Thursday, April 05, 2007

Reed Farrel Coleman and others


Realized after writing about Dibdin that I've forgotten to write about books I read during our trip to Cyprus. I ran out of time and didn't get to Matheson's The Shrinking Man, but I'll read it eventually.

Algis Budrys: Rogue Moon (1957). Didn't like this, even though it's been described as a noirish science fiction novel. The style was too literary and I never felt easy with it. I was also left wondering why the heroes went to the mysterious place on the Moon only in the end of the book. If this had been translated in Finnish, I know I'd've gotten more out of it.

Reed Farrel Coleman: The James Deans (2006). Winner of the paperback Edgar last year and it sure is a winner. A very thoughtful private eye novel, in which almost everything seems to be in the right place. (My only grudge is that it wasn't solved who sent those small limerick notes to Moe Prager, Coleman's private eye hero. Or if it was, it went completely past me.) Nothing pulpish here, more like something by Ross Macdonald or Laura Lippman. (But I know that if I were to recommend this to Finnish readers, they would think it's just some pulp: everything I touch turns into pulp.)

Leigh Brackett: Eric John Stark: The Outlaw of Mars (1964, containing novellas "The Secret of Sinharat" and "People of the Talisman"). I'd be really interested to hear how these compare to Brackett's other space adventures. I thought these were tightly written and fast-paced, without any empty moments. Really close to hardboiled westerns of the fifties and early sixties. It's just that I'd left some 50 pages to read on a plane and I didn't really manage to get on with it, with Kauto jumping around and all that.

7 comments:

Todd Mason said...

Budrys's writing is dense and allusive, and rarely if ever moreso than in ROGUE MOON. English was, I think, his third language, but one he started learning in childhood...but I think that multilingual writers often particularly enjoy their preferred language. I've read only a few of Brackett's space operas, but they, too, can be allusive, if less blatantly so than Budrys in THE DEATH MACHINE/RM. Reading a PLANET STORIES with her and Charles Harness prominently featured at the same time as a contemporary ASTOUNDING did not reflect well on the ASTOUNDING.

Juri said...

Maybe I'll have to try more Budrys later on. So, was Russian his second language, if Lithuanian was his first? Did he know Roe/Roaldus Richmond whom I've suspected to have hailed from the same parts of Eastern Europe?

Did Stanislaw Lem, by the way, ever comment on ROGUE MOON? The theme of the book seems quite similar to his SOLARIS. I do know what Lem thought of American SF writers in general, but he must've read this.

Todd Mason said...

Budrys's second language would be German, I think, since he lived as a child in Germany as his father was in the Lithuanian foreign service. His parents apparently met during their mutual service in statecraft and espionage agencies for Lithuania...no surprise, from his fiction. I'll have to look up Richmond; I don't know of his work. Budrys famously reviewed the US edition of SOLARIS upon its release, and was less impressed than he might be, but more inclined yet to fault the fact that it wasn't even a translation from the Polish into English but from the French translation into English..."a Xerox of a Xerox at best, or more likely a pale carbon." With Lem's arrogance toward western SF, I don't know that he ever chose to comment on Budrys's work, if he came across it.

Todd Mason said...

From what Bill Contento has, in the FM Index, it looks as if Roe Richmond might have EE roots but not quite as immediate ones as Budrys:

RICHMOND, ROALDUS (Frederick) (1910-1986); see pseudonym Roe Richmond; Western writer, editor, proofreader. Born in Barton, Vermont; lives in Concord, New Hampshire. (chron.)

* * The Chopping-Block Kid, (ss) Dime Sports Magazine Aug 1941
* * Duel with Death, (ss) Five-Novels Magazine May/Jun 1947

Budrys has mentioned that Walter Kubelius, who was one of the fringe Futurians and otherwise active in SF circles in the 1940s, was Lithuanian-American whom his father, for unspecified reasons, disappproved of. Kubelius wrote for Lituanian-Am papers, and perhaps was a Communist or otherwise not to the elder Budrys's political taste.

TM said...

Wow, I'm writing particularly poorly today...dropping "the"s and such everywhere...too much pusua, too little syntax...

Todd Mason said...

The next Budrys I'd recommend after ROGUE MOON would be his last novel, so far, and quite probably his last, sadly...the underrated HARD LANDING. The only novel I'd not recommend is the decidedly minor MAN OF EARTH.

Juri said...

Of course German. Sorry, my mind wasn't working right.

It just happens so that I have MAN OF EARTH. May try that, but with your warning (and I've read it elsewhere) in mind.

As for Roaldus Richmond, it seems that Bill C. has received new information on him - I'd've remembered the notion of him being born in, Vermont, was it?