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Saturday, June 11, 2011

May Readings

May was not a bad month for personal reading. I needed it as I am drowning in medical coding technical manuals and anatomy and such.

I re-read Fred Saberhagen's Broken Lands trilogy. This is a series that I never really hear anyone talk about, even though it's got "Appendix N" cred. I first read these books (in the omnibus Empire of the East form) when I was... 13? 14? Somewhere right around there. Anyway, it was my first rewarding departure from Tolkien - in fact I think I bought the book because it had a blurb about being better than LotR (a tall claim, sure, and pretty much apples & oranges too - very different writers). I read and re-read LotR as a kid more times than I want to admit, so apparently I was ready for something "better".

I'm not going to say that what I got was better than LotR, but it was different, and it was good. It's science-fantasy, weighed a little heavier on the fantasy side, Saberhagen's style far less lyrical. The story had a good impact on me at the time, and helped me to get some perspective, that there was more to the world that Tolkien.The re-read was good - the books stand up in my opinion.

So in addition to The Broken Lands, The Black Mountains, and Changeling Earth, I managed to sneak in 2 more Vance books.

1. Many Worlds of Magnus Ridolph - Jack Vance. This is SO Jack Vance, Ridolph might be the archetypical Vance 'hero', a smug detective for hire, all brain, no brawn. Kinda a cosmopolitan Matlock or something...

2. Blue Planet - Jack Vance. Liked it. The culture of the planet seems to have been started by prisoners (from the Gaian Reach I assume), the current castes and professions all derive their names from the titles of criminals and crimes of the far past (they do not seem to be aware of this fact). For example, the Hoodwinkers. Hoodwinke are in charge of communications between settlements - this accomplished by blinking light semaphore at the top of towers.

The thing I am finding in trying to write about Vance is that I have a hard time pinning down the what's & why's - I am content with appreciation.

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