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What Are You Currently Reading? > Other Weird fiction I am currently reading

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message 1: by Dan (last edited Apr 11, 2019 08:14PM) (new)

Dan | 757 comments I'm slowly reading a story collection that has been on my shelves for a few years by C.L. Moore, the first author of this month's collaboration story "The Challenge from Beyond." It's called Jirel of Joiry and collects the five stories she wrote about the title character Jirel. There was a sixth story featuring Jirel that Moore wrote in collaboration with her husband that's not in the collection.

I was expecting/hoping for Red Sonja but got Clueless Revenger instead. The first story didn't impress at all because it was mostly description. The second story was even worse, featuring the disgusting theme of falling in love with your rapist as the protagonist's motivation. I'll try picking up the collection again one of these weeks in the hope the third story might be better. It can't possibly be worse, right?


message 2: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 59 comments It sounds like it is close to rock bottom, Dan. But you never know....


message 3: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) I've started reading Blake Crouch's Dark Matter since I liked "Pines" so much.


message 4: by Dan (last edited Apr 12, 2019 06:17AM) (new)

Dan | 757 comments I read an excerpt of Dark Matter, available at Crouch's website: http://blakecrouch.com/. It really made me want to read the full novel soon too. You know Pines is the first book of a trilogy, right? The next book is even higher rated: Wayward.


message 5: by Kateblue (new)

Kateblue 1) yes I have a copy of Wayward, and the only reason I have not read it is I have things to read for other book clubs.
2) I loved Dark Matter, which is why I nominated Pines
3) Usually, the 2d and later books of a trilogy or any group of books is almost always rated higher. I conclude that it may be because those who didn't like the first book drop out, so the score only reflects those readers who liked the first book. Naturally, therefore, the rating of 2d and subsequent books will be higher.


message 6: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) Dan wrote: "I read an excerpt of Dark Matter, available at Crouch's website: http://blakecrouch.com/. It really made me want to read the full novel soon too. You know Pines is t..."

Dark Matter is good so far. I do know that Pines is a trilogy, but I'm not sure I want to read more. I really liked the way the first one ended & I'm not sure the story will be improved by reading further. Unless someone tells me the next 2 books really add to the story, I'm not interested.

Maybe I'm weird. I recommend Dune as a standalone, even though Herbert included Dune Messiah in his original manuscript. IMO, further books didn't help at all. 'Messiah' was a real let down. 'Children' was better, but left open a huge universe that I didn't really want to explore. 'God-Emperor' was god-awful, just impenetrable political/philosophical chatter. Several friends love them & all the other books Brian & Anderson wrote, but it just wasn't for me. One & done & I was happiest.


message 7: by Kateblue (last edited Apr 12, 2019 01:16PM) (new)

Kateblue Jim, I also recommend Dune as a standalone because I read some of the later books quite a while ago and didn't really like them. I think I got through the second and then threw in the towel at the beginning of the third.

There was just a Dune challenge in one of my book groups here on GR. I was going to try again, but I had to give up. I just was not interested in all the palace intrigue at the beginning of God Emperor (I hate politics anyway, so why would I want to read about it?!) Plus, my ebook was formatted badly, which made it hard to read. So I quit. I really wanted to like the books this time because one of my GR friends really likes all the books, but that's the way it goes, I guess. To each his own.

So, Jim, I don't think you are weird at all. :-)

P.S. Are you in Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels? That's where the challenge was. I know there's at least one Jim there.


message 8: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) Kateblue wrote: "Jim, I also recommend Dune as a standalone because ..."

We're on the same page there.

I'm not part of that group. I haven't cared for many of the books or stories that have received prizes lately. Several groups I've been in have read them & I've rarely liked any. For instance, I was really excited to support the first The Long List Anthology: More Stories from the Hugo Awards Nomination List. It was a dud, IMO.


message 9: by Scott (new)

Scott Those awards sure aren't what they used to be.


message 10: by Dan (last edited Apr 12, 2019 09:48PM) (new)

Dan | 757 comments I joined Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels last month when I was looking for a new group to join that read older science fiction. Despite the fact I like the moderators there and how well it is run, I haven't participated much because the books being read don't appeal to me so far. I had not tied that until just now to the fact that I usually don't think that much of books that have won these awards either. In recent years particularly, winners of the awards are authors I've never heard of, or ones who win for writing their worst book (e.g. Redshirts).

I also have reservations about SFWA members being qualified to confer awards. In principle the idea sounds great. The winners will be writers other writers admire. Unfortunately, what writers often judge to be high in quality usually match what I judge to be pretentious and obfuscational writing. Their omissions are glaring too. For example, I consider C.J. Cherryh one of the best speculative fiction authors from a craft standpoint ever (in the same company as Bradbury, Dick, and LeGuin). Her style reminds me of Faulkner's at times. Yet she has never won a Nebula. She has only been nominated twice, way back in 1978, the third year of her 44-year writing career, for some fairly minor work. What gives?


message 11: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) IMO, the awards are often politically motivated. Authors or stories that are the darlings due to their political correctness get nominated. It's the only thing that explains "Redshirts" to me. I liked it, but it definitely wasn't award winning material. However, Scalzi has gotten a lot of kudos for his opinions on using new pronouns for those who didn't want to stick to the male/female ones & some other PC topics of the day.

I detest using an author's personal life & habits to evaluate their work. Noting that some aspect of their life possibly contributed to a certain aspect of their work is fine, but adoring or hating it because of their private lives is wrong. Private lives should be just that & I take it further with authors than most people. Sexual preferences, sex, race, religion, & such are all private matters, IMO. I grew up reading them without knowing & I prefer it that way.


message 12: by Kateblue (last edited Apr 14, 2019 11:06AM) (new)

Kateblue Jim, Dan and Scott, I agree with all of your points because I am finding a pretty big percentage of the books we are reading in Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels to be real duds, IMHO.

I do agree that both awards have got to be at least somewhat political or perhaps marketing-based. Or popularity contests. And I find that some of the Nebula nominated books are REALLY bad. I decided that it was because the writers are looking for other things than us normal people.

For example, I was so excited to be reading the Radch books, and then the first was SO annoying that I would have quit if I hadn't been in Hugo&Nebula group. (Speaking of new pronouns, in Radch, the use of "She" and "Her" for everyone was annoying until my subconscious just gave up and decided there were no males. I agree that gender is flexible, but let's write a readable book, people!) Radch gets better, but not to the level I would expect of Hugo/Nebula books.

And I think Darwin's Radio may be one of the worst books I ever DNF'ed.

Still, I really liked that Cherryh book, Cyteen, (even though it is slow and draggy.) I never would have gotten past the intro without it being a Hugo&Nebula group nominee. So you just never know. This is why I am trying to read them all even if I DNF or just skim half of them.

Strangely, I picked most of the Nebula nominees this year and three of the six Hugo nominees. And I did really like RedShirts. I don't know what this means. Maybe MY taste is getting worse!

And thanks for the complement about the moderators or Hugo&Nebula :-)


message 13: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin Dan wrote: "...In recent years particularly, winners of the awards are authors I've never heard of, or ones who win for writing their worst book (e.g. Redshirts)...."

That is a good thing! The awards draw my attention to books I might not otherwise have seen. But I still make my decision to read based on whether the description from publishers and friends sounds interesting to me personally.

You may not like Redshirts, but lots of people do, including me.

As for politically-motivated awards.... Yeah, that is a factor, but rarely the whole story. For Oscars, which I care very little about, "Crash" probably won because of politics, not because it is a particularly good film. Politics probably also contributed to "Moonlight" winning, but it is also a very good film.


message 14: by Scott (new)

Scott I think I lost faith in the awards when N.K. Jemisin won not just once, but three times in a row.


message 15: by Kateblue (last edited Apr 14, 2019 09:22PM) (new)

Kateblue Scott, I have never read a Jemisin book yet. So, not that good?

I do see what you mean about losing faith in the awards, though. I kind of liked the Mira Grant zombie books (Feed etc.) but I was surprised so many were nominated. They were fun, but not, say, up to the level of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress or To Say Nothing of the Dog.


message 16: by Scott (new)

Scott Kateblue wrote: "Scott, I have never read a Jemisin book yet. So, not that good?"

Literally, objectively bad by any real standard.


message 17: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin Scott wrote: "Kateblue wrote: "Scott, I have never read a Jemisin book yet. So, not that good?"

Literally, objectively bad by any real standard."


I would like to try for myself. One of my friends, who does not regularly read SF, likes it very much. However, it is very long, and I prefer shorter works.


message 18: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) I'm not reading it, but in the REH group, someone posted Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard and Others by Bobby Derie is now available for only $20.

From the Amazon page: Bobby Derie is the author of Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos (2014) and the compiler of The Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard: Index and Addenda (2015). He has written numerous articles on pulp fiction that have appeared in print and in online venues.


message 19: by Dan (last edited Apr 30, 2019 03:51PM) (new)

Dan | 757 comments That's a good price. I think these early Weird Tales authors led such interesting lives, making that a colorful book, no doubt.

I just spent a little over $50 for a book that arrived in today's mail. I never spend that kind of money on a fiction book, only on textbooks for class! But this one I had to have: In the Beginning by Fritz Leiber. It contains his first six stories written 1934-35, the first ones in the short fiction section here: http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/ea.cgi?38. The book is extremely rare, published in only two editions, totaling 177 copies (Collector's Edition 128 copies, Publisher's Edition 39 copies--isn't it odd how that only adds up to 167?). Leiber's signature is very legible. An unexpected bonus: autobiographical details on Leiber's life in the 1930s, none of which are mentioned in Wikipedia. He actually conducted services including sermons in an Episcopalian church in NJ while attending seminary during the week in Brooklyn 1934-35.


message 20: by Dan (new)

Dan | 757 comments Jim wrote: "I'm not reading it, but in the REH group, someone posted Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard and Others by Bobby Derie is now available for only $20."

Are you planning on picking it up?


message 21: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) No, it's too in depth for me. Bobby is way more of a fan & scholar than I am. He's won several awards for his work on REH &, I think, other authors. Like many others in the REH group, he's into the letters he wrote with Lovecraft & others plus all sorts of personal details. I think he goes to the REH Days each year, too.

I just like to read the stories occasionally. I'm one of the few that like the Lancer editions of the Conan & Kull stories more than the originals - heresy! I'm only a moderator there because... well, I'm not really sure. No one else wanted the job when the last one stepped down, I guess.
;)


message 22: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin I just read the graphic novel The King in Yellow which is based on the first four stories from The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers, which are all connected by the idea of a play called "The King in Yellow". Reading the play can apparently make one go insane. That seems like a very Lovecraftian idea, and ideas from these stories have been adopted into the Lovecraft Mythos.

I was curious enough to go on and read the first story "The Repairer of Reputations" in the original text version, easily found on Gutenberg, and It is pretty good. The narrator of that story has already read the play, so may be insane. You definitely shouldn't accept his version of events at face value. Wikipedia calls this an example of an "anti-story", since "Chambers all but invites the reader to doubt every single detail the unreliable narrator relates."

I can't define exactly why, but Chambers style suits me much more than Lovecraft, even though there are similarities.

I hope to someday read a few more of those Chambers stories.


message 23: by Scott (new)

Scott I read that Chambers collection a few years ago and I didn't care for it too much. The first few stories were okay, but the last couple weren't horror, or fantastic, weird or even mysterious. If I remember correctly they were romances.


message 24: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin Scott wrote: "I read that Chambers collection a few years ago and I didn't care for it too much. The first few stories were okay, but the last couple weren't horror, or fantastic, weird or even mysterious. ..."

Yeah, that is what I've heard, too. It is a collection of wildly different types of story and only the first half is "weird". Should perhaps have been published as separate books.


message 25: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) Ed wrote: "I just read the graphic novel The King in Yellow which is based on the first four stories from The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers, which are all..."

I've never gotten around to reading hat, but have wanted to. Karl Edward Wagner based at least one really good horror story on it. It's pretty weird, too. A mentally ill female prisoner escapes into a nightmare.


message 27: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) Scott wrote: "Oh yeah, I just read that in Where the Summer Ends: The Best Horror Stories of Karl Edward Wagner, Volume One."

"The River of Night's Dreaming" in about the middle of that volume is it. Thanks. I couldn't remember. I thought it was in the second volume. Kind of reminds me of his later work.


message 28: by Ronald (last edited Jun 03, 2019 04:32PM) (new)

Ronald (rpdwyer) | 70 comments One of the best King in Yellow stories that I've read, and I've read at least twenty of them, is "The King": in, Yellow by Brian Keene.

In the story, a couple decides for their night out to see a play where a character that looks like Elvis Presley ("The King") performs in a play called Yellow.

It's a fun story, the woman is in business, a Type A personality while her boyfriend is a laid back dude. Crazy stuff happens in the story.


http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cg...


message 29: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin Ronald wrote: "One of the best King in Yellow stories that I've read ..."

Your profile image is the "Yellow Sign", is it not?


message 30: by Gary (new)

Gary Martin | 3 comments Amish Werewolf

Just read this. It's a mixture of horror and humor. I love mix ups and weird fiction is the perfect platform.
I loved the Dune series.


message 31: by Ronald (new)

Ronald (rpdwyer) | 70 comments Ed wrote: "Ronald wrote: "One of the best King in Yellow stories that I've read ..."

Your profile image is the "Yellow Sign", is it not?"


Yes it is. I have seen the Yellow Sign! I have seen the Yellow Sign!


message 32: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin Gary wrote: "love mix ups and weird fiction is the perfect platform...."

Yeah, me, too!


message 33: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin Ronald wrote: "Yes it is. I have seen the Yellow Sign! ..."

The graphic novel I read draws it very differently.

After reading the text story, I'm less convinced that the graphic version works. In the story, we should question whether what the main character sees is what really exists. In the graphic novel, the artist draws the world as that character sees it, and so it seems objectively real, which, or course, it could be. But it is easier to have doubts about it when only reading text.


message 34: by Gary (new)

Gary Martin | 3 comments Ed wrote: "Ronald wrote: "Yes it is. I have seen the Yellow Sign! ..."

The graphic novel I read draws it very differently.

After reading the text story, I'm less convinced that the graphic version works. In..."

It's pretty interesting. Unless the written book is very graphically rich, it's hard to translate into pictures and dialog. I've seen a few amazing books killed when told as images.


message 35: by Kateblue (new)

Kateblue I am reading Wayward, the book that follows Pines, which this group read a while back. Really good


message 36: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 59 comments I have just started The Complete Tales of Edgar Allen Poe. I have already read about a dozen of his more famous works, so the book is not quite so daunting.


message 37: by Dan (last edited Jun 04, 2019 12:06PM) (new)

Dan | 757 comments Rosemarie wrote: "I have just started The Complete Tales of Edgar Allen Poe. I have already read about a dozen of his more famous works, so the book is not quite so daunting."

That's ambitious of you! I did similarly when I was in my early twenties, in other words a long time ago, read the complete tales of Edgar. At least I began to. I discovered that some of his lesser known stories were barely fiction; one was something like furniture commentary; another was just a character sketch. I concluded that there was a reason for a "Best Tales of..." type book. But maybe you'll find virtues in the obscurer stories I didn't. It should have his complete poetry too. There, at least, I don't think you can go wrong. I don't remember ever reading a bad Poe poem.

Kateblue wrote: "I am reading Wayward, the book that follows Pines, which this group read a while back. Really good"

I took a long, hard look at that last week too and thought it looked very promising. I'll take it up at some point. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing what you make of the book.


message 38: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 59 comments I have read all of Poe's poetry, and really enjoyed it.


message 39: by Kateblue (new)

Kateblue Dan, re Wayward--I liked it very much, but it's like watching Back to the Future II--it's just setting you up for the third one.

Actually, I am confused about why this series is considered "weird." Maybe it's just because the reader (and most of the characters) don't have any idea what is going on throughout most of the 1st book. But now that I'm further into it, (view spoiler)

In any case, I am really enjoying these books. Characters are what really make me like a book, and there's a couple pretty good ones that I'm rooting for. Although there are many that are not really fleshed out enough, nor do I think they will be.

I will let you know what I think when it's all over . . . I hope to read the third one in the next week or two


message 40: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin Rosemarie wrote: "I have read all of Poe's poetry, and really enjoyed it."

Does that include Eureka: A Prose Poem ?

That sounds to me like a close relative of Star Maker which was full of interesting ideas, but a chore to get through.


message 41: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 59 comments I still need to read Eureka. It wasn't in the collected poems volume that I read. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.


message 42: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin Rosemarie wrote: "I still need to read Eureka. It wasn't in the collected poems volume that I read."

I think it is prose. He calls it a "prose poem".

I like Poe's poetry. Not necessarily all of it, but I love some pieces and even memorized some, back when I still had a memory.


message 43: by Dan (new)

Dan | 757 comments Kateblue wrote: "Actually, I am confused about why this series is considered "weird..."

I concluded it was mostly due to genre blending. I mean, is it horror, fantasy, or science fiction? Some people might say there's not enough world-building and that the plot is too linear for it to be considered Weird. I don't judge.


message 44: by Kateblue (last edited Jun 04, 2019 09:02PM) (new)

Kateblue As I said in some other thread, whatever it is, I really like Blake Crouch. I liked Dark Matter probably a year ago and kept meaning to read these three (Pines, Wayward and The Last Town) but didn't get around to it. Now I think I am just going to put his whole catalog on my "to be read" list


message 45: by Dan (new)

Dan | 757 comments Then you are putting yourself down for eight novels and three short stories: http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/ch.cgi?1...


message 46: by Kateblue (last edited Jun 04, 2019 09:38PM) (new)

Kateblue I was just browsing at Amazon and found this on sale for $2.99. I'm not sure at all how long it will be at this price. I am also not sure whether I'm going to buy it or not.

The Horror on the Links: The Complete Tales of Jules de Grandin, Volume One

Here's the beginning of the blurb: Today the names of H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, August Derleth, and Clark Ashton Smith, all regular contributors to the pulp magazine Weird Tales during the first half of the twentieth century, are recognizable even to casual readers of the bizarre and fantastic. And yet despite being more popular than them all during the golden era of genre pulp fiction, there is another author whose name and work have fallen into obscurity: Seabury Quinn.

There is much more after that.
Here's where to go: https://smile.amazon.com/Horror-Links...

Have any of you heard of this guy? If you've had a discussion, sorry, too many groups, too little time


message 47: by Dan (last edited Jun 04, 2019 10:06PM) (new)

Dan | 757 comments I've heard of him but have yet to read anything by him. He was very well regarded. I see that $2.99 price is to suck people in. They get their money back when you buy the second volume: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07... Still, thanks for letting us know of this great deal. Seabury's "Pledged to the Dead" is available for free here if anyone wants to sample him: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/32514


message 48: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) It looks like half a dozen of Quinn's stories are available for free on Wikisource here:
https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Author...

There's also a letter to Weird Tales about the death of REH, by Quinn. It's actually a series of short letters by several people which mentions several other authors that might be of interest. Robert Bloch also wrote one of them.


message 49: by Kateblue (last edited Jun 05, 2019 05:59AM) (new)

Kateblue Oh, well, I guess I should have just read the freebees and not bought The Horror on the Links, which includes his oldest stories, according to the blurb. Those would probably be the ones that would be free . . .

Thanks for the link, Jim

And thanks for the link to the Crouch books, Dan


message 50: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) Spending $3 to get them all in one spot easily readable doesn't seem like a huge deal to me. I do have an issue with people republishing Gutenberg texts or Librivox recordings & charging a $1 for them. It's a common practice, too. Should be illegal, IMO. Still, I see it happen often enough that I automatically search for anything published before 1960 or so.


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