Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Scarlet Gospels


                  I waited nine years for this book, and I'm still not completely sure it was worth it.

                   It's a good book, to be sure. And I didn't give up on it the same way I gave up on, say, Abarat (which is a huge rant I will deploy at another time. Maybe for post 200) by the same author. And, let's be honest, any meeting between Harry D'amour (the detective from Great and Secret Show and Lord of Illusions*) and the being people can't help but refer to as "Pinhead" (Him what was in the Hellraiser series**) would be final for one of them, if not both. But I couldn't help feeling like this was possibly a tired and annoyed farewell to his work, melding the dark, beautiful fantasy of his later works (D'amour's dominion) with the brutal, gruesome horror of his earlier works (you know who) in an effort to put them all to bed for good. 

                   I'm not quite sure if it's just because I expected a four to five hundred page doorstopper about the ultimate battle between the reluctant champion of humanity and Barker's most terrifying agent of change, or because it dealt a final blow to stories I hoped would continue and I'm being entitled and pissy. Maybe it's that Barker took one of my favorite characters and flung them in a new direction. But either way, the book annoyed me. 

                   If you're in the mood for a vivid, twisted fantasy involving a team of occult investigators in Hell, great. If you're in the mood for some of the most fucked-up scenes in horror outside of maybe the Edward Lee crowd***, you're in the right place. But I don't believe this'll go on the shelf next to Imajica, The Great and Secret Show, Books of Blood, and Everville

More, as always, below. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Quantum Thief


       I have not been able to stop talking about this book for months (yep, two of them now) and I want to discuss it. I first came upon Hannu Rajaniemi when I reviewed his short story collection for one of my compensated gigs. While I didn't think much of The Quantum Thief before then and had written it off as a cyberpunk crime novel (as well as confusing it with M.M. Buckner's War Surf for some reason), I was impressed enough by his short stories to read an excerpt of Quantum Thief, and from there instantly fell in love with it. 

           It's kind of an interesting balancing act to juggle techno-utopianism with fin-de-siecle French pulp novels (the gentleman thief and the master detective archetypes kind of originated with the Arsene Lupin novels quoted as the epigraph to this novel) with a kind of wild high fantasy and some odd quantum entanglement-influenced technological twists. And Rajaniemi nails it one hundred percent. He juggles things with an incredible sense of play that, while the story may not exactly be new to me (I'm wary of any plot that involves someone reclaiming their memory) is exciting in the way it's told. 

And it is brilliant.

More, as always, below.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Nuklear Age


        There are some very rare instances where I cannot actually reveal why I like a book so much. It's annoying, it's true. Private Midnight was a book like that. There are books out there that, to explain the reason I love it so much, would ruin the beautiful bounty the book has in store. But if I tell you guys too little, then I'm not doing my job as a reviewer*. So I have to give something away. 

                     I suppose I'll just frame it like this. This is a book where the charms are not immediately obvious. It rewards careful reading, and at some point you'll either start to figure out what's going on, or you'll get annoyed and leave it be. Yes, it's a strange, kind of silly story about superheroes. Yes, it kind of goes for unsympathetic comedy. But if you're patient with it, and you stick with the concept, then it's rewarding in ways that few novels, few concepts, hell, few pieces of media hit you.

                But if it doesn't draw you in, if you don't start to wonder about what's going on, if it doesn't "click" for you, you can walk away no problems. I'm not going to call this flawless, I know better. Nor am I going to insist, no matter how much I want to, that you read this all the way to the end. This is not a book that works when forced on the unwilling, and I'm pretty sure that's why it was self-published in all its printings. It's been said that you can write for an audience or write for yourself and hope an audience finds you. With Nuklear Age, Brian Clevinger clearly did the latter. Hopefully, it works for you.

More, as always, below. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children


         I like this book in spite of the book. That's the best way I've found to say this. I've been going around and around in circles about Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, and what I liked, and what really annoyed me, and it comes down to this: I like the book in spite of what the book is. There's a great dark, atmospheric story that exists within these pages. There's also a great, creepy found-photograph novel. And as this was Ransom Riggs's first novel, and definitely the first novel he wrote with such a concept in mind, And...found document novels or works can be kind of finicky to begin with. Depending on the work, and depending on the source used, it's possible to get any number of permutations, from House of Leaves  to S. to Pale Fire to everything in between. And a novel using creepy Victorian photographs and an abandoned Gothic-novel children's home is...pretty much exactly in my wheelhouse, let's face it. You could get a more Caius book, but only by virtue of the main bulk of my reading material being "very weird shit"*. 

                            But there are...difficulties with this one. The concept needs to hang together a little better than it does, and while it's a fantastic novel, it's kind of hampered by its own premise, a premise that is good on its own, but a little awkward in its execution. But by no means should that discount that the book is full of atmosphere and weirdness, interesting world design, and a very quirky mystery at its heart. 

More, as always, below.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Truth


        I never really had any kind of deep relationship with Terry Pratchett, but he left an amazing impact on my life. I'd tried to write this out as a brief tribute, but as there are certain undisclosable legal implications to me posting that piece (this, folks, is one of the drawbacks with going pro-- the first steps into the professional arena are rough and couched in weird legal implications), I decided instead that I would try to reflect on Sir Pterry's life in the way that I have so many other authors that have left an impact on me: I'd write a review of the book that got me into his work in the first place, the book that led me to Discworld and got me to start telling people about books I thought they should read. 

So without any further ado, I present The Truth. The book without which, along with Neverwhere, this blog would not exist. 

And Sir Terry? I knew it was coming. That doesn't make it hurt any less.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Health Issues Post

Hi, guys.

So you may have realized that this month, my output was...okay, let's call a spade a spade. It was piss-poor. It was terrible.

For the past few weeks, due to some serious time slippage and insomnia, I've had trouble keeping focus and keeping my head together. This is the first day in a while I even know what day it is, and that's because last night I had a game and today I'm going to ZenKaiKon for the weekend.

I'm sorry.

I'm really sorry. You guys are my lifeblood, you have given me the ability to do amazing, awesome things, and you deserve better.

I'm gonna take the next few days off, hopefully relax, settle down a little. And then be back in April with the posts I've been working on.

See you then,


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Dr. Adder


        Okay, finally, a book I don't have to discount on the basis of it being a great book with an absolute shambles of an ending. A book I can feel proud to recommend despite it being one of the sickest books I have had the pleasure (and it was a pleasure) of reading. And maybe that's the point, that it's influential for not only the science fiction genre and the underground element of "bizarre fiction", but that it's also influential for the extreme horror genre, since it features one of the best gruesome operatic revenge stories this side of Sweeney Todd, only with a casual eye towards the kind of brutal grotesquerie that only the works of less well-known weird fiction like Geek Love and Freaks 'Amour (among others) can provide. While the book's plot is something of a series of potshots in a dark room centered around the titular doctor and the young man who is his assistant, the images are strong ones overall and stuck with me well after finally closing the pages. Even if I didn't necessarily understand the climax. 

              For those willing to brave the bizarre and sometimes downright sick and depraved (all good things in my opinion) world of the Interface and its inhabitants, you will find a hell of a good read, and one of the most shining examples of American dystopian fiction. For those who want something with a little less military grade hallucinogens, dying alien gods, and prostitutes destroying their own brains with permanent and harmful drugs, then you should probably look elsewhere, or at least get this out of the library before making a decision to commit fully to this classic act of lovingly poetic depravity. 

More, as always, below.