Saturday, February 4, 2023

Las Vegas is pretty sword-and-sorcery

Kind of like Lankhmar, but a little less stabby.
I've been to Las Vegas at least a half dozen times, all for work, and have emphatically decided that I'm a Vegas guy. Sin City is a "love it or hate it" destination, and I'm decidedly in the former camp. I would gladly visit every other year or so. Take in a show, gamble, watch the train wreck of humanity slouching down the strip, stay up late drinking until I join the train wreck of humanity slouching down the strip. 

... but only for 3 days at a stretch, after which no shower can get me clean and I need to head straight into mental and physical detox. Which is all very sword-and-sorcery.

Anyways, I'm back after three nights at the Palms Casino Resort for a healthcare conference. I managed to fit in some fun, including 3-4 hours of gambling my last night there. I set a cheap $100 cap and was up as much as $155 at the blackjack table, gave about all of that back at roulette, and called it a night after breaking even.

In addition, the long flights from my home on the east coast to the west and back again afforded me some rare sustained reading time that I took advantage of.

I managed to finish That Hideous Strength, the third and final volume of C.S. Lewis' space trilogy, which I started this year and can now cross off the bucket list. I feel rather guilty saying it, considering how celebrated these books are, but they didn't do a whole lot for me. Some great ideas in here, but I found the execution lacking. Lewis left a lot of drama on the table and it was all too dialogue-heavy, even plodding in places. But, I loved the concepts and appreciated the modern-day parallels with N.I.C.E. (the National Institute of Co-ordinated Experiments).

On the way back I started reading David C. Smith's Sometime Lofty Towers and man, this is simultaneously grim, dark, personal, and well-done, at least through the first 60 pages. Looking forward to finishing it and giving it a proper review.

On the subject of reviews, I have admittedly not kept up with contemporary S&S and am planning to rectify that this year. Here is a partial list of works I either want to purchase and read, or already have purchased and are part of my 2023 TBR list:
  • Worlds Beyond Worlds, John Fultz
  • The Penultimate Men: Tales from Our Savage Future (Schuyler Hernstrom and others)
  • Sometime Lofty Towers, David C. Smith
  • Arminius Bane of Eagles, Adrian Cole
  • Frolic on the Amaranthyn, Chase Folmar
  • A Gathering of Ravens, Scott Oden
  • Swords of the Four Winds, Dariel Quiogue
  • S&S magazines including New Edge #0 (full read), and my backlog of Tales from the Magician’s Skull issues
As previously noted I've started the year with S.M. Stirling's Blood of the Serpent.

I also backed the New Edge kickstarter (and recommend you do too), and am 100% confirmed for Robert E. Howard Days, with lodging lined up. 

More on that later, once I complete my Vegas detox.


Matthew said...

I gave up on the Space Trilogy about half way through Perelanda. I think it is not considered as good as the Narnia books. I think Lewis forte was non-fiction. He is, and will be, remembered for his Christian apologetics but he was also an astute literary critic. If you can find a copy of his On Stories and Other Writings (I think that was what he called it) get it. It contains a good defense of the Lord of the Rings.

Don said...

I recently tried reading the Space Trilogy for the first time since high school, but it was too much of a slog and I didn't get very far. I agree that he was generally a better scholar and critic than a storyteller. On the other hand, I read Till We Have Faces every few years — it's about time to take the book off the shelf again, in fact.

Gonzalo B said...

The s&s part of my TBR list looks very similar to yours, plus some s&s from Spain and the Thongor novels, because why not. I like Vegas too. I once spent a month there and have enough stories to write a book. I covered a UFC event for a newspaper once and I've been to many other boxing and MMA shows there as well. I've always thought of it as a noir town but s&s also describes it well.

Cora Buhlert said...

I tried reading the Space Trilogy, when Perelandra was up for a Retro Hugo and I just couldn't get past the preachiness. C.S. Lewis just isn't the writer for me.

Brian Murphy said...

Not a whole lot of Space Trilogy fans here it seems.

Matthew/Don I do like some of his non-fiction, absolutely.

Gonzalo: You should write that book!

Frontier Partisan said...

This pleases me. I am a hate Vegas guy. It is an insult to a magnificent desert and a destroyer of souls.

Yet my wife and I undertook a 14-hour run down there from Oregon last December to see Ryan Bingham and Corb Lund on the opening weekend of the National Finals Rodeo.

I told Marilyn that I had to adopt the mindset that I was venturing from the north into Shadizar the Wicked, which made me a great deal more comfortable with the whole thing. So, yes, Vegas is very S&S, even when it's full of cowboys.

Jim Cornelius