Excursion at the Rock ‘N Roll Emporium (and Used Book Store)

We have a very cool shop in Boone, NC called the Rock ‘N Roll Emporium. It hosts, among other things, an impressive collection of used books. Most are absurdly hilarious old sci-fi, high fantasy, and romance novels–and of course about seven shelves full of Start Trek novels. There are two main ways to have fun in such a place: reading each other excerpts from the ridiculous romances, and appreciating the astounding and outlandish cover art of the sci-fi and fantasy. I did both of these with two good friends the other day, and took pictures to boot.

Here are some of the best selections. (If you’ve read any of these books, please comment on their quality and/or hilarity.)

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“An all night beer session at the end of the cosmos” is a compelling description if I ever heard one. Even more compelling is my new rabbit/roly poly friend.

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This one folded open into this absolutely lovely picture–now this is what I’m talking about.

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GREAT TITLE, GREAT COVER. Look at him go, those birds don’t stand a chance at stopping him.

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Eric Brighteyes looks like a guy I’d want on my dodgeball team.

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Honestly, this cover is beautiful and I want to read this book. The colors, the people…yes. If only it wasn’t the third in the series.

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OUTLAW OF MARS. We have a viking-like warrior on the back of a t-rex, on mars (?), facing a majestic mountain + eagle duo. A masterpiece.

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This one wins coolest cover. Look at that fire snake. Check out that boob armor.

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Not the most sensational cover of all time, but the enticing blurb made it worth it. “The most beautiful and erotic courtesan in the galaxies of tomorrow” sounds like someone I’d want to meet.

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My personal favorite, I think. The colors. The style. The horse-dragon’s incredibly proportional legs.

In all honesty, these covers are amazing, and I would love to see the outlandish, saturated style make a comeback. There’s something very honest about it, as if to say, yeah, my protagonist harnesses a bunny-centipede and rides it off into the sunset, and I’m proud of it. 

Two Recommendations

My extended family is in town today, so I don’t have time to write a very long post–I’ll make up for it next week. My friends are doing some amazing literary things right now, so I thought I’d spread the word. Below are a blog and book recommendation.

  1. The Edwin Project: Zoe Kaplan is reviewing old science fiction stories published in magazines owned by her grandfather, circa 1950s. She is reading through the volumes and deciding which have stood the test of time, and which truly have not. Follow for 50s slang, corporeal ghosts, and mysteries of the universe.
  2. Waters of Salt and Sin: An epic new release by Alisha Klapheke, starring a sea-faring salt witch in a quest to rescue her. The author is awesome, and so is the story. High-stakes sailing, creepy sea wraiths and a unique magic system, and some killer worldbuilding lie within.

I’m off to go play Apples To Apples with my grandparents.

peace edit.jpgpeace out

 

Review: When the Moon Was Ours

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When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore, number one on my 2017 must-reads list, has been read! As I have been waiting to read this book since before it was released, I consider this a victory.

The crux of the story is the changing relationship between two strange inhabitants of a small town: Miel, a girl who was found in a water tower, and Sam, the boy who paints moons and hangs them everywhere. It’s a story of identity, love, fear, and family.

The book is incredibly beautiful. The prose is poetic, and the plot moves along gently. I was surprised and pleased at the fairy-tale like quality the story has the moment I opened the book. McLemore did a stellar job with the two transgender characters in the book, which I learned after I finished was due to her experience with her husband, who himself is trans. I’m glad she included this note at the end, because the tone of the book upon reflection took on the aura of a long, carefully crafted love letter.

Beauty and delicate nature aside, I did struggle at times with the passivity of Miel, the main character. Quiescent protagonists have never quite been my cup of tea: the ease with which Miel lets the people around her manipulate her life drove me quite frantic. In addition, at times the drowsiness of the plot left me unmotivated to continue until about half-way through, when the conflict truly started to pick up.

On the whole, however, the book is beautiful and poignant, with excellently represented characters. There was one scene involving a rose and a wrist that to this day, a month later, makes me cringe and hold my own wrist, and if that isn’t a mark of good writing, I don’t know what is. If you’re looking for diverse characters in every respect and beautiful, etherial writing, this book is for you.

Genre Mash-Ups

I’ve read a couple books recently that meld distinct genres in ways I’ve never considered before, and the results have been pretty awesome.

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Rebel of the Sands, by Alwyn Hamilton, is a gunslinger set in the fantasy Middle East, with a sharpshooter protagonist who’s the child of a djinni. There’s dialogue reminiscent of old westerns and several almost-train heists, amid a backdrop of a corrupt sultan and international intrigue. The best word for it would be ‘rollicking’.

Steeplejack, by A. J. Hartley, reads like a victorian mystery happening in a fictional, industrial South Africa-inspired country. It’s rife with intersectional conflict and political espionage, as well as the politics of a post-colonization state, but also strongly Sherlock Holmes-flavored.

I enjoyed both books, but was constantly struck by the contrasts in setting and genre. It made for two very fun reads.

 

 

Fantasy Misogyny

It seems like every book I pick up lately has a protagonist struggling against a supremely patriarchal, sexist, oppressive society. And I’m absolutely not saying we shouldn’t be writing and reading about these issues, be they incorporated into fantasy worlds or not–but lord am I getting a little exhausted of being surrounded by a society that hates and enacts violence against women, especially when I’m reading to get a bit of a break from it.

It might be just a coincidence that this is the backdrop to all the books I’ve read somewhat randomly lately. It might be that mounting social tensions are being reflected in YA literature. It’s probably a bit of both. But it’s exhausting. Right now I could use a few fantasy worlds without misogynistic cultures. I could use a story about a girl who isn’t facing down sexism as well as the big bad.