Posted by jukkahoo
Our computer has had some problems with the outside world. It's been less troublesome for Sari since she has her work-connection, but I have been a bit "out" of it recently. And then there was that article I wrote and for the past few days I've been flu'ish. Which isn't really very nice considering it's summer outside and warm and I'm feeling bit feverish. And apparently some allergy inducing plant is polluting too. Damn you modern medicine and the lowered resistance levels of modern men! Ooops... I meant to say, Damn you Nature and your evil ways of reproducing and Hooray! for Modern Medicine!!!
I've read books. David Gemmell's Swords of Night and Day was as good as I expected, fast-paced, fun, exiting and sooo-o Gemmell-by-numbers that it almost ought to be made illegal. It's still all good and if you like his cup of broth, you'll like this one too. Personally I'm happy the way Big Dave is writing nowadays. He keeps producing solid, good heroic entertainment. He may have never been on the forefront of literature (*guffaw*), nor has he written anything that would transcend fantastic literature, but as a purveyor of fine, exciting fantasy he has and stays as a brand you can trust. It's a guilty pleasure I'm happy to keep on indulging.
Midori Snyder's The Flight of Michael McBride was almost as good as the beginning of it had me believing. It's not a classic, nor a minor masterpiece (I may have been expecting) but nevertheless it was a good effort. I liked especially the way she kept introducing details and fantasy elements to the story, without making a great deal out of them or using a hammer with the expositions. The timeperiod sounded right and the combination of Western (as in "Go West, young man!"), coming of age and Celtic fantasy were done more than admirably. It is a good little (short in lenght, that is) fantasy, that is hearthily recommended.
I finished recently a rather long article for Tähtivaeltaja magazine about modern phantasy. I tried to convey my personal - and thus, rather subjective - opinion about the state of Good fantasy (as I see it). I talk about Next Wave or Next Waves, cross genre and interstitial, New Weird (Uuskumma would be my suggestion for the translation, but I'm thinking Toni used Uusi Outo?) and so on. I've been reading quite a few new books recently, not all of them shown here in "Jukka is Reading" -section and thus I'm not really going to talk about most of them. Lets just say that there are LOTS of good fantasy books out there, many by small publishing houses and using both tropes from traditional fantasy as well as tropes from all kinds of different literary genres and inventing new ones (if possible). I've talked maybe too much about China Miéville already in various places, but he is not the only writer who ought to be mentioned here.
Want to read good, new fantasy? Try Jeffrey Ford, Ian R. McLeod or K. J. Bishop. How about some Argentinian fantasy? Like Angélica Gorodischer. Look for Steph Swainston, she promises to be the Next Big Thang. Andy Duncan, Kelly Link, Ray Vukcevich...
Sari doesn't like short stories, that we know. I'm not that much against them, even though I can readily admit that I don't read them all that much, but I do enjoy a good story - whatever the lenght. Often one hears that fantasy cannot be written as short stories. That's bull, what cannot be written as short are the meandering phat phantasy tales that rely on character developments (*hah!*) and complicated plots. Short story fantasies have as good a chance of succeeding as any other kind. Like is well demostrated with the wonderful (if flawed) collection by Peter Straub. Conjuctions 39: The New Wave Fabulists is a great collection of short stories by some very fine writers of fantastic fiction (Neil Gaiman, Gene Wolfe, John Crowley, Nalo Hopkinson, M. John Harrison, Karen Joy Fowler, Kelly Link, Jonathan Carroll et al). The stories explore the idea of fantastic pretty broadly, some of the stories have little (or actually no) fantastical elements in them, and somehow this left me a bit sad. Was this really the picture we, as fantasy aficionados want the more established literary folks to see? Fantasy is good literature, but only if it loses the basic secondary world premiss, gets rid of swords and dragons and barbarians? As much as I love some of these stories, my joy is lessened by the fact that to me this collection did seem to as a tad too "high-brow". Then again, I did say and think that your basic Tolkclone-stories aren't material for short stories. At least usually.
I still haven't quite finished with John Baxter's a pound of paper, but I'm still going to call it the best factual book I've read in years. It's intelligent, funny and speaks to me of things I love (fandom, book collecting) and cherish. It's available as a paperback, so go and buy it. And when reading it, think about it as something Boris Hurtta could have written about the subject. It's that good.
Howard Waldrop's Them Bones (in Finnish: Vain vanhat luut). Better than I even remembered, if a bit dated (there is a World War Three in 2002), but still a very inspired time travel story. And here I'm going to exclaim: a minor masterpiece!
Barrington J. Bayley's Zen Gun (Zenase). Pretty much as good as I remember, even if it felt a little old-fashined at some points. Could be something to with the translation too, I suppose.
Pulpografia by Juri Nummelin. Anything you ever really wanted to know about pulp authors translated into Finnish. Good short, interesting introductions and reviews of dozens of writers and hundreds of novels and stories.