Monday, June 6, 2016

Battle of the Books in Retrospect

The battle came off on Saturday and TOF was there in fine fettle. Or as fine as a fettle can be, considering the injured humerus. The poet says "a man's reach should exceed his grasp," and for the time being, that seems to be literally true. However TOF is performing exercises that promise to increase both over time.

Meanwhile, TOF is grieved to report that he came in second in the Battle of the Books. The gig was that each of us read from a book of ours in several categories: Opening, Setting, Introducing a Character, etc. After each round, the audience -- which was gratifyingly substantial -- voted on which passage was the best by holding up colored cards representing each of the three authors. TOF was red. First place got three tokens, second place two. The number of tokens for third place is left as an exercise for the reader.

These were accumulated in drinking glasses that had been set before us. The tokens were cleverly disguised as Hershey Kisses, but we were warned that if we ate our tokens, it would be deducted from our scores. However, we would get to keep the tokens and consume them afterward.

TOF accumulated 16 tokens in this wise. Alas, Margaret Murray, a writer of mysteries set in Bethlehem PA rounded up 17 tokens from an audience of staunch Bethlehemians. She accomplished this by writing well. Tricky of her, I thought.

The third place went to Kathy Kulig, a "New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of erotic paranormal and contemporary romance." Who knew there was such a genre? She received 14 tokens, so it was a tight if high caloric contest.

In between rounds, the Quiz Master Bernadette Sukley stepped in and read a passage from a well-known book in the category underway and the audience was invited to Name That Book. If no one knew, the question was reduced to multiple choice. If no one pegged that, it was further reduced to T/F, but none ever got that far. The Namer was awarded a Snickers bar.

Among the distinguished attendees was Sweet Sharon, whom the follower of this Blog will recognize as TOF's high school sweetheart. TOF figured the fix was in, but she did not vote the straight party line! Go figure. But then the other two authors read some pretty good stuff, so TOF can't complain. Or he could, but no one would pay any heed. It may be that genre tastes also played a role: SF vs mystery vs romance.

TOF in case anyone wonders, read from The January Dancer, it being the first of the Spiral Arm series; but now he wonders if this was a strategic error. Which volume of the Flynn ouvre would have made the best choice for this venue? Inquiring minds want to know!


  1. I thought January had a killer opening so in that sense a good choice. How long could your readings be? Wreck might have been a really great way to win an artsy competition like this one, and the slow-burn pace (as I remember it from long ago) wouldn't necessarily be a problem.

    1. Two minutes max. Then Chris would whap you with a plastic mallet.

  2. Eifelheim of course! When the audience dozed off could've raided the other jars for tokens and won the contest.

  3. I second it. I think Eifelheim should have been your choice.

  4. Considering that a large chunk of the sf/f publishing schedule consists of paranormal romance (with or without sex scenes), I think you should know it exists. Don't advise you to read or write it, but it is there.

    "Erotic" means the sex scenes are the plot of the paranormal or contemporary romance, as opposed to being just the supposed emotional high points. What a world we live in.

    1. I think calling it "erotic" means "I'm not Laurell Hamilton, I won't gradually transform my vampire series into porn when you actually wanted to know about the plot; it's porn right from the start". Truth in labeling isn't much of a virtue, but it is a virtue.

  5. I think Up Jim River may have been better in that format. January Dancer is definitely the best of the series..but you have to read the whole thing (especially the ending!) to appreciate it.


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