ltmurnau: (CX)
Yanked from [ profile] james_nicoll who got it from.
No idea how these were chosen.

60 Essential Science Fiction & Fantasy Reads

Bold the ones that you have read.
I guess I'm pathetic.

Grimspace by Ann Aguirre
Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear
Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg
Chime by Franny Billingsley
Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop
Tithe by Holly Black
The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett
Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold
War for the Oaks by Emma Bull
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
Synners by Pat Cadigan
Foreigner by C.J. Cherryh
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Survival by Julie E. Czerneda
Tam Lin by Pamela Dean
King's Dragon by Kate Elliott
Black Sun Rising by C.S. Friedman
Slow River by Nicola Griffith
Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly
Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge
Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb
The God Stalker Chronicles by P.C. Hodgell
Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
Valor's Choice by Tanya Huff
God's War by Kameron Hurley
The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin
Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Daggerspell by Katharine Kerr
The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein
Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress
Deryni Rising by Katherine Kurtz
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Ash by Malinda Lo
Warchild by Karin Lowachee
Legend by Marie Lu
Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre
The Thief's Gamble by Juliet E. McKenna
Sunshine by Robin McKinley
His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
Diving into the Wreck by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
The Female Man by Joanna Russ
Old Man's War by John Scalzi
A Door Into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski
The Grass King's Concubine by Kari Sperring
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
City of Pearl by Karen Traviss
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree, Jr. I haven't read this collection but have read some of the stories.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge
Farthing by Jo Walton
The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

Book Meme

Nov. 29th, 2013 08:21 pm
ltmurnau: (CX)
I know I kind of slacked off with the 30 days of writing meme but eh, I got busy.
I'll get back to it.

Meanwhile, a reading meme nicked from the excellent [ profile] emmabovary:

Which book has been on your shelf the longest? Coup d'etat: A Practical Handbook by Edward Luttwak. Had this around since my teens, nicked from my father's bookshelf (no idea why he had it).

What is your current read, your last read and the book you'll read next?
Current read: Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla by David Kilcullen (actually, it should be subtitled The Return of the Urban Guerrilla, and They Mean It This Time, but that's another story).
Last read: The Soldier: His Daily Life Through The Ages by Philip warner (little portraits of soldiers a few centuries apart, from Bronze Age to Ww II, all of them vaguely related to each other).
Next Read: Either Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Algeria by Alf Heggoy (a 1972 work I never heard of and found by chance) or The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters by Frances Saunders.

What book did everyone like and you hated? Catcher In the Rye. What the hell was that all about?

Which book do you keep telling yourself you'll read, but you probably won't? I dunno - ever since I got a house to live in, the number of books I own but haven't read seems to be greater every year. I look at them when I go to fetch something else, and reflect there may be a few I will never ever get to.

Last page: read it first or wait till the end? Wait to the end, always..

Acknowledgements: Usually a waste of time.

Which book character would you switch places with? None; a book character has to live out the same plot over and over again, and I get to move on.

Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life (a person, a place, a time)? Moby Dick reminds me of my time in Japan, when I actually had time to read the whole damn thing. Though my recall of it isn't great.

Which book has been with you to the most places? I've dragged a few books with me hither and yon. I have a copy of Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis I took to Japan and back.

Used or brand new? Either.

Have you ever seen a movie you liked better than the book? Mmmm, no. Though the film of 1984 (the one with Richard Burton) was pretty much how I had pictured the book in my head.
ltmurnau: (Default)
Paul Fussell died recently - I particularly enjoyed his books "BAD" and the collection of essays "Thank God for the Atomic Bomb", as well as his memoirs of his military service.

Brian Fawcett, a writer I want to like but who I am not sure would like me, put it well in his obit at

RIP Paul Fussell 1924-2012
June 4, 2012 by Brian Fawcett

The celebrity obit page in the Globe and Mail for June 4, 2012 has two entries. At the bottom, a four inch obit for Paul Fussell, who died May 23 at age 88. Fussell was a man who wrote two and maybe three great books during his life. One, The Great War and Modern Memory, is easily one of the five most important books written about the First World War, an analysis of the war’s effect on literature and on the writers who experienced it. Both its intellectual elan and its ability to draw in the realities—and the details—of combat are unique and forceful, and Fussell’s prose is a joy. His memoir of combat during the Second World War, Doing Battle, revealed him as a stunningly insightful chronicler of war at ground level, and short of Ernst Junger’s The Storm of Steel, might be the best book ever written on the subject. I’d argue that it was the best American book to come out of World War II, and not just because Fussell personally saw more raw combat than virtually any other American writer (as a 20 year lieutenant he was wounded while fighting in Alsace, and was awarded both the Bronze Star and Purple Heart). His third masterpiece was his late (2003) memoir, The Boys’ Crusade: The American Infantry in Northwestern Europe, 1944-1945, which is an elegy for the young men he fought with in France and Germany, a book at once tender-hearted and articulately angry about the waste of young lives he was witness to.

Fussell wasn’t just a war writer. He was a middle class Californian who wrote a biography of Samuel Johnson, several manuals on prosody, a number of hilariously witty volumes on the class system in America, and a dozen other books that display the astounding range of his interests. He was also, in the best sense, a “character”: irascible, chatty, indiscrete (both intellectually and personally) and a man who learned to wear his heart on his sleeve. Best of all he was a man whose intellectual wildness grew as he got older: he was lovable, socially terrifying, and permanently angry that the world wasn’t better than it was. I wish I’d known him personally, because he was one of those rare intellectuals who was interesting on any subject that gained his attention.

He’d have been angry to see the Globe’s obituary page, because the rest of it chronicled the life of a British-born Hollywood dickhead by the name of Richard Dawson, who died at 78 a few days after Fussell. Dawson’s main claim to fame was the daytime Emmy he was awarded in 1978 as a game show host. He hosted a pedestrian game show called Family Feud for nine years between 1976 and 1985, where he specialized in kissing his female contestants—about 20,000 of them in all, some of whom he groped on camera, and one of whom he married. His other accomplishments were a role in Hogan’s Heroes, and a decade of marriage to British breast celebrity, Diana Dors. He got 4/5ths of the Globe’s obituary page because he was on television, where he did nothing to make the world better or easier to understand. If television descends to the level some of us think it could, and begins to televise human executions and dismemberments, some executive will likely mourn the fact that Richard Dawson won’t be around to host it.

That’s a cruel epitaph, but it’s the sort of thing Paul Fussell would have thought, and found some better way to say.

574 w. June 4, 2012
ltmurnau: (Default)
Via [ profile] jeffreyab.

Bold if you've read it, italicize ones you fully intend to read, underline if it's a series you've read part but not all of.

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy , by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
3. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin
6. 1984, by George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman Saw Movie
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
22. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
23. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
24. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King
25. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
26. The Stand, by Stephen King
27. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
28. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
29. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
30. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
31. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
32. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven.
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God's Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
74. Old Man's War, by John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
77. The Kushiel's Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer's Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

42 of 100. But I don't read a lot of fantasy. Many of these books I read a long time ago, and have never returned to them.
ltmurnau: (Default)
Yoinked from [ profile] jeffreyab who got it from.

Gollancz has listed its fifty best science fiction and fantasy novels, The rules are “bold if you’ve read it, italicise if you own it”:


A Case of Conscience by James Blish
Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan
Brasyl by Ian McDonald
The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
Dune by Frank Herbert
Fairyland by Paul McAuley
The Female Man by Joanna Russ
The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
Flood by Stephen Baxter
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Gateway by Frederik Pohl
Hyperion by Dan Simmons
Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon
More than Human by Theodore Sturgeon
Pavane by Keith Roberts
Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds
Ringworld by Larry Niven
Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner
Tau Zero by Poul Anderson
The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
The Separation by Christopher Priest
The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
Yellow Blue Tibia by Adam Roberts


Beauty by Sheri S. Tepper
Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie
Book of the New Sun (Vol 1&2) (Vol 3&4) by Gene Wolfe
The Book of Skulls by Robert Silverberg
Conan Volume One by Robert E. Howard
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Elric by Michael Moorcock
Eric by Terry Pratchett
Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin
The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Little, Big by John Crowley
Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees
Memoirs of a Master Forger by William Heaney
Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Runes of the Earth by Stephen Donaldson
Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
Tales of the Dying Earth by Jack Vance
Viriconium by M. John Harrison
Wolfsangel by M. D. Lachlan

Gollanz are holding a poll in which the winners in each category get republished.
Link to vote:

Plainly, I have been derelict in my reading!
ltmurnau: (Default)
Today I went out for a walk at lunch (still trying to break in those new Corcoran boots, the left one has developed a crease that presses on top of my foot and I'm nost sure how to prevent it) and turned my steps southward, to check out the James Bay United Church weekly jumble sale. Found this:

in a nice wooden frame and bought it. Put it in my office, on the windowsill for now. I don't know how old the actual photo is, I don't want to tear the paper off the back. Anyway, now I have a nice picture of one of my favourite writers.
ltmurnau: (Default)
Yoinked from someone who ain't around right now...

Back in 1984, Anthony Burgess, a British novelist best remembered for writing A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, published a slim survey of novels published in or translated into English from 1939 to 1984. The "99 Novels List" in Burgess' personal opinion, was the "best in English since 1939". I liked the book and made a point to read a few of them. It's very different from the "BBC's 99 books" list moving around Facebook.

As memes go, this should not be too "novel" (pun intentional). Bold which ones have you actually read, pass it to your friends, or not.


Party Going, Henry Green
After Many a Summer, Aldous Huxley
Finnegans Wake, James Joyce
At Swim-Two-Birds, Flann O'Brien


The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene
For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
Strangers and Brothers (to 1970), C. P. Snow


The Aerodrome, Rex Warner [an odd and overlooked novel about the appeal of fascism, seek it out if you can]


The Horse's Mouth, Joyce Cary
The Razor's Edge, Somerset Maugham


Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh


Titus Groan, Mervyn Peake


The Victim, Saul Bellow
Under the Volcano, Malcolm Lowry


The Heart of the Matter, Graham Greene
Ape and Essence, Aldous Huxley
The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer
No Highway, Nevil Shute


The Heat of the Day, Elizabeth Bowen
Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
The Body, William Sansom


Scenes from Provincial Life, William Cooper
The Disenchanted, Budd Schulberg


A Dance to the Music of Time (to 1975), Anthony Powell
The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger [I didn't see what all the fuss was about]
The Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight (to 1969), Henry Williamson
The Caine Mutiny, Herman Wouk


Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
The Groves of Academe, Mary McCarthy
Wise Blood, Flannery O'Connor
Sword of Honour trilogy (to 1961), Evelyn Waugh [very, very funny, and then it's not so funny any more, even though it's the same thing]


The Long Goodbye, Raymond Chandler


Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis [one of my favourite books!]


Room at the Top, John Braine
The Alexandria Quartet (to 1960), Lawrence Durrell
The London Novels (to 1960), Colin MacInnes
The Assistant, Bernard Malamud


The Bell, Iris Murdoch
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Alan Sillitoe
The Once and Future King, T. H. White [read it when I was a kid]


The Mansion, William Faulkner
Goldfinger, Ian Fleming


Facial Justice, L. P. Hartley
The Balkans Trilogy (to 1965), Olivia Manning


The Mighty and Their Fall, Ivy Compton-Burnett
Catch-22, Joseph Heller
The Fox in the Attic, Richard Hughes
Riders in the Chariot, Patrick White
The Old Men at the Zoo, Angus Wilson


Another Country, James Baldwin
An Error of Judgment, Pamela Hansford Johnson
Island, Aldous Huxley
The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing
Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov


The Girls of Slender Means, Muriel Spark


The Spire, William Golding
Heartland, Wilson Harris
A Single Man, Christopher Isherwood
The Defence, Vladimir Nabokov
Late Call, Angus Wilson


The Lockwood Concern, John O'Hara
The Mandelbaum Gate, Muriel Spark


A Man of the People, Chinua Achebe
The Anti-Death League, Kingsley Amis
Giles Goat-Boy, John Barth
The Late Bourgeois World, Nadine Gordimer
The Last Gentleman, Walker Percy


The Vendor of Sweets, R. K. Narayan


The Image Men, J. B. Priestley
Cocksure, Mordecai Richler
Pavane, Keith Roberts [very good alternate history]


The French Lieutenant's Woman, John Fowles
Portnoy's Complaint, Philip Roth [eh]


Bomber, Len Deighton


Sweet Dreams, Michael Frayn
Gravity's Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon [I've read this three times, but not lately. Some of the vignettes (and Pynchon seems to be best at vignettes) stick with me still.]


Humboldt's Gift, Saul Bellow
The History Man, Malcolm Bradbury


The Doctor's Wife, Brian Moore
Falstaff, Robert Nye


How to Save Your Own Life, Erica Jong
Farewell Companions, James Plunkett
Staying On, Paul Scott


The Coup, John Updike


The Unlimited Dream Company, J. G. Ballard [not the Ballard I would pick but OK, it's not my list.]
Dubin's Lives, Bernard Malamud
A Bend in the River, V. S. Naipaul
Sophie's Choice, William Stryon


Life in the West, Brian Aldiss
Riddley Walker, Russell Hoban
How Far Can You Go?, David Lodge
A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole [again, I didn't see what all the fuss was about.]


Lanark, Alasdair Gray Darconville's Cat, Alexander Theroux
The Mosquito Coast, Paul Theroux [read it a long time ago]
Creation, Gore Vidal


The Rebel Angels, Robertson Davies


Ancient Evenings, Norman Mailer

For more on 99 Novels, read Anthony Burgess' column from the NY Times:


My score: 26, heavily concentrated in the 1940s and 1950s. Hm!

Fooled ya!

Nov. 2nd, 2010 12:33 pm
ltmurnau: (Default)
Ah ha! Two posts in two days.
Don't expect me to maintain this killer pace, though.

I forgot to note some other things - we went to see the Yes Men (, at UVic and were sorely disappointed. They started late, and - what they? there was only one Yes Man! At that, he made a few general remarks and for the most part played some videos from his laptop of some media coverrage of past Yes Men pranks and a rough cut of workshop participant reactions to an unnamed future event in Chicago. In the middle of the presentation, he gave up talking entirely and just asked audience members to break into groups of 5 or 6 and talk about getting things done. Yeah, I know that might have been his point but it still seemed lazy to me. Not impressed.

Anyway, we ducked out of that just before it ended and went across to the other side of the Student Union Building to see "We Don't Care About Music Anyway", ( a film about avant-garde musicians in Tokyo. None of the really big names like Masami Akita, they did have some interesting performers playing in some interesting settings. Personally, I think it's a lot more fun playing this kind of stuff than it is watching a film about it later. The experience of the film was spoiled though because the monkey running the DVD player in the projectionist's booth didn't know how to set the "aspect" of the screen, so the subtitles were all cut off.

This film was part of this year's Antimatter Film Festival, first time I've gone to one in several years becuase frankly the selections before this year were pretty crappy. I did see a good selection of short films a few days later that included a half hour documentary on Delia Derbyshire, the woman who worked at the BBC Radiophonic workshop in the late 50s and early 60s and composed the original theme music to Doctor Who. No electronics then - these were processed sounds worked on tape recorder, and no way to mix tracks, so all the different sounds were an equal number of tape recorders playing at once and you hoped they would stay in sync!

Last night we went to Bolen Books to see William Gibson read from Zero History, his newest book. It's funny, he's lived in Canada for 40 years and still has that Carolina drawl. He sounds slow and a bit stupid, but he has a wicked and very dry sense of humour. It's a treat to hear him read. He took questions later too. [ profile] epexegesis was there too!
ltmurnau: (Default)
Yeah, I had an Ayn Rand phase. For several years I read and reread all there was to find of her stuff. I'm not ashamed to admit it, no more than I am to admit that I was generally an obnoxious introverted know-it-all in my teens, like so many of my peers though perhaps a bit more obscurely read. But I did get better. What's your excuse?

I found the best comment ever, in an interesting site called Dangerous Minds referencing an Ayn Rand related article in GQ:

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: “The Lord of the Rings” and “Atlas Shrugged.”

One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves hobbits, elves, and wizards."

Hee hee hee.
ltmurnau: (Default)
An idea that makes sense and which I hope will catch on:

Google digital books can become instant paperbacks

By Chris Lefkow, AFP September 20, 2009

AFPWASHINGTON – More than two million books in the public domain can be turned into instant paperbacks under a deal announced on Thursday between Google and the company behind a high-speed book-printing machine.

Google, which is scanning millions of out-of-copyright books as part of its controversial book project, signed an agreement with On Demand Books that will give the maker of the Espresso Book Machine access to public domain titles.

Like its name implies, the Espresso Book Machine can print and bind a library-quality paperback book with a full-color cover in about the time it takes to brew a cup of coffee.
Read more... )

No matter what you think about Google and its deals, I hope this idea of print-on-demand will save the book publishing business, because it's not dong well right now. It never made sense to me that publishing companies expended prodigious amounts of all kinds of resources printing hundreds of thousands of copies of books, most of which as it turned out were not wanted, and shipping them huge distances only to have the remainders stripped and shipped back all that way to be destroyed. Why not have a bookstore with two or three copies of everything available for impulse buys, and a big printer in the back to whistle up more when they are needed?

I recently bought a very obscure and long out of print book on wargaming through, it was kind of expensive (about $28) but it was that or, well, nothing. I got it in just a few days and was happy with it.

Honestly I don't think electronic books will ever really catch on (it may for textbooks and other reference works), because people who like to read for pleasure want to touch what they are reading. Granted there are fewer and fewer of these every year, though....
ltmurnau: (Default)
Short article from the BBC Magazine with the usual complaints about Powerpoint, but some hints about what to avoid - that is if you are stuck having to use it:

Tuvan Independence Day party went well. More than two people showed up and it didn't rain, so I count it a success. The roast goat went down a treat, as did the grilled-fresh-out-of-the-garden zucchini.

Struggling to finish a long article on the Greek Civil War, 1943-49. It's going OK but will probably be too long. Working on it for 90 minutes each night after supper and tutoring are done is not the most efficient way to get it done either.

15 Books Meme, taken from my old friend Johnny from Facebook.

Select fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you.
Choose the first fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.
Don't take too long to think about it.
Tag some other people if you want; I won't.

I assume this to mean books that you will always remember, not because you found them life-changing but because you found them enjoyable or memorable, at any age, for a variety of reasons. I certainly could list some unpleasant books that have stuck in my mind over the years.

Anyway, in no particular order or ranking:

1. 1984 - George Orwell
2. Will - G. Gordon Liddy
3. Lucky Jim - Kingsley Amis
4. Harry and I Build a Siege Weapon - Jim Paul
5. Crash - J. G. Ballard
6. The Forgotten Soldier - Guy Sajer
7. This Kind of War - T. R. Fehrenbach
8. Tuva or Bust! - Ralph Leighton
9. The Ancient Engineers - L. Sprague de Camp
10. Starship Troopers - Robert Heinlein
11. Neuromancer - William Gibson
12. Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
13. Two Little Savages - Ernest Thompson Seton
14. How To Build A Flying Saucer - T. B. Pawlicki
15. Cache Lake Country - John Rowlands

Hm, that was harder than I thought.
ltmurnau: (Default)
Hmm, pursuing a rather literary theme today... why not.

Iowa woman who failed to return library book now faces theft charge
Published: Friday, January 23, 2009 | 3:06 PM ET

INDEPENDENCE, Iowa - An Iowa woman has been arrested because she failed to return a library book.
Read more... )

FIFTH degree theft?

"Well, let me tell you something, funny boy. Y'know that little stamp, the one that says "New York Public Library"? Well that may not mean anything to you, but that means a lot to me. One whole hell of a lot. Sure, go ahead, laugh if you want to. I've seen your type before: Flashy, making the scene, flaunting convention. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. What's this guy making such a big stink about old library books? Well, let me give you a hint, junior. Maybe we can live without libraries, people like you and me. Maybe. Sure, we're too old to change the world, but what about that kid, sitting down, opening a book, right now, in a branch at the local library and finding drawings of pee-pees and wee-wees on the Cat in the Hat and the Five Chinese Brothers? Doesn't HE deserve better? Look. If you think this is about overdue fines and missing books, you'd better think again. This is about that kid's right to read a book without getting his mind warped! Or: maybe that turns you on, Seinfeld; maybe that's how y'get your kicks. You and your good-time buddies. Well I got a flash for ya, joy-boy: Party time is over. Y'got seven days, Seinfeld. That is one week!"
ltmurnau: (Default)
The Guardian are doing a series of 1000 novels everyone must read. Here's the Science Fiction & Fantasy component. ( has plot thumbnails for titles you may find interesting)

Bold the ones you've read; underline the ones you loved; strikethrough the ones that you hated.

Read more... )
153 titles, I've read only 47 of them. Clearly I'm an unlettered oaf.
ltmurnau: (Default)
The entire staff of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary (all four of them) have been laid off by Oxford University Press due to declining sales of print dictionaries:

I actually applied to work there, back in 1992 when they advertised for three lexicographers. I got a nice rejection letter, signed by Katherine Barber ("Canada's Word Lady" as the article puts it). I still have it and have used it as a model for rejection letters I have had to write myself over the years.

I think it would have been an interesting job.
ltmurnau: (Default)
Another interesting one, again from [ profile] nihilistic_kid:
Go to Amazon, find some of your favorite books, and post the most distressing one-star reviews.

I chose Lucky Jim, Class: A guide through the American status system, The Crying of Lot 49, Neuromancer, and Homage to Catalonia. I did not pick anything by J.G. Ballard of course, that's too easy - you either love him or hate him.

Lucky Jim
Actually, I didn't find anything less than 4 stars of 5, though some of the reviews were particularly boneheaded.

I like Paul Fussell's essays. Obviously, not everyone does (5 one-stars of 121 reviews), but this one is another WTF:
"One simply doesn't know such people, December 10, 2001
By Rhonda Keith "rondaria" (Cincinnati, OH USA) - See all my reviews

One question has preyed on me ever since I read Mr. F's book, Class. He wrote that people in Class X don't attend church - and, moreover, don't know anyone who does. Now, what happens if you've managed to ensconce yourself in this desirable X niche - but you meet someone who goes to church? I suppose if it's someone who works for you, or who is one of your students, that doesn't count? But suppose you meet someone by accident and get friendly, say at an art gallery reception for the opening of your new exhibit - or even find yourself in bed with someone (much younger, of course) - and learn that the person attends church? What to do? Instantly forget the person's name and face? Chuckle about it with your friends the next day? Does it make a difference if the person is Buddhist or Baptist? Does it rub off? What if the X person remains close to family members who attend church? In short, how does the freewheeling, egalitarian, classless, sophisticated X man or woman manage to safely avoid persons who may be deceptively X, and yet harbor secret religious leanings, perhaps as holdovers from upbringing in another class? I was up for hours worrying about it. I had naturally oozed into Class X by virtue of reading books and going to college, and yet from time to time I knew, and even became friends with, persons of religious persuasions not my own. All my natural fibers and amusing, ironic knick-knacks were scarcely enough to clear the taint. Please, Mr. Fussell, help me!"

I'm guessing she's saying she goes to church.

The Crying of Lot 49
17 one-stars of 175, but this one made me go ???
A major WASTE of time, October 4, 2004
By Poe (Acworth, GA United States) - See all my reviews

"When I started reading this book, I was expecting a Victorian crime drama. I couldn't have been more disappointed! I guess I should have bought something by Paglia (pron. Pole-ya) instead."

Ohhh-kay, then, off you pop.

35 one-stars out of 445 reviews, this one stood out in its nigglyness:
Glaring Typo in New Foreword! , March 12, 2008
By Wanderer (Who cares where I live?) - See all my reviews

"There's a new foreword in this edition by the author which, sadly, has a rather glaring typo. Considering this is the 20th anniversary edition, I had expected a little bit more from the editors than this, especially considering they were only adding what, 3 pages of content at the beginning for the foreword? How can you not at least get those few pages right? The editor that handled this should be ashamed of himself/herself and fired on the spot. This tainted my entire experience because I found a hideous typo before I even got into the book. I hate typos and in an anniversary edition of the book, it is a true shame. Lousy editing on this edition, no doubt about it. Can't believe this wasn't caught and I hope someone lost their job over it."

It would have been too funny if he'd had a typo in his review! He didn't even tell us what the typo was that aroused his ire.

Homage to Catalonia
Well, just one:
Franco was not Fascist, February 14, 2004
By A Customer

"I try to be neutral in the matters regarding the Spanish Civil War, but I cannot understand why Franco is called "fascist" as long as he had nothing to do with the fascist or nazi ideology. Besides, why are the awful images of the anarchists/communists destroying churches not as known as the romantic images of "international brigades"?"

Ehhhh, I'm done with this...
ltmurnau: (Default)
An interesting interview with Margaret MacMillan, author of the abovementioned book (and Paris 1919, somethign I have to get around to reading one day):

Two final questions in the interview, to connect with t'otherday's post about the history writing prize:

Q: Do you think there is more interest in history now from the public and publishers?

A: Science was big with publishers several years ago; now, it’s history. History can be fun and it has great stories. I think also there’s a growing interest in ourselves. People want to know their ancestors. The boom in genealogy is extraordinary. I think it is partly just interest in where we come from, but maybe it also appeals because it all seemed simpler back then. The world has become really complicated since the end of the cold war.

Q: In The Uses and Abuses of History, you talk about professionals abandoning history writing and leaving it to amateurs. How can you tell good history writing from bad?

A: I think good history asks good questions, looks at the evidence. If there’s an awkward thing, it doesn’t gloss it over. So if you’re writing a history of Winston Churchill, you don’t say he was always right. That seems to be bad history. Good history is grounded and confronts awkward issues. It’s not been easy, but French historians have confronted the role of French collaborators in the Second World War. That’s good history.


I'm feeling worse today and my back is killing me. Also, a big chunk broke off one of my teeth. Fortunately, I can get it looked at (but not fixed) today, but there's little else worse than going to the dentist when you have a cold. Okay, there's a lot worse things but that doesn't make me feel any better. Wah, so there.
ltmurnau: (Default)
From the [ profile] altfriday5:

1. Do you read for recreation?
Oh yes.

2. What sorts of things do you read? Fiction? Nonfiction? What category or genre? Long pieces? Short? Books? Magazines? Web pages?
Non-fiction: history or military affairs, I also like memoirs of ordinary soldiers. Fiction: SF from my favourite writers (J.G. Ballard, William Gibson, Theodore Sturgeon, etc.) or cheap crappy magazine SF from old magazines from the 1950s and 60s (I have a substantial collection).

3. Does your mood (day-to-day), circumstance (week-to-week or month-to-month) or lifestyle (year-to-year) influence the reading choices you make?
Hard to say, probably my mood more than anything else influences my immediate reading choice. I actually don't get much time for sustained reading, usually an hour or less before bedtime when I am not at my most attentive.

4. What function does reading hold for you? Escape? Learning? Companionship? Imaginative voyage? Other?
Information, amusement, confirmation of my prejudices, sometimes nostalgia - reading a book I've had for a while sometimes brings back the feeling I had when I first read it.

5. What, if anything, that you've read in the last year or so stands out as particularly excellent reading?
I'll have to think about that. I started many excellent books, but time and irregular schedules prevented me from finishing most of them. Rip it Up And Start Again was probably the best, The Four Agreements made me feel a bit better for a while, I started Freakonomics and Learning to Eat Soup With a Knife... today I bought the new Army/Marine Corps Field Manual 3-24, Counterinsurgency.
ltmurnau: (Default) says I'm a Cool History / Lit Geek.  What are you?  Click here!

I guess it's good to know where your strengths lie.
ltmurnau: (Default)
Yoinked from [ profile] happiestsadist and [ profile] sabotabby.

"These are the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing's users. Bold what you have read, italicize those you started but couldn't/didn't finish, and strike through what you couldn't stand. Add an asterisk to those you've read more than once. Underline those on your to-read list."

Read more... )

I have to say, I didn't recognize a large number of the titles on this list. Now for a list of "dystopia movies": bold the ones you've seen.

Read more... )
ltmurnau: (Default)
Boring day, but I'm glad it's not as hot as it was yesterday. It hurt to peel myself off the seat at the end of yesterday. Now it looks as if it might rain.

I've been very busy the last few nights getting my library out of boxes and sorted out onto bookshelves. I am about out of shelf space, so my military history collection will have to sit and wait for a bit. I am amazed at hwo well my books got through two years of storage in the garage - only some crush damage to some volumes because of the way the boxes were stacked.

Also, sorting out my old SF magazine collection - no idea how many items, maybe 2-300 issues. About half of it is Analogs from the 1950s to the 1970s, but lots of Galaxy, IF, Worlds of Imagination, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, one I always liked. It is all going into comic bags and then storage, until I can get it out onto shelves one day. Meanwhile, would be fun to dip into and read from time to time. The artwork is incredible on the earlier issues.

I want to get all this done before Aki arrives on Sunday(!!!). Apparently a typhoon is headed for Osaka but will peak on Saturday, so it's possible but not probable that his flight will be delayed or cancelled.

I've found out that my game on Algeria has been nominated for a Charles S. Roberts Award as "best post-WW2 game". This means exactly nothing, except for egoboo, and I know I won't win because one of the other nominations is a very good game on Vietnam by a friend of mine, that has over 10 times as many copies in print. But I dont' mind, it's nice to be nominated anyway.

Meme time:
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