Recent Readings: Fiction

Here are some of the books I’ve read recently. (That is, the fiction: nonfiction books got their own post, and  RPG books will getting their own too; I’ve read a lot of those, but I don’t want to mix them all together.) For those who’re wondering what this post includes, have a look at the tags: the authors and book titles are listed among them. 

Beyond that, I’ll note two things:

First, some of these books were loaners from my buddy Justin Howe, who sent me a box of great books to check out. I’m still working my way through them, and more will be showing up in the next post of readings, to be sure. I’m noting that here so that I don’t need to keep mentioning him throughout this post. A couple of others were from the local library (the Sejong National Library in South Korea), which is pretty surprising: I was amazed there was a collection of English books at all, let alone English books I’d want to read. 

Second, I’ve been on an Edgar Rice Burroughs kick, but I gave the three books I recently read from his Pellucidar series their own post, since I’m thinking about organizing the Burroughs readings into a kind of series here on the blog.

Third, this post contains pretty much everything else I’ve read all the way through (outside RPG  books) in 2018 since my last update, early in the year. If it seems like a short list, well… I also finished drafting two books (and a somewhat involved freelance RPG-writing project) on top of a full time job and having a kid to take care of. Time’s been kind of short this year, in other words, but I am reading somewhat more than I did last year!

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Reading Edgar Rice Burroughs: Pellucidar (Books 1-3)

So… this post was originally part of a different post, rounding up fiction books I’ve read in 2018, but for a couple of reasons—length, viability as a post series—I figured I’d instead do one post rounding up general reading, and another specifically tracking my readings of Edgar Rice Burroughs. 

Because the thing is, I’ve been on an Edgar Rice Burroughs kick. It’s not nostalgia at work, note: though I know of Tarzan and Barsoom because I grew up in Western culture in the 1970s and 1980s, and yes, I saw the Disney film John Carter of Mars (and didn’t hate it), I’d never actually read a single book by Burroughs until a month ago. 

I might not have done so, either, except I started researching a creative project—let’s simplify and call it a planetary romance thing. I figured, hey, Burroughs was a big deal in this area, maybe I should check out his stuff, just to get a grounding. That morphed into sort of a diversion, and then a thing-in-itself, and now I’m on a Burroughs kick. Planetary Romance (and the “Hollow Earth” variant of the genre) is bigger than just that one author, of course, and I’ll likely branch out beyond that, but it’s been interesting going back to Burroughs’ work and digging in.

After plowing through a couple of public-domain audiobooks, I took the plunge and bought myself a stack of old Ballantine and Ace paperbacks, including a few of the Pellucidar books (notably the first three), most of the Venus series (except the last volume), both of the two volumes that collect Burroughs’ three-part novel (or series?) The Moon Maid, and the full Mars/Barsoom series, along with a few scattered stand-alone novels. 

Will I get through them all? Time will tell, but I can say that I started with the first three books of the hollow-earth Pellucidar series, and that’s what I’m discussing today. 

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The Intelligent Sword

Everyone knows Stormbringer, the sword wielded by Elric—even people like me, who’ve barely read any of the Elric stories. Stormbringer is notorious in part because it’s the prototypical “intelligent sword” that old-timer RPG fans remember being a big deal in 1st edition AD&D. 

Now, there are rules for intelligent magic items in 5E, of course, and there’s certainly precedent in fantasy literature for intelligent or sentient magical objects that aren’t swords—the Lord of the Rings features one prominently—but I feel like the “intelligent sword” trope has kind of fallen by the wayside… at least, it felt like that when the trope came up in a discussion in a Facebook group I’m in. 

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The Apex Book of World SF, Volume 5

Since the Apex Book of World SF series launched a decade ago, I’ve always wished that I could help get a Korean story into the series. Well… that’s finally happened. 

In the forthcoming fifth volume of the series, edited by Cristina Jurado (and with Lavie Tidhar as the series editor), that’s finally happened. My co-translation with Jihyun Park of Boyoung Kim’s tale of Lamarckian evolution, mythic Korean beasts, and metamorphosis, “An Evolutionary Myth,” will be reprinted, alongside what looks to be another fascinating and amazing collection of work from around the world. 

Preorders are now open, and you can get 25% off if you order the book now. At that link, there’s also a playlist of songs to accompany you in that task. 

You can also read more about the volume in a piece by Cristina Jurado, published in Apex recently

Oh, and if you missed out on the earlier volumes in the series, there’s a bundle available for all four trade paperbacks for a good price, too… a good option if the wait until October 9th—when Volume 5 will be released—feels like a long time away.  

One more time, here’s where you can preorder the book