I should totally have a “Piano Pieces Played” list to explain where the rest of my month went, except that it would get really boring as I listed “Solfeggietto” and “Roslin and Adama” over and over and overandoverandover again. (I’ve been practicing.)
Blackwood, Gwenda Bond. Picked this one up on the basis of her “Big Idea” feature on Scalzi’s blog. Roanoke disappearances! History tying into the present! Alchemy! John Dee! It had so many elements I love . . . but it turns out the problem with that is, I have Opinions on the elements, and get increasingly ticked off when I think they’re being used badly. I don’t want to spoil this for anybody who’d prefer to avoid spoilers, so I’ll rot13 my rant:
Wbua Qrr vf gur ivyynva. V pbhyq cbgragvnyyl pbcr jvgu gung, ohg hasbeghangryl, uvf ivyynval nyfb vaibyirf uvz npgvat ZNFFVIRYL BHG BS PUNENPGRE. Gur Ebnabxr pbybal nccneragyl pbafvfgrq bs n ohapu bs nypurzvpny phygvfgf naq jnf Qrr’f fpurzr gb znxr uvzfrys vzzbegny, naq ur jnagrq gb qb guvf fb gung ur pbhyq bireguebj Ryvmnorgu (hu, juhg) naq gnxr bire gur jbeyq be fbzrguvat. Vg snvyrq orpnhfr ur tbg orgenlrq, juvpu erfhygrq va uvf phygvfgf orvat guebja vagb fbzr xvaq bs nygreangr cynar, naq abj gurl’er onpx naq cbffrffvat crbcyr ba Ebnabxr vfynaq gb svavfu gurve arsnevbhf fpurzr, juvpu vf nyfb xvyyvat nyy gur jvyqyvsr va beqre gb znvagnva Qrr’f haangheny yvsr.
V pbhyq unir tbar nybat jvgu guvf vs Qrr jrer abg n) zrtnybznavnpnyyl cybggvat gb gnxr bire Ratynaq naq o) fubjrq erzbefr bire gur pbfg bs uvf npgvbaf; vg pbhyq unir orra cerfragrq nf uvz oryvrivat gung vzzbegnyvgl jbhyq or fb tbbq sbe gur jbeyq, gur pbfg (gubhtu erterggnoyr) vf jbegu vg. Hasbeghangryl, vg srryf yvxr Obaq, be znlor ure ntrag be rqvgbe, qrpvqvat gur nagntbavfg arrqrq gb or chapurq hc gb jbeyq-guerngravat fgnghf. Gur fgbel jbhyq unir orra orggre jvgubhg gung.
Right. Disappointing. I finished the book, but only through sheer bloody-mindedness (it’s a quick read). There were other flaws, too, but I’ve ranted for long enough, so I’ll leave it at that.
Tam Lin, Pamela Dean. Re-read, as a treat to myself on the publication of Lies and Prophecy (which, as I’ve mentioned before, was partially inspired by this book). I hadn’t read it in a number of years, so it was interesting going back through it this time: I noticed so many details that had slipped past me before, like why Nick’s and Robin’s accents shift when they recite. This is very much a comfort book for me, so I’m not sure what I can say about it to people who don’t already know and love it, but short form is: my favorite ballad, retold in the context of a 1970s Minnesota liberal arts college. With lots of excessively literate and well-spoken characters, and some phrases that have stayed with me for near on twenty years now.
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print, Renni Browne and Dave King. maratai offered this free to the first person who asked for it a while ago, so I asked. I was sad when her marginal comments petered out, because those were entertaining me. 🙂 As for the book itself, it’s trying to be a 200-level-ish “how to write” type thing — going beyond the basic platitudes of writing books and into things like proportion (paying attention to, and trying to appropriately scale, how much attention you devote to certain things) or breaks (sentences, paragraphs, scenes, chapters). That part is good; the part where the authors seem to think absolutely everything should be done via dialogue was less so. (They are rather anti-description, anti-dialogue tags, anti-“beats” — by which they mean descriptions of movement used to break up dialogue — etc.) And then I got to the chapter on “voice” and ranted on Twitter about the meaninglessness of that word the way most writing books, this one included, tend to use it. Augh nonsensical platitudes aaaaaaaaugh.
So, very much a mixed bag.
Towers of Midnight, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. Yeah, I went ahead and read this one, even though I won’t be blogging about it until November and December. I wanted to be able to read things like the wiki and Leigh Butler’s recaps without hitting spoilers, and I was having a bad week where I really just wanted a GIANT BOOK I could trust to entertain me without requiring much from my brain. (That part kicks in when I do the analysis, later.) Also? I really just wanted to know what happens next. Which is a good feeling to have, going into the end of the series. Anyway, commentary will come later. [Edited to add: commentary is now here.]