the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for October 2013

Happy Halloween!  I hope everyone is having better weather than I am, it’s a gloomy rainy day around here, no good for trick or treating. This evening at work, we’ve invited our clients to bring their kids in to trick or treat through  the different departments, so I hope lots of people take us up on that offer so their kids don’t have to trick or treat in the rain.

the other day I reviewed H.P. Lovecraft’s famous At the Mountains of Madness novella. While I was saddened that the story didn’t do much for me, I understand it’s importance, and the post sparked some excellent discussion.  The little Lovecraft volume contained three more stories, all of which I enjoyed much more and wish that I had read first. After the 100+ page Mountains of Madness, it was a relief to get to shorter tales that got to the point much faster. Here are my thoughts on those.

The Shunned House

Many of the homes in Providence date back to the early days of the town. Over the generations, roads have been expanded, hills have been leveled, even cemeteries had to be completely moved to make room for the expanding city.  One house in particular was built into a hill, and as the street was widened, they just built up the foundation of the house and steps up to the front door.  The house hasn’t been lived in for years, the townspeople tell old wives tales about how everyone who ever lived there had an early death. On dares,  children break into the basement or peek into the windows, as there is some kind of mold or nitre in there that glows in the evening.  Mold or no, the stench of the house keeps most people away. I liked how Lovecraft brought other senses into the story, how the house smells, how the smell makes people anxious, the texture of the bricks, the color and smell and texture of the molds in the basements. It was very atmospheric.

Read the rest of this entry »

When the hell did it get to the end of October? Halloween totally snuck up on me. You know, this is what I get for cancelling my cable TV.  when I had to watch commercials on TV I always knew what time of year it was.  No seasonally appropriate commercials = no clue what time of year it is.  And yes, I do own a calendar. Two of them in fact.

so anyways, I was looking for something appropriately creepy to read for Halloween, and I like my creepy shit on the bizarrely weird side. I know, I’ll read some Lovecraft!  Good thing I found this skinny little volume at a library booksale a while back!  At The Mountains of Madness (1936)  is sure to scare the shit out of me, right? And if I’m still breathing after I finish that one, I’ve got The Shunned House (1924), The Dreams in the Witch-House (1933), and The Statement of Randolph Carter (1919) to keep me up all night, wincing at shadows.
Today I’ll just review At The Mountains of Madness, and I’ll review the others in a different post.

At the Mountains of Madness, originally published in 1936

where I got it: purchased used.

.

.

.

.

..

.

.

.

.

.

.

At the Mountains of Madness is told as a flashback by Professor Dyer.  He had been part of a scientific expedition to Antarctica, and he wants to make sure that no one else goes down there because of the horrible things he witnessed. After all these years of silence, he is ready to tell his tale. He goes into a lot of details about the size of the expedition, supplies taken, how they got there, how many airplanes they take, how many members of the expedition are pilots and such. Lovecraft is sort of setting this up as an adventure story, but you immediately know something awful is going to happen. Once settled, the expedition splits up, with Professor Lake taking more than half their planes and supplies to another location, where an amazing mountain range with cube shaped ramparts and huge mummified creatures are found.  Lake reports what he finds and how his autopsy of the creatures is progressing over the wireless, to the growing excitement of Dyer and the other members of the expedition.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hello and welcome to all the Right Sort of People, and welcome to part 1 of our read along of The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch.   This week’s discussion questions were provided by Susan of Dab of Darkness, and cover the beginning of the book up the Intersect that is right before Chapter 3. I’ve put my answers below the cut.

Click HERE for the reading schedule and links to all the blogger co-hosts

Click HERE to find an indie bookstore near you who will sell you the book.

Click HERE to buy the audio.

Just joining us and want to get in on all the bastardy action? no prob!  Start reading and leave a comment down below so I can add you to our soooper secret mailing list. Discussion questions go out on Saturdays, posts go up on Mondays. for the next five weeks or so, I guarantee Mondays won’t suck.

Like last year, leave a link to your post in the comments, and us co-hosts will update our posts as fast as we can to turn this into an epic Gentleman Bastards blog hop.

Ready? GO!

Links to the other Read Alongers:

Over The Effing Rainbow

Dab of Darkness

Lynn’s Book Blog

Tethyan Books

Just Book Reading

Genkinahito’s Blog

Book Den

Theft and Sorcery

Many A True Nerd

Joma’s Fantasy Books

All I Am – A Redhead

Coffee, Cookies and Chili Peppers

Rose’s Thingamajig

Books Without Any Pictures

and NEW!  Violin in a Void

This weeks discussion questions:

1) We get to reminisce with several old friends in this section – Calo, Galdo, Chains. How did you like this? Bitter sweet or happy dance?

2) Finally, the infamous Sabetha makes a physical appearance, albeit in Locke’s reminisces. What are your impressions? How do you think the romance, if there is to be one, will play out?

3) After trying absolutely everything to save Locke, Jean still won’t give up. What did you think of that little pep talk he gave Locke concerning Patience’s offer of healing?

4) Locke has a few caveats to working for the Bondsmage. Wise or just Locke grasping for some control over his life? What would you ask Patience?

5) At the end of this section, we see that all is not as Patience laid it out. How much do you think Patience knows of the plot to off Locke and Jean? Do you see it interfering in the rigged election?

answers and discussion after the cut!

Read the rest of this entry »

Next year the WorldCon will be in London, at LonCon3.  I’m pretty excited already to get to nominate and vote in the Hugo awards again. . . and then I saw this:

The Retro Hugos

The Retro-Hugos will use the same rules and categories as the current awards. There will be parallel nominating and voting processes. The eligibility for nomination and voting is identical – if you can nominate or vote for the 2014 awards, you can nominate or vote for the 1939 awards.

How cool is that??   And everyone knows what I like to do in January, right? but seriously. do you guys think this is a brilliant idea, or are you like “meh, whatevs”? If you nominate or vote in the Hugo Awards, are you willing to to give speculative fiction written in 1938 the same attention as speculative fiction written in 2013? Can something that was written back then speak to fans today?

For your reading pleasure, the hardworking folks at LonCon3 have put together lists of novels of 1938, short fiction of 1938, dramatic presentations of 1938, Editors, and more.  I imagine (ok, I hope!) that much of the short fiction and novels are available on Project Gutenberg.

I’m pretty geeked about this. Not just because I like reading old stuff, but because I’m curious to see how the fans of today will react to what was considered speculative and cutting edge 75 years ago.

You know how sometimes I write reviews that look like a cross between a Jackson Pollock painting and a Monet painting? This is one of those. Impression, reaction, response, something that sticks with you.   tldr? scroll to the bottom for the meaty bits.

TheNeverendingStory1997EditionThe Neverending Story, by Michael Ende. translated by Ralph Manheim

published in 1979

where I got it: borrowed from a friend

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Are you of an age with me? Did you watch The Neverending Story  all through the 80s? That beloved movie formed a large portion of my childhood, and made a mark on me deeper and more permanent than any tattoo ink. I was always looking for the door marked “attic” at my elementary school.  I had a crush on Atreyu long before I had a crush on Han Solo.

neverending movie

And who couldn’t like a story like this?  Bastian is being chased by bullies on his way to school and takes refuge in a bookshop and ends up stealing an intriguing book. He sneaks back to school, hides in the attic, and reads all day and into the night. And what an adventure to be found in this book! The magical realm of Fantastica is dying, and only a certain warrior chosen by the Childlike Empress can save the world.  She chooses a young boy, Atreyu, who is around the same age as Bastian. Atreyu’s quest? To find a human child, and bring that human child to the Childlike Empress to give her a new name, for without a new name she will die, and all of Fantastica will die around her. But how is Atreyu to find this human child, when Fantasica has no boundaries? But Atreyu must succeed, otherwise The Nothing will destroy all of Fantastica.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Apex Book of World SF, edited by Lavie Tidhar

published in 2009

where I got it: purchased new

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

I recently picked up both of the Apex Books of World SF.  I’ve had my eye on these anthologies for quite a while now.  Up till now, I’ve mostly read books by Americans, Canadians, UK’ers, and a few Australians. It’s time to widen my horizons, don’t you think?

The Apex Book of World SF offers a variety of types of stories, from the surreal to the relatively mundane, and some, such as Elegy and Compartments felt like they were completely outside of time, as if taking place in a world and a language that only have present tense. In many stories, names were left out, characters were just “the daughter”, or “the conductor”, or “the girl”. In English, we seem to have an obsession with naming things, we enjoy naming things, we enjoy giving each character a name that fits that person, we write entire stories that focus around naming.  In this collection enjoyed running into so many stores where the priority for what to name was so different. I imagine there was some context there that I missed, something of an implied title or connotation in “the girl”, or “the father”, something our English spellings aren’t quite equipped for.  But that’s all okay.

As with any anthology, there were a few entries that didn’t do much for me, but for the most part, the Apex Book of World SF was a winner.  I found myself rereading many of the stories, especially Compartments and Transcendence Express.  Somtow’s The Bird Catcher was a special treat, made only more terrifying after I did some further research.

Were there  cultural references that I missed in these stories? To be sure. Foods, or holidays, or colors of clothing, or being barefoot, or being a certain religion, or urban legends, these are all things that would register with anyone who grew up on that culture, but didn’t register with me because I didn’t grow up with those things.  Again, all completely okay, and didn’t stop me from enjoying the heck out of this anthology and going back to reread many of the entries.

And the best part is I’ve got the Apex Book of World SF 2 sitting at home waiting for me.  If you are looking for more diversity in what you read, this is an excellent anthology to start with.

Here are just some of my favorites out of the Apex Book of World SF:

The Bird Catcher, by S. P. Somtow – I’ve been looking forward to reading more from Somtow since reading Starship and Haiku. The Bird Catcher was written in 2002 and won the World Fantasy Award for best novella.

When Nicholas was a child, he befriended a serial killer. Caucasian, but still a refugee, Nicholas and his mother were among thousands who fled  China when the Japanese occupied Nanjing. On the boat to Thailand, Nicholas meets Si Ui, a strange, scared man, who speaks of insatiable hunger as he catches birds to eat raw. They each see something they recognize in the other.  Nicholas is young enough that he may recover, but Si Ui is scarred for life. Nicholas’s mother finds work in a clinic in a small village, and Si Ui shows up there too, as a farmhand.  On the surface, this is just a story about a little boy who finds a monster, and sees how easy it would be, how easy it *could* be to become a monster. When children go missing in the village, and are later found dead, Nicholas can stay silent, or he can brag about knowing the monster.

Read the rest of this entry »

Three Days to Never, by Tim Powers

published in 2007

where I got it: gift from a friend (and she got it autographed! I have the best blogger buddies ever!)

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Tim Powers is usually described as a writer of literary thrillers, but I prefer to call what he writes gateways to speculative fiction. He starts with what really happened, and fills in the blanks, takes you a wild ride, and still manages to prove that truth is stranger than fiction.  Far more fascinating than alternate history, this is secret history.

Three Days to Never was written in 2006, but it takes place in 1987, and it was refreshing to experience a thriller set in a time where cellphones and the internet weren’t ubiquitous.   The story starts innocently enough when  Frank Marrity gets a weird phone call from his grandmother Lisa, she says she’s going to burn her backyard shed down. By the time he gets to her house, he learns that she passed away at a national park located hours away. Frank’s daughter Daphne makes jokes about there being gold buried under Grammar’s shed. More unexpected than finding gold buried under the shed, they find a bundle of letters between Lisa and her father, and a VHS tape of PeeWee’s Big Adventure. First things first, Frank needs to meet with his sister Moira and arrange their grandmother’s funeral.

Frank and his sister were raised by their grandmother Lisa, who everyone calls Grammar, after their father left the family and their mother died in a car crash. Frank has always hated his absent father and blamed him for causing his mother’s possible suicide.  He’s always wondered how Grammar could be so cavalier about her own son abandoning his family.

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 1,754 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.