal profile] sophia_sol 2017-03-28 08:29 pm (UTC)(link)
Understandable! That's the reason I haven't read (and am unlikely to read) his last couple Discworld novels that were written further into his Alzheimers
sophia_sol: drawing of Combeferre, smiling and holding up a finger like he's about to explain something (Default)

[personal profile] sophia_sol 2017-03-28 08:41 pm (UTC)(link)
Yeah, I read every single novel he'd ever published when I was in high school, so I remember the quality of his earlier works. It's different to me, though, to watch an author who'd been at the top of his form go downhill again.
mecurtin: Doctor Science (Default)

[personal profile] mecurtin 2017-03-28 08:36 pm (UTC)(link)
It's not a Discworld book! But I agree with Sophia.

Briar Rose is also top-flight omg. Warning for Holocaust.

The Patrician Wrightson is a childen's book, a lead-up to her "Wirrun" Australian Aboriginal fantasy trilogy. Though Wrightson was herself White, she was *deeply* respectful of the culture and mythology she used. Keep your eyes skinned for the adult books! They are still unequaled.
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 2017-03-28 08:28 pm (UTC)(link)
Westmark is my favorite Alexander book (well, okay, the whole trilogy, but the whole trilogy could fit into Kushiel's Dart three times over and still have room for Thanksgiving dinner), and The Changeling Sea is my favorite McKillip. So I cannot imagine discarding either of them.

(Nation, on the other hand, I found irritatingly didactic...but I know many other people love it, so I figure that's a good one to F.)

The Sleeping Dragon is . . . a thing. I wavered between F and K, because on the one hand it was a formative part of my childhood, and on the other hand, uh, its treatment of rape and women and disability and a whole host of other things is sort of "????" from an adult perspective. Also be aware that (at least IMO) the series never satisfactorily concludes, just wanders off into a weird sideline direction that left me extremely confused.

By and by, did you ever read The Wand in the Word? It's a series of biographical interviews with children's fantasy authors, and I remember the Alexander one being particularly interesting.
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 2017-03-28 09:07 pm (UTC)(link)
I'd definitely group The Changeling Sea with her earlier works, yes. (In fact I think it may just be the most straightforward book she's ever written.)
snickfic: (Default)

[personal profile] snickfic 2017-03-29 12:11 am (UTC)(link)
If you are interested in recs for recent McKillip, I would suggest Solstice Wood. It's different from her others in being a contemporary fantasy. It's interesting reading her weave that lyrical fairy tale logic in a grounded modern setting. And it's also pretty straightforward - it is not one of those ones where I had no idea what happened.
muccamukk: Luke with his arms folded. Text: A Free Man of Convictions (Marvel: Man of Convictions)

[personal profile] muccamukk 2017-03-28 10:32 pm (UTC)(link)
I would def count all three (short!) Westmark books as one book, and vote for the whole. You really don't get the story from just the first one (which seems an ordinary sort of story without the context of the next two).
genarti: Knees-down view of woman on tiptoe next to bookshelves (Default)

[personal profile] genarti 2017-03-28 11:13 pm (UTC)(link)
Agreed!

I voted for M because I love Westmark a lot, but it was a toss-up for me between F and M really. Worth reading, in any case. One of the very, very few fantasies I can think of -- let alone YAs! -- that goes wholeheartedly for a real revolution, and lets it be a messy one with a lot of well-intentioned people disagreeing within it. (And absolutely in dialogue with Les Misérables, if that's relevant information. It's also in dialogue with a lot of other stuff, like British history, but there are definitely nods; for example, a youthfully pretty blond revolutionary who's suspiciously like an Enjolras with zero brakes on the fanaticism at all.)

For the record I have just reread the first one, and will be proceeding to the others as soon as they come in at the library, but haven't reread them in years. Anyway, I do think it's good enough to be interesting both for its successes and for its flaws.
genarti: ([avatar] i will walk through the fire)

[personal profile] genarti 2017-03-28 11:30 pm (UTC)(link)
Thaaaaat is fair.

"Celebrates" is maybe too strong a word, by my memories (admittedly fuzzy, because most of this stuff comes up in the latter two books more than the first.) "Believes in," certainly, I think, but it's more "well, monarchy sucks even when you have a well-intentioned decent person on the throne, and a non-hereditary despot is not BETTER, so... let's give a republic a try?" And then all the messiness that ensues. There is civil war; it's not pretty. It's not graphically grimdark, because Lloyd Alexander is not that kind of writer and this is aimed at kids, but it's very clear in an understated way what kind of stuff is going on, and there's a body count. And the end is hopeful, but it's not AND THEN EVERYTHING WAS WONDERFUL AND EVERYBODY HAD A GOOD LIFE THEREAFTER.

My memories are too vague to speak to the exact details of the tone, though. And all the same, it may still be a situation where it's entirely the wrong moment for the trilogy for you.
rachelmanija: (Default)

[personal profile] rachelmanija 2017-03-29 12:16 am (UTC)(link)
I don't know how you'll react, but this might be exactly the right time to read it. By that I mean the whole trilogy; the first book by itself feels slight, but the entire thing is amazing and the length of one medium-length book. It's much more complicated than "democracy is awesome."
birke: (Default)

[personal profile] birke 2017-03-29 02:14 am (UTC)(link)
IAWTC.

I didn't know how to vote on Westmark because I wouldn't necessarily recommend that you marry it, but one night of passion isn't enough -- if you're going to judge the first book you really do have to commit to reading all three.
boxofdelights: (Default)

[personal profile] boxofdelights 2017-03-28 10:19 pm (UTC)(link)
I remember liking The Spirit Ring very much. I read it when it came out, before I started getting irritated by certain Lois McMaster Bujold quirks related to love and babies, so I can't guarantee that this book doesn't exhibit those quirks; but as I remember it, the important love story is the woman protagonist and her work.
the_rck: (Default)

[personal profile] the_rck 2017-03-29 12:49 am (UTC)(link)
I read The Spirit Ring when it first came out and haven't gone back to it. My hazy memory is that Bujold was trying to do some things that she wasn't quite able to pull off at the time.
the_rck: (Default)

[personal profile] the_rck 2017-03-29 05:37 pm (UTC)(link)
Her first four came out, one right on top of the other, while I was in college. I bought them all used in 1988/89, starting with Shards of Honor. I ended up trying to recommend it to my best friend at the same time that she was trying to recommend Warrior's Apprentice to me. It took us about ten minutes to realize that the books were connected. I'm pretty sure that The Spirit Ring came out either just before I got married in 1993 or just after.

A lot of readers hated it because it wasn't a Vorkosigan book, and it was years before she tried anything else not-Vorkosigan again. I'm pretty sure that it was hated beyond what it deserved. It just wasn't a knock your socks off sort of thing, and I think that historical fantasy was a hard sell for Vorkosigan fans. I know that people complained about Chalion and the Sharing Knife, too, but there were actually other people who became fans of those.

I'm not sure that The Spirit Ring got much of a push in terms of publicity and distribution, either. I have a hardcover copy, but I don't remember where I got it. It might well be an SFBC copy. (It's buried behind a stack of board games that goes higher than my waist, so I'm not going to go look.)
muccamukk: Maxima looks on in horror as Jayna gleefully builds a tower of random food. (DC: Food!)

[personal profile] muccamukk 2017-03-28 10:27 pm (UTC)(link)
I voted Marry Westmark (my first Marry vote, because WESTMARK!!!!!)

I voted fuck Dragonbane because I'd like a review before I read it, lol.
muccamukk: Joe raising a glass and looking sardonic.Text: Sure, pal. Whatever you say. (HL: Whatever You Say)

[personal profile] muccamukk 2017-03-28 11:11 pm (UTC)(link)
rachelmanija: (Book Fix)

[personal profile] rachelmanija 2017-03-28 10:30 pm (UTC)(link)
The Changeling Sea is my favorite McKillip novel. If you like her books at all, you will love it. It's got that lyrical yet grounded quality of the first two Riddlemaster books.

Dragonsbane is fantastic. It has great characters, a middle-aged heroine and hero, and a very thoughtful and poignant look at the choices we make in life. It was meant as a standalone and has a great ending. Then Hambly inexplicably wrote sequels which are AWFUL. Ignore their existence.

Westmark is a good book but its sequel, The Kestrel, is a great book - one of the best war novels I've ever read. Much as I love Prydain, I think it's Alexander's best book. The whole trilogy is absolutely worth reading. Like A Changeling Sea, each book is short but has way more substance than a lot of 800 page novels.

I read The Spirit Ring but don't recall it at all. I'm guessing it's not that memorable.

Briar Rose is well-done and interesting, especially if you've read other books/stories by Jane Yolen, because it brings together some themes that come up a lot in her work, like the power of stories (for better or worse), generational trauma, the Holocaust, and fairy tales.

But I REALLY want you to read The Sleeping Dragon, in which D&D players go to D&D land. It's very readable and also pretty terrible, and has one of the most gratuitous and obnoxious rape scenes I've ever encountered, plus lots of rah-rah Americans will abolish slavery in fantasyland. I would find your review highly amusing, I'm sure. ;)

I think I read something once by L. Neil Smith that sucked.
muccamukk: A squadron of x-wings flying low over the water. (SW: X-Wings)

[personal profile] muccamukk 2017-03-28 10:34 pm (UTC)(link)
Thanks for the heads up on the Dragonsbane sequels. I think I have them as a bundle on my e-reader, but will stop with the first one.
rachelmanija: (Default)

[personal profile] rachelmanija 2017-03-28 10:42 pm (UTC)(link)
Yes, just read the first! The sequels were written fifteen years later and are both bad and unnecessary.
rushthatspeaks: (sparklepony only wants to read)

[personal profile] rushthatspeaks 2017-03-29 04:12 am (UTC)(link)
It's worth noting that McKillip's latest, Kingfisher, is a) my favorite of her books, which is saying a lot; b) has a modern tech level; and c) is an absolutely crazy-ass Arthurian. Apparently people who don't Arthurian novel find it totally confusing, but you do Arthurians, so.
rushthatspeaks: (sparklepony only wants to read)

[personal profile] rushthatspeaks 2017-03-29 07:41 pm (UTC)(link)
It does indeed involve the Fisher King!
brownbetty: (Default)

[personal profile] brownbetty 2017-03-29 04:23 pm (UTC)(link)
Maybe my vague impression of Dragonsbane is related to having read some of the sequels. Is there weird sex stuff, or am I thinking of some other author with a dragon-named book? (Not Touched by Venom, different weird sex stuff.)
rachelmanija: (Default)

[personal profile] rachelmanija 2017-03-30 12:04 am (UTC)(link)
Not that I recall. Maybe in the sequels? I tried to blot them from my memory. There's weird sex stuff in Anne McCaffrey's dragon books.
brownbetty: (Default)

[personal profile] brownbetty 2017-03-29 04:24 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh man, the sleeping dragon! I got maybe five books in before I went "Aaaaaaa!" and stopped. I can't have been more then fourteen at the time, though.
snickfic: (Default)

[personal profile] snickfic 2017-03-29 12:08 am (UTC)(link)
I operated largely on a "K if I have never heard of this author" principle this week. However, I have never read a Poul Anderson work I actively disliked, even very late-career ones, so I gave that an F. And Changeling Sea is the first McKillip I ever read and remains a personal favorite, so that got an M.
snickfic: (Default)

[personal profile] snickfic 2017-03-29 12:27 am (UTC)(link)

Ahh. I haven't read any of those by Anderson - alt-history isn't really my thing. So I don't know if fondness for one would carry over to the other a lot. However, I definitely credit him as being one of the very solid adventure-SF writers of his era.

snickfic: (Default)

[personal profile] snickfic 2017-03-29 03:43 pm (UTC)(link)

Ooh, that actually sounds super interesting! I have wondered about a "Shakespeare was accurate" AU myself in the past. I might have to look that one up. :D

elanya: Pensive pony (Default)

[personal profile] elanya 2017-03-29 12:28 am (UTC)(link)
So I know some of these *authors*, but the only book on the list I've read is The Wanderer, and voted Fuck accordingly. It's silly and scholcky and the characters are pretty amusing - it's very Leiber in that sort of sardonic way... and also thee are Cat people, eventually. It is very much an apocalyptic novel and some of it is very dated. I thought it was a fun read, and I kept it because I'm a completionist. If you like his other Sci-Fi, it's like that. if you've nly read his fantasy, it has that similar sort of wryness to it.

Probably it's gonna get killed though, lookin' at the poll - I felt I needed to mount some kind of defense as I assume, possibly incorrectly, that most people haven't read the book, or much leiber at all. I'm happy to be proven wrong though!
muccamukk: Abe, Hellboy and Liz with other BPRD agents behind them. Text: "Top Secret: B. P. R. D." (Hellboy: Secret Team)

[personal profile] muccamukk 2017-03-29 05:55 pm (UTC)(link)
How are you tallying anyway? Is a Marry Vote counted as more than a Fuck vote? Do you add them together and subtract the kill Votes?
seekingferret: Word balloon says "So I said to the guy: you never read the book yet you go online and talk about it as if--" (Default)

[personal profile] seekingferret 2017-03-29 08:03 pm (UTC)(link)
IMO The Wanderer is very much an F and not an M book. It's a ridiculous book that I have mostly forgotten, but the thing that stuck with me is that it's a SF disaster novel where the characters have seen SF disaster movies and have given thought to how they would respond if they found themselves in one, and I liked that element of it. It's a type of genre savvy that actually makes sense.

Speaking of Lankhmar, I don't know if you roleplay but I just saw an announcement for this: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1409961192/dcc-lankhmar Lankhmar may be the platonic ideal of sword and sorcery, but it's not exactly my platonic ideal of a roleplaying setting, so I haven't been all that interested, but ymmv.
the_rck: (Default)

[personal profile] the_rck 2017-03-29 12:56 am (UTC)(link)
As far as the Piper goes, I'm not sure if I've read that one in particular, but everything I've tried of his that doesn't have the word 'Fuzzy' in the title has made me froth at the mouth in rage, so...

And I'm not even sure how I'd have reacted to the Fuzzy books if I hadn't come at them sideways from Ardath Mayhar's Golden Dream which gave the Fuzzies some dignity.
brownbetty: (Default)

[personal profile] brownbetty 2017-03-29 04:26 pm (UTC)(link)
I got halfway into space viking and its... boring? Very boring? Colonialist, but not in a trying to justify it kind of way, just like, we're vikings, conquering is what we do!

But still boring.
the_rck: (Default)

[personal profile] the_rck 2017-03-29 05:24 pm (UTC)(link)
Mayhar didn't come up with the backstory. A guy named William Tuning did. Before they found the manuscript for the third Fuzzy book (it was lost for quite a long time), somebody hired him to write a sequel, and he wrote Fuzzy Bones. He apparently looked at the first two books and thought it was deeply weird for a species to evolve a critical need for a substance that didn't occur in nature in the area where they lived.

Fuzzy Bones is kind of jarring because the sensibilities are more modern, the book having come out in 1981, than those in the other books while the characters are supposed to be the same people. There's fade to black (human) sex, for example, and criminal operations and poverty. Tuning also introduced a lot of subplots that he left dangling, so it's pretty clear that he thought he was going to write a sequel or three.

I think that the reason he didn't is that they found and published the third book around that time. I remember reading it in high school, and I graduated in 1985.
the_rck: (Default)

[personal profile] the_rck 2017-03-29 07:28 pm (UTC)(link)
Mayhar's book came out after Tuning's but before Fuzzies and Other People came to light. The publisher specifically asked Mayhar to write the book and to use Tuning as canon. Mayhar talked about it in an author's note in the edition I read.

That's another factor in my suspicion that the publisher originally intended more sequels.
the_rck: (Default)

[personal profile] the_rck 2017-03-29 05:27 pm (UTC)(link)
And I should note-- Most of Piper's books are available from Project Gutenberg if that makes a difference about keeping or not keeping the paper book.
birke: (Default)

[personal profile] birke 2017-03-29 02:18 am (UTC)(link)
Briar Rose is an instant and enduring classic in multiple genres.
birke: (Default)

[personal profile] birke 2017-03-29 05:49 pm (UTC)(link)
Haha! I'm actually surprised by that, she's written so much. It is very, very different from the soulbonded dragons, for sure. But I do feel that if you have any interest in fairytale retellings, Holocaust stories, family stories, or trauma, it would be a good use of time to read this one. I didn't even necessarily enjoy the novel, I just liked what she did with it.
birke: (Default)

[personal profile] birke 2017-03-29 05:57 pm (UTC)(link)
The one thing that I've found more or less consistent across the Jane Yolen books that I've read -- nowhere near all, that's hard, she's so prolific -- is that they are weird, dark, and different.
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)

[personal profile] beatrice_otter 2017-03-29 03:36 am (UTC)(link)
I read The Spirit Ring like twice back in high school. I enjoyed it. I have never felt the need to re-read it.
beatrice_otter: Me in red--face not shown (Default)

[personal profile] beatrice_otter 2017-03-29 06:57 pm (UTC)(link)
Probably.
torachan: (Default)

[personal profile] torachan 2017-03-29 07:50 am (UTC)(link)
I really liked the Westmark series, though it's been so long since I read them that I don't actually remember much of anything about them. Nation was pretty decent, though nowhere near as good as the Discworld stuff.
torachan: (Default)

[personal profile] torachan 2017-03-30 04:05 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, definitely.
the_rck: (Default)

[personal profile] the_rck 2017-03-29 07:37 pm (UTC)(link)
I voted F on the Snow Queen because I remember liking it, but I'm pretty sure I was thirteen or fourteen and only understood parts of it. My memory is that it was complicated and involved high tech and politics and people with a strong desire to live forever. Chewy worldbuilding by my adolescent standards.