Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Notes on stuff I haven't read

It amazes me that these days I can walk through Borders, make note of all the new titles I want to read, and in nearly every case, my thought isn't "Man, I wish I had enough cash to pick that up", but rather, "Geez, why did I forget to put a pen in my pocket so I could write down these titles and get 'em from the library?" Ach!

I spotted a number of new books I want to read -- Peter Hamilton has a new space opera out; I've been meaning to read Charles Stross's Singularity Sky for quite some time; there's a nifty looking fantasy called The Anvil of the World. Sometime I need to pick up an official copy of GGK's Last Light of the Sun (getting the review copy was super cool from the "I get to read it two months before everybody else!" standpoint, but review copies, as books-in-themselves, are kind of crappy: uncorrected typos, incredibly stiff binding, generic cover with no art that's made of card-stock). And that's just in the SF department.

I also thumbed through the latest issue of SF Chronicle, which I like to peruse for news and such, and I learned there that Stephen R. Donaldson has signed the contract for The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. It will be four books, bringing the total number of volumes in the three Covenant series to ten (not including the "out-take" published separately in a short fiction collection some years ago). This excites me greatly; the Covenant books are longtime favorites of mine, even though it's been well over a decade since I last read all of them (I did read Lord Foul's Bane a year ago, but as yet have not moved on to the remainder of the series). I know that Covenant isn't for everybody, but I sure liked it. In fact, if memory serves, I read the Covenant series before I read The Lord of the Rings. (Donaldson has long maintained that the series was not finished after White Gold Wielder, so I don't think this constitutes a case of an author returning to the "cash cow", such as all those additional Foundation books Isaac Asimov penned late in his life.)

Let's see, what else from Borders today...I thumbed through Sauron Defeated, which is one of the later volumes in the History of Middle Earth series that Christopher Tolkien has produced (using notes and materials left behind by his father). What caught my eye here was an unpublished Epilogue to The Return of the King, which takes place after Sam's line, "Well, I'm back". It was interesting from a Tolkien-geek perspective (even one so neophytic as myself), but I can see why it was omitted in the end. It's basically a kind of "Here's what happened to the major characters after the story's end" bit, not really necessary.

And I also discovered that a second collection of shooting scripts from The West Wing has been published, this one from the third and fourth seasons. Interestingly, the book includes Aaron Sorkin's script for "Isaac and Ishmael", the "special terrorism" episode that was produced on the double just after the 9-11-01 attacks and was hated by just about everybody, it seems. (I liked it, but it's definitely "flat" compared to just about any other episode -- although I'm not sure how it couldn't avoid that.)

Lastly, I ended up buying two CDs -- Naxos's latest entry in its "Japanese Classics" series, this one being works of Koscak Yamada; and a CD of Chinese ballads written by Teresa Teng and sung by Huang Hong-ying. I'm not really sure what this one's all about, and I will report later.

All in all, a pleasant hour spent in Borders today, while the snow flew outside the windows. Three to five inches on the way...March in Buffalo!

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