Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ruined, Ruined I Tell You!

Just a note: after reading Jurgen with it's innumerable double entendres, reading other classic fantasy books that talk about swords, large swords, magic swords and your father's sword is really, really hard to do without giggling. If I had it to do over again, I would finish reading all of Lord Dunsany's stuff before reading Jurgen. As it is, I still have King of Elfland's Daughter and Book of Wonder to go. Wish me luck.

Some things you just can't un-read.

However, with that in mind, I realized that I'm getting very close to finishing this period of my reading of genre precursor classics. By my estimation, here's what I have left (books that I don't have a copy of yet are marked with the *):

The Narrative of A. Gordon Pym, Edgar Allen Poe (1838)
The Princess and Curdie, George MacDonald (1883) Optional
Lilith, George MacDonald (1895)
Book of Wonder, Lord Dunsany (1912) Optional
The Worm Ouroborous, E. R. Eddington (1922)
King of Elfland's Daughter, Lord Dunsany (1924)
We, George Zamiatin (1925)
Lud-in-the-Mist, Mirrlees (1926)
The Greatest Adventure, John Taine (1929)
*The Crystal Horde, John Taine (1930)
*The Time Stream, John Taine (1931)
*Before the Dawn, John Taine (1934)
Odd John, Olaf Stapledon (1935)
(Since they're bundled together, I'll also pick up Sirius by Stapledon, 1944)
Shadows Over Innsmouth, Lovecraft (1936)
At the Mountains of Madness, Lovecraft (1936)
Out of the Silent Planet, C. S. Lewis (1938)

After which I'll be able to head into the "Golden Age" with a clear conscience, probably starting with Lest Darkness Fall (L. Sprague De Camp, 1939) and Slan (A. E. van Vogt 1946).

Depending on how I find them, I may not read all four John Taine books. However, they were highly recommended to me by the late Charles Brown, so the plan is to read them all. None of them are terribly long.

It's really quite exciting to be so close to the end of this phase. With any luck I'll be done by the end of the year. I'm really looking forward to getting into the 50s and thence on to the New Wave. I think I may be close to ready for it now.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Lovecraft is great - I own the hardcover set of all his works.

Looking forward to your reviews of those books.

Karen Burnham said...

I've read some Lovecraft short fiction, and I'll be interested to see how he holds up at longer length.

I *hope* to review all of those; but I've already skipped a few (the one I regret the most being George MacDonald's Phantastes.) But I'll try!

Tim Walters said...

Odd John is important as an early Homo Superior novel, but I think Sirius is somewhat better (although have moments of dry exposition). But Last And First Men and Star Maker are the motherlode--a sweeping future history of the Solar System and then the Galaxy that between them invented a huge fraction of common science fiction tropes. I think you might want to consider tackling those.

Tim Walters said...

That should have been "although both have moments of dry exposition."

Karen Burnham said...

Tim - you are absolutely right; that's why I read both Last and First Men and Starmaker a few years ago! (I reviewed them on my old, now sadly defunct, website.) They were both amazing, I really loved them. I don't expect to have quite the same reaction to either Odd John or Sirius.