Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Okay, controversial opinion time:

  If  Revival was Stephen King's last work of fiction-- if he wrote no more-- I would be fine with that. 

                   I know he can't stop, I know he won't stop, and I know he's only going to stop when he's all out of stories, and it's a long way to then. But here's the thing: I see Revival as a perfect riff on Stephen King-- all the things I love about him, all the things I think could be a little tighter, and all the things in between. While it may not have been his intent, with Revival, King's written the perfect bookend to his early work in suburban gothic horror, something that ties its past to the traditional pastoral setting while exploring new ways to be disturbing. It's a look at the numerous strange ways someone's life can go, and how we meet the same people in vastly different circumstances throughout our lives. It's about how people can mean so much in one instant and drift off in the next. And it's also a great pastiche of the older titles in the "existential horror" or "cosmic horror" genre, but without much of the difficulty or sheer dryness of those older works. It's a twisted morality tale with a villain who isn't exactly evil and a hero who could never be described as good. 

  And it is brilliant.

Why? More, as always, below

Monday, December 22, 2014



                I've tried to write this intro properly multiple times, but I might as well just put this front and center so those of you who are reading this on the go can get it over with:

Light is one of my favorite books of the year, possibly one of my favorite books of all time

                             I know, I do a whole ton of positive reviews on here, and significantly less dissenting ones, so every book comes out looking really good, but there is no other way to say it. While good books pass constantly through these halls, Light is special even among them. When I was done, I sat there for a few moments, unsure of what to think now that it was over. Then, because seven hours had passed by unnoticed, I was immediately surprised that it was dark outside. It's an engrossing story, one that transcends the boundaries of a genre people feel unnervingly comfortable filing it under. It's a beautiful, well-designed world that seems immense but moves tautly through its places. 

At the very least, folks, reading that paragraph back, it's caused my language center to break down in joy as I revert to stock reviewer phrases normally seen on book blurbs.

                                Light is crazy, brilliant, and I wish I'd managed to finish it the first time I read it, instead of losing interest somewhere around chapter 2 and abandoning it for books I understood better. M. John Harrison is a unique writer and one who stands out even above such titans as Stephenson, Banks, and other more modern writers, and passing up a chance to read this book is a mistake on par with starting a land war in Asia. You may like it as much as I did. You may like it less. All I know is that it moved me, it's brilliantly written and constructed, and I must share this joy with as many of you out there as possible. 

More, as always, below

Monday, December 15, 2014

Across the Nightingale Floor


                          Planned trilogies are sometimes difficult to judge without reading the whole thing. How can someone judge a book that's just the first part of a larger work? Can it be criticized for not standing on its own merits when it's just the first third (or fourth, or eighth, or tenth, or whatever) of a larger story? After all, reading just the exposition chapters of a novel and then putting it down and saying "This is a bad book" is really poor form and something to be discouraged. But, at the same time, if you're going to write novels, you should strive to write complete ones, even if you have grand designs for the world at large. Stephen R. Donaldson, for example, wrote absolutely execrable fantasy novels in groups of three, but I could pick up any one of those books and read its absolutely atrocious contents without necessarily needing to go in order. 

                            So I suppose my criteria for this book would be that it is able to stand on its own, but also judging it as the introduction to a greater series of works, works that I might possibly want to read. far as that goes, it isn't a bad book? 

                              It's not a good book, and there are some serious issues with structural senses and the way characters are treated, but I would be lying if I said there weren't some cool scenes in there. In fact, I would love for this to be filmed or animated and for it to play out onscreen. It reads like it was meant to be adapted into something or to be played out in a visual medium. And while that is wonderful for screenplays and movies and the like, when applied to a medium like books, it...doesn't go nearly as well. 

                            That isn't to say it isn't an interesting book. But, well...

More, as always, below.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Geek Initiative Needs Your Help - Signal Boost!


                            Hey, guys.

                            So, as I'm sure many of you constant readers know, occasionally I do work for other sites. I like it, and as cool as this is, it's nice to have things like editors and enforced deadlines and stuff like that. One of these sites is called The Geek Initiative. It's run by an awesome lady named Tara, and she is having an Indiegogo drive right now to raise some funds. I would really like their drive to succeed, as I dig writing stuff for them, and I dig a lot of their output, which is well-reasoned and fairly rationally put. Mr. Ellis works over there, too, and you can read his articles under the handle of Kung Fu Dave

Geek Initiative isn't asking for much, just eight hundred bucks to help out with some of the costs of being a badass geek journalism site. And every bit helps, guys. So I'm sending out a call to all you there in Constant Readerland to help these good people out. They deserve it, and it would be really cool if The Geek Initiative were able to reach further heights because of you awesome ladies and gentlemen. 


If you'd like to help us out, click on the link below and donate a little. Or donate a lot. It's up to you, but please, don't hesitate to support the awesome contributors on the site. You really can't go wrong. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

This Book Is Full Of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It


          When I was but a confused and kind of frightened college freshman living in a dorm somewhere in the high desert of New Mexico without many friends or a frame of reference, I took solace in the internet. It was kind of a cautionary prelude to the near-complete agoraphobia I currently find myself dealing with on a semi-regular basis. Honestly...I probably shoulda seen this coming. But in my sort of self-imposed exile in my room, I kept seeing this weird banner with blue eye design. It would pop up on every webcomic, every horror review site, practically everywhere I went, I was followed by this thing like a stalker follows the popular kid at school. It was more annoying than intriguing, but finally it wore me down and I clicked on it. 

                                 The site,, contained a blackly comic novel so good that I had to spam the link as many places as I possibly could, and did so. It was a brilliant work. Not the most tightly-written thing under the sun, but hilarious, and most importantly for my impoverished ass, it was free. Later on, as kind of a "thank you", I actually bought a hardcover copy of the book. I haven't even lent my copy to anyone. And when I found the sequel This Book Is Full Of Spiders came out, I tried to pick up that. Unfortunately, it took me a few years to actually track down one I could pay for, and it wasn't until I randomly found it while looking for something else (Jack Womack's Going Going Gone) that I decided to pick it up and take it home for review. Immediately it promised a story of bizarre experiments, military intervention, and the good sort of weirdness and style that made me try to emulate it multiple times in my own work. 

                             And sadly, it isn't as good. While still unique, and head and shoulders above most of what passes for mainstream works in the bizarro genre these days (lookin' at you, Zombies and Shit), it's a little too polished. A little too safe. The biases are worn a little more clearly on the book's sleeve. So while it's entirely readable, and rightfully so, I'm a little conflicted on this one. I'd say get it from the library or borrow it if you're curious, and then buy it if you really like it. It's certainly weird, and a good read, but the magic just wasn't there for me has much. Especially where it falls apart for me at the end. 

More, as always, below