Saturday, May 06, 2006

Bull in a China Shop (Daintily Sipping Tea)

Okay, here's the deal.

My mom's in the US right now and she told me that rather getting me the books that I've asked for, I should just order it online. My first thought at this was, Woot! My first time to order online! And I can order anything! Heh. To quote a local saying, I was like a dog let out of its cage.

Unfortunately, she gave me two conditions: one is that I should order it from Powells (because they reportedly don't have shipping tax) and that I have a limit of $20. Eh. The last condition really put a crimp on my enthusiasm.

So. Powell does a lot of business with second-hand books. I'm sure I can still come up with a list of good stuff despite the $20 limit, I thought. Armed with that conviction, I started trawling through my bookshelves, my memory and the internet on what I could pick up on $20.

Hmmm... on second thought, this was proving harder than it looked. First of all, because of the monetary condition, I couldn't select any of the small press books because of the price tag. Second, a number of the new books coming out are unfortunately in hardbound so that's going to take a bite out of my 20 bucks. What was more funny was that after a look at what I already have on my shelves, I realized that... damn, I have a lot of books. And the essential stuff at that.

You name it, I have their books-- or at least samples of their writings, especially the older writers like Avram Davidson, Cordwainer Smith, Alfred Bester, Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock, Fritz Leiber, E.R. Eddison, Lord Dunsany, William Hope Hodgson, Clark Ashton Smith, J.R.R. Tolkien, Harlan Ellison, H.P. Lovecraft... I could go on and on.

In the end, owing a lot to availability of stock and cost, I decided on three books plus one:

  1. Pasquale's Angel by Paul Mcauley: I don't know if I mentioned this before but I once found a copy of this book in a secondhand bookshelf in a Boracay beach resort. Unfortunately, I didn't pick it up because I was afraid of running out of money before my stay was over and the next time I came back, the book was gone. *sigh* (Price tag: Used $3.50)
  2. Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart: This is reportedly a classic, a humourous fantasy involving an acerbic wise man and his sidekick in an alternate history China. Again, I saw a copy of this once in SM Megamall but lacking money, didn't pick it up. Next shot, it was gone. Heh. Story of my life. (Price tag: Used $6.95)
  3. The Incompleat Nifft by Michael Shea: I love Baen Publishing for putting out paperback omnibus collections of really obscure fantasy books. I managed to get one omnibus about psychic detective Lord Darcy by Randall Garrett before and now I'll have a chance to get this one by Shea, which is a send-up of Jack Vance and Fritz Leiber. (Price tag: Used $4.50)

Of course the kicker of my list is this book by Fritz Leiber-- Dark Ladies: Conjure Wife, Our Lady of Darkness (Price tag: New $17.95), a combined collection of two of his greatest horror stories. Unfortunately, this book costs more than the total of the three other books. But still, I can't resist this. Hopefully, my mom will get this for me.

Anyone else want to suggest ideas?

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