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Off in the distance
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May 2016

The Bellinghman
Date: 2011-04-08 16:37
Subject: A tradition of writing
Security: Public
Thanks totamaranth, I've been reading some of the works of Joan Aiken recently. Last night, I started A Harp of Fishbone and other stories.

I'm thinking that if I had encountered almost any of the stories therein that I've read so far, and been asked to guess the writer, I'd have plumped for Neil Gaiman. There are a few differences, but mostly due to the era in which she was writing, which is probably the early 70s - late enough for decimalisation, but early enough for prices to be somewhat low by today's standards.

These are stories more for grown ups than for children, and I think that shows the problem that Aiken may have had: her most celebrated works are probably The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and its successors, which are set in an alternative history where the Hannoverians lost. They started to come out in the early to mid sixties, and for those of us that encountered them, they were some of the best children's literature of the time. I may have tried to read this book when it came out - if so, I think it would have deeply disappointed me, because I would not have got them at all. Hope for example, concerns a spinster central character with a love affair lost 30 years in the past. I suspect that Aiken got tagged as children's literature in a way that Gaiman hasn't, to the possible detriment of her more adult work.
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User: much_of_a
Date: 2011-04-08 21:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Joan Aiken wrote widely (so to speak) - fantasy, mysteries, gothic romance. Her sister (Jane Aiken-Hodge) wrote good romances, also well worth reading, and her brother also wrote a few books (one of which is not a bad mystery).

She (Joan, that is) was distinct, though, in the way there was always wimsy or chaos peaking out - always that bit of oddity. I think all of her books are worth seeking out (I have just about everything, if you ever happen to be near and want to borrow). See http://www.joanaiken.com/ for a good (and official!) resource.

I assume you remember her from the Arable and Mortimer stories on Jackanory as well?

Small Beer Press (as Big Mouth House) published all of her Armitage stories a couple of years back, and should soon be publishing The Monkey's Wedding and Other Stories, a collection of (I think) her more adult shorts.

What else of hers have you read?
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born from jets!!!
User: catness
Date: 2011-04-12 19:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I miss your book reviews.
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The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2011-04-12 20:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you.

Actually, my reviewing ability broke - I'd agreed to review a book for the then reviews editor of Vector magazine, and ended up stalling on it. I was not doing on-LJ reviews while that happened, but I got stuck for a couple of months. Deeply embarrassing, considering I also knew the editor of the book in question.

In the end, tamaranth had to do it instead, but I'd got out of the habit by then.
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