Midway Relics and Dying Breeds September 24, 2014 Midway Relics and Dying Breeds Seanan McGuire Between the roots and the sky. The Golden Apple of Shangri-La September 23, 2014 The Golden Apple of Shangri-La David Barnett A Gideon Smith story. Selfies September 17, 2014 Selfies Lavie Tidhar Smile for the camera. When Gods and Vampires Roamed Miami September 16, 2014 When Gods and Vampires Roamed Miami Kendare Blake A Goddess Wars story
From The Blog
September 25, 2014
After Paris: Meta, Irony, Narrative, Frames, and The Princess Bride
Jo Walton
September 23, 2014
It’s All About the Benjamins in Sleepy Hollow: “This is War”
Leah Schnelbach
September 23, 2014
The Death of Adulthood in American Culture: Nerd Culture Edition
Lindsay Ellis
September 22, 2014
Five Brilliant Things About Doctor Who “Time Heist”
Paul Cornell
September 19, 2014
“WCKD is Good,” But The Maze Runner is Bad
Natalie Zutter
Showing posts tagged: reviews click to see more stuff tagged with reviews
Tue
Sep 30 2014 1:30pm

Ghostwritten: The End of the Sentence by Maria Dahvana Headley & Kat Howard

The End of the Sentence Maria Dahvana Headley Kat Howard review

In the aftermath of a tragic accident that made a mess of his marriage, Malcolm Mays retreats to rural Oregon in an attempt to begin again, however he gets more than he bargained for when he moves into a foreclosed home in Ione.

In a sense he inherits its former occupant, a convicted criminal called Dusha Chuchonnyhoof, who—having been unjustly jailed for two lifetimes and a day, he says—is preparing to reclaim his property. “The homeowner is only absent, you must understand. Not gone. The end of the sentence approaches [...] and when it comes, I will return.”

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Thu
Sep 25 2014 10:30am

Scripted: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

Scott Westerfeld Afterworlds review

As someone somewhen almost certainly said, the story is the thing... and it is, isn’t it? Most readers read in order to know what happens next—to these characters or that narrative—rather than out of interest in much of anything outwith a given fiction; assuredly not the particular process of authors, though after Afterworlds, I’ve begun to wonder whether we mightn’t be missing a trick.

A twofold story about storytelling, Scott Westerfeld’s insightful new novel alternates between a pair of coming of age tales. In one, we meet Lizzie: a typical teenager, to begin with, who’s too busy texting to notice the start of a terrorist attack.

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Wed
Sep 24 2014 5:00pm

Eternal Treblinka of the Spotless Soul: Bête by Adam Roberts

Bete Adam Roberts review

Reading Adam Roberts is like participating in a literary lucky dip. It’s a bit of a gamble, granted, but every one’s a winner, and all of the prizes on offer are awesome.

Different sorts of awesome, I dare say. Always smart, and ever so sharp, but sometimes you get something scathing, and sometimes something sweet. Sometimes his stories are obscenely serious; sometimes they’re ridiculously silly. Bête represents the best of both worlds—the coming together of all the aspects of Adam Roberts: the author, the professor and the satirist, alongside a number of others.

His fifteenth full-length fiction in fifteen years—including neither his punsome parodies nor his several collections—is a book about the rise of animals with intelligence to match man’s, and it begins with a cutting conversation between a cattle farmer and the cow he had thought to slaughter.

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Sun
Sep 21 2014 1:30pm

Robbed A Bank. Robbed A Whole Bank. Doctor Who: “Time Heist”

Doctor Who, Time Heist

You’ve gotta have a heist episode, right?

It’s sort of remarkable that Who has avoided the heist play for this long, but perhaps you just need the right sort of Doctor for it. So, how does a robbery go when time travel is involved?

[Bow tie, embarrassing.]

Tue
Sep 16 2014 2:00pm

Vincit Qui Patitur: The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

The Infinite Sea 5th Wave Rick Yancey review Following the first phases of the invasion revealed in Rick Yancey’s breakthrough book, the world of The 5th Wave “is a clock winding down,” with each tick of which, and every tock, what little hope there is left is lost.

No one knows exactly how long the last remnants of humanity have, but they’re looking at a matter of months, at most... unless someone, somewhere, can conceive of a means of driving the aliens away—aliens who, as the big bad of the series says, have nowhere else to go.

“You’ve lost your home,” Vosch asks The Infinite Sea’s central character—not Cassie, as it happens—to imagine. “And the lovely one—the only one—that you’ve found to replace it is infested with vermin. What can you do? What are your choices? Resign yourself to live peaceably with the destructive pests or exterminate them before they can destroy your new home?”

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Mon
Sep 15 2014 2:00pm

The Retrospective: The Relic Guild by Edward Cox

The Relic Guild Edward Cox

The end result of more than a decade of obsessive endeavour, The Relic Guild by Edward Cox is the first part of a fine fantasy saga mixing gods and monsters that promises a lot, but delivers on too little to linger long after its last page.

Be that as it may, it’s engrossing in the early-going, as the author thrusts us into the midst of a magical battle between Marney, an out-of-practice empath; a goodly number of golems in service of someone called Fabian Moor: an evil Genii determined to bring his banished master back from the blackest corners of beyond; and Old Man Sam, a bounty hunter unburdened by the little things in life, like what’s right.

The good, the bad and the ugly are all searching for the same thing, in this instance: a girl called Peppercorn Clara. “Barely eighteen, she was a whore rumoured to have a libido as spicy as it was insatiable. The story was that [she] had killed a client halfway through a job.” Needless to say, this is a fabrication. Clara’s only crime is that she’s different from most of the million mere mortals who live in Labrys Town, being the first magical being born within its walls in a generation.

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Wed
Sep 10 2014 5:00pm

Teen Wolf: Evolution

Teen Wolf

Previously on Teen Wolf: Everything happens all at once, nothing is satisfactorily explained, and all hell breaks loose.

[“What the hell is so special about Scott McCall?”]

Thu
Sep 4 2014 3:00pm

Fear Factory: Gleam by Tom Fletcher

Hot on the heels of three deeply discomfiting horror novels, Gleam marks the starts of a fantasy saga that’s never better than when it harks back to Tom Fletcher’s first fictions. It’s burdened by a bland protagonist and a lacking opening act, but besides that, The Factory Trilogy is off to a tantalising start.

In large part that’s due to the darkly wonderful world it introduces us to. Gleam is a devastated landscape equal parts Ambergris and Fallout 3, arranged around a truly hellish edifice.

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Wed
Sep 3 2014 2:00pm

Pull List: Legendary Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon

Rocket Racoon

In case you’ve been under a rock the last month, the Guardians of the Galaxy went from relatively obscure comic book heroes to global superstars. As of August 25, the film has raked in over $500 million worldwide, with more than $94 million of that coming in opening weekend in just North America. 44% of its opening weekend audience was female, beating the last record holder of 40% female audience for The Avengers. It’s by no means perfect, but it’s entertaining as all get out.

Tying in to the film’s release, Marvel released several comics to sate fans looking for more Groot-y goodness. To that end, let’s dive into Legendary Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon.

[“No one calls the Guardians of the Galaxy krutackers!”]

Wed
Sep 3 2014 12:30pm

Out of Time: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

The Bone Clocks David Mitchell review

An exquisite exploration of the beauty and the tragedy of mortality, The Bone Clocks is a soaring supernatural sextet split into sections carefully arranged around the novel’s initial narrator.

A baby-faced runaway when we meet in the mid-eighties, Holly Sykes has become a wistful old woman by the book’s conclusion in the year 2043. Between times David Mitchell depicts her diversely: as a friend and a lover; a wife and a mother; a victim and a survivor; and more, of course, as the decades prance past. The Bone Clocks is, in short, the story of Holly Sykes’ life: a life less ordinary that leads her—as if by the whims of some Script—into the midst of a macabre conflict between eternal enemies fought in the farthest fringes of existence.

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Tue
Sep 2 2014 11:00am

The End is the Beginning: Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer

Acceptance Jeff VenderMeer review

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was... well. That’d be telling. Because the Word was whatever you wanted it to be. The Word was possibility. The Word was promise. For in the Word was the beginning, to boot, and beginnings are simple. They’re questions, essentially. It follows, then, that endings are answers. And it is far harder to answer questions satisfactorily than it is to ask ’em.

Acceptance is the end of the Southern Reach series, which began with Annihilation—with its countless cosmic questions. What is Area X? Where did it come from? Who—or what—created it? Not to mention: when? And why?

Readers are apt to approach Acceptance expecting answers, and they’ll find a fair few, to be sure; Jeff VanderMeer does indeed complete the sinister circle of the Southern Reach series here. But when all is said and done, much of the mystery remains. Area X is, in the end, as unknowable as it was when we breached its impossible border at the very beginning of the trilogy. It has lost none of its promise. Possibilities still spring from its fantastical firmament. In the final summation, I can’t conceive of a finale more fitting.

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Mon
Aug 25 2014 1:00pm

The Legend of Korra Season Finale: “Enter the Void” and “Venom of the Red Lotus”

Avatar The Legend of Korra

So you want a big, two-part, smash ’em up finale? The Legend of Korra delivers and still leaves enough room for a bittersweet not-with-a-bang-but-with-a-whimper capstone. I’m left thoughtful in the wake of everything that happens; in a lot of ways, this feels like the spiritual sequel to the end of Book Two in Avatar: the Last Airbender, and the preponderance of crystal and gurus makes me think that’s quite intentional. As the same time, these episodes intensely channel the series finale of “Sozin’s Comet,” but with the clever conceit of a role reversal. Here the nimble, evasive airbender is the villain, and the one soaring around on jets of flame is the Avatar.

Book Three of The Legend of Korra has been great, not just in comparison to the first two seasons but on its own, and it concludes here. It’ll all end in tears, but what kind of tears?

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Fri
Aug 22 2014 5:00pm

Among Myths: Scale-Bright by Benjanun Sriduangkaew

Scale-Bright by Benjanun Sriduangkaew review

World Fantasy Award winner Lavie Tidhar has it that Benjanun Sriduangkaew may be “the most exciting new voice in speculative fiction today,” and on the basis of Scale-Bright, he might be right. A love story set in heaven and Hong Kong arranged around a troubled young woman’s belated coming of age, it’s the longest and most involved tale Sriduangkaew has told to date, and considered alongside The Sun-Moon Cycle, it represents an achievement without equal.

“An orphan who spent seven years hating equally the parents that died and the extended family that did not,” Julienne, when we join her, lives what you might describe as a quiet life with her adoptive aunts, Hau Ngai and Seung Ngo. The fact that they’re myths in mortal form complicates things a little, admittedly.

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Fri
Aug 22 2014 10:00am

What Happened, If It Happened: J by Howard Jacobson

J Howard Jacobson review

Alongside Us, The Bone Clocks, and How To Be Both, J by Howard Jacobson was one of a number of novels longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in advance of its publication date. A source of frustration for some, I’m sure—though this has ever been the panel’s habit—but for others it represents a reason to update reading radars.

This year, I found myself amongst the others above, because if not for the nod, I doubt I’d have looked twice at this book. When I did, additionally, it was with some scepticism; after all, Jacobson has won the Booker before, for The Finkler Question in 2010—the first comic novel to take the trophy home in 25 years—and pointedly acknowledging former nominees is another of the panel’s practices.

Not today. J, I’m pleased to say, is in every sense deserving of its spot on the longlist. It’s a literary revelation wrapped in understated dystopian clothing; a wonder of wit and whimsy that takes in the chilling and the ridiculous—the hilarious and the horrific. That said, it’s a novel that requires rereading to appreciate completely.

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Mon
Aug 18 2014 3:00pm

Is The Legend of Korra’s “The Ultimatum” the End of the Line?

Avatar Legend of Korra Ultimatum

Let’s not everyone freak out at once. Just last episode we talked about the knife edge of doubt that an “all-ages” show like The Legend of Korra has been able to walk when it comes to violence. The Earth Queen’s demise could have been the Earth Queen’s defeat until the burden of context clues pushed it over. Heck, this episode we see a number of seemingly fatal falls turn out to be misdirection, on all sides, so I guess my point is: all we can do is speculate about the ultimate fate of one of our favorite characters.

One thing I’ve said this entire season is that the stakes and the tension are high; it feels like anything can happen. I’m hoping the fallout from this recent turn of events is more of a melancholy sad, with more of an “Appa’s Lost Days” feel to the consequences than what the worst case scenario could be. Enough of all of this vague spoiler-free mummery; let’s talk brass tacks, below the cut.

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Thu
Aug 14 2014 5:00pm

When in Rume: The Incorruptibles by John Hornor Jacobs

The Incorruptibles John Hornor Jacobs

A grimdark fantasy about mercenaries protecting precious cargo as it’s transported through treacherous territory, The Incorruptibles gives Red Country a run for its money, if not its funny, but what sets it apart from Joe Abercrombie’s wild west diversion is its unexpected perspective.

Fisk and Shoe have been partners in crime for a lifetime. One is a pious man, the other “damned as surely as the sun rises.” Why? Because “he loves the Hellfire. He loves his gun. He’s a hard, unyielding man, with a long memory and impervious to regret. But there’s kindness, too, under all that.” Sounds like an anti-hero to me!

Surprisingly, John Hornor Jacobs’ new novel is more interested in the man of God—or rather Ia—than it is in the man of action I expected to find front and centre of the alt historical events The Incorruptibles documents.

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Wed
Aug 13 2014 5:00pm

An Empty Vessel: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgramage Haruki Murakami

“From July of his sophomore year in college until the following January, all Tsukuru Tazaki could think about was dying.”

So begins Haruki Murakami’s first novel since the bloat of the book many expected to be his magnum opus. Happily, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is essentially the inverse of IQ84. It’s short and sweet where that last was extended in its dejection; gently suggestive rather than frustratingly overbearing; and though the ending is a bit of bait and switch, it’s one which feels fitting, unlike IQ84’s dubious denouement.

If you were worried, as I was, that Murakami may have had his day, then rest assured: his new novel represents a timely reminder of the reasons you fell for his fiction in the first place.

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Tue
Aug 12 2014 4:00pm

No Kings, No Masters in The Legend of Korra’s “Long Live the Queen”

Avatar Legend of Korra Long Live the Queen

Well, The Legend of Korra continues to be amazing. Like, old-school, top of its game, Avatar the Last Airbender good, that’s what I’m talking about. Zaheer...ah, I’ll sing his praises as this season’s villain enough later on in the post, no need to start now. Asami, sure, I’ve been asking for more Asami and now I’ve got it. Basically at this point I’m starting to get a little cocky—can I just ask for anything and get it? Stock in Cabbage Corporation? I never got that Koh the Face-Stealer cameo I was hoping for from the Book of Air with Amon or from the Book of Spirits’...well, spirits. Maybe I’ll be in luck next week; at this point, anything seems possible. I’m very excited about this show right now, and I really hope the “digital transition” is going well. If there was ever a time to proselytize a show to show the number-crunchers and bean-counters what’s what, it’s now.

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Wed
Aug 6 2014 4:00pm

Urbosynthesis: Our Lady of the Streets by Tom Pollock

Tom Pollack Our Lady of the Streets review

There was always something special about Beth Bradley; something which went beyond her quick wit, her evident intelligence. Wasn’t so long ago she was one among many—a badly-behaved teenager suffering through school, as exceptional individuals like Beth tend to—yet even then she was set apart by her street art; by graffiti which came to life because of her partnership with Pen, who’d append poetry to her pictures, turning still images into stories. Stories of the city.

Stories such as those Tom Pollock has told over the course of The Skyscraper Throne: an inventive and affecting urban fantasy saga which comes full circle with the release of Our Lady of the Streets. Be prepared to bid a bittersweet goodbye to Beth and her best friend, then... but not before they’ve had one last adventure together. An adventure as incredible as it is desperate; as tragical as it is magical.

[Why? Because Beth Bradley is dying.]

Tue
Aug 5 2014 12:00pm

What We Know Not: Irregularity, ed. Jared Shurin

Irregularity anthology edited by Jared Shurin review

Most books are dedicated to people near and dear: to friends or family members of the minds behind the literary leaps such documents detail. Sometimes other authors or artists—figures of miscellaneous inspiration without whom some key element of the texts in question may have foundered or failed—are acknowledged in the aforementioned fashion. It’s a rare thing, though, to see a dedication made not to a someone, but a something.

Irregularity is exactly that. It’s an anthology dedicated to an idea, to an abstract: “to failure,” in fact—though the text itself is a tremendous success. As an enterprise it is “no less than wonderful, and it seemed to me that every man of scholarship, every man of imagination, regardless of his language or place of birth, should find in it something extraordinary.” Lo, like The Lowest Heaven before it, the latest collaboration between Jurassic London and the National Maritime Museum showcases an audacious assemblage of tales arranged around an inspired idea: that we as a people were in a way robbed by the Age of Reason.

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