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clauclauclaudia
clauclauclaudia
Claudia
Mon, Feb. 27th, 2006 06:33 pm
book count

Okay, finally I'm gonna try to keep track of my books read for the year.


1-6. Prince Caspian; Voyage of the Dawn Treader; A Horse and His Boy; The Silver Chair; The Magician's Nephew; The Last Battle.

Yes, that is the one true ordering.

This was, of course, a re-read. I'm now even more skeptical than I was before about the later books in the series making good films. Some of them, perhaps, but definitely not all. And none of them are quite as filmic as the first book.

But taking the books as themselves rather than as movie treatments--they're as they always were. I don't think I discovered anything new in them since last time. I still disagree with the critics who say Susan was essentially damned for liking boys. She was damned for turning away from Aslan repeatedly. *And* she liked boys. The point wasn't "liking boys is bad", the point was "she doesn't care about anything beyond worldly matters". And yes, I've read Neil Gaiman's story, "The Problem of Susan". I liked it far less than most of Gaiman's short fiction. Was he being polemical, and was that why I didn't like it? Hm.

7. Babylon 5 -- The Scripts of J. Michael Straczynski, Volume 3.

JMS is releasing all his Babylon 5 scripts (not those by other writers, he doesn't have the rights to those), plus production memos, his behind-the-scenes photos, etc. as a series of Cafepress books. They're not cheap, but they're very nifty. They're definitely cheaper than getting the scripts for $10 a pop at writer appearances, even if you *could* hunt them all down that way. Plus, extra material.

If you're interested, get on the mailing list for each new volume announcement, because they're $10 cheaper for the first week each volume is released. And if you buy all 14 volumes and keep your order numbers for proof, you get a 15th for free. And the 15th will not be for regular sale. And it will have goodies like the infamous Londo/G'Kar seduction scene. ;-)

Okay, enough with the commercial. I think the fun of these books is clear to fans, and will never be clear to non-fans.

This volume is approximately the first half of season 2: Points of Departure, Revelations, The Geometry of Shadows, A Race Through Dark Places, The Coming of Shadows, All Alone in the Night, and Acts of Sacrifice. It's some good stuff, but a lot of it is just Sheridan settling in and setting up the excitement to come. I'm very much looking forward to volume 4, which I don't have yet.

8-10. The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire, The Darkest Road. Another re-read. I'm not sure I'd actually delved into The Silmarillion last time I read this. Now it really does sing out to me "I just spent several years editing Tolkien's (then-)unpublished works." I'm not clear how much input Kay had into the content of Silmarillion, but the similarities are unmissable.

Still, on its own the Fionavar Tapestry is a rip-roaring fantasy trilogy. Be warned, this is a trilogy in the Lord of the Rings sense; there is no attempt at closure until the end of the third book, just big old To Be Continued signs.

Spoilers for premise rather than plot: I think the premise that this is the first world, on which other universes are based, is only really richly used when Arthurian legend comes to the fore. Other than that it only serves to raise the stakes: "If this doesn't work, we can't go back home--home won't survive either." That said, I'm a real sucker for Arthurian legend and I love how Kay uses it.

End Spoilers

More reading, less re-reading. Right now I'm reading Aristotle's Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Middle Ages, Flights: Extreme Visions of Fantasy (which is now coming out in two pocket-sized books, though Amazon seems confused--I can't find vol. 1 there) and I'm about to dive into The Time Traveler's Wife. I like Aristotle's Children a lot, though I'm finding it dense and reading it in bursts between other things. Also, I've misplaced it at the moment.

Given that Guy Gavriel Kay is going to be at Vericon next year, what's the essential Kay I should read this year? I've read the Fionavar books, and I own A Song For Arbonne. Suggestions?

Tags: ,
Current Mood: busy busy
Current Music: Jonathan Coulton - So Far So Good

17CommentReplyShare

emmacrew
emmacrew
Emma
Mon, Feb. 27th, 2006 11:54 pm (UTC)

The, uh... not-Italy one. Gah. I suck with titles. *pokes wrog*


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wrog
wrog
wRog
Tue, Feb. 28th, 2006 12:18 am (UTC)

The correct answer is all of them. Kay is one of my Don't Wait For the Paperback Just Fucking Buy It Already authors; you won't ever lose.

I should note that the trend in his later works is more towards fake historical fiction with supernatural elements lurking in the background rather than straight epic fantasy. On the other hand, this is his take on what fantasy should be and I can't say I disagree.

Anyway his post-Fionavar books:

  • Tigana (Renaissance Italy)
  • A Song For Arabonne (Medaeval France)
  • Lions of Al-Rassan (Islamic Spain ca. 1300)
  • The Sarantine Mosaic (Byzantine Empire under Justinian) which is actually a bilogy (or whatever the word is)
    1. Sailing to Sarantium
    2. Lord of Emperors
  • The Last Light of the Sun (Saxon Britain and the Vikings)
He vaguely maintains the idea that these are all reflections of Fionavar, however, from Lions on, everything seems to be taking place in the same world (i.e., he's evidently settled on what he wants his alternate history to look like...)


ReplyThread Parent
cthulhia
cthulhia
omphaloskeptic
Tue, Feb. 28th, 2006 12:24 am (UTC)
if not *all*

then at least Tigana. It was my intro to Kay and, wow.

I still need to read the rest of the tapestry, if your copies are loanable.

(and the whole mosaic set, and the sun one)


ReplyThread Parent
clauclauclaudia
clauclauclaudia
Claudia
Tue, Feb. 28th, 2006 12:30 am (UTC)
Re: if not *all*

My copies are definitely loanable if you want to swing by H^2 some time to acquire them. Got a Tigana to trade? :) You can have the tapestry books either way.

(My tapestry books are slightly water-damaged, but not mildewed or anything, just slightly warped--if that doesn't annoy you, you're welcome to them.)


ReplyThread Parent
emmacrew
emmacrew
Emma
Tue, Feb. 28th, 2006 12:57 am (UTC)
Re: if not *all*

That's the, uh, not-Italy one. Yay. :-)


ReplyThread Parent
clauclauclaudia
clauclauclaudia
Claudia
Tue, Feb. 28th, 2006 12:31 am (UTC)

Your html-fu is mighty, for you have achieved nested lists in a comment, where you only get one shot. ;-)

Thanks for the list! I'll probably work through them roughly chronologically.


ReplyThread Parent
wrog
wrog
wRog
Tue, Feb. 28th, 2006 12:56 am (UTC)

if you hit "More Options", you get to a page that lets you do "Preview".

Publishing order is usually the Right Thing. The only cases where it might not be is where you have someone whose earlier works should be tossed because s/he hadn't quite developed enough as a writer yet -- and I imagine there probably are people who make this argument w.r.t. Kay and Fionavar (cf. my college roommate the book editor who rejected Summer Tree when it showed up on his desk back ca. 1985. I still give him shit about it. To be fair, he's not really a fantasy person and he particularly hates the modern-Americans-translated-to-fantasy-world subgenre...).

I suppose the other argument is that the later books are better, so if you really only have one week left to live, then go straight to the Sarantium books, where Kay is in full-on Gonzo-batshit Plotting Mode...


ReplyThread Parent
emmacrew
emmacrew
Emma
Tue, Feb. 28th, 2006 12:58 am (UTC)

Stuart rejected Summer Tree? Man, I've got to tease him mercilessly, too.


ReplyThread Parent
wrog
wrog
wRog
Tue, Feb. 28th, 2006 12:29 am (UTC)

I'm now even more skeptical than I was before about the later books in the [Narnia] series making good films.
Seeing as the whole last book essentially summarizes to "Everybody Dies and This is Good", I think Hollywood would have to seriously mess with it to come up with something that'll have appeal beyond the Tim & Beverly LaHaye Fan Club.


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clauclauclaudia
clauclauclaudia
Claudia
Tue, Feb. 28th, 2006 12:39 am (UTC)

On the other hand, The Last Battle will appeal to the Christians who came out for The Passion of the Mel and Narnia but don't usually come to movies. Supposedly, they're a mightly large market.

I think Caspian/Treader/Horse/Silver are all about equally adaptable, especially if you munge Caspian and Treader into one, as I believe the BBC TV adaptations did. I'm not sure of the appeal of Horse, with the adult Pevensies, nor Silver Chair, with all the blind faith required of the kids.

Magician's Nephew on the one hand is dated but on the other hand, fun effects and all that. Last Battle is DEPRESSING and apocalyptic. Hmm.

Really, I just don't see them doing it all without lots of re-casting. And I don't see them wanting to do them all that much.


ReplyThread Parent
emmacrew
emmacrew
Emma
Tue, Feb. 28th, 2006 12:52 am (UTC)

Magician's Nephew is my favorite. I've never been able to entirely pinpoint why, but I've always loved it best. Maybe because the girl is the sensible one?


ReplyThread Parent
wrog
wrog
wRog
Tue, Feb. 28th, 2006 01:02 am (UTC)

Christians who came out for The Passion of the Mel and Narnia but don't usually come to movies. Supposedly, they're a mightly large market.
or so they want everyone to believe. IIRC "Passion" did okay, but not that well


ReplyThread Parent
sneaker328
sneaker328
SNeaker
Tue, Feb. 28th, 2006 12:47 am (UTC)

I hope they do Dawn Treader and Silver Chair, simply because I adore Eustace and Jill.

My problem with Susan isn't the "boys and makeup" implications, it's that I don't understand where this business of turning her back on Narnia comes from. I really had very little connection with the Pevensies when I read the books, but when I finished the series I was left with this terrible ache for Susan- not because she doesn't get to be "Yay! Dead!" with the rest of them (so disturbing- I really hate that damn ending), but because for no discernible reason the end of her story is the image in my head of her getting a telegram: "Your brothers, sister, parents, cousin, and close family friends are all dead. Have a nice life." Susan was known for her kindness and motherly nature throughout her run of the books, with no indication of any disloyalty, and this is what she's left with?


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clauclauclaudia
clauclauclaudia
Claudia
Tue, Feb. 28th, 2006 04:00 am (UTC)

Agreed that "yay, dead!" is disturbing, and agreed that it's horribly sad to think of her alone when all her family and friends have died. That's what "The Problem of Susan" (which is in the Flights collection I linked to in my post) is about, really... a Susan who grew up alone after all her family died when she was a girl.

However, in the series Susan was the skeptic, and the less cooperative one (after Edmund shaped up), and in Prince Caspian there's a point where she admits that she actually believed Lucy about Aslan and still didn't follow him. I forget what is said about her later.


ReplyThread Parent
lillibet
lillibet
Elizabeth Hunter
Tue, Feb. 28th, 2006 04:04 am (UTC)

I'm a real sucker for Arthurian legend and I love how Kay uses it. This would make a big difference. I've varied from enjoy to love on Kay's other work, but once he rolled out the Guinevere plotline, he lost me. While published order is always a fine bet, here's my list in order of nothing other than my personal preferences: The Lions of Al-Rassan Tigana A Song for Arbonne The Summer Tree The Last Light of the Sun Sailing to Sarantium The Wandering Fire The Lord of Emperors The Darkest Road I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on The Time-Traveler's Wife, which I really enjoyed.


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whitebird
whitebird
Occam's Pump-Action Shotgun
Tue, Feb. 28th, 2006 06:05 am (UTC)

Hrm. How often do the Babylon 5 script books come out?


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arsmith
arsmith
arsmith
Wed, Mar. 1st, 2006 04:53 am (UTC)

*grin* I've been reading Shelby Foote's history of the civil war. Completely not fantasy, but rather engaging, and funny in a lot of spots. Compared with the other major war history I read (Samuel Elliot Morrison's history of us naval operations in world war two) as humanity advances along in science and psychology, war becomes less fun.


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