Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Review - ODY-C, Volume 1: Off to Far Ithicaa by Matt Fraction and Christian Ward


Short review: The war against Troiia is over, and now Odyssia must make the long journey home to Ithicaa in the star ship ODY-C, braving dangers along the way as the Olympian gods work both to help and hinder her.

Haiku
After the long war
Intrigues of gods and women
Comes the long journey

Full review: The various blurbs on the cover of ODY-C: Off to Far Ithicaa describe it as a gender-bent version of The Odyssey told as a psychedelic space opera. That is all true, and yet that description seems to suggest that the book is somewhat less than it actually is. It is gender-bent, at least to the extent that all of the characters are female, or at least non-male, but the change isn't merely a shift to have a twist, but rather an integral element of the story. The story is a space opera, and in some ways it is almost a transhuman space opera, but it doesn't seem to really be psychedelic other than in the art style. But what sets ODY-C apart from the norm is that it isn't so much a retelling of The Odyssey as it is an almost entirely new edifice built using the previous work as a foundation.

The story of ODY-C follows The Odyssey in broad strokes. The central character is Odyssia, one of the victorious captains in the lengthy war against Troiia, who begins the book due to set out for her home in distant Ithicaa to return to her family in the star ship ODY-C. Her journey is aided by some of the Olympian gods, and hindered by others, leading to a series of adventures starting with Lotusworld, then the Cyclops, and finally Aeolus, covering the early portions of the original epic poem. Intermixed among these adventures are the maneuverings of the various Olympian gods as they weave intrigues against one another that affect the crew of ODY-C both to advance their personal agendas and also to serve as entertainment. But the story follows Homer's version only in a very loose sense, with the specifics having been changed and many of those details that did migrate from the original to this version taking on an entirely different significance than they previously had.

Given that this is a retelling of Homer's epic poem, it is probably quite helpful for the reader to have some familiarity with The Odyssey, at the very least so as to be able to see the references to the original, and appreciate how the various elements have been changed. One important note is that the format of the story is not the usual for most graphic novels, with speech bubbles and individual dialogue. Instead, the story is presented as an illustrated epic poem, with the text presented with the appropriate formality, complete with numbered stanzas. This means of formatting the story serves to give it a legendary, almost mythic, feel, but it also serves to make the story seem distant and alien at times. It is also an unusual means of telling a story, and if one is not prepared for a story told in this manner, it could possibly be off-putting, as it presents the characters and plot using rhythms that are not commonly used in most modern fiction.

While the reversed genders of many of the major characters from The Odyssey is the most apparent change on the surface, the alterations run much deeper, and in much more interesting ways. Early in the book the reader is briefly introduced to He, the reason that Odyssia and the rest of the Achaea laid siege to Troiia, described as a once proud man brought low to serve as a pet for Ene. The lack of male characters is explained in the text as being the result of a decree by Zeus who feared that she would be supplanted by one of her children. To prevent this, Zeus destroyed all (or at least almost all) men, and declared that no woman could bear any new ones. In this light, the war over He, apparently one of the very few men left alive, takes on larger significance, as does the existence of Telem, Odyssia's long-neglected son left behind in Ithicaa.

Against this backdrop, casting Promethene as a genetic engineer inspired by the Lotus plant to develop the sebex, a new gender capable of pulling an ovum from a woman and carrying it to term, birthing either a woman or a sebex. Thus Zeus' decree is followed to the letter, but violated in spirit, allowing for the creation of new generations of children, much to Zeus' dismay. In this vision, Promethene doesn't bring fire to humankind, but rather the ability to reproduce after Zeus tried to take it from them, a subtle but significant change to the original myth. Aeolus also sees change in this version of the story, taking the form of an engineer who specializes in star ship engines, but also turning out to be a man obsessed with breeding a male heir, and served by his multitudinous female progeny. This reveals one of the somewhat hidden costs of Zeus' elimination of men: In addition to the lack of male children, those women whose tastes don't incline towards other women, or even to sebex, are denied intimate affection. In a violent world, Zeus' actions seem to have had the effect of making things more violent and unstable, paradoxically rendering her more vulnerable.

Oddly, despite it being the most famous section of the story, Odyssia's encounter with the Cyclops is probably the least interesting passage in the book. Perhaps because of the familiarity with it, the story of how Odyssia is trapped by the Cyclops and then blinds the creature before escaping with the remnants of her crew is simply not particularly compelling, despite the grotesque depiction of the monster, and the harsh and bloody portrayal of the conflict. The only truly interesting thing about this encounter is the switch from the original story: Where Odysseus fooled the cylops Polyphemus by telling it that his name was "Noman", in this version Odyssia informs the creature that her name is "All-Men", presaging her taking symbolic retribution against the gods by blinding Poseidon's descendant. For all of the cruelty displayed by the cyuclops, the impact just isn't as great as that provided by the harshness displayed by Odyssia herself in other sections, such as when dealing with the wayward crew woman Xylot, or the desperate sebex Ero. Dismembering and eating women in blood-soaked scene of cannibalistic mayhem is shocking, but not as emotionally hard-hitting as passing grim and unyielding judgment upon one's closest companions.

The violence depicted in the graphic novel is not limited to the story line with the cyclops. The level of death and dismemberment presented by the artwork is appropriate to the Homeric source material, which is to say that the violence is pervasive, brutal, and often gory. Even something as distant from warfare as the scene involving the birth of Apollo results in a bloody mass of viscera spread across the panel. As one might guess, this is not a graphic novel aimed at children, or possibly even younger teens. In addition to the unwavering gaze directed at the ruthless savagery of the gods and heroes, there is a fair amount of sex and nudity as well. Although this element is is not depicted nearly as graphically as some of the violence, it is not particularly subtle either. Despite, or possibly because of, the gore and nudity, this is a beautifully illustrated book, with at times surrealistic depictions of its fictional world rendered in bold, bright colors.

ODY-C: Off to Far Ithicaa is a beautiful and disturbing work. This is not so much a retelling of The Odyssey as it is a recasting of it, using the framework provided by the previous work to tell a story that contains a collection of characters and scenes that will be familiar to those who have read the original, but using them in ways to tell a tale that is thematically very different. Although much attention has been paid to the gender-bending nature of the story, it isn't so much that gender has been bent, but that the entire narrative has been bent to make an entirely new story that is at once reminiscent of the original, and yet a new creation as well. ODY-C is, in the end, a lushly illustrated epic poem full of bravery, cruelty, love, lust, intrigue, vengeance, and beauty.

Potential 2016 Hugo Nominees

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Monday, December 28, 2015

Musical Monday - Overrated New Year by Sarah Donner


New Year's is something of an anticlimactic holiday. When you are a kid, it seems mysterious and alluring: Something enigmatic and enticing that only the adults can partake in after you go to bed. When you get a bit older, your parents allow you to stay up until midnight, which seems like a real treat at the time, since midnight is well past your normal bedtime. And, of course, when you are allowed to join the secret society of grown-ups who can celebrate the New Year. Maybe your parents even let you have a little bit of champagne to toast with when the clock finishes counting down. It tastes terrible, but you don't tell your parents that, and the whole experience almost feels like you are getting away with something, even though your parents are willing collaborators.

But in the end, the New Year's celebration is something of a let down. All it really is is staying up late and watching a ball drop on television. Even when one gets older and can join in the more adult form of celebration for the evening, it always seems like a kind of desperate attempt at merriment. There is a nod given to new beginnings with the whole concept of "New Year's resolutions", but those are so often ignored that they have become a punchline. it feels, in many ways, like the pitiful last gasp of the holiday season as everyone tries to bleed out just one more bit of revelry before the cold, gray bucket of dreariness that is the rest of winter.

In a sense, New Year's is almost an afterthought to the holiday season. Thanksgiving more or less marks the start of the annual descent into holiday insanity, even though it is in danger of being swallowed by Christmas. The "Black Friday" frenzy that follows has loomed every larger with each passing year, and begins even earlier. Christmas has become an enormous monster that consumes an every increasing number of weeks that precede it. But in the case of Thanksgiving and Christmas there are familiar traditions and patterns that define them. New Year's feels almost like forced fun, a celebration that is required rather than desired. There is no real content to the observance, even the old ritual of watching Dick Clark introduce music acts on television has given way to a soulless corporate extravaganza that feels empty and hollow. "Overrated" seems like the exact right word for it, but maybe a sad and over-hyped event is what is needed at the end of the year.

Previous Musical Monday: Things to Believe In by Sarah Donner
Subsequent Musical Monday: Thanksgiving by Paul & Storm

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Book Blogger Hop December 25th - December 31st: The EZ 135 Drive Was a 3.5" Removable Hard Disk Drive Produced by SyQuest Technology Starting in 1995

Book Blogger Hop

Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: What is your preferred format for reviews? Do you tell the story or do you focus on characters and the reason someone would like the review?

My goal with reviews is to convey to the reader what I thought about the work in question. As I have noted before, every reviewer has their own subjective biases which they cannot escape. The key when reading a review is to find a reviewer who generally shares your own subjective taste, and read what they have written. To that end, when I write a review, I don't just want to tell the reader what I thought about a particular work, I want to tell them why. When I review something I include enough about the characters and the story in order to give the reader the ability to understand what I'm saying, but I try not to explain the story more than I have to in order to support my opinion. It is a fine balance to strike - giving enough information about a story to adequately review it without giving away too much - and I'm sure that I've missed the mark on more than one occasion, but I still keep trying, every time I sit down to write a new review.

As to the specific elements of a work that I focus on, that depends entirely on the work itself. Sometimes I like or dislike a work because of how the characters are drawn. For other works, it is the quality of the plot that sticks out. In others, it is some other element of the story that is notable in one way or another. Each book, movie, or television episode strikes me as good or bad mostly in its own way, and so what I choose to highlight in one review or another is almost always going to be idiosyncratic to my tastes, and unique to the work in question.


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Friday, December 25, 2015

Follow Friday - "241" Is Reel Big Fish Song That Has the Words 241 as Its Only Lyric


It's Friday again, and this means it's time for Follow Friday. There has been a slight change to the format, as now there are two Follow Friday hosts blogs and two Follow Friday Features Bloggers each week. To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow both of the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read) and any one else you want to follow on the list.
  2. Follow the two Featured Bloggers of the week - Inked Brownies and A Night's Dream of Books.
  3. Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
  5. Follow, follow, follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "Hi".
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the love . . . and the followers.
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday Hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
And now for the Follow Friday Question: What was the best Christmas (or other holiday) gift you ever received?

When I was six, there wasn't anything in the world I wanted more than a bicycle. My parents were struggling financially, as my father was still in graduate school, but when I came downstairs Christmas morning there was a red bicycle waiting for me beside the tree. It was just a basic little single speed bicycle with solid wheels and pedal brakes, but it was the most glorious thing I had ever seen. Years later I learned that my father had salvaged the bicycle a couple of months earlier, and spent many hours over the next several weeks restoring and repainting it for me, which only made the the memories of the gift even better.


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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Review - White Christmas


Short review: A series of conniving schemes culminate in a reunion of Army buddies as a gift to an aging retired General and two romantic couples pairing off.

Haiku
Wallace and Davis
Meet, romance the Haynes sisters
Army reunion!

Full review: White Christmas is a movie musical built around an Oscar-winning song from an entirely different musical. In 1942, Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire starred alongside Virginia Dale in Holiday Inn, a movie about a retired stage performer who runs a specialty inn in Connecticut that is only open on holidays, complete with themed entertainment for the guests who show up on those particular dates. White Christmas was among the songs included in Holiday Inn, and twelve years later someone decided it would be a great idea to make another movie, this time centered entirely around that song.

The original idea behind the White Christmas movie was to reunite Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, as it was a fairly common practice to pair up a singing lead like Crosby with a dancing lead like Astaire, sometimes even throwing in a comedic lead such as was done in On the Town where singer Frank Sinatra, dancer Gene Kelly, and comic actor Jules Munshin held the lead roles. Unfortunately, Astaire declined to be in the movie after reading the script. Looking for a capable actor to place opposite Crosby, the studio hired Donald O'Connor to take the place declined by Astaire. When Donald O'Connor had to drop out due to illness, Danny Kaye was recruited at the last minute to take over the part. One has to imagine that the movie would have been quite different with Astaire in the dancing lead role, and a number of staging decisions seem to have been made with Donald O'Connor in mind, as he was not quite as accomplished as a dancer when compared to Astaire, and may have not been as good as Danny Kaye.

The first time Bing sings
White Christmas in the movie
The plot of the movie consists of a collection of schemes, two whirlwind romances, and one giant coincidence. For the most part, the plot doesn't really matter a whole lot, as it mostly exists as a framework on which to hang Irving Berlin songs and associated dance numbers, some of which are only tangentially related to the story, while others are entirely unrelated to it in any way. The story opens during World War II, with Captain Bob Wallace (played by Crosby) and Private Phil Davis (played by Kaye) serving in the U.S. Army somewhere in Europe and putting on a Christmas show for the rest of their unit. In the mythic reality of the movie, Wallace is already a singing star of note, and Davis took the opportunity to organize a musical revue featuring the performer. The show, of course, involves Crosby singing White Christmas, so if that is all you are looking for in the movie, you can stop watching after the first ten minutes or so. There is a brief interlude while their unit's commanding officer General Waverly (Dean Jagger) gives a farewell speech as he is being replaced. Following Waverly's speech, the soldiers all start singing their farewell when the enemy decides this would be a capital time to start some shelling. Eventually the General makes his exit and the bombs begin falling in earnest, whereupon Davis saves Wallace from being crushed by a falling wall, suffering a minor arm injury in the process.

The Haynes Sisters floor show act.
This event sets up the first scheme in the series of schemes that makes up the bulk of the plot of the movie, when Davis uses his injury to guilt Wallace into taking him on as a partner once they return to civilian life. This partnership proves successful and a musical montage shows them appearing in bistros, on radio, and television. Eventually, the pair try their hand at producing and put on the hit musical Playing Around, which leads them to Florida. Davis tries to set Wallace up with one of the showgirls from their production, later explaining in their that he wants his partner to settle down and get married so they can take a break from working. The dressing room scene where the two discuss Wallace's non-extant love life highlights one of the signature elements of the movie as it features a collection of witty banter infused with the language of the 1950s jazz scene that Crosby was part of. A decent portion of the dialogue of the movie appears to have been improvised, mostly that delivered by Crosby, who, according to Rosemary Clooney, seems to have spoken in real life pretty much like his character does in this movie.

This is the one time Kaye gets a
big dance number as Vera-Ellen's
partner
At this point, the second scheme crops up when Wallace tells Davis that he received a letter from an old Army buddy who has asked them to see his sisters' cabaret act. The two sisters turn out to be Betty Haynes (Rosemary Clooney), providing the movie with a female singing lead, and Judy Haynes (Vera-Ellen), providing the movie with a female dancing lead. The letter that brought Wallace and Davis to see the sister act was actually written by Judy trading on her brother's name to lure the famous producers and potentially advance the girls' careers. This folds into yet another scheme: When the girls are performing their floor show act singing Sisters1, Davis notices that Wallace is smitten with Betty, and Davis immediately decides this is the woman he should get to marry his business partner. In a twist that can only happen in movies, it turns out that Judy is trying to get her sister married off as well, and she almost immediately becomes Davis' co-conspirator, which seems to be the seed from which the romance between Judy and Davis grows. Davis and Judy proceed to more or less dance into a love story in the number The Best Things Happen When You're Dancing, the only major dance routine where Kaye is partnered with Vera-Ellen. The two pairs of leads and their ensuing parallel romances is a change from Holiday Inn, where Crosby and Astaire competed for Dale's affections as part of a love triangle, with Crosby winning out in the end. One might suspect that this twinned set of romances was written into the script in order to entice Astaire to participate in the movie, as he had briefly retired from movie acting in the 1940s citing, among other things, his dislike of being cast in movies such as Blue Skies in which he lost the girl to Bing Crosby.

This is the funny version
A misunderstanding between the Haynes sisters and their landlord leads to the girls going on the run and Wallace and Davis filling in for them in a reprise of Sisters (although no one in the club's house band seems to think it odd that the Haynes sisters have a recording of the performance they had given mere minutes before). Following their collusion with the two girls, Wallace and Davis are soon on the run from the local law, and wind up on the same train as the Haynes sisters - who are now in possession of Wallace and Davis' tickets courtesy of some mildly deceptive generosity on the part of Davis. Having been told that the two women are headed to Pine Tree in Vermont for a job, Davis gets to scheming again and tries to convince Wallace to head to Vermont rather than New York, asserting that taking a break to play in the snow would do them some good. With no tickets, the two men have to buy new tickets and sit in the club car rather than rest comfortably in their arranged for sleeping quarters. Wallace is having none of Davis' "Vermont" talk until the Haynes sisters show up and Davis resorts to using his old injury to convince Wallace to divert their trip to the Green Mountain State. To celebrate the upcoming Vermont excursion, the four sing Snow as the train steams north. On another note, the scenes on the train are the only instances in which black actors show up in the story consisting of one porter handling luggage, and one bartender in the club car making drinks for the four leads.

Everyone singing about snow that won't
be there when they reach Vermont.
Once everyone reaches Vermont, they discover that there is no snow, a circumstance that serves to drive much of the rest of the plot of the movie. When they reach the Columbia Inn where the girls are booked, the one giant coincidence that drives pretty much everything else about the plot turns up: The inn is owned by none other than the retired General Waverly who is in danger of being driven into bankruptcy due to the lack of guests caused by the lack of snow. Given that the movie takes place over about a week and a half of time, one has to wonder how financially unstable Waverly is if he is threatened with bankruptcy as a result of this fairly brief interruption of business.  To save their former commanding officer from financial ruin, Wallace and Davis cook up yet another scheme, but this one is different from all of the others that have come before in that neither Wallace or Davis stand to gain any benefit if they are able to make it work. The pair round up as many of the cast members of Playing Around as can be found and move the entire production to the Columbia Inn in order to provide top flight floor show as a draw to bring guests despite the fact that there is no snow. One also wonders how the inn stays in business during the warm months of spring, summer, and fall if no one ever comes to stay there when there is no snow.

At least they aren't in blackface
Using a show within the movie allows for several musical numbers that essentially have nothing to do with the plot: The Minstrel Number and Mandy, Choreography, and a dance routine to an instrumental version of Abraham, the full version of the last song having appeared in Holiday Inn, and in the intervening years having become too embarrassing to use2. The interesting thing with most of these numbers is that Vera-Ellen is paired up with John Brascia rather than Danny Kaye in her dance routines. I suspect that the dance routines were originally choreographed for Astaire, and then when O'Connor took over the role, someone at the studio decided that he was not a strong enough dancer to be paired with Vera-Ellen and the routines were rehearsed with Brascia instead. By the time Kaye stepped in to the production, it was likely too late to adequately rehearse him for the number and Brascia stayed. These dance numbers feel a bit odd as a result, as Brascia essentially shows up in the movie for the dancing scenes and is seen in a few brief flashes as the dance captain for Playing Around, but has no other role in the movie. Even the showgirl Davis tried to set Wallace up is a more complete character than Brascia, and she had fewer than a half dozen lines in the movie.

Scheming up a fake engagement that Judy wants to be real
Among the rehearsal numbers, the romance between Wallace and Betty gets moving, with a little bit of conniving help from Davis and Judy, reaching a high point with a kiss after the duet Count Your Blessings. Because a romantic story line can't be allowed to run its course without some obstacles, a misunderstanding arises between the two revolving around the final scheme of the movie: In an effort to raise Waverly's spirits after the former General received some disappointing news from the Pentagon, Wallace and Davis arrange with television personality Ed Harrison (a thinly disguised version of Ed Sullivan) to use his show as a platform to ask as many members of their old Army unit to come to the Colombia Inn on Christmas Eve to show how much the old man means to all of them. Of course, the gossipy housekeeper Emma Allen (Mary Wickes) listens in on part of the conversation and comes away with the impression that the intent is to put the General on the Ed Harrison Show and produce a sappy and schmaltzy program playing up the pathetic nature of Waverly's plight, and she wastes no time telling Betty about her conclusions. Rather than actually directly asking either Wallace or Davis what they intend to do, Betty makes a series of cryptic comments and jumps to her own conclusions before storming off to New York once Davis and Judy announce their engagement. Betty is unaware that her sister had cooked up the engagement with Davis (in a fairly humorous scene) as a means of getting Betty to stop being a "mother hen" and go off and make herself available to marry Wallace.

I'm mad, but I won't tell anyone why
Instead, Betty hops the earliest train to New York, leaving a letter for Judy, and ensconces herself as the headline act at a night club. Once Betty has left Vermont, Judy and Davis reveal to Wallace that their engagement was a ruse to clear the decks for him to get married to Betty, resulting in Wallace heading to New York, both to meet with Ed Harrison and try to convince Betty to return to Pine Tree. Before he heads out of town, Crosby has a scene with Kaye and Vera-Ellen that suggests to me that the script for the movie underwent at least some revision between the time Astaire saw it and final production began. In the scene, Crosby scolds his two co-stars, taking on a tone that could be said to be akin to that of a big brother, or even a father. One has to imagine that this scene would not have played nearly as well if Astaire, who was a few years older than Crosby, had been playing Davis. This scene, along with a couple others in the movie, simply would not work with Astaire in the movie, and all of these were almost certainly were written in after he declined the role. It is also somewhat hard to imagine Astaire accepting a role that would have made him play a private to Crosby's captain. It is somewhat interesting to wonder what the original relationship between the two characters was, although it seems likely that this question will never be answered.

Rosemary and four of her dancing boys
Once Bob gets to New York and shows up at her place of employment, Betty sings the torch song Love, You Didn't Do Right by Me, accompanied by a set of young male dancers that includes George Chakiris, who would go on to play Bernardo in West Side Story seven years later. The choreography of this number highlights one fact about the movie: While Vera-Ellen was a fantastic dancer, Danny Kaye was quite a good dancer, and even Bing Crosby was a competent professional (although never particularly fluid, and at the age of fifty-one was showing his age a bit), Clooney was not really able to do much more than walk in time to music. In this number, Clooney basically stands still for the song while her accompanying troupe of young men clad in black dances, or rather dramatically poses, around her. One element of the movie that is always on the screen, and yet sometimes overlooked is just how good it makes all of the lead performers look. Vera-Ellen and Rosemary Clooney were both quite attractive women, but in very different ways, with very different body types. It would have been easy for a costumer to make choices that would have been unflattering to one or the other of the women, but throughout the movie the costuming choices show each woman in her best light. In most cases, if one were to switch their costumes (assuming the outfits were properly resized), they would have looked terrible. Even the men's costumes seem to have been carefully chosen, with attention paid to even minor details such as making sure that the color of their shoes matched the color of their suits in the musical numbers. Following her rather unsubtle song, Betty meets Wallace at his table and when he asks her what he did wrong, rather than actually tell him what is bothering her, she continues to cryptically evade talking about the subject, and when Ed Harrison shows up she makes up a couple of excuses to get out of seeing Wallace another time.

Wishing they were on
Uncle Sam's payroll again
Of course, Betty is wrong about Wallace's intentions, and she discovers this while watching the Ed Harrison Show when Wallace sings What Can You Do With a General and outlines the entirely benign plan that she would have known about before scampering out of Vermont had she merely asked someone directly. Interspersed with this revelation are some funny scenes in which Davis distracts Waverly away from his television set by faking an injury, one of the handful of instances of physical comedy that crops up, as most of the humor in the movie is built around witty banter, which was more or less Bing's comedy forte. Given that he was one of the producers of the movie, it seems natural that it would play to his strengths, but both O'Connor and Kaye were excellent physical comedians, so the relative lack of this sort of humor seems like something of a missed opportunity. One interesting note is that the script of the movie pretty much assumes everyone in the U.S. is Christian, or at least celebrates Christmas, as Wallace expresses the notion that it is "murder" for his comrades to miss Christmas Eve with their families. But there were numerous non-Christian service members in the U.S. armed force for whom this probably wouldn't have been any kind of hardship, and the movie apparently doesn't seem to even give their existence a second thought.

Surprise!
In any event, at this point the movie picks up steam and rushes headlong towards its rather predictable, but still enjoyable conclusion. Emma Allen tricks Waverly into wearing his uniform to what he believes to be the opening performance of Playing Around at the inn, the various former soldiers (who, almost miraculously, seem to have all not only kept their uniforms, but are all able to fit in them nearly a decade after they were presumably last used) sing a rousing tribute of We'll Follow the Old Man, and then Wallace, Davis, and the Haynes sisters sing a paean to how much they miss Army life called Gee, I Wish I Was Back in the Army. Finally, everyone gets together for the big finale with everyone singing White Christmas as snow finally begins to fall. Bob and Betty are reconciled, and Phil and Judy's engagement turns out to not be quite as phony as they had led everyone to believe. Given that this is a Christmas movie, the fact that everyone ends up with a happy ending isn't really a surprise, although I do have to wonder how many of the women from the audience in off-the-shoulder dresses caught pneumonia when the barn doors were thrown open to show the audience the falling snow.

The big finale. Won't those ballet dancers and everyone
in the audience get cold with that barn door open?
White Christmas is a lovely movie, with a lovely soundtrack anchored by one of the most famous songs in movie history. It is full of fun dance numbers, a healthy dose of witty humor, a little bit of romance, and a kind of schmaltzy Christmas theme. This movie was the biggest box office success of 1954. It was also something of a last hurrah. This was Vera-Ellen's second to last movie appearance. It was also Rosemary Clooney's second to last movie appearance. Danny Kaye only appeared in a handful of movies following White Christmas before moving to television and his own variety show. As the biggest star of the movie, it should come as no surprise that Crosby had the most successful post-White Christmas career, but even he was on the downward slope of his career: After appearing in nearly four dozen feature movies between 1930 and 1954, Crosby would appear in less than a dozen more over the rest of his career. With the exception of Vera-Ellen, whose career essentially ended after the 1957 movie Let's Be Happy, these entertainers found new life as performers on variety television, but in a way, White Christmas marks one of the final big moments for feature movie musicals of its style. When it was released, most of the famous movie musicals people remember today, such as An American in Paris, On the Town, Easter Parade, Blue Skies, Royal Wedding, Singing in the Rain, and Meet Me in St. Louis, were already in the past. In a sense, while the plot of the movie serves as a send off for General Waverly, the movie itself is something of a metaphorical send off for an era of movie musicals of its type. That said, it is a beautiful, touching, and fitting send off worthy of serving as one of the final highlights of a dying era in film.

1 Actually, only one sister sings in the song as Vera-Ellen's singing was dubbed for the entire movie. For most of the songs, her singing voice was dubbed by Trudy Stevens, but for the song Sisters, Rosemary Clooney sang both parts.
2 In Holiday Inn, the song Abraham was performed with the entire cast in blackface. Apparently, at one point the intent was to perform The Minstrel Number in this movie in blackface as well, but someone thankfully thought better of the idea before it was filmed. As it is, the number is still somewhat embarrassing, as the minstrel shows that the singers pine for in the lyrics were performances in which white people dressed in blackface and portrayed fairly racist caricatures of African-Americans. The routine relating to "Mr. Bones" involving references to Mr. Bones, Mr. Interlocutor, and a joke relating to misunderstanding what a word means, are direct references to these sorts of racially offensive performances.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Musical Monday - Things to Believe In by Sarah Donner


Christmas always seems to be an odd mix of melancholy and hope. Coming in the middle of winter, the weather is always cold and grey. Coming at the end of the year, the holiday reminds everyone that they are getting older. In short, the whole season is kind of sad and depressing. Even the pretty Christmas lights and decorated trees often seem like a kind of desperate attempt to make a gloomy season artificially cheerful. There's a reason that Charlie Brown feels down and disconsolate in A Charlie Brown Christmas.

But it is also a hopeful time of year. It is a time when families get together. When people tend to be a little nicer to one another than they normally are. Amidst the melancholy, there is a little brightness. One doesn't have to believe in Santa Claus or any of the other elements of mythology surrounding the season to feel the cheer and good will that surround it. Sarah's challenge in this song is for everyone to reach for each other to find something to believe in. At the end of A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie's friends get together and do something kind for him. That's what I hold on to: That people are willing to extend themselves for others just because it is the kind thing to do.

Previous Musical Monday: Grandma Cooked the Dog by Paul & Storm
Subsequent Musical Monday: Overrated New Year by Sarah Donner

Christmas Songs     Musical Monday Playlists

Sarah Donner     Musical Monday     Home

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Book Blogger Hop December 18th - December 24th: Article 134 of the UCMJ Is the General Article

Book Blogger Hop

Jen at Crazy for Books restarted her weekly Book Blogger Hop to help book bloggers connect with one another, but then couldn't continue, so she handed the hosting responsibilities off to Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer. The only requirements to participate in the Hop are to write and link a post answering the weekly question and then visit other blogs that are also participating to see if you like their blog and would like to follow them.

This week Billy asks: Which format do you use? Blogger, Word Press, or an independent format? Any reason for your choice?

I use Blogger, although I find that I often have to use workarounds to overcome the service's limitations. I mostly use it because back in 2008 when I started this blog, a friend of mine was using it for her blog (which now no longer exists), and it was a relatively easy system to use. I've considered switching to WordPress in recent years, because it is a more flexible and robust system, but exporting and then importing and checking the twenty-five hundred or so posts that I have on this blog is kind of a daunting task, so I keep putting it off, which, of course, just makes the problem bigger, as I pile up more and more posts.


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Friday, December 18, 2015

Follow Friday - There Were 240 Pence in a British Pound Until 1971


It's Friday again, and this means it's time for Follow Friday. There has been a slight change to the format, as now there are two Follow Friday hosts blogs and two Follow Friday Features Bloggers each week. To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow both of the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read) and any one else you want to follow on the list.
  2. Follow the two Featured Bloggers of the week - Hibernator's Library and The Truth About Books.
  3. Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
  5. Follow, follow, follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "Hi".
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the love . . . and the followers.
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday Hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
And now for the Follow Friday Question: If you could write a book what would it be about?

When I figure that out, I'll let everyone know by writing one.


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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Appendix E: Inspirational Reading

In 1979, TSR published the first Dungeon Master's Guide to be used for playing Dungeons & Dragons. While most of the book consisted of fairly arcane rules for playing the game and advice of varying usefulness for new Dungeon Masters, tucked into the back of the book in a section labeled Appendix N was a list of inspirational reading. This list was not a comprehensive array of fantasy fiction as it stood at the time the book was published: That is readily apparent when one considers the rather notable omissions from the list, such as Lloyd Alexander, Terry Brooks, Patricia McKillip, and Ursula K. Le Guin. The list was, instead, a collection of works that were personal favorites of Gary Gygax, and from all indications were the books that he had grown up loving, as the original list was heavy on pulp fiction that had been published prior to 1970, and quite light on any other fiction. The list was fairly substantial, with some consisting of a recommendation list of one or more books, and others suggesting an entire series of books. Several entries simply consisted of an author's name, with the implied suggestion that almost any of their works would be suitable.

In 2014, with the release of the 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons, Wizards of the Coast included an updated version of Appendix N with the new game. Positioning the new list in Appendix E of the new Player's Handbook, the creators of the game took all of the suggestions that had been on Gygax's original list in 1979, and added a wide array of new ones. In some cases. the new additions consisted of books that had not yet been published in 1979, such as books by N.K. Jemisin, Pat Rothfuss, or Gene Wolfe. In others, the new additions were to cure oversights caused by Gygax's somewhat idiosyncratic reading tastes, which resulted in authors such as Thomas Bulfinch and Clark Ashton Smith being added to the list. For the most part, the new list gave specific suggestions rather than general nods towards authors. Authors like Anre Norton, Stanley Weinbaum, and Manly Wade Wellman, who had been simply listed as a general recommendation in 1979, had specific works singled out in the new list. In many cases, the new list recommends an entire series, and some of these series are quite lengthy. For example, the new list recommends Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, which is a recommendation that amounts to more than forty novels. The list also recommends R.A. Salvatore's Legend of Driz'zt series, which currently consists of two dozen novels. The net result is that the new list is enormous.

Below I have listed all of the authors found in Appendix E, along with all of the works mentioned for them, including, as best I can determine, all of the books that are part of any series they wrote that was recommended. I have also listed whether they first appeared in Appendix N or Appendix E, and if they appear in both, what the differences in their entries are, if any. I have read many of these books. I have already reviewed some of them. My goal is to read and review all of them. I believe that some of the recommendations in Appendix E are incomplete. In those cases, I may end up supplementing the list provided by Wizards of the Coast with some additional material, noting where I have done so along the way.

Ahmed, Saladin

Saladin Ahmed is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N.

Throne of the Crescent Moon

Alexander, Lloyd

Lloyd Alexander is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N. His entry in Appendix E recommends The Book of Three and the rest of the Chronicles of Prydain series.

The Book of Three
The Black Cauldron
The Castle of Llyr
Taran Wanderer
The High King
The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain

Anderson, Poul

Poul Anderson appeared in Appendix N, with these exact three books recommended.

The Broken Sword
The High Crusade
Three Hearts and Three Lions

Anthony, Piers

Piers Anthony is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N. His entry in Appendix E recommends Split Infinity and the rest of the Apprentice Adept series.

Split Infinity
Blue Adept
Juxtaposition
Out of Phaze
Robot Adept
Unicorn Point
Phaze Doubt

Augusta, Lady Gregory

Lady Gregory Augusta is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N.

Gods and Fighting Men

Bear, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Bear is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N. Her entry in Appendix E recommends Range of Ghosts and the rest of the Eternal Sky trilogy.

Range of Ghosts
Shattered Pillars
Steles of the Sky

Bellairs, John

John Bellairs appeared in Appendix N with this singular recommendation.

The Face in the Frost

Brackett, Leigh

Leigh Brackett appeared in Appendix N as a general recommendation with no specific works singled out as being more notable than others. Appendix E gave these three recommendations.

The Best of Leigh Brackett
The Long Tomorrow
The Sword of Rhiannon

Brooks, Terry

Terry Brooks is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N. His entry in Appendix E recommends The Sword of Shannara and the rest of the Shannara novels.

The Sword of Shannara
The Elfstones of Shannara
The Wishsong of Shannara
The Scions of Shannara
The Druid of Shannara
The Elf Queen of Shannara
The Talismans of Shannara
First King of Shannara
Running With the Demon
A Knight of the Word
Angel Fire East
Ilse Witch
Antrax
Morgawr
Jarka Ruus
Tanequil
Straken
Armageddon's Children
The Elves of Cintra
The Gypsy Morph
Bearers of the Black Staff
The Measure of the Magic
The Wards of Faerie
Bloodfire Quest
Witch Wraith
Allanon's Quest
The Weapon Masters Choice
The Black Irix
The High Druid's Blade
The Darkling Child

Brown, Fredric

Fredric Brown appeared in Appendix N as a general recommendation with no specific works singled out as being more notable than others. Appendix E gave these two recommendations.

Hall of Mirrors
What Mad Universe

Bulfinch, Thomas

Thomas Bulfinch is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N.

Bulfinch's Mythology

Burroughs, Edgar Rice

Edgar Rice Burroughs appeared in Appendix N. Appendix N and Appendix E both recommend his Pellucidar series, his Venus series, and his Barsoom series, all three of which are listed here. Appendix E specifically recommends At the Earth's Core, Pirates of Venus, and A Princess of Mars.

At the Earth's Core
Pellucidar
Tanar of Pellucidar
Tarzan at the Earth's Core
Back to the Stone Age
Land of Terror
Savage Pellucidar
Mahars of Pellucidar
Pirates of Venus
Lost on Venus
Carson of Venus
Escape on Venus
The Wizard of Venus
A Princess of Mars
The Gods of Mars
The Warlord of Mars
Thuvia, Maid of Mars
The Chessmen of Mars
The Master Mind of Mars
A Fighting Man of Mars
Swords of Mars
Synthetic Men of Mars
Llana of Gathol
John Carter of Mars

Carter, Lin

Lin Carter appeared in Appendix N. Both Appendix N and Appendix E recommend his World's End series. Appendix E specifically recommends The Warrior of World's End.

The Warrior of World's End
The Enchantress of World's End
The Immortal of World's End
The Barbarian of World's End
The Pirate of World's End
The Giant of World's End

Cook, Glen

Glen Cook is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N. Appendix E recommends The Black Company and the rest of the Black Company series.

The Black Company
Shadows Linger
The White Rose
Shadow Games
Dreams of Steel
Bleak Seasons
She Is the Darkness
Water Sleeps
Soldiers Live

de Camp, L. Sprague

In the original Appendix N, de Camp was listed with the two books given below followed by an "et al", indicating further unnamed works by the author would be of interest. In the Appendix E entry, only the two books are listed.

The Fallible Fiend
Lest Darkness Fall

de Camp, L. Sprague and Pratt, Fletcher

L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt were listed together in an entry in Appendix N. Both Appendix N and Appendix E recommend The Compleat Enchanter and the rest of the Harold Shea series as well as the Carnelian Cube.

The Compleat Enchanter
Wall of Serpents
Enchanter Reborn
The Exotic Enchanter
Carnelian Cube

Derleth, August and Lovecraft, H.P.

August Derleth was listed in Appendix N as a general recommendation with no specific works singled out as being more notable than others. Appendix E suggests only a single work by Derleth, which he co-authored with H.P. Lovecraft.

Watchers Out of Time

Dunsany, Lord

Lord Dunsany was listed in Appendix N as a general recommendation with no specific works singled out as being more notable than others. Appendix E gave these six recommendations.

The Book of Wonder
The Essential Lord Dunsany Collections
The God of Pegana
The King of Elfland's Daughter
Lord Dunsany Compendium
The Sword of Welleran and Other Tales

Farmer, Philip José

Philip José Farmer was listed in Appendix N. Both Appendix N and Appendix E recommend the World of Tiers series. Appendix E specifically recommends Maker of Universes, while Appendix N attached an "et al" to the series recommendation, suggesting that further unnamed works by the author would also serve as inspirational reading.

Maker of Universes
The Gates of Creation
A Private Cosmos
Behind the Walls of Terra
The Lavalite World
More Than Fire
Red Orc's Rage

Fox, Gardner

Gardner Fox was listed in the original Appendix N. Both Appendix N and Appendix E recommend the Kothar series and the Kyrik series. Appendix E specifically recommends Kothar and the Conjuror's Curse and Kyrik and the Lost Queen. Appendix N attached an "et al" to the recommendation of the two series, suggesting that further unnamed works by the author would also serve as inspirational reading.

Kothar: Barbarian Swordsman
Kothar of the Magic Sword
Kothar and the Demon Queen
Kothar and the Conjuror's Curse
Kothar and the Wizard Slayer
Kyrik: Warlock Warrior
Kyrik Fights the Demon World
Kyrik and the Wizard's Sword
Kyrik and the Lost Queen

Froud, Brian and Lee, Alan

Brian Froud and Alan Lee are new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N.

Faeries

Hickman, Tracy, and Weis, Margaret

Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis are new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N. Appendix E recommends Dragons of Autumn Twilight and the rest of the Dragonlance Chronicles trilogy.

Dragons of Autumn Twilight
Dragons of Winter Night
Dragons of Spring Dawning

Hodgson, William Hope

William Hope Hodgson is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N.

The Night Land

Howard, Robert E.

Robert E. Howard was in Appendix N. Both Appendix N and Appendix E recommend the Conan series. Appendix E specifically recommends The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian.

Conan the Swordsman
Conan
Conan of Cimmeria
Conan the Freebooter
Conan the Wanderer
Conan the Adventurer
Conan the Warrior
Conan the Usurper
Conan the Conqueror

N.K. Jemisin

N.K. Jemisin is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N. Appendix E recommends The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and the rest of the Inheritance trilogy, as well as two other novels.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
The Broken Kingdoms
The Kingdom of Gods
The Killing Moon
The Shadowed Sun

Jordan, Robert

Robert Jordan is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N. Appendix E recommends The Eye of the World and the rest of the Wheel of Time series.

The Eye of the World
The Great Hunt
The Dragon Reborn
The Shadow Rising
The Fires of Heaven
Lord of Chaos
A Crown of Swords
The Path of Daggers
Winter's Heart
Crossroads of Twilight
Knife of Dreams
The Gathering Storm
Towers of Midnight
A Memory of Light

Kay, Guy Gavriel

Guy Gavriel Kay is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N.

Tigana

King, Stephen

Stephen King is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N.

The Eyes of the Dragon

Lanier, Sterling

Sterling Lanier appeared in Appendix N. Appendix N only recommended Hiero's Journey. Appendix E added a recommendation for Unforsaken Hiero.

Hiero's Journey
Unforsaken Hiero

Le Guin, Ursula K.

Ursula K. Le Guin is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N. Appendix E recommends A Wizard of Earthsea and the rest of the Earthsea series.

A Wizard of Earthsea
Tombs of Atuan
The Farthest Shore
Tehanu
Tales from Earthsea
The Other Wind
The Wind's Twelve Quarters

Leiber, Fritz

Fritz Lieber appeared in Appendix N. Both Appendix N and Appendix E recommend the Fahfrd and the Grey Mouser series. Appendix E specifically recommends Swords and Deviltry, while Appendix N attached an "et al" to the recommendation of the series, suggesting that further unnamed works by the author would also serve as inspirational reading.

Swords and Deviltry
Swords Against Death
Swords in the Mist
Swords Against Wizardry
The Swords of Lankhmar
Swords and Ice Magic
The Knight and Knave of Swords

Lovecraft. H.P.

H.P. Lovecraft was listed in Appendix N as a general recommendation with no specific works singled out as being more notable than others. Appendix E makes the specific recommendation of The Complete Works, which essentially amounts to recommending everything that Lovecraft wrote.

The Complete Works

Lynch, Scott

Scott Lynch is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N. Appendix E recommends The Lies of Locke Lamora and the rest of the Gentleman Bastard series.

The Lies of Locke Lamora
Red Seas Under Red Skies
The Republic of Thieves
The Thorn of Emberlain
The Ministry of Necessity
The Mage and the Master Spy
Inherit the Night

Martin, George R.R.

George R.R. Martin is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N. Appendix E recommends A Game of Thrones and the rest of the Song of Ice and Fire series.

A Game of Thrones
A Clash of Kings
A Storm of Swords
A Feast for Crows
A Dance with Dragons

McKillip, Patricia

Patricia McKillip is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld

Merritt, A.

A. Merritt was in Appendix N. Both Appendix N and Appendix E recommended the three books listed below, while Appendix N attached an "et al" to the list, suggesting that further unnamed works by the author would also serve as inspirational reading.

Creep, Shadow Creep
Dwellers in the Mirage
The Moon Pool

Miéville, China

China Miéville is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N. Appendix E recommends Perdido Street Station and the other Bas-Lag novels.

Perdido Street Station
The Scar
Iron Council

Moorcock, Michael

Michael Moorcock was in Appendix N. Appendix N recommended Stormbringer and Stealer of Souls, as well as the Hawkmoon series, with an emphasis on the first three book in that series. Appendix E expanded the recommendation to Elric of Melniboné and the rest of the Elric series, and The Jewel in the Skull and the rest of the Hawkmoon series.

Elric of Melniboné
The Sailor on the Seas of Fate
The Weird of the White Wolf
The Sleeping Sorceress
The Bane of the Black Sword
Elric at the End of Time
The Jewel in the Skull
The Mad God's Amulet
The Sword of the Dawn
The Runestaff
Count Brass
The Champion of Garathorm
The Quest for Tanelorn

Norton, Andre

Andre Norton was listed in Appendix N as a general recommendation with no specific works singled out as being more notable than others. Appendix E made the two specific recommendations found below.

Quag Keep
Witch World

Offutt, Andrew J.

Andrew J. Offutt was in Appendix N. Note that he is the only individual singled out in either appendix for editing a work, which appears in both sets of recommendations.

Swords against Darkness III

Peake, Mervyn

Mervyn Peake is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N. Appendix E recommends Titus Groan and the rest of the Gormenghast series.

Titus Groan
Gormenghast
Titus Alone

Pratchett, Terry

Terry Pratchett is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N. Appendix E recommends The Colour of Magic and the rest of the Discworld novels.

The Colour of Magic
The Light Fantastic
Equal Rites
Mort
Sourcery
Wyrd Sisters
Pyramids
Guards! Guards!
Eric
Moving Pictures
Reaper Man
Witches Abroad
Small Gods
Lords and Ladies
Men at Arms
Soul Music
Interesting Times
Maskerade
Feet of Clay
Hogfather
Jingo
The Last Continent
Carpe Jugulum
The Fifth Elephant
The Truth
Thief of Time
The Last Hero
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
Night Watch
The Wee Free Men
Monstrous Regiment
A Hat Full of Sky
Going Postal
Thud!
Wintersmith
Making Money
Unseen Academicals
I Shall Wear Midnight
Snuff
Raising Steam
The Shepherd's Crown

Pratt, Fletcher

Fletcher Pratt was in Appendix N. Both appendices recommend Blue Star, but Appendix N attached an "et al" to the recommendation, suggesting that further unnamed works by the author would also serve as inspirational reading.

Blue Star

Rothfuss, Patrick

Patrick Rothfuss is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N. Appendix E recommends The Name of the Wind and the rest of the Kingkiller Chronicles.

The Name of the Wind
The Wise Man's Fear
The Doors of Stone

Saberhagen, Fred

Fred Saberhagen was in Appendix N. Appendix N only recommended Changeling Earth, while Appendix E added The Broken Lands as well. Appendix N attached an "et al" to its recommendation, suggesting that further unnamed works by the author would also serve as inspirational reading.

The Broken Lands
Changeling Earth

Salvatore, R.A.

R.A. Salvatore is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N. Appendix E recommends The Crystal Shard and the rest of The Legend of Driz'zt.

Homeland
Exile
Sojourn
The Crystal Shard
Streams of Silver
The Halfling's Gem
The Legacy
Starless Night
Siege of Darkness
Passage to Dawn
The Silent Blade
The Spine of the World
Servant of the Shard
Sea of Swords
The Thousand Orcs
The Lone Drow
The Two Swords
The Orc King
The Pirate King
The Ghost King
Gauntlgrym
Neverwinter
Charon's Claw
The Last Threshold

Sanderson, Brandon

Brandon Sanderson is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N. Appendix E recommends Mistborn and the rest of the Mistborn series.

Mistborn
The Well of Ascension
The Hero of Ages
The Alloy of Law
Shadows of Self
The Bands of Mourning

Smith, Clark Ashton

Clark Ashton Smith is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N.

The Return of the Sorcerer

St. Clair, Margaret

Margaret St. Clair was in Appendix N. Appendix N only listed recommendations for The Shadow People and Sign of the Labrys. Appendix E added Change the Sky and Other Stories to the list.

Change the Sky and Other Stories
The Shadow People
Sign of the Labrys

Tolkien, J.R.R.

J.R.R. Tolkien was in Appendix N. Appendix N gave recommendations for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Appendix E added a recommendation for The Silmarillion.

The Hobbit
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers
The Return of the King
The Silmarillion

Tolstoy, Nikolai

Nikolai Tolstoy is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N.

The Coming of the King

Vance, Jack

Jack Vance was in Appendix N. Both Appendix N and Appendix E recommend The Dying Earth and The Eyes of the Overworld, but Appendix N also attached an "et al" to its recommendation, suggesting that further unnamed works by the author would also serve as inspirational reading.

The Dying Earth
The Eyes of the Overworld

Weinbaum, Stanley

Stanley Weinbaum was listed in Appendix N as a general recommendation with no specific works singled out as being more notable than others. Appendix E made the two specific recommendations found below.

Valley of Dreams
The Worlds of If

Wellman, Manly Wade

Manly Wade Wellman was listed in Appendix N as a general recommendation with no specific works singled out as being more notable than others. Appendix E made the specific recommendation found below.

The Golgotha Dancers

Williamson, Jack

Jack Williamson was listed in Appendix N as a general recommendation with no specific works singled out as being more notable than others. Appendix E made the two specific recommendations found below.

The Cosmic Express
The Pygmy Planet

Wolfe, Gene

Gene Wolfe is new to Appendix E, and did not appear in Appendix N. Appendix E recommends The Shadow of the Torturer and the rest of the Book of the New Sun.

The Shadow of the Torturer
The Claw of the Conciliator
The Sword of the Lictor
The Citadel of the Autarch
The Urth of the New Sun

Zelazny, Roger

Roger Zelazny was in Appendix N. Both Appendix N and Appendix E recommend Jack of Shadows and the Amber series. Appendix E specifically recommends Nine Princes in Amber. Appendix N also attached an "et al" to its recommendations, suggesting that further unnamed works by the author would also serve as inspirational reading.

Jack of Shadows
Nine Princes in Amber
The Guns of Avalon
Sign of the Unicorn
The Hand of Oberon
The Courts of Chaos
Trumps of Doom
Blood of Amber
Sign of Chaos
Knight of Shadows
Prince of Chaos

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