The Ways of Walls and Words April 15, 2015 The Ways of Walls and Words Sabrina Vourvoulias Can the spirit truly be imprisoned? Ballroom Blitz April 1, 2015 Ballroom Blitz Veronica Schanoes Can't stop drinking, can't stop dancing, can't stop smoking, can't even die. Dog March 25, 2015 Dog Bruce McAllister "Watch the dogs when you're down there, David." The Museum and the Music Box March 18, 2015 The Museum and the Music Box Noah Keller History is rotting away, just like the museum.
From The Blog
April 17, 2015
Spring 2015 Anime Preview: The Hellish Life of a Pizza Delivery Boy
Kelly Quinn
April 16, 2015
The Disney Read-Watch: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Mari Ness
April 15, 2015
Recasting The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Stubby the Rocket
April 15, 2015
The 10 Strangest Transports in Non-Driving Games
N. Ho Sang and Peter Tieryas
April 14, 2015
An Open Letter to HBO from House Greyjoy
Theresa DeLucci
Showing posts tagged: reviews click to see more stuff tagged with reviews
Mon
Apr 13 2015 1:00pm

Should you be watching Marvel’s Daredevil?

Daredevil Netflix Matt Murdock

Should you watch Daredevil? You likely will (our already have) if you’re a Marvel Cinematic Universe completist, or you have a love for the character. But if you’re unsure, here are some thoughts on the first three episodes to help you make up your mind.

[The Man Without Fear, eh?]

Tue
Mar 31 2015 10:00am

A Time of Transformation: The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall

The Wolf Border Sarah Hall

Between land and sea, day and night, life and death and the like, there lie those borders that, much as we might try, we cannot deny. Equally, though, there are those we impose: make-believe borders drawn to defend against that which we fear, as well as to keep what we want for ourselves within.

Set in the pristine wilderness split down the middle by the border between Scotland and England—as powerful a haunt here as it’s ever been—in the run-up to and the aftermath of 2014’s hotly fought Independence Referendum, Sarah Hall’s fifth work of fiction is a sumptuous study of truth and trust some are sure to slight because it seems slow... but no. The Wolf Border takes longer than I’d like to find its feet, but before long it’s toddling confidently, then running rampant—not unlike the near-mythical infant its protagonist produces.

[Read More]

Mon
Mar 30 2015 10:00am

Pull List: Getting Emotional Over Bitch Planet

Originally, this edition of Pull List was supposed to be all Kelly Sue DeConnick all the time as a co-review of Bitch Planet and Pretty Deadly. And then I read issue #3 and curled up in a cuddle puddle with my pet rat and cried for half an hour. I don’t even know how to explain everything, all the emotions that Penny’s history flooded up inside me, and even if I could it’s far more than this post could sustain. This review is rambling and wandering, but if you could manage to talk about a series like Bitch Planet and not get worked up emotionally then there is something terribly wrong with you.

[“...and you bastards ain’t never gonna break me.”]

Fri
Mar 20 2015 2:00pm

Dwellers of the Deep: Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory

Harrison Squared

Not an author to dare wearing out his welcome in any one genre, Afterparty’s Daryl Gregory turns his attention to tentacles in Harrison Squared, a light-hearted Lovecraftian lark featuring a friendly fishboy and a ghastly artist which straddles the line between the silly and the sinister superbly.

It’s a novel named after its narrator, Harrison Harrison—to the power of five, in fact, but around his mom and his mates, just H2 will do. Whatever you want to call him—and you wouldn’t be the first to go with “weirdo”—Harrison has a paralysing fear of the sea. A hatred, even, and for good reason, because when our boy was a baby, his father—Harrison Harrison the fourth, of course—was swallowed by the waves, one dark day; a day Harrison has forgotten almost completely.

[Read More]

Tue
Mar 17 2015 4:30pm

Short Fiction Spotlight: Stories from Daily Science Fiction

Daily Science Fiction Welcome back to the Short Fiction Spotlight, a space for conversation about recent and not-so-recent short stories. With our fresh new format, we’ll be discussing a larger handful of stories this week. Since it’s been a while since our last look at then, this time around I thought a good focus would be recent work at Daily Science Fiction—five days’ worth of pieces from various authors whose work I hadn’t seen before.

Those stories are: “Everything’s Unlikely” by James Van Pelt, “The Vortex” by Aniket Sanyal, “A Domestic Lepidopterist” by Natalia Theodoridou, “Best Served” by L.C. Hu, and “Tall Tales about Today My Great-great-granddaughter Will Tell” by Sean Williams. All five are relatively short, either flash fiction or hovering close to it, as is much of what DSF publishes—their daily schedule necessitates a lot of content, after all, most of it at brief lengths. These pieces ran from March 9th to the 13th.

[Onward.]

Tue
Mar 17 2015 9:00am

The Joy of the Journey: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

Self-published in the wake of a successful Kickstarter campaign before being picked up by a traditional genre fiction imprint, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet makes its move into the mainstream this month: a real rollercoaster of a path to market I urge you to ride when it arrives.

Not for nothing did the Kitschies shortlist this progressive piece de resistance. Imagine smashing the groundbreaking, breathtaking science fiction of Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch saga against the salty space opera of The Expanse; The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet lacks the wall-to-wall action of that latter, and some of the former’s finesse, yes—nevertheless, Becky Chambers’ debut is a delight.

[Read More]

Mon
Mar 16 2015 4:00pm

Call and Response: The Glorious Angels by Justina Robson

Glorious Angels Justina Robson

Mixing science fiction and fantasy with elements of horror and erotica, as well as the weird, The Glorious Angels is Justina Robson’s first non tie-in novel since Down to the Bone—the conclusion of the Quantum Gravity quintet—fully four years ago. I don’t mind admitting that I had high hopes it would represent a return to form for the oft award-nominated author, but despite its dizzying ambition and a few glimmers of brilliance, to be blunt, it doesn’t. A syrupy slow opening sees to that from the start.

The first few hundred pages of Robson’s cross-genre odyssey take place in Glimshard, a magnificent city of crystalline stems and spires at the very tip of which sits the Empress Shamuit Torada, who has in her infinite wisdom waged a war of sorts against the Karoo, a strange and essentially alien race “from so far away they were considered beyond civilisation, as elusive as the two-headed wolf of legend,” and at least as dangerous, I dare say.

[Read More]

Mon
Mar 9 2015 10:00am

What Happens When E.T. Grows Up: Chappie

Chappie film

Film these days is all about homaging the ’80s. Especially science fiction, and I suppose the leaning is understandable; sci-fi created some of its most memorable screen works during that decade, and the kids who grew up on them are adult enough to be nostalgic. But mimicry doesn’t always lead to transcendent results, so when director Neill Blomkamp took the stage for a Q&A before my screening of Chappie and informed us that the movie had a “Spielbergian” tint to it, I got a little nervous.

Turns out, if every film with a desire to homage could do it like Chappie, I’d never be worried again.

[Chappie is real.]

Fri
Mar 6 2015 4:00pm

A Brotherhood Sundered: Sword of the North by Luke Scull

Sword of the North Luke Scull

In “the five hundred and first year of the Age of Ruin,” the line between good and evil is so diminished that most are convinced it no longer exists. It’s every man for himself, and every woman as well, whether he hails from filthy Dorminia or she from lavish Thelassa. To wit, heroes and villains are artifacts of the past; fossils of a sort, all frail and friable... which is damn near a definition of the way Brodar Kayne has been feeling recently.

The so-called Sword of the North has “killed more demonkin than he could count, dire wolves and trolls by the dozen. Even a giant that had wandered down from the Spin the autumn just past.” He knows, though, that his monster-slaying days are numbered. The years have taken their toll, of course; he’s grown “old and weak: that was the truth.” Yet as inescapable as his increasing weakness is, Kayne thinks he has one last mission in him.

[Read More]

Tue
Mar 3 2015 6:00pm

Forget Me Not: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Buried Giant Kazuo Ishiguro

Like The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and The Hundred-Year-Old Man who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first new novel since Never Let Me Go a decade ago appears to be another of those elderly odysseys we’ve seen with such zeitgeist-like regularity recently—albeit one with the trappings, and the characters, of a classical fantasy.

There be dragons in this book, to be sure—alongside sprites, ogres, wizards and warriors—and you can practically taste the magic in the air of its Arthurian England. But never mind that, or the fact that its narrative is arranged around an epic quest, because The Buried Giant is at its best when it’s about Axl and Beatrice, a loving couple who leave their humble home ostensibly to travel to a village a few days walk away. There, the pair hope to renew their relationship with their estranged son.

A simple enough thing, you might think, but the kicker—the tragedy, in truth—is that they don’t really remember him. They don’t really remember much of anything.

[Read More]

Wed
Feb 25 2015 3:00pm

The Great Divide: Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

Our Endless Numbered Days Claire Fuller

Kids. They’ll believe almost anything if the “truth” comes from someone they trust. And why wouldn’t they? The world is wide and full of wonders we expect our children to accept without question. In that sense, the thought that a big ol’ bunny rabbit brings them chocolate eggs each Easter isn’t much less credulous than the idea that a thing called gravity keeps them from flying into the sky.

But there’s a big difference between a little white lie told with the best of intentions and the apocalyptic fiction Peggy Hillcoat’s father passes off as a fact at the start of Claire Fuller’s disarmingly dark, if indisputably beautiful debut.

[Read More]

Tue
Feb 24 2015 5:00pm

The Skin I’m In: Touch by Claire North

Claire North Touch

Fresh from the success of The First Fifteen Live of Harry August, Claire North—the second pseudonym (after Kate Griffin) of prose prodigy Catherine Webb—returns with Touch, a tremendously well-travelled science-fictional thriller that’s as disturbing as its predecessor was delightful.

From word one we follow an ancient entity christened Kepler by its enemies; a continuous consciousness of some sort that at the moment of its first host’s murder moved—much to its own amazement—into its murderer’s mind, and took over his body to boot. Several so-called “skins” later, Kepler has a basic understanding of its situation; of its ability, in particular, to essentially possess a person—any person—with but a touch.

“I walk through people’s lives and I steal what I find,” Kepler confesses. “Their bodies, their time, their money, their friends, their lovers, their wives—I’ll take it all, if I want to.”

[Read More]

Mon
Feb 23 2015 4:00pm

Bad Blood: The Death House by Sarah Pinborough

The Death House

A slim, sorrowful volume that splits the difference between The Fault in Our Stars and The Girl with All the Gifts, The Death House documents the last days of several students in a school full of Defectives: young people who have been taken from their parents and installed in an isolated location because of something bad in their blood. Something that’ll kill them all before long.

It’s school but not school. Like this whole place is life but not life. At least the teachers, who disappear off to their own wing once lessons are done, will get out of here. Sometimes I’ll catch one watching us as we work as if we’re animals in a zoo. I can never decide quite what the look is. Fascination or fear, or maybe a bit of both.

Maybe a bit of both is appropriate...

[Read More]

Mon
Feb 16 2015 10:00am

The Map is Not the Territory: Something Coming Through by Paul McAuley

Something Coming Through Paul McAuley

Spinning off a series of experimental short stories, Something Coming Through marks the actual factual start of an extraordinary new project by Paul McAuley, the award-winning author of the Quiet War novels. As a beginning, it’s inordinately promising, largely because the world is so wide and relevant and well-developed, and though the characters are a little lacking, Something Coming Through satisfies as a standalone story too.

Allow me to introduce you to the Jackaroo, an advanced race of aliens whose near-as-dammit divine intervention in human history may well have saved us—from ourselves.

[Read More]

Mon
Feb 9 2015 12:00pm

The Walking Dead, S5 E9: “What Happened and What’s Going On”

If the midseason premiere is any indication of where the show is headed and at what level of quality, well, your guess is as good as mine. While I admire the risk of an episode like “What Happened and What’s Going On,” I’m not sure I would’ve picked it for the premiere. I mean, closing out one arc with the death of a good character who still believes in kindness and empathy only to start a new arc by killing off the last remaining character not consumed by nihilism is a bold choice. Surrounding that death with a meaningless, empty plot probably didn’t help matters...

[“I’m a struggling man, and I’ve got to move on.”]

Thu
Feb 5 2015 10:00am

Don’t Touch That Dial: Midseason Superheroes

Welcome back to “Don’t Touch That Dial,” a seasonal series in which I, your friendly neighborhood television addict, break down some of the shows screaming for your attention. I already told you what’s new this spring, so now we’re diving a little deeper. In this very special episode we’re covering a kickass secret agent (Agent Carter), a dead hero (Arrow), an adorable speedster (The Flash), and a Batman show for people who don’t like Batman (Gotham).

[“For God’s sake, will you please stop shooting things?”]

Wed
Feb 4 2015 6:00pm

Memorylost: The Chimes by Anna Smaill

The Chimes Anna Smaill

London comes alive like never before in Anna Smaill’s deeply unique debut, The Chimes: a dystopian love story about a boy who comes to the capital on a quest to find out what happened to his late parents, and why. Along the way unspeakable secrets will be revealed about a world in which “words are not to be trusted” and memories are temporary—the unintended consequences of a musical final solution:

At the height of dischord, at Allbreaking, sound became a weapon. In the city, glass shivered out of context, fractured white and peeled away from windows. The buildings rumbled and fell. The mettle was bent and twisted out of tune. The water in the river stood in a single wave that never toppled. What happened to the people? The people were blinded and deafened. The people died. The bridge between Bankside and Paul’s shook and stirred, or so they say. The people ran but never fast enough. After Allbreaking, only the pure of heart and hearing were left. They dwelled in the cities. They waited for order; they waited for a new harmony.

It never arrived. But now, if you listen closely, you can hear the strains of a beautiful new movement beginning...

[Read More]

Fri
Jan 30 2015 12:00pm

Song of the Shennachie: The Visitors by Simon Sylvester

The Visitors Simon Sylvester review

A contemporary twist on an old fisherman’s myth complete with an immensely atmospheric setting, a strong yet sympathetic central character and a missing persons mystery that’ll keep you guessing till all is said and done—and then some—The Visitors by Simon Sylvester has everything including the girl going for it.

For all it has to offer, Bancree has seen better days. As a remote island off the coast of Scotland—bleakly beautiful, to be sure, but truly brutal too—it and its inhabitants have been hit hard by the economy’s catastrophic collapse. “There was nothing on the island that wasn’t already dying. Half the houses were for sale. The island population numbered only a few hundred, and that dripped away, year on year.”

Little wonder, as the only booming business on Bancree is whisky, and Lachlan Crane, the son set to inherit the local distillery, is at best “a bully and a womaniser,” and at worst? Well. Time will tell. For him and for Flo.

[Read More]

Wed
Jan 28 2015 1:00pm

Pull List: Nimona

Once upon a time, a bored blogger was endlessly scrolling through Tumblr when she came across some really awesome fanart. She checked out the OP and was pleased to discover a gem of a webcomic. The blogger was immediately hooked and spent the next few hours devouring everything the artist had ever created. She reblogged the artist’s mini-comics, bought copies of her fanart, and devoured her webcomic with the kind of single-minded intensity she usually reserved for 40,000+ word fanfics. Even though the webcomic has come to an end, the blogger still keeps the RSS feed on her bookmarks toolbar, because every now and again she gets a craving.

And now it’s time for you, dear reader, to fall in love with Nimona, Ballister, and Goldenloin just as your fair blogger did...

[“Aw yeah! Let’s make some evil plans!”]

Thu
Jan 22 2015 6:00pm

Delicate and Sincere: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

The Darkest Part of the Forest review Holly Black In her newest stand-alone young adult novel, The Darkest Part of the Forest, Holly Black returns to familiar and exciting territory: faeries and dark magic at the crossing between human and nonhuman worlds. Most folks are familiar with Black’s series “A Modern Tale of Faerie” (Tithe, Valiant, and Ironside) which ran from 2002 to 2007; that series set up Black as a daring and clever writer of young adult stories that tend to feature queer kids and deal honestly with complex emotional and social issues.

The Darkest Part of the Forest follows also on the heels of Black’s last young adult novel, another stand-alone (The Coldest Girl in Coldtown)—and I like the trend that these two books have been setting for her work going forward. Both are solid, well-paced and play interesting games with the tropes of the genre of supernatural YA; both star girls who make fucked-up decisions and are trying to learn to care about themselves and others in the aftermath. The shared narrative of growth here is more complex than just “getting older” and instead deals more with “learning to cope and be whole.”

[That’s the sort of thing I’m interested in seeing…]