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Books I've Been Avoiding: Overlooked or Over-hyped?
by Neil Walsh
Neil has decided to target the classics of science fiction and fantasy that he has been avoiding. He has two stacks on his "waiting to be read" shelf for this particular project: a dozen classics of science fiction and fantasy, and a dozen more obscure titles that he has also been avoiding and have several times rescued from the annual household garage sale. It's time for him to check out these overlooked or (possibly) over-hyped books and test their mettle.
Overlooked or Over-hyped? Overlooked or Over-hyped?
a column by Neil Walsh
Neil has a secret: The Gormenghast Trilogy is the real reason he started this column in the first place. He had heard about the series for many, many years. So many authors have cited Mervyn Peake as a significant influence, that he knew he should really read him and find out what all the hype was about. But on the other hand, he had also heard disturbing reports from readers about how tedious and progressively unreadable the series ultimately becomes. He had heard rumours that Peake went insane while writing the series, and that the final book makes no sense at all.

Overlooked or Over-hyped? Overlooked or Over-hyped? Overlooked or Over-hyped?
a column by Neil Walsh
Many of us are drawn to stories about characters suffering from some form of memory loss. These tales can be a great deal of fun because they allow the reader to share in the character's self-discovery. This column looks at two books where memory loss is an integral feature of the story one is a recent award winner, and the other is more than a quarter century old and has recently been reprinted.

Overlooked or Over-hyped? Overlooked or Over-hyped? Overlooked or Over-hyped?
a column by Neil Walsh
With the Great Reckoning behind him, Neil decided to start 2008 fresh with something he has been meaning to read for about 20 years now, 1984 by George Orwell. And to balance this long-awaited classic, the other book is one he discovered in his stack, a copy of The Bear Went Over the Mountain by William Kotzwinkle. He figured, what the hell, let's follow the bear over that mountain.

Overlooked or Over-hyped? Overlooked or Over-hyped?
a column by Neil Walsh
This time Neil take a look at a relatively recent work which may not yet have entered the annals of "classic" speculative fiction, although it did receive something of an instant cult following and, later, a moderately massive amount of hype. But even as it began to take the bookstores by storm, it didn't capture any major awards. So is it a classic? Or is it overlooked? And who really wrote the works of William Shakespeare?

Overlooked or Over-hyped? Overlooked or Over-hyped? Overlooked or Over-hyped?
a column by Neil Walsh
Neil wonders whether anyone is reading his column. But he has decided to give it another try with Slan by A.E. Van Vogt, in which a young man who is more than human takes on pretty much the whole world as he quests for others (or even one other) like himself, and A Scientific Romance by Ronald Wright, in which a dying man takes a time machine to the future in hope of finding a cure for himself and a way to go back to the past to cure his now dead former lover, and he leaves a manuscript behind which may or may not ever be read... by anyone.

Overlooked or Over-hyped? Overlooked or Over-hyped?
a column by Neil Walsh
Usually Neil chooses two books to compare. This time out he's stretching his muscles and looking at two trilogies. One is Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials made up of The Golden Compass (aka Northern Lights in the original UK edition), The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. The other is Martha Wells' series, The Fall of Ile-Rien which .is composed of The Wizard Hunters, The Ship of Air and The Gate of Gods.

Overlooked or Over-hyped? Overlooked or Over-hyped? Overlooked or Over-hyped?
a column by Neil Walsh
For years, Neil has been told to read these two books. Not by the same people, mind you. They're not that much alike, except that they're both about earthlings on far distant planets who get themselves into awkward situations. Brin's earthlings are dolphins, and the aliens are far more technologically advanced than we are. Russell's earthlings are Jesuit missionaries and the aliens are less technologically advanced. So which one is the classic, and is it over-hyped? And which one is the forgotten treasure? Or has Neil gone totally off his rails?

Overlooked or Over-hyped? Overlooked or Over-hyped? Overlooked or Over-hyped?
a column by Neil Walsh
Usually Neil chooses two completely unrelated works and discuss them in a frequently vain attempt to find some vague connection between the two. But he doesn't want to become too predictable, so this time he deliberately picked a couple of books that are most definitely related. This time out he takes a look at The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag (1942) by Robert A. Heinlein and The Insipid Profession of Jonathan Hornebom (1995) by Jonathan Lethem.

Overlooked or Over-hyped? Overlooked or Over-hyped? Overlooked or Over-hyped?
a column by Neil Walsh
Can there be such a thing as too many books? Lately Neil has been feeling he has too many unread books. But is that really too many books, or simply not enough time? Or is it just poor planning. Some of the books on his shelves have been waiting for years to be read and he claims to really want to read them next. How to prioritize? He's still working on that. Meanwhile, he has some thoughts on Watership Down by Richard Adams and Pirates of the Universe by Terry Bisson.

Overlooked or Over-hyped? Overlooked or Over-hyped? Overlooked or Over-hyped?
a column by Neil Walsh
In reading this column, you may have come to suspect that it's really just an excuse for Neil to clear some books off his reading shelf -- and in the process to share with you each month his opinions on a book that is generally deemed a classic, alongside one that has been more or less neglected. This time out he takes a look at Dhalgren (1975) by Samuel R. Delany and Minions of the Moon (1999) by Richard Bowes.

Overlooked or Over-hyped? Overlooked or Over-hyped?
a column by Neil Walsh
Despite setting up a pattern wherein he takes a look at two books -- one an acknowledged classic, and one relatively obscure -- and consider whether the alleged classic is truly deserving of such an honourable designation, and whether the more obscure book warrants perhaps a little more attention, Neil is breaking his pattern. But The Prydain Chronicles is a series of five books plus a prequel, so really he is doing five (or six) in one -- er, two.

Overlooked or Over-hyped? Overlooked or Over-hyped? Overlooked or Over-hyped?
a column by Neil Walsh
If you followed this column last month, you may have come to suspect that it's really just an excuse for Neil to clear some books off his reading shelf -- and in the process to share with you each month his opinions on a book that is generally deemed a classic, alongside one that has been more or less neglected. Supposedly, his thesis is that we can all read more if we are studious in our endeavours to avoid less important tasks like flossing, grocery shopping, a really thorough cleaning of the bathroom, or sleeping more than absolutely necessary to stave off hallucinations.

Overlooked or Over-hyped? Overlooked or Over-hyped? Overlooked or Over-hyped?
a column by Neil Walsh
Neil has decided to target the classics of science fiction and fantasy that he has been avoiding. He has two stacks on his "waiting to be read" shelf for this particular project: a dozen classics of science fiction and fantasy, and a dozen more obscure titles that he has also been avoiding and have several times rescued from the annual household garage sale. It's time for him to check out these overlooked or (possibly) over-hyped books and test their mettle.

Copyright © 2007 Neil Walsh


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