This week’s Star Trek Picard review is coming and I’ll probably do Moon Knight, too, once I’ve actually watched it.
But in the meantime, here are some mixed links to elsewhere on the web. Cause I’ve actually had quite a lot of things coming out in the past few weeks and there’s even more coming up.
Let’s start with a flash story that came out only today as part of the Friday flash fiction series of Wyngraf Magazine of Cozy Fantasy. My story is called “Rescue Unwanted” and it’s the story of a knight, a princess and a dragon. And since it’s cozy fantasy, two of them even get a happy ending. So head over to Wyngraf Magazine and read “Rescue Unwanted”.
I also was a guest on Oliver Brackenbury’s excellent So I’m Writing a Novel podcast, where we chat about sword and sorcery, pulp fiction, the Silencer, writing, linguistics, self-publishing and all sorts of other stuff, so give it a listen.
Furthermore, I was also at Galactic Journey and back in 1967 last month, reviewing a very infamous SFF book, namely Tarnsman of Gor by John Norman, while my colleague Victoria Silverwolf reviews Why Call Them Back From Heaven?, a science fiction novel about cryogenics by Clifford D. Simak. Needless to say that Victoria got the better deal.
I offered to review Tarnsman of Gor, for even though I was of course aware of its reputation, I had never actually read the book. DAW Books were not all that easy to come by in pre-Internet Germany and the import bookstore where I got most of my English language SFF paperbacks in the 1980s and early 1990s never had any Gor books. I also suspect that they wouldn’t have carried them anyway, since whoever stocked the two genre fiction spinner racks at that store certainly knew their SFF and kept most of the problematic stuff out, though they missed Piers Anthony.
I remember coming across a whole shelf full of yellow-spined Gor novels – at least thirty or so – in the catacombs of a used bookshop on London’s Charing Cross Road (and yes, that store really had a network of mazelike catacombs that went down so deep that a passing Northern Line tube train would make the shelves shake) as a student in the mid 1990s and being entranced by the striking Boris Vallejo covers. I contemplated trying the series, but there were so many books and I couldn’t figure out the order, so I passed. In retrospect, that was a wise decision.
So now that I’ve actually read Tarnsman of Gor, what is the verdict? Well, it is a bad book, though not entirely for the reasons I expected it to be bad.
What I knew of the Gor books was that they were BDSM erotica disguised as Edgar Rice Burroughs style sword and planet adventure and that the BDSM to Burroughs ratio shifts in the course of the series in favour of the former. But while the Burroughs influence is certainly notable to the point that things happen to Tarl Cabot just because the same thing happened to John Carter, the BDSM stuff and the sexual content in general is mild by modern standards. Mostly, Tarnsman of Gor is just dull.
Honestly, I would never have imagined that a book infamous for its kinky sexual content could be so dull. Because the entire first third of Tarnsman of Gor is basically one endless infodump about the history of the Cabot family and then the history of Gor. The fact that this endless infodump is imparted mostly in extremely stilted dialogue doesn’t help either. While slogging through the never-ending infodump, I came close to crying out, “You promised me sex, you promised me slave girls, you promised me adventure, so where is it? Where is any of that?”
Honestly, if I had bought Tarnsman of Gor in that used bookshop on Charing Cross Road, intrigued by the iconic Boris Vallejo cover (which wasn’t actually the cover of the 1966 edition I reviewed for the Journey) and had then gotten mired in endless infodumps, the book would have met the wall very fast.
While I’m on the subject of Galactic Journey, their publishing house Journey Press just released a brand-new anthology of science fiction by women writers of the 1950s. It’s called Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women Volume 2 (1953-1957) and collects some excellent and little reprinted stories that will prove that the much repeated claim that women did not write science fiction during the so-called golden and silver ages of science fiction wrong.
I’m obviously not a science fiction writers of the 1950s, so how did I get involved with this anthology? Well, every story is accompanied by an essay by contemporary woman SFF writer, critic, scholar or artist and I contributed the essay for “The Queer Ones” by Leigh Brackett.
Finally, feast your eyes on that cover and then get the book and volume 1, too, if you don’t have it already:
Women write science fiction. They always have.
Rediscovery: Science Fiction by Women (1953-1957) offers, quite simply, some of the best science fiction ever written: 20 amazing pieces, most of which haven’t been reprinted for decades…but should have been. Whether you are a long-time fan or new to the genre, you are in for a treat.
This collection of works—18 stories, 1 poem, 1 nonfiction piece—are a showcase, some of the best science fiction stories of the ’50s. These stories were selected not only as examples of great writing, but also because their characters are as believable, their themes just as relevant today, their contents just as fun to read, as when they were written almost three quarters of a century ago.
Dig in. Enjoy these newly-rediscovered delicacies a few at a time…or binge them all at once!