My brain has finally started to return to its normal shape after the deeply unpleasant overwork of the six months leading up to the holiday break. As a result, things have been cooking in the books-and-projects category. Over on the Hope Mirrlees site, there’s now the full text of Madeleine: One of Love’s Jansenists, as well as the first chapter of Lud-in-the-Mist and some great scans from Paris and Lud.

These additions mark the beginning of what will, I hope, be a productive period for the site—I’ll be adding a lot of small things over the next few months, mainly in the form of research details and bits of analysis, as this is the term in which I intend to complete my MA thesis on Lud. The first bit of prep to do on that front is to break down my reading list: I wrote a prospectus and giant bibliography (for my program, at least) in my first term at Queens, but I need to revisit it and to begin the process of loading the books I read that semester back into my useful mid-term memory. (Note to self: flowers and candy for the Interlibrary Loan Office.)

I’ve also just finished my first few days of slushing for Strange Horizons, and I took advantage of the break and the brain renewal to get ahead on my reading there: I think I got through about thirty stories in the last few days, many of which were good and two or three of which were exceptionally fine.

And the other reading, in mini-review form:

  • Gene Wolfe’s bleak, beautiful “Forlesen” in his The Book of Days, which I’m reading in single-story sips instead of gulping it up as I usually do with story collections. Wolfe’s been one of my favorite writers for years—no one but no one else does that half-submerged, spare, rich-yet-hollow, entirely numinous thing that he does—and I’m really enjoying settling into his short stories in an orderly way. “Forlesen,” by the way, is a Middle English word meaning to lose completely or to abandon, from whence we’ve inherited “forlorn.” Here’s some Clute on Wolfe; go soak your brain.
  • Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker, which I’m halfway through, and which is doofy in the way that most steampunk books are doofy. It’s also highly entertaining and also has that unusual quality of being simultaneously emotionally nailed-down (rooted?) and ambivalent that most of Priest’s work has.
  • The first trade of Chew, a comic book about a “cibopathic” FDA operative/special crimes investigator who gets psychic impressions from anything he eats. Extrapolate from that premise a bit and you’ll see what that could have been revolting, but even given my recent experience with the flu, I found it completely charming. It’s drawn by Rob Guillory and written by John Layman, and and I’m looking forward to their next batch.

Cover of Chew