starlady: All I want for Christmas is to get into a Ph.D. program. (christmas)
Epigraph: Best Science Fiction Books of the Aughts according to io9.com. It's not my list (more on that anon, maybe), but it's certainly a list.


Lovecraft Unbound
. Ed. Ellen Datlow. Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Books, 2009.

I've never actually read any Lovecraft, and while I imagine that I consequently may have gotten less out of this book than your average Chthulu-head, I enjoyed it quite a lot nonetheless. (Question: Were I to read any actual Lovecraft, which Lovecraft should I read first?) Several of the authors in this collection mention in their notes that they like the Lovecraftian ethos without its racism and sexism, and while I'd say the stories generally succeed in their revisions of Lovecraftiana on that score, I do have to wonder how inextricably the Lovecraftian worldview itself is tied in to such execrable -isms. More on this below.
To H.P. with love and disrespect )
starlady: (coraline)
First off, some Dreamwidth-related news: I have granted all active mutual friends access to my DW journal via OpenID (so, yourusername.livejournal.com). Of course my DW and LJ accounts are mirrors, but this enables you to comment on my DW posts in your LJ guise, once you create your OpenID.

That said, I will have some (not sure how many) DW invite codes to hand out on April 30, when Dreamwidth enters open beta. If any one would like an invite code, please leave a comment to this entry or message me.

Rubinstein, Julian. Ballad of the Whiskey Robber. New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2004.

I'd heard good things about this book upon its original publication, and I managed to score a copy for $3.99 as part of Borders' ongoing "let's sell all our stock in a futile attempt to stave off bankruptcy though it was our stock that made us better than B&N" sale. Semi-annual my foot. At any rate, Rubinstein, a reporter at large, recounts the dozen-year saga of modern Hungary's most notorious thief, Attila Ambrus, epithet "the Whiskey Robber" due to his habit of knocking off banks, post offices and travel agencies while more or less completely sloshed. Rubinstein is a hugely entertaining writer--I laughed out loud at multiple points in his book, which isn't something that happens often--though his strength is at least partly his pitch-perfect timing of pithy phrases, even cliches. It's sort of like sitting down in a bar with a friend who tells good stories. I've actually been to Hungary, and spent a few days in Budapest, which gave the story an addtional resonance for me: while the action the book recounts was ended by the time of my visit, it's certainly a cogent reminder of all the realities tourists almost never know exist in countries they visit, let alone see. I think anyone can sympathize with modern Hungary's tribulation-filled transition to capitalism and democracy, as well as with the transparent way the Hungarian elites went easy on themselves and came down hard on outsiders to the system.

Troll's Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, eds. New York: Viking, 2009.

My library came through for me with this book, and while the fact that it's aimed at "middle readers" means that it's rather slight, the star-studded cast of authors overall delivers. Among others, Peter S. Beagle, Delia Sherman, Garth Nix, Ellen Kushner, Neil Gaiman, Catherynne M. Valente (yuki_onna) and Kelly Link turned in excellent efforts. If I had to pick one favorite story, I'd say Link's "The Cinderella Game" and Sherman's "Wizard's Apprentice" were my favorites, because they both completely inverted the distinction between heroes and villains: in these stories, everyone is both.

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