Shadowbahn by Steve Erickson

Years ago, many, many years ago, I heard a bit from a Stan Freberg radio show about why radio was better than television.  The bit featured a lot of impossible things, done through the magic of story telling and sound effects, that ended with something like a bunch of helicopters dropping a giant sponge on Lake Michigan sucking up all the water. The point being, … Continue reading Shadowbahn by Steve Erickson

Two with Pictures: The Singing Bones and Yvain, the Knight of the Lion

I’ve been doing some reading for work. Since I teach 7th grade history and English reading for work takes me places it might not take other grown men. Not that I mind. Two strong contenders for actual classroom use this time around. The first is M.T. Anderson’s graphic novel (illustrations by Andrea Offermann) Yvain, The Night of the Lion based on the 12th century French epic … Continue reading Two with Pictures: The Singing Bones and Yvain, the Knight of the Lion

Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada

A colleague at work asked me what I was reading last week. “I’m reading a novel about Russian polar bears written by a Japanese woman who lives in Berlin and writes in German.” “Oh.” You’ve probably never heard of this book, either. I found Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada, translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky, on the German shelves of the translated literature … Continue reading Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle

The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle is a good time. If I say that it’s just a good read, does that do it a disservice? Do you think I mean to say that it’s not really a great book with something to say? Is calling a book simply a good read marking it down a bit in your estimation? In mine? I don’t mean … Continue reading The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle

My New Favorite Book: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

I confess–I thought this books was going to be about Lincoln in France or in a French hotel or neighborhood, maybe in New Orleans. So I wasn’t all that anxious to read it.  Plus, it’s historical fiction which I’m frankly a bit biased against. But it looked like a quick read and since I needed something I could finish before Monday when I planned on … Continue reading My New Favorite Book: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Arrival by Ted Chiang

  There is some damn fine writing in Ted Chiang’s volume of short stories Arrival originally published as Stories of Your Life and Others. So much than the next time you hear someone say that fantasy and science fiction tend to be badly written, you should direct them to any of Ted Chiang’s stories. They may not be your cup of tea, but they are all very well … Continue reading Arrival by Ted Chiang

My New Favorite Book: The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

Our search for the next school wide read continues without success. There have been books some teachers on the “committee” loved, some that were good for grades 6 and 7 but not 8, some good for 8 and seven but not for six.  And the science and math department, along with the forces at large, are still pushing for a non-fiction title, which only makes … Continue reading My New Favorite Book: The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

It’s long been my belief that you should never revisit the things that most impressed you when you were young.  My number one object lesson for this belief is the 1972  science fiction movie Silent Running starring Bruce Dern.  (I’ve posted the trailer for it below.) I was nine-years-old when I saw it.  The special effects, the ecological message, the robots, the final shot of … Continue reading The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

The Dragon Waiting by John M. Ford

I don’t usually like  this type of book, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself while reading The Dragon Waiting by John M. Ford. I don’t read a lot of fantasy.  When I do, I prefer quest stories, the kind of thing with lots of action.  Characters and setting are also very important, but I find that most fantasy fiction consists of multiple story-lines spent plotting against each … Continue reading The Dragon Waiting by John M. Ford

Tournament of Short Stories SF/F Edition: Ted Chiang vs. The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Vol. VII

I’ve devoted this round of my tournament of short stories to science fiction and fantasy tales.  I’ve just enough anthologies to make it interesting, though I’m going to stretch the genre to include magical realism and people who included some SF/F in their books. It may be a challenge, but it should be fun. Science fiction and fantasy, even at their darkest, are fun. For … Continue reading Tournament of Short Stories SF/F Edition: Ted Chiang vs. The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Vol. VII

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

I really liked this book. Nnedi Okorafor’s fantasy epic Who Fears Death is something of a cross between Ursula K. LeGuin and Octavia Butler if both had grown up in Africa. The story follows Onyesonwu, a young woman living in what must be a post-civilization North Africa.  Her culture is clearly based on Africa and the setting is a vast desert like the Sahara, but there … Continue reading Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

Of Flesh and Fur by Duncan Barlow

It’s not easy to find these books.  Small, very small, independent press books each of them clearly a labor of love at every step of the way. I found The Cupboard Press at a writer’s and writing conference in Los Angeles last year, two young people sitting at a table in the vast exhibition hall.  I liked their little books, each small enough to fit … Continue reading Of Flesh and Fur by Duncan Barlow