Best Books 2002 (long, because I don't know when to shut up)

Jenwa Hsung jenwahsung at
Mon Jan 6 17:17:06 EST 2003

--- Kathryn Andersen <kat_lists at> wrote:
> The Most Waste Of Money And Mysterious Missing Book
> Award
> "The Fall of the Kings" by two authors whos names I
> can't remember, and
> I can't look up because the book is missing.  I
> *thought* it was either
> in my to-be-tossed book box, or put aside somewhere
> to be sold
> second-hand, but I can't find it.  This was a book I
> bought on spec in
> trade paperback (about $40!) because it looked good,
> it sounded good,
> and I felt like spending some money.  And though it
> started out well and
> vividly and picturesquely, I got completely turned
> off when the two
> heros turned out to be gay, and got in bed with each
> other.  Not the
> kind of thing I want to read about, thank you.  I
> class this as "most
> waste of money" since at least with "The Shelters of
> Stone" (which I
> bought hardback) I actually finished the book.

While I'm still working on a Best of 2002 list, I feel
the need to pop up briefly and defend "The Fall of the
Kings" by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman.

I really enjoyed this book.  I found it absorbing,
with an unusual and detailed worldview, vivid
descriptions, and fascinating characters.  The text,
concepts, and imagery have a literate savagery -- no
punches are pulled here.

Yes, many of the prominent characters in it are gay. 
Forgive me if I don't understand why that makes the
book automatically dismissable.  There is love and
obsession and sex and madness in complex jumbles.  I
personally find this a good thing.  It is a bit
explicit, a bit graphic, and admittedly not exactly
mainstream, and so is definitely not for everyone. 
But in a lush, gorgeous, non-idealized,
non-trivialized way.

I'm not saying this book is perfect.  I am not
convinced it hangs together entirely cohesively, and I
feel like it has some pacing issues.  Also, I should
note that I am in general not as inclined to read epic
fantasy these days -- but I picked up this book anyway
because the authors charmed and impressed me at the
World Fantasy Convention, and because part of it was
written in Massachusetts coffee shop of which I'm
quite fond.  And I am truly glad that I did pick it
up, because reading it was a rich (the bloody,
pulsating kind of richness) and rewarding experience.

[hmm.  sorry about going a little overboard on the
adjectives there... but well, i like adjectives...]


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