Monday 31 July 2000
§ New York Times Book Review July 30, 2000
Gerald Jonas's SF column covers Brian Stableford's The Fountains of Youth (Tor), Sheree R. Thomas's anthology Dark Matter (Warner Aspect), and Robert Reed's Marrow (Tor). On Stableford:
This is cerebral science fiction of a high order, dry to a fault but with ample rewards for readers willing to stay the course.
This is not a book for readers who like their loose ends neatly tied and their puzzles solved. Reed's narrative strategy is more like peeling an onion: beneath each hard-won resolution lies layer upon layer of new mystery. You may not know where you are going, or even where you are when you arrive, but it's an exhilarating ride, in the hands of an author whose aspiration literally knows no bounds.
Also in this week's Book Review: André Alexis reviews Michel Faber's Under the Skin (Harcourt).
...by the end, you may be genuinely surprised at the journey you've taken: from a small, gray world to the heights of speculative fiction.
§ Washington Post Book World July 30, 2000
John Clute reviews John Crowley's Daemonomania (Bantam), the third book in the sequence that began with Aegypt (1987) and Love & Sleep (1994), and has one more volume yet to come.
Elizabeth Hand reviews Peter Straub's Magic Terror: Seven Tales (Random House) -- ''the best collection of suspense and horror fiction in many years'' -- and Bill Sheehan's At the Foot of the Story Tree: An Inquiry into the Fiction of Peter Straub (Subterranean Press).
And Gregory Feeley's SF column covers Dark Matter and Nalo Hopkinson's Midnight Robber (Warner Aspect)
Midnight Robber is a stronger novel than Brown Girl in the Ring, but the two stories in Dark Matter are stronger still. This may suggest that Hopkinson is better at short forms than at novels. But it also suggests that she is still growing as a writer, one whose next work will be worth looking for.
Saturday 29 July 2000
The New Yorker July 31, 2000
A four-page essay by Joan Acocella [not online] explores the Harry Potter phenomenon. She describes standing in line at Books of Wonder on West 18th St., to buy the latest book at 1:45 a.m.:
After all that, I would love to tell you that the book is a big nothing. In fact, it's wonderful, just like its predecessors.
She goes on to discuss the books' surprise endings (as a fault), their wealth of imagination, their philosophical seriousness.
Entertainment Weekly August 4, 2000
An interview with J.K. Rowling (page 44; not online) mentions the changing titles: first it was Harry Potter and the Doomspell Tournament; then Harry Potter and the Triwizard Tournament; finally
In the end, I preferred Goblet of Fire because it's got that kind of ''cup of destiny'' feel about it, which is the theme of the book.
But are you baking your political beliefs into these books, or are we just reading stuff into them? There is a certain amount of political stuff in there. But I also feel that every reader will bring his own agenda to the book. People who send their children to boarding schools seem to feel that I'm on their side. I'm not. Practicing wiccans think I'm also a witch. I'm not.
Publishers Weekly, July 24, notes (page 95) the imminent publication of School of Wizardry by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald, the first of six-book series Circle of Magic, with a ''suspiciously familiar premise'' (see the cover on Amazon).
The Onion confirms it: Harry Potter Books Spark Rise In Satanism Among Children. Note the Rowling quote at the end.
Tuesday 25 July 2000
Fans are abuzz about a possible discrepancy -- goof or subtle scheme? -- in the ending of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (spoiler warning!).
Meanwhile, here's an article on the varieties of conservative criticism of the Harry Potter books:
And if you're tired of the Harry Potter hype and are sure the books are overrated, here's Harold Bloom's now infamous critique: ''Can 35 million book buyers be wrong? Yes''.
Monday 24 July 2000
§ New York Times Book Review July 23, 2000
Stephen King reviews Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
§ Washington Post July 23, 2000
Kit Reed reviews Molly Gloss's Wild Life (Simon & Schuster). (Also: a review of a non-genre book by Tananarive Due.)
§ USA Today July 23, 2000
A review by Michael Jacobs of Peter Straub's Magic Terror (Random House).
Monday 17 July 2000
§ San Francisco Chronicle July 16, 2000
Michael Berry's occasional SF column focuses on four ''parallel worlds'': in Terry Pratchett's The Fifth Elephant (HarperCollins), Jan Siegel's Prospero's Children (Del Rey), Brenda Clough's Doors of Death and Life (Tor), and Kathleen Ann Goonan's Crescent City Rhapsody (Eos)
§ Publishers Weekly July 10, 2000
The magazine's interview with Molly Gloss is online.
The website has recently run profiles of Jorge Luis Borges and Robert E. Howard.
Tuesday 11 July 2000
Considering that journalists, almost as much as they like hype, like raining on a hype parade, the reviews of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine) are remarkably positive. A sampling:
The New York Times review by Janet Maslin:
As the midpoint in a projected seven-book series, "Goblet of Fire" is exactly the big, clever, vibrant, tremendously assured installment that gives shape and direction to the whole undertaking and still somehow preserves the material's enchanting innocence. This time Ms. Rowling offers her clearest proof yet of what should have been wonderfully obvious: what makes the Potter books so popular is the radically simple fact that they're so good.
Boston Herald's review via BookWire
Could the author of the fantastically popular series singlehandedly conquer the dark forces of hype? The answer is a resounding 'Yes!'
Slate offers this Summary Judgment, and begins a Book Club exchange between Jodi Kantor and Judith Shulevitz about the book.
CNN offers an analysis by Michelle H. Martin, Ph.D., on why these books, now.
One dissenter: USA Today's review
calls the new book 'mediocre'.
Publishers Weekly's starred review, to appear in the July 17 issue:
...it would seem too much to hope that Rowling could sustain the brilliance and wit of her first three novels. Astonishingly, Rowling seems to have the spell-casting powers she assigns her characters: this fourth volume might be her most thrilling yet.
And Salon's review by Charles Taylor:
...we are dealing here with one of the pinnacles of children's literature. ... The present explosion is the beginning of something that's going to become a lasting part of culture. Harry is going to be one of those characters who, like Sherlock Holmes or Tarzan or Oliver Twist, stands for something even in the minds of people who have never read one of his adventures.