Saturday, January 08, 2011

Mmm...Apple, Cranberry, Walnut Pancakes...


  1. Bet those pancakes with Vermont maple syrup would be almost as firstly as Howard Dean!

    Cat--I'm impressed by your YouTube music video. I haven't the foggiest idea how one would do something like that.

    Thinking of eBay, I have a couple of items I'd like to sell that ought to be naturals, but setting up an eBay storefront to sell them seems like too much trouble. Anybody here set up to do it? Willing to front for me?

    I was reading up on Marrion Zimmer Bradley and her Darkover books. It seems she wrote some initial stories that were set on a warm planet where clothing tended to the diaphanous. Then she read Ursula LeGuin's "The Left Hand of Darkness," which just bowled her over. After that Darkover became colder (like the principal world of "Left Hand..."), and she went back and rewrote the earlier Darkover stories to match. Given that "Left Hand..." is my all time favorite science fiction novel and I enjoyed "The Mists of Avalon" so much, I am beginning to think that the Darkover stories are that much more promising. Anybody here familiar with them? Agree or disagree?

  2. Bill Thomasson1/08/2011 10:47:00 AM

    Those pancakes certainly look delicious. I miss pancakes, but all the mixes are just too impossibly high in salt and I don't have enough morning vigor to do pancakes from scratch. At most I may do instant oatmeal and toasted English muffins, although cold cereal is my usual.

    Alan -- I believe I've read every Darkover story ever written. Darkover is cold in all of them. I understand there was a very early short story (which I haven't seen) that had a society very similar to that of Darkover's Drytowns. The climate in that story may have been warm, but the planet was identified as Wolf 341 (or something like that), not as Darkover. (An interesting aside: The ruling family of the Domains claims descent from a sort of quasi-god named Hastur. One of Lovecraft's stories mentions Hastur, "from the dark stars beyond the Pleides." Darkover is identified as being beyond the Pleides.)

    As you can gather, I am very much a Darkover fan. Some of the very early Books (e.g., The Planet Wreckers) may not be quite as good, and late in the series she did a trilogy that I thought went a bit off the mark. And avoid "The Heirs of Hammerfell," which appeared under Bradley's name but was actually ghostwritten following her stroke. The ghost never bothered to find out what Darkover was all about.

    But otherwise, go for it! Be prepared, though, to see psychic powers treated not only as real but as the basis for a substantial (and generally well developed) technology.

  3. Agree, Alan. I loved the Darkover series. Marion Zimmer Bradley and Anne McCaffrey are two of my most favorite science fiction writers. For many years science fiction was my first love in reading, but not so much for the past five years or so.

  4. Thanks for the warning, Bill; I found a copy of "The Heirs of Hammerfell" at a used bookstore and thought I might start there; it sounded interesting. I started reading one ghostwritten "pre"-Avalon story and didn't think it was worth finishing. What's the trilogy that was off the mark? I see from the following reference that there were many co-written Darkover stories; should I generally avoid those?

    Here is my source for the tropical early Darkover reference:

    "At first Darkover was sort of tropical. People tended to wear diaphonous clothing and there were houses with token walls, or only curtains. There were swamps! Should you possess some of the early editions, you will find in them a Darkover remarkably unfamiliar from the later stories.

    Then a remarkable thing happened. Marion read "The Left Hand of Darkness" by Ursula K. LeGuin, and the temperature of Darkover began to drop. I still remember the excitement in her voice as she called us long distance to tell us how wonderful LeGuin's new book was. And I remember how cold it was in that Old Lovecraftian Farmhouse where she grew up! I suppose that she was finally taking that advice about 'writing what you know.'

    There are two schools of thought about reading the Darkover novels. One is that you should read them in the order in which she wrote them, so that you can appreciate her growing depth as a writer and thinker. The other is that you should read them in the order in which the stories 'happen,' so that you can follow the history of the planet. Marion was in many ways the ultimate Gemini, so it is appropriate that there should be two, opposing views of how to read the books."

    I seems difficult to find Darkover books in either the used or new book stores hereabouts.

  5. has some of the Darkover books. However, it's been so long I don't even remember which ones to recommend. Maybe Bill has recommendations?

  6. One I found at a used book store was "The Forbidden Tower;" that seems highly recommended. I also figured out (with a good bit of tinkering) how to download, read, and store Kindle books on my Mac(s). The display on my iMac is rather too large, but it looks good on my MacBook. They have a lot of MZB books, albeit at prices that should buy a new paperback (maybe I'm dating myself). Accessibility counts. So I think I will start with "The Forbidden Tower" in paperback, and if that is as good as I suspect, I will proceed to "First Contact" on my MacBook.

  7. I just now checked out, which I had been unfamiliar with. Looks good! Thanks for the tip, Susan.

  8. Rep. Gabby Giffords won her third term in the House in November in a close race against a highly conservative Tea Party candidate, and last March her office was vandalised after the Healthcare Reform vote. Stop the insanity. The person who tackled her assailant is a hero.

  9. Rep. Giffords (D, Ariz), age 40, is currently in surgery for a point blank (from 4 ft away) gunshot wound to the head sustained when an assailant opened fire at a constituency meeting she was holding at a Safeway grocery in Arizona. Her husband is astronaut Mark Kelly. A federal judge was also shot as were ten others. Six are dead.

  10. Bill Thomasson1/08/2011 04:15:00 PM

    Alan --

    I had to check Wikepedia to recall the names of the books I was referring to. It turns out that the first of the trilogy was "The Shattered Chain," which was fine. But I thought "Thendara House" and especially "City of Sorcery," which really form a two-volume novel, were OK in themselves but didn't really fit with what I expected of a Darkover novel. All the co-written books post-date MXB's stroke. The only two I've read are "Rediscovery," which I thought was fine, and "Exile's Song," Which I thought was decent and fundamentally true to Darkover, but had a somewhat different narrative sensibility than we get from MZB. Note that all the books "co-written" by Deborah Ross appeared after MZB's death. Apart from a few notes, I doubt if she had much to do with them.

    I was leaning toward recommending "The Forbidden Tower" as a good place the start. Wikepedia says there is controversey whether to read the novels in the order written or the order of internal chronology. I don't think it really matters. Just keep in mind that these books were written over the coursee of a quarter-century. And that some of the books are set millenia after "Darkover Landfall" but centuries before the main body of work -- which itself covers more than a century of rapid change.

  11. My science fiction period was my late teens, early twenties. Am a huge fan of Kornbluth. Also, later, did every last one of the Dunes. And maybe most seminal: Stranger in a Strange Land. Later a couple of Ursula Le Guin, including her Tao Te Ching. Looking that over, and including Douglas Adams, guess I'm more of a fan than I thought, but certainly no match for Alan, Bill or Cat, lol!

    Waking this morning to small snow, gray skies, and wind, the only word that came to mind was "bleak." But after an hour or so, it started to look good to me. . . When bleak looks good, you know yer an optimist, *grin.*

  12. BTW, just gave my granddaughter all the Wrinkle in Time Books. Her dad thinks maybe too early. But at twelve, I might think almost too late. He only did the first one.


  14. I just read a couple of Darkover short stories by MZB in an anthology; great day for it, being cold (by our standards, ennyhoo) and overcast! I am reminded of Andre Norton's Wolf World. Very promising. I see no reason to get hung up over chronology, which in the Darkover stories is evidently imperfect (as is the geography).

  15. I have recurrent enthusiasms in readings, puddle; I have been been away from SF/Fantasy for a long time, and was due for a course of it.

  16. The assailant sounds like a total crazy, that's for sure.

  17. I read on a couple of other sites that Sarah Palin wrote (I presume on her website) 'Conservatives and Lovers of America RELOAD' in reference to hotly contested elections. She indicated which races were to be targeted by using a gunsight icon on a map. Giffords was one of those targeted with a gunsight. Palin is too damn stupid to realize that inciting violence will always find a willing ear. She shares responsibility, as do other hate-mongers, with the assailant.

  18. Eeek! And I forgot Andre Norton! Love Norton. I read a couple of the early Piers Anthony books, but never really continued with them. When I was a kid I read all the "biggies", Heinlein and so forth.. Guess I just finally got saturated with them. Haven't even enjoyed the last of the Dragonrider series all that much (McCaffrey and son). I tend to reread books often though, so maybe I'll run through all the Norton books again.

  19. *TWO* on her map were WV reps. Means I kinda need to be careful when I go grocery shopping, eh?

  20. Words Have Consequenses:

    Gary Hart, 01.08.2011
    Scholar in Residence at the University of Colorado
    "We all know that there are unstable and potentially dangerous people among us. To repeatedly appeal to their basest instincts is to invite and welcome their predictable violence."

  21. I recently re-read a Rex Stout "Nero Wolfe" book--Fer de Lance. Certainly a fine conflation of the English manor house mystery with the hard-boiled American private eye story. They say Stout stuck to the same formula from beginning to end.

  22. Bill Thomasson1/08/2011 10:46:00 PM

    I have read most of the Nero Wolfe novels and have recently bought digital editions in case I find time to re-read. Stout breaks the mold in a few cases, but not many.

    For a long time my two favorite SF authors were Bradley and C. J. Charryh. More recently I have added Ian M. Banks and Kage Baker. And, of course, no one can overlook Heinlein and Asimov.

  23. Darkover stories: suggested order of reading
    (gleaned from

    The Forbidden Circle (omnibus):
    The Spell Sword
    The Forbidden Tower

    The Shattered Chain

    A world Divided (omnibus):
    Star of Danger
    The Winds of Darkover
    The Bloody Sun

    Heritage and Exile (omnibus):
    Heritage of Hastur
    Sharra's Exile


    First Contact (omnibus):
    Darkover Landfall
    Two To Conquer

    The Ages of Chaos (omnibus):

  24. Oops--that link is not right; should be:
    Then look at the guide.

  25. I have now ordered several Darkover books from them; thanks, Susan. is now among my bookmarks. I have never purchased a series of books before--that's my good wife's practice.

  26. Alan, sorry. Can't help. I love The Left Hand of Darkness, and indeed Ursula K. Le Guin is one of my all time fav authors, SF or otherwise. But, though I've read a few Bradley, none of the Darkover books.

    Susan, I also like Anne McCaffrey.

  27. Like in McCaffrey's Rowan Saga?

  28. Sounds like the same argument as rages over the Narnia books. I have actually heard of people forbidding their children to read the books in anything other than publication order, while others forbid their children to read them in anything other chronological order. I personally see merit in both.

    The same problem presents itself with McCaffrey's Pern novels, and with Asimov's books. Of course, towards the end of his life, he made an attempt, largely successful IMO, to weave together his Robot, Empire and Foundation novels. There are fourteen books in this amalgamated series, and I found it helpful to read them in chronological order.

  29. Curiously, my dad was greatly distressed by this horrible incident. He said he had just seen Rep Gifford on Fox News the night before she was shot, and that she seemed to him a very sensible young woman. I doubt, though, that the incident will change his admiration for the hate mongers. We'll have to wait and see. It struck me as a really good sign, and very interesting, though, that he was so upset.

  30. listener, I definitely want to come live (and eat) with you! What wonderful pancakes. I can practically taste them.

    Last night I submitted a chapter of Marooner's Haven to the new editor of Slate and Style: Magazine of the NFB Writers Division. Of course it's a non-paying market, but she put out the call for submissions, fiction and nonfiction, dealing with braille literacy. And, there's that chapterwhere Bronte has just met Emma and is beginning, dimly, to realize that he's in love with her. In that chapter, her inability to read comes up. I donno. The editor may not like it, but it was worth a try.