Do you have an opinion?

A Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Book Meme

At SF Signal, John DeNardo wants to know what people think about the Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror books they have been reading.

Here are my answers to his 10 questions:

The last sf/f/h book I read and liked: Natural History of Dragons, Marie Brennan. A beautifully done book, tone perfect.
natural-history-dragonsThe last book I read and wasn’t crazy about: Ocean at the end of the Lane, Neil Gaiman. It’s a story that I have a sneaking suspicion would have been sent back by return mail if anyone other than Neil Gaiman had submitted it to a Big Six publisher. It feels like there’s something deeply personal in here, yes, but it also feels like it was skated over – and that ocean really WAS just that pond.

The book I am reading now: Hild, Nicola Griffith. It’s supposedly HISTORICAL, but it’s far enough in the past for there to be a shade of fantasy about the history.

The book I most want to read next: Freedom’s Maze, Delia Sherman. I look forward to this one.

An underrated book: Havenstar by Glenda Larke. She is a good writer who too often flies under the radar.
Havenstar
An overrated book: Game of Thrones, GRR Martin. I get overwhelmed by it all – the cast of thousands, the wars, the violence. There is real imagination here but it’s being stretched very very thin over the subject matter.

The last book that was recommended to me? Too many to choose from. I won’t pick just one.

A book I recommended to someone else: Tigana, Guy Gavriel Kay I tell EVERYONE about this book. It is sublime.

A book I have re-read: Lord of the Rings, J R R Tolkien. Don’t ask me what I think of the movies.

A book I want to re-read: Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake. I remember it as being eerily fascinating. But I last read it too many years ago to be sure.

Take the quiz (and if any of my books are on your list, please let me know.)

A sf/f/h meme

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Language by the Book, but the Book Is Evolving

The O.E.D.Michael Proffitt,, the O.E.D.’s new chief editor, speaks of its future in an article in the New York Times. Some things might surprise you.

Take, for example, where the Oxford English Dictionary is now getting some of it’s quotes — from blog and Twitter postings, quotations from gravestones, an inscription in a high school yearbook. Not that modern terms from these sources are as far afield as you might think.

Historical quotations in the O.E.D. show that many infamous terms of today are older than expected. The following sentence might give most traditionalists hives — literally or figuratively.

OMG, I Am, Like, Literally Unfriending You

BUT…

OMG The first recorded appearance of this breathless acronym for “Oh, my God!” comes, surprisingly, in a letter to Winston Churchill.

1917 J. A. F. Fisher Let. 9 Sept. in Memories (1919) v. 78. I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis — O.M.G. (Oh! My God!) — Shower it on the Admiralty!!

LITERALLY Word curmudgeons wince when “literally” is used figuratively. Examples of this inversion go back to 1769. Even Mark Twain did it.

1876 ‘M. Twain’ Adventures Tom Sawyer ii. 20 And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth.

LIKE Few words annoy the purist like “like.” Plopped into sentences, “like” is a rest stop for the hesitant, and not just tweens.

1778 F. Burney Evelina II. xxiii. 222 Father grew quite uneasy, like, for fear of his Lordship’s taking offence.

UNFRIEND Facebook was born in 2004. Unfriending began a tad earlier.

1659 T. Fuller Let. P. Heylyn in Appeal Injured Innoc. iii, I Hope, Sir, that we are not mutually Un-friended by this Difference which hath happened betwixt us.

WHATEVER, The earliest record of this fashionable retort may not go back centuries. Still, 41 years is older than many of its expert practitioners.

1973 To our Returned Prisoners of War (U.S. Secretary of Defense, Public Affairs) 10 Whatever, equivalent to “that’s what I meant.” Usually implies boredom with topic or lack of concern for a precise definition of meaning.

Change at the O.E.D.

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The story of Stagecoach Mary

Mary Fields was the first African-American woman employed as a mail carrier in the US, and just the second woman. Born a slave about 1832, she stood 6 feet tall and weighed about 200 lbs, liked to smoke cigars, and was once said to be as “black as a burnt-over prairie.” When she moved to Montana, Native Americans called her “White Crow” because “she acts like a white woman but has black skin.”

In 1895, Fields, then about 60, was hired by the postal service because she was the fastest applicant to hitch a team of six horses. She drove the route with horses and a mule named Moses. She never missed a day, and her reliability earned her the nickname “Stagecoach Mary.” If the snow was too deep for her horses, Fields delivered the mail on snowshoes, carrying the sacks on her shoulders.

Mary_FieldsMary Fields, c. 1895.

Actor Gary Cooper once wrote an article for Ebony in which he said: “Born a slave somewhere in Tennessee, Mary lived to become one of the freest souls ever to draw a breath, or a .38.”

Stagecoach Mary

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Quote of the Day

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on. ~ Robert Frost

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Alma Alexander

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