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Thursday, 15 February 2007
EXPENSIVE SF & F genre books
Mood:  incredulous
Now Playing: The Venture Brothers
Topic: Literary Survey

AbeBooks' sends me a genre related email list every once in a while.  I was amused at this recent topic.  Here are the top prices paid for SF & F books in 2006.

* Book images are not of those that actually sold.

1. 1984

George Orwell

First edition, first impression of this 1949 dystopian classic. There were two versions of the dustjacket issued, one green and one red. There is no priority between them. Copies in this condition are deeply uncommon. The jacket has a nick or two at the odd corner and a trace of rub but is one of the best copies. Sold for $8,258.40

2. (tied) Neuromancer (2), Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive

William Gibson

Three first edition Gollancz hard covers and one Ace paperback of Neuromancer. The Gollancz copies are in fine, unread condition in fine unclipped dust jackets, and all are signed by Gibson. Sold for $7,500

2. (tied) The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger

Stephen King

First edition. One of 500 numbered copies signed by King and artist Michael Whelan. This copy, #97, sold for $7,500


4. (tied) I, Robot

Issac Asimov

A very fine copy with a very fine dust jacket of this 1950s collection of short stories. Review slip laid in. Sold for $4,500


4. (tied) The Healer's War

Elizabeth Scarborough

Signed original manuscript with corrections by the author and notations by the copy editor. The 1989 Nebula award winner for best novel, this draft was written in the third person. The author abandoned this method of writing when she found that it removed her too far from her characters. The later drafts are all written in first person. Sold for $4,500

6. Brave New World

Aldous Huxley

Very good to near fine example of this 1932 dystopian novel. The true first edition, preceding the American in original yellow cloth with blue gilt-lettered spine label. Sold for $4,025

7. The Ship That Sailed to Mars

William Timlin

First edition of this 1923 novel about a group of dwarves and elves who join together to build a ship and go to Mars. Includes forty-eight mounted color plates and forty-eight mounted pages of calligraphy-like printed text, both by Timlin, on gray background paper. Sold for $3,995

8. Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang

Kate Wilhelm

Near fine original manuscript package of this 1976 Hugo award winning novel. Contains: Original ribbon copy and carbon-copy typescript, final draft, setting copy. Signed with a few corrections in authors hand. Also containing file folder with maps, charts, diagrams, rewritten section and correspondence, all pertaining to the novel. Sold for $3,975


9. Brave New World

Aldous Huxley

First edition. Limited issue; one of 324 numbered and signed copies. Sold for $3,250

10. The Hobbit

J.R.R. Tolkien

This second impression published 1937, same year as the first. It is important for the addition of the 4 color illustrations by the author. This is the first and only early UK edition published with four of Tolkien's color illustrations. One of only 1877 copies of the original 2300 that survived the bombing of London in November 1940. Sold for $3,000

No huge surprises here; except for the Kate Wilhelm and Elizabeth Scarborough.  I well recall the buzz created when THE DARK TOWER was new; those limited edition copies were snapped up quickly and they only rarely resurface.  The other books on the list are a mixed bag; I'd never pay that much for 1st ed. Gibson, but that's me.  I just don't want it that badly.

Posted by mrnizz at 2:13 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 15 February 2007 2:18 PM EST
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Wednesday, 5 October 2005
Mood:  a-ok
Now Playing: Nothing
Topic: Literary Survey

Hail, Caesar

My two favorite historical mystery writers, John Maddox Roberts and Steven Saylor, have released new series novels almost simultaneously, and that's great news indeed!

Roberts' "Roman Detective" is Decius Metellius, a Roman senator that lives right about the time of the end of the Roman Republic and advent of Julius Caesar. He is patrician, from an old and noble family, and a struggling politiician. The series is called "SPQR" (For the Senate and People of Rome), and the latest volume is THE PRINCESS AND THE PIRATES. I'm almost done with it, and have been enjoying it immensely. This is a nautical adventure where the thirtyish Decius is sent to Cyprus to unravel a mystery involving pirates, an exiled general, and the young princess Cleopatra.

The other "Roman Detective" is Gordianus the Finder, a creation of Steven Saylor. Gordianus is a plebian Roman citizen of good if undistinguished family who is a "finder" (analogous to private eye) to various important Roman citizens, including some of the lights of the era: Caesar, Pompey, Cicero, Catiline, Cato, and many other important historical figures routinely show up in his stories. His latest, A GLADIATOR ONLY DIES ONCE, is a collection of short stories, some of which I have seen compiled elsewhere (in Historical Whodunits, for example), but it is good to see them all in one volume like this. I'm about halfway through this, and all of the stories (including the ones I've read before) have been uniformly good, some better than others.

Needless to say, since I already said it, I like the authors quite a bit, and can't say which I prefer. My recommendation is to check them both out of the library as fast as possible, like I did, before some other selfish bastid gets in front of you.

Posted by mrnizz at 4:46 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 11 October 2005 2:21 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 22 February 2005
Flashman, Rated by me
Mood:  mischievious
Now Playing: GeekBlog Podcast, boardgame geek
Topic: Literary Survey

I'm an unabashed fan of George Macdonald Fraser's FLASHMAN series, covering the career of one Harry Paget Flashman, who existed in literature as the swaggering bully of the somewhat unreadable TOM BROWN'S SCHOOL DAYS. Fraser's conceit is to examine what the career of Flashman might have been like had he pursued a career in the Victorian Army of the late 19th Century. Need I point out that nice guys finish last in a Fraser novel?

Flashy rogers, romps, fights and runs away over the course of 11 novels (so far) and there's every sign that the series will continue, with FLASHMAN AT THE MARCH (the Abysinnian Campaign) coming out this Spring. I look forward with baited breath.

Even a bad Flashy novel is better than a lot of drek that gets published these days. Yet I still have my preferences, which I'll voice here (along with a survey of the series so far). The covers represent the BRITISH version of the Flashy books (and they are quite handsome indeed!). I'm using them since I found this HTML table ready-made by a British fan, why reinvent the wheel, after all? However, the words are my own. Note Bene, my "ratings" really are just and indication of what I call the best and worst of the series, and they are simply my own opinion. Your mileage might vary. If I don't say it's either a favorite or least favorite, that means that Fraser did a workmanlike job on it.

Flashman (Book 1)

1. Flashman

Flashman's Early life, Afghan uprising 1839-1842.

My third favorite, FLASHMAN is our introduction to the series and to Flashy's deplorable character. In a few short chapters, Flashy gets expelled from Rugby for drunkeness, rogers his father's mistress, joins the 11th Hussars, rogers a colleague's mistress, fights a rigged duel, and gets sent to India in time for the disasterous Kabul Expidition. I'm not even doing the story justice...

Royal Flash (Book 2)

2. Royal Flash

Lola Montez and Otto von Bismarck 1842-43; Schleswig-Holstein controversy 1847-48.

A retelling of the PRISONER OF ZENDA, perhaps my second least favorite Flashman novel. Still, it has some wonderful moments, as ALL Flashman stories tend to have. Lola Montez and her penchant for hairbrushes comes to mind. Royal Flash also is one of the VERY few (tsk tsk) novels in the series where Flashman stands and fights, albeit briefly.

Flash For Freedom! (Book 3)

3. Flash For Freedom!

American slave trade 1848-49.

Not in my top 3 but definitely in my top 5. Flashy again gets involved in a contremps over cards, loose women and cheating, and flees England for a while at the instigation of the villainous Morrison (his father in law).. on of all things, a slave trading ship! The best part of the book is toward the end, with Fraser's droll observations about Americans through the voice of Flashy. And Flashman gets to meet a very young Abe Lincoln at the end!

Flashman At The Charge (Book 4)

4. Flashman At The Charge

Crimean War (Charge of the Light Brigade), 1854; Central Asia, Battle at Fort Raim 1855.

My absolute favorite Flashman novel, due to it being chock-full of historical personages and events, and just the sprawling bigness of the thing.. A reluctant Flashy gets sent to Sevastapol, to take part in no less than The Thin Red Line, the Charge of the Heavy Brigade and the Charge of the Light Brigade. Natch, he also rogers lots of doxies along the way, and even has a drug-induced moment of heroism at the very end!

Flashman In The Great Game (Book 5)

5. Flashman In The Great Game

Sepoy Indian Mutiny 1856-58.

This, or Dragon, usually make my second favorite Flashman novel of all time. The great Indian mutiny of the late 50s.. Flashy poses as a native to avoid getting slaughtered.. and manages to roger the Rhani of Jhansi along the way.

Flashman's Lady (Book 6)

6. Flashman's Lady

Borneo Piracy, Madagascar 1842-45.

This one is down there at the bottom. I don't know why, it just comes off as filler for the rather uneventful years between 42 and 49 for some reason. Still, Flash manages to have his lady wife kidnapped, rescues her, becomes the consort to the Queen of Madagascar, meets Rajah Brooke, and manages to roger a terrified member of a hareem in the middle of a battle.

Flashman And The Redskins (Book 7)

7. Flashman And The Redskins

The 1849 Gold Rush 1849-50; Battle of Little Big Horn, 1876.

Probably my fourth favorite. Love the subject matter but I suspect it would be better served expanded into two standalone novels rather than one book made up of two half-novels. Still, there's a reason he does this and it's best that I don't reveal it here. Let's just say that the first part (the 49s) has a passage that, for me, represents the most despicable thing Flashy has ever done to a female, and part two (the Little Big Horn campaign) has all the chickens coming home to roost, as it were. Another great romp through American history..

Flashman And The Dragon (Book 8)

8. Flashman And The Dragon

Taiping Rebellion, 1860.

My second or third favorite, depending on how I feel that day and who's asking. I love Chinese history and especially the TaiPing rebellion (this book inspired me to find out more about Frederick T. Ward... read THE DEVIL SOLDIER sometime, it reads like an improbable adventure novel!). Flashman gets involved in the thick of things, desperately involved in A) dodging a clumsy blackmail scheme B) romancing a giant bandit queen and C) taking part in the Allied Punitive Expedition. Another rare moment where Flashy actually stands and fights, this time against none other than Sang-Kol-Insen himself!

Flashman And The Mountain of Light (Book 9)

9. Flashman And The Mountain of Light

Indian Punjab, Sikh Rebellion 1845-46.

Fun, but not in the upper pantheon. Another filler book for the late 1840s, this one focuses on the Sikh rebellion. Again Flashy rogers his way to greatness. More forgettable than some of them, as I am currently drawing a blank on the details. Perhaps it's time to re-read this one.

Flashman And The Angel of the Lord (Book 10)

10. Flashman And The Angel of the Lord

John Brown's Raid on Harper's Ferry 1858-59.

My fifth favorite, and a great improvement over Mountain of Light. Angel shows a much more humane and introspective Flashy.. he's absolutely mournful in his reminsciences here-- This is a very focused, tight story and of note due to the constant references to the giant gaping hole in the memoirs.. Flashman's experiences (on both sides) during the American Civil War (the book all Flashy fans want to see). Flashman's portrayal of John Brown is humane, charitable and even sympathetic.

Flashman And The Tiger (Book 11)

11. Flashman And The Tiger

Not a novel at all, but these three short stories:

'The Road To Charing Cross' - Congress of Berlin, Treaty of San Stefano, 1878; Bodyguard to the Emperor Franz Joseph, 1884. (largest and best of the lot)
'The Subtleties of Baccarat' - Tranby Croft scandal, 1890.
'Flashman And The Tiger' - Zulu Uprising, 1879, and Tiger Jack Moran, 1894.

My least favorite . The Congress of Berlin story is pretty good and would have made a great standalone novel. The Tiger story is okay-- most noticeable for the Sherlock Holmes reference than anything else. I really wish Fraser had taken time to write a novel length Zulu War book-- I would like to have seen Flashy at BOTH Isandlwanah AND Roarke's Drift. Sigh.

Posted by mrnizz at 12:00 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 24 February 2005 9:55 AM EST
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Thursday, 17 February 2005
The Current Teetering
Mood:  lyrical
Now Playing: my Banjo
Topic: Literary Survey
It's my habit to read several things concurrently, depending on input stream.. audio book, e-books on the Palm, the old fashioned bound kind. This is what is currently on the pile: I'm currently reading Jack McDevitt's POLARIS (his latest, but not best, novel). Jack tends to write "space archeology/mystery" stories, and ALL of them (except MOONFALL) are good, addictive, reads. His best is A TALENT FOR WAR (about debunking a 'hero of the galazy' myth through detective work... excellent.. and POLARIS is set in the same setting). (bound, h/c) I'm also reading McSWEENEY'S ENCHANGED CHAMER OF ASTONISHING STORIES (short stories, Ed. Michael Chabon). I picked it because of the editor, Michael Chabon, who wrote THE ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY. Hit or miss, but some great stories so far-- I like Joyce Carol Oates a lot, and she wrote the first story in the collection. (bound, trade) Also, LOST IN A GOOD BOOK by Jasper Fforde. This is vol. 2 in the "Thursday Next" series.. a very odd little group of books about a literary detective that can actually insert herself in book plots to prevent history from changing. Quirky and excellent. (bound, trade) If you like horror/mystery/historical fiction: I have these in from the library: THE NARROWS by Michael Connelly (starring one of my favorite hard-case detectives, Harry Bosch... Bosch novels are like literary crack for me). THE VIRTUES OF WAR by Stephen Pressfield (whose Thermoplyae novel GATES OF FIRE is being made into a movie right now). VoW is about the tutelage of Alexander the Great. I just re-upped at the Science Fiction Book Club, and received: Rincewind the Wizzard (the first four books of the Discworld series, I have only read the first one) Gods in Darkness (the Karl Wagner short story collection) the Crown of Conan (the new Robert Howard Conan anthology) the Second SFBC Barsoom collection (books 4-6 I think) Fevre Dream, a book about Riverboats and vampires by George Martin. I also ordered another book (the h/c vol. 1 of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), but they didn't have it. I'll have to select another book, which will probably be the FIRST volume in their Barsoom anthology... I have all of them already in paperback, but these are so handy, especially when I'm working on Barsoomia. Oh... and I have a bunch of Robert E. Howard, Dashiel Hammett and Clark Ashton Smith short stories loaded on my PDA in e-book format, as well as the much longer DEED OF PAKSANARION trilogy by Elizabeth Moon. The latter is quite enjoyable so far! I'm listening to THE SAGA OF THE SEVEN SUNS by Kevin J. Anderson in the truck. It's mid-level space opera, not great, but nicely detailed and enjoyable. Nothing that will garner him a nebula award. He's not a great, or even consistently good writer, but he really hit the mark this time.

Posted by mrnizz at 9:44 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 22 February 2005 12:24 PM EST
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