Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Reading Report

Let's see, what have I been reading? Finished up volume two of the Collected Letters of Robert E. Howard. Lots and lots of letters to H.P. Lovecraft in this one and more references to Conan than I'd hoped for. Viewed in hindsight there are a lot more clues to Howard's impending suicide as well, including one out of the blue note to a friend asking him to contact certain people in the event of Howard's sudden death. Crime writer Ross MacDonald titled one of his novels The Goodbye Look, theorizing that people who were headed knowingly towards their own demise had a certain look about them. I often think of that in relation to REH.
Re-read School Daze, one of the more solid recent entries in Robert B. Parker's Spenser series. This one profited, I think, from the absences of Spenser's girlfriend Susan Silverman and his primary sidekick, Hawk. Good to see Spenser handling things solo for a change. His constant conversations with Susan get a bit repetitive after a while.
Whitney loaned me a Doctor Who novel called Only Human. I usually stay clear of media tie-in books but this one was a lot of fun. The author, while not a scriptwriter for the Doctor Who series, is a writer for British television and the plot and dialog in this book are pretty close to what one would expect from an episode of the show. His characterizations of The Doctor, Captain Jack Harkness, and Rose Tyler are pretty well done. Speaking of Rose, I had one of my weird dreams the other night where Rose and I were being attacked by three winged demons on top of temple, high above a city something like ancient Mesopotamia. Dunno where the Doctor was, but I could have used some back up. Actually I could have used Conan. I think my genres are getting mixed up again.
Last night I read another Ki-Gor novella, The Devil's Deathtrap. In this one, Ki-Gor runs across the remaining survivors of a race of Gorillas who have human level intelligence. They can talk and they live in a city and of course they are EVIL!! They plan to use their less intelligent brethren to form a great conquering army. Ki-Gor leaps into the fray of course, ending up in an arena where he must face the 800 pound leader of the evil simians in a hand to hand fight to the death.
Ki-Gor's wife Helene gets captured again in this one, but she also saves Ki-Gor's life near the end of the story. Unlike a lot of pulp heroines of the time, Helene is generally pretty capable of taking care of herself. After living with Ki-Gor for years, she can swing through the trees as well as he can, she can outswim him, and she has no problem with snatching up knife, spear, or sword, and wading into battle right beside her jungle lord hubby. And of course she looks really hot in her leopard skin halter and booty shorts. Fiction House was known for their cheesecake covers, both on their pulp magazines and their comic books. Helene is often more prominent on the covers of Jungle Stories than Ki-Gor. There are a couple of covers where Ki-Gor doesn't even appear.
Read a couple more horror short stories by Ramsey Campbell and was again impressed with his originality and his skill at developing mood. I've been spacing the stories out, but I'm coming toward the end of the collection Alone with the Horrors. Wish I'd had this one at Halloween.
Guess that's about it for this edition of the reading report. I think all of these are going to come in handy in January when I make my picks for best books of 2007.

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