And in case you were wondering, where the new books were, here you have them:
Remember how on my recap of 2013 I mentioned that I had one book being revised? Well, that one is the third book of the Citlalli series and, if everything goes according to plan, it should be out in the last week of July/first week of August!
I have to say that the fact that it is in a readable form and with a possible release data clearly established is a relief because that is one that did give me quite a bit of trouble. In fact it is nowhere near what I thought it would be when I first started toying with the idea a few eons ago!
Oh, and i case you were wondering, chances are that Citlalli is going to be a tetralogy… or maybe it would be more accurate to describe is as a trilogy with a twist.
I’m currently working on the first readable draft of book three of Citlalli, and I have come up against three stubborn chapters. I knew this was coming, of course (after all, it’s not like they were all that agreeable the first time around), and I also know why it is that they are giving me so much trouble (in fact I freely admit that I brought this on myself), but that doesn’t mean that dealing with stubborn chapters that refuse to be written is one of the most annoying aspects of this whole writing thing. Still, we have to come to an understanding somehow…
As you can probably tell, I’m finally done with the covers!
And almost a month later I am still going over Baum’s Oz books, though I am nearing the end of the line (I am currently reading The Magic of Oz, meaning that I have only Glinda of Oz left to go). One of the things I’ve noticed in these last few books however, is that while there is no getting around the fact that the books remain children’s books, the tone seems to have grown a little more serious, and the plots a little more complex. This was particularly apparent in The Tin Woodman of Oz… and that is particularly interesting because it is the first one in which in the preface the author acknowledges the existence of adult readers. In a way I guess it was only natural, after all the guy had been releasing Oz books for eighteen years by then, and that meant that a whole generation of adults that had grown up reading these stories, plus some grandparents who may have come across these books while reading them to a child only to find something in them that resonated within them.
Anyway, even though reading this book can leave you feeling a little lost at first if you haven’t read all of the previous entries in the series, a quick trip to Wikipedia will probably enable you to work around that one, and if you like children’s classics this book is a nice way to spend one afternoon.
Today I all but finished the second book in the Citlalli series… or at least I think I did. I will go over it once more in a month or two, but so far it looks like I’m on track to release that one by the end of May or the beginning of June. Now on to book three!
After thinking it over for a while I decided to tackle the Oz books. Like a lot of people I grew up being familiar with The Wizard of Oz, only when I read it a few days ago I realized that the version I had read as a child was an adaptation (apparently someone had decided that the book had to be dumbed down even further, and as a child I was unaware of that fact). In addition to that my memories of the book had somehow managed to get tangled with those of the movie, and the end result was that all of a sudden I found myself being confronted with a book that was not like I had been expecting it to be. No, it’s not great, but it is still an interesting read, and I realize that complaining that a children’s book comes across as being a little childish for my liking is more than a little silly.
Anyway, once I was done with The Wizard of Oz I moved on to the rest of the series. So far I have only read a few titles (most of them can be downloaded from Project Gutenberg), and while at times I find myself itching for something that is at least a little more challenging, coming in the aftermath of my rereading the whole Discworld series, these books make for an interesting precedent. Sure, there are a number of significant differences, and I can already hear the howls from the Discworld fans at the mere thought of this comparison, but in a way it is not that much of a stretch to see the Oz books as the grandparents of both the Discworld and even the Middle-earth (and yes, like all grandparents, this one too can come across as a little embarrassing at times). The imagination is there, and I can see a lot of potential, but in a way that is what makes these books so frustrating: yes, the pieces are there, now if only the author would do something with them.
Well, like I said, grandparents can and do come across as rather old-fashioned at times, so I guess that is to be expected… and the bottom line is that, as embarrassing as the can be, there is no denying that knowing our grandparents can help us understand who we are and where we come from. No, I’m not sure these books would be appealing to children who are old enough to read them nowadays, and for adults they are mostly a curiosity, but if you are into the history of fantasy and children’s lit, these books are definitely worth it (and from what I have seen so far I suspect that The Wizard of Oz is not the best one of the lot).
Okay, now that I’m done rereading the Discworld series the thing that jumps at me is the fact that even though this is supposed to be a single series with a number of different protagonists, in a very real sense it could be said that these are two series that take place in what is nominally a single universe, and I don’t mean just because of the different protagonists.
Sure, we have the wizards, the witches (including Tiffany Aching), DEATH, the City Watch and the Moist von Lipwig books, plus a number of stand-alones, and in a way the presence of these different protagonists serves to mask the fact that there is a far more significant division: On the one hand we have the wizards, the witches and to a certain extent DEATH, while on the other we have the City Watch, the Moist von Lipwig books and some of the stand-alones (such as The Truth). Books on the first group deal mostly with the Discworld as such, while those in the second are focused primarily on the societies that inhabit that world (especially Ankh-Morpork), and in quite a few instances the nature of the world doesn’t even rank as a footnote.
Oh, the distinction is never all that rigid. The wizards are an integral part of Ankh-Morpork society, the Librarian is a member of the City Watch, and one of the many parodies of modernity is HEX, but over all I still feel that that distinction holds. Still, in the end I have to say that one of the things I enjoyed the most about the series as a whole was the way in which the author was able to handle the fact that he had basically outgrown his original premise.
These are books that are well worth rereading, though like all books they both lose and gain in the process… though in this case I have to say that the gains were more significant than the losses.
And I just finished reading Snuff. That means that in a couple of days you are probably going to get stuck with a final entry into The Flatland Chronicles. Over all I have to say that rereading the Discworld books was well worth it, as it allowed me to see some things I had missed the first time around and it provided me with a different perspective. Unfortunately it also had a bit of a downside, though I realize that saying that as I went over them again the books feel somewhat predictable would be silly.
I am currently reading Making Money, and I have come to realize two things. The first is that I love the Moist von Lipwig books (maybe because there are only a two of them), the second is that there is a book that is missing in the Discworld series, one that chances are will never be written but that I would most definitely love to see, and that is one around the character of Harry King!
Okay, I am in the last few books of the Discworld series, in fact I just finished Thud! Over all I love the City Watch (it is one of my favorite series), but in this particular case I felt that the book was a little too Sam-centric for comfort. Yes, Vimes is the heart of the watch, and to add an additional subplot would have added a needless layer on top of what is already a pretty complex structure, but at the same time, given the subject matter and the relevance of dwarf culture and history in this one I would have liked to see a little more of Carrot (and maybe even Cheery) in this one.
I know that doing something like that would have been a fundamental change, and seeing how I like the book, it might well have ended up doing more harm than good (we’ll never know), but it is something that nagged me a bit throughout (as to the question of what could have been cut to make room for such a change, I think a little less time might have been spent in the Nobby Nobbs subplot, and that one of the readings of Where Is My Cow? might have been trimmed a little without inflicting any serious damage).
Oh well, it is still a great read, and seeing it in contrast to the way in which the Discworld as a whole was depicted some thirty books ago is definitely worth it.
Okay, so I haven’t posted an update on what I’m reading for what feels like ages. I’m still going over the Discworld series (and I’m still enjoying it). I am currently up to Going Postal, that would be book 33 out of 39 for those who are not particularly familiar with that universe. I think chances are that I will finish with the series before the year is out, though I will probably reread Nation and The Nomes Trilogy after that, so I may be in Pratchett mode until January.
Lately I’ve been going over some of my earlier posts about the books I am reading and I have come to realize that at times I come across as more than a little arrogant. Yes, the whole point of the exercise is supposed to be to explain what I like and what I don’t like about each of these books, how I see them and so on, but at the same time I am all too aware of what goes into writing a book and I am afraid that there may be some instances in which I wind up sounding both hypercritical and disrespectful. After all, one of the things all the authors I write about have in common is that they have done a lot better than I have… not to mention that all the books I write about are books that have moved me in one way or another (okay, I admit that there are a couple of them, such as Crash and The Land of Mist, that moved me in the sense that they really, really annoyed me, but those are the exception rather than the rule, and at least when it comes to Crash I freely admit that a good chunk of my problem with that one has to do with my personal preferences rather than with the book itself).
Anyway, I suspect that part of the problem is that most of the books that make it to my blog are not the ones that take my breath away and leave me saying ‘flawless’ (unfortunately there’s very little one can say after that unless one wants to tack a rather boring list of superlatives after that), but rather those that leave me saying ‘I love it but…’ and to make matters worse an inordinate amount of attention tends to be lavished on that ‘but’, so today I’m going to be doing something completely different, I am going to be sharing a list of a few of those books that left me saying ‘flawless’, keep in mind that this list is not extensive and the books are featured in no particular order. Continue reading Flawless
Okay, this one is about my own books. I know I rarely talk about my own projects here, but today I decided to make an exception. Right now I am working on the second book in the Citlalli universe and as I try to keep things coherent I am developing a far more intimate understanding of the advantages and the challenges posed by working within the context of what is basically a known universe. The biggest advantage is that, with a couple of exceptions, I don’t really have to worry about getting to know the characters anymore. That was one that gave me some trouble in the first one, as it took us a while to get comfortable with each other, but at the same time now I live in constant fear of contradicting myself, or of realizing that something I mentioned in book one has effectively caused me to paint myself into a corner in one of the sequels. I mean, when I write a stand-alone story I can always go back and make whatever changes I deem necessary to make sure that the whole thing works out in the end, but with a series the first book is already out there –firmly set on bytes and paper– and while I think book two is coming along nicely… well, there are still books three and four for me to consider. Continue reading To be continued…
Okay, unless something jumps at me in the near future this is probably going to be the last entry into the Flatland Chronicles for a while. Yes, I intend to keep on reading these books, in fact I will probably reread all 39 volumes in the Discworld series, but what I wanted to address when I set out to write these posts was the genesis of that universe as seen with a bit of hindsight, and by now at least two of the three main story lines are firmly established. The wizards are pretty much fully formed and the same goes for the witches. The watch is still a bit embryonary, I’ll give you that, and neither Tiffany Aching nor Moist von Lipwig have made an appearance yet, and neither has Susan Sto Helit for that matter, but then again those three are not as critical as the others to the Discworld universe as a whole. In other words the basic framework is clearly in place… so now I would like to turn my attention to those stories that don’t quite fit. By that I mean the stand-alones, the misfits. Continue reading I stand alone (The Flatland Chronicles, part 4)