Book Trader in Brockville, ON, Canada

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Another fine haul from The Book Trader in Brockville, Ontario.

I don’t think I’ve ever been in there and not bought *something.*

That cover image on the Norman Spinrad book is quite something. I wish they’d bring back covers like this.

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    The only Spinrad book I ever read was The Iron Dream. It was meta-interesting, but not so inherently.

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    Glad to hear that she has managed to survive the plague year. A Canadian institution.

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    I rebought Joe Haldeman's Worlds series a while ago, but in kindle not p/b
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    I recently had the pleasure of reading Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon - a collection of essays on genre fiction. This books includes essays on Sherlock Holmes (in which he argues that ALL fiction is fan fiction), Cormac McCarthy's The Road, the work of M.R. James, and Philip Pullman's Dark Materials series (which might make a good slow read). There are also a number of shorter pieces dealing with graphic novels, various things that inspired Chabon's own novels, and something on genre fiction in general existing along the 'edges' and how the edges and blank spaces of maps can inspire the imagination.

    I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had actually bought a paperback copy a while ago, but last summer I was in Hamilton Ontario, where they have several good used book shops. In one of these, The City and The City Bookshop, which has a small be exquisitely curated SF shelf-and-a-half, I found a hardback version of Maps and Legends. So I traded in my paperback version to The Book Trader in Brockville on the last visit (see above), and I read the hard back this autumn. If fact, that's exactly what I was reading when I went back again to The City and The City at Thanksgiving.

    https://www.thecityandthecitybooks.ca/

    It has a rather nice 3-layer dust jacket . Here's what it looks like:

    So, as I mentioned, this is exactly what I was reading when I returned to The City and The City, and lo an behold, they had a bunch of new and very intriguing looking books - many of which I hadn't heard of before. Here's what I bought:

    Having just finished Chabon's essay on Sherlock Holmes and how all fiction was fan fiction, the first two books to catch my eye in the store with a nice hardback copy of The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter - a sequel to The War of the Worlds. Adjacent to this on the shelf was The Fifth Heart, by Dan Simmons - a Sherlock Holmes homage.

    Speaking of being adjacent, there was also a hardback of The Adjacent, the one remaining Priest book about the Dream Archipelago that I haven't read yet. So I picket that up, too.

    Others include a Gene Wolfe book, written late in his life - A Borrowed Man - about a clone named E.A. Smithe, who is a borrowed person who lives on a third-tier shelf in the public library. As library property, he isn't a real person. In the novel, a library patron checks him out with the hope that Smithe can help her solve the murder of her father.

    The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders has been getting a fair amount of buzz over the last few years, to I popped that into the basket. And what's this? A Robert Silverberg book called Son of Man that I haven't read but was deemed good enough to be in the SF Masterworks series? I'll take that too, thanks.

    Down at the bottom of the photo is Pierre Boule's Planet of the Apes to round out my purchases from The City and The City. The other books shown include a Conan book by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter (mostly bought because I like De Camp, though the shop owner warned it might disappoint) and The Sheep Look Up, book by John Brunner, whose work I'm not familiar with apart from the fame of Stand on Zanzibar. These two were purchased at another bookshop in Hamilton called STORE On James - a pottery shop slash bookstore with a pretty interesting collection of SF&F paperbacks. There were quite a few that was curious to buy, but resisted. They're by authors whose names I'm familiar with, but whose works I never explored. Can anyone tell me about Jack Chalker, Anne McCaffrey, Philip Jose Farmer, Caroline Nelson Douglas, Larry Niven, Katherine Kerr, or Gordon Dickson (SF)?

    https://www.storeonjames.ca/

    There's actually another used book shop on James St., a little further south, called The James St. Bookshop. I didn't have time to go there on this trip, but will try to next time.
    https://www.jamesstreetbooks.ca/

    Our last visit of the day was to West Side Stories: http://www.westsidestories.ca/
    Unfortunately we arrived only 10 minutes before closing and I didn't get to browse the large SF/F collection in the basement. The did have a handsome copy of Cyrus the Great by Harold Lamb, but I already have a copy of that so I didn't buy it.

    Further west even than that is King West Books, located in the pretty village of Westdale - another shop I'll have to check out in the future.
    https://kingwestbooks.com/

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    Niven is one of the Grandmasters - author of the Ringworld series, The Smoke Ring, the Beowulf Shaeffer stories, creator of the Puppeteers and Kzin, and some hard fantasy as well. Most of his works are in a vast loosley linked universe known as Known Space. He is incredibly good with alien viewpoints, and not so good on human perspectives. His works are clever, inventive, and very readable, with interesting cultures and solid worldbuilding. Gordon Dickson is very famous for the Dorsai series, which I never delved into. Phillip Jose Farmer can be very interesting, and can also be really ridiculous. Anne McCaffrey is famous for her Dragonriders SF (not fantasy!) series, some of which I have read. A solid author. Katherine Kerr is a fantasy author - worked on some D&D stuff, but I've never read anything by her.

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    I did read Ringworld once, but other that that am not wise to Niven. Was The Mote in Gods Eye a Niven and Pournell collab?

    Anne McCaffrey’s Deagonriders are famous, and we’re pretty big back in the early 80s, but I never read them. Same with Katherine Kerr’s Deryni series, beginning with Camber of Culdi. I actually owned these once - two trilogies - but never read them. My brother did and liked them.

    Dickson… I read one of his books - Jamie the Red? A fantasy- thieves world spinoff? But otherwise know next to nothing about him. More famous for his SF I think.

    Chalker… another person whose work was all over the shelves in the 80s but I never read. Was it ‘The Well of the World’ series?

    Farmer and Douglas I know next to nothing about.
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    edited October 24

    @Apocryphal said:
    I did read Ringworld once, but other that that am not wise to Niven. Was The Mote in Gods Eye a Niven and Pournell collab?

    Yes. They also did the sequel The Gripping Hand, Footfall, Lucifer's Hammer, Inferno and many many others together. Pournelle is much better with human beings, so they split the work accordingly and made some great SF!

    Anne McCaffrey’s Deagonriders are famous, and we’re pretty big back in the early 80s, but I never read them. Same with Katherine Kerr’s Deryni series, beginning with Camber of Culdi. I actually owned these once - two trilogies - but never read them. My brother did and liked them.

    Oh! Kerr did the Deryni series? My elder brother loved them, and I read them a very long time ago, but I don't remember much of them.

    Dickson… I read one of his books - Jamie the Red? A fantasy- thieves world spinoff? But otherwise know next to nothing about him. More famous for his SF I think.

    Yes - definitely! For some reason I never really got into anything he did. I have no idea why!

    Chalker… another person whose work was all over the shelves in the 80s but I never read. Was it ‘The Well of the World’ series?

    Yes! I meant to mention him, but somehow skipped him! I liked that series, but I'm not sure quite why now. My tastes have changed greatly. I think I set him aside to think about and try to remember, and utterly forgot I had set him aside!

    Farmer and Douglas I know next to nothing about.

    I have read a lot of PJF - and my opinion of his work is complex. Farmer is a satirical writer , and never took anything as seriously as I would like. He loved pulp, and would often use characters from old fiction like Phileas Fogg from Around the World in Eighty Days or Doc Savage - even Ishmael from THE BOOK WHICH SHALL NOT BE NAMED. He pioneered the use of sex in SF, to the point where I thought it harmed some otherwise good work, and sometimes was utterly tiresome trash. His best work I thought was the Riverboat series. That was fascinating and imaginative. The main character was Mark Twain, but had many other characters from history, like Burton. Farmer won three Hugos, and was a Grandmaster, and though three Hugos doesn't guarantee any level of quality. He often did author insertion characters using his initials PJF. My opinon? At his best he was one of the greats, and at his worst he made me angry I bought something because his name was on it.

    I wouldn't know Douglas from a hat rack.

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    Call me out of line, but I'd be up for reading The Adjacent together when we've done The Gradual (but maybe as a group we've had enough of CP just now).

    I reread some Anne McCaffrey recently and was mildly disappointed compared to my reaction several decades ago (!). I didn't find the stories weren't as vivid and compelling as they had become in my memory, and the editorial work in terms of typos and the like was truly shoddy. She also did a few books based in her The Ship who Sang universe, about people who had chosen for one reason or another to have their minds embedded in spaceships - I remember also liking these, but haven't tried revisiting them.

    I loved the Dorsai trilogy when I first encountered it, but haven't gone back to it ever. Niven was fun though as @clash_bowley says his human figures are a bit pale. Never read much Farmer. Nor Douglas.

    Piers Anthony was someone from that same era - I still like Macrosope but tried some of his others and found them hugely dated and creaking.

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    I mostly know Anthony from the Xanth series, which I enjoyed as a young teen. Not sure I still would.

    I’d happily read The Adjacent with you as a side project if you like. Not sure the others would be interested at this point.
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    Here are a few more books I picked up this year.

    The four on the left came from Little Free Libraries. The Farley Mowat book, No Man's River, is a sort of companion to his famous (and infamous, because it's the book the earned the author a reputation for not letting facts get in the way of truth) boom The People of the Deer. It was written late in his life and tells the story of the travels that led him to write People of the Deer. I have both books, but have read neither - GoodReads reviewers suggest I should read No Man's River first, then People, so I suppose that's what I'll do.

    The Tim Severin book, The Ulysses Voyage, looks like good fun - a modern travelogue following a mythical one in picture book format. It's pretty well reviewed, too, so that's a nice find for me.

    The other two - Direct Descent by Herbert and The Gods Themselves by Asimov are both books I haven't read before. Turns out I already had a copy of The Gods in the form of a Gollancz SF Masterworks series book with an intro, so I'll keep that one and pop this one back into a Little Free Library next time I see a book I'd like to take.

    ...

    To the right of these are 3 books I picked up in a fine independent bookstore in Halifax called Bookmark, on Spring Garden Road. Apparently they also have a location in Charlottetown, P.E.I., so noted for future reference.

    One of these books is Out of the Ruins, an anthology of Post Apocalyptic short stories. I already have some good collections like this (Wastelands by John Joseph Adams being the best) but this is a collection of works by mostly newer authors and seems to have no overlap with the other. Featured in here are Nina Allan, Charlie Jane Anders, Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, Samuel Delany, Paul Di Filippo, Ron Drummond, Rumi Kaneko, Chris Kelso, Preston Grassmann, Carmen Maria Machado, Nick Mamatas, China Mieville, Nikhill Singh, John Skipp, Autumn Christian, Emily St. John Mandel, D.R.G. Sugawara, Anna Tambour, Jeffrey Thomas, Lavie Tidhar, and Kaaron Warren.

    The Municipalists, by Seth Fried, is an SF novel in which a pair of outsiders - a neurotic, anal-retentive bureaucrat and an irreverent, freewheeling A.I., try to save the Great American City of Metropolis from a mysterious terrorist threat. The back cover says "A tour de force of imagination that trenchantly explores the modern American city and questions the role of artificial intelligence in our human future". They had me at 'trenchant'!

    Last of this trio is From the Wreck by Jane Rawson. From the back cover:
    When, in 1859, George Hills is pulled from the wreck of the steamship Admella, he carries with him the uneasy memory of a fellow survivor. Someone else - or something else - kept him warm as he lay dying, half-submerged in the freezing Southern Ocean, kept him bound to all life.

    As George adapts to his life back on land, he can't quite escape the feeling that he wasn't alone when he emerged from the ocean that day, and a familiar presence has been watching him ever since. What the creature might want from him - his life? His first-born? Simply to return home? - will pursue him, and call him back to the water where it all began.

    'The strange story of love and loneliness, which explores how we all long to belong, is simply wonderful.' - Daily Mail

    ...

    Finally, two books by Gene Wolfe, The Knight and The Wizard, that I picked up used on Amazon after reading about them. Described as a novel in two volumes about a teenager transported to a magical realm (not my favourite meme, I have to say!). It's a quest and coming of age story. I mean, based on the cover blurb alone I wouldn't have bought this, but it's Gene Wolfe, so I wanted it!

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    I enjoyed The Gods Themselves many years ago (again, I haven't revisited it) and it has the distinction of being pretty much the only Asimov story where aliens are a central part - to be strictly fair, they appear briefly by mention in The End of Eternity but only in some vastly future upwhen scenario of intrinsically low probability. As I understand it, this lack of alien life was caused by a difference of opinion between Asimov and John Campbell, and Asimov avoided the potential conflict by simply never writing about them.

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    @RichardAbbott said:
    I enjoyed The Gods Themselves many years ago (again, I haven't revisited it) and it has the distinction of being pretty much the only Asimov story where aliens are a central part - to be strictly fair, they appear briefly by mention in The End of Eternity but only in some vastly future upwhen scenario of intrinsically low probability. As I understand it, this lack of alien life was caused by a difference of opinion between Asimov and John Campbell, and Asimov avoided the potential conflict by simply never writing about them.

    Nightfall was aliens as well.

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    @clash_bowley said:

    @RichardAbbott said:
    I enjoyed The Gods Themselves many years ago (again, I haven't revisited it) and it has the distinction of being pretty much the only Asimov story where aliens are a central part - to be strictly fair, they appear briefly by mention in The End of Eternity but only in some vastly future upwhen scenario of intrinsically low probability. As I understand it, this lack of alien life was caused by a difference of opinion between Asimov and John Campbell, and Asimov avoided the potential conflict by simply never writing about them.

    Nightfall was aliens as well.

    I had completely forgotten Nightfall :)

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    @RichardAbbott said:
    Piers Anthony was someone from that same era - I still like Macrosope but tried some of his others and found them hugely dated and creaking.

    I read a bunch of Anthony’s Xanth novels in the early 80s, until I became dead to puns. I liked his Blue Adept series quite a bit more and really liked his Incarnations of Immortality series.

    A couple of years ago I reread the first Xanth novel, A Spell for Chamelon, and was shocked at how misogynistic it is, something that was not on my radar screen in my late teens and early twenties. A few months ago I read a short story if his from 1974, “Black Baby,” which was quite racist and included pedophilia as a comedic plot point. I was not amused.

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    It's an interesting and often disturbing exercise, rereading something you liked years ago. A few books really survive the passage of personal time but many don't - I can't ever decide if that's changes in me, changes in social assumptions and acceptability, or changes in the overall "environment" of books in general. Probably a mix of all three, I guess.

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