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August already? My, how time flies.

July was a fun month, mostly spent reading Thomas Burnett Swann (to such a degree I only have three Swann novels left to read -- of an output of 16 novels during his short 18-year professional writing career.)

07/01/2012    Where is the Bird of Fire? (na) by Thomas Burnett Swann
07/03/2012    Betrayer of Worlds (audiobook) by Larry Niven & Edward M. Lerner
07/04/2012    Lady of the Bees by Thomas Burnett Swann
07/07/2012    How are the Mighty Fallen by Thomas Burnett Swann
07/07/2012    God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls (gn) by Jaime Hernandez
07/11/2012    Ringworld (audiobook) by Larry Niven
07/11/2012    The Beach Boys FAQ: All That’s Left to Know about America’s Band by Jon Stebbins
07/13/2012    Viewpoint (ss) by Thomas Burnett Swann
07/14/2012    The Dolphin and the Deep (na) by Thomas Burnett Swann
07/14/2012    Vashti (nv) by Thomas Burnett Swann
07/15/2012    Bear (nv) by Thomas Burnett Swann
07/15/2012    Outland: The Complete Library Sunday Comics 1989-1995 (gn) by Berkeley Breathed
07/16/2012    The Manor of Roses (na) by Thomas Burnett Swann
07/17/2012    The Stalking Trees (nv) by Thomas Burnett Swann
07/19/2012    The Ringworld Engineers (audiobook) by Larry Niven
07/21/2012    The Weirwoods by Thomas Burnett Swann
07/24/2012    Wolfwinter by Thomas Burnett Swann
07/27/2012    The Ringworld Throne (audiobook) by Larry Niven
07/30/2012    The Gods Abide by Thomas Burnett Swann
07/31/2012    The Tournament of Thorns by Thomas Burnett Swann
07/31/2012    The Lost Beach Boy by Jon Stebbins with David Marks

I spent my gym time listening to various Larry Niven Ringworld-related audiobooks. Ringworld was pretty good - I haven't read it since probably 1973, when I was 13 and the world was much different. I see why it won a Hugo, but can't fathom why it won a Nebula. The ideas are grand and wondrous, but the actual writing is fairly awful. But markedly better than the next 2 in the sequence - The Ringworld Engineers is notable mostly for seemingly having been written only to correct the scientific errors in Ringworld. Not thrilling or wonderful, but light-years better than the tedious and pointless The Ringworld Throne. I listened, but can't remember much of what happened. Only the memory of the boredom lingers. Ringworld's Children is shaping up to be the best novel in the series since the first one, so I'm quite enjoying it. The Niven/Lerner "prequel" Betrayer of Worlds was, frankly, better written and more consistent with the Known Space "mythos" than any of Niven's solo outings in the series.

A couple of books about the Beach Boys, read because I briefly toyed with the idea of making the trek to Provo to see them perform on the 4th of July at "Stadium of Fire" in BYU's football stadium. But I knew that the day would be political, and I ultimately decided I couldn't bear 2 hours of Mitt-a-palooza for the opportunity of seeing an hour or so of all the surviving Beach Boys together again for their 50th anniversary tour. I may regret it, but I just couldn't force myself to go.

A couple graphic items: Jaime Hernandez's latest Love & Rockets GN, The Return of the Ti-Girls was really awesome. It was mostly reprinted from the first two Love & Rockets "annuals," but included some 30 new pages. I love Jaime's stuff. The Outland collection was fun, but seemed kind of tired & played out by the end. I see why Breathed abandoned Opus and the rest for a decade or so after finishing this run.

Polished off 6 more of Swann's slender "novels" (which are really novellas, according to SFWA classification) and all the rest of his short fiction, leaving me just three of his novels in the to-be-read pile: Will-o-the-Wisp, The Not-World, and The Goat Without Horns. Currently reading W-o-t-W, which is a bit of a departure, using an actual historical character from the 17th century as a protagonist. Interesting. I'll probably go all the wayaround and re-read Day of the Minotaur, The Forest of Forever and Cry Silver Bells (the "Minotaur Trilogy") which I first read a decade or more ago. George Barr's covers and interior illustrations on the DAW editions are uniformly splendid and startlingly homoerotic, if you are into the twink thing, especially for books published in the early '70's.

I've also discovered that Wildside Press is publishing e-book (and POD trade paper & HC) editions of Swann's 16 novels, and promising a collection of his short fiction. Two are already available. Oddly, they started with the middle books in Swann's two identifiable trilogies, The Forest of Forever and Green Phoenix. They're both about three bucks for Kindle or Nook or as ePUB (directly from Wildside's website.) If you want to give one a try, I'd suggest Green Phoenix. If it appeals to you, then you might want to start reading more of Swann's work. That's what happened to me.
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