Thursday, May 03, 2012

Recent Reading

The Hunger Games -- Again. Read it before seeing the film, read it after. I still think it's a good little book -- and the movie is one of the best cinematic adaptations of a book that I have yet seen. As good a job as Lord Of The Rings -- or a little better: they haven't left out The Scouring Of The Shire yet.

Young Rissa ("The first book in the 3-part saga of Rissa Kergulen") by Indianapolis-born F. M. Busby. In fact, it's the first book in a long series set against a common background with some similarity to my own "Hidden Frontier." An interesting work, a litte old-fashioned in some ways but the general themes are timeless. Well-written space opera, what I would praise as "first-rate pulp," in that it is strongly cast in the gothic mode of good -- or at least non-evil -- vs. evil and the good guys are supposed to win. (Had to go check my library: while Busby wrote starting before I was born, I didn't have any of his novels until recently. The shelf goes directly from "Burroughs" to "Busjaeger.")

Speaking of "Burroughs," (ERB, that is) and pulp for that matter, I just finished Richard A. Lupoff's Edgar Rice Burroughs: Master Of Adventure, an examination of the writing career of an early pulp writer who transcended the pulps. (Even to the point of becoming his own company, still a going concern 62 years after his death. and related websites make for an interesting exploration). It is a fascinating book; Lupoff admires his subject but is quite willing to call out the low points as well as the successes. --I also picked up Tarzan, which I have never read despite having devoured all the John Carter of Mars* books while in Junior High. --Don't tell me how it comes out! ERB's science fiction is sometimes viewed as unsophisticated but much of it rewards a second look. Those interested in tracing the sources of ideas will find precursors of Larry Niven's "Fleet of Worlds," the group of Puppeteer planets sharing a common orbit and of his torus of atmosphere around a star from The Integral Trees (etc.), both in ERB's 1941 Beyond The Farthest Star. (I'm still irked that I missed the recent Disney John Carter Of Mars movie -- and that it sank so far, so fast, and perhaps more on poor promotion, stiff competition, and hostile reviewers than on its own merits).

Last but not least, Marblehead, also by Richard A. Lupoff, in which a largely fond and unflinchingly honest portrayal of H. P. Lovecraft and assorted other real-world characters are thrown into the midst of a proto-Nazi conspiracy in the late 1920s! HPL could be a fairly strident xenophobe, especially in abstract and in the mass, so a portion of the suspense comes from wondering just which side he'll end up on. Great fun, especially if you are a little familiar with the characters or the real-life events Lupoff is riffing from.

As ever, if any of this piques your interest, please shop via Tam's Amazon link: you get a book, she gets a tiny commission at no cost to you and I get steady rent checks: win-win-win!
* They claim Barbie is daunting? Try livin' up to Dejah Thoris!


wolfwalker said...

I also picked up Tarzan, which I have never read despite having devoured all the John Carter of Mars* books while in Junior High.

That's funny -- I'm in nearly the opposite position: I've read most of the Tarzan books and every word ERB ever wrote set in Pellucidar, but none of the John Carter books save for the first few chapters of A Princess of Mars. Based on that (and obviously I could be wrong) I think you'll find Tarzan of the Apes similar to John Carter in some ways, different in others. Not least is the writing style: the Tarzan novels are all in a third-person narrative voice, while John Carter is first-person.

Walt said...

Thanks for reminding me about Rissa. I remember it well, but I left the book on the pocket of an airline seat years and years ago. I think I'll try to track a copy down.

BobG said...

I read all of ERB's stuff by the time I was in my mid-teens. Leigh Brackett also wrote a lot of stuff in a similar vein, and I enjoyed a lot of her stuff while I was reading Burrough's stuff.