Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Books I read May 2010

Based on the stories of Thomas Ligotti-The Nightmare Factory
Thomas Ligotti is a writer who I have just recently become aware of. Based on what I've read of his writing, it sounds like stuff I would love. Problem is his books are not easy to find, or inexpensive. Then I found this graphic collection of adaptations of some of his stories. This particular collection was not very impressive, but I want to read the stories as they were originally written, not in these severely altered and edited editions.
Brian K. Vaughn-Y The Last Man Deluxe Edition 3
Excellent ongoing graphic novel about the last man on earth. No, not The Omega Man. The catch here is that females survived the catastrophe. Vol. 3 continues the excellent story with outstanding artwork by Pia Guerra. Looking forward to Vol. 4 in October.
James M. Cain-Double Indemnity
Cain's classic noir, which was made into the classic film with Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck, is a taut and concise thriller of pre-meditated murder which explores the depths of greed and lustful abandon.
Dan Simmons-A Winter Haunting
I keep reading Dan Simmons though none of his novels, and I've read a lot, has ever blown me away. I guess they are kind of a guilty pleasure. Easy to read and ultimately entertaining. A Winter Haunting is no different. Here Simmons brings back a character from his earlier novel Summer of Night, to the place where many of his personal demons still exist. A well-written, sometimes overly-detailed piece of fiction that, once again, entertains, but not much more.
Horace Walpole- The Castle of Otranto
Seminal, yet slim, piece of gothic fiction fails to ignite the flames like so many of the later works which it influenced. Try Lewis' The Monk, Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer, the works of le Fanu or Radcliffe for a more satisfying gothic read.
Philip K. Dick-A Maze of Death
Another excellent mindfuck from Dick. Even his shitty novels are fun, and this one isn't shitty.
Ross MacDonald-The Ferguson Affair
Easily the best non-Lew Archer book I've read by MacDonald, which makes sense considering this one was written much later than his other non-Archer books. In fact the Archer novels were in full swing when this was written and could easily have been improved by replacing the less-engaging main character, an attorney, with Lew.

Arturo Perez-Reverte-The Cavalier in the Yellow Doublet
Reverte, Spain's foremost literary export, delivers in the fifth of the Captain Alatriste series. Another fine swashbuckling affair. Though Reverte often becomes bogged down in his narrator's lament on the condition of his mighty, beloved Spain of the 17th Century, these books are pure fun.

Anton Chekhov-Shadows and Light
It is a marvel at how few pages Chekhov needs to express the woe and misery of peasant life, or the beauty and majesty of Russia itself. These nine stories are no exception. An excellent selection that would serve well as an introduction to Chekhov, or a pleasure to the seasoned Chekhov reader like myself.

Arkady and Boris Strugatsky-Tale of the Troika
In April I re-read Roadside Picnic. At the beginning of May I read the other story in this volume Tale of the Troika for the first time. The Strugatsky's absurdist look at stratified Soviet society is both humorous and subversive. It's hard to comprehend how their stories escaped the Soviet censors. Another brilliant story by the Strugatsky's.


  1. Looks like you read some pretty cool stuff, Gideon. I just bought Roadside Picnic and really should give it a read (maybe tie it in with a review of Stalker). I love Russian Lit. There's a really good contemporary SF Russian novel, translated in English in a UK edition, called Metro 2033, a post-apocalyptic tale. I played the XBox game which was based on the novel--a very well-written narrative. You might like it. Anyhoo, I've enjoyed reading your entries, Gideon, and look forward to more. See ya.

  2. Thanks Hans. I also love Russian Lit., particularly from the 19th Century. I was introduced to the Strugatsky's and Soviet science fiction about three years ago and have been consuming it as quickly as possible, but it is not easy to find. Thanks for the tip on Metro 2033, I will check it out. Thanks again and keep up the great work on Quiet Cool!

  3. I really need to read Simmons. I've had Copies of The Terror and Hyperion on my Bookcase for EVER.

  4. I haven't read The Terror yet, but I have read the whole Hyperion cantos as they are called. I have known a number of people over the years who think that Dan Simmons and the Hyperion books in particular are some of the greatest ever. I liked them, but for great contemporary sci-fi I much prefer Alastair Reynolds or Iain Banks in his prime. Thanks for commenting Bryce!