WWW Wednesday: YES Amy Sterling Casil reads …

WWW Wednesday. This meme is from shouldbereading.


To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?


• What are you currently reading?

I’m re-reading Shards of Honor (1986) by Lois McMaster Bujold, the first book in the Vorkosigan/Barrayar books. It’s a funny thing about reviews. Look at the contemporaneous reviews for this book which launched a career, thousands of diehard fands, hundreds of thousands (if not more) readers, and a vast amount of fan-created material:

shards-of-honor“[Bujold] gives [her] characters enough emotional depth, and enough sense, to raise their story beyond cliché.” –Locus

”Bujold has a nice hand with the complications . . . All in all, Shards is a worthy effort, and worth reading for any fan of SF romance.” –Analog

These little tidbits could be best-described as “lukewarm.” Anyone with a remote clue could see this is a great book. Its fast pace and constant twists remind me of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books, but instead of Jersey, it’s deep space.

I think that’s “Worldmaster Grey” and the Space Witch on that cover … the actual characters are Cordelia Naismith and Aral Vorkosigan, who look little to nothing like these attractive (not) images. One of Cordelia’s crew dies in Chapter 1, and Aral proposes marriage to his captive, Cordelia, in Chapter 4 or 5 or so. Then all hell breaks loose.

By the way, Cordelia and Aral fit the criteria I requested of the Baycon Romance panel and audience: Name me a romantic pair in SF/F where the female has more power than the male – Cordelia doesn’t exactly have more power than Aral but she is a Commander and a professional and calls her own shots. And he needs her. If you haven’t read these, you’ll eat these babies like popcorn …

• What did you recently finish reading?

I read several books about the Vikings, including The Vikings by Robert Wernick, and The Vikings by Else Roesdahl. I read this type of thing while I’m working out or at the pool.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

I’ve only read two of the Barrayar books books by Lois McMaster Bujold. It’s awfully tempting to keep reading! Other “notable books” in SF/F published in 1986 include William Gibson’s Burning Chrome. The prior year, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game were published. Now that I am re-reading Shards of Honor, guess which one I think tagged what it should be between men and women and was most future-looking?

Gee, I guess the one where the fully-realized, sophisticated future world spanning the galaxy has many different societies and political systems, where an independent man and woman can fall in love and blend cultures, where people actually care about each other and have some sense of honor that is self-derived … time really does tell, doesn’t it? Ender’s Game is, of course, about a little boy who is tricked into killing for the benefit of humanity and he’s mad-crazy great at it. If you haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale, it will depress you. In this future world, the few women who can have children are forced to have babies with wealthy, powerful men whose wives aren’t too fond of the concept but who go along with it anyway.

What about you? What are you reading, have you been reading, wanting to read next?




WWW Wednesday: YES Amy Sterling Casil reads … — 15 Comments

  1. The coda to Shards of Honor, if I recall correctly, is sublime. After reading it, I knew I had seen the launch of a tremendous talent. Is that the scene with the after battle retrieval?

    • Yes – she’s just so darn amazing. I remember a long time ago at the Writers of the Future event, Kevin Anderson commented that he had entered the contest but never won a thing, and then soon began publishing big novels. Someone asked if there was anyone else with a similar experience and he said, Lois McMaster Bujold. Big non-catch for them … This was in the context telling re: “Jonny Punkinhead’s” sad provenance (3 1st place votes, 5 zero or some such).

  2. Read:
    Sidekicks by Dan Santat
    Rose by Holly Webb
    Petrosinella: A Neopolitan Rapunzel by Giambattista Basile, illustrated by Diane Stanley
    Italian Folktales by Italo Calvino, still in progress
    To Read:
    Russian Fairy Tales by Alexander Afanasyev

  3. I just finished Love and Mayhem at the Francie June Memorial Trailer Park by Karen G. Berry. It’s a murder mystery, complete with clues and an investigating police officer, but it’s also funny as hell, has heart, and great writing. For example, “Rhondalee stepped smartly out on the little porch thirty minutes later, as carefully arranged as a lunch packed in Tupperware.” The characters are quirky, but never one-dimensional. As much as you laugh at Rhondalee, you also sympathize with her. The humor of the community meeting, the suspense of the talent show, and the fierceness and joy in the little girl being raised by her grandparents and loving a visit from her truck-driving mother. I inhaled it. I came away from this book knowing the backstory, loves and hates of the characters, but I never choked on an info-dump. How I wish more writers would learn how to do that!

    Before Love and Mayhem, I read Jo Walton’s new book, My Real Children. It’s lovely. I’ve never been disappointed by any of Walton’s books. You follow the same character, Patricia, through two lives. She’s looking back at them in old age, suffering from dementia, seeing both pasts. Her story, in one life, then the other, take place over the course of the 20th century, but diverge when she’s been out of university for a year or so. In one case she accepts a marriage proposal, in the second, she refuses. Her two lives are quite different, as are the worlds they take place in, with world events gradually diverging. Through her joys and tribulations in the two lives, she’s the same intelligent, ethical, loving person. I guess it’s fantasy of a sort, since there’s alternate history and one person following two trajectories, but there’s nothing of the “fantastical” about it.

    I just started The Witches of Karres by James H. Schmitz, based on a friend’s recommendation. It is fun.

  4. I always tell new Bujold fans to pace themselves. Do not devour all 12 or 14 novels in one month! Pace yourself, carefully. Dole them out to yourself one a month, so that you can spin the pleasure out over a year. Because after you burn through them all you will have to join all of us, grumpily enduring withdrawal pangs and jonesing for the next one.