This is a repost from 8/26/20 since it somehow got eaten when I transferred to WordPress
The Drawing of the Dark by Tim Powers *** 3 stars
This is one of Tim Powers’s early novels and the first of his secret histories: several books with the shared premise that something supernatural is going on behind the scenes of history as we know it. It is set before and during the 1529 Siege of Vienna. Irishman Brian Duffy is working as a “bouncer” at an inn there when the siege begins. The first few chapters really drew me in, but the middle drags a bit (it is much shorter than Declare but doesn’t feel like it) and the book as a whole didn’t really come together for me. I might give The Anubis Gates another try (I didn’t finish that one) and I want to try The Stress of Her Regard at some point. I was much more impressed with Declare (my review).
Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie *** 3 stars
A reread of a book I first read in 2012. I probably won’t read it a third time but it was fun to revisit this. Haroun & the sea of stories begins in the country of Alifbay in a city ”so ruinously sad that it has forgotten its name.” Haroun is the only child of the storyteller Rashid Khalifa, and one day his father gets up in front of a huge audience, opens his mouth, and finds that he has run out of stories to tell. Harun sets out to fix that and discovers that the source of all stories is endangered by the villain Khattam-Shud, the Arch-Enemy of All Stories.
Hyperion by Dan Simmons *** 3 stars
A Hugo Award Winner (1990) about six people on a journey to the planet Hyperion. In the style of the Canterbury Tales, each character tells a story explaining why they are going to Hyperion. I liked the scholar and the poet best I think. And maybe the detective. The soldier’s tale is the only one that didn’t really do much for me. The book has frequent allusions to John Keats, including the poem Hyperion, which is based on the lost epic poem the Titanomachy, which is about the struggle of the Olympian gods to overthrow their predecessors the Titans. That gave me a hint about some of the things that happen in the book. I don’t like it enough to read the sequel right away but I will probably try it at some point.People disagree about whether to stick with the first book, stop after the second book or read the whole series.
I think I liked the other Delany books I have read better (Babel-17 and The Ballad of Beta-2 / Empire Star).
Here is what Neil Gaiman said about it in The Sandman Companion:“My original plan [for The Song of Orpheus] was to do the equivalent of a series of jazz riffs, all on Orphic themes, spinning off of stories precisely like The Einstein Intersection. It would have been much weirder and more interesting than what I ended up writing.” He says he kept hearing that people weren’t familiar with the original story, so the story he wrote for Sandman was a more literal retelling.
Huh. Now that I’ve read The Einstein Intersection I can say that knowing the Orpheus story ahead of time (I finally read Metamorphoses in its entirety last year) didn’t help. I will probably read something else by Delany someday (maybe Tales of Nevèrÿon but I am not a huge fan of his so far.
I listened to the audiobook read by Stefan Rudnicki from the library service hoopla digital. This book won the 1967 Nebula Award for Best Novel.