Saturday, June 21, 2014

Books Neither Coming Nor Going

So, in addition to the two dozen or so books mentioned in my previous post which are on their way out the door, there are also ten or so whose status is currently uncertain; I've pulled them from the shelves because I'm not sure I want to keep them, but I'm not altogether sure I want to get rid of them yet either. So they've been set aside to read before making that decision. Some I've read before, a long time ago, while others have been patiently waiting their turn just as long. Here's the list of this second category of possible non-keepers, in no particular order:

GRAY LENSMAN by E. E. 'Doc' Smith. One of my friends at TSR and WotC (hi, Rich!)  rather liked the once-famous Lensman series and recommended it to me at one point, so sometime later I picked up this volume cheaply at random. Suspect I won't be keeping it, but time I at least tried reading it first.

THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF SANTA CLAUS by L. Frank Baum. I know Baum has his supporters and admirers, but while I've read a fair amount of his work I really only liked the first OZ book.* So again suspect this will be a read and then pass-it-along book.

THE DEVIL'S CHILDREN by Peter Dickinson. Picked this one up on impulse, thinking to try something new, then never have read it. Time to remedy that omission.

MERLIN'S BOOKE by Jane Yolen. Frankly bought this one for the cover, a gorgeous piece of work by my favorite fantasy author, Thomas Canty. So why am I so reluctant to actually read the book?

GLORY ROAD by Heinlein. Read this once and found it forgetable, but don't want Heinlein's attempt at heroic fantasy to pass from my hands without giving it one more try, if only to leave it with a clearer memory of what's in it.

THE MASK OF CIRCE by Henry Kuttner. I'm a great admirer of Kuttner's short stories but haven't heard much good of his novels; I'll let this one be a test case of whether I shd seek out more or stop while I'm ahead.

THE CARNELIAN CUBE by Pratt & de Camp. I remember this only as the last and least of their collaborations. And while I like their stuff, I've really only been keeping this one just for the sake of completism. So I'll re-read it and then judge whether it's good enough to keep on its own merits.

THE WELL OF THE UNICORN by Fletcher Pratt. Oddly enough, as much as I liked the team of de Camp and Pratt, I've never read either of Pratt's two solo novels. Odder still, given the Dunsany connection with this one. In any case, now that I've picked up a hardcover, I don't really need this old paperback anymore, thought I'm a little reluctant to part with it, given that it was a gift from a friend (hi, Charles!).

--all by Le Guin. Back in the seventies and early eighties, when you found a good fantasy author you picked up everything you could find by her. Thus these minor Le Guins, which I'm thinking I cd part with now, though it behooves me to read or re-read them first. Just finished reading ROCANNON'S WORLD, her first book (half an Ace Double), which I'd never read before and will be keeping; now well into THE BEGINNING PLACE, which I'm pretty sure I won't. I also need to read THE LATHE OF HEAVEN, but that can wait for another day, lest I get Le Guin'd out.**

Then of course there's the hardcover of EREGON, which I'm all but certain I won't be keeping but haven't made up my mind as to whether I shd read it first before it goes out the door.

--John R.
current reading: THE BEGINNING PLACE by Ursula K. Le Guin [1980/81]

*I actually fell asleep once while reading an OZ book. Out loud. Though I do admit he comes up with some interesting characters in the later books in the series, like the Hungry Tiger and Tik-Tok Man.

**If I can keep going, I still need to see if I can make myself read ALWAYS COMING HOME, and there are three science fiction novels I shd probably give a try as well: PLANET OF EXILE, CITY OF ILLUSION, and esp. THE DISPOSSESSED, none of which I've ever read.


David Lenander said...

Devil's Children is the first (chronologically) or third (published) in the Changes trilogy. I like the middle book, _Heartsease_, best--I can't say why exactly, but it's lovely. _The Weathermonger_ is the most clearly fantasy/Arthurian, resolving the crisis and returning the world to normalcy, but the reason for the Changes in Britain are really irrelevant to their impact on the characters in the earlier books, and I think are much more original and interesting.

David Lenander said...

GRAY LENSMAN by E. E. 'Doc' Smith. I read the original Lensman sequence when I was 15, they were loaned to me by a neighborhood friend. I could tell that they really weren't very good, even then, but I'm glad I read them, even not remembering them well, as they were important to the history of SF, and I can pretty much understant why. It may have been a help to be just 15, however. I have no desire to revisit them.

I still haven't read this, and have a copy to read one of these days. I assume that you've read the first 3 Oz books, including _Land_ and _Ozma_--even disliking the next two, you've probably seen his best work--although the critic Roger Sale, _Fairy Tales and After_ makes an interesting case for the artistic achievement of the 5th book, my childhood favorite, and also singled out in Edward Eager's _Seven Day Magic_, _Road to Oz_. I've heard that Baum considered his final book, _Glinda of Oz_ his best, and I think, now, I rather agree with that. So, if you've never read that one and want to sample some more Baum, you might consider it. I've also seen _Queen Zixi of Ix_ mentioned as among his best work, but I've not read it, despite having a copy & the good intention....

MERLIN'S BOOKE by Jane Yolen. I consider this Jane's finest work. but I've not reread it in a long time. It's not a consistent story, with disparate pieces, and its unity as a book is thematic and loosely held together by the idea of Merlin, who features in all of the stories. I'm sad to this day that it wasn't as successful as the publisher had hoped, and that she consequently never wrote the stories to make up _Arthur's Booke_ and _Guenivere's Booke_. Especially the third.

David Lenander said...

GLORY ROAD by Heinlein. I read it once, too, and have mostly forgotten it. I did kind of like it, and also thought it inferior to his better SF.

THE MASK OF CIRCE by Henry Kuttner. I read this and liked it, but don't remember it at all. I have an idea that it was largely written by his wife--but then, maybe it was one that *wasn't* largely written by his wife.

THE WELL OF THE UNICORN by Fletcher Pratt. I read this and did not like it. But maybe I was too young or something. Let me know if you find it worthwhile.

--all by Le Guin. I read all of these and liked them, _Word for World_ best of these. And, despite its reputation as polemic, I liked it a lot, and don't agree. But you should definitely read _Always Coming Home_ and _The Dispossessed_ and _The Lathe of Heaven_, they are among her best work and major achievements.