Thursday, 6 March 2014

Recent Reading

A couple of weeks ago, I went into the Oxfam bookshop in the centre of Oxford and discovered that they had just received several boxes of vintage sci-fi/fantasy paperbacks. I came out with a handful...

Dragon Masters by Jack Vance

I bought this book for two reasons. First, Jack Vance is one of the biggest names in fantasy whose work I have never read. Second, it won the Hugo award (I would later discover it actually won the Hugo for best ‘Short Story’). It is an intriguing and entertaining work, science-fiction with a heavy fantasy flavour. If you like battles with dragon-creatures, mutant warriors, and maybe even a spaceship, it might be for you. It does require a little patience. Vance moves pretty fast and doesn’t always offer full explanations or descriptions, but I would still recommend it.

Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon by Spider Robinson
I first read this book back in high school and loved it. When I saw it again on the used bookshelf, I decided to give it another go and see if the magic was still there. I can report that it is still a highly enjoyable collection of short stories. Interestingly, it is more enjoyable for the setting and the characters (and the desire of the reader that such a place should exist) than the actual plots of the stories, which tend to be pretty straight forward. In truth, a couple of the stories have kind of dud endings. That said, when I read the Callahan's stories, I can’t help but think about the gaming store I hung out in during college, and for that, it still has a bit of magic.

The Shadow – Destination: Moon by Maxwell Grant (Dennis Lynds)

I ordered this paperback off Amazon, mostly to add to my Shadow collection, but also to see if The Shadow really did go to the moon. Happily, I can report that he does not. Unfortunately, that and the fact that it has a rather cool cover, are the best things I can say about the novel. It was the last of the Dennis Lynds Shadow paperbacks released in the sixties, and like the others I’ve read in the series, it draws as much on the melodrama of the old radio show as it does the pulp novels. While there is nothing seriously wrong with this novel, it was, frankly, just a little dull.

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