Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bone Dance by Emma Bull

315 pp.
Bone Dance: A Fantasy for TechnophilesI first encountered this book back in the nineties. It is a post apocalyptic science fantasy with a lot of interesting ideas and some great adventure. Bone Dance was reprinted last year into trade paperback format along with War for the Oaks (another favorite of mine). It fits into both the science fiction and urban fantasy genres, and has a theme and concept that can be defined as “hoodoo punk.”

The protagonist of the story is Sparrow, a trader who deals in movies and tapes, music and sound systems, and recovery and repair of everything from television sets to projectors. Sparrow is hired to find a lost movie supposedly about the Horsemen, a covert and extremely secret service operation formed of powerful psychics with the ability to among other things, jump from body to body and possess people. According to the legends surrounding this possibly mythical movie, the production of which was canceled on account of everyone involved coming to a bad end.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

You've Heard This One Before...

Note:This story is more or less true, though events have been conflated and condensed due to my having a very bad memory for exact dates and times. Also, I am very sarcastic about what happened. Those involved, particularly my parents and other relatives will claim that I made this up. Sadly, they are mistaken.

Or maybe you haven’t heard this story before. Maybe you were lucky enough to be raised by parents who were also into playing Dungeons and Dragons. Maybe you didn’t have relatives who sincerely believed there was something insidiously evil about “pretending to be something/one you aren’t.”

Threshold, by Eric Flint and Ryk E. Spoor

309 pp.
Threshold (Boundary)
The sequel to Boundary finds the Ares crew getting ready to do a little more exploration, looking for new “Bemmie” bases in the solar system. This may be a somewhat difficult project, since the US is still fuming about the steps taken by Madeline Fathom to ensure that “fair play” would win the day. Funding has definitely become an issue, as well as logistics. Another matter of concern is elements within the European Union, who would like to have access to the next base found (and those same elements may be willing to engage in a little foul play in order to get that access.)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Flesh Circus, by Lilith Saintcrow

322 pp

Flesh Circus (Jill Kismet book 4)I very much did not like this book--but your mileage may vary. (I’m not really fond of this particular series in general--Jill Kismet is even more “standard babe with gun urban fantasy romance” than Saintcrow’s previous “standard babe with a gun urban fantasy romance” series heroine, Dante Valentine.) I had many problems with the plotting and world building, to the point where I was very reluctant to write a review. (Very, very reluctant, I bought and read the book a few months ago.)

 This particular installment features the arrival of a hellspawn-run circus called the Cirque De Charnu, which is a great deal like the carnival in Something Wicked This Way Comes--only it apparently has some variety of legal sanction as long as certain rules are followed. (This is not the brain breaking part. After the umpteenth bizarro-dystopia, you get used to it.) There is also a homicidal transgender mambo, the usual shrieking and snarling between Jill and the demon she has a contract with, accompanied by Jill being Very Stupid about her relationship with her Native American werewolf boyfriend.

Friday, June 18, 2010

All I Want is the Last Word

I have been in numerous ridiculous arguments about ridiculous things. Occasionally it happens that I am right and someone else is wrong. I am not very good at arguing , and I tend to lose most debates because I tend not to be very well spoken, and I am generally not considered a font of wisdom or even common sense by the folks I have argued with in the past. These are a few examples of arguments I have been in, where I have been right, and the other person persisted in being wrong (and not even wrong on the Internet, but in meatspace).

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Endless Blue, by Wen Spencer

495 pp.

Endless BlueThis book gave me a deep nostalgic feeling for the works of Jo Clayton. (There might also be some of Niven’s Known Space in the flavor, but I’m mostly reminded of the patchwork anomaly worlds and environments within Clayton’s paracosm.) Despite the feeling of nostalgia, it was a difficult book to read due to deep knee jerk hatred for certain plot points and social mores. (In other words, I was in a bad position of loving some of the characters while wanting most of their world/universe/society to die in a blaze of napalm. This is not a comfortable feeling to have, most of the time.)

Monday, June 14, 2010

Some Thoughts on the Finale of Fullmetal Alchemist

Chapter 108 of Fullmetal Alchemist really ends with a bang. I have been following both the second anime series (intermittently) and the manga run (continuously) so I was excited to see that the fan-translated finale was up. These last few chapters have been constant action accompanied by some amazing twists and turns. There were places where the action was a little hard to follow but the dramatic tension and sense of peril does a very good job of pulling you along.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Oath of Fealty, by Elizabeth Moon

Del Rey

Oath of FealtyThe Deed of Paksenarrion is one of my favorite high fantasy trilogies. If you play fantasy role-playing games with paladins in them, I’d like you to seriously consider reading this trilogy (and possibly also Oath of Swords by David Weber) if you want a handbook on how to run a paladin.

The original trilogy borrows a great deal from Tolkien but has its own unique world and setting. (It also has a very strong “feel” that these characters and the story were based in part on a campaign. You could almost see everyone’s alignments, levels and classes in lights above their heads. This is not a bad thing; it was just something I noticed.)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Outline of ElfQuest 1-5 by Richard and Wendy Pini

This is an Outline, not a serious review or critique, meant for parody and humor purposes only.

Other Outlines can be found here

Elfquest Archives Vol. 1ElfQuest is an old favorite. ElfQuest by Wendy and Richard Pini is a cult classic indie comic book series that spawned many spin off series, before kind of fizzling/stopping dead once it reached the more strongly science fiction oriented FutureQuest. This is for the first five issues, collected as Fire and Flight in the eighties or thereabout.
SHAMAN: I will provide exposition while torturing a poor wee elf!

WRITER/ARTIST: We will provide what really happened!

NEANDERTHALS: *Flash back.* Cavemen win. Kill puny astronauts!

HIGH ONES: *flash back* We will die a lot, and then run away!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fall of Light, by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

307 pp

Fall of LightFall of Light is an indirect sequel to A Fistful of Sky; it involves Opal LaZelle, Gypsum’s older sister, who works as a makeup artist. She uses her magical talents to enhance the effects of her work, and her talents are very much in demand. She’s working on location in Oregon for a horror movie, transforming her romantic interest Corvus Weather into the main monster/villain of Forest of the Night, a horror movie of the “secret witch-cult” variety which is deeply amusing, consider that Opal is from a clan of magic-users.

A Fistful of Sky, by Nina Kiriki Hoffman

353 pp .
A Fistful Of SkyNina Kiriki Hoffman is one of my favorite authors. I’m a huge fan of both the books set in the universe of The Thread that Binds the Bones and the Matt Black stories. Hoffman’s style of writing is quirky and honest, and deals with the complexities of human and family relationships, with an added dose of the supernatural and mystical. Her magical systems are generally unique--instead of borrowing from Western or Eastern magic systems or folklore, she makes things up from the beginning, creating new mythologies on the fly. Her magical families (such as the Locke, Keye and Bolte families of Thread) combine the power and insularism of Zenna Henderson’s People with a touch of Jerome Bixby’s “It’s a Good Life.”

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Deceiver by C.J. Cherryh

355 pp.

Deceiver: Foreigner #11 The direct sequel to Conspirator finds Bren Cameron in the middle of a political situation instigated by the nephew of Lord Geigi, a colleague and associate. Said political situation has created a massive problem between the still present factions that tried to stage a coup against Tabini and the Edi, an ethnic minority that has been trying to get its own representation within the aishidi’tat for centuries. That the political situation would have resulted in the nephew’s death is, at the opening of the novel, not understood by the nephew himself, much to the annoyance of all those present. Thanks to the nephew in question, a vacation intended to keep Bren out of the political spotlight for a while, has once again thrust him into action. Also on hand is the extremely precocious Cajeiri (who is two months shy of the felicitous age of nine) and the very formidable aiji-dowager Ilsidi, and Bren’s brother Toby and Toby’s girlfriend (and Bren’s former squeeze) Barb.