Rev.08/15/02, 2003-09-01, 2006-11-06, 2007-12-02, 2009-07-01(edit), 2009-08-23, -09-08
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Shattered by Dick Francis, 2000, G.P. Putnams's Sons, ISBN 0-399-14660-1
I like Dick Francis's books a lot, I think I have read every one, starting rather early then going back to the beginning and continuing on, reading the yearly new one. I even sent him a glass gift once and suggested glassblowing as a topic. I don't know if my input was a factor, but the 2000 book lives in the world of small studio glassblowing in England and by the end, exploding annealed glass and molten glass on a punty have been used as weapons. [Got a letter from Mr. Francis responding to one of mine about this book. He says that since he is 80 and his wife died last fall, Shattered is going to be his last book. [But he came out with another, Under Orders, praising his son for encouragement.]]
The portrayal of glass working and of the studio is very good as far as it goes and there are very few errors in what is portrayed (e.g. Lehr is used like a brand name "in the Lehr annealing oven") If I found anything missing it was the physical feel of the dance of making the glass and the working of the team. Francis is usually very good about physical details, makes the possible danger clear, and does well with the heat and the color and the discovery that something when seen after making is more than was thought while making.
There is a pattern to Francis's books. Almost all involve some incident of considerable personal violence, but only one or two. There is always a commitment on the part of the nice narrator to carry on something risky for personal reasons. The narrator/protagonist is always male. He admits fear. He uses an attack or threat to his person to reveal things about the attacker. Almost all the books have a relationship with a female that is mildly offbeat - in this book it is with a female cop who rides a motorcycle off-duty. People get killed, but almost always by accident.
If you like mysteries and a good read that takes you through the story non-stop, I think you will like this one. Probably in your local library, he is popular enough that the books are hard to find for the first few months after they come out.
Do Glass, Crime, and Sex mix?
Shepard, Lucius Taylor
This short story came up as a topic because of its title on CraftWeb Glass and since an internet search revealed that it had been published in the Magazine, which I have [had] on my shelves, I spent some time straightening up the "collection" to find the issue. Shepard is a widely published author, still published this year per the web site, and regularly winning awards.
This a fantasy set in an isolated portion of the real world of Florida at the end of the 80's. It is about a pair of cynical, bitter people, aged 50 and 24. The older man is a glassblower, supposedly famous, working alone from a furnace. The dragon is an accidental creation that comes to life, affects the couple and flies off, leaving them in their downbeat situation. If it had been written in the 70's, the fantasy would have led to an upbeat ending, even if both recognized it was part of a fantasy, but the 80's did not allow that - one of the reasons I stopped reading SF in that time frame (punk SF being the other.) The story reads like a student cynicism exercise and I think I wrote one of these 30 years ago. We learn nothing about emotions, experience, people or glassblowing by reading it.
Dragons of Pern, others
Glassblowing appears incidentally in Dragons of Pern and a previous book. In the previous book, a father incites his sons and others and conspires to destroy a computer, Avias, that is providing information for development which the man thinks violates the "right" old way of doing things. In Dragons of Pern, one son whose hearing was damaged during an attack on Avias escapes from prison and tries to re-establish the Abominators who will destroy the innovations. Ironic comment is made that the new glassblower, Morrellton, makes better glass that does not break under assault. 2006-11-06
Shatterglass Tamora Pierce
This is the eighth book of the two quartets called Circle of Magic and
the Circle Opens by Tamora Pierce. These books
involve four young mages using what is called ambient magic which is the power
in things as contrasted with academic magic using spells and outside power.
Tris is a weather mage and can draw power from and use lightning, the winds, and
earthquakes. While visiting glassblower's shops out of curiosity, she
encounters a man older than her age of 14 who is drawing power from all the
magical protection tokens in the area and who creates a living glass miniature
dragon as the magic goes out of control. She accuses him of being
ill-trained when he tries to kill off the dragon and she keeps the dragon, but
it turns out he actually has no training in magic as he had none before being
struck by lightning a couple of years previously. After being struck, he
lost his control over the glass which had been very fine before and has only
partially recovered, to his frustration.
Campbell Geeslin, Illustrated Ana Juan
This is a large format (11"x 11") thin children's book with delightful pictures about a girl in Mexico who wants to be a glassblower like her daddy and he won't consider it, so she disguises herself as a boy and travels to Monterrey, meeting talking animals along the way and helping them while playing tunes on her father's old pipe! When there, the men challenge her and she gathers glass and blows while playing "Estrellita" ["little star"] and blows a star! The men try but can't sing. The stars are a success. Later she blows a bird that gets very big and it carries her home when she wishes to show papa. She dons the disguise again, with a tortilla beard, and approaches papa at work as an old man and blows a butterfly and he wishes his daughter could see this and she throws off her disguise and they blow glass together - him doing bottles and her doing butterflies that chime like bells. ISBN 0-689-84908-7 2010-08-29
The Glassblower of Murano Marina Fiorato
The reason I picked this off the library catalog is obvious from the title
and as a pure story, it is not a bad read - a childless young woman is divorced
from her dull husband who has found a woman who is less artistic and so goes to
Italy where her mother became pregnant with her. She has learned
glassblowing in college and wants to blow in Murano - to be the first female
maestro. Interwoven are scenes from a second story - her ancestor
Corradino is a legendary glassblower who is murdered in the first chapter when
he returns from France, having taken the secrets of Murano there. She
lives in a house that once belonged to his family before they were killed for
treachery by the last Doge on a false accusation. She is about to be used
by the master who has taken her on because of her ancestry to save the firm by
promoting her as a glassblower in the legend with the appearance of a Botticelli
Contact Mike Firth