Reading: Angry Young Spaceman

The library interregnum period continues. I polished off The Marquis of Carabas last night. The title had led me to hope for something a little more, oh, fanciful, I guess, but it wasn’t. It was just a good Rafael Sabatini French Revolution adventure. (One thing Sabatini does that I kinda get sick of? He has the heroine distrust the hero for no good reason. Read enough of his books and you start to catch on that really she distrusts him because she’s a Sabatini heroine and that’s what they do.)

Now it’s on to Angry Young Spaceman by Jim Munroe. Haven’t read this since I first got it, back when it originally came out. I kinda liked it at the time and it’s even better now. Munroe is, of course, the author of Flyboy Action Figure Comes with Gasmask, maybe the best superhero novel ever written.

Angry Young Spaceman is about a young guy who goes off to teach English on another planet. It is clearly intended to parallel the experience many people in my generation had teaching English overseas. It’s a very GenX book, and coming from me that’s a compliment. But the thing I like about it is that Munroe puts so much other neat science fiction stuff in there that you can’t draw any parallels between the story and here-and-now (or, I suppose, here-and-2000) that don’t break down quickly.

I don’t know why it took me eleven years to crack this damn thing open again. Recommended.

Reading: The Marquis of Carabas

So I’ve unexpectedly hit an air pocket in the constant flow of reading material being provided to me by the local library. I’ve always got a few dozen books on hold, see, and in any given week the library has come up with five or ten of them for me to take out and read, so it makes it hard for me to reread old favourites the way I used to do before I fell into this habit with the library. Which is good, of course; much as I like rereading good books, it’s obviously not as much of a priority as reading new good books.

But this week there were only a few on the hold shelf for me, and I polished the last one off this morning. Which meant I had a rare opportunity to take something off my own shelves. I looked around, and found a couple of Rafael Sabatinis that I picked up in a used-book sale a while ago but haven’t gotten to yet. That seemed to me like an obvious good choice, so I took down In the Shadow of the Guillotine.

Turns out that In the Shadow of the Guillotine is actually a collection of three Sabatini novels, two of which (Scaramouche and The Lost King) I had already read (more than once for Scaramouche), and one I haven’t: The Marquis of Carabas. Now, I’ve heard of The Marquis of Carabas before, and based on the title it sounded to me like just the kind of book for me (since “the marquis of Carabas” is the name of the fake title Puss-in-Boots comes up with for his “master”; irresistible to see what Sabatini could do with that) but I never knew that I had it!

I’ve only just cracked it open, so I don’t know yet if it lives up to my expectations; I’ll report back if there’s anything worthy of reporting.

Strikes me that not everyone knows who Rafael Sabatini is. Basically he’s the greatest adventure writer in the history of the English language. He wrote historical swashbucklers during the first half of the 20th century, and he did it very very well. Three of his books, Captain Blood: His Odyssey*, Scaramouche, and The Sea-Hawk, have become all-time classics. But you’re not going to go wrong with any of his books, if you can find them. Check the used-book sales, used-book stores, antiquarian book stores and sales… some of ’em have been reprinted, too, and you might prefer the reprints or find ’em cheaper. Highly recommended.

* Ever notice the title of this website?