Sunday, November 08, 2009

Weekend Reading

Wednesday night I finally got the long delayed fourth volume of Night Shade Books' Collected Fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith. I've been reading some selections from that over the weekend, luxuriating in Smith's elaborate prose and dreamy worldscapes. Great stuff, plus the notes in the back of the book about the writing and the publication histories of the various stories are priceless. One volume left to go in the series. Aside from that I also read one of Gardner Fox's sword & sorcery novels, Kothar and the Wizard Slayer. Much as I admire Fox's comic book work, I find the prose in these novels to be a little stilted, but I think that's a product of the time (late 1960s-early 1970s) when they were published and the market for which they were intended. As Conan pastiches they're worse than some, but better than most. They just don't provide the things that modern readers expect. For instance, characterizations are very very flat. Still, entertaining and a good way to pass a couple of hours.
Did a re-read of Robert Jordan's novella New Spring, from the now decade old collection Legends. Though I've never been able to make it through the first volume in the late author's fantasy series The Wheel of Time, I always liked this short novel set in the WoT universe. It's a quick read at just 149 pages. Jordan later expanded it into a bigger book ,which I also read, but I prefer the shorter version. Forced to write tight, Jordan produced the epic fantasy equivalent of one of his earlier Conan pastiches, with a rousing sword fight and a nail-biting climax. Oh, and speaking of Jordan and Conan, I noticed that Tor has reissued two of the Jordan Conans, Conan the Defender and Conan the Destroyer, as new paperbacks. I can only assume this is because of the recent release of Jordan's newest WoT novel, which was completed from Jordan's partial manuscripts and notes by writer Brandon Sanderson and edited by Jordan's wife.
While I was reading New Spring I noticed that there are several of the other novellas in the collection that I had never gotten around to. May have to rectify that soon. That happens sometimes. I buy an anthology for one or two authors and don't get around to the other stories until years later. Sometimes I find some nice surprises.
I also read a novella by Poul Anderson, but that one gets a post of its own, probably tomorrow.

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