Ambiguity Machines: An Examination April 29, 2015 Ambiguity Machines: An Examination Vandana Singh A test for Junior Navigators of Conceptual Machine-Space. The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn April 22, 2015 The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn Usman Malik He will inherit the Unseen. 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.
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Showing posts by: Robert H. Bedford click to see Robert H. Bedford's profile
Oct 1 2014 4:00pm

Parallel Apocalypses: Extinction Game by Gary Gibson

Gary Gibson Extinction GameOne of the most popular types of science fiction narratives is the apocalypse or post-apocalypse story—a world in ruins with few survivors eking out a threadbare existence in a world (seemingly/mostly) devoid of civilization. Told from the point of view of Jerry Beche, Extinction Game, is Gary Gibson’s foray into this subgenre after a string of successful Space Opera novels.

Through Jerry’s first person voice, we get an intimate portrait of a man losing his sanity despite surviving the initial apocalypse. He speaks with his dead wife, he wants to make sure the people responsible for her death, Red Harvest, get their just desserts. When Jerry finally ventures out of his ramshackle hovel, he finds other people. Unfortunately for Jerry, these people capture and interrogate him, and we soon learn they are from a parallel Earth—Jerry is one of many people extracted from an apocalyptic world to be trained as Pathfinders, specialists who plunder other Earths for hints of salvation.

[It’s the End of the Worlds as We Know Them…]

Aug 5 2014 11:00am

Investing in Fantasy: The Widow’s House by Daniel Abraham

the widow's house review daniel abrahamVillains both in history and in good fiction often do not think of themselves as villains. This could not be truer for Geder Palliako, the Lord Regent of Antea until Prince Aster comes of age and can assume the throne. Geder’s cause is backed, and one might even say pushed ahead, by those who worship the Spider Goddess—particularly Basrahip, the minister of the Spider Goddess, who works as Geder’s chief advisor.

In The Widow’s House, the fourth installment of The Dagger and the Coin sequence, author Daniel Abraham continues to deftly explore positions of power, and how perception lends credence to reality. Abraham tells the story through the same points of view as in the previous volume, though these characters have evolved quite a bit since we first met them. Clara Kalliam, widow, mother, plotter against the Lord Regent; Cithrin bel Sarcour, ‘rogue’ banker, former lover and scorner of the Lord Regent; the aforementioned Geder, Lord Regent and emotional basket case; and Captain Marcus Wester, a hardened man of war. Abraham bookends the novel with two additional points of view: a prologue from the POV of the last Dragon Inys, and an epilogue from a soldier’s point of view.

[That’s right, a dragon…]

Jul 25 2014 3:25pm

SymboGen Cares About Your Hugo Vote: Parasite by Mira Grant

Mira Grant—a penname for Seanan McGuire—can often be found on the Hugo ballot, and this year is no different. Admittedly, the central conceit of Parasite is a large pill to swallow, and takes a bit of handwaving to gloss over the details.

In Grant’s near future thriller, the majority of the world has willingly ingested an Intestinal Bodyguard, a designer parasite intended to aid our weakened immune systems. On top of that, all the parasites are all owned by a single company—SymboGen. But once you’re on board, Grant unfurls an interesting and briskly-paced narrative.

[SymboGen cares about your health…]

Jul 17 2014 3:00pm

Banking on the Hugos: Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross

Charles Stross is a mainstay on genre award ballots every year; 2014 marks his seventh appearance on the short list for the Hugo Award for Best Novel. There’s good reason for these accolades because when it comes to plausible and well-thought out future scenarios, few can invent better scenarios than Stross.

Neptune’s Brood, in this case, imagines a post-human, far future where we as humanity have become a thing of the past often referred to as Fragiles. The novel is many things, but a primary thrust revolves around economics in the future and a supposed defrauding scam as it features Krina Alizond-118 on her journeys through the galaxy.

[Pirates and banking?]

Jun 17 2014 12:00pm

The Revelations of Fantasy Adventure Author Michael J. Sullivan

Theft of Swords Michael J Sullivan Riyria RevelationsScience fiction and fantasy author Michael J. Sullivan is one of the great success stories of self-publishing. Each of the books in his Riyria Revelations series has garnered a four-star rating (or better) on Goodreads and many positive reviews from readers and critics. Sarah Chorn, AKA Bookworm Blues says the first novel “nicely blends well-known fantasy tropes and new ideas to create something unique, yet comforting. This was a good action-adventure romp filled with interesting situations which reminded me of Dungeons and Dragons (only better) with the maturity an adult would enjoy.” Iceberg Ink says the second novel “is a more-than-worthy follow-up and an opening to a wider world of Elan, one in which I hope to spend many more hours enjoying.” And King of the Nerds praises the third book, which “has raised the bar once again for future installments in the series. Sullivan effortlessly blends an old school fantasy feel with a reinvigorating verve.”

[Then Orbit Books came along…]

Jun 11 2014 2:00pm

Aaron and Bach: A Tale of Two Rachels

Rachel Aaron Rachel BachRachel Aaron is an Orbit author, through and through, under both her real name and the pseudonym Rachel Bach. She is a writer who was cultivated by Orbit and whose audience grew through some smart publishing decisions in the early days of Orbit’s US imprint. To wit, Orbit US launched in 2007 and her debut, The Spirit Thief, published in October 2010.

Orbit learned from the successful publishing plan they employed for Brent Weeks’s Night Angel Trilogy (and Del Rey employed for Naomi Novik’s Temeraire novels)—monthly sequential publication for immediate shelf presence. It proved successful for Aaron, too.

[Let’s meet Eli and Devi…]

Apr 23 2014 4:00pm

Weird Conspiracy on the Range: Peacemaker by Marianne de Pierres

Peacemaker Marianne de PierresVirgin Jackson is a park ranger, but not just for any park. She is responsible for making sure Birrimun Park in Australia remains a crime-free zone. It is, after all, the largest natural landscape in the world of this near future world, so her job is no small thing. When Virgin notices a couple of unsavory individuals in the park—unsavory individuals with guns who have entered the park by no means she can immediately determine—Marianne de Pierres’s Peacemaker kicks into full gear.

Told from Virgin’s point of view, de Pierres’s narrative is very intimate. We see everything through her eyes, including the United States Marshall assigned to shadow her on the strange goings-on at the park, Nate Sixkiller. (Yeah, just go with the name). He comes across as polite and mannered in a classic cowboy sort of fashion, yet quite stoic and unbending.

[Ride along with some Cowboys in Australia…]

Mar 5 2014 5:00pm

Not the Norse You Think You Know: The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris

Joanne M Harris The Gospel of LokiCertain characters in history and mythology gain a bad reputation over time, fairly or unfairly. Some are cast as meddlers, trouble-makers, and villains. Loki, the Norse trickster god is one such figure. Like many so called “villains,” he is the hero of his own story.

At the very least, he’s the protagonist in Joanne Harris’s enchanting mythpunk novel, The Gospel of Loki. Through a first-person narrative, Loki tries to convince us that, even if he isn’t the hero, he shouldn’t be considered the villain history and mythology have cast him. At best, Loki is a misunderstood being and one who is thrust into a situation that provided little chance for him to be anything other than a heel. At worse, he is the Father of Lies.

[Lend an ear to Your Humble Narrator…]

Feb 28 2014 12:00pm

The Locke & Key Reread: “Alpha & Omega” (Vol. 6)

Locke Key Alpha Omega Joe Hill Gabriel RodriguezWelcome back to the reread of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s dark comic series, Locke & Key! “Alpha & Omega” is the sixth and final volume, where the excrement hits the fan and spreads across the room. It is everything Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez have prepared readers for and more. Dodge enacts his plan of revenge on the Locke family with the goal of opening the Black Door in the Drowning Cave. Now that he has the Omega Key very little stands in his way.

What Happens: Dodge-as-Bode gathers all the keys and his plan to bring the demons into the world is in full swing. Prom night at Lovecraft Academy is looming and Scot Kavanaugh is filming his friends and classmates for a video yearbook...

[The Final Key is Crafted…]

Feb 21 2014 11:00am

The Locke & Key Reread: “Clockworks” (Vol. 5)

Locke & Key ClockworksWelcome back to the reread of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s dark comic series, Locke & Key! The fifth installment, “Clockworks,” joins Kinsey and Tyler on a little (okay, maybe not so little) trip through time as they observe the history of their family and those magical keys which led to the events that have been unfolding in the series. Hill and Rodriguez focus the majority of the story entirely in the past of the Locke family; how the keys came to be created and how Lucas Carvaggio, Rendell Locke’s best friend came to be the antagonist of the series, the creature known as Dodge.

In other words, after learning about the Locke children of the present in the previous four volumes, we get the origin story of why things are going bad for them now. This reread contains spoilers (both for the past and the present) so proceed at your own risk.

[Clocking in with the past…]

Feb 14 2014 12:00pm

The Locke & Key Reread: “Keys to the Kingdom” (Vol. 4)

Locke & Key Keys to the KingdomWelcome back to the reread of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s dark comic series, Locke & Key! The fourth installment, “Keys to the Kingdom,” picks up very closely on the heels of the third. This reread contains spoilers, so proceed at your own risk. This one’s going to be broken down a bit differently than previous rereads, since this storyline was structured like connected stand-alone episodes.

What Happens: The first episode, “Sparrow,” is a wonderful tribute to Bill Watterson, creator of the great Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. We see the story from two perspectives on a snowy day: one from the young Bode drawn in homage to Watterson’s style with Bode looking very much like Calvin, while the other perspective follows the other Locke children. Bode’s teacher speaks with Nina about Bode’s lack of friends, despite his imagination and intelligence. Kinsey, meanwhile, blurts out her love for Zack Wells and argues with her brother.

[Dodging with many keys…]

Feb 7 2014 11:00am

The Locke & Key Reread: “Crown of Shadows” (Vol. 3)

Locke & Key Crown of ShadowsWelcome back to the reread of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s dark comic series, Locke & Key! The third installment, “Crown of Shadows,” picks up very closely on the heels of the second. This reread contains spoilers, so proceed at your own risk.

What Happens: The Locke family is still a mess. After all, dealing with the murder of your father and also having the murderer follow across country is something that would unsettle the most unshakable of people. Dodge-as-Zack is still trying to get closer to the family through Kinsey, but Kinsey makes some other friends at school in Scot and Jamal. Tyler and Bode do some more snooping around Keyhouse Manor and find what looks like a very large key embedded in the floor. Nina continues to drown herself in alcohol.

[Evil is the Head that Wears the Crown …]

Jan 31 2014 11:45am

A Dream of Many Worlds: C.S. Friedman’s Dreamwalker

CS Friedman DreamwalkerI’ve long been a fan of C.S. Friedman’s writing; regardless of genre flavor (Fantasy in The Coldfire Trilogy and The Magister Trilogy or Space Opera in This Alien Shore, In Conquest Born), her novels have always had a balance of character and plot and worked very well for me. Ms. Friedman steps a bit farther afield than previous jaunts through the genre with Dreamwalker, a first person young adult urban fantasy.

Jessica Drake—Jesse—is a sixteen-year old girl living in a broken home. Her father left years prior to the beginning of the novel, her mother works any and all hours to pay the bills and her younger brother Tommy is always online playing games like World of Warcraft. Fortunately, she has her art to keep her occupied; the images she conjures are inspired by her dreams. A rather suspect woman asks to buy the art, and Jesse feels uncomfortable around her. What she finds even more uncomfortable is that this woman seems to be casing her house, and practically stalking her younger brother.

[Don't close your eyes …]

Jan 31 2014 11:00am

The Locke & Key Reread: “Head Games” (Vol. 2)

Locke & Key Head Games Joe Hill Gabriel RodriguezWelcome back to the reread of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s dark comic series, Locke & Key! The second installment, “Head Games,” picks up very closely on the heels of the first. This reread contains spoilers, so proceed at your own risk.

What Happens: The Locke family has survived a second attack from Sam Lesser. Kinsey is starting to fit in with her fellow classmates, Bode is still the curious young boy he’s supposed to be, and Tyler has befriended new student Zack Wells. Zack bears a more than striking resemblance to Lucas Carvaggio, former friend of Rendell Locke. That’s because he is Lucas, except that Lucas died under (thus far) unknown circumstances in 1988.

[Unlock your inner thoughts…]

Jan 24 2014 10:00am

Welcome to the Locke & Key Reread

By now, most people who follow the Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror genres are aware Joe Hill is the son of Stephen King, so let’s get that out of the way. With his prose fiction and comic book work (most prominently this here series), Joe Hill has carved out his own space in modern dark fiction. When he launched Locke & Key in 2008 with the superb artist Gabriel Rodriguez, Hill’s lineage had just been revealed, but even that couldn’t prepare readers for the dark tale he and his co-creator were unleashing on the world.

[Read More]

Jan 24 2014 10:00am

The Locke & Key Reread: “Welcome to Lovecraft” (Vol. 1)

Locke & Key Welcome to Lovecraft

Welcome to the reread of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s dark comic series, Locke & Key. Today I'm covering the first collected volume, “Welcome to Lovecraft,” which contains the first six issues of the series. You can read the intro to the reread here for more information about the series!

What Happens: The Locke family vacation in California is not going as eldest son Tyler hoped it would. He is bored and is butting heads with his stern father, Rendell, guidance counselor at the school where Ty attends.  Two young men come a knocking, looking for Dad...

[Here are your keys, welcome to Keyhouse…]

Nov 18 2013 11:00am

Orphan Black Rewatch: “Endless Forms Most Beautiful”

“Endless Forms Most Beautiful”
Written by Graeme Manson
Directed by John Fawcett
Season 1, Episode 10
Original Airdate June 2, 2013
Re-air date: November 16, 2013

What Happens: Sarah gets up from Kira’s bed to shut off the light. She descends into the living room and speaks with Mrs. S. and Amelia about introducing Helena to Amelia. When they head into the basement (where Helena is tied up), Amelia says she needs to speak with Sarah away from the house; she has something to tell her about the in-vitro treatment. When Sarah introduces Amelia as their mother, Helena laughs. “How can you be my birth mother?” Upstairs, Mrs. S. begins to go through Amelia’s bag and finds a bound pad with a photo in an envelope. Kira comes down the stairs and surprises Mrs. S; “I think something bad is going to happen again.”

[Let’s make a deal with Dr. Leekie…]

Nov 11 2013 11:00am

Orphan Black Rewatch: “Unconscious Selection”

Orphan Black Unconscious Selection “Unconscious Selection”
Written by Alex Levine
Directed by TJ Scott
Season 1, Episode 9
Original Airdate May 25, 2013
Re-air date: November 9, 2013

What Happens: The ambulance carrying Kira, Sarah and Mrs. S. rushes to the hospital, and blood can be seen trickling down Kira’s head. In the hospital waiting room, Sarah beats herself up, but Mrs. S. tells her she shouldn’t blame herself. Alison appears at the hospital, saying “I can’t help but feel it’s my daughter in there.” Felix offers up his apartment for Alison to use while they wait for news on Kira’s condition.

A nurse tells the doctor he needs to see something with Kira. Seconds later, he walks out and tells Sarah that Kira’s going to be fine and that she’s a very lucky girl. There’s that word again… At home, a chandelier in Kira’s room flickers and she wakes saying, “She looks like you, she looks like mommy.”

[Face the music, eat some humble pie …]

Nov 4 2013 2:00pm

Orphan Black Rewatch: “Entangled Bank”

Orphan Black Entangled Bank “Entangled Bank”
Written by Karen Walton
Directed by Ken Girotti
Season 1, Episode 8
Original Airdate May 18, 2013
Re-air date: November 2, 2013

What Happens: Art compares a photo of Sarah Manning on a PC to Beth’s ID—he and Deangelis throw around the term doppelganger and ask about any sisters Beth might have. The two officers leave the station and we cut to Paul and Sarah embracing in Felix’s bed. Clearly these two are getting along very well. Paul says they can’t go back to the townhouse and tells Felix they’ll need to hang out at his place for a while. The clone phone rings—Alison calls to let Sarah know that she and Donnie are getting a divorce. Hanging up the phone, Alison notices Aynsley walking in, claiming she’s just there to pick up the mail. Meanwhile at Mrs. S’s house, Kira is painting when somebody knocks on the door.

[Beware visitors to Mrs. S.’s house]

Oct 28 2013 10:00am

Orphan Black Rewatch: “Parts Developed in an Unusual Manner”

Orphan Black Parts Developed in an Unusual Manner “Parts Developed in an Unusual Manner
Written by Tony Elliott
Directed by Brett Sullivan
Season 1, Episode 7
Original Airdate May 11, 2013
Re-air date: September 28, 2013

What Happens: Sarah and Cosima are skyping once again, and realize that “this is the new normal.” They decide that even though Paul is a monitor, he is likely on their side. Sarah tells Cosima to stay away from Delphine, whom they both suspect is Cosima’s monitor. Sarah warns Cosima about what happened with Alison and Donnie, who are now on a trip “repairing their marriage.”

[Heads or Tails?…]