content by

David Moran

Got the World On a String: Hang Wire by Adam Christopher

Early in Hang Wire, Adam Christopher’s new urban supernatural thriller, a San Francisco blogger named Ted is sitting in a Chinese restaurant with some of his friends and colleagues, enjoying a meal. They have gathered to celebrate Ted’s birthday and exchange pleasantries and bask in one another’s company. The friends go around the table and open their fortune cookies, one after another, and read them aloud, performing the dinner ritual. Finally they get to the birthday boy, Ted, and he picks up his fortune cookie and opens it and it literally explodes in his hands, like a crunchy hand grenade with enough force to knock Ted to the floor and overturn the dinner table.

Ted, eerily unharmed, finds himself flat on his back, not entirely sure what just happened to him. He is not especially disturbed by the event nor, importantly, does he seem to have enjoyed his cookie much. This is a fair approximation of the impact of Hang Wire itself.

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My Kingdom For a Horse: The Iron Wolves by Andy Remic

At first I thought it was me. I couldn’t understand the sensations I experienced as I read through Andy Remic’s new novel, The Iron Wolves, the first book of his Rage of Kings series. It took me quite a long time—it was somewhere around the third gushing artery or fourth shattered nose—to realize that I was reading a book written in a foreign language.

Story-wise the novel is reasonably apprehensible. Years before the events depicted herein there was a Battle-of-Thermopylae-esque showdown at the Pass of Splintered Bones (and if you’re going to have a grisly, violent showdown, that sounds like the right place to do it), between the forces of evil, represented by the wizard Morkagoth and his mud-orcs, and the forces of not-evil, represented by the military company known as the Iron Wolves.

In the end, the Iron Wolves emerged as victors and legendary heroes. The political and historical landscapes of this fantasy world are unaddressed in the narrative, but I am going to assume Wolves’ victory is supposed to be understood as having been a good thing. Though I tend to be of the opinion you must ask what political grievances the orcs had that were not solvable through diplomacy.

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These Are the Continuing Voyages: 5 Reasons Why Star Trek: The Animated Series Was Awesome

It weighed on my heart to hear that Lou Scheimer, founder of Filmation Studios, had died this past October. Like a lot of Gen X’ers I grew up part of the Filmation Generation, in thrall to a studio whose output (along with that of Hanna-Barbera) shaped the landscape of my every Saturday morning: Fat Albert, The Adventures of Batman, The New Adventures of Flash Gordon, and yeah, even He-Man, were all required viewing for me.

[And of course, Star Trek: The Animated Series]

Then We Came to the End: The Last Dark, by Stephen R. Donaldson

In 1977, Stephen R. Donaldson began The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant with the release of his novel Lord Foul’s Bane —about dyspeptic leper Thomas Covenant and the wild magic held within his white gold wedding band—and now Donaldson is wrapping it up, nine books later, with The Last Dark.

An epic denouement thirty-six years in the making, The Last Dark purports to be a rich, satisfying finale for Stephen R. Donaldson’s signature character.

But really, I’m not going to talk much about how you’d find the end of this series. I’d like to talk about why you might start.

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Retweeting the Bebo Klout: The Circle by Dave Eggers


“My god, it’s heaven,” thinks Mae Holland, the protagonist of the new novel by Dave Eggers, as she walks across the sunny California campus and through the front doors on her first day of work at “The Circle,” the book’s idealized analogue of Google.

And why shouldn’t she? Everybody knows Google is the best place to work. They make buckets of money and “Don’t be evil” is a pretty good corporate motto, as corporate mottos go. A whole cottage industry has sprung up to produce books about how awesome it is to work there, how smart everyone is, and how to get hired. Because why wouldn’t you love to work there?

What Dave Eggers wants you to consider in his new novel The Circle is that you shouldn’t work there because they are, in fact, pure evil, and they are destroying the world. And not in a hyperbolic way: they are literally ruining the world, for everyone, for ever.

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Series: Genre in the Mainstream

An Empire of Broken Pottery: John Romer’s A History of Ancient Egypt

How much do you know about Ancient Egypt?

If you’re anything like me, you are probably operating with some confidence in the knowledge that you have the story down, more or less. Pyramids, pharaohs, the Nile, sun, sand. As an armchair classicist, I flatter myself that I know as much as the next person—and probably a bit more than that. I’ve read Herodotus. I’ve seen The Mummy. Egypt, right. Everybody knows about Egypt.

This book puts the lie, delightfully, to that unwarranted assumption of knowledge on my part, and, I would venture, on the part of a great deal of casual readers.

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Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Market-Share: Of Dice and Men by David M. Ewalt

You are all at a tavern. It’s a sentence with which the curtain has raised on untold thousands of adventures involving dungeons, or dragons, or both. If you count yourself a fellow traveler—if you’ve ever sat with a twenty-sided die in one hand and a character sheet in the other—it is a collection of sounds probably as familiar to you as a key turning in its lock. And even if you are not the dice rolling sort, we may consider it to be part of our shared cultural heritage and collective unconscious.

Call me Ishmael.

Happy families are all alike.

It was a dark and stormy night.

[You are all at a tavern.]

Star Trek‘s Other SF

As a recent emigrant to San Francisco from my home town of Brooklyn, there was one attraction I was keen to see as quickly as possible after stepping off the plane and into this city’s peculiar blue fog. It wasn’t the Golden Gate Bridge, wasn’t Alcatraz, wasn’t the sea lions on the rocks of Fisherman’s Wharf or the feral parrots of Telegraph Hill. There was one spot that had been tops on my list for a long, long time.

I am, of course, referring to Starfleet headquarters, home base of the United Federation of Planets.

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One Thing that Definitely DID NOT Happen at San Diego Comic Con 2013: Rom Spaceknight

Stubby the Rocket has already written up a rundown of the important stuff that happened at SDCC this year, so I’m not going to rehash the cool announcements that were made. Instead I want to tell you about a thing I hoped to hear, but didn’t.

It’s quite possible that I may be alone in this wish, but the one thing I really had my fingers crossed for was the return of Rom, the greatest spaceknight of them all.

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A Spotter’s Guide to Kaiju: Seven Predecessors of the Creatures in Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim is out, and is being popularly hailed as Guillermo del Toro’s love letter to the giant monster (“kaiju”) movies of his youth—for that reason alone everybody everywhere should salute Mr. del Toro.

Let’s talk about the subjects of del Toro’s love letter. But let’s establish some ground rules too, because otherwise we’ll be here all day and I have some movies to watch. I’ll limit myself to kaiju that 1) have appeared in a live action motion picture (kaiju on TV are cool, but the big screen is where they are, well, the biggest), 2) are not just large but insanely larger than normal human scale (a great white shark is not a kaiju, a mega shark maybe is), and 3) that pose an existential threat on at least a citywide scale (King Kong might mess up 5th Avenue a little, but he’s not going to destroy New York City). Yes, this disqualifies from consideration Ultraman and his kaiju of the week, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, Kroll, the housecat and spider from The Incredible Shrinking Man, and almost any bad guy from either Voltron series, but all are worthy entries.

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