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Territory, by Emma Bull - Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

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Territory, by Emma Bull [Dec. 15th, 2011|02:11 pm]
Marissa Lingen
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Review copy provided by Tor. Reread.

Tor's reissue of Territory is gorgeous. The brooding blue cover is exactly right, and I hope the same person or people, whoever they are, is/are allowed to design many more covers for Tor, because really, this is the thing, understated and appropriate and so very fine.

Usually when I review reissues, I talk about how well they've hold up. And Territory has held up well, but with a 2007 copyright date, it hasn't had to wait for my rereading for very long. I can't really intone, "Back in those days," with any degree of wisdom.

What I can do is remind you that this book is out there, and it's fun to read even for people who could not give the tiniest damn about Wyatt Earp--nor, in fact, about Morgan Earp, Jim Earp, Virgil Earp, or their little-known cousins Lars and Hjalmar Earp. I would say, in fact, that I could not possibly care less about anybody called Earp except that this book reminds me that I'm wrong: I find the Earp women interesting. (Has anybody got a reference for a book about the Earp women and/or Kate Elder/Holliday? That's Tombstone-related nonfiction I would read.) Since my first reading of Territory, I have read my first actual genre Westerns, from my grandfather's collection, and I love my Grandpa, but--I still just do not care about Tombstone in any direction. And I still like this book.

So why do I like this book? Mostly it's Chow Lung, and the Earp women, as I said; mostly I like the supporting characters. It's not that Jesse and Mildred are in some way bad, I just find that in some books it's the rest of the cast that catches me, and this is one. I would like Chu, too, but...

...well, that's the thing. Chu's part of the story is barely started in Territory. The ending is not really an ending per se, and I find that four years on I'm grateful to hear rumors and reports that Claim is realio trulio a substantial way along, because this isn't very satisfying as a complete story, but as the beginning of something it does the job the beginning is supposed to do: to draw you in deeper and make you want more. And I do want more. Soonest, actually. But for now, there's a new edition of Territory, and it's gorgeous, and it's still good stuff. If you haven't gotten around to it, now's a good time.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: swan_tower
2011-12-15 08:57 pm (UTC)
rumors and reports that Claim is realio trulio a substantial way along

Hallelujah! I quite liked Territory, but yeah -- a goodly percentage of my liking was of the "I want the rest of it now, dammit" variety.
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[User Picture]From: wshaffer
2011-12-15 09:25 pm (UTC)
I am now unaccountably interested in the adventures of Lars and Hjalmar Earp.

Also not entirely sure how there has been an Emma Bull novel that I have not read for nearly five years now, but that ought to be easy enough to remedy.
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[User Picture]From: wild_irises
2011-12-16 03:50 am (UTC)
I did not love Mary Doria Russell's Doc, but it has a lot of fictionalized history of Kate (including what happened to her in later life, which is really interesting).

And it got me to reread Territory, which I liked even better the second time.
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[User Picture]From: clarentine
2011-12-16 11:25 am (UTC)
Territory is one of two Bull-involved books I re-read with some frequency (the other being Freedom and Necessity), and I am thrilled to hear that Tor has reissued it and that there's a sequel coming along.

What I think that Territory gets right and borrows most successfully from the western genre is the melancholy feel of the place. At least, that's one of the elements of Westerns that I do respond favorably to, and I loved Territory.
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