[identity profile] littlerdog.livejournal.com
I went to the podiatrist's with my Dad on Tuesday, and the hospital housing said podiatry has a small tea shop that sells secondhand books. Books of course have a magnetic attraction for both me and Dad. Nothing immediately suggested itself for buying, but when I looked under the most obvious shelf, among the jigsaws I found a copy of The Queen Of The Tearling by Erika Johansen, marked at 60p. Although someone had attached a sticky label to write the price on, the first stroke of 6 was actually on the book's cover.

The Tearling books have had some traction on Twitter, so I decided to buy this one and give it a try. What's one more book?

Queen of the Tearling cover image

Handsome cover, is it not?

Kelsea Glynn is the sole heir to the throne of Tearling but has been raised in secret after her mother – a monarch as vain as she was foolish – was murdered for ruining her kingdom. For 18 years, the Tearling has been ruled by Kelsea’s uncle in the role of Regent however he is but the debauched puppet of the Red Queen, the sorceress-tyrant of neighbouring realm of Mortmesme. On Kelsea’s nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of her mother’s guard - each pledged to defend the queen to the death - arrive to bring this most un-regal young woman out of hiding...

So onto the pile it goes.

Before it became apparent that my mad money was hostage to the diesel needed to get OH to and from work, I ordered four more books from Ian Sales' Mistressworks list. Most of these books are out of print, and difficult to find on the high street, so it's easiest to get them from a mass secondhand retailer like Awesome Books. Four books cost me just under £11 with free postage.

As I've mostly been buying books from the start of the wishlist, I decided to buy some from the end for a change. So instead of G's and H's I've ended up with S W and V.

Alphabetically, they are:

Star Rider by Doris Piserchia, published by The Women's Press in 1987 (first published 1974).

Star Rider cover image

The Women's Press published a small but distinctive imprint of SF by women and Ian Sales has compiled a non-definitive list here.

Jaks claim humans as their ancestors, but have developed, along with their mounts, the power to jump through dimensions and skip across the spaces between the stars. There are other inhabitants of the galaxy and they have their eyes on one young jak: the dreens want to imprison her in motherhood; the varks grin and stay inscrutable. But Jade of the Galaxy has a razor sharp mind and a faithful mount called Hinx. Where will she skip to? Who will she take with her?

Sounds a bit like what all the cool kids are now calling YA. Let's hope Hinx doesn't turn out to be a jinx.

This book had a small faded sticker on the back from Ryman, now removed.

The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein, published by Pan in their Fantasy imprint.

This book is described on the back as Science Fiction/Fantasy, so I'm wondering if it really belongs in a Science Fiction list. Maybe reading it will provide clarification.

The Steerswoman cover image

The jewel was opalescent, its blue and purple tones shifting with the play of light on its silver-veined surface. The face was perfectly smooth, far smoother than a jeweller could have cut it. In all her travels, Rowan had seen only a few like it--and she was sure they were no natural creations.

The blurb goes on to mention wizards. Sounds a bit Fantasyish to me.

Vast by Linda Nagata, published by Gollancz.

Vast cover image

Aboard Null Boundary, a giant starship thousands of years old, four survivors of an ancient alien war are making a desperate journey.

On the back of this book was a small sticker from Oxfam reading, obscurely, 13.

Now that sounds a lot more like Science Fiction to me.

The Wave and the Flame by Marjorie Bradley Kellogg, also published by Gollancz.

The Wave and the Flame cover image

They came to the planet in search of wealth--and found a mystery as old as time....

No stickers on this one, and, going by the spine, it's never been read.

There's another book on its way, but we'll talk about that another time.
[identity profile] littlerdog.livejournal.com
After dangling two charity bookshops in The Big City in front of my nose for weeks, husband took me there on Saturday. Ah, what bliss. We did the two charity shops, had pizza for lunch, then briefly trawled Waterstones. I got the points off an old receipt added to my loyalty card, bought two books, and got my stamp card stamped. A very successful day.

And a lot of books.

A *lot* of books.

Books....

In no order whatsoever:

Black Boy by Richard Wright;
Race to the Pole by James Cracknell and Ben Fogle;
Masada by Yigael Yadin (this book was snatched off the shelf with happy cries of Mine! You're coming home with me!);
The New Gulliver, or, The Adventures of Lemuel Gulliver Jr in Capovolta by Esme Dodderidge (a Women's Press SF book);
The Fox Boy: The Story of an Abducted Child by Peter Walker;
Print and Prejudice by Sara Goodman Zimet (husband chose this book for me);
The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw;
Contradictionary: an a-z of confusibles, lookalikes and soundalikes by Fritz Spiegl;
Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delaney;
The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett;
White on Black on White by Coleman Dowell;
Pastoral by Nevil Shute;
Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh (am surprised the charity shop was still selling this, even at £1, as the book block has entirely separated from the cover and, furthermore, broken into two pieces);
The Birth of the People's Republic of Antarctica by John Calvin Batchelor;
The Saxonbury Printout by Phil Smith (am pretty sure I already have a copy, but WHERE?);
The Pride of Chanur by C.J. Cherryh (which seems to have managed to get damaged since coming into the house)
and
The Baby in the Mirror: A Child's World from Birth to Three by Charles Fernyhough (another of husband's picks).

Where'm I going to put 'em all??????
[identity profile] littlerdog.livejournal.com
Somewhere along the line I've neglected to note when and/or where I picked up Gaining Ground by Joan Barfoot. It's a Women's Press book; I tend to grab those when I see them. Not that that does the tiny press much good, as they're invariably secondhand, but they're usually niche books of the kind you won't find falling off the shelves in Waterstones any time soon. If I could find them new I'd buy them new. But distribution is often a problem for small presses, so I'm usually reduced to grabbing what I can. Sorry, people.

This book was a hard and uncomfortable read. It's told uncompromisingly in first person by the narrator, Abra (I just had to go and check the spelling of her name, as it's not one I've ever encountered before), who leads a conventional woman's life until she suddenly runs out on her family and goes to live as a virtual hermit in a cabin that calls to her as 'home'.

It's hard to know what to think about Abra, as a character who's abnegated responsibility and is utterly frank and guilt-free about it has their charm. But on the whole, I think that when her daughter calls her selfish, she's right. Abra strikes me as soul-sister to all those people who want to 'find themselves' or who have to prove they're 'free' by starting a relationship then deliberately ending it. I have no problem with her wanting to live alone, to care for herself only, to evade all responsibility, including that for an injured squirrel whose life she saves. In many ways, I sympathise. That kind of life certainly has its appeal. It's her abnegation of responsibility for her two children that grates.

At all phases of her life, Abra abnegates responsibility for her decisions. She doesn't decide to get married; it just happens. She doesn't decide to take a job in a dress shop to support her husband through college; it just happens. She doesn't decide to quit the job once he graduates; it just happens. She doesn't decide to have children; it just happens. She doesn't even decide to leave her family for the cabin; it just happens. In this repeated claim to be merely the victim of circumstance, she disgusts me.

Yes, many of us often feel (or claim) we 'have no choice', but choosing not to resist the pattern of events is in itself a choice.

Living in her own little world, where nobody can make demands on her, Abra is suddenly interrupted by her daughter Katie, who wants answers and even, possibly, a relationship. Abra isn't capable of either. At the opening of the book, she's barely able to remember her own name, so deeply has she immersed herself in herself. As well as labelling her mother selfish, Katie calls her 'mad' and certainly there's something disassociative going on here. Towards the end of the book, Abra sees herself briefly as the outside world may see her, and doesn't like what she sees, but the moment passes.

It's hard to know what to make of this book as it presents the character as she presents herself, with all judgement left to the reader, should they choose to pass any. It's a detailed, fascinating portrait of a woman who throws it all up and walks away to be herself. Not a nice self, but who says women have to be nice?
[identity profile] littlerdog.livejournal.com
The Women's Press was founded in London in 1977 and has published a range of SF books over the years. This list of their publications was compiled by the indefatigable Ian Sales and can be found here.

1. Kindred, Octavia Butler;
2. Walk to the End of the World and Motherlines, Suzy McKee Charnas;
3. The New Gulliver: Or The Adventures of Lemuel Gulliver, Jr. in Capovolta, Ésme Dodderidge;
4. Machine Sex and Other Stories, Candas Jane Dorsey;
5. Native Tongue, Suzette Haden Elgin;
6. The Judas Rose, Suzette Haden Elgin;
7. The Incomer, Margaret Elphinstone;
8. Carmen Dog, Carol Emshwiller;
9. The Fires of Bride: A Novel, Ellen Galford;
10. The Wanderground, Sally Miller Gearhart;
11. Herland, Charlotte Perkins Gilman;
12. Despatches from the Frontiers of the Female Mind, Jen Green & Sarah LeFanu;
13. The Godmothers, Sandi Hall;
14. Women as Demons, Tanith Lee;
15. The Book of the Night, Rhoda Lerman;
16. Evolution Annie and Other Stories, Rosaleen Love;
17. The Total Devotion Machine, Rosaleen Love;
18. The Revolution of Saint Jone, Lorna Mitchell;
19. Memoirs of a Spacewoman, Naomi Mitchison;
20. The Mothers of Maya Diip, Suniti Namjoshi;
21. Planet Dweller, Jane Palmer;
22. The Watcher, Jane Palmer;
23. Woman on the Edge of Time, Marge Piercy;
24. Star Rider, Doris Piserchia;
25. Extra(Ordinary) People, Joanna Russ;
26. The Adventures of Alyx, Joanna Russ;
27. The Female Man, Joanna Russ;
28. The Hidden Side of the Moon, Joanna Russ;
29. The Two of Them, Joanna Russ;
30. We Who Are About To…, Joanna Russ;
31. Queen of the States, Josephine Saxton;
32. Travails of Jane Saint and Other Stories, Josephine Saxton;
33. I, Vampire, Jody Scott;
34. Passing for Human, Jody Scott;
35. A Door Into Ocean, Joan Slonczewski;
36. Correspondence, Sue Thomas;
37. A Spaceship Built of Stone and Other Stories, Lisa Tuttle;
38. Across the Acheron, Monique Wittig.

I've read The Two of Them, We Who Are About To..., Extra(ordinary) People, The Female Man, The Adventures of Alyx, The Planet Dweller, The Book of the Night, Queen of the States, Woman on the Edge of Time and possibly some others. Despatches from the Frontiers of the Female Mind is our next read from the Mistressworks list. Busy busy busy.

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