Where the Trains Turn November 19, 2014 Where the Trains Turn Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen His imagination runs wild. The Walk November 12, 2014 The Walk Dennis Etchison Creative differences can be brutal. Where the Lost Things Are November 5, 2014 Where the Lost Things Are Rudy Rucker and Terry Bisson Everything has to wind up somewhere. A Kiss with Teeth October 29, 2014 A Kiss with Teeth Max Gladstone Happy Halloween.
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Showing posts by: Justin Landon click to see Justin Landon's profile
Nov 21 2014 1:00pm

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “A Fitting Punishment”

Joe Abercrombie reread Before They Are HangedI’m writing this from a bus. Any typos are the failt [sic] of my zany driver Harvey. He’s got salt and pepper hair and a weird proclivity for loudly snorting to clear his nasal passages. All in all he seems like a swell fellow. The neon green vest he’s wearing is particularly charming. This is neither here nor there. Just trust me when I say you’re better off than I am right now.

You know who’s not better off? Everyone in Before They Are Hanged. We’ve got three chapters left, which for the sake of sanity, I’m breaking into one chapter this week and two next week. I apologize for the shorter post this week, but we’ll have a nice explosive finish coming up.

[This week’s chapter…]

Nov 14 2014 1:00pm

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “Questions” and “Holding the Line”

Before They Are Hanged Joe Abercrombie rereadI missed last week’s post. I have an excuse. The power cord to my MacBook Air inexplicably stopped working. One minute I’m the happiest little blogger on earth. The next I’m attempting to resuscitate a cord with mouth to mouth, shouting why over and over again. This screaming continued when I learned that the replacement was $80. This is not a joke.

In any case, I was probably missing the signs for several months that this tragedy was about to befall me. Maybe I had to wiggle the cord to get the light to come on. Maybe little bumps were developing where the internal wires were kinking. Maybe my little cord was constantly burping at serious moments and blaming indigestion. One things leads to another and it’s spewing blood all over the battle plans in the middle of a gods damned war!

Crap. I might be getting a little ahead of myself here.

On to this weeks chapters, one of which contains Lord Marshall Burr doing some things even my MacBook Air cord would be grossed out by.

[Click to find out...]

Oct 31 2014 12:00pm

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “To the Edge of the World” and “Before the Storm”

Before They Are Hanged Joe Abercrombie rereadThunder and lightning kept me awake all night. Nature is a powerful thing. It can make you feel small and vulnerable. I imagine it’s a lot how Jezal, Logen, and Ferro felt sitting between Bayaz and Cawneil this week, or Colonel West between General Poulder and Kroy. In both cases the experienced ones, the ones who should know best, are squabbling like children, putting the responsibility for acting like an adult in the hands of the less capable.

Abercrombie might be playing once again with the trope of wizened experience that’s often present in fantasy, but I think it’s far more likely that instead he’s offering the idea that doing things as they’ve always been done is hardly a recipe for success. Perhaps instead he’s making a comment on his own work, which is clearly not doing fantasy as its always been done.

Food for thought.

[This week’s chapters...]

Oct 30 2014 1:30pm

A Sci-Fi Casserole: Peter F. Hamilton’s The Abyss Beyond Dreams

The Abyss Beyond Dreams reviewPeter F. Hamilton is a steak dinner, with sides, and a big helping of desert. He probably comes with an after dinner espresso too. He makes you feel like a bloated carcass when you push away from the table and stumble out of the restaurant, your top button straining to stay in place. He makes you feel like an elbow to the gut will result in the carnage of the last two hours of debauchery emptying into the gutter. He doesn’t just give you a story and move on, he gives you all the stories and then a few more. He’s delicious.

This sounds like a precursor to an episode of The Walking Dead. It’s actually an entry point in discussing his most recent novel, The Abyss Beyond Dreams, which aspires to be just as addictively bloating as his previous work. Unfortunately, it’s more like a tapas experience full of disparate tastes that won’t quite leave you satisfied.

[More food metaphors...]

Oct 27 2014 11:00am

Nobody Puts Jarl in a Corner: The Way of Shadows Graphic Novel

The Way of Shadows graphic novel

Say one thing for Brent Weeks’ Night Angel Trilogy; say it’s full of action. I borrow that turn of phrase from Joe Abercrombie, whose main character Logen Ninefingers often uses it to demonstrate his ‘tell it like it is’ demeanor.

I borrow it in much the same way that Ivan Brandon and Andy MacDonald have borrowed for the graphic novel The Way of Shadows; we create something similar to the original, but also completely pervert it to our own ends. Where Weeks took time to develop his narrative beyond mere action, the graphic novel glosses over much of the detail, creating a shallower tale that focuses on the action and, really, only the action.

[Read More]

Oct 24 2014 12:00pm

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “Coming Over” and “Cheap at the Price”

Before They Are Hanged Joe Abercrombie rereadThe best part of this reread has been the folks commenting. They see things I never would have. This week rather than a clever lead, I want to quote a few things said last week that I thought were particularly insightful.

From Xena Catolica: “The whole time he’s giving Jezal advice on good leadership he’s blatantly not doing that himself & that’s [Abercrombie] drawing our attention to the fact Bayaz has intellectual/theoretical knowledge to match his age, but not the moral mojo to go with it. The disconnect between power and judgment ought to apply to Bayaz like it does to everybody else.”

[More comments and this week’s chapters...]

Oct 17 2014 12:00pm

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “Cold Comfort” and “The High Places”

Before They Are Hanged Joe Abercrombie rereadOnce Joe Abercrombie decided it was time for the sex he didn’t bandy about. He jumped right in. We saw this last week with the most deliciously awkward sex scene I’ve ever read. Naturally, once wasn’t enough, and this week’s chapters give us a sex scene each! It’s like we’re living in Van Nuys.

Where Logen and Ferro had their moment in private, the scenes this week are voyeuristic. Does that change things?

[Let’s find out...]

Oct 10 2014 12:00pm

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “No Good for Each Other” and “The Hero’s Welcome”

Before They Are Hanged Joe Abercrombie rereadThe moment we’ve all been waiting for has arrived. Ferro and Logen get horizontal. If this surprises any first time readers it’s because there’s been almost nothing to suggest such a thing might happen. Our lovers aren’t exactly the flirtatious sort. In fact, they seem to mostly hate one another.

So in “No Good for Each Other” something happens we never expected to, while in “The Hero’s Welcome” the thing we expect to happen comes to naught. It’s like bizarro narrative!

Fair warning: onomatopoetic sex quotes to follow.


Oct 3 2014 12:00pm

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “Luck” and “Beneath the Ruins”

Before They Are Hanged Joe Abercrombie rereadThis week’s chapters are mostly action. Bayaz and the gang being attacked by the Shanka to be precise. They get separated. Bayaz does some magic. Jezal feels better about his messed up body. Quai and Longfoot are afterthoughts. However...

It’s also foreplay. Trust me. As you read these two chapters pay special attention to how Logen and Ferro interact with one another. I won’t be discussing it much in my analysis, but it’s there. It should be observed as we move into the more intimate portion of the pair’s relationship. I say intimate, but if this is actually a reread you know that intimacy is something a little foreign to Ferro and Logen.

[Read More]

Sep 26 2014 12:00pm

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “To the Last Man” and “Jewel of Cities”

Before They Are Hanged Joe Abercrombie rereadLast week I encouraged commenters to comment on Tolomei, daughter of the Maker and lover(?) of Bayaz. You ignored me and told me it was too soon! Cue the shaking and rattling of a rereader gone drunk with power, calling down the heavens for your impudence. Or, you know, you were right. Whatever.

This week’s chapters are a little more pedestrian in terms of information reveals compared to last week’s, but I can assure you that they are the calm before the storm. We’re starting to get into the home stretch of Before They Are Hanged. Get ready to run!

[Read More...]

Sep 24 2014 10:30am

A Broken Binding: The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks

Brent Weeks The Broken Eye reviewA colleague of mine, Jared Shurin of the blog Pornokitsch, once described Brent Weeks’ Lightbringer novels—the latest being The Broken Eye—as “COLORKABLOOIE.” His argument boiled down to the concept that Brent Weeks writes pulpy, charismatic fluff. Charismatic fluff that ensorcels readers like Jafar’s scepter in Aladdin, but charismatic fluff that has little to redeem it beyond entertainment value. I promise not to use the words charismatic fluff again. Damnit.

The frustration I have withn the phrase COLORKABLOOIE is that it suggests there’s something wrong with pulp, and that epic fantasy should necessarily have some larger agenda. I find myself fundamentally in disagreement with any such idea, although I adore saying COLORKABLOOIE. Say it with me. COLORKABLOOIE. Fun isn’t it?

[How fun is it?]

Sep 19 2014 12:00pm

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “Scars” and “Furious”

Before They Are Hanged Joe Abercrombie reread This week’s chapters hold more stuff than usual, stuffed full of world building in “Scars” and laden with a most intriguing character shift in “Furious.” Remember, this reread does not contain spoilers in the text itself, but I strongly encourage them in the comments. Go nuts.

This week in particular I’d love to see some speculation on Tolomei. What do folks think her story is? Are there any details I’ve missed so far? Educate me rereaders!

 On to this week’s chapters!

[Read more...]

Sep 5 2014 12:00pm

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “The Rest is Wasted Breath” and “A Matter of Time”

Good news reread fans! I have it on good authority that Joe Abercrombie would like to come join us for a reread (and otherwise) Q&A session. Does that sound good? I thought so. It would be quite embarrassing though if I was the only one asking questions, so this is my warning to you! Start preparing your questions in your mind! I am currently working with the production staff here and Mr. Abercrombie himself to find a suitable day and time, but suffice to say it will be soon.

In more immediate news, we have two chapters for your rereading pleasure. “The Rest is Wasted Breath” features the brief reuniting of Bayaz and Zacharus from Ferro’s point of view. Meanwhile, “A Matter of Time” shows Glokta coming to grips with the soon-to-come victory of the Gurkish and his captured Eater’s proclivities.


Aug 29 2014 12:00pm

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “So This is Pain” and “One Step at a Time”

Welcome back to the First Law Trilogy reread! I normally write a creative introduction with clever anecdotes. Not today. What can I say, I’m all clevered out.

Today’s post covers the chapters “So This is Pain” and “One Step at a Time,” from Jezal and West’s points of view, respectively.

[This week’s post...]

Aug 26 2014 9:00am

Unlocking John Scalzi’s Lock In

Lock In John Scalzi review

You know who’s going to love Lock In? John Scalzi fans. If you fit into that category, stop reading and just go buy the book. Read this article later. If, like me, your relationship with John Scalzi is complicated, keep reading.

Once, I loved Scalzi’s work. I found it witty and charming, with a perfect blend of action, humor, and drama. Once, I found his work indulgent and repetitive, with an overreliance on one voice and one perspective to carry the day. In both instances I was convinced I knew who John Scalzi was as a writer.

With Lock In, it’s time to reevaluate again.

[Unlocking Lock In]

Aug 22 2014 12:00pm

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “Heading North” and “Scant Mercy”

Joe Abercrombie First Law trilogy reread Before They Are Hanged So, where was I last week when I should have been posting a reread? I was in London, attending Loncon3 and the Hugo Awards. I was nominated for Best Related Work for a book I edited titled, Speculative Fiction 2012: The Year’s Best Online Reviews, Essays, and Commentary. I didn’t win. Please leave a mocking comments below.

While that part of the trip was a failure, the rest of it was a grand success. I had the opportunity to meet a ton of people and renew some friendships. Most relevant to this particular post, I got to hang out with Joe Abercrombie. Since this is the internet, pics or it didn’t happen, right? Well…

[Photo evidence abounds...]

Aug 15 2014 4:00pm

Boldly Going Where Many Have Gone Before: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Queen of the Tearling Erika Johansen review

Conservative is a loaded term. What once meant traditional, quiet, steady, demure, and prim, now means reactionary, right-wing, and hidebound. So, when I say that The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen is conservative, which it clearly is, I’m references the former and not the latter. It is not, as its copious marketing copy proclaims, a ‘bright new entry in the fantasy genre’, but a capable retread of the form.

Set in the distant future, after an undescribed cataclysm, Queen of the Tearling’s Earth has fundamentally changed. A second dark age has emerged, where sickness and hunger, slaves and serfs, and violence and despotism reign again. Once a country of modest freedom, Tear has become a place of fear as the dead Queen’s brother rules as regent, steeped in liquor and slaves. Kelsea, Johansen’s protagonist and primary viewpoint, is Tear’s last hope. Now nineteen, she will leave everything she’s known behind to assume her long dead mother’s throne. Nothing resists change so well as one who rules, and her uncle has other ideas. With the Queen’s Guard at her back, Kelsea must survive her uncle’s plot to even have a chance to make things right.

[Meeting expectations...]

Aug 12 2014 1:30pm

Pastoral Family Drama: The Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb

Robin Hobb Fool's Assassin

Oh, FitzChivalry. You self-flagellating, depression-suffering, and kindly-narcissist, I’ve missed you. Also, you infuriate me. Seriously, do you have any idea how angry it makes me to watch your turtle into your cocoon and wallow in self-pity, dragging down everyone you love and who loves you while you do it? Hulk angry. You would think thirty years later you’d be over some of your issues, but no… even into the silver years your wisdom is in short supply. If only you weren’t so damned interesting…

So begins my feelings on Robin Hobb’s most recent novel, Fool’s Assassin. Picking up many years after the end of the Tawny Man Trilogy, Fitz is living as Tom Badgerlock, the Holder of his daughter Nettle’s estate, with his wife, Molly. Her children and his are grown, leaving them with an empty nest and the duties of the estate to keep them busy. Of course, despite Fitz’s desire to isolate himself from the crown, Chade and King Dutiful seem to keep him on retainer as something of a consultant.

[Read More]

Aug 8 2014 3:00pm

It’s All Academic: Reviewing KJ Parker’s Academic Exercises

KJ Parker Academic Exercises review

Reading KJ Parker is a religious experience, which is ironic considering some of the stories included within the pages of Academic Exercises undermine institutions with rabid vigor. Two World Fantasy Award winning novellas, three essays, and nine other stories complete the volume and represent the scope of KJ Parker’s short work to date.

From grifting, to wizarding, to alchemy, to music making, Parker takes the reader deep into a professional psyches of her characters and lays their soul bare. This summation of the author’s work is a must read for anyone with even a passing interest in good fiction.

[Read more...]

Aug 8 2014 12:00pm

Rereading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, Before They Are Hanged: “One for Dinner” and “One of Them”

I begin this week’s chapters with the quote between Part’s I and II of Before They Are Hanged.

‘He is not fit for battle that has never seen his own blood flow, who has not heard his teeth crunch under the blow of an opponent, or felt the full weight of his adversary upon him.’

This quote can be read many ways, but I read it this way. Battle is love, or at least making meaningful connections with other people. It’s a lot harder than it sounds. And you’re not fit for it until you’ve tried it and survived. All of Abercrombie’s characters undergo this journey. Some more successfully than others. It’s a fitting quote to conclude the first part of Before They Hanged. It recognizes that character arc for Logen, Ferro, and Jezal, while pointing out West and Glokta’s inability do it.

Or it just means you’re a wuss until your crunch someone’s skull with a morning star. I’m open to discussion. This week’s chapters take place just before that quote, one long and one short.

[Read More]