the Little Red Reviewer

brides story vol 3

who better to review a manga about getting married than a romantic married couple?  We reviewed volumes 1 and 2 earlier this year, and we’re finally getting to volumes 3 and 4 (with volumes 5 and 6 forthcoming).  What started out as the story of Amir and her young husband Karluk has veered off into unexpected directions….  hey, is this story really all about Smith??

This time I made Michael come up with most of the questions. But I shot some his way too!

Michael: How did you feel about the change of character from Amir and Karluk to Smith and then the twins? Many people were surprised when Mori-sensei did not stay with Amir for the entire run of Bride Story.

Andrea: I miss Amir! But it’s Mori’s story, so she can do whatever she wants. If we stayed with Amir and Karluk, we’d learn all about them, and their families, and nothing else. By following other characters we get to learn more about the varied cultures and families in the area. Yeah, I know people are mad that this story isn’t all about Amir… because you’ve just been introduced to a really interesting and compelling character, but get over yourself. If it was all Amir, all the time, we’d never meet Talas. Speaking of Talas….
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Michael: How did you feel about the change of feel? In the first two novels it is drama, with light action and suspense but there is not much peril or adult darkness. Three and four change that with three being very adult dark, and four being the introduction of the twins with a more lighthearted whimsical point of view.

Andrea: Vol 3 is mostly about Smith and Talas, and then Vol 4 is about the twins. Vol 3 gets surprisingly dark. Smith journeys to wherever he’s going (Michael: Ankara!), and is helped by Talas, a young widow. He ends up spending a few days with her and her mother in law, and learns her tragic story. Talas and her Mother in law are basically in a bleak and shitty situation. Both ladies see Smith as an honorable and gentle man, and it is suggested that he take Talas as a wife. She’s offended that Smith has to think about the offer. He likes her, but his western sensibilities require a long courtship, saying yes to a wedding isn’t something he can do quickly.

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It’s not that I’ve been procrastinating writing my review of Neal Asher’s The Gabble (it was hella fun, btw), it’s that I’ve been elsewhere on the web’o’sphere:

I was part of a SFSignal Mind Meld on Remembering Leonard Nimoy and Terry Pratchett. I sent the link to my Dad, he said he liked my response.

I interviewed Tim Lebbon over at SFSignal about his newest apocalyptic novel The Silence

I interviewed A.C. Wise at Apex Magazine about her short story “Silver Buttons All down His Back”

S.C. Flynn interviewed me over at Scy-Fy.

I’ve been packing like a crazy mo-fo. Today I’m tackling the kitchen, the boardgames cabinet, and the entertainment center. or at least hoping to.

transmetropolitan v 1Transmetropolitan Vol 1 by Warren Ellis, artwork by Darick Robertson

published in 2009

where I got it: published new

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Journalist Spider Jerusalem has been hiding in a mountain cabin in the woods for a while. He’s gotten rough around the edges, his hair is down to his waist, he hates everyone. Hard to believe he’s only been out there a few years. One best-selling book was all it took for him to get more than his fifteen minutes of fame, and when the attention stopped agreeing with him, he went up the mountain and promised never to come down. Except for the pesky fact that he’s still under contract with his publisher for two more books.

And how the hell do you writing a biting political book out in the woods? You don’t. Spider is going to have to return his natural habitat. The City. It’s loud, it’s filthy, it’ll hate him right back, it’s full of noise and insanity and things happening. In short, it’s the perfect place to complete his contractual obligations. Thanks to his still existing journalism contacts, he’s able to get his old job back. Luckily it comes with an apartment. That’s a shithole. Now, not only does he have two books to write, but he’s got newspaper deadlines to meet, a city that evolved into who knows what without bothering to tell him, and an assistant who doesn’t take any shit from him.

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Big News! I’m moving in two weeks!

This blog isn’t moving, I am, quite literally, moving. Down the street. We’re swapping our crappy one bedroom apartment for a much larger and much nicer two bedroom that’s in our same apartment complex. So we are packing all our earthly belongings, lugging them down three flights of stairs, putting them in cars and SUVs and vans, driving across a small neighborhood, and then lugging everything up four flights of stairs.

Because we’re crazy.

and then the weekend after our move I’m going to a Convention.

because I’m crazy.

The sixtyfour million dollar question is:

How many boxes of books do you think we’ll have when we’re done packing?

I’m at 11 and counting, and that’s not even all the books that are just in the bedroom.

there’s book news too:

I finished reading Aurora, by Kim Stanley Robinson, but I can’t talk about it until closer to release date. I’m looking forward to reviewing it.
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I read Transmetropolitan, Volume 1, by Warren Ellis. It’s snarky and crass, and the further i got into it, the more I liked it. Review coming soon.

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I’m a few stories into The Gabble, a short story collection from Neal Asher. These stories all take place in and around his Polity universe, which I am only familiar with from having read The Skinner. I love the way Asher does scifi horror and aliens. Not everyone’s cuppa tea no doubt, but I freakin’ love it.

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and then this gorgeous baby arrived in the mail from Mythic Delirium, Bone Swans, short stories by C.S.E. Cooney. In the proportions and the angle of the person’s head, the cover art reminds me of Klimt.

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vonnegut galapagosGalapagos, by Kurt Vonnegut

Published in 1985

where I got it: purchased new

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Galapagos was the first Vonnegut title I read. I must have been around twenty or twenty one at the time. I’d never been into American literature as a student, our required reading in high school never included Vonnegut, so what possessed me to get their weird book out of the library? Timing.

It must have been right around the year 2000. I was right in the middle of my college career, and I’d realized that while I enjoyed my classes and respected my instructors, that I had zero love my for major and was at peace that I was never, ever, going to be a drafter, designer, or engineer for a living. That kind of peace brought, well, peace. In 1998, the song “Free to wear sunscreen” came out, and was on heavy rotation on the radio, and it was rumored that the speech had been written by Kurt Vonnegut. His was a name people mentioned, sometimes in awe, sometimes with disdain. My high school English teachers mentioned his name, but didn’t encourage us to read him. Were we too young? Was it something else?

So, now that I had time, and mental energy, it was a great discovery to learn that the local library owned a stack of Vonneguts. Why did I choose Galapagos? Maybe because it had a neat cover. Maybe it was the first Vonnegut on the shelf that day. Who knows.

 

What a mental mind fuck that book was! It wasn’t told chronologically, you’re told in the first chapter who is going to die later, and the narrator is a ghost who never actually explains anything. I didn’t understand a word of it. It was absurd and surreal, and I loved it. It was a new taste that I suddenly couldn’t get enough of. Over the next 4 years, I would read every Vonnegut the library owned (which turned out to be not that many), fall in love with Cat’s Cradle, and start collecting used copies of Vonnegut titles. Yes, I could have purchased them brand new and owned a collection instantly, but this kind of thing is about the journey, you know?

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king makerKing Maker, by Maurice Broaddus

published in 2010

where I got it: purchased

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I have a soft spot for mythology retellings, for folklore characters reimagined in modern times. How will the author handle changes in social mores and expectations?  How do you blend old myths and a new world, and make it work?  Maurice Broaddus’s debut novel King Maker is the story of King Arthur told in present day inner city Indianapolis. Blending the trappings of urban fiction and dark epic fantasy, Broaddus gives us characters and a world that I’ll bet most SF/F fans have rarely, if ever, come across.  The dialog includes a lot of urban street slang, and yet there is a Shakespearean flavor to the timber and rhythm of many of the conversations.

 

The characters from the Arthur story are all here, if changed and modernized: Luther White is Uther Pendragon; his son King James White (yes, King is his first name) is Arthur; King’s friend Lott Carey is Lancelot; the homeless and possibly crazy guy Merle is Merlin; Lady G is Guinevere; Dred is Mordred, and so on. You’ll even find the Green Knight, Percival, and some fae interference. Even the physical trappings are here:  Excalibur becomes a custom-made gun called the Caliburn, and the throne of Britain is reflected in the Breton Court neighborhood which serves as the epicenter of King’s domain. There is additional mythos blended in as well, including immortal spirits, and a set of unforgettable assassins.

 

Merle speaks in riddles and prophecies, and King puts up with him, because the old homeless guy is surely harmless. King doesn’t want to get sucked into the world of drug dealing, but with so few options to get out of the city, he may have no other choice. King knows he’s made some enemies, but he isn’t intimidated by the thugs on his street who try to hustle his neighbors. He protects the vulnerable people in his neighborhood, and generally tries to make his home a better place.  His fearlessness leads Merle to believe that the King has returned.

 

But instead of noble kings, knights in shining armor, princesses and magicians, the names you know from the King Arthur myth are transformed into poverty stricken inner city youths, drug dealers, teen mothers, prostitutes and homeless people. Broaddus doesn’t sugar coat or glorify anything, and neither do his characters. We’ve turned so many old stories into romantic tales of brotherly love and chivalry, but what parts of their stories never made it onto the parchment or into the songs and poems?  In King Maker, we’re given the idea of the noble and romantic Hero’s Journey right alongside destitution,  bleak street life, homelessness, drug deals gone wrong, and women who turn to prostitution because they have no other way to feed their family.  it’s brutal, it’s honest, it’s in your face at all times.

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so many pretties came in the mail recently.  i want to pet them and snuggle with them. (oh, these are for reading, not snuggling, you say? I can read AND snuggle! so there! Osmosis totally works, right?)

What looks good to you?

From Nightshade Books:

cash crash

Cash Crash Jubilee, May 2015, debut novel from Eli K. P. William (looks pretty cool! I dig the cover art, and it sounds like a fun read)

what it’s all about:

In a near future Tokyo, every action—from blinking to sexual intercourse—is intellectual property owned by corporations that charge licensing fees. A BodyBank computer system implanted in each citizen records their movements from moment to moment, and connects them to the audio-visual overlay of the ImmaNet, so that every inch of this cyber-dystopian metropolis crawls with information and shifting cinematic promotainment.

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Emissary, by Betsy Dornbusch April 2015 (emissaryThis is the 2nd book in a series. That alone takes it off my priority list, since i haven’t read the 1st book)

What it’s all about:

Draken vae Khellian, bastard cousin of the Monoean King, had risen far from his ignominious origins, becoming both a Bowrank Commander and a member of the Crown’s Black Guard. But when cursed black magic took his wife and his honor away, he fought past his own despair and grief, and carved out a new life in Akrasia. His bloody, unlikely path, chronicled in Exile: The First Book of the Seven Eyes, led him to a new love, and a throne.

Draken has seen too much blood . . . the blood of friends and of enemies alike. Peace is what he wants. Now he must leave his wife and newborn child in an attempt to forge an uneasy peace between the Monoean King and the kingdom of Akrasia. The long bloody shadow of Akrasia’s violent past hangs over his efforts like a shroud. But there are other forces at work. Peace is not something everybody wants . . . not even in the seemingly straightforward kingdom of Draken’s birth.

 

From the friendly folks at Pyr:

superposition

Superposition, by David Walton, April 2015. Sorry for the crappy photo, this is some striking cover art that didn’t come through very well.

what it’s all about: Jacob Kelley’s family is turned upside down when an old friend turns up, waving a gun and babbling about an alien quantum intelligence. The mystery deepens when the friend is found dead in an underground bunker…apparently murdered the night he appeared at Jacob’s house. Jacob is arrested for the murder and put on trial.

As the details of the crime slowly come to light, the weave of reality becomes ever more tangled, twisted by a miraculous new technology and a quantum creature unconstrained by the normal limits of space and matter. With the help of his daughter, Alessandra, Jacob must find the true murderer before the creature destroys his family and everything he loves.

 

From my friends at Tachyon Publications:

HannuCollected Fiction of Hannu Rajaniemi, May 2015. (Now this one, I’m super interested in. His novels intimidate me, but anyone can read a few short stores, right?)

what it’s all about: Inside the firewall the city is alive. Buildings breathe, cars attack, angels patrol, and hyper-intelligent pets rebel. Again, apologies for the fuzzy photo.

With unbridled invention and breakneck adventure, Hannu Rajaniemi is on the cutting-edge of science fiction. His post-apocalyptic, post-cyberpunk, and post-human tales are full of exhilarating energy and unpredictable optimism.

How will human nature react when the only limit to desire is creativity? When the distinction between humans and gods is as small as nanomachines—or as large as the universe? Whether the next big step in technology is 3D printing, genetic alteration, or unlimited space travel, Rajaniemi writes about what happens after.

 

There was also an envelope from Tor. what was inside it? A finished copy of Icefall, by Gillian Philip! I now have three (yes, three!) copies of this book! Anyone want one? the ARC and US version are up for grabs. the UK one stays with me forever, as it was a gift.

three icefalls

 

 

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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.