And Hnau For Something Completely Different . . .

I only had three chapters to read last week in Out of the Silent Planet. I should have listened closer or reread it in the print edition because the discussion covered things that hadn’t occurred to me. But that’s the fun of taking a class like this. Digging deeper and looking at the story from different perspectives.


Waiting for Corey to Join the Webinar

Joined webinar at 8:53 PM 

Waiting . . . 8:57 PM 

Still waiting . . . 9:05 PM 

Webinar started at 9:06 PM 

Now waiting on Corey . . . 9:08 PM 

Still no Corey . . . 9:10 PM 

Now starting 9:11 PM 

33 people attending 


YouTube: Out of the Silent Planet: Session 4- All the Hnau Now Crowd Around 


Week 4 

Read: Chapter 16-18 

Date: January 29, 2020 

Welcome back to Mythgard Academy Session 4 of Out of the Silent Planet 

Announcements about regional Moots and MythMoot (four day annual event).  This week we announced Verlyn Flieger will be joining MythMoot.  New Book Arthurian Voices (book release party) and wrote a play called “The Bargain” inspired by Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (14th century poem).  Corey might be the Green Knight.   

New registration page (pretty bare bones right now).  A custom system written for Signum University. Shifting away from an expensive third-party software.  Don’t be alarmed.   


Corey recaps and sums up from last week.  Let’s see what happens when Ransom starts to encounter the other species.

    Continue reading “And Hnau For Something Completely Different . . .”

Hman HRansom Among Hnau Hrossa

Lewis Pokes Fun at Oxford Philologists

I’ve reached the point of hknow return in this third week of a five week course on Out of the Silent Planet led by Corey Olsen through the Mythgard Academy arm of Signum University. Please parden my use of a hnot-so-silent “H” throughout this post in honor of Lewis foray into the philological hrealm usually hrelegated to his fellow Inkling Tolkien. For my hnotes from week one and week two, please click on the appropriate week to return to those posts.

I’m listening via Hoopla Digital

I had hoped to publish this Thursday night, but the video for this week’s class has not yet been uploaded to Signum University’s Youtube channel. So I will hold off on publication until Friday evening or Saturday morning.

A tweet from @Mythgardian earlier this morning woke me up (at 3:58 am Central) but I was happy to see the video for session three had finally been posted. Now I can finally publish this post!


Joined webinar at 8:38 pm
Waiting . . . still at 9:04 pm
Starting at 9:12 pm
Waiting for Corey now still at 9:15 pm 

Starting now at 9:18 pm 


Week 3 

Read: Chapter 11-15 

 Date: January 22, 2020 

This is one of his two favorite bits of this book – Meeting the Hrossa.  We are going to try to go from his first meeting of this whole interlude all the way to the parting from the Hrossa.   

Week 3 ~ Hross and Hman

Announcements:  

Upcoming Moots:  

Three open for registration:  

  • TexMoot on 8th of February in Houston 
  • Early bird registration for MythMoot VII “Defying and Defining the Darkness”; CFP should be out soon.   
  • SoCalMoot hosted at Netflix HQ 

MootCast is being done again this year for MythMoot.  Live access to any session you want to be in; you get recordings for everything; a wonderful way to participate and watch even if you can’t make it.   

Continue reading “Hman HRansom Among Hnau Hrossa”

Reorienting Ransom

I meant to post my notes from last Wednesday’s second week of the Out of the Silent Planet class but work life got very hectic and then I spent most of my last three day weekend until Memorial Day playing Aardwolf. I will do better this week, I promise – notes posted by end of week at the latest.

And I discovered a feature of GoToWebinar too late, at the end of the second session, that allows me to save the current slide as an image. Going forward, I’ll capture each slide so my notes make more sense to myself and others. Of course, I always include a link to the video of the session that’s published within a day or two by Signum University (see link above or click here).


Week 2 

Read: Chapters 6-10 

 Date: January 15, 2020 

8:53 PM ~ Joined webinar, organizer has not arrived.   

9:02 AM – Webinar started, but we’re holding.   

9:07 PM – Broadcast started; 41 attendees, 1 presenter 

Announcements:   
Two moots in February 
Spring Semester started at Signum U.   
Continue reading “Reorienting Ransom”

Ransom Kidnapped

My notes from first session of Mythgard Academy webinar discussion on Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis.

I spent a couple of hours past my usual bedtime last Wednesday evening with Corey Olsen and three dozen new friends discussing the first five chapters of Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis. I’m proud of myself for making it to the end of the discussion, which ended at 11:15 p.m. I’ve probably read the first book of the Space Trilogy a half dozen times since I first discovered it in the 70s as a pre-teen. I’ve never had an opportunity to do a serious in-depth reading and discussion so I am very excited about the opportunity presented by Mythgard Academy and a generous donation of a patron thereof.

While I participated live in the GoToWebinar session, where I could interact with Corey Olsen via chat, you can watch to the session via the Signum University Youtube channel (link to the playlist) or listen via podcast. Old habits die hard; even knowing the session was being recorded, I took transcript-like notes (because I can still type over a hundred words per minute and can easily keep up with a single person lecturing).

What follows are my notes from Wednesday’s first webinar on Out of the Silent Planet.

Continue reading “Ransom Kidnapped”

Mythgard Malacandra

Tonight I join the latest Mythgard Academy selection featuring C.S. Lewis’ first book in the Space Trilogy series.

Mythgard Academy Presents

Out of the Silent Planet

Meeting on Wednesdays at 10 pm Eastern Time

January 8th through February 5th


Nearly six years ago I re-read Out of the Silent Planet for the 1939 Retro Hugo Awards. I gave it my top slot vote for the Best Novel category, followed by Galactic Patrol and T.H. White’s The Sword in the Stone. I was a bit disappointed when Lewis came in second to the White, but you can’t win them all.

I originally read the Space Trilogy in my early teens and those paperbacks are long gone. Over the years, I’ve picked up copies from used books stores, garage sales and Friends of the Library annual book sales. This past weekend, I remembered I’d registered for the class when it was first announced weeks ago and went searching for all my editions: print, electronic and audio. I quickly found two nearly pristine in very good condition and apparently unread paperbacks buried in my brimming bookshelves.

Continue reading “Mythgard Malacandra”

My Top 50 Books from Last 10 Years

The end of the year and this decade arrived unexpectedly. Well, not completely unexpectedly for the former, but the whole ‘where did the twenty teens go?’ thing caught me by surprise. I’ve been reading and listening to ‘decade in review’ articles and podcasts for the last couple of weeks. Which inspired me to analyze my reading of 965 books over the last ten years.

The following compilation of ‘Top Five’ books for each year starting in 2010, do not include my occasional re-reads of favorites, like the works of Tolkien, Lewis, Jordan, Donaldson and Modesitt.

2010 (read 102) 

  1. Blackout/All Clear by Willis (Hugo/Nebula/Locus Best Novel Awards) 
  2. Under Heaven by GGK 
  3. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Stein 
  4. A Civil Compaign by Bujold 
  5. Breath and Bone/Flesh and Spirit by Berg 

2011 (read 75) 

  1. Wars of Light and Shadow (books 5-9) by Wurts 
  2. The Lions of Al-Rassan by GGK 
  3. The Wise Man’s Fear by Rothfuss 
  4. The Empire Trilogy by Feist & Wurts 
  5. Ready Player One by Cline 
Continue reading “My Top 50 Books from Last 10 Years”

Second Wave of Short Fiction

Last week, I finished listening to or reading the rest of the short fiction I had earmarked for perusal before end of year in a previous post. I’m very grateful to the podcasts of various SFF magazines that fit perfectly into my daily commute. Many of the authors below are new to me. Only Aliette de Bodard, KJ Parker and Sarah Pinsker have I read previously.

December 16th I listened to “Portrait of the Artist” by KJ Parker (3.5-4 stars) published in a special double-issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies. After dinner I read “The Imaginary Palace of the Winter King” by Sarah Tolmie (3.5-4 stars) from the February 2019 edition of Strange Horizons. “Winter King” was also available via a podcast but I felt like reading the ebook edition I receive as a Patreon of that magazine.

Continue reading “Second Wave of Short Fiction”

End of Year Short Fiction Dash

Last week I wrote about my annual reading goal, which got me thinking about all the science fiction and fantasy magazines and podcasts I subscribe to. I support two at Patreon: Uncanny and Strange Horizons. I follow several more via my Podcast Addict app on my phone: Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clarkesworld, Escape Pod, Lightspeed and Podcastle. My Patreon magazines also have audio podcasts of select stories.

Most of the year, I’m heads down in full length books and novels. Only when I reach December, when my book clubs take a break for the holidays, do I come up for air enough to review any novellas or novelettes published in any of the magazines listed above. So I spent some time earlier this week, scrolling back through my Patreon posts to find all the ebooks I forgot to download for Uncanny and Strange Horizons. Then I scrolled through all the podcast episodes for authors I liked or had heard of for any works at least 40 minutes long (the length of half of my daily commute). I added several to my playlist and downloaded the ebooks to my tablet. My commute and lunch time reading was taken care of for the entire week.

Last Sunday, I read “A Time to Reap” by Elizabeth Bear (published in Issue 29 over the summer) and gave it four stars. At lunch on Monday, I read “The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye” by Sarah Pinsker (published in Issue 31 very recently) and didn’t like it quite as much as Bear’s story, so gave it a 3.5-4 star rating.

Continue reading “End of Year Short Fiction Dash”

Book Review: The Future is Female!

The Future is Female! cover

The Future is Female!

Edited by Lisa Yaszek

Read between November 12 and 24, 2019

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (Average Rating: 3.69)

Anthology Contents (courtesy ISFDB)


My Thoughts

Earlier this year I listened to an interview of the editor, Lisa Yaszek, via a Wired Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast (Episode 346), and I immediately added The Future is Female! to my TBR shelf. Months passed and I remembered to check the catalogs of the various libraries I patronize (recently increased to six cards with a trip to Lawrence last month). I was also recently challenged to increase the print materials circulation statistics of my closest library branch. A happy miracle occurred when I found The Future is Female! in the catalog of the Kansas City Public Library. A hold was placed and a few days later all eight requests, including this one, arrived at the Plaza branch for easy (translate that two ‘why did I forget my large tote bag at home?’) pickup.

I like reading anthologies; they are a great break for my usual longer epics. I can read a story or two a day, when I get up over my morning breakfast tea, or right before bedtime. Weekends, of course, I could squeeze in more stories. When I read a short story anthology, I post a GoodReads status update as soon as I finish it with a rating and any comments I have upon completion. Here’s an example status posted about “Space Episode” earlier this month:

Finished “Space Episode” (1941) by Leslie Perri (4 stars – very short but very impactful, almost gut wrenching) and “That Only a Mother” (1948) by Judith Merril (3 stars) — Nov 13, 2019 05:57PM

Jon Moss is on page 100 of 531

My Favorite Things

In the Contents listed above (thanks to the great community of editors at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB), I have added my rating in parenthesis with bold emphasis.

My top five stories from this anthology are:

  • C.L. Moore’s “The Black God’s Kiss(sword & sorcery & horror & adventure)
  • Baby, You Were Great” by Kate Wilhelm (this one really gets in your head, literally).
  • Andre Norton’s “All Cats Are Grey(space opera-ish but some hard SF)
  • Space Episode” by Leslie Perri (hard SF but with heart like only a woman can write it and experience it)
  • And a tie between Joanna Russ’ “The Barbarian(a nod to C.L. Moore’s Jirel with Russ’ Alyx – so more sword & sorcery & adventure but with some SF elements) and Doris Pitkin Buck’s “The Birth of a Gardener(beautiful hard SF – again as only a woman can relate it).

I had previously read “The Black God’s Kiss” and “The Last Flight of Dr. Ain” (by Tiptree). Surprisingly, the latter did not hold up as well to a second read. It had shock value (sort of) the first time I read it, but the luster was gone on a re-read. I was also disappointed in the last story included in the anthology by le Guin. Again, it was probably groundbreaking at the time, but just didn’t wow me like some of her work does.

Some of these stories were my first exposures to the writings of these women. But many of them I have read numerous books by. I’ve read all of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover novels and short stories. I’ve read most of Ursula K. le Guin’s novels – Earthsea, of course, but also many of her famous science fiction novels. I’ve read most of C.L. Moore’s fiction, at least what I can get my hands on. Also Leigh Brackett, but I like her work less than CLM’s writing, which is very hard to put down. Another one I try to read but is often hit-or-miss for me is James Tiptree, Jr.

I’ve read a few novels by Andre Norton, but since I don’t care of young adult fiction, I skip most of her canon. Kate Wilhelm I discovered last year, listening to her only science fiction novel Where the Late Spring Birds Sing. I found that book thanks to a recommendation I found in a review by Jo Walton of a book on clones (Never Let Me Go) I was reading for one of my many book clubs.

Ad Astra Per Aspera

I read most of the biographical notes and found that at the time of publication, three of these amazing authors were still alive. However, upon closer examination this morning, it grieves me to relate that Carol Emshwiller, author if the intriguing “Pelt” tale, passed away on February 2, 2019. Katherine Maclean, author of “Contagion,” very recently passed on September 1, 2019. Which leaves Juanita Coulson (pseudonym John Jay Wells above on the story “Another Rib” co-authored with Marion Zimmer Bradley) as the last woman standing from this august company of pioneers.

Reading the 1944 Retro Hugo Finalists

My reading list for the next several weeks, thanks to the recently announced finalists for the Retrospective Hugo Awards.  Or rather I should say my scavenger hunt because finding some of these stories will be challenging.

Update 7/4/2019: Happy Independence Day!  I’m several steps closer to completing my Hugo finalist reading.  See below for specific updates.

Update 6/19/2019:  The last push through the Best Novel nominees.  Listening (and a re-read) of Perelandra and reading ebook of Earth’s Last Citadel currently.  That leaves just Conjure Wife remaining.  I’m going to abandon The Glass Bead Game as I found it cloyingly philosophical.

Update 4/28/2019:  Finished ‘We Print the Truth’ and loved it.

Update 4/27/2019:  This week I finished ‘Proud Robot’ and a few hours of The Glass Bead Game (putting that on hold for now); started ‘We Print the Truth’ by Boucher and The Weapon Makers by Vogt.

Update 4/19/2019: Finished reading ‘Attitude’ this morning and finished ‘Citadel of Lost Ships’ yesterday.  Now reading ‘Proud Robot’ by Kuttner/Moore and listening to The Glass Bead Game by Hesse.

Update 4/13/2019:  Finished the short story category today.  Also started the “Clash by Night” novella.

Update 4/9/2019: Back at the office today so I’ll be switching gears from printed editions to one of the ebook anthologies I already own, probably one of the novelette finalists.

Update 4/8/2019:  My goal today is to finish the Short Story category and rank for voting.  (4:30 PM) Two out of three read.

Update 4/6/2019:  Scavenger Hunt Complete and Successful.  I have found readable reproductions of all finalists.  Let the reading commence or continue!

The finalists for the 1944 Retrospective Hugo Awards are:

Best Novel

  • Conjure Wife, by Fritz Leiber, Jr. (Unknown Worlds, April 1943)
  • Earth’s Last Citadel, by C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner (Argosy, April 1943) †
    • Read 6/21/2019; 3.5-4 stars
  • Gather, Darkness! by Fritz Leiber, Jr. (Astounding Science-Fiction, May-July 1943)
  • Das Glasperlenspiel [The Glass Bead Game], by Hermann Hesse (Fretz & Wasmuth)
  • Perelandra, by C.S. Lewis (John Lane, The Bodley Head)
    • I’ve read this previously at least twice.  If time allows, I will re-read.
    • Read 6/25/2019; 3.5-4 stars
  • The Weapon Makers, by A.E. van Vogt (Astounding Science-Fiction, February-April 1943)
    • Requested interlibrary loan via LCL 4/3/2019
    • Purchased as an ebook 4/6/2019
    • ILL checked out 4/18/2019
    • Read 5/13/2019; 2-2.5 stars (meh)

Best Novella

  • “Attitude,” by Hal Clement (Astounding Science-Fiction, September 1943)
    • Found in the Music of Many Spheres anthology
    • Placed hold via KCPL 4/3/2019
    • Checked out from KCPL 4/5/2019
    • Read 4/19/2019 Excellent hard science fiction first contact SF story.  Better than the previous year’s debut short story ‘Proof’ by Clement.  (4-4.5 stars)
  • “Clash by Night,” by Lawrence O’Donnell (Henry Kuttner & C.L. Moore) (Astounding Science-Fiction, March 1943) ∞
    • Read 4/14/2019 (3.5-4 stars)
  • The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath,” by H.P. Lovecraft, (Beyond the Wall of Sleep, Arkham House)
    • Found in Necronomicon anthology
    • Placed on hold via LCL 4/3/2019
    • Checked out from LCL 4/8/2019
    • Renewed 4/27/2019
    • Reading but on hold 6/19/2019; still on hold 7/4/2019 (but I’ll probably finish this over the long weekend)
  • The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Reynal & Hitchcock)
    • Available as an ebook through Hoopla
    • Not planning on reading this.
  • The Magic Bed-Knob; or, How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons, by Mary Norton (Hyperion Press)
  • “We Print the Truth,” by Anthony Boucher (Astounding Science-Fiction, December 1943)
    • Found in the Compleat Boucher anthology
    • Requested interlibrary loan via LCL 4/3/2019
    • Checked out from LCL 4/20/2019 (due back 5/4/2019)
    • Read 4/28/2019 A very good (possibly great) story in the ‘what if’ SF QA grand tradition. I could snarkily summarize without spoiler with ‘A priest, an atheist and an agnostic walk into a bar . . .’ and I’d be nearly spot on. This is the second novella I’ve read by Boucher and he does not disappoint. (4-4.5 stars)

Best Novelette

  • “Citadel of Lost Ships,” by Leigh Brackett (Planet Stories, March 1943) †
    • Purchased Swamps of Venus ebook anthology from Baen 4/3/2019
      • Read 4/18/2019 an action/adventure story that just happened to take place on or around a fantastical Venus. (3 stars)
      • Proposed ranking: 5
  • “The Halfling,” by Leigh Brackett (Astonishing Stories, February 1943) ∞
      • Read 4/2-3/2019; Started out strange and slow but last third compelling (3-3.5 stars)
      • Proposed ranking: 4
  • Mimsy Were the Borogoves,” by Lewis Padgett (C.L. Moore & Henry Kuttner) (Astounding Science-Fiction, February 1943) ∞ †
      • Read 4/3/2019; Insiduously chilling for parents of very young children (4-4.5 stars)
      • Proposed ranking: 1
  • The Proud Robot,” by Lewis Padgett (Henry Kuttner) (Astounding Science-Fiction, February 1943) ∞ †
      • Read 4/20/2019 (3.5 stars)
      • Proposed ranking: 3
  • “Symbiotica,” by Eric Frank Russell (Astounding Science-Fiction, October 1943) ∞
      • Read 4/6/2019; Impressed by Russell’s writing, read like an action-adventure-comedy screenplay (4 stars)
      • Proposed ranking: 2
  • “Thieves’ House,” by Fritz Leiber, Jr (Unknown Worlds, February 1943) †
    • Already own the ebook anthology Swords Against Death, which contains this story
    • Currently reading ebook 7/4/2019

Best Short Story

  • “Death Sentence,” by Isaac Asimov (Astounding Science Fiction, November 1943)
  • “Doorway into Time,” by C.L. Moore (Famous Fantastic Mysteries, September 1943) ∞
    • Read 4/8/2019; Compelling, imaginative, disturbing (3.5-4 stars)
    • Proposed ranking: 1
  • “Exile,” by Edmond Hamilton (Super Science Stories, May 1943) ∞
    • Read 4/5/2019; This story is short but impactful (3.5-4 stars)
    • Proposed ranking: 2
  • “King of the Gray Spaces” (“R is for Rocket”), by Ray Bradbury (Famous Fantastic Mysteries, December 1943)
    • Found in Classic Stories 1 anthology
    • Placed hold at KCPL 4/3/2019
    • Checked out from KCPL 4/5/2019
    • Read 4/8/2019; A nice coming-of-age for boys story involving rockets (every kid wants to grow up to be an astronaut). (3.5-4 stars)
    • Proposed ranking: 3
  • “Q.U.R.,” by H.H. Holmes (Anthony Boucher) (Astounding Science-Fiction, March 1943) ∞
    • Read 4/4/2019; meh, okay, nothing Earth-shattering (3 stars)
    • Proposed ranking: 6
  • “Yours Truly – Jack the Ripper,” by Robert Bloch (Weird Tales, July 1943)
    • Found in The Big Book of Jack the Ripper anthology
    • Placed hold at JCPL 4/3/2019
    • Hold available for pickup 4/5/2019
    • Checked out on 4/5/2019
    • Read 4/13/2019; Liked it enough to read the very next story in this anthology, also by Bloch. (3.5 stars)
    • Proposed ranking: 4

∞ † ∞

In anticipation of this list and some previous research, I have been purchasing ebook anthologies for C.L. Moore and Henry Kutner as well as requesting via interlibrary loan Asimov’s The Golden Years of Science Fiction Third Series anthology (for works published in 1943/1944) which contains many of the nominated finalists above (indicated by the infinity symbol [∞] above).  If I’ve purchased the ebook, the dagger symbol [†] will be used in the finalist list above.

The rest I’ll have to research using Internet Science Fiction Database (ISFDB) web site.  Earlier this year I created an account there in anticipation of nominations and finalist reading research.  Conveniently, there’s already a page with links to all the finalists found here.

As I find the anthologies or inexpensive ebooks to purchase, I will update the list above to indicate the status of my scavenger hunt.  Meanwhile, I’ll be reading the stories I already have in my hot little hand thanks to my planning and forethought.