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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good (slightly dated) guide to good Sf and Fantasy, 6 Jan. 2002
If you were interested in RPG during the '80s (and regularly read White Dwarf)
you probably already know Langford mini-reviews. This book collects all the WD
pieces plus columns appeared in the short lived GM and GM-International
For everybody else, a little more will be needed. Langford is a English SF
writer and critic, who still produces a small-press fanzine (look for Ansible
and Langford on Google, for example) and is deservedly fairly famous in his
field (having won 15+ Hugo awards for fan publications and short stories
doesn't hurt...).
This volume collects his brief reviews of books (on average each of the 101
columns is 3 pages long) originally published as a regular column on the
aforementioned magazines.
The author pieces were always sharp, beautifully worded and quite amusing to
read. As a word of warning, Langford tastes tend to favour authors like Wolfe,
Bester, Crowley and the early Gibson, while Donaldson and Piers Anthony were
usually openly derided. (Along with Hubbard, and the RPG-related hacks like the
Dragonlance saga).
Old-age SF/fantasy stars were treated with due respect, unless they started to
produce senile, ego-inflated, paper-wasting sequels to their older works
(Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke...).
Lot of less known but interesting authors were cited, but unfortunately they
may prove difficult to locate nowadays (the book covers a period from march
1983 to november 1991).
This is one of the main reasons for giving this book just 4 stars. The other
one is that the format was obviously limited (in each column Langford worked
hard to cram non-spoiler hints, brief descriptions, jokes and parodies of 5-6
different titles). Perhaps a longer treatment of the same material would be
better. Here we just got the original with a little number of extra notes to
update some obsolete references.
The book has a thoroughly index, a foreword, an afterword and a (very short)
glossary to clear up the minor references to role playing games in the text.
A very intelligent and funny collection. A must for people who prefers SF and
Fantasy "which work", either by hard research and credible science or through
good writing skill.
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The Complete Critical Assembly: The Collected White Dwarf (And GM, and GMI) Sf Review Columns
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