the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for December 2018

Driving to Geronimo’s Grave and Other Stories by Joe R. Lansdale

published October 2018

where I got it: received review copy from the publisher (Thanks Subterranean Press!)

.

.

.

.

.

.

You probably recognize Joe R. Lansdale’s name from his famous Hap and Leonard series, and fans of absurd comedy-horror will recognize his name from the novella turned movie Bubba Ho-Tep.

 

His recent short story collection Driving to Geronimo’s Grave and Other Stories offers an odd yet satisfying mix of stories. There’s a little bit of everything in here – post apocalyptic, Depression era drama, the Old West,  wrestling, you name it. For the most part, these stories involve characters who have good intentions, people who are trying to do the right thing surrounded by societies that a broken down, corrupt, and in one case even a Lovecraftian hellscape.  The environments these characters are thrown into – no good can come out of these places. But these are all Lansdale characters, which means they will tell all the things that are working against them to fuck right off.

 

Each story is followed by Lansdale’s notes – was the story written for a particular editor or anthology? What was he thinking about when he wrote the stories? I wish these notes had preceded the stories instead of followed them, I found my interest grew when I started reading his notes first.

 

Before you hop into Driving to Geronimo’s Grave,  be aware that these are not science fiction of fantasy stories – This is character driven American Literature – only some of which has SF-nal or supernatural elements.  And if you are offended by swear words, don’t even pick this book up.

 

Here are my thoughts on the stories I enjoyed most.

 

My stand out favorite story was the Lovecraftian “In the Mad Mountains”  (2015). Survivors of a shipwreck find themselves on an icy plain. They can freeze to death, or try to survive.  Amelia and Gavin explore the area, find supplies, and try to guess where they are. It’s obvious there is some kind of creature who has picked off other people who may have found themselves here, and the mishmash of shipwrecks doesn’t make any sense at all.  It’s terrifying, yet Amelia stays cool and has a scientific curiosity about where they may be. When the two of them find an airplane that appears to be in perfect working order, is it a trap, or an escape? If you’ve ever read any of Lovecraft’s original Cthulhu mythos short stories, you know a goodly chunk of it borders on unreadably bad.  But I love the idea of deep ones, of gods who wants and desires humans can never understand, I enjoy the mythos. “In The Mad Mountains” was an excellent combination of the mythos and inescapable terror I enjoy, combined with well paced action and smart characters.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

The Monster Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson (The Masquerade #2)

published October 2018

where I got it:  purchased new

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

I do love a character focused narrative, so The Traitor Baru Cormorant was right up my alley. That novel was narrowly focused on Baru – if she didn’t know about a city or a culture or specific laws, then the reader didn’t either. Luckily, that narrative was focused on things Baru knew – her childhood home, accounting, how to manipulate currency, and the local politics of Aurdwynn. At this point in Baru’s life, we didn’t need to know anything she didn’t know.

 

The sequel, The Monster Baru Cormorant, starts just as the first book in the series is ending. Baru’s mission to bring down Aurdwynn was more successful than anyone could have imagined.  Maybe too successful, in fact. She was supposed to keep her lover alive. Baru was supposed to allow the Empire to keep Tain Hu has a hostage against Baru’s “good behavior”. Baru may be a product of the Farrier process, but she’s also already seen how hostages are used to encourage “good behavior”.   The Empire will never have Tain Hu.

 

Baru is now the only hostage-less cryptarch.  The other cryptarchs don’t know what to make of this – does this make her more powerful than they? More unpredictable and therefore less powerful?  They have nothing they can hold of Baru, and everyone knows it. You’ll notice I’m not mentioning the other Cryptarchs by name, because spoilers.

 

In my mind, this series has become an asymmetrical crystal chandelier of sorts.  Each aspect (Baru’s lack of hostage, nature vs nurture, the culture of the Mbo, trim, the cancrioth, how you can never go home, etc) is another facet cut into the crystal that changes how the light from the center of the chandelier falls on the room.  And depending on where you are standing, maybe you’ll see direct light, or indirect light, or only a pattern of shifting shadows. The Empire of Masks means something very different, depending on where you are standing. It follows that if you don’t like the view from where you are, that a change in perspective is all you need to see in full spectrum.

 

Those who stand in Falcrest believe they are the center of the world, the center of civilization. Those who stand in Lonjaro Mbo and Segu Mbo probably feel bad for the Falcresti, with their lack of trim, isolating culture, and limited currency.  It’s also interesting to me, how few Cryptarchs are Falcresti by birth, people now forced to serve an Empire that they have zero cultural connection to.

Read the rest of this entry »

Remember those tweets about a sooper seekrit project I was working on? Did you get a “you may be right, I may be crazy” e-mail from me?

Well, I can finally talk about it, and you can too!

 

In January of 2019, I’ll be running a Kickstarter for a print book of The Best of Little Red Reviewer. This volume will contain my best reviews of the last eight years. I’m excited and kind of terrified!

 

Currently,  my reviews exist only on this website. When the internet evolves into something new, when blogging is no longer a thing, my work will cease to exist. But will it cease to have value? This kickstarter is a viability project to see not only if my reviews have value outside the internet, but if the products of the blogosphere have value outside the internet.

The Best of Little Red Reviewer started out as a crazy 3am idea, and when I told a few people about it, they didn’t think it was crazy at all.  So I figured, why not?

The Best of Little Red Reviewer will contain the work I’m most proud of. It will be a reflection of who I am as a reviewer. Can you find all that same stuff on my blog? Of course you can. Have you scrolled through my review index lately? Good luck figuring which reviews are worth reading.

 

I will be asking for $5000 to cover the costs of copy editing, interior book layout & design, cover art, printing, and shipping supplies. There might even be a few hundred bucks in there for a snazzy Kickstarter video.

a pledge of $15 gets you the print book.

pledges of $35 will get you things like a customized book, or writing the introduction to your favorite review.

Until the end of January I’ll be all over the internet talking about this project and asking you to pledge your $15 or your $35 or your whatever to help make The Best of Little Red Reviewer a thing that exists!

 

I’ll be posting all over the place over the next two months to promote this project. If you like my blog, but really don’t want to hear about this project, this is your cue to mute me on twitter and unsubscribe to my blog updates.

 

See that fancy new “The Best of LRR Kickstarter!” tab up top?  As I do guest posts and interview and other fun promotion posts, I’ll link to them on that page.   Updates posted to the Kickstarter site, will also be posted to that page.

 

I’m excited.

I’m terrified.

What if this is a terrible idea?

What if is a brilliant idea, it funds beyond my wildest dreams, and suddenly I have 50 boxes of books being delivered to my apartment? (Dear delivery guy: I’m sorry!)

What if this starts a trend of other bloggers doing the same thing with their best work?  (actually,  that sounds like the best thing ever)

 

 


Follow me on Twitter!

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

Join 2,143 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.
Advertisements