1995: The Mark of Merlin

I bought this book at an SF auction thing at the University.  I remember a bidding war broke out between me and some woman over this book.

I’m not sure why.  I was just caught up in the excitement.

And then it sat on the bookshelf until now.

I used to read a lot of the Anne McCaffrey sf/fantasy stuff.  She’s not a good writer or anything, but her books are…  relaxing.  They’re just there.  Things happen.  Dragons fly by.  A spaceship rebels. 

This isn’t a fantasy book, though.  “Merlin” (he of the title) is a dog.

I mean, literally.  He’s a dog.

So is this book.  This books is literally a dog.

It’s an uneasy mash-up between a gothic romance book and a spy adventure book, and it fails pretty much completely in every conceivable manner.  The plot is moronic and the romance is icky.

Rating: Twaddlelific!

1995: Tourists

I do remember why I haven’t read this one.  I thought it was a short story collection.

I hate short story collections.

No, that’s not quite true.  I love short stories.  It’s just that they take more energy than novels.  They’re so compressed.  You have to start caring about these characters in a couple of pages, and then ten pages later, they’re gone.  And then you start on the next one.

It’s less than relaxing.

So I thought this was a short story collection for some reason or other, but it isn’t.  Instead it’s an sf/magic realism mash-up.  Sort of.

It’s quite original and fun, but it didn’t really make me want to run out and buy ten more books by Lisa Goldstein.  It’s quite good.  Quite.  Kinda.  Yes.

Rating: Ambivalific!

1995: Homo Falsus

Do you remember back in the mid-80s where all books dealt with writers who were writing the book you were reading, or were they?

The post-modernity of this book is pretty staggering.  And perhaps not in a good way.  But that’s just what virtually all literature was like in 1984.

This one has not just one author, but two, and one or both of them is writing the book.  So freaky!  Yowza!  Zzzzzz!

Oh, I guess it was fun at the time.

And reading the in-depth descriptions of Oslo in 1984 was amusing.

And look at that book design!  Zing!  1984!  Nothing says 1984 more than that book design.

Rating: Shruggerific

1995: Ring of Swords

Getting the festival of 1995 underway, I picked the book I knew absolutely the least about first.

It seemed like a pretty nice hard-ish SF novel, so why hadn’t I read it already?

Now I remember…  I had bought it along with a swarm of other touchy feely SF books, and I had kinda gotten tired of reading that for a while.  So it sedimented downwards.

Anyway, it turned out to be very nice.  Perhaps a tad much So Much Drama for my tastes, but The Drama passed pretty quickly, and the rest of the book is quite neat.

I’ve already bought a few more books by Eleanor Arnason.

Rating: Esseffericious

Readin’

I’ve always bought more books than I can possibly read.

It’s under control, though.  Just a fraction more.  But it means that the section of the bookcase(s) that contain the unread books grows, slowly but inevitably.

That’s fine.

I put the books I read at the top of the bookcase, and the unread ones sort of have a sedimental journey towards the bottom.

So they remain sorted in the order I’ve purchased them, and the ones at the bottom become the ones I never look at, because I assume that they’re something that I’ve determined that I’ll never actually read.

So this “summer” (for some value of) and autumn I’m going to do a grand experiment: I’m going to read an older section.  I picked out at random this one shown on the right there. 

It’s all books bought in 1995, as far as I can tell from circumstantial evidence (copyright notices and the books around them).

And when I say “read”, I mean “try”.  I have no compunction about finishing books.  The second they start to bore me, I ditch them.  There are plenty of books in the world.

I’m going to hazard a guess that that light blue book over there to the right will be ditched toot sweet.  But time will show.

Cheapskates Revealed!

In the previous installment, we saw that Penguin had done weird stuff typographically.  And now I understand why.

In the back of the book is a “List of Variants”, which details minutely what manuscripts have been used.  I mean, important stuff like “La” vs “la”.

And they list these variants based on page and line numbers.

This was done for the previous, un-annotated edition.  So when they wanted to add some footnotes, they either had to re-do the entire “List of Variants”, or do it the easy/hard way by just pasting in new lines (in a narrower typescript) here and there.

It’s all so logical.

Cheapskates

I was reading Tender is the Night and was puzzling over the typesetting.  The foreword and the index is set in a very clear, narrow typeface, while the text itself looks old and worn.

This is unfortunately an annotated edition, which I loathe.  I wouldn’t have bought it if I’d known.

But that doesn’t make sense.  If it’s a new, annotated edition, why does is look so worn and old-timey?

Then I noticed.  Just look at it.  The single line that has the annotation “15” is set in a narrower typeface that also looks crisper.  Just look at those to “but”s.

So the cheap bastards just cut out the lines where they wanted to have an annotation, re-set it in the narrower font to make room for the annotation, and then pasted the result back in.

I didn’t know that doing stuff like that was even possible in these digital days.  It’s practially midieval.