We’ve probably already all seen the video of librarians singing a Lady Gaga cover song, but heck, it’s such a fun video I thought I’d repost it here. And yes, some of these ladies are extremely attractive. Ahem.
Librarians Do Gaga
Here’s another fun one I discovered today done by a local, Durham, NC independent bookseller called The Regulator. It’s another musical, this time with hipsters talking about how much fun reading a good book is.
Reading a Good Book
Just received word from Wildside Press (I am in no way affiliated with them, just a customer, and I’m on their email list) that for the first time they are making available free preview PDFs of their two new magazines. I have downloaded both and they look great. Note that these are being hosted by Rapidshare and are free to download, but they put in an annoying delay between downloads if you don’t have a paid membership there, so I just downloaded the second file on another computer.
In any case, I recommend checking them out if you are interested in, respectively, Sherlock Holmes and other Victorian mystery fiction and pulp adventure tales.
Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine #4
Adventure Tales #6
I’ve been remiss about updating my blog lately and posting new reviews. But fear not, gentle readers! Halloween is my favorite holiday and I plan to make a special Halloween-related announcement on Friday, October 1.
The Great Pumpkin is coming!
As is often the case, this delightful small press that specializes in pulp reprints, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, etc., has issued some new coupons. I am seriously considering subscribing to one or both of their magazines – Adventure Tales and Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine.
You can find out more about their specific offerings here.
Here the coupon codes are:
$5.00 off any magazine subscription (new subscribers only.) Use coupon code 5OFFWT.
$6.00 off any magazine subscription (existing subscribers only.) Use coupon code RENEWME.
Save $10 off any purchase of $40 or more (including magazine subscriptions) — a great way to save on the more expensive Adventure Tales or Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine — use coupon code SUB10.
Save $25 on any purchase of $100 or more (no exclusions). Subscribe to all our magazines! (Or pick up books.) Use coupon code SUB25.
I’ve been a bad boy since the last update on book acquisitions: I’m still buying more books than I am able to read. Alas. Here’s what I’ve picked up in the last few weeks:
- In my attempt to collect the entirety of Stephen King’s oeuvre, I’ve used Book Mooch to pick up a bunch of books I didn’t have, both some older ones I’ve previously read and the newer ones I never picked up. These include: Dolores Claibourne, Desperation, The Regulators, Insomnia, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Hearts in Atlantis, Gerald’s Game, Cujo, Firestarter, From a Buick 8, Storm of the Century, Under the Dome, Just after Sunset, Blaze, and Blockade Billy. I still have nine more to acquire (several of which I once owned but no longer have), but then I’ll have them all and can start reading them all in order. What a massive (but fun!) reading project that will be.
- Osprey’s book on the Battle of Jutland. This is one of my favorite naval battles of all time (yes, I am a military history geek).
- Halloweenland by Al Sarrantonio. I have been wanting to get into his work for a long time, and since Halloween is my favorite holiday, this was a natural. Some of his stuff is oddly hard to find though.
- Strega by Andrew Vachss. I once owned this one, but haven’t been able to find it for years. The Burke books are great and I really need to get back into them. Pretty bleak stuff though.
- The Painted Darkness (ARC) by Brian James Freeman. I owe the publisher a review of this one, so when that’s done, you’ll see it here. Not familiar with the author at all, but it’s a premise that resonates with me, which I’ll get into in the review.
- Delta Green: Targets of Opportunity. A role-playing game supplement for Call of Cthulhu and Delta Green. I pre-ordered this sucker more than two years ago and they finally delivered.
I am ashamed to admit that I’d never heard of any of these.
Here’s a great list.
We’re just a few days away from Hobbit Day (September 22) though. Who knew? I’d better start growing out my footfur.
Remember that comedian Rachel Bloom who created the hilarious song (and accompanying video) describing her (un)wholesome love for Ray Bradbury (“Fuck Me Ray Bradbury”)? Well, the two finally met.
Emphyrio is another of Jack Vance’s science fiction novels, almost certainly part of his Oikumene/Gaean Reach setting, but that hardly matters as the story is entirely self-contained. Emphyrio was originally published in a hardback edition by Doubleday in 1969. It is explicitly a work of social/political commentary, and I would suggest that its message is even more relevant today than it was in the late 1960s.
Please note that spoilers for the book’s plot follow.
Ghyl Tarvoke is a young man, raised by his father Amiante on the planet Halma. Amiante is an extremely skilled woodcarver who eventually trains Ghyl in this craft. All who dwell on Halma are members of craft guilds (closed shop unions) and entirely dependent on the socially- and politically-stratified state, which controls all aspects of daily life, including the most intimate details, in exchange for the cradle-to-grave welfare society provided. Vance’s critique, of course, is that by becoming infantilized and allowing governmental and social institutions to provide the means of sustenance, one also allows those same institutions to determine the course of one’s existence through increasingly intrusive means. Ghyl and his father become increasingly dissatisfied with the regimented society in which they find themselves trapped. Eventually Amiante is killed and Ghyl falls in with a bad crowd, hijacking a nobleman’s space yacht and traveling to several other worlds, discovering more about Halma’s history and how the present society was formed. I hesitate to reveal the nature of Ghyl’s discoveries, as they are startling and important to the novel’s climax. Suffice it to say, Ghyl takes on the role of the mythical Emphyrio and overturns the oppressive system that governs Halma.
That plot may sound a bit dry when spelled out so baldly, but the tale is well-told and certainly more nuanced than I’ve described above. Ghyl and the other characters are interestingly portrayed, and we certainly see a great deal more depth in Ghyl than in many of Vance’s protagonist (one of his few weaknesses, in my opinion). That weakness, if it exists, is certainly not present in Emphyrio.
I had read this novel years ago but had forgotten how explicit (and important) it’s social and political critique was; this is somewhat unusual for Vance, but well-done, and one of his finest. I highly recommend this science fiction stand-alone novel. It is well-regarded and one of Vance’s best. I give Emphyrio 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Review copyright 2010 J. Andrew Byers