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Worlds Without End Blog

RYO Review: City by Clifford D. Simak Posted at 8:00 AM by Thom Denholm

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CityRYO Reading ChallengeClifford Simak‘s City won the 1953 International Fantasy Award, which was awarded to a science fiction or fantasy book. This book is more the latter, despite its later inclusion in later collections such as the SF Masterworks, Easton Press Masterpieces of Science Fiction, and the Locus Best SF Novels of All-Time.

Yes, this book is science fiction, and contains references to space and dimensional travel. Despite one of the stories being set on Jupiter, these are only references. This book focuses more on human development over a very long scale. It was originally published as a series of short stories in Astounding Science Fiction magazine. These stories are collected with interspersed brief commentaries from scholars of a future dog civilization.

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Thom Denholm (Thomcat) works in the software industry and as a baseball umpire. In his spare time, he has kept up a steady stream of reading, fiction and non-fiction, since he was old enough to enter a library “summer reading” contest. He first read “A Wrinkle in Time” before it was extended into a series, only coming back to read the subsequent books recently. He joined WWEnd last year, too late to really dive into the GMRC but signed up for the WoGF challenge immediately, and he’s looking forward to a functioning “random author picker”. : )

WoGF Review: Sarah Canary by Karen Joy Fowler Posted at 2:00 PM by Thom Denholm

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WWEnd Women of Genre Fiction Reading ChallengeThom Denholm (Thomcat) works in the software industry and as a baseball umpire. In his spare time, he has kept up a steady stream of reading, fiction and non-fiction, since he was old enough to enter a library “summer reading” contest. He first read “A Wrinkle in Time” before it was extended into a series, only coming back to read the subsequent books recently. He joined WWEnd last year, too late to really dive into the GMRC but signed up for the WoGF challenge immediately, and he’s looking forward to a functioning “random author picker”. : )


Sarah CanaryKaren Joy Fowler‘s first novel was Sarah Canary, and this well recognized work was added to the list of Science Fiction Masterworks just last year. I left one spot open on my list of authors for the Women of Genre Fiction reading challenge, and upon discovering the setting of this book, it was added to the final slot.

First off, there are editions of this book with a foreword or an epilog, and reviews a plenty warning not to read either. The Plume trade paperback edition seems to lack both, at least by that name, and besides has a nice easy typeface.

Mechanically the book has Roman numeral sections with bits of relevant history. Each sets the tone for the few numbered chapters that follow – an introduction to the action, as it were. Most are set in my own state, what was Washington Territory at the time. The facts in these sections are rarely brought back into play later in the book, giving this novel an episodic feel.

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WoGF Review: Rusalka by C. J. Cherryh Posted at 11:32 PM by Thom Denholm

Thomcat

WWEnd Women of Genre Fiction Reading ChallengeThom Denholm (Thomcat) works in the software industry and as a baseball umpire. In his spare time, he has kept up a steady stream of reading, fiction and non-fiction, since he was old enough to enter a library “summer reading” contest. He first read “A Wrinkle in Time” before it was extended into a series, only coming back to read the subsequent books recently. He joined WWEnd last year, too late to really dive into the GMRC but signed up for the WoGF challenge immediately, and he’s looking forward to a functioning “random author picker”. : )


RusalkaThis is a story about a young wizard and a gambler, thrown together and sent on an adventure. They encounter a dead girl and her living elderly father, a wizard in his own right. Descriptions of Mythic Russia include people, places and creatures – including that of the title.

From the author’s description, “A rusalka is a Russian ghost: a drowned maiden who dies for love will become a rusalka, haunting the river where she perished.” A few other Russian beasties appear in this story – including bannik, leshy, and vodyanoy. The interactions of these between themselves and with the main characters form much of what I liked about this book.

Unfortunately there was a lot I had difficulties with. The thought processes of each main character were overly detailed, slowing any action to a crawl. I’ve read Heinlein’s chapter-long discussions between characters easily enough, but found myself distracted or worse, nodding off during thought-filled paragraphs in this book. When the characters conversed, the dialogue wasn’t much better, and could be repetitive at times. The book does contain a few action sequences, including most of the first chapter. These went by quickly, perhaps because the characters were focused on actions instead of thoughts.

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WoGF Review: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell Posted at 7:28 PM by Thom Denholm

Thomcat

WWEnd Women of Genre Fiction Reading ChallengeThom Denholm (Thomcat) works in the software industry and as a baseball umpire. In his spare time, he has kept up a steady stream of reading, fiction and non-fiction, since he was old enough to enter a library “summer reading” contest. He first read “A Wrinkle in Time” before it was extended into a series, only coming back to read the subsequent books recently. He joined WWEnd last year, too late to really dive into the GMRC but signed up for the WoGF challenge immediately, and he’s looking forward to a functioning “random author picker”. : )


The SparrowMary Doria Russell‘s The Sparrow is an award winning book, a story of first contact. It is told in two intermingled narratives – one leading up to the contact and one after the fact, a questioning of the sole survivor. While portions were though provoking, I find this book less than it should be.

I enjoyed reading about most of the personalities in the early part of the story, although many were more caricature than character. While reading these sections, my thoughts kept drifting to their eventual deaths, which was distracting. As a team, they were a little too conveniently matched, but then this is fiction after all.

The other sections of the book, dealing with the aftermath, were used to either to lead the next portion of the early story or to delve deeper into the main character’s crisis of faith. This last part culminates at the end of the book in a too-neat wrap up. In the final chapter, the poise regained by the main character had me believing he had been faking earlier, which was probably not the author’s intention.

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WoGF Review: Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente Posted at 1:21 PM by Thom Denholm

Thomcat

WWEnd Women of Genre Fiction Reading ChallengeThom Denholm (Thomcat) works in the software industry and as a baseball umpire. In his spare time, he has kept up a steady stream of reading, fiction and non-fiction, since he was old enough to enter a library “summer reading” contest. He first read “A Wrinkle in Time” before it was extended into a series, only coming back to read the subsequent books recently. He joined WWEnd last year, too late to really dive into the GMRC but signed up for the WoGF challenge immediately, and he’s looking forward to a functioning “random author picker”. : )


DeathlessCatherynne Valente‘s Deathless is so much more than a Russian fairy tale history of growing up and growing old.

The structure of Russian folk tales is the first thing we encounter. Familiar characters are here (Baba Yaga, Father Frost, and of course Koschei the Immortal) and familiar themes (birds, objects that summon others, and repetition in threes). The protagonist Marya Morevna has her own Russian folk tale lineage, as the queen or warrior princess of her own province of historical Russia.

Through the marrying of Marya’s sisters, we first encounter history – the first sister married to a member of the Tsar’s guard, the second to a member of the White Guard, and the third to an officer in the Red Army. Later chapters go further into the early history of Soviet Russia, and that adds to both the history and the folk tale.

Satire of Soviet Russia factors in also, with “Chairman” Yaga, a scarf of the Red Pioneers, and a whole section set in the dream village of Yaichka, where Josef and Leon make trouble for Vladimir Ilyich by ruining the roses. When Vladimir discusses this with neighbor Nikolai Aleksandrovich, he “laughed and sent old Vova on his way, his sympathies being rather with the roses.”

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