Sunday, June 29, 2008

Editing A Best Anthology - Jon L. Breen

http://www.mysteryfile.com/Breen_editing.html

Pretty much what it says.

Tracking 2 - David R. Palmer

Zealot compound infiltration kid recruiting Captain Marvel triggered dad rescue anti-nuke kill mission.


4.5 out of 5

Night Winds - Karl Edward Wagner

A very strong Sword and Sorcery collection, and here the meat is actually in the middle, as a lonely wandering Kane meets women, old comrades, elders races and monsters and ambushes while trying to survive life in general. Which is a long job for an immortal.

Night Winds : 1 UNDERTOW - Karl Edward Wagner
Night Winds : 2 TWO SUNS SETTING - Karl Edward Wagner
Night Winds : 3 THE DARK MUSE - Karl Edward Wagner
Night Winds : 4 RAVEN'S EYRIE - Karl Edward Wagner
Night Winds : 5 LYNORTIS REPRISE - Karl Edward Wagner
Night Winds : 6 SING A LAST SONG OF VALDESE - Karl Edward Wagner


You should listen to Kane when he tells you what his woman is like.

3.5 out of 5


Desert dinner convo with a giant leads to a search for a dead king's tomb, and a monster cave sabretooth.

4 out of 5


Kane has a poet friend who Lovecraft probably would have got on really well with. When an arcane statuette comes into Kane's possession thanks to a gambling loan, his mate sees a chance for inspiration.

Eldrtich trip undertaken, Kane must endeavour to keep the people still in the real world alive, both against human steel and floating demons.

4 out of 5


Kane, injured and barely conscious and the last of his decimated outlaw band head for shelter at an inn. No love for them there, bounty hunters close, and the Demonlord in the shadows.

4 out of 5


A captive girl leads Kane back to the horrors of an old war.

4 out of 5


A wizard's ritual plot doesn't quite work out.

3 out of 5




4.5 out of 5

Lynortis Reprise - Karl Edward Wagner

A captive girl leads Kane back to the horrors of an old war.


4 out of 5

Two Suns Setting - Karl Edward Wagner

Desert dinner convo with a giant leads to a search for a dead king's tomb, and a monster cave sabretooth.


4 out of 5

Undertow - Karl Edward Wagner

You should listen to Kane when he tells you what his woman is like.


3.5 out of 5

Prador Moon - Neal Asher

Monster aliens vs men.

Diplomatic contact with the Prador is not smooth:

"Not good. Not good at all." Urbanus was suddenly beside him, tying a piece of wire above his arm stump then hauling him to his feet. Golem hurtled towards Vortex and the remaining smaller Prador. Few humans remained in the chamber—living ones, anyway. Vortex seemed to ponder the situation for a second, then its claw snicked and the Ambassador fell in two halves to the floor. The Prador now held out that bloody claw. A flash of turquoise cut the air—some kind of particle cannon actually concealed in the claw. Three of the Golem were down, their ceramal bones fused or shattered. A missile struck the big Prador's shell and ricocheted into the wall above, exploding there. As the smoke cleared Jebel saw Vortex pushing forwards, firing that cannon again and again into the weapons ports, and from out behind the creature, those smaller Prador surged, some scrambling over each other in their eagerness. As Urbanus dragged him through the crack in the armoured wall, Jebel glimpsed one of the new arrivals picking up a severed human leg and tearing the flesh from the bone with its mandibles, eating it.

Right, thought Jebel, big hostile aliens with a taste for human flesh. It was the kind of scenario that would have been laughed out of the door by a modern holofiction producer."

So, after that, you absolutely know where this book is going. It is of the blowing stuff up, shooting, spaceships and slaughter variety. Plus a bit of alien politics.

The Prador are a type of monarchy that believes in more animal like breeding. Have plenty of offspring, use them as cannon fodder, and the ones that survive might be good for something.

Despite a bit of a surprise, the humans may have some chance:

"Would I appear too naive if I asked what that was?" asked Nelson.

"That, my boy, was a Polity war drone. And if you ever thought AIs were sane and sensible, think again."

"But a useful lunatic to have on your side?" suggested Genesh.

Lithgow grimaced. "Yes, of course."

The runcible and local AI become crucial to the conflict, especially when not all the humans in the area get along.

With that, it may be a case of which group gets eaten first.

Zero messing around or padding in this one, so if you want a short sf adventure space opera type story with ugly aliens like they used to do, here's your 21st century variety.

Or, here, action, thy name is Asher.

I have been tossing up as to whether this is a 3 or a 3.5, so consider it 3.25ish, perhaps, but I think I'd go a bit higher than that as it might deserve another look.


3.5 out of 5

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Haunting Of Cold Harbour - Todd McAulty

Excerpt Only http://www.blackgate.com/fiction/2002/coldharbour.htm

Underworld Prince's drone child-killer VR cop case.


(call this one 4.75)
4.5 out of 5

The Mighty Barbarians - Hans Stefan Santesson

The first of a pair of anthologies. Good stories by Leiber, Kuttner and Howard, here, with a couple of the not so great variety by de Camp and Carter splitting them up, although the Thongor tale is entertaining enough. De Camp is a lot lighter in tone.

Mighty Barbarians : 1 When the Sea-King's Away - Fritz Leiber
Mighty Barbarians : 2 The Stronger Spell - L. Sprague de Camp
Mighty Barbarians : 3 Dragon Moon - Henry Kuttner
Mighty Barbarians : 4 Thieves of Zangabal - Lin Carter
Mighty Barbarians : 5 A Witch Shall Be Born - Robert E. Howard

Fafhrd being overly enamored with aquachicks is a problem. So is a monster squid.

4 out of 5


Killing he-witches, never a bad idea.

2.5 out of 5


Some pleading is required before Elak will return to Atlantis. He is a bit keener when he finds out the Pallid One has taken over a king, and his home and the throne are in a fair bit of trouble.

4 out of 5


A Thongor story, set before the first novel. The young warrior is captured by a demon, and actually will need a bit of magical talisman help given he has the demon's boss wizard and his petrification ray to deal with as well.

3 out of 5


A bad problem to have - how do you tell which of two women is the very evil twin. Luckily, our favorite barbarian is a very pragmatic man.

4 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

Thieves Of Zangabal - Lin Carter

A Thongor story, set before the first novel. The young warrior is captured by a demon, and actually will need a bit of magical talisman help given he has the demon's boss wizard and his petrification ray to deal with as well.


3 out of 5

The Stronger Spell - L. Sprague De Camp

Killing he-witches, never a bad idea.


2.5 out of 5

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Queen Of Candesce - Karl Schroeder

The second book of a series, although I hadn't read the first when I read this, so the character of Venera Fanning and the precarious situation she found herself in to begin with was new to me.

As a spymaster and agent type of the hardarsed and coldblooded variety (except occasionally as concerns her bloke) you see that she is sort of used to this sort of thing, and sets out trying to manipulate the new setting she has pretty much literally fallen into.

Schroeder's bizarre setting makes sun of it fun with the mini town/world type settings and microbattles with a few people per side, plus the odd wooden airship.

I liked the first book more, but here, the character of Venera is rather more sympathetic when she is the main character, as opposed to just one of as in the earlier find out what is actually going on with the technology supporting their environment novel.


3.5 out of 5

Coyote Rising - Allen M. Steele

The second collection of Coyote stories is actually better than the first. While it has no stories on the standout level of 'Stealing Alabama' or 'The Days Between', this is much higher quality on average. A lot of it is the next half star down.

They have a handy looking planet here, so Earth takes an interesting, and more ships with troops come out with the objective of taking over for themselves.

A group of hardened colonists aren't that easily taken, however, and Robert E. Lee knows how the minds of people like this might work, having been married to one.

Time for some revolutionary action to begin.

A really excellent collection, indeed.

Coyote Rising : The Mad Woman Of Shuttlefield - Allen M. Steele
Coyote Rising : Benjamin The Unbeliever - Allen M. Steele
Coyote Rising : The Garcia Narrows Bridge - Allen M. Steele
Coyote Rising : Thompson's Ferry - Allen M. Steele
Coyote Rising : Incident At Goat Kill Creek - Allen M. Steele
Coyote Rising : Shady Grove - Allen M. Steele
Coyote Rising : Liberation Day - Allen M. Steele
Coyote Rising : Home Of The Brave - Allen M. Steele

Not too chicken for music to return.

4 out of 5


Batman Coyote sex kult freezeout.

3.5 out of 5


Poetry of the River Kwai not to Matriarch's liking. All fall down.

4 out of 5


Coyote revolution.

3.5 out of 5


Double agent reunion Diablo demolishing.

4 out of 5


Revolution child transfer local life discovery, with batman.

4 out of 5


Returning Alabama.

4 out of 5


Exploration Team.

4 out of 5




5 out of 5

Coyote - Allen M. Steele

A rather good tale that beings with a tense and exciting mission of subterfuge to escape from a very fascist dystopia to start a colony in interstellar space.
This involves stealing a centrepiece of government progapanda though, the Starship Alabama. The first two stories involve the escape, and travelling, and are the best part of the book (also garnering award-type recognition).

As you can see from the story titles, they do make it, and a majority of the rest of this first part of the Coyote saga deals with struggling to get the colony started, exploration, interpersonal conflicts, and dealing with the local conditions and wildlife.

Coyote : Stealing Alabama - Allen M. Steele
Coyote : The Days Between - Allen M. Steele
Coyote : Coming to Coyote - Allen M. Steele
Coyote : Liberty Journals - Allen M. Steele
Coyote : The Boid Hunt - Allen M. Steele
Coyote : Across The Eastern Divide - Allen M. Steele
Coyote : Lonesome and a Long Way From Home - Allen M. Steele
Coyote : Glorious Destiny - Allen M. Steele


The brave leaving Liberty as Liberty no longer leading the brave.

4.5 out of 5


Early rising not a good idea.

4.5 out of 5


Putting the survival training to work.

3.5 out of 5


Coyote dangerous living.

3.5 out of 5


Hope they taste like chicken.

3 out of 5


Coyote teenage bailout.

3 out of 5


Boidkill dad return.

3.5 out of 5


Coyote gets some more ship visitors, not going to get along.

3.5 out of 5




4 out of 5

The Boid Hunt - Allen M. Steele

Hope they taste like chicken.


3 out of 5

Galaxy Blues - Allen M. Steele

In part of Allen M. Steele's Coyote Universe a discovered stowaway manages to make it to Coyote, after being busted for being involved in an exam cheating scandal.

However, he ends up in the slammer there and is 'convinced' by a wealthy entrepreneur to do some piloting for him, in a perhaps less than ethical trade deal.

Aliens, diplomacy and danger await, along with a bit of silliness.

This is a lighter story in tone than the couple of Coyote collections I have read, but is basically solid, although the end is only ordinary.


3.5 out of 5

The Giant Book Of Arthurian Tales - Mike Ashley

This is a repackaged for Australia version of The Camelot Chronicles, apparently the second in a series of Arthurian anthologies. A variety of stuff here, from your ancient stories, to humour, and from the grittier Bard story by Keith Taylor to the very flowery or mundane. I am not so much for the latter two these days, so found the first part of the book quite a bit stronger.

Giant Book Of Arthurian Tales : Belle Dame Sans Merci - Vera Chapman
Giant Book Of Arthurian Tales : The Winning of a Sword - Howard Pyle
Giant Book Of Arthurian Tales : The Storming Bone - Ian McDowell
Giant Book Of Arthurian Tales : The Oath of the Saxon - Peter Tremayne
Giant Book Of Arthurian Tales : Blueflow - Don Wilcox
Giant Book Of Arthurian Tales : The Brotherhood of Britain - Keith Taylor
Giant Book Of Arthurian Tales : John, The Knight of the Lion - Professor H. Schük; trans. by W. F. Harvey
Giant Book Of Arthurian Tales : Morte d'un Marcheant - Maxey Brooke
Giant Book Of Arthurian Tales : Sir Lanval - A. R. Hope Moncrieff
Giant Book Of Arthurian Tales : The True Story of Guenever - Elizabeth Stuart Phelps
Giant Book Of Arthurian Tales : Sir Borlays and the Dark Knight - Anthony Armstrong
Giant Book Of Arthurian Tales : Sir Agravaine - P. G. Wodehouse
Giant Book Of Arthurian Tales : The Romance of Tristan and Iseult - Hilaire Belloc - na, 1913
Giant Book Of Arthurian Tales : The Coming of the Light - Phyllis Ann Karr
Giant Book Of Arthurian Tales : Told by Moonlight - Darrell Schweitzer
Giant Book Of Arthurian Tales : The Quiet Monk - Jane Yolen
Giant Book Of Arthurian Tales : The Sad Wizard - John T. Aquino


My sister is a real witch.

3 out of 5


Arthur vs Black Knight biffo.

3.5 out of 5


'Lot. I hate the shriveled old turd. When I was a boy, I often wanted him dead. I'm sorry he's your father."

4 out of 5


Wulfy, it doesn't look good.

3 out of 5


No, don't paint the lover. Doh.

3.5 out of 5


Bard prophecy surprise.

3.5 out of 5


Her indoors, very grumpy.

3 out of 5


Smelling out the crook.

3 out of 5


You take this useless one, love.

3 out of 5


Woman pain.

2.5 out of 5


These matches are hungry work.

3 out of 5


Matchmaking or not, it is plain you are the wife for me.

3.5 out of 5


Bizarre Love Triangle.

3 out of 5


Those Saxons really don't like us, eh?

3 out of 5


Mordred riddlemare.

2.5 out of 5


Convent duty.

2 out of 5


No new Camelot, Jimmy.

3 out of 5




3 out of 5

Coming To Coyote - Allen M. Steele

Putting the survival training to work.


3.5 out of 5

Iron Man - Peter David

Again Peter David has proven to be a good choice for a novelisation.

The advantage of the novel is of course you understand more about what is happening to the characters early in the story when is being held prisoner in the cave, and later, as he is developing and testing the armor.

There is also a bit more of Happy Hogan.

A couple of jokes in there too, one of Coulson's agents is named Colan.


3.5 out of 5

The Sad Wizard - John T. Aquino

No new Camelot, Jimmy.


3 out of 5

The Quiet Monk - Jane Yolen

Convent duty.


2 out of 5

Told By Moonlight - Darrell Schweitzer

Mordred riddlemare.


2.5 out of 5

The Coming Of the Light - Phyllis Ann Karr

Those Saxons really don't like us, eh?


3 out of 5

The Romance Of Tristan and Iseult - Hillaire Belloc

Bizarre Love Triangle.


3 out of 5

Sir Borlays and the Dark Knight - Anthony Armstrong

These matches are hungry work.


3 out of 5

Sir Lanval - A. R. Hope Moncrieff

You take this useless one, love.


3 out of 5

Morte D'un Marcheant - Maxey Brook

Smelling out the crook.


3 out of 5

John the Knight Of the Lion - Anonymous Anonymous

Her indoors, very grumpy.


3 out of 5

The Brotherhood Of Britain - Keith Taylor

Bard prophecy surprise.


3.5 out of 5

Amazons! - Jessica Amanda Salmonson

An anthology that purports to be high fantasy adventure on the front, and about warrior women on the back. It isn't all the former (only 10/12), but pretty much all the latter. There's a Bronte poem in here, too, which does seem a little odd for the rest being original.

However, the stories average 3.50, which is very nicely done for an original fantasy anthology.

The editor details some history of warrior women in myth and real history, and also gives a reading list at the end, of both non-fiction and fiction for those interested in further reading. So, both of those are well done.

Only minor quibble is that in the odd story intros she gets a tad didactic telling you what you should think of a story if you are one of the smart ones.

The not so good stories are in the middle, with perhaps the best two at the end. The last actually won a World Fantasy award, as did this anthology.

Overall, definitely a good job, and worth reading, and this was actually the second time, for me.

Amazons : 01 The Dreamstone - C. J. Cherryh
Amazons : 02 Wolves of Nakesht - Janrae Frank
Amazons : 03 Woman of the White Waste - T. J. Morgan
Amazons : 04 Morrien's Bitch - Janet Fox
Amazons : 05 Agbewe's Sword - Charles R. Saunders
Amazons : 06 Jane Saint's Travails - Josephine Saxton
Amazons : 07 The Sorrows of Witches - Margaret St. Clair
Amazons : 08 Falcon Blood - Andre Norton
Amazons : 09 The Rape Patrol - Michele Belling
Amazons : 10 Bones for Dulath - Megan Lindholm
Amazons : 11 Northern Chess - Tanith Lee
Amazons : 12 The Woman Who Loved the Moon - Elizabeth A. Lynn


Just walking away from Death.

3 out of 5


Cross-dressing lupine slayage.

3.5 out of 5


Snowbear Cold Blade armored fightback.

4 out of 5


A thief in the underground night.

3.5 out of 5


With magic weapons comes war, change, and maybe some wandering.

3.5 out of 5


Crikey! I'm not dead.

3 out of 5


Monkey mummy power zombie shag save.

3 out of 5


One evil people controller to remove, thanks.

3 out of 5


Voodoo power cuthroat execution.

4 out of 5


Fencing, pits and poison.

3.5 out of 5


Queen takes castle with possible knight sacrifice or two.

4 out of 5


Spin. Duck. Dodge. Parry. Bash. Dead.

Thrust. Parry. Riposte. Dead.

Slash. Stab. Parry. Cut. Parry. Kiss.

4 out of 5




4 out of 5

The Woman Who Loved the Moon - Elizabeth A. Lynn

Spin. Duck. Dodge. Parry. Bash. Dead.

Thrust. Parry. Riposte. Dead.

Slash. Stab. Parry. Cut. Parry. Kiss.



4 out of 5

Northern Chess - Tanith Lee

Queen takes castle with possible knight sacrifice or two.


4 out of 5

Bones For Dulath - Robin Hobb

Fencing, pits and poison.


3.5 out of 5

The Rape Patrol - Michele Belling

Voodoo power cutthroat execution.


4 out of 5

Falcon Blood - Andre Norton

One evil people controller to remove, thanks.


3 out of 5

The Sorrow Of Witches - Margaret St Clair

Monkey mummy power zombie shag save.


3 out of 5

Jane Saint's Travails - Josephine Saxton

Crikey! I'm not dead.


3 out of 5

Agbewe's Sword - Charles R. Saunders

With magic weapons comes war, change, and maybe some wandering.


3.5 out of 5

Morrien's Bitch - Janet Fox

A thief in the underground night.


3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Woman Of the White Waste - T. J. Morgan

Snowbear Cold Blade armored fightback.


4 out of 5

Wolves Of Nakesht - Janrae Frank

Cross-dressing lupine slayage.


3.5 out of 5

The Dreamstone - C. J. Cherryh

Just walking away from Death.


3 out of 5

Death Angel's Shadow - Karl Edward Wagner

Three Kane stories, with the first the longest piece. Generally under siege we find the long lived warrior.


Death Angel's Shadow : 1 Reflections for the Winter of My Soul - Karl Edward Wagner
Death Angel's Shadow : 2 Cold Light - Karl Edward Wagner
Death Angel's Shadow : 3 Mirage - Karl Edward Wagner


Kane, trying to shake off pursuers in frozen weather is helped to shelter by a woman.

However, her father's manor will come under assault by a werewolf.

3.5 out of 5


A crusading general:

"For several years he had marched forth against petty tyrants, evil wizards, robber barons, outlaw packs, and monsters human and inhuman. Always he had vanquished evil in the name of good, shackled chaos with law. And now he rode against Kane, a name that had always fascinated him, but which he had half regarded as legendary, until he began to realize the truth that lay in the fantastic tales of this man."

Trapping Kane in a town he knows, with only 9 healthy men left after taking out an ogre stronghold, not the best of ideas.

3.5 out of 5


A vampire woman is a little peeved about Kane's lack of normal human drainability.

3 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

Mirage - Karl Edward Wagner

A vampire woman is a little peeved about Kane's lack of normal human drainability.


3 out of 5

Cold Light - Karl Edward Wagner

A crusading general:

"For several years he had marched forth against petty tyrants, evil wizards, robber barons, outlaw packs, and monsters human and inhuman. Always he had vanquished evil in the name of good, shackled chaos with law. And now he rode against Kane, a name that had always fascinated him, but which he had half regarded as legendary, until he began to realize the truth that lay in the fantastic tales of this man."

Trapping Kane in a town he knows, with only 9 healthy men left after taking out an ogre stronghold, not the best of ideas.


3.5 out of 5

The Mighty Swordsmen - Hans Stefan Santesson

The second of a pair of Sword and Sorcery anthologies by this editor. Again, Conan, good, but when you have Beyond the Black River, any additional pastiche i snot really necessary, and going to look pale in comparison.

The original Thongor story is quite reasonable, though.

Mighty Swordsmen : 1 Keeper of the Emerald Flame - Lin Carter
Mighty Swordsmen : 2 The Bells of Shoredan - Roger Zelazny
Mighty Swordsmen : 3 Break the Door of Hell - John Brunner
Mighty Swordsmen : 4 The People of the Summit - Bjorn Nyberg
Mighty Swordsmen : 5 The Flame Bringers - Michael Moorcock
Mighty Swordsmen : 6 Beyond the Black River - Robert E. Howard

Thongor is a teenaged brigand chieftain, when he runs into a young woman searching for her lover, in a forest the rest of her tribe is too scared to go into.

3.5 out of 5


One damned Elf bloke, one spectral horde to summon.

3.5 out of 5


The traveler in black points out a case of careful what you wish for, especially when you put the word doom in there.

3 out of 5


Conan and companions are attacked by weird apes with ropes, killing one of them. He fakes being strangled, and is drawn up to the remants of a strange people with no irises. He manages to save the girl, and kill the many legged monster.

2.5 out of 5


Elric has conflict with another sorcerer and horde, and throw in a big cat and some dragons.

3.5 out of 5


Conan is working around a fort on the border of Aquilonia, when many tribes of Picts, united by the wizard Zogar Sag, combine to attack.

Conan takes out a scouting party to see what goes on, but they are ambushed, and most captured and killed, except one man, that he rescues. The wizard summons beasts by virtue of the powers of an old god, whom Conan is familiar with. With the help of an old dog, Slasher, Conan and his companion try and get the settlers to safety, while the fort is overrun.

Zogar Sag makes a mistake when he sends a fleshly avatar to try and destroy Conan. The barbarian kills the avatar, which destroys the wizard, and the Pictish invasion is over.

4.5 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

Break the Door Of Hell - John Brunner

The traveler in black points out a case of careful what you wish for, especially when you put the word doom in there.


3 out of 5

The Bells Of Shoredan - Roger Zelazny

One damned Elf bloke, one spectral horde to summon.


3.5 out of 5

Keeper Of the Emerald Flame - Lin Carter

Thongor is a teenaged brigand chieftain, when he runs into a young woman searching for her lover, in a forest the rest of her tribe is too scared to go into.


3.5 out of 5

The Fantastic Swordsmen - L. Sprague De Camp

The third in a series of sword and sorcery anthologies, and certainly nowhere near as strong as the second in the series. Resorting to completed pastiche, etc. While including Conan is a good plan, an original would be better. Strong work from Kuttner and Moorcock anyway, even if the rest is pretty average.

The last story is certainly a reach, if you are going to bother translating stuff, why not something good?

Fantastic Swordsmen : 1 Black Lotus - Robert Bloch
Fantastic Swordsmen : 2 The Fortress Unvanquishable Save for Sacnoth - Lord Dunsany
Fantastic Swordsmen : 3 Drums of Tombalku - Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague de Camp
Fantastic Swordsmen : 4 The Girl in the Gem - John W. Jakes
Fantastic Swordsmen : 5 Dragon Moon - Henry Kuttner
Fantastic Swordsmen : 6 The Other Gods - H. P. Lovecraft
Fantastic Swordsmen : 7 The Singing Citadel [short story] - Michael Moorcock
Fantastic Swordsmen : 8 The Tower - Luigi de Pascalis


Drugs, sex, alcohol and tomes of black magic do not a good ruler make.

3 out of 5


To kill an immortal ruler is easy, not.. First you need to kill the invulnerable dragon to get the invincible sword to get through the impenetrable fortress. The there is the whole won't die thing to get around.

3 out of 5


Conan has been captured after the destruction of a mercenary band he was fighting in, but a friend escapes. The friend rescues a girl, and takes her back to her home city, but leaves when the horror in the Red Tower awakes, and he has to combat it.

Riding into the desert he meets Conan, who has apparently impressed his captors enough, the riders of Tombalku, that he now rides with them.

They all go to Tombalku, and Conan and Amalric briefly instruct the military there, before they fall foul of racism and a wizard, and decide to leave, post haste.

3 out of 5


A plague of dwarves and tentacles for Brak, here.

3 out of 5


Some pleading is required before Elak will return to Atlantis. He is a bit keener when he finds out the Pallid One has taken over a king, and his home and the throne are in a fair bit of trouble.

4 out of 5


Belay well if climbing before checking these guys out.

3.5 out of 5


Elric meets Theleb K'aarna, and summons Arioch to rid him of a minor Lord.

4.5 out of 5


Looping conflict manipulation.

3 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

The Tower - Luigi De Pascalis

Looping conflict manipulation.


3 out of 5

Dragon Moon - Henry Kuttner

Some pleading is required before Elak will return to Atlantis. He is a bit keener when he finds out the Pallid One has taken over a king, and his home and the throne are in a fair bit of trouble.


4 out of 5

The Girl In the Gem - John Jakes

A plague of dwarves and tentacles for Brak, here.


3 out of 5

Black Lotus - Robert Bloch

Drugs, sex, alcohol and tomes of black magic do not a good ruler make.


3 out of 5

The Spell Of Seven - L. Sprague De Camp

An all-star lineup of sorts, here. Apparently de Camp had been asked by others why one of his own stories was not in the earlier Swords & Sorcery volume, and he says here that putting your own story in is 'like shooting fish in a barrel'.

However, he has included one here and has left it to readers to judge whether he should be in the same company. Forty odd years later, and the answer is no. His is also the weakest story amidst the strong Lankhmar tales, Conan, Clark Ashton Smith's horror and some reasonable Moorcock.

In the introduction the editor briefly traces heroic fantasy's originals from romances, to the gothic and historial adventure until those like William Morris began to combine the two, as such.

Spell Of Seven : 1 Bazaar of the Bizarre - Fritz Leiber
Spell Of Seven : 2 The Dark Eidolon - Clark Ashton Smith
Spell Of Seven : 3 The Hoard of the Gibbelins - Lord Dunsany
Spell Of Seven : 4 The Hungry Hercynian - L. Sprague de Camp
Spell Of Seven : 5 Kings in Darkness - Michael Moorcock
Spell Of Seven : 6 Mazirian the Magician [short story] - Jack Vance
Spell Of Seven : 7 Shadows in Zamboula - Robert E. Howard


Wizard errands suck, so do commercial crapsters.

4 out of 5


You should not be mean to boys that grow up to be all powerful necromancers. Especially when they invite you to dinners inhabited by untold monsters.

4 out of 5


If it looks too easy, and they provide the transport and the trail, then, well, it is a trap.

3.5 out of 5


A couple of cannibals, a slave girl, a dodgy politician, a z-grade wizard, and a bloke with a sword somewhere in the middle.

3 out of 5


Too much royalty and dead things, but some reward.

3.5 out of 5


Spell use needs to be judicious.

4 out of 5


Conan is in Zamboula, and amazingly enough, comes across a girl, and she needs, and is also not what she seems. Royalty, serpent priests, and huge god-servants need some Cimmerian whup-arse, here.

3.5 out of 5





4.5 out of 5

The Hungry Hercynian - L. Sprague de Camp

A couple of cannibals, a slave girl, a dodgy politician, a z-grade wizard, and a bloke with a sword somewhere in the middle.


3 out of 5

Flashing Swords 3 - Lin Carter

In the introduction to the third Flashing Swords anthology, Carter says they let two more people into their Sword and Sorcery writer club - Katherine Kurtz, and Avram Davidson, who is in this volume.

That being said, this one isn't up to the quality of the first two.


Flashing Swords 3 : 1 Two Yards of Dragon - L. Sprague de Camp
Flashing Swords 3 : 2 The Frost Monstreme - Fritz Leiber
Flashing Swords 3 : 3 Spider Silk - Andre Norton
Flashing Swords 3 : 4 The Curious Custom of the Turjan Seraad - Lin Carter
Flashing Swords 3 : 5 Caravan to Illiel - Avram Davidson


Draco travel inspiration.

3 out of 5


Bored in the pub, cold sailing adventure appeals.

3.5 out of 5


With a title like that you won't be disappointed, there are giant ones, and half-human hybrids. So they have to hope the blind witch girl can handle her fledgling powers.

3 out of 5


A bit more hairdressing and silliness than swordplay for Almalric and Ubonidus.

2.5 out of 5


I miss my old sword, this one doesn't like me.

2.5




2 out of 5

Carvan To Illiel - Avram Davidson

I miss my old sword, this one doesn't like me.


2.5 out of 5

The Curious Custom Of The Turjan Seraad - Lin Carter

A bit more hairdressing and silliness than swordplay for Almalric and Ubonidus.


2.5 out of 5

Spider Silk - Andre Norton

With a title like that you won't be disappointed, there are giant ones, and half-human hybrids. So they have to hope the blind witch girl can handle her fledgling powers.


3 out of 5

Tigers Of the Sea - Robert E. Howard

A collection of later discovered stories put together in this case by Richard Tierney, all based around an heroic warrior that gets involved in battles with Vikings, Picts, and others, and active in the time of Uther and Arthur Pendragon.

Much sword and axe-wielding fun.

Cormac Mac Art Ace : Tigers of the Sea - Robert E. Howard
Cormac Mac Art Ace : Swords of the Northern Sea - Robert E. Howard
Cormac Mac Art Ace : The Night of the Wolf - Robert E. Howard
Cormac Mac Art Ace : The Temple of Abomination - Robert E. Howard

Cormac, Wulfhere and company are hired to rescue a princess, but end up in a three way battle or said woman.

3.5 out of 5


Cormac decides he'd rather help the right hand man of a pirate who wants to abscond with the pirate's intended wife.

3 out of 5


Cormac proves to be completely crap at disguise yet again, and his captors ain't too flash at strategy and tactics as everyone gets overrun by a Pictish horde.

3.5 out of 5


Cormac and Wulfhere are discussing the young Arthur Pendragon, Lanelot, and Gawain, but end up with the last of the serpent men and a Dark Druid to worry about.

3 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Madness Of Gordon Van Gelder - Michael Swanwick

Crazy generous.


3 out of 5

Mother Grasshopper - Michael Swanwick

Bugworld new personality.


3.5 out of 5

Unbound - Dave Creek

Anti-relationship conditioning.


3 out of 5

Splendor's Truth - Dave Creek

Starship planet rescue really sick, mate.


4 out of 5

The Human Equations - Dave Creek

Volatile exile breakdown.


3.5 out of 5

Weep For the Moon - Stephen Baxter

It's really Miller time.


3 out of 5

The Hunters Of Pangaea - Stephen Baxter

Ornithointelligutus still sometimes dinner.


3.5 out of 5

Climbing the Blue - Stephen Baxter

Blight cure.


3 out of 5

Moreau^2 - Allen M. Steele

Space Island Of Homo Astronauticus.


3.5 out of 5

The Fire and the Wind - G. David Nordley

Space Antarctic rescue spy boom.


3.5 out of 5

Harpoon - G. David Nordley

Whale rescue means gotta squid rescue too.


4 out of 5

Treasure Buried - Robert Reed

Yeti revival alien message.


3.5 out of 5

The Tournament - Robert Reed

Unlikely elimination Net.


4.5 out of 5

Like the Gentle Rain - Lewis Shiner

Could use the Doom Patrol on this one.


3.5 out of 5

To Church With Mr Multhiford - Robert Reed

Children of the corn.


3 out of 5

Think So? - Robert Reed

Joke money mind case.


4 out of 5

Starbuck - Robert Reed

Leading the cheating game


4 out of 5

The Sleeping Woman - Robert Reed

Big and dirty girl.


3.5 out of 5

Season To Taste - Robert Reed

Cannibal cookery.


4 out of 5

River Of the Queen - Robert Reed

Great Ship Snow Queen Dawsheen crime.


3.5 out of 5

Pure Vision - Robert Reed

Magic glasses.


3 out of 5

Gypsy Tail Wind - Mary Rosenblum

"No.” She gave him a genuine smile. Because he was buying it. “He figures we tore out of here and goes looking for us. By the time he realizes he's not going to find us and comes back, we'll have changed trajectory so many times that he won't be able to find us and he'll know it. He's not stupid. Without a top AI to sift through visual data, it's like looking for a planet in a galaxy.


3.5 out of 5

Poet Snow - Robert Reed

No good, but not worth cold killing.


3 out of 5

Pills Forever - Robert Reed

Longevity pursuit, with cat.


3.5 out of 5

One Last Game - Robert Reed

Many worlds to swim.


3 out of 5

The Myrtle Man - Robert Reed

Alternate libraries of everything.


3.5 out of 5

Happy Hunting Ground - R. Garcia y Robertson

Buffalo talking with Coyote.


3 out of 5

Misjudgement Day - Robert Reed

Goof plague.


3.5 out of 5

Market Day - Robert Reed

Backward overdoing.


3 out of 5

Like Minds - Robert Reed

Three gifts, many worlds, not always good.


4 out of 5

Less Than Nothing - Robert Reed

"Raven Dream was dusty news."


3 out of 5

Intolerance - Robert Reed

Newly young little monster.


3.5 out of 5

The Gulf - Robert Reed

Quantum mind Sea storm.


4 out of 5

Primes - Lewis Shiner

Earth 2 Crisis.


4 out of 5

Quid Pro Quo - Ray Bradbury

Very Cross.


2.5 out of 5

Dreamseed - Carolyn Ives Gilman

Sleeper control code.


3.5 out of 5

Graffiti - Robert Reed

Violence gallery.


3.5 out of 5

From Above - Robert Reed

“Thought-impoverished slime slides on the dimensionally impaired landscape.”


3 out of 5

Queen Of the Balts - R. Garcia y Robertson

Princess gets 'em with The Nailer.


3.5 out of 5

Due - Robert Reed

Expediting shape shift.


3.5 out of 5

Stink Lines - Paul Di Filippo

Ducktales, with aliens.


3.5 out of 5

The Dragons Of Springplace - Robert Reed

Luddite field story.


3.5 out of 5

Designing With Souls - Robert Reed

Spook house art.


3.5 out of 5

An Incident at the Luncheon of the Boating Party - Allen M. Steele

Chronospace art insertion.


3 out of 5

The Cure - Robert Reed

Conspiracy reality is terminal.

(call it 3.25)
3.5 out of 5

Crooked Creek - Robert Reed

Ghost putting.


3 out of 5

The Condor's Green-Eyed Child - Robert Reed

Demon kids by GPS.


3 out of 5

The Temple Of the Abomination - Robert E. Howard

Cormac and Wulfhere are discussing the young Arthur Pendragon, Lanelot, and Gawain, but end up with the last of the serpent men and a Dark Druid to worry about.


3 out of 5

The Night Of the Wolf - Robert E. Howard

Cormac proves to be completely crap at disguise yet again, and his captors ain't too flash at strategy and tactics as everyone gets overrun by a Pictish horde.


3.5 out of 5

Swords of the Northern Sea - Robert E. Howard

Cormac decides he'd rather help the right hand man of a pirate who wants to abscond with the pirate's intended wife.


3 out of 5

Tigers Of the Sea - Robert E. Howard

Cormac, Wulfhere and company are hired to rescue a princess, but end up in a three way battle or said woman.


3.5 out of 5

Brak the Barbarian - John Jakes

Brak is going a wandering with a destination in mind. He is definitely the grim and dour sort of barbarian, and not too trusting with the ladies, unlike some others.

He has problems with servants of a Cthulhoid deity, some enslavement, Doomdogs, Fangfish, and does a queen a big favour after she saves him.

He doesn't trust himself enough with women to stay with so off he goes on his barbarian sword carrying ways.

Just not very good, this collection, with the odd amusing bit.

Brak the Barbarian : 1 The Unspeakable Shrine - John Jakes
Brak the Barbarian : 2 Flame Face - John Jakes
Brak the Barbarian : 3 The Courts of the Conjurer [The Silk of Shaitan] - John Jakes
Brak the Barbarian : 4 Ghosts of Stone [The Pillars of Chambalor] - John Jakes
Brak the Barbarian : 5 The Barge of Souls - John Jakes


"Our little acolytes of Yob-Haggoth," the mendicant spat, "are most efficient when it comes to disposing of outlanders who mock the Dark One's ways. At him, Darters!"

...

"One was just concluded," the barbarian rumbled, "and another is about to begin if you mean to quarrel. Be off, little boy, before I take this sword and whack your backside."

...

"Foul pit-things!" Brak shouted, raising his broadsword and charging forward to gut them.

...

The world was darkening. The statue of Yob-Haggoth was changing from living, undulating light back to sickly green-shot stone. From within the statue's heart came a titanic grinding.

"You barbarian filth!"

3 out of 5


One of Brak's brawny arms thrust out. He was beginning to get a bellyful once again of the civilities and courtesies of those who were, supposedly, the opposite of barbaric. Brak's powerful fingers closed around the retainer's wattled throat.

"Not one word," Brak whispered.

"Let me go," the man cheeped, wriggling.

"Yes, I will. But make any sign to reveal that I don't belong to your Lord's pack of retainers and this toy of a sword they gave me can probably slit your stomach open before it snaps."

Fangfish are also annoying.

2.5 out of 5


"Hackles on his neck crawling, Brak sliced at the feeler constricting his arm. The edge of his broadsword barely dented the pulpish surface. Clacka-clacka-clacka went the mouth. The thing had a good two-dozen legs for propulsion. And twice that many feelers, all waving and questing in the dark red air. It lumbered closer to its prey.

Brak sawed hard at the tentacles. His heart thudded in his gigantic body. Taking a firmer grip on the haft of his blade, he lifted the iron over his head, and brought it flashing down.

With a jerk and a lash, the feeler was cleft.

Its backlash struck Brak in the cheek. Drops of hot, sticky ichor dribbled down his chin. That ichor burned like a fire-heated iron. The pain was far worse than that from the tentacle coiled around his calf. With another great stroke, Brak sliced that tentacle in half.

...

"In later times, a certain wandering mendicant—called Juhad, he was, Juhad the Pit-walker—claimed to have had concourse with this master-sorcerer Septegundus. Juhad carried with him until the day he died tablets of clay, written upon with a stylus. Those tablets bore the incantation that would release the tormented souls of Chambalor and, incidentally, the treasure one day."

2.5 out of 5


"With superhuman concentration, Brak tried to be wary of the sword that was shining bright, now that Lord Hel had whipped it from its ornamented case. Yet the queen's shade was wrapping round and round Brak so that all his bronzed skin turned blotchy, purpled, and began to glisten wet beneath the funeral-white paste.

As Lord Hel slipped in for the kill, Brak saw again what he had seen in the stable of the net.

The flat of the Lord's long, wicked blade was marked half its length with some dead enemy's blackened blood."

3 out of 5





1.5 out of 5

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Barge Of Souls - John Jakes

"With superhuman concentration, Brak tried to be wary of the sword that was shining bright, now that Lord Hel had whipped it from its ornamented case. Yet the queen's shade was wrapping round and round Brak so that all his bronzed skin turned blotchy, purpled, and began to glisten wet beneath the funeral-white paste.

As Lord Hel slipped in for the kill, Brak saw again what he had seen in the stable of the net.

The flat of the Lord's long, wicked blade was marked half its length with some dead enemy's blackened blood."


3 out of 5

Ghosts Of Stone - John Jakes

Hackles on his neck crawling, Brak sliced at the feeler constricting his arm. The edge of his broadsword barely dented the pulpish surface. Clacka-clacka-clacka went the mouth. The thing had a good two-dozen legs for propulsion. And twice that many feelers, all waving and questing in the dark red air. It lumbered closer to its prey.

Brak sawed hard at the tentacles. His heart thudded in his gigantic body. Taking a firmer grip on the haft of his blade, he lifted the iron over his head, and brought it flashing down.

With a jerk and a lash, the feeler was cleft.

Its backlash struck Brak in the cheek. Drops of hot, sticky ichor dribbled down his chin. That ichor burned like a fire-heated iron. The pain was far worse than that from the tentacle coiled around his calf. With another great stroke, Brak sliced that tentacle in half.

...

"In later times, a certain wandering mendicant—called Juhad, he was, Juhad the Pit-walker—claimed to have had concourse with this master-sorcerer Septegundus. Juhad carried with him until the day he died tablets of clay, written upon with a stylus. Those tablets bore the incantation that would release the tormented souls of Chambalor and, incidentally, the treasure one day."



2.5 out of 5

The Courts Of the Conjurer - John Jakes

One of Brak's brawny arms thrust out. He was beginning to get a bellyful once again of the civilities and courtesies of those who were, supposedly, the opposite of barbaric. Brak's powerful fingers closed around the retainer's wattled throat.

"Not one word," Brak whispered.

"Let me go," the man cheeped, wriggling.

"Yes, I will. But make any sign to reveal that I don't belong to your Lord's pack of retainers and this toy of a sword they gave me can probably slit your stomach open before it snaps."

Fangfish are also annoying.


2.5 out of 5

Flame Face - John Jakes

"Doomdog has been a legend in the kingdom of Toct since time forgot. His image is carved on temple pillars. That is, it was carved there until Princess Vian slew her uncle, King Uzhiram of Toct, with warlockmade poison daubed on the claws of his cockatoo. His body was spirited away so that none ever saw it, and the evil girl put on the coronet. Since then she has razed the temples, or so I understand from those prisoners who have arrived here within the last twelvemonth. But in the old days, the image of Doomdog was everywhere. Don't risk being condemned to the tunnels where it prowls."

Brak shrugged again, trying to feign an indifference which he did not feel. "I have seen monstrous creatures before, and fought them. I will do so again if that's the levy for my freedom."


3 out of 5

The Unspeakable Shrine - John Jakes

"Our little acolytes of Yob-Haggoth," the mendicant spat, "are most efficient when it comes to disposing of outlanders who mock the Dark One's ways. At him, Darters!"

...

"One was just concluded," the barbarian rumbled, "and another is about to begin if you mean to quarrel. Be off, little boy, before I take this sword and whack your backside."

...

"Foul pit-things!" Brak shouted, raising his broadsword and charging forward to gut them.

...

The world was darkening. The statue of Yob-Haggoth was changing from living, undulating light back to sickly green-shot stone. From within the statue's heart came a titanic grinding.

"You barbarian filth!"



3 out of 5

Asimov's 367 - Sheila Williams

Another of those rare finds, an issue where every story is above, average, although only a couple make it to 4 to give this a very nice 3.67. Still, you'd be over the moon if you could be guaranteed that sort of performance consistently.

Books include Ken MacLeod's Learning the World - so now know more of what that is about.

Reflections on Dinosaurs (that is always good, dinosaurs), and Kelly's On the Net goes all video. So overall, round up just a touch to give this a 5.

ASIMOVS367 : DEAD MAN - ALEXANDER JABLOKOV
ASIMOVS367 : FEATHER AND RING - RUTH NESTVOLD
ASIMOVS367 : IN THE ABYSS OF TIME - STEPHEN BAXTER
ASIMOVS367 : CRUNCHERS INC. - KRISTINE KATHRYN RUSCH
ASIMOVS367 : TIN MARSH - MICHAEL SWANWICK
ASIMOVS367 : THE PLURALITY OF WORLDS - BRIAN STABLEFORD

Spacetime Bathyscaphe.

4 out of 5


Long upload hunt.

3.5 out of 5


Goddess matchmaking game.

3.5 out of 5


Black mark analysis.

3.5 out of 5


Vertebrate Minority Report.

3.5 out of 5


"Naughty girl. Papa spank!" I wish! Wahhh!

4 out of 5





5 out of 5

The Plurality Of Worlds - Brian Stableford

Vertebrate Minority Report.


3.5 out of 5

Dead Man - Alexander Jablokov

Long upload hunt.


3.5 out of 5

Asimov's 353 - Sheila Williams

Fictionally solid, with no dodgy stories and a fairly typical 3.43. Several above average, with Kelly making it to good, and nothing dodgy.

Reflecting on censorship "An analysis of the contributor roster showed that the magazine's contents were written by such known pornographers as Ursula K. Le Guin, James Patrick Kelly, Frederik Pohl, Nancy Kress, Jack Williamson, and Connie Willis, and that it had been rewarded for its iniquity by dozens of Hugo and Nebula awards for its fiction and seventeen Hugos for being the year's best magazine of its sort. Well, we know what sort that is. I myself have been reading science fiction magazines since I was about twelve, and I can testify that untold damage has been done to me over the years by all those descriptions of young girls in white socks."

There's an interesting article by Doctorw on singularity stuff.

Peter Heck goes over Absolution Gap with Alastair Reynolds and R. Garcia y Robertson gets a mention.

Overall this makes it worthy of a rating of goodness.


ASIMOVS353 : The Edge of Nowhere - James Patrick Kelly
ASIMOVS353 : The Ice-Cream Man - James Van Pelt
ASIMOVS353 : Martyrs' Carnival - Jay Lake
ASIMOVS353 : Rainmakers - Ruth Nestvold
ASIMOVS353 : Rhinemaidens - Larry Niven
ASIMOVS353 : The Little Goddess - Ian McDonald
ASIMOVS353 : Bad Machine - Kage Baker


Bad dogs and old stories.

4 out of 5


Mutoid dessert, ballistic.

3.5 out of 5


Crucifixion persecution disruption.

3.5 out of 5


Everywhere you go, always take the weather...take the weather with you.

3.5 out of 5


A mer deal.

3 out of 5


Aeai multi-skull skill Nepal getaway.

3.5 out of 5


Happy, healthy piratical and prophylactical.

3 out of 5




4 out of 5

The Ice-Cream Man - James Van Pelt

Mutoid dessert, ballistic.


3.5 out of 5

Bad Machine - Kage Baker

Happy, healthy piratical and prophylactical.


3 out of 5

Asimov's 342 - Gardner Dozois

Some ordinary stuff in the middle bracketed by good work by Steele and Berman at the start and finish, but only comes out to 3.33.

Kelly's On the Net investigates Hard SF, spaceships, etc. Silverberg reflects on story.

PDF talks about Fables and Reflections, and Agog, among others including Fantastic Metropolis and Infinity Plus. Non-fictionally, Jess Nevins' League Of Extraordinary Gentleman annotations gets a guernsey.

ASIMOVS342 : Shady Grove - Allen M. Steele
ASIMOVS342 : Dinosaur Songs - Kathleen Ann Goonan
ASIMOVS342 : Daily Reports - Robert Reed
ASIMOVS342 : Forest for the Trees - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
ASIMOVS342 : Gwendolyn Is Happy to Serve You - Eliot Fintushel
ASIMOVS342 : The Fear Gun - Judith Berman

Revolution child transfer local life discovery, with batman.

4 out of 5


Small flower smart lizard time war.

3.5 out of 5


Childcare plague.

3 out of 5


Spirit mum.

3 out of 5


"Watch me pull a weremoose out of my hat."

"You know that trick never works."

2.5 out of 5


Don't mind me giving you a present.

4 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

Gwendolyn Is Happy To Serve You - Eliot Fintushel

"Watch me pull a weremoose out of my hat."

"You know that trick never works."


2.5 out of 5

Dinosaur Songs - Kathleen Ann Goonan

Small flower smart lizard time war.


3.5 out of 5

Asimov's 337 - Gardner Dozois

A very strong issue, with every story above average, and most better than that. Having a look, it appears this is the 8th best magazine issue I have seen, at this point in time. A great job.

Silverberg is still on the ancient Greek etc. kick here.

Kelly's On the Net is talking about what genre is.

Book reviews include Stephen Baxter's Evolution and Chris Moriarty's Spin State, and the Shadows Over Baker Street Cthulhu-Holmes anthology.

ASIMOVS337 : Travels with My Cats - Mike Resnick
ASIMOVS337 : Romance for Augmented Trio - Tom Purdom
ASIMOVS337 : At Ten Wolf Lake - William Sanders
ASIMOVS337 : Language Barrier - Matthew Jarpe
ASIMOVS337 : Rewind - Jack Skillingstead
ASIMOVS337 : Long Voyage Home - R. Garcia y Robertson

Author reappearance book search desperation.

3.5 out of 5


Future Casanova Scherezade.

4 out of 5


Big, hairy and shoeless.

3.5 out of 5


“Ugh, what a mess. You need one illegal brain surgery to talk to the aliens,” she gestured around the room, then patted Opey on the shoulder, “and another to talk to the ambassadors.”

3.5 out of 5


Alternate explosive undoing.

4 out of 5


Spill the Greenie beans, Tigger!

4.5 out of 5





5 out of 5

At Ten Wolf Lake - William Sanders

Big, hairy and shoeless.


3.5 out of 5

The Shirley Jackson Awards Blog - Ellen Datlow

http://shirleyjacksonawards.blogspot.com/2008/06/chalres-tan-interviews-ellen-datlow.html

Where she is interviewed and talks about editing unthemed horror anthologies.

Asimov's 336 - Gardner Dozois

Your standard just about good type issue, at a 3.42. Nothing poor, and the best part if more of Steele's Coyote saga.

Some reflecting on SETI.

PDF talks about Westerfeld in the non-kid's book sense, and local Max Barry's Jennifer Government, which I'd like to find some time.

ASIMOVS336 : Nectar - Brian Stableford
ASIMOVS336 : Songs the Sirens Sing - Mary Rosenblum
ASIMOVS336 : The Garcia Narrows Bridge - Allen M. Steele
ASIMOVS336 : This Old Man - Steve Popkes
ASIMOVS336 : Coal Ash and Sparrows - Michael J. Jasper
ASIMOVS336 : Embracing-the-New - Benjamin Rosenbaum

New flower girl's shadowbats, Dragon Man.

3.5 out of 5


Mining sibling monsters.

3.5 out of 5


Poetry of the River Kwai not to Matriarch's liking. All fall down.

4 out of 5


Live long, know best, maybe.

3.5 out of 5


Magic book 'n me.

3 out of 5


Godless memory.

3 out of 5




4 out of 5

Coal Ash and Sparrows - Michael Jasper

Magic book 'n me.


3 out of 5

Nectar - Brian Stableford

New flower girl's shadowbats, Dragon Man.


3.5 out of 5

Asimov's 331 - Gardner Dozois

A lower quality issue, averaging only 3.25. A lot of bookishness of all types from PDF, novels, collections, anthologies and more, including VanderMeer and Baker and about Gil Kane. Reflections is a bit archaeological.

ASIMOVS331 : Touching Centauri - Stephen Baxter
ASIMOVS331 : Sheltering - Tom Purdom
ASIMOVS331 : The Mouth of Hell - Tim Sullivan
ASIMOVS331 : From the Corner of My Eye - Alexander Glass
ASIMOVS331 : Exile - Steven Utley
ASIMOVS331 : Benjamin the Unbeliever - Allen M. Steele

Planetarium existence control.

3.5 out of 5


Invisible implant ghost hunter.

3.5 out of 5


Wargame reality.

3.5 out of 5


Batman Coyote sex cult freezeout.

3.5 out of 5


Roman ghosts.

3 out of 5


Crappy jobs everywhere, even Silurian.

2.5 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

The Mouth Of Hell - Tim Sullivan

Roman ghosts.


3 out of 5

From the Corner Of My Eye - Alexander Glass

Invisible implant ghost hunter.


3.5 out of 5

Hearts In Atlantis - Stephen King

A collection of sorts, based around the sixties experience and Vietnam, from early teenagerhood to many years later, following some people intersecting paths over the years. Maybe a touch autobiographical from what the author says in the intro.

The supernatural bad guys in the first long novella I think are likely from The Dark Tower series, which I have not read a lot of beyond some novellas that make up the first book.

Hearts In Atlantis : Low Men in Yellow Coats - Stephen King
Hearts In Atlantis : Hearts in Atlantis [short story] - Stephen King
Hearts In Atlantis : Blind Willie - Stephen King
Hearts In Atlantis : Why We're in Vietnam - Stephen King
Hearts In Atlantis : Heavenly Shades of Night are Falling - Stephen King

You can take me, but don't Breaker the boy.

3.5 out of 5


Hunt the Bitch in a little more moderation.

3.5 out of 5


Post Vietnam dodgy begging.

3 out of 5


Old mamasan ghost.

3.5 out of 5


Fits like an old glove.

3 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

Heavenly Shades Of Night Are Falling - Stephen King

Fits like an old glove.


3 out of 5

Why We're In Vietnam - Stephen King

Old mamasan ghost.


3.5 out of 5

A Dying Fall - Christopher Priest

Everything and everybody died, certainly. Including this story.


1.5 out of 5

Plausible - Robert Reed

Bizarro parade lottery.


3 out of 5

Primates - David D. Levine

Bigfoot capture mistake evidence removal.


3.5 out of 5

The Girl In the Empty Apartment - Jack Skillingstead

Overly Capital Harbinger.


3 out of 5

Crunchers Inc. - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Black mark analysis.


3.5 out of 5

In the Abyss Of Time - Stephen Baxter

Spacetime Bathyscape.


4 out of 5

Feather and Ring - Ruth Nestvold

Goddess matchmaking game.


3.5 out of 5

Snail Stones - Paul Melko

Sliming rescue.


3.5 out of 5

Except the Music - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Death muse.


3.5 out of 5

The Gabble - Neal Asher

Artificial discovery.


4 out of 5

Teen Angel - R. Garcia y Robertson

Beautiful space pirate escape.


4 out of 5

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Diving Into the Wreck - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Stealth tech crew kill.


4 out of 5

Betting On Eureka - Geoffrey A. Landis

Big rock vein shell game.


4 out of 5

Overlay - Jack Skillingstead

Dreamloop murder ride.


3.5 out of 5

Dark Flowers Inverse Moon - Jay Lake

Skill connection conflict.


3.5 out of 5

The Summer Of Seven - Paul Melko

Pod people propagation.


3.5 out of 5

Solidarity - Walter Jon Williams

Go murder me some Naxids.


3 out of 5

Rainmakers - Ruth Nestvold

Everywhere you go, always take the weather...take the weather with you.


3.5 out of 5

Martyrs' Carnival - Jay Lake

Crucifixion persecution disruption.


3.5 out of 5

The Wave-Function Collapse - Steven Utley

Quantum wife wish.


3.5 out of 5

Green Shift - Mary Rosenblum

Clan garden.


3 out of 5

Home Of the Brave - Allen M. Steele

Exploration Team.


4 out of 5

Asimov's 345 346 - Gardner Dozois

A very good mag, this one, averaging 3.63, with the class at the start, and at the end, and quite solid throughout.

Even a guest editorial where George R. R. Martin reminisces in Dreamsongs type style.

Relections is about space exploration. PDF points out Black Coat Press in books, who are certainly worth a look.

ASIMOVS345346 : Survivor - Charles Stross
ASIMOVS345346 : Sisyphus and the Stranger - Paul Di Filippo
ASIMOVS345346 : Though I Sang in My Chains Like the Sea - William Barton
ASIMOVS345346 : The Catch - Kage Baker
ASIMOVS345346 : Scatter - Jack Skillingstead
ASIMOVS345346 : A Change of Mind - Robert Reed
ASIMOVS345346 : Skin Deep - Mary Rosenblum
ASIMOVS345346 : We Could Be Sisters - Chris Beckett
ASIMOVS345346 : Perfectible - Geoffrey A. Landis
ASIMOVS345346 : The Word That Sings the Scythe - Michael Swanwick
ASIMOVS345346 : The Defenders - Colin P. Davies
ASIMOVS345346 : Liberation Day - Allen M. Steele


Bad kitty.

4.5 out of 5


Frenchie N-Ray cultural conquest.

3.5 out of 5


Microworld dream.

3.5 out of 5


Broken Bobby ball looper bagged.

3 out of 5


Ghost goodbye.

3 out of 5


Meme transfer.

3.5 out of 5


Filial facsimile repair choice declined.

4 out of 5


City subscriber other world surprise.

3.5 out of 5


Nano program oops.

3 out of 5


Mid-life memory crisis.

4 out of 5


Conflict evolution sacrifice.

4 out of 5


Returning Alabama.

4 out of 5





4.5 out of 5

We Could Be Sisters - Chris Beckett

City subscriber other world surprise.


3.5 out of 5

Perfectible - Geoffrey A. Landis

Nano program oops.


3 out of 5

Scatter - Jack Skillingstead

Ghost goodbye.


3 out of 5

A Change Of Mind - Robert Reed

Meme transfer.


3.5 out of 5

Though I Sang In My Chains Like the Sea - William Barton

Microworld dream.


3.5 out 5

Liberation Day - Allen M. Steele

Returning Alabama.


4 out of 5

Collateral Damage - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

No death comfort for kids.


3.5 out of 5

Forest For the Trees - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Spirit mum.


3 out of 5

Daily Reports - Robert Reed

Childcare plague.


3 out of 5

Shady Grove - Allen M. Steele

Revolution child transfer local life discovery, with batman.


4 out of 5

Thompson's Ferry - Allen M. Steele

Coyote revolution.


3.5 out of 5

A Plague Of Life - Robert Reed

Really great grandfather revenge.


4 out of 5

Romance For Augmented Trio - Tom Purdom

Future Casanova Scherezade.


4 out of 5

Long Voyage Home - R. Garcia y Robertson

Spill the Greenie beans, Tigger!


4.5 out of 5

This Old Man - Steven Popkes

Live long, know best, maybe.


3.5 out of 5

The Garcia Narrows Bridge - Allen M. Steele

Poetry of the River Kwai not to Matriarch's liking. All fall down.


4 out of 5

Songs the Sirens Sing - Mary Rosenblum

Mining sibling monsters.


3.5 out of 5

Margaux - Walter Jon Williams

Linkboy Earthgirl.


3 out of 5

Lying To Dogs - Robert Reed

Universe instability info.


4 out of 5

Glorious Destiny - Allen M. Steele

Coyote gets some more ship visitors, not going to get along.


3.5 out of 5

She Sees My Monsters Now - Robert Reed

Tested sociopath.


3.5 out of 5

Lonesome and A Long Way From Home - Allen M. Steele

Boidkill dad return.


3.5 out of 5

Asimov's 313 - Gardner Dozois

Some rambling on Odysseus and other issues by Silverberg here. JPK on movies, and PDF on books a little Peakean, and A Silverlock Companion, for those stumped by all the references in that book.

The headerliner of course, is the brilliant Stross, but also some more Coyoteness to be found here.

Stories average a major magazine type standard 3.42, so with the other stuff, I only give this a 4 because it has a 5 star story. Call it 3.75+.

ASIMOVS313 : Tourist - Charles Stross
ASIMOVS313 : The Long Chase - Geoffrey A. Landis
ASIMOVS313 : Touch Pain - Cecilia Tan
ASIMOVS313 : Quantum Anthropology - Liz Williams
ASIMOVS313 : Treading the Maze - Steven Utley
ASIMOVS313 : Across the Eastern Divide - Allen M. Steele

Two women and a cat? On top of trying to keep up with everything? That's tough

5 out of 5


Soldier's marathon space race conversion.

4 out of 5


Seer it, too.

3 out of 5


Ghost portent.

3 out of 5


Crazy many universe correspondence flip.

3.5 out of 5


Coyote teenage bailout.

3 out of 5




4 out of 5

Treading the Maze - Steven Utley

Crazy many universe correspondence flip.


3.5 out of 5

Touch Pain - Cecilia Tan

Seer it, too.


3 out of 5

Quantum Anthropology - Liz Williams

Ghost portent.


3 out of 5

Across the Eastern Divide - Allen M. Steele

Coyote teenage bailout.


3 out of 5

Liberty Journals - Allen M. Steele

Coyote dangerous living.


3.5 out of 5

The Boy - Robert Reed

Random sex will do.


3 out of 5

Exile - Steven Utley

Crappy jobs everywhere, even Silurian.


2.5 out of 5

Sheltering - Tom Purdom

Wargame reality.


3.5 out of 5

Touching Centauri - Stephen Baxter

Planetarium existence control.


3.5 out of 5

Benjamin the Unbeliever - Allen M. Steele

Batman Coyote sex cult freezeout.


3.5 out of 5

Walking In Circles - Steven Utley

Paleozoic suit scoot.


4 out of 5

Gandhi Box - Daniel Abraham

Crime prevention implant advice.


3.5 out of 5

Oracles - Robert Reed

Middling alien prediction.


3 out of 5

Time and Hagakure - Steven Utley

Many life pilot.


3.5 out of 5

Joelle - Poul Anderson

Link relationship.


3 out of 5

Sure Thing - Isaac Asimov

Teddy ain't no hare.


3.5 out of 5

About Nothing - Isaac Asimov

Black rock writer putdown.


3 out of 5

Boon - Madeleine E. Robins

Nappy elves.


3 out of 5

Parsifal - James L. Cambias

Cup quest, good casserole.


3.5 out of 5

The Long and the Short and the Tall - John Morressy

Giant King Dwarf solution.


3.5 out of 5

Train Of Events - James L. Cambias

Futuretech epidemic.


3.5 out of 5

Vandoise and the Bone Monster - Alex Irvine

Cave death boom problem.


3.5 out of 5

A Christmas Story - John Varley

One squirrel, but no moose. He smooshed.


4 out of 5

The Birds Of Isla Mujeres - Steven Popkes

Mayan zombie techniques.


3.5 out of 5

Nor Unbuild the Cage - Sheila Finch

Bad Folk stuff.


3 out of 5

The Alien Abduction - James L. Cambias

If you knew Sushi, like I knew Sushi


3.5 out of 5

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Pandora's Box Open With Care - Robert Sheckley

No more of that old fashioned mythology stuff.


3 out of 5

A Diagram Of Rapture - James L. Cambias

Horny pills are for girls.


4 out of 5

Black Static 04 - Andy Cox

Same number of stories, same average as Black Static 01 (3.25). So a 3.5 again for this issue on the rounding up factor.

Now I know that Jessica Alba is a blind girl in a Japanese horror remake, too.
Have to agree with Tony Lee that Planet Terror was super-ridiculous cheesy fun. He even talks about a Swamp Thing tv series. Although I think we can skip the Sci-Fi channel's Mega Snake.

There's reviews and stuff about Conrad Williams, as well as some haunted and ghosty type non-fiction, and a Worlds Of Fantasy tv series that apparently is pretty much all about poms.

One four star story to be found, that is quite freaky until you realise where it is going, and that it does end in the somewhat mundane fashion you expect, as opposed to something more Midnight Nation.

BLACKSTATIC04 : CLEANING THE WESTERN KITTIWAKE - Tyler Keevil
BLACKSTATIC04 : ATWATER - Cody Goodfellow
BLACKSTATIC04 : ZOMBIE - Conrad Williams
BLACKSTATIC04 : SALT - Nicholas Royle
BLACKSTATIC04 : YE SHALL EAT IN HASTE - Steve Nagy
BLACKSTATIC04 : THIS MUCH I REMEMBER - Barry Fishler

Dreams of drowning a bit too realistic later on.

3 out of 5


Bizarre therapy group drive.

4 out of 5


Definitely time to go.

3 out of 5


""Are you all right down there?" No, I'm thinking. Not really."

2.5 out of 5


Van Helsing goes in for a bit of twisted vampire experimentation with some of the old group.

Y'know, Doc, there was a reason you were killing 'em to start with.

3.5 out of 5


Orphanised.

3.5 out of 5



3.5 out of 5

This Much I Remember - Barry Fishler

Orphanised.

(call it 3.25)
3.5 out of 5

Ye Shall Eat In Haste - Steve Nagy

Van Helsing goes in for a bit of twisted vampire experimentation with some of the old group.

Y'know, Doc, there was a reason you were killing 'em to start with.


3.5 out of 5

Zombie - Conrad Williams

Definitely time to go.


3 out of 5

Atwater - Cody Goodfellow

Bizarre therapy group drive.


4 out of 5

Cleaning the Western Kittiwake - Tyler Keevil

Dreams of drowning a bit too realistic later on.


(call it 3.25)
3 out of 5

Black Static 03 - Andy Cox

Lots better. Heaps better. Mucho improvo.

To put it perhaps a trifle more elegantly, really rather good. The stories get to the fine 3.50 mark. To get scores like that, you need some good stories, and there are a couple here - the first two, in fact. For a fantasy mag, a pretty fine score I think. No dodgy stories, either, although Black Static seems to be consistent on that front.

There is more variety in tone, style, and subject than the previous issues it would seem to me.

The columns seem more explanatory than oratory, which is a bit easier to take, certainly.

The reviews have pointed out several things of interest - a Lucy Liu vampire hunter movie, some books by Sarah Langan and David Wellington (part of the reason to look at a mag like this, for new stuff I didn't know about). Both Langan and zombies in general get broader overviews. Also reminding me I haven't found the Quincey Morris character Black Magic Woman yet, either.

Speaking of horror, I like John Langan, are there any other horrorLangans?

BLACKSTATIC03 : THE PIT - Alexander Glass
BLACKSTATIC03 : THE MIST OF LICHTHAFEN - Seth Skorkowsky
BLACKSTATIC03 : THE SENTINELS - Tony Richards
BLACKSTATIC03 : THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN - Ian R. Faulkner
BLACKSTATIC03 : THE MORNING AFTER - Carole Johnstone
BLACKSTATIC03 : THE FANTASY JUMPER - Will McIntosh
BLACKSTATIC03 : THE TOAD AND I - Matthew Holness

Deep bedded death pact.

4 out of 5


Two best thieves in...

err.

Not any more.

4 out of 5


Just a cactacae.

3.5 out of 5


Stuck in No Man's Land - now Greek monster witches too?

3.5 out of 5


Going softheaded from drink.

3 out of 5


Simulated street pizza.

3.5 out of 5


No toying around with me.

3 out of 5




4.5 out of 5

The Toad and I - Matthew Holness

No toying around with me.


3 out of 5

The Fantasy Jumper - Will McIntosh

Simulated street pizza.


3.5 out of 5

The Morning After - Carole Johnston

Going softheaded from drink.


3 out of 5

The Sentinels - Tony Richards

Just a cactacae.


3.5 out of 5

The Mist Of Lichthafen - Seth Skorkowsky

Two best thieves in...

err.

Not any more.


4 out of 5

The Pit - Alexander Glass

Deep bedded death pact.


4 out of 5

Black Static 02 - Andy Cox

The second issue is a little different, the fiction isn't as good, but at least the opinion columns were a little more interesting, talking about dodgy bookshops and the cult of the director.

An extended look at some anthologies and collections, along with some trivia lists as per the last issue, with some authors giving a list of their top few horror short stories.

More movie stuff, too, but still don't get the Japan thing. Are UK horror fans all Japanophiles or something?

BLACKSTATIC02 : IN THE HOLE - Lisa Tuttle and Steven Utley
BLACKSTATIC02 : THE SERPENT and THE HATCHET GANG - F. Brett Cox
BLACKSTATIC02 : MUST SEE TO APPRECIATE - Scott Nicholson
BLACKSTATIC02 : UNKNOWN - Steve Rasnic Tem
BLACKSTATIC02 : IN THE SHAPE OF A DRAGON - Mélanie Fazi
BLACKSTATIC02 : ASH-MOUTH - Lynda E. Rucker
BLACKSTATIC02 : HOLDING PATTERN - Andrew Humphrey

Ghostly no turn-on.

3 out of 5


Anti-booze chopper women.

3 out of 5


House breathers.

3.5 out of 5


No-name fantasy things.

3 out of 5


Crayon serpentsong.

3.5 out of 5


Nana, they didn't get me.

3 out of 5


"Douglas looked at her and tried to think of something to say."

2.5 out of 5




3 out of 5

Holding Pattern - Andrew Humphrey

"Douglas looked at her and tried to think of something to say."


2.5 out of 5

Ash-Mouth - Lynda E. Rucker

Nana, they didn't get me.


3 out of 5

In the Shape Of A Dragon - Melanie Fazi

Crayon serpentsong.


3.5 out of 5

Unknown - Steve Rasnic Tem

No-name fantasy things.


3 out of 5

The Serpent and the Hatchet Gang - F. Brett Cox

Anti-booze chopper women.


3 out of 5

In the Hole - Steven Utley and Lisa Tuttle

Ghostly no turn-on.


3 out of 5

Black Static 01 - Andy Cox

Mediocre, I suppose I would call this, with a nifty cover, as far as the fiction goes. A 3.25 average, so putting it on the higher end of minor-league magazine. Nothing standing out here as particularly good.

There are a couple of columns that are mostly wastes of space on the more writer-whingeing side of things/political rants than anything particularly useful. Christopher Fowler tells us that niche book marketing is a bad thing. While writing it in a column in a horror magazine. Had to take that seriously, or see that it is bad. Only bad in a writer's brain that wants to have a few million people get their book, not for those of us looking for stuff we like to read. I'm taking points off for this. Although the first piece has some valid points about trying to get video material aired that is not 'heart-warming', without being crappy video docos of poor people, but actual drama. Or, more Edge of Darkness please, you channel running wankers.

Not sure what is supposed to be up with that Japan's Dark Lanterns thingo, if it is a long-running feature or what, but could have clued those of us that have never seen this before in a bit more for a relaunch.

The book and movie review articles by Tennant and Lee are more like the quality that Interzone displays, going through a range of material that is likely to be of interest, and people are likely not to have heard of. Especially useful as horror is certainly harder to find.

One good thing though, is that you can get an electronic version of this publication. Otherwise I'd never see it. Chance postage costs go down, ever? Zero.

It would surprise no-one that science fiction magazines are ahead of their more conservative cousins as far as awareness and use of technology and media goes.

Or, print mags you can get ebook versions of :

Asimov's
Analog
Fantasy and Science Fiction
Interzone (recently)
Andromeda Spaceways

those you can't

Weird Tales
Realms Of Fantasy
Black Gate
Cemetery Dance
Borderlands

Black Static 01 hence has a your classic right on the nose 3.25 score. So, first issue, rounding up to 3.50 sounds fair. Going to the effort of making it available electronically is certainly worth that.

BLACKSTATIC01 : BURY THE CARNIVAL - Simon Avery
BLACKSTATIC01 : PALE SAINTS AND DARK MADONNAS - Jamie Barras
BLACKSTATIC01 : ACTON UNDREAM - Daniel Bennett
BLACKSTATIC01 : VOTARY - M.K. Hobson
BLACKSTATIC01 : MY STONE DESIRE - Joel Lane
BLACKSTATIC01 : LADY OF THE CROWS - Tim Casson

Precisemenly wooden hearted.

3.5 out of 5


Chicken blood, beer and a Death avatar.

3 out of 5


Got a message from the Acton Man. Not so happy.

3 out of 5


Big, fat nastyburgers.

3.5 out of 5


Body architecture.

3.5 out of 5


More Black Widow than raven it seems.

3 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

Lady Of the Crows - Tim Casson

More Black Widow than raven it seems.


3 out of 5

My Stone Desire - Joel Lane

Body architecture.


3.5 out of 5

Votary - M. K. Hobson

Big, fat nastyburgers.


3.5 out of 5

Acton Undream - Daniel Bennett

Got a message from the Acton Man. Not so happy.


3 out of 5

Pale Saints and Dark Madonnas - Jamie Barras

Chicken blood, beer and a Death avatar.


3 out of 5

Blind Willie - Stephen King

Post Vietnam dodgy begging.


3 out of 5

Hearts In Atlantis - Stephen King

Hunt the Bitch in a little more moderation.


3.5 out of 5

Friday, June 20, 2008

Black Gate 03 - John O'Neill

Another quality issue of Black Gate, as the magazine continues to impress with a range of fantasy that is far from mundane. Again, the non-fiction content is considerable, and well worth it.

This includes a good overview of some recent at the time Dungeons and Dragons new material by Don Bassingthwaite - a company that knows how to upgrade itself into cash the owners of this stuff, and I haven't played for longer than I care to remember, but this was still interesting. Also fun was 'Hackmaster' from the comic strip, and one of the rulebooks includes a parody of the first AD&D Player's Handbook - which I certainly was familiar with. A bunch of adventures, too.

There's a Marvel comics retrospective too - and there's a picture of some early Iron Man armor to help in explaining to the spousal unit the movie suit. Although I disagree with Claude Lalumiere on Doctor Strange, I'd pick Gene Colan's trippy work as the best there, easily. Another fine article though. A bunch of book reviews of kid's stuff, and a few books by less well known fantasy authors like Lawrence Watt-Evans and Mickey Zucher Reichert.

The short fiction correspondent looks at fantasy magazines of the time - although anyone reading this now should note that Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine publishes more than a little science fiction - by last year's rough count it is closer to half and half, which makes sense from the title.

You have some humour, too, as well as some horror, and sf. There are protagonists of all ages and genders.

I would have to single out one of the stories though, and this may be partly because I like SF more in general, and Larry Niven's Dream Park is one book I have reread over the years. Todd McAulty's 'The Haunting of Cold Harbour' is apparently his first fiction sale, although unlike those of us rambling on blogs he has done a bit of serious writing about SF etc. before. For a first story, this is a highly accomplished piece. If I was picking a Year's Best selection, that would be on the list, no doubt. A very nice surprise, this story of strange goings on in a multiplayer virtual reality game with a dark and amusing fantasy setting, with a mystery at the heart. Really good stuff. People looking for gamer/cyberpunk type stories for anthologies would do well to give this one a look.

Black Gate 03 : Iron Joan - ElizaBeth Gilligan
Black Gate 03 : The Knight of the Lake - Elaine Cunningham
Black Gate 03 : The Chinese Sandman - Mike Resnick
Black Gate 03 : Another Man's Burden - Harry James Connolly
Black Gate 03 : A Taste of Summer - Ellen Klages
Black Gate 03 : A Dark Miracle - Darrell Schweitzer
Black Gate 03 : Tav-Ru's Troth - Michael R. Gist
Black Gate 03 : Three Nights in Big Rock City - Jon Hansen
Black Gate 03 : The Haunting of Cold Harbour - Todd McAulty
Black Gate 03 : Ringard and Dendra - Brian McNaughton
Black Gate 03 : For the Love of Katie - Gail Sproule


Be much nicer to the dragon lady, old man.

4 out of 5


Young Lancelot and faerie mentor are Saxoning it up.

3.5 out of 5


John Justin Mallory doing some dealing in dreams.

4 out of 5


Prefer less evilish magic swords.

3 out of 5


Magical flavour, but no crunchy flakes.

4 out of 5


Demon adultery.

2.5 out of 5


How to eat big, non-fried worms.

3 out of 5


One short bearded lady.

3.5 out of 5


Underworld Prince's drone child-killer VR cop case.

4.5 out of 5


Snakey wizard has very unhealthy love for botany.

3.5 out of 5


Intelligent mini-dragons no good if they don't fly as well as eat the mozzies.

3.5 out of 5




4.5 out of 5

For the Love Of Katie - Gail Sproule

Intelligent mini-dragons no good if they don't fly as well as eat the mozzies.


3.5 out of 5

Ringard and Dendra - Brian McNaughton

Snakey wizard has very unhealthy love for botany.


3.5 out of 5

Three Nights In Big Rock City - Jon Hansen

One short bearded lady.


3.5 out of 5

Tav-ru's Troth - Michael R. Gist

How to eat big, non-fried worms.


3 out of 5

A Dark Miracle - Darrell Schweitzer

Demon adultery.


2.5 out of 5

A Taste Of Summer - Ellen Klages

Magical flavour, but no crunchy flakes.


4 out of 5

Another Man's Burden - Harry James Connolly

Prefer less evilish magic swords.


3 out of 5

The Chinese Sandman - Mike Resnick

John Justin Mallory doing some dealing in dreams.


4 out of 5

The Knight Of the Lake - Elaine Cunningham

Young Lancelot and faerie mentor are Saxoning it up.


3.5 out of 5

Low Men In Yellow Coats - Stephen King

You can take me, but don't Breaker the boy.


3.5 out of 5

Iron Joan - Elizabeth Gilligan

Be much nicer to the dragon lady, old man.


4 out of 5

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chill Factor - Rachel Caine

Bottled elementals are fashionable.


I haven't read the first couple of these, but the heroine of the piece is someone with elemental superpowers, part of a larger organisation - some control fire, earth, but she is considerably airier. In several aspects, as she often goes on about the right incredibly expensive shoes to have, etc.

Just a 3.5 this one. Sort of your bit over 3. 25 mark.

Here, her and her djinn boyfriend and an alliance of others have a superpowered problem to deal with in Las Vegas - a rogue and his Djinn servant have set up there looking to suck up a whole lot of power.

An organisation in opposition decides that bumping said rogue off is a good plan, and our Weather Warden is getting beaten up in the middle, trying to work out what to do.



3.5 out of 5

The Awakening - L. A. Banks

More Blade than Buffy.


Or, the Vampire Huntress series is a lot less whitebread than the overwhelming majority of the other 'headless chick and arse' book cover type series.

Not as good as the first book, however.

This revolves around the fact that the 'chosen one' Neteru has a vampire 'ponn farr' every seven years, where, if she gets pregnant to the right father she can produce either another nifty powerful vampire hunter, or a daywalker vampire (speaking of Blade).

Her hunter-group friends and their Knights Templar with Ninjas cannon fodder assistants prefer the former, to the latter.

Her vampire master gangster ex-boyfriend and Vampire Council, and a large number of denizens of Hell have other ideas.

Discussions of wandering around through the levels of hell are one of the amusing bits of this book, certainly.


3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Last Summer At Mars Hill - Elizabeth Hand

A better than good quality collection, given that this one comes in at 3.59. Or just about a 4.25 out of 5 if you like.

Mostly of the horror or dark fantasy variety, as you will see if you look them up bunches have been included in various Year's Best Horror anthologies by various editors. Except perhaps for the title track, but plenty of dying parents stuff in there, too. You wouldn't really think so from the title or cover, so imagine a reader or two has had a bit of a surprise, there. :)

A bit of a liking for the Greek mythology stuff in contemporary times, too. The poem included also has Dionysus in the title, as more of an indication.

Last Summer At Mars Hill : Last Summer At Mars Hill - Elizabeth Hand
Last Summer At Mars Hill : The Erl King - Elizabeth Hand
Last Summer At Mars Hill : Justice - Elizabeth Hand
Last Summer At Mars Hill : The Have-Nots - Elizabeth Hand
Last Summer At Mars Hill : In The Month Of Athyr - Elizabeth Hand
Last Summer At Mars Hill : Engels Unaware - Elizabeth Hand
Last Summer At Mars Hill : The Bacchae - Elizabeth Hand
Last Summer At Mars Hill : Snow On Sugar Mountain - Elizabeth Hand
Last Summer At Mars Hill : On the Town Route - Elizabeth Hand
Last Summer At Mars Hill : The Boy on the Tree - Elizabeth Hand
Last Summer At Mars Hill : Prince of Flowers - Elizabeth Hand


They, death removalists. Rather sparkly, too.

4 out of 5


Sold my soul for rock and roll.

3.5 out of 5


I spell on you, Okie pig/dog.

4 out of 5


Elvis ate my Caddy?

3 out of 5


Genegineer stork stunt tragedy.

3.5 out of 5


Rapid-fire ending for stock market Deadly Sins.

4 out of 5


Party Time! Excellent! If we can just find a tasty man...

3.5 out of 5


Foxboy on the run
Major Apollo moon landing fun

4 out of 5


Ice cream is a seasonal thing.

3.5 out of 5


Brother, oh those empaths.

3 out of 5


Puppets (or clowns). Horror. Never a good combo if you are stuck in it.

3.5 out of 5




4 out of 5

Prince Of Flowers - Elizabeth Hand

Puppets (or clowns). Horror. Never a good combo if you are stuck in it.


3.5 out of 5

The Boy On the Tree - Elizabeth Hand

Brother, oh those empaths.


3 out of 5

On the Town Route - Elizabeth Hand

Ice cream is a seasonal thing.


3.5 out of 5

Snow On Sugar Mountain - Elizabeth Hand

Foxboy on the run
Major Apollo moon landing fun


4 out of 5

The Bacchae - Elizabeth Hand

Party Time! Excellent! If we can just find a tasty man...


3.5 out of 5

Engels Unaware - Elizabeth Hand

Rapid-fire ending for stock market Deadly Sins.


4 out of 5

The Have-nots - Elizabeth Hand

Elvis ate my Caddy?


3 out of 5

Justice - Elizabeth Hand

I spell on you, Okie pig/dog.


4 out of 5

The Erl-King - Elizabeth Hand

Sold my soul for rock and roll.


3.5 out of 5

Last Summer At Mars Hill - Elizabeth Hand

They, death removalists. Rather sparkly, too.


4 out of 5

Interzone 216 - Andy Cox

Cox and company were likely to require the use of the Heart Of Gold (or at least its Drive) to be able to top the last issue, even moreso given the possibility limiting mundane theme of this issue. Makes it slightly amusing they interview Alastair Reynolds here, too. Also Greg Egan talks in a lengthier, excellent interview.

As it is, they made it to the 3.50 mark for stories, so not too bad.

Reading Nick Lowe's writing about the botching of fantasy film after fantasy film, mostly for kids, you wonder if Peter Jackson is sitting around chortling into his Steinlager. I imagine quite a few readers of The Dark Is Rising running into the people responsible for that in a flammable state, would be thinking 'pass the oil', not 'I need a leak.''

Book reviews include Solaris New Science Fiction 2, Harry Harrison's Make Room! Make Room! and Chris Roberson's Dragon's Nine Sons.

Ryman talks in his introductory piece about the whole mundane thing, and how the best sf should be original. Sure, but if that is all that gets published, originality, then only a small percentage of people currently having their work put out there will be in the future. Having some science stuff is good, too, as he points out. However, if you want to write Scanners Live In Vain? Fine by me, too. The Yarbro story here is quite possibly as close to unoriginal as you can get, but that doesn't make it bad. Whereas Aul and Angell manage a filip or two.

The hardcore mundane-only types are more than likely to be casualties of that sort of regime, in the main. Most SF readers (which doesn't include Interzone readers, presumably) aren't going to notice if the majority of SF writers disappear off the publishing face of the earth overnight, as they only read stuff by a few favorites, and at several hundred books and several thousand stories a year, plenty of trimming to be done of the non-original if we want to go all razor-gang.

One curious fact about SF writer types, even though they keep up with technology, or trends, or news, etc., their musical tastes may stay stuck in their formative years era, much like a lot of people. This can be reflected in their writing, where, given writers are an older crowd, you can get Elvis, Beatles, or, say, Charlie Parker in a recent Asimov's. Very little sign of even Radiohead, Green Day or anything more recent to pick examples at pseudo-random, let alone Kiss, the Smiths, the Clash, or Sonic Youth. That sort of ties into Billie Aul's story and what Ryman is talking about when the future should be different - although of course you may be able to carry around immense amounts of the musical past. Another egregious example of that sort of thing comes from Scott Westerfeld's Ass-Mat Magic Spider in Jonathan Strahan's excellent Starry Rift anthology. A good story, except for this: A teenage boy, going on an interstellar trip in cryosleep to a new colony takes a paper version of Charlotte's Web with him as his weight allowance. Now maybe this particular author learned to read late, matured late, or was a girly little boy or something, but the number of teenage boys wanting to be caught dead with a little kid's book like that? None that I ever knew (be plenty lining up to kill the spider, to shoot, barbecue and eat the pig, the chicken, the cow, etc., though). Many years in the future? Not too likely.

For this to believably happen, you would also need the Infinite Improbability Drive. Likewise for Jack McDevitt's journalist character to be working in a similar fashion to 1972 as seen in a recent novel.

I think Mundane Man's point is certainly valid there. He says "If a story says it's about the future, it should make an effort in good faith to show a future. That won't be our world with one small change. The culture, economy, and technology will all have shifted."

The best sf should be good. Anything else probably matters about as much as a busted petabyte mp3 player, a dodgy holo of a Conjoiner drive, or a stale tribble's fart.

Not that any of that rambling and crapping on has anything to do with Interzone. The team there has produced a good issue this time out.


INTERZONE216 : HOW TO MAKE PAPER AIRPLANES - Lavie Tidhar
INTERZONE216 : ENDRA -- FROM MEMORY - Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
INTERZONE216 : THE HOUR IS GETTING LATE - Billie Aul
INTERZONE216 : REMOTE CONTROL - R.R. Angell
INTERZONE216 : THE INVISIBLES - Elisabeth Vonarburg
INTERZONE216 : INTO THE NIGHT - Anil Menon
INTERZONE216 : TALK IS CHEAP - Geoff Ryman

Could use this for one.

3 out of 5


Circumcaptain legend.

3 out of 5


All Along the Manhattan Wall..wild cats did prowl. Possibly armed with explosives.

4 out of 5


Border Patrol gun game lapse.

4 out of 5


Dome life entertainment.

3 out of 5


Vegie dog.

3.5 out of 5




4 out of 5

Talk Is Cheap - Geoff Ryman

Vegie dog.


3.5 out o f5

Into the Night - Anil Menon

Not up with the evolution.


3 out of 5

The Invisibles - Elisabeth Vonarburg

Dome life entertainment.


3 out of 5

Remote Control - R. R. Angell

Border Patrol gun game lapse.


4 out of 5

The Hour Is Getting Late - Billie Aul

All Along the Manhattan Wall..wild cats did prowl. Possibly armed with explosives.


4 out of 5

Endra--From Memory - Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Circumcaptain legend.


3.5 out of 5

How To Make Paper Aeroplanes - Lavie Tidhar

Could use this for one.


3 out of 5

Asimov's 390 - Sheila Williams

Not good. Easily the worst Dozois-era issue I have read, anyway. Not a 4 to be seen. So, a good issue to have a few letters, a lot of PDF reviewing of all sorts of stuff, and a decent longish novella. Silverberg talks some more about Stapledon, and Rusch reminisces about the moon landing.

ASIMOVS390 : LESTER YOUNG AND THE JUPITER'S MOONS' BLUES - Gord Sellar
ASIMOVS390 : THE WOMAN UNDER THE WORLD - Steven Utley
ASIMOVS390 : CASCADING VIOLET HAIR - R. Neube
ASIMOVS390 : VINEGAR PEACE OR THE WRONG-WAY USED-ADULT ORPHANAGE - Michael Bishop
ASIMOVS390 : 26 MONKEYS ALSO THE ABYSS - Kij Johnson
ASIMOVS390 : THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE - Brian Stableford

All that Space Jazz.

3 out of 5


Getting from Point A to Point B. Bit of a problem.

3.5 out of 5


“It's going to get better,” I lied.

2.5 out of 5


Bunkum tour.

2.5 out of 5


Not going ape for this list.

3 out of 5


Hardcore Fleshcores on the side of Dee angels.

3.5 out of 5




2.5 out of 5

The Philosopher's Stone - Brian Stableford

Hardcore Fleshcores on the side of Dee angels.


3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cascading Violet Hair - R. Neube

“It's going to get better,” I lied.


2.5 out of 5

The Woman Under the World - Steven Utley

Getting from Point A to Point B. Bit of a problem.


3.5 out of 5

Blueflow - Don Wilcox

No, don't paint the lover. Doh.


3.5 out of 5

The Oath Of the Saxon - Peter Tremayne

Wulfy, it doesn't look good.


3 out of 5

The Storming Bone - Ian McDowell

"Lot. I hate the shriveled old turd. When I was a boy, I often wanted him dead. I'm sorry he's your father."


4 out of 5

The Winning Of A Sword - Howard Pyle

Arthur vs Black Knight biffo.


3.5 out of 5

Belle Dame Sans Merci - Vera Chapman

My sister is a real witch.


3 out of 5

Analog 931 - Stanley Schmidt

A very strong issue, bookended by the start of what appears to be a fabulous serial, and an excellent novella. The rest is mostly solid, with a variety of tone.

A fine comeback from a pretty ordinary effort the issue before, fiction-wise.

Two strong articles on multiversal parameters if you like, and teleportation to go along with the usual reviews. The former leads into the same author's story along similar lines. Also an article on writing story starts which may only be of interest to writers, but wouldn't hurt for them to look at.

Enough here to get it into round up to 5 type territory.

ANALOG931 : Analog 931 - Stanley Schmidt
ANALOG931 : TRACKING 1 - David R. Palmer
ANALOG931 : THE EXOANTHROPIC PRINCIPLE - Carl Frederick
ANALOG931 : SAND AND IRON - Michael F. Flynn
ANALOG931 : A PLETHORA OF TRUTH - Bond Elam
ANALOG931 : LET THE WORD TAKE ME - Juliette Wade
ANALOG931 : OUTSIDE THE BOX - Jerry Oltion
ANALOG931 : JUNKIE - Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
ANALOG931 : IMPRINT - Kyle Kirkland
ANALOG931 : SHOTGUN SEAT - Paul Carlson
ANALOG931 : TENBROOK OF MARS - Dean McLaughlin

Plucky Girl Aviatrix's (plus pooch) plane nicking one girl rescue mission followed by boytoy and assassin instructress.

5 out of 5


Higher dimensional snub.

3.5 out of 5


We're going to (hoping to find) a rock onto Electric Avenue.

3.5 out of 5


Soul gene monkey flood.

3 out of 5


Lizard talk limitations.

3.5 out of 5


Freedom walk shot down.

3.5 out of 5


Dweeb orbital mechanic's Star Trek First Contact chance.

3.5 out of 5


Artifact find needs brains.

3 out of 5


Robot trucking revolution.

3.5 out of 5


Petro project Synch breakdown hero's story.

4.5 out of 5





5 out of 5

Tenbrook Of Mars - Dean McLaughlin

Petro project Synch breakdown hero's story.


4.5 out of 5

Shotgun Seat - Paul Carlson

Robot trucking revolution.


3.5 out of 5

Imprint - Kyle Kirkland

Artifact find needs brains.


3 out of 5

Junkie - Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff

Dweeb orbital mechanic's Star Trek First Contact chance.


3.5 out of 5

Outside the Box - Jerry Oltion

Freedom walk shot down.


3.5 out of 5

Let the Word Take Me - Juliette Wade

Lizard talk limitations.


3.5 out of 5

The Etched City - K. J. Bishop

This is definitely a weird book, in the New Weird sense.

A story about a gunslinger rebel officer of a defeated army, and a doctor acquaintance and fellow soldier of his.

Wanted people, they decided to head for another country, and this involves a camel chase, of all things, with some sneakiness.

Their new destination and home is a place financed by the slave trades, with competing gang lords vying for control. This is where our protagonist finds work, being really good at killing people.

As well as your usual sordid gangland slayings, he becomes involved with a supernatural woman, and the revenant of a man his employer has wronged comes looking for them.

A good, well-written book, although it sags a bit in the middle, so could have been a bit shorter.

Almost a supernatural urban western, if considering the technology level and activity.


4 out of 5

A Plethora Of Truth - Bond Elam

Soul gene monkey flood.


3 out of 5

Sand and Iron - Michael F. Flynn

We're going to (hope to find) a rock onto Electric Avenue.


3.5 out of 5

The Exoanthropic Principle - Carl Frederick

Higher dimensional snub.


3.5 out of 5

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tracking 1 - David R. Palmer

Plucky Girl Aviatrix's (plus pooch) plane nicking one girl rescue mission followed by boytoy and assassin instructress.


5 out of 5

Sunday, June 15, 2008

In Lands That Never Were Tales of Swords and Sorcery From the Magazine Of Fantasy and Science Fiction - Gordon Van Gelder

Very impressive. An anthology that averages over 4.00, and for me, a fantasy selection at that is a great find. Even more so given the editor has selected stories from one source, although a profilic one, being the magazine in the title. He also is focusing on more recent stories, as in nineties and noughties, too, which is very cool.

The editor says "I'm looking to bring you a collection of terrific stories united by their common goal of telling a rousing good story set in a land that never was."

The criticisms would be structural here, which is fairly minor. The end of the book has a lot less 'rousing' than the start, so a bit better ordering, particularly splitting the Howard and Leiber may have made more sense. Anyone familiar with Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint novel will know the sort of thing they will get here, a non-fantastic fantasy if you like, with the second world furniture that could easily be somewhere in Europe a few hundred years ago.

He also contradicts himself with the last story, by having a meta tale actually set in what is supposed to be in the real world, not a land that never was. Almost as though a case of I really like this writer, but he doesn't write anything remotely fitting (compared to say, Charles Coleman Finlay, who could probably talk about swordsmen and sorcerers for hours in the pub, I'd imagine), so I will whack this piece in. I'd guess Ford's story is the one that is likely to annoy people the most, and he doesn't really carry it off with the aplomb of a Terry Pratchett to make it more palatable, even though I still liked it.

People that find very wearying, not to mention annoying stories with writers writing about writers whingeing about writers whingeing about writing sort of stuff can skip the last story.

Overall, however, what you will find here is an outstanding anthology containing only good to very good stories of fantasy of a general considerably more popular kind of thing that a lot of people will mean when they talk about that sort of book.

In Lands That Never Were : 01 The Hall of the Dead - Robert E. Howard and L. Sprague de Camp
In Lands That Never Were : 02 A Hedge Against Alchemy - John Morressy
In Lands That Never Were : 03 Ill Met in Lankhmar [short story] - Fritz Leiber
In Lands That Never Were : 04 Counting the Shapes - Yoon Ha Lee
In Lands That Never Were : 05 Firebird [short story] - R. Garcia y Robertson
In Lands That Never Were : 06 Dragon's Gate - Pat Murphy
In Lands That Never Were : 07 After the Gaud Chrysalis - Charles Coleman Finlay
In Lands That Never Were : 08 The Swordsman Whose Name Was Not Death - Ellen Kushner
In Lands That Never Were : 09 The Island in the Lake - Phyllis Eisenstein
In Lands That Never Were : 10 Darkrose and Diamond - Ursula K. Le Guin
In Lands That Never Were : 11 King Rainjoy's Tears - Chris Willrich
In Lands That Never Were : 12 The Fantasy Writer's Assistant - Jeffrey Ford


De Camp completed this from an outline of Howard's that was found. Conan has left Shadrizar to look for the treasure of Larsha, and a squad of soldiers, out to arrest him for other larceny are on his trail.

He deals with most of them, but the leader, Nestor is not dead and follows him into the city, meeting him in the treasure room after he deals with a giant slug.

They leave, quickly, when mummified warriors come to life and the building starts collapsing. Their loot is not too stable, and not enjoyed for long.

3 out of 5


How about gold into lead, you barbarians?

4 out of 5


Twosome's Thieves Guild tormenting leads to tragedy and travel.

4.5 out of 5


Maternal mathemagic champion.

4.5 out of 5


Witchiepoo's cat cunning and troll-bear stops knight's losing streak.

4 out of 5


Icy bloody demand for mum needs dragon empathy transformation.

4 out of 5


A sorcerer wanting to make a deal with an immortal monster has a Vertir, Kuikin and cousin disadvantage to deal with.

4 out of 5


Boy disguised as a girl disguised as a boy's sharp lesson.

4.5 out of 5


Minstrel ghost's poison protection.

4 out of 5


I'll be screwing, you wizard, and the rock and roll lifestyle is enough magic for me.

4 out of 5


Salting and Misting and Scalding will make you more than cry.

4 out of 5


Metawriting not heroic.

4 out of 5




5 out of 5