Thoughts on books and writing

My Tolkien Fandom Oral History Interview

Lord of the Rings Book Cover

A few weeks ago, I learned of a massive audio interview project being conducted by Marquette University to gather the input of 6000 Tolkien lovers on what made them fans and what his work has meant to them. Each interview is limited to 3 minutes. I figured, why not? I’ll do it! As it turned out, I spent considerably longer than that writing up my notes ahead of time and editing repeatedly...

R.I.P. Thomas M. Disch


I just learned from Making Light that Thomas M. Disch, the author of 334 and On Wings of Song — two of the best works of SF I’ve ever read — killed himself two days ago. Damn. Fucking damn it. Yes, he was a bastard sometimes, particularly lately, but he wrote some amazing stuff that spoke of a larger spirit and artistic sensibility than most people ever know. I wish he had had a...

Thoughts on Elemental Logic


I recently finished the first three books of the Elemental Logic series by Laurie J. Marks. They are grave and thoughtful books about violence, personal responsibility, and friendship in an occupied land where magic works in unusual ways. The issues that are dealt with are serious, and I feel I owe the books (and author) the respect to say both what worked and what didn’t in the series.

I guess I’d better read it now…


You’re To Kill a Mockingbird! by Harper Lee Perceived as a revolutionary and groundbreaking person, you have changed the minds of many people. While questioning the authority around you, you’ve also taken a significant amount of flack. But you’ve had the admirable guts to persevere. There’s a weird guy in the neighborhood using dubious means to protect you, but...

A double dose of Pride & Prejudice


This is turning into a trend: for the second time recently, I’ve been inspired to pick up a classic book after watching an adaptation of it. In this instance, the starting point was the 2005 movie of Pride & Prejudice, directed by Joe Wright and starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen. Jane Austen has become even more famous and beloved than ever in the past ten years, so I probably...

Jean Grey, meet Jane Eyre


A couple of weekends ago, I watched X-Men: The Last Stand, the most recent installment in the X-Men movie franchise. On the same night, I finished reading Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. You might think that a 9-month-old superhero movie and a 160-year-old realistic novel don’t have anything in common, but you’d be wrong… Both fictions take on the subject of women and...

Jane Eyre on stage


I just returned from a performance of Jane Eyre at the Flynn. Since I’ve been sick and tired (literally) for the past two days, I almost didn’t go. At the last minute I found the strength to walk the three blocks, and I’m really glad I did because it was a thoroughly involving and moving experience. My only exposure to Jane Eyre before this was the revisionist take on it by Jean...

Discworld at a glance


Now that I’ve gotten more than 20 books into Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, I think it’s time for an overview of what’s what. For those who don’t know what Discworld is, I can sum it up as a long-running parody of the fantasy genre that is also well-written, psychologically apt, and quite deep at times. With puns. Lots of puns. I had seen references to the...

True romance


When I went to Scotland, I took two books with me. One was The Game of Kings, by Dorothy Dunnett — the tale of a noble rapscallion named Francis Crawford of Lymond who offends and/or fascinates everyone he meets while pursuing a mysterious agenda in 16th century Scotland. It’s a challenging and worthy beginning to a six-book series that in its telling travels far beyond the borders of...

Feminist SF on the web


I’m a member of some fun new communities these days. Laura Quilter, the esteemed webmistress of, a resource site with associated listserv that I have been a part of for more than 10 years, recently set up a wiki, a forum, and a blog. I’ve been spending a lot of time editing the wiki (user name JLeland). Putting together bibliographies pleases my nitpicky research side...


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