The Encounter Log

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Finishing up the Endeavour Award reading...

Paloma by Kristine Kathryn Rusch: A nice little police procedural.

Burning Stones by Steven Mills: The world is going to hell in interesting ways, and a small, courageous band of survivors... learns nothing about it and does nothing about it.

Logos Run by William C. Dietz: Set in a universe that feels old and lived-in and detailed, but with characters that are 100% cardboard.

Children of Chaos by Dave Duncan: If you've heard of this book, it's probably as that story set on a world shaped like a d12. Such description hardly does justice to the originality and enjoyability of this book. (Besides, the author drops strong hints that the world isn't actually shaped like a d12 anyway.)

The Burning Girl by Holly Philips: It's a bad sign when you find yourself rooting for the antagonist just because the realization of her evil plan is finally bringing some structure and direction to the story.

Variable Star by Robert Heinlein and Spider Robinson: Turned out to not be nearly as bad as reported on the net, at least not for a while there, in the middle. Heinlein fans should read the afterword first to adjust their expectations.

Hounding the Moon by P. R. Frost: It wants to be a jolly in-crowd look at the fannish life, in between the spasms of demon-fighting, but makes convention-going sound tedious. Plus, I gotta say that having the heroine of your fantasy novel win the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel is just asking for trouble.

Unraveling Time by Kurt R. A. Giambastini: I sent the opening line to Thog, but the rest is absolutely perfect. It's a small-press book, so get thee to Amazon or your favorite equivalent.

If there's one thing I've gained from this, it's a newfound appreciation for likeable characters. And if there's another thing, it's the chance to read two terrific books (Children of Chaos and Unraveling Time) that I would probably never have picked off a shelf in a million years.

Of the books I read, which were about half the ones submitted for the award, Great Sky Woman is the one I'd pick to win. Unraveling Time is the underdog I'm rooting for, but I think Great Sky Woman has more of the kind of stuff that'll impress the judges.

The SEX Column and other misprints by David Langford: A collection of the SFX columns. Educational and entertaining.

Dhalgren by Samuel Delaney: Boy, am I glad now that I read some of Delaney's other work first, so that I didn't think it was all like this. Because this book is practically unreadable. I won't go so far as to say it shouldn't have been written, because it seems like the author got some benefit from writing down his thoughts on the process of writing, but I question whether it should have been published, and I can't begin to grasp how it got declared a classic.

Ilium by Dan Simmons: Space opera on a grand scale mixed with the mythic setting of the Trojan War. Neat stuff! Can't wait to see how it ends!

Olympos by Dan Simmons: And then suddenly it turns into a bad fat fantasy novel, what with the chosen hero being guided by all-knowing but needlessly roundabout beings who spirit him away to the lost city where he can catch the slow train to the mysterious shrine where he can wake the guardian who will introduce him to the artifact which will show him to the way to... well you get the idea, and the vicarious exercise of ethnic stereotypes, and the not one but two dei ex machinae who have to be written in to clean up the bad guys.

The Scandal of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton: Now, here's something which is as good as advertised. Must stay on the lookout for more at Powell's.

The Integral Trees and The Smoke Ring by Larry Niven: Nothing fancy, nothing earthshaking, but a couple of good solid books in a unique setting.

The Zen Gun by Barrington J. Bayley: Animal Farm meets Oriental mysticism meets space opera and you get the worst of each.

One Human Minute by Stanislaw Lem: Three more introductions to books that don't exist: one neat idea for a reference book, one on a new view of cosmology, and one which covers a lot of the same ground as Peace on Earth but which isn't nearly as much fun.

The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases ed. Jeff Vandermeer and Mark Roberts: Speaking of introductions, the one here is the funniest part of the book-- not to say the rest of it isn't weird and funny as well, just that it peaks early.

Orsinian Tales by Ursula K. Le Guin: It's lovely, but I'm a bit peeved that it was shelved in the sf section and turned out to be no such thing.

Yellow Submarine DVD: Still one of my favorite movies ever. I'd try to explain why, but I think you have to see it for the first time as a kid with no other context for the songs.

Doctor Who: The Ribos Operation DVD: Yes, I finally got the Key to Time box set... right before the Restoration Team announced the upcoming release of a revamped box set with loads more extras. Grrr. Anyhow, this is still a terrific story, with one of the most memorable secondary characters ever.

Doctor Who: The Pirate Planet DVD: This used to be one of my all-time favorite stories, but on review, it suffers from the wrong kind of overacting early on. (The right kind of overacting is supplied by Bruce Purchase as the Captain.)

Doctor Who: The Stones of Blood DVD: Speaking of memorable secondary characters, how could I have forgotten Professor Amelia Rumford?? Man, I wish I'd had a grandmother like that.

Doctor Who: The Androids of Tara DVD: This is the least engaging story in the set for me, probably because I'm not familiar with either version of The Prisoner of Zenda. On the plus side, it has the most entertaining commentary.

Doctor Who: The Power of Kroll DVD: I can't figure how the major Whovian fan sites all hate this one. The story's solid, and, other than the shot of Kroll coming up over the horizon, the special effects have aged well. Sure, there's something that looks like a guy in a cheap monster costume, but it actually is, within the story, a guy in a cheap monster costume.

Doctor Who: The Armageddon Factor DVD: I barely remembered this one at all, just the ending. It feels a lot longer than six episodes, but that's not because it drags, but rather because there's so much stuff in it.

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