anghara: (book and glasses)
OF COURSE we bought books at Powells while we were in Portland. You really thought we went into that place and walked out empty-handed...?

I got some great research books for both the current project in the throes of research, and for a potential future project which might be of interest. One of the latter books was a gorgeous older volume, in quite good shape but obviously an aged book - it looked good, it was on a subject that interested me, and I bought it.

When I came home with it, [ profile] rdeck, who hadn't really had the opportunity of inspecting my hoard before I packed it away for the homeward journey in the Portland hotel room, turned this thing over in his hands with interest and asked, "When was this published?"

Which was the first time I looked.

And discovered I was holding a book published in 1857.

The oldest book I own is a law book, in Latin, dating back to the early 1700's - probably worth less than it sounds it might be but a treasure for me simply because -well - wow - it was bouncing around this tired old world three centuries ago. The French Revolution hadn't happened yet. The Sun still revolved around the Earth, and scientists were known as "natural philosophers" - Isaac Newton was still almost newly dead. People were still dealing with the fallout from the Great Plague of London. The world was waking up to Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Immanuel Kant. And this book was knocking around the same world, and being read, and being understood (Latin was still a language of learning and knowledge and the gowned academics pored over dusty Latin tomes with hand-drawn illustrations). It gives me a frisson just to hold that book and know that it is a bridge between myself and some reverent hand which has been dust for three hundred years.

I love old books.

This is why I have never warmed to electronic "readers". Three hundred years from now, the Amazon Kindles and their ilk will be so much electronic junk. The books, they endure.
anghara: (worldweavers)
Um, you remember I was just talking about the proofs for Worldweavers #2? THe ones I just turned in this week?...

Turns out you can pre-order the book from Amazon already. With a release date of March 1 2008.

No cover image yet (but trust me, it's worth waiting for - it's a gonna be a pretty spectacular cover! - but colour me impressed, anyway. That book is available for preorder a full nine months before it hits the bookshelves. That's... kind of cool.
anghara: (book and glasses)
This musing got triggered by this blog post, and a sudden urge to go back and run a finger down my bookshelves and remember books - why I got them, why I loved them, why I still own some (but not others), what it is that makes a book get tenure on my shelf.

(Let's keep it genre, shall we - for this post, at least - or else this would get really unwieldy...)

I still have a bunch of the early Asimov stuff - the robotics stories, the Lije Bailey detective-in-the-stars tales - and this is what I cut my SF teeth on, one of the first SF-nal forays I ever made that were frankly genre novels, my badge of courage, my entry into this brave new world. I read Asimov, and I loved it, and it was my password - "Hello stars, Asimov sent me".

I still love some of the robotics stories, but it's a sentimental affection - when I re-read some of them (and in the interests of accuracy it hasn't happened in more than a decade, really) I read them with an indulgent smile on my face. They are LINEAR. They start at a beginning, and they go on until an end, and they stop. Most of the time that end is dimly visible from that beginning anyway. *There are no surprises*. And yes, I know, I've read them all before - that's belabouring the obvious. What I'm getting at is that I, and the world, have moved on from the early simple sweet Asimovian storytelling. Comparing Asimov with, say, Stross, is like going from a Newtonian to an Einsteinian universe - one where the earlier tenets still hold, in many simple cases, but where the nature of the latter world has been explained in a way that would make the former world blink and clasp its hands and breathe, "wow, magic".

Asimov himself moved on, up to a point - the Foundation books were an order of magnitude more complex and layered than the laws of robotics stuff. We all grow - writers and readers both - it's part of being alive. We grow up as people and with us an entire genre is also growing up and out, changing even as we watch, kicking its baby feet one bright shiny morning and getting kitted out to go fight a war in a distant galaxy that night and a hundred years later all at the same time.

But I still have them, the early Asimovs. They remain my badge of honour, my password, my certificate of passage. They may be, now, slightly battered vintage cars sitting retired in a safe garage somewhere and not being taken out much any more because their tires are balding and their shock absorbers are shot - but they were the cars in which you took your date to Lovers's Leap and made out in the back seat while the lights twinkled in the town down below. They've got tenure, those books. They done earned them.

Then there's the books that the blog entry I referenced above is dissecting. The Pern books. Once again, I've got them - or most of them, anyway. I don't own the Menolly books, Menolly irritated me in many of the same ways that Robert Jordan's women irritate me (and that's a whole another can of literary worms, whoa, back on the topic...) I read them, what, twenty years ago now? More...? When were they published again - my copies are upstairs and it's too far to go check now, but it's been a fair while. I can pinpoint exactly when Mccafffrey began to go south on me, though, and that was not with the Pern books, not then, not in the beginning - it was the Crystal SInger books. Good grief, but that woman was unpleasant. Tough, sure, able to fend for herself, sure, talented, way sure, but MAN was she unpleasant - and with that, all the rest fell away for me. WHy would I care about what happened to an unpleasant woman? I read the Crystal Singer books. I no longer own them. I still - warts and all! - have the Dragonflight/Dragonquest/White Dragon trilogy. I haven't touched them for years and years and years - and EVERYTHING that has been said in that blog post is absolutely true, so help me, and I have no idea why I go back to that idea and insist that I still love the whole sense of Dragons and Telepathic Bonding and all that. Tolkien said once that he "desired dragons with a profound desire" - he knew of whereof he spoke. Mccaffrey tapped into a powerful fantasy with her dragon-human bond - who wouldn't want to have such a creature for a pet, a friend, a companion? I have to say, though, that once again those books fail me TODAY in that they are too linear, too simplistic, too damned obvious. Over many years of reading my tastes have obviously gravitated towards the complex and the layered and the rich and the lush, and Pern no longer delivers that. Besides, if we're talking worldbuilding, they lost me way back at agenothree.

Another example. I first read Orson Scott Card's Songmaster novel in a partial published in - what was it, Analog, Asimov's one of those, may years ago. I fell in love with the story, with the power of the tale, with the voice in which it was told, with the compassion and the tragedy that followed the development of the relationships of young Ansset and those who surrounded him, loved him, molded him, ruined him, redeemed him.

And then I bought the entire novel when it came out, and the second half of it - the part not published in the magazine - was weaker, for me. Lots weaker. But I liked it enough to continue reading. I picked up Ender's Game - and really loved it. But then that franchise ran out of steam fast, and by the third book in that series I was gone - I did borrow Card's attempt to re-harness the original storyline, the Ender story told through Bean's eyes, from the library and read it, but I don't own it. And other Card books - particularly the Ships of Earth novels - annoyed me so much that I was literally growling at the things when I was reading them. Those books, or at least some of them, I still have - but the only reason they're still on my shelf is inertia. I'm just too procrastinatory. But they'll go, eventually, probably. I KNOW I'll never return to those books again.

Other classics - Dune. THe original Dune took my breath away then, and still does today - here was my thrist for complexity slaked, and then some. It was incredible, and powerful, and it found a deep place within me. But the sequels - ah, the sequels - I managed to read the first three. I haven't touched any since then, especially not the ones written in collaboration by people other than Frank Herbert. Sorry, but that was HIS story. Being someone's child doesn't necessarily mean you have the God-given right to continue that person's "Legacy", and indeed sometimes it is probably the wiser course of action not to. But I can't really speak for the later books in the Dune franchise. I haven't read them. If anyone has anything positive to say about them please feel free.

Zelazny's Amber. LOVE the original five. Less devoted to the second set, but I still have them. I hated with a flaming passion the attempt to resurrect "Roger Zelazny's Amber" a couple of years ago. Sure, the story he told had potential prequels or sequels dancing around in the stars. But *Zelazny is gone*. NOBODY else does Amber. NOBODY. This was a place of his heart - he understood it, even the things about it that he didn't talk about in the books - and perhaps he MEANT those prequels and sequels to stay untold. In fact, I seem to remember him saying as much just before he died - that he didn't particularly want anyone else playing in that sandbox after he was gone. Those books? Full tenure. And not just because one of them happens to be signed.

Mary Stewart's Merlin books? Keepers, all. One of the best and most powerful tellings of a story told many, many times. ANd it makes things like "Mists of Avalon" strike a particularly sour note for me.

Spider Robinson's stuff - ye gods, do I have to explain? The man's a Pun King, and for someone similarly afflicted his books are a constant joyride of rolling-eye groaning delight. Keepers, again - and once more not because one of them is signed thusly: To Alma, who obviously has The Callahan Touch herself.

What else have I got there? Gene Wolfe? Larry Niven? Michael Moorcock?

Guy Gavriel Kay? Oh, him I've got - ALL of his books I've got. I could rank them for you, sure, from the astonishingly sublime (Tigana) to the merely magnificent (Song for Arbonne, Lions of Al-Rassan) to things like his newest, Ysabel, which I found a tad "meh", and not only because he apparently makes a conscious return to his Fionavar roots in this book - and I consider the Fionavar Trilogy to be his training trike, the fantasy novel(s) in which he cut his teeth and which led him to write gems like Tigana. But I've got 'em all. He's a keeper. Always will be.

Glenda Larke - friend and colleague - who understands story, worldbuilds with passion, and Writes Good Character. Keepers.

Newer favourites, like Catherynne Valente, Elizabeth Bear.

Space will always be at a premium in my bookshelves, where things are shelved double-thickness and books often stuffed in sideways on top of the stacked paperbacks where there's room. But some books get bought, get read, get evicted. Others... stay. They've got their hooks into my heart and my memory, somehow, and they are more than just the contents of a bookshelf. They are a set of signposts for the literary road I've travelled so far, and may be choosing in the future. They are not possessions. They are that part of me that is - that part that CAN be - written in other people's words. They represent the bits of my mind and heart and spirit which THAT writer, THAT story, made possible.

So. What's on your bookshelves, then...?
anghara: (worldweavers)
"Gift of the Unmage" is officially released today.

As a birthday present, I have just been told that it is to receive a starred review in the April issue of VOYA.

Happy birthday, little book. Go get 'em.
anghara: (Default)
David Louis Edelman, who started the ball rolling, has a summary here.

So, then. Word of mouth works. Pass it on.
anghara: (Default)
David Louis Edelman, author of "Infoquake" writes in his blog:

"So I'm going to try a little experiment here. I want to hear from science fiction and fantasy readers and consumers. Pick three recent SF/F titles that you've purchased, and add a comment telling the world how you heard about them, and what inspired you to buy them. "It was sitting on the bookshelf at Borders next to Robert Heinlein and I liked the cover" counts, as does "one of my friends told me about it" or "Amazon told me that I would like it because I recently purchased Paddy Chayefsky's Altered States." Extra points for the out-of-the-ordinary. You can tell me how you found/purchased Infoquake if you'd like, but it's not necessary; any SF title will do."

Let's see - the last three books that I bought were Elizabeth Bear's "Blood and Iron" (which I gacked from her LJ, and from all the things that people were saying about it there), Jo Walton's "Farthing" (because I know the author and also because of the things I'd heard/read about it at conventions or on the Net) and Neil Gaiman's "Fragile Things", which I haven't read yet, because he's Neil Gaiman and I KNOW I like his stuff. As for "Infoquake", that one came to me as a review copy and I still plan on writing a review for it as soon as I'm out from under my edits - better late than never, eh...?

But I'd like to pass this one along. Call it a book buying meme. WHat were YOUR last three purchases? WHy did you buy those books and not something else? (And for bonus points you can talk about ANY of mine... *grin*)
anghara: (Default)
Here is the definitive answer to that.

I even agree with a lot of it.
anghara: (Default)
Just got a heap of contracts for the Israeli (that's HEBREW, eh! My first really STRANGE alphabet! Whee!) and then [ profile] prestoimp had some very nice things to say about the book here. My thanks!

I am hatching a plot for something involving books and giveaways and whatnot, but I'm still waiting for one key piece of essential material before I can do anything specific - so watch this space...


Jul. 1st, 2006 02:26 pm
anghara: (Default)
Following [ profile] jpsorrow's account of What Floods Did, I just picked up the latest copy of Poets and Writers magazine from my mailbox, and there's an article in it which (alas) isn't hotlinked online but here's a link to the info for those who want to go and look it up - an essay about a New Orleans writer and Katrina's deadly embrace of her library.

Which got me thinking.

I would be devastated if any of my thousands of books were to be lost or damaged by fire, flood, foe. They are all mine, they are all loved, all books are created equal...but are there, in the manner of Anumal Farm, some books that are more equal than others? Books whose loss would really REALLY hurt? What are some of the special ones in your own library?

For me... There's the signed copy of Nine Princes in Amber, from the last convention that Roger Zelazny ever went to, and the edition was old enough (and battered enough) that he looked on it with a mixture of astonishment and delight and wanted to know *just how long* I had had this thing. It was like telling someone news of an old friend. I treasure the memory of that smile, and that book is a potent reminder of it. Then there's a book I picked up at random in an old second-hand bookstore tucked away out fo sight back in Cape Town - they had the oddest things, those people. Back in, oh, late eighties (hard to remember exactly now) I tripped over a copy of "Mill on the Floss", and while it isn't one of my favouite books EVAH when I opened it up there on the flyleaf was this, in old-fashioned curly handwriting: "To dearest Deda, from A C Chicken, Xmas 1905" One thing was an instant heatstring-pull - I was never anyone's "chicken", but "Deda" is what I called my grandfather. For that alone, the book was a must-have. It was in remarkable condition for a book that was even then getting on in years; last year it celebrated its centenary. It's a little thing, a pointless thing, but I treasure that book - for whatever reasons. It got under my skin.

Then there's my copy of the GLobe Illustrated Shakespeare. This is a book which is roughly the size of my torso. It is bound in red leather, and it contains every single word that SHakespeare is known or suspected to have written - THOUSANDS of pages of fine thin Bible paper, gild-edged, the red leather covers adorned with embossed gilt title, the inside adorned with line drawings. I don't actually pick this thing up and read it every night - I am not even a Shakespeare fanatic - but it was a treasure found discarded on a bargain table, and I got it for what must today have been the equivalent of about five bucks. You betcha I snapped it up.

And this isn't even getting into the territory of books that mean something to me now because I know the people who wrote them, because I've laughed with those authors and eaten with them and drank with them and whose books I have known from before they were ever born, sometimes before they were conceived.

Oh, God. Which book would YOU rush to save if the floodwaters were coming in? Me, I'd stand there and weep, and ask to die with my library...

May 2009

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