Out of Everywhere

A James Tiptree Jr. Critique

One down…

So, I finished Byte Beautiful, finally. It was only eight stories, but it just took forever for me to finally get around to reading “I’ll Be Waiting for You When the Swimming Pool is Empty.” It was a bit disappointing that the story wasn’t really that good either. I always want the last stories in collections to be good, but sometimes the order is picked randomly and you can’t always win. I read a Stephen King short story collection last year (Nightmares and Dreamscapes, I believe it was) and he said in the intro that he’d chosen the order of his stories in his last collection by assigning them each a number or royal from a suit of cards in a deck (since he had 13 stories) and then shuffled them and drew them and that was the order. I don’t know how other people do it, and I know it’s not a universal thing. Sometimes the order is picked purposefully and sometimes it’s not. Anyway. Since I finished a book, I thought I’d give an overview. “With Delicate mad Hands” was a great opening, aforementioned super long title was a not so great ending. Overall, I rated the whole book a 3.375 (or 3 ⅜) with the majority being 4 out of 5 stars, which is pretty good. I think my favorite story was “The Man Who Walked Home,” with “Your Faces,  O My Sisters! Your Faces Filled of Light” coming in a close second. The story I obviously liked the least was “The Peacefulness of Vivyan,” with the only 2 star rating. I understand it’s point, I just didn’t like the way it was done. It had one story that you cannot find in any other collection (“Excursion Fare), but the three best stories (including “With Delicate Mad Hands”) can all be found in Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, which is still in print, and you should go buy, cause it’s a great collection. As for Byte Beautiful, it’s better than good, as my rating says, but not a must-have unless you’re a Tiptree fan like me and you want all the books for the sake of having all the books.

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February 17, 2012 Posted by | Collecting, Personal | , , , , , | Leave a comment

All the Books

A couple weeks ago I ordered the last two books I had yet to collect, Out of the Everywhere and Meet Me Infinity. (And yes, I am aware that it is Out of the Everywhere and my blog is called “Out of Everywhere.” It’s intentional.) They arrived a couple days ago amidst many packages and boxes. The Out of the Everywhere is very yellow with age, but all the pages are good. The Meet Me at Infinity is a hardcover, so the pages are in better condition, but the dust jacket has a couple of rips and is crushed in the corners. But, with these two, I now have all the James Tiptree, Jr. collections! Now I just need to find time to read them with the two books or so a week I have to read for my classes.

March 22, 2011 Posted by | Collecting, Personal | , , , , , | Leave a comment

One more new book

I know I just did a post about getting new books, but I got another one in the mail today. This time it’s Ten Thousand Light-Years from Home, which I’ve always liked the sound of as a title. I know there’s that phrase about not judging a book by its cover, but one thing I’ve always loved about Tiptree’s stories is the titles. They’re so unique to her style. Story titles like, “Your Faces, O My Sisters! Your Faces Filled of Light!” and “And I Have Come Upon This Place By Lost Ways” and “A Momentary Taste of Being.” Whereas other short story titles tend to be descriptions of the stories or references to important events/people/motifs in the stories, these titles seem to be stories in and of themselves. I mean, “Go From Me, I Am One of Those Who Pall,” does that sound like a description? It’s a message. And yet it is a title. These titles are so oral, and that’s why I love them.

 

As for the actual book, I’m excited about this one because, of the fifteen stories in it, I’ve only read two. And I know that at least two of the stories I haven’t read have received awards. The book itself is also in pretty good shape. No bent corners or major creases along the spine and no highlighting or mark-ups. The pages are a bit yellow, but that just shows their age. This book is from 1978, after all. (It’s a second printing, the book was published in 1973.) This takes my number of remaining books to find down to two. Exciting!

February 16, 2011 Posted by | Collecting, Personal | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Books!

So I just picked up a couple of packages from the mail and copy center. Two of them are new (very old) Tiptree books. The first is Byte Beautiful. It’s kind of fun to have the actual, physical book that I just reviewed a story from in the last post. The book isn’t in great shape. It’s hardcover, so it’s more durable, but the spine is way out of whack, which has made the front cover push forward, and the back push back. This makes the spine almost at a forty degree angle so it’s visible when the book lies flat. It’s also an old library book, so it’s got a stamp in the front, and one of those card holders in the back. Oh well. None of the pages are highlighted, bent, or ripped, so I’d call that a success.

 

The other one is Warm Worlds and Otherwise. The cover art is lovely old seventies science fiction art. And the book itself is perfect. It looks like it hadn’t even been opened. Also, props to seller bujoldfan on Amazon.com for shipping it in a padded envelope and between two pieces of cardboard so it wouldn’t get bent out of shape. I can’t wait to read these two, especially the new stories I’ve never read.

February 14, 2011 Posted by | Collecting, Personal | , , , , | 2 Comments

I’m a list kind of person

I find it very easy to latch onto something and create an obsession. Most prominently, my obsessions takes the forms of musicals. (My current being the revival of Hair, which funny enough, originally premiered the same year Alice Sheldon started writing as Tiptree. How’s that for irony?) When I first decided to collect Tiptree’s work, I looked at old science fiction bookstores and science fiction conventions. I had only to find anything that wasn’t the collection I had, Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. The next book I found was Brightness Falls from the Air, which seems to be one of the easier ones to track down aside from HSRUF. As I slowly accumulated more books, I realized the need to see all of what was out there. So I began my research. It was much more difficult a few years ago. Now, I’ll bet it’s all on Wikipedia. Oh, the advances the internet has made in even a few years’ time. (Just look at Facebook and Twitter!) I had to go between several different sources, including old sci fi websites which hadn’t been updated in years, to find all the books and their contents. I remember a couple of them being particularly tricky, such as Tales of the Quintana Roo. I don’t believe I ever found what was in that book until I bought it and read it.

So now I have not just one list, but several. I have a list of the collections and all the stories they contain. I have an alphabetical list of all the short stories (there are 69, if you’re curious), and I have an excel spreadsheet of which stories are in which collections, and which ones I have read. This makes me seem like such an organized person, but it honestly just helps me keep track of my obsession with greater ease. Anyway, since this blog is about reviewing and collecting the stories, I thought I’d give a brief blurb on what I own. As of right now, I have five collections of short stories, with three on the way in the mail (thank you Amazon!), both novels, and the small collection of poetry. A couple years ago when I went looking for the remaining five books, it was incredibly difficult to even find mention of Ten Thousand Light-Years from Home, and Byte Beautiful was horrendously expensive to buy online. When I went looking last week, I found all five of the remaining unowned ones for less than ten dollars each. How’s that for beautiful? I have read 37 of the 69 short stories. For the purposes of this blog, I’ll reread those stories I’ve read before in order to review them, including the two novels and the poetry. I wonder if this will change my view about them. But then again, it is called a review. Well, we shall see.

P.S. Check out the page with the list of books. I love old sci fi cover art.

P.P.S. On another SF note, I just finished David Brin’s Startide Rising. I highly recommend it. It has space-faring dolphins and a very interesting idea of universal evolution.

February 13, 2011 Posted by | Collecting, History, Personal | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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