the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for September 2013

 

I did many cool things this past weekend. One of them was listening to the audio of The Incrementalists. It’s narrated by Mary Robinette Kowal and Ray Porter. I live under a rock and didn’t know who Ray Porter was.  Kowal was great (and she gets to read one of my favorite scenes), but this other guy, Porter?

This blog post is not a review of the audio.

You read my review of The Incrementalists and it doesn’t seem like your thing? Fine. I won’t hold that against you.  Still, get something else Ray Porter narrated. Do it because you trust me. And do it because this man’s voice does something you to. Something that words and ink and turning pages can’t do.

.

.

You never forget your first time.

.

.

Ray Porter’s voice moves over you like a summer storm. Unstoppable, his voice contains the roiling tension of the incoming storm front, the thunder you feel through your feet before your ears know what it is, the shadow that falls as the clouds roll in, everything to that surreal moment when your breath catches in the silence and the stillness before the storm hits.  And then the skies open up, and in his voice are the rhythms of the rain, from gentle caresses to a pounding need to being in every pore of the parched ground beneath; the tympani pulse of the thunder that resonates in your chest; the rain becoming an ocean and drowning feeling like heaven.

And as his voice fades, you are left with the shattered remains of the sated clouds that slowly lie down in repose, their edges set on fire by the glorious sunset.

The storm has passed. And all you can do is reach out with your quivering, cloudy fingers and whisper “you must come back. my ground is still thirsty for you”.

.

.

.

Or I suppose you could just hit play again on the file.

Stay tuned, I have more cool stuff for you tomorrow and the next day. Photos! Links!  the awesomess that was ConText! book reviews!  you know, more of the cool stuff and less of these weird misguided attempts at prose-y things in which I tell all the rules of writing to fuck off because I’m having a moment.

clarkesworld4I’m working my way through Clarkesworld Year Four, a volume of all the original fiction they published in their fourth year. (part one, part two) And Yes, all of these volumes are available as print editions, click here and scroll to the bottom.

When I first decided to talk about every story in this volume, I was a little intimidated. But now that I’ve read more than half of them, I’m suddenly wishing the volume had twice as much fiction in it.  Want fatter Clarkesworld books? Help the support the e-zine by subscribing,  becoming a “citizen of Clarkesworld”, or by spreading the word by reading the fiction they publish, listening to their podcasts, comments on stories, and talking about them.  We may live in the age of the internet, but everything still lives and dies by word of mouth.

Today I’ve got reviews of three stories in the volume. All of these reviews forced me to play “the pronoun game”, because all of these stories feature genderless characters. One person takes a human male form, so I refer to him as “him”, but the others I wasn’t quite sure. Any advice about how to refer to genderless characters is appreciated.  Also, each title links to the full story on the Clarkesworld website.

clarkesworld Aug 2010

The Messenger by J.M. Sidorova – Wow is this one a doozy, and I mean that in the most complimentary way! Our narrator doesn’t name himself (itself?), and doesn’t identify what he (it?) is.  Eventually given the name Gabriel, and often taking the form of a human man, I’m going to use the male pronouns, and refer to the narrator as Gabriel.  Early in the story, Gabriel is contacted by a higher intelligence, who names him, seduces him, and inscribes Gabriel with His purpose: to find a vessel so He can bring his message to the people of the Earth.

Read the rest of this entry »

well, I’m off to ConText, in Columbus OH.  electronic gizmos have been charged, car has been washed and gassed up. Friends will be met, new friends will be made,  books will be drooled upon and purchased (you drool on it, you buy it). Also, there will be beer. Copious quantities of beer.

While I’m enroute to C’bus, you should totally enjoy my latest Convention Attention post over at SFSignal!  Con curious?  Want to go to one but aren’t sure what to expect? Not sure if there are any near you? The goal of this series of columns is to shed some light on what Cons are all about and what happens there. And hey, if you’re at one in the MidWest, and you see a short redhead running around, give a good loud shout of “Andrea!” and see if she turns around. 😉

Michael deLuca, Alastair Reynolds, Howard Andrew Jones, Brian McClellan, Saladin Ahmed

Michael deLuca, Alastair Reynolds, Howard Andrew Jones, Brian McClellan, Saladin Ahmed at ConFusion, 2013

apologies in advance if your comments get stuck in moderation. Blog, e-mail, and twitter access will be limited for me this weekend.

 

photo taken somewhere at the Gollancz offices. the "title" says it all.

photo taken somewhere at the Gollancz offices. the “title” says it all.

The Republic of Thieves, by Scott Lynch

Available Oct 8th in the US, Oct 10th in the UK

where I got it: Netgalley

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

..

I assume if you are reading this review that you have read the first two books in this series. You’ll find minor spoilers for the first two books in this review, but this is a spoiler-free review for The Republic of Thieves (plot points mentioned in the review take place in the first 100 pages of the book, or have already been revealed on the authors website). It is very important to me that the surprises not be spoiled, so I’ve changed commenting to full moderation to keep anyone from posting spoilers in the comments. The first rule of the end of The Republic of Thieves is that you do not talk about the end of The Republic of Thieves. catch my drift?

When last we saw Locke Lamora at the end of Red Seas Under Red Skies, he was dying of poison. The Republic of Thieves picks up a few months later, and if Locke was anyone else, he’d be dead by now. He’s just too damn stubborn to die.  Good thing, or this would be a really short, really boring book.   Scott Lynch does a lot of things, and boring will never be among them.  Another thing Lynch doesn’t do is give us more of the same.  When Red Seas under Red Skies came out, there was plenty of “this is nothing like the first book! what the hell!”. You’re right. It was nothing like the first book.  With characters like Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen, a rich and complex world, and an author as talented as Scott Lynch, why in the hell would you want more of the same? Aren’t you itching to see what everyone is really capable of?

Read the rest of this entry »

Over the weekend we went to the GrandCon gaming convention in Grand Rapids, MI. See here for the photo dump post. There was gaming, there were demos, there were oversize plushy dice, there was a promise of kittens in a blender (relax! it’s a card game!), there was an excellent dealer room jammed with comics, artwork, boardgames and more, there was artwork and RPG’ing and cosplayers and epic amounts of geeky fun.

On a lark, I decided to go to the Saturday afternoon Worldbuilding panel. I haven’t read Dragonlance since junior high school, but seriously, who doesn’t want to hear Tracy Hickman, Ed Greenwood, Steven Schend, and Jeff Grubb talk about creating giant worlds for all their friends to come play in? And when I say “world they’ve created”, I mean shared worlds. A role playing world that is designed for other people to add to and build on. These guys give you the basic rules and foundations, and the other game designers get to go crazy (to a point) building scenarios.

Jeff Gruff, Steven Schend, Ed Greenwood and Tracy Hickman

Jeff Gruff, Steven Schend, Ed Greenwood and Tracy Hickman

Topics of discussion included what happens (for good and ill) when others begin making unexpected changes to your world, the difference between designers making changes to the world and gamers and DMs making changes to the world, why creators shouldn’t get too attached to anything in the space, the complexity of religion in role playing worlds, copyright and legal issues when writing tie-in novels, building sympathy for villains, and the limitations of computer games, just to name a few. The conversation was dominated by Hickman and Greenwood, which was fine, because Ed Greenwood is an excellent speaker with decades of experience. I want to buy this man a beer just so can tell me a story. Tracy Hickman as well, wonder speaker, a lifetime of experience, plus experience dealing with the publishing and marketing aspects of the industry. I’d like to buy both of them a drink so they can tell me stories all afternoon!

These two guys have been living the dream their entire life, and listening to Greenwood and Hickman bounce ideas off of each other was definitely a  highlight of the weekend.

Read the rest of this entry »

SAM_3567

We have returned, victorious from GrandCon!  A new gaming convention in Grand Rapids, MI, GrandCon featured pre-scheduled gaming events, a ginormous gaming library you could sign games out from, a Pathfinder competition, table top roleplaying, game demos, a really nice dealer room,  seminars, and more.   I’m happy we got there early in the morning on Saturday, as the registration lines only grew and grew into the afternoon.  I heard at one point that over 1200 badges were printed and that they ran out of programs.  I think they’re gonna need a bigger hotel/convention location next year!

There was also an adventure to a brand new comic/gaming shop in the city, and an unintentionally SFnal dinner involving LED lights in a sushi presentation.

While I write up a longer post about the super cool World building panel that was presented by Tracy Hickman, Ed Greenwood, Steven Schend and Jeff Grubb,  you should enjoy these photos.

photodump commencing in three. . . .  two. . . . and we have lift-off/photo dump!

These huge cardboard monsters were set up in the lobby, they were part of an oversized gaming demo for King of Tokyo

SAM_3559

SAM_3560

The game comes with regular sized dice, and regular sized cardboard characters that go on a regular sized board, but throwing big plushy dice is so much more fun!

Read the rest of this entry »

clarkesworld4I’m randomly working my way through the Clarkesworld Year Four anthology, which includes all the original fiction the magazine published in their fourth year. This is the second post in the series, click here for the first post.

The more I read in this anthology, the more I enjoy it. The stories are relatively short, mostly around 9-12 pages, perfect tasty nuggets of strangeness. I’ve linked each story back to Clarkesworld, so you can head over there and read the ones that catch your attention.

Today I’ll be talking about short fiction from Richard Parks, Brenda Cooper, Robert Reed, and Melissa Lingen.

Night, in Dark Perfection by Richard Parks –  The Faerie Queen insists that everyone attend her parties. Anyone who doesn’t come willingly, will be forced, or perhaps the entire party will have to be cancelled. Elsewhere, the Captive Princess is trying to escape. Something very strange is going on, there is something skewed and not quite right about these characters right from the start. They have both been alone for a very, very long time even though the kind and gentle voice of the Palace speaks to both of them.  The Captive Princess hears strange voices while she is exploring her prison, but for once, these voices do not belong to the Palace, or any of the usual residents. For you see, the Faerie Queen and the Captive Princess are AIs (or at least, that was my interpretation of them) on a derelict ship, and the ship has been discovered by salvagers. Did the ship’s mind create them, in an attempt to stave of insanity, or perhaps as friends, other voices to talk to in the void?

Read the rest of this entry »

starship haikuStarship and Haiku, but Somtow Sucharitkul

published in 1981

where I got it: purchased used

.

.

.

.

 

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

It’s been a week for weird fiction, that’s for sure. Starship And Haiku came home with me from the used bookstore because it looked oh so strange. And as far as strangeness, it didn’t disappoint. A post apocalyptic story, Starship and Haiku has something to say about clashing cultures, honor, communication, and survival. It succeeds grandly in the sense that it’s ambitious, unique, and strange. But does it succeed in being a good book?

When Josh was ten years old, the skies over his home in Hawaii exploded. People rushed to the shelters as fast as they could, and that was the night his brother Didi was born. Now an adult, and responsible for his brother’s welfare, Josh works at a hospice for plague victims. Called “stranges”, some plague victims suffer radiation poisoning, others have odder diseases that come with telekinesis or precognition. Even Didi is technically a strange – he’s never spoken a work, and has been diagnosed as being mentally retarded. Didi may not have the power of speech, but he’s the furthest thing from being retarded. In fact, if he could just learn to harness his inner voice and his telepathy, he could “talk” to Josh all he wanted.

One evening, Didi sees a dying beached whale, and he has a telepathic conversation with the whale. The whales are in love with death, and see death as the ultimate beautiful act. Didi doesn’t view death like that, but he respects the whale’s alien thoughts, and Didi starts understanding how to speak in the ideogram language of the whales.

Read the rest of this entry »

clarkesworld4

I was lucky enough to get a copy of Clarksworld Year Four, which includes 24 pieces of original short fiction the digital magazine published during their fourth year of publication.  Never heard of Clarkesworld? Please, allow me to enlighten you,  because these people simply rock it.  A digital magazine featuring original speculative fiction, interviews, and editorials, Clarkesworld published their first issue in 2006 and their original  short fiction has been winning awards ever since. The magazine itself has even picked up a few awards along the way (can you say three Hugo’s!!).

So I don’t have to tell you how awesome this magazine is.

You know how usually when I review an anthology or collection, I only talk about a handful of stand-out pieces, my favorites? Not this time.  The handful of short stories I’ve read so far (or listened to. Yay podcasting! I love you Kate Baker!) are some of the strangest, most out-there fiction I have ever come across. We’ve got McDonald’s terrorists, interstellar runaways, reincarnations of people who aren’t dead yet, the end of the universe, and an AI who thinks she’s a fairy tale.  Because everything in here is just so damn weird, I want each piece to get some much deserved attention.   I’ll review 3-4 short stories at a time, so you, dear readers and followers, can get the full treatment.

Want to make a comment on my review? By all means, comment here. I’ve linked each story back to Clarkesworld, so you can read the whole thing (or listen to the audio) and comment over there and give the magazine some direct attention.

Let’s get started:

Alone with Gandhari by Gord Sellar –  Kenny used to work fast food. He used to be a fat guy. But now, after a therapy that finally worked, with his taut belly and his clown-like facial tattoos, he’s a high ranking follower of Guru Deepak. Like all the other followers, he answers to the name Ronald, even though he prefers Ron. This opening paragraphs of this story were completely off-putting and disorienting to me, which makes the story hard to get into, but I’m happy I kept reading because I really ended up enjoying it, or at least I enjoyed the mental mind-fuck aspects of it.  Guru Deepak wants to help people change for the better, his followers will help him change the world. He is especially welcoming to people who need to stop eating fast food all the time. All are welcome, the blessings of Ghandhari are available to anyone who chooses to listen. The vegetarian lifestyle and meditation is probably good for Ron/Kenny’s health, but he’s unwittingly joined a cult. The hyped up Ronalds commit “Mac Attacks”, terrorizing patrons of fast food restaurants.   Ron/Kenny has been chosen by Deepak to lead an important mission to a corporate farm.  Far worse than eating a cow is abusing one on a farm, but what the Ronalds find on the farm isn’t exactly a cow. Is this a commentary on Fast Food or on food in general? A nightmarish satire? I’m not sure.

Read the rest of this entry »

rising stars novelRising Stars by Arthur Byron Cover (based on the graphic novel by J. Michael Straczyinski

published in 2002

where I got it: purchased used

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Every so often we all need a fluff read. You know, something that will entertain you without challenging you? Fluff reads for me are usually media tie-ins, and the best kind of fluff read is a direct novelization of a comic book or movie that I liked.

A few years ago I read J. Michael Straczynski’s Rising Stars graphic novels, and loved them. I don’t usually go for superhero stories, but Straczynski is alittle like Whedon for me – if he writes it, I am probably going to like it no matter what the subject matter was.
The novelizations of the graphic novels are by Arthur Byron Cover, but like the artists of the graphic novels, Straczynski’s story and backstory are the star of the show. It’s a little sad, actually, that I had no idea from reading this if Cover is a good author or not. But again, that’s the nice thing about really fluff novelizations – I don’t need to worry about if the author is any good or not. Cover does flesh out the world building and a lot of the character background, which I appreciated. For example, we get much more information about the political situation of the country in the late 1960s, far more time is spent follow the children during the 1970s, and characters get more inner monologue and depth.

In the late 1960’s, a meteor crashed to earth, exploding over a small midwestern town. No one thought anything of it, until a few years later. You see, all the children who were in utero at the time of the meteor were imbued with special powers. Some kids could fly, some kids were invulnerable, some kids had telepathic powers. One hundred and thirteen Special children, all who could do something different. Or least, mostly. Some children who were born right on time never manifested anything. Who knows, maybe there wasn’t enough special powers to go around? The government descends on the town to study the children, and keeps them at a local summer camp turned boarding school.

I really liked the dynamic of that these children gained superpowers simply by being in the wrong place and the wrong time. None of them have any of the classic or expected comic book superhero youth stories. None of these kids are orphans, none of them are wealthy heirs, none of them are aliens or anything. Their parents and their older siblings and their neighborhood was completely normal. But these kids are Specials. As the kids manifest and develop their powers, the government needs to ensure the Specials use their powers for the good of the country. But who decides what’s good?

Read the rest of this entry »


Follow me on Twitter!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,511 other followers

Follow the Little Red Reviewer on WordPress.com

Archives

Categories

FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.