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
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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)

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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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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: 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).
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.
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)
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.

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