Saturday, January 31, 2009

Down the Bright Way - Robert Reed

Multiversal Patrol.

This book is very reminiscent of Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series in tone. The difference being that here the 'Wanderers' are able to travel to variant Earths, as opposed to time travel on one Earth.

One such agent meets a young woman, does the multiversal mambo with her, and agrees to take her to his leader, so to speak.

Like the Time Patrol various factions vie for control - and the mysterious makers of the technology are just that, all along the way.


3 out of 5

Jennifer Government - Max Barry

A satire in an America that has gone privatised libertarian crazy - and now controls a lot - or at least the corporations do. Australia, for one.

This sort of satire is of course reminiscent of Snow Crash (or Grey, recently).

Decent enough, but nothing ground breaking or perhaps even as money.

It begins with an office slave asked to help out on a shoe marketing effort. The plan for these expensive sneakers was to withold all but a few, and then blitz sell them to up the price by a factor of two or so, and make the odd billion, given they cost less than a dollar.

To ensure this happens, they ask him to find ten victims among early purchasers to murder in the act, so that it looks like people are willing to kill to get them. The poorer the better, in this case, high school girls good too, of course.

The Jennifer Government in the title is an armed troubleshooter for what is left of the Government. In this novel it seems people take the last name of the corporation they work for, hence John Nike, Jennifer Government, etc.

Needless to say in an American gone crazy like this the corrupt are more so, and killing as advertising seems pretty standard.


3.5 out of 5

Cyborg - Martin Caidin

Steve Austin is a test pilot, and the experimental craft he is piloting does not land well in this case. He loses an arm, is blinded in one eye, has two legs crushed, and has some fairly serious internal and skeletal injuries.

Thanks to being an astronaut and top of the line pilot he has an advanced medical team waiting for just this sort of circumstance.

After putting him back together and getting his head a bit more right they ask him if he is interested in a program to test out some bionics - he agrees, and the work and surgery entails lots of swearing and surprises.

However, Oscar Goldman's funding of this does not come without a catch - this six million dollars and the fact that he is employed by the military and now has basically tested and proven superhuman abilities means it is covert mission time for him.

Underwater, and then into the desert in Africa to snatch a plane that has some key Russian nuclear information.

Quite gripping.


4 out of 5

Beggars Ride - Nancy Kress

The book starts with Jennifer Sharifi getting out of jail after a 27 year old sentence for treason.

She wastes no time in resuming multi-front hostilities with the rest of the Sleepless.

However, a lot of this deals with the rest of humanity - with lots of them having modifications to allow them to live a long time, not get sick, and eat whatever - what happens when that runs out, and Super Sleepless tech can't bail you out?

Some brain altering conflict begins.


3 out of 5

Cannibal Cult - Guy N. Smith

The execution of a confessed satanist in France just might not take, as a group of Left Hand Path worshippers intend that he, along with other leaders should always live again.

Preparations for this include orgies and long pig - even going so far as to include roast cop on the menu.

Sabat is involved thanks to a girl - who turns out to have a few problems with the evil.

The sort of fun and games is right up his brother Quentin's alley, too, so not entirely healthy, Sabat may just be along for the ride.


3 out of 5

Child Of the Hunt - Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder

Evil Renfaires and Erl Kings.


Or, the Wild Hunt is in town, and a visit to a Faire staffed by warlocks, wizards and monsters isn't as much fun as one run by your average SCA geeks.

King Richard, no use, Robin not too much more.

Erl King's son - ambivalent.

Buffy and the Scoobies have costumes to wreck and mothers to save - with a bit of an assist by Angel.


3 out of 5

Beyond the Veil Of Stars - Robert Reed

A pretty slow contact with aliens story.

When the weird happens and people on Earth can't see the sky anymore, something is obviously up.

The story, what there is of it, centres around a boy and his ufo-nut father. The latter has an important role to play.

Think a lot of people will find this overly tedious.


2.5 out of 5

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sagramanda - Alan Dean Foster

A theft from a dodgy multinational becomes an across India thriller in this near future science fiction story.

The old clashes with the new in this country. Here's the start for one of the characters:
"Sanjay Ghosh had determined to leave the village for good when the leopard ate his dog. The household canine was not the first local children's favorite the leopard had eaten. The uninvited occasional visitor had acquired a taste for defenseless family pets, and the Ghoshes' dog was either the tenth or eleventh it had snatched from the village, depending on whether or not the Toshwahlas' cat had been taken by it or killed by a snake."

To counterpose the situation for another: "Employing built-in aerogel cameras, adverts designed to appeal specifically to the young, female, and middle-to-upper-class zeroed in on her repeatedly. The constant battle between manufacturers of pocket-sized ad-blockers and the designers of mobile advertisements had spurred technological leaps among both. Depahli rarely used the blocker that Taneer had bought for her. Truth be told, she enjoyed enough of the ads to allow them access. Even the ones for the omnipresent matrimonial services that allowed her to compare, fancifully of course, other prospective suitors to Taneer. Invariably, all were found wanting."

Technology, tigers, death or lots of cash and improvements await.


3.5 out of 5

No Good From A Corpse - Leigh Brackett

This collection includes all Brackett's 'criminous musings' as the compiler puts it. One novel, and eight short stories of the hardboiled detective flavour. I have seen comparisons of Brackett to Chandler, and although her output here is numerically lesser, it is certainly as good in content, and as far as short stories go, probably better.

This is an outstanding collection at 3.83

No Good From A Corpse : No Good from a Corpse - Leigh Brackett
No Good From A Corpse : Murder Is Bigamy - Leigh Brackett
No Good From A Corpse : Red-Headed Poison [The Case of the Wandering Red-Head] - Leigh Brackett
No Good From A Corpse : Murder in the Family - Leigh Brackett
No Good From A Corpse : Design for Dying - Leigh Brackett
No Good From A Corpse : I Feel Bad Killing You - Leigh Brackett
No Good From A Corpse : No Star Is Lost - Leigh Brackett
No Good From A Corpse : So Pale So Cold So Fair - Leigh Brackett
No Good From A Corpse : The Misfortune Teller [The Death Dealer] - Leigh Brackett

I had read elsewhere that this was rather Chandlerian, and it seems that is certainly the case.

The private investigator in this novel is out to help people, even if he doesn't particularly like them, and even after getting shot, bashed, abused, lied to, and more.

He has made friends (and feels a lot more than that) about a nightclub singer who has an inability to engage in any sort of monogamy, serial, or parallel. He realises that she has a rather dodgy past, and when he gets a whispered phone threat, things turn bad.

This leads to an investigation where he is a murder suspect, as well as trying to clear the name of another man and childhood friend whose innocence he is sure of. Apart from these two gentleman, it appears that almost anyone else that appears could have been involved.

A non-obvious, well done mystery follows, with all sorts of characters, and a witness and lead list that keeps getting terminally shortened.

Quite well done.

4 out of 5


Bradbury double dealing death dog deception discovery.

3.5 out of 5


Hard-man's Sheila starveout shooting.

4 out of 5


Blackmail go round sabretooth sister skewer.

4 out of 5


Smart man frame-up rough stuff setup showdown.

3.5 out of 5


"Hank said that Surfside was a dirty town, dirty from the gutters up. He said any man with the brains of a sick flea would know that most of the liquor places were run illegally, and most of the hotels, too, and that two-thirds of the police force was paid to have bad eyesight."

4 out of 5


Champ takes one for the Kid.

3.5 out of 5


A local crimelord has a problem when the body of a reporter enemy's old lover is dumped on the newsman's doorstep.

4 out of 5


You didn't actually have to kill her, babe.

4 out of 5




5 out of 5

Dreamsongs 1 - George R. R. Martin

A split up version of the 'Dreamsongs' collection, first part thereof. A standout indeed, at 3.82. Martin also adds significant introductory material to illuminate the parts of his career, as well as the stories. These show you how good a short story writer he is, and thankfully he has at least gone back to it a little recently, in amidst the interminable fantasy series.

A really, really good collection.

Dreamsongs 1 : : Only Kids Are Afraid of the Dark - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs 1 : : The Fortress - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs 1 : : And Death His Legacy - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs 1 : : The Hero - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs 1 : : The Exit to San Breta - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs 1 : : The Second Kind of Loneliness - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs 1 : : With Morning Comes Mistfall - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs 1 : : A Song for Lya - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs 1 : : This Tower of Ashes - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs 1 : : And Seven Times Never Kill Man - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs 1 : : The Stone City - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs 1 : : Bitterblooms - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs 1 : : The Way of Cross and Dragon - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs 1 : : The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs 1 : : The Ice Dragon - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs 1 : : In the Lost Lands - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs 1 : : Meathouse Man - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs 1 : : Remembering Melody - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs 1 : : Sandkings - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs 1 : : Nightflyers - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs 1 : : The Monkey Treatment - George R. R. Martin
Dreamsongs 1 : : The Pear-Shaped Man - George R. R. Martin

The Demon Lord Saagael learns you can't keep a good Golden Ghost down when he challenges Doctor Weird.

3 out of 5


Finnish patriotism vs cowardice.

4 out of 5


A political assassination has unpleasant results, as far as the assassin sees it.

3 out of 5


Army retirement plan not good.

4 out of 5


Ghost car.

3.5 out of 5


Waiting for spaceships can be crazy work.

4 out of 5


Do they have to come and wreck all the good spots?

4 out of 5


Post suicide Union Joining rejection.

4 out of 5


Saving old girlfriends and their new boyfriends is a stupid, painful experience.

4.5 out of 5


Space preacher cult gets pyramid power taste of their own prior killer solution.

3.5 out of 5


Guess I'll take gate travel over ship travel if that is all there is going. Less bloody fox wankers too.

4 out of 5


Tv is not a substitute for space travel you lecherous old bag.

4 out of 5


Judas Star Knights.

3.5 out of 5


Love guardian.

4 out of 5


I'm melting.

3 out of 5


Some services will leave you skint. Wered.

4 out of 5


Dead love handles.

4 out of 5


Bloody longtime parasite woman.

4 out of 5


Feed your pets properly, fool.

4 out of 5


Scary spaceship slaughter single.

4 out of 5


The little guy can sure put me away.

4 out of 5


Cheez doodles? Imagine if he used Cheesels!

4 out of 5





5 out of 5

The Death Dealer - Leigh Brackett

You didn't actually have to kill her, babe.


4 out of 5

The Misfortune Teller - Leigh Brackett

You didn't actually have to kill her, babe.


4 out of 5

Strega - Andrew Vachss

Burke is contacted by an old mafia acquaintance, who wants his help to remove the 'freak' harassing one of his relatives.

There's also a flashback to Burke going to jail.

The first job gets him involved with the redheaded unflatteringly named 'Strega', who has promised a little boy to get back a paedophile photograph so she can destroy it in front of him.

Burke's friends are keen to help - and Max's new girlfriend actually works with abused children, so can also offer assistance.

One angry man, one ring of scum going down.


3.5 out of 5

Between the Strokes Of Night - Charles Sheffield

Apparently this is expanded from an earlier version, given updated science.

Here Sheffield is speculating about travelling faster than light speed - and what people what have to do, to do with.

It hence involves monkeying with time, and subjective time.

For example, colony ships that have set out and undergone several hundred generations are met by people who remember the end of Earth thanks to the techniques used by the 'Immortals'.

Needless to say there are conflicts between the short and long lived, but that isn't the point, it is the travelling ability and N-Space and S-Space etc experiments that are the point of this novel.


3.5 out of 5

The Web Between the Worlds - Charles Sheffield

A novel about the troubles of building a 'beanstalk' or space elevator, which is decent enough - involving the best talent at building large spanning structure around at the time. Skullduggery, murder and engineering.

the author points out that "I won't say I was pleased. Nervous is a better word. I had never met Arthur Clarke, but at Fred Durant's suggestion, not to say insistence, I took my completed manuscript and sent a copy to Clarke in Sri Lanka. I had no idea what to expect; what I certainly didn't expect was what came: first, a very friendly letter from Arthur Clarke, and, soon after, an open letter from him to the Science Fiction Writers of America, stating that coincidence, not plagiarism, lay behind the fact that two books were to be published in 1979 with strikingly similar themes. Not just the space elevator, but each book had as main character the world's leading bridge-builder; each one employed a device known as a Spider."

After the finish in the book Sheffield goes into some detail of the basics of the mechanics and mathematics and materials science of actually producing such a beast, which is rather interesting.

He points out building these is easier on other planets - Mars for one, pointing out that Kim Stanley Robinson wrote about such a happening. Which was ok, except it was destroyed and took out the town of Sheffield at its base.

A decent enough book - not as good as the Clarke though, but with some worthy non-fiction to go along with it.


3 out of 5

The World Of Null-A - A. E. Van Vogt

Extra brain galactic empire immortality plot.

An odd book, detailing a philosophy to select the top guys, a machine running the place, and a plot to get involved in a Galactic War.

The main character Gosseyn makes a bunch fo discoveries about the latter after he tries out the former.

You don't find out much about the whole space war thing though, as most of it is about the manipulations in the solar system.


3 out of 5

Iron Kissed - Patricia Briggs

Mercy the mechanic is again asked to stick her nose in it to help out a supernatural friend. That old anomalous no hulk-out coyote skinwalker condition gets you into a lot of trouble.


Someone is bumping off fae in significant numbers, but when one of the human guards for the faerie reservation is found with his head ripped off, investigations get more urgent.

Especially when Mercy's friend Zee gets tapped to go down for the crime.

So, lots of googling of old fae legends to be done - and a time to be happy that several blokes interested in her happen to be werewolves with all the superpowers that that particular condition entails. More than one monster around needing a big, furry helping of canine shapeshifter justice.


3.5 out of 5

Indiana Jones and the Secret Of the Sphinx - Max McCoy

Jones is doing what he does best when he is captured by a Japanese spymaster-pilot and his offsiders.

This leads to an assisted escape by a magician and daughter looking for their husband/father, a ship getaway, and a reunion with Sallah.

The Staff of Aaron and the Omega Book - where everyone's lives are detailed - in Sanskrit, no less, are the mystical objects of interest in this adventure.

The author provides an afterword regarding the real life mythology of these items, and some other bits and pieces.


3 out of 5

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Girl With The Silver Eyes - Dashiell Hammett

Cheque scam kill.


3 out of 5

$106000 Blood Money - Dashiell Hammett

Removing Papadopoulos.


3.5 out of 5

The Big Knockover - Dashiell Hammett

Colorful gangster cull setup.


4 out of 5

White Devils - Paul J. McAuley

An ex-soldier and researcher decides to go to Africa to help out with the identification of bodies in a massacre. This is is a near future world where a billion people have died in a plague - and more in the unrest that followed.

While there, his group is attacked by what seem to be some sort of ape-people. Genetic engineering technology is common, and he decides to track down who is responsible for this.

This means a lot of running around Africa and not very pleasant encounters with rogue scientists, mercenaries, military scuzzbuckets and more.

Definitely on the technothriller side of things which I like now and again, and if they come with a fair chunk of SF, even better.


3.5 out of 5

The House In Turk Street - Dashiell Hammett

Chaired Op.


3 out of 5

Mummy Stories - Martin H. Greenberg

This anthology has some reprints, some new - the newer variety a lot less likely to have the actual old school mummies in them, in general. A 3.31.

Mummy Stories : Masque - Ed Gorman
Mummy Stories : Lot No. 249 - Arthur Conan Doyle
Mummy Stories : Bones - Donald A. Wollheim
Mummy Stories : Monkeys - E. F. Benson
Mummy Stories : Asleep on the Job - Scott Parson
Mummy Stories : Remains to Be Seen - Sharyn McCrumb
Mummy Stories : The Man in Crescent Terrace - Seabury Quinn
Mummy Stories : Some Words with a Mummy - Edgar Allan Poe
Mummy Stories : Beetles [as by Robert Bloch] - Tarleton Fiske
Mummy Stories : The Weekend Magus - Edward D. Hoch
Mummy Stories : The Curse of Amen-Ra - Victor Rousseau
Mummy Stories : Mummy No. 50 - D. R. Meredith
Mummy Stories : The Eyes of the Mummy - Robert Bloch
Mummy Stories : Uncle Jack Eats a Mummy - Alan Robbins

Looney Tunes bandage bits.

3 out of 5


Mummies are scary when they don't stay in the same place.

3.5 out of 5


Face fallen.

3.5 out of 5


Mummy unwinding.

3.5 out of 5


Guard robber, tomb robber.

3 out of 5


Coven screams.

2.5 out of 5


Mummies just do not run around the street killing people.

3.5 out of 5


"I should have thought," observed Mr. Buckingham, "that it is high time you were dead."

"Why," replied the Count, very much astonished, "I am little more than seven hundred years old! My father lived a thousand, and was by no means in his dotage when he died."

3.5 out of 5


Scarab madness.

3.5 out of 5


Loch Ness mummy.

4 out of 5


Can't have mummies running loose all over our island.

3 out of 5


Shooting up a new one.

3 out of 5


Crocodile cult blind.

3.5 out of 5


Immortality lifestyle scam.

3 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

The Eyes Of the Mummy - Robert Bloch

Crocodile cult blind.


3.5 out of 5

The Curse Of Amen-Ra - Victor Rousseau

Can't have mummies running loose all over our island.


3 out of 5

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Everybody Pays - Andrew Vachss

Almost all the stories in Everybody Pays are short-shorts. These are something immensely difficult to do well. Given how high the quality of these pieces turns out to be, it is clear Vachss is a master at this length. So despite the near 3.50 average, like Michael Swanwick and his Periodic Table, this collection is a superior achievement.

Each tale hits in a short, visceral blast from Vachss' almost brilliant in its darkness urban jungle.

There is some variety here, a supernatural horror story, a series set in a near future dystopia, and the more martial long Cross novella at the end, which moves into a literal jungle for its extraction and betrayal setup.

His extremely terse style probably helps in the short-short or vignette game, too.

You could almost imagine the story:

'Burke Meets Cross'

"Drink?"

"Yep."

"Good dog there."

"Yep."

The End

Everybody Pays : Proving It - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Reaching Back - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Last Date - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Tag - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Dress-Up Day - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Homeless - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Mission - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Going Home - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : The Real Thing - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Slow Motion - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : True Colors - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Curtains - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : The Writing on the Wall - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Safe Sex - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Charmed Life - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Gamblers - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Just the Ticket - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Summer Girl - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Big Sister - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Time Share - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Goin' Down Slow - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Word Play - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Stepping Stone - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Fireman - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Dope Fiend - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Escort Service - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Stuntman - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Piecework - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : The Real World - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Perp Walk - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Good for the Soul - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Hit Man - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Searcher - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : The Concrete Puppy - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Harvest Time - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Pigeon Drop - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Two-Way Radio - Andrew Vachss
Everybody Pays : Everybody Pays - Andrew Vachss

Knives, no pretending.

4 out of 5


Seven Slayer baby brother time raise right deal.

4 out of 5


Bobbie stalkers.

3 out of 5


Ink markup justice.

3.5 out of 5


Realistically martial.

3 out of 5


Like to kill.

3 out of 5


Boy abuse Bushido sentence stalk.

4 out of 5


Last disguise leaving chance.

3.5 out of 5


Lolita phone sex shot.

3.5 out of 5


Gunfighting's for money.

3.5 out of 5


Latina Savage Dragon Army.

3.5 out of 5


Book Boy Questioner.

3.5 out of 5


Book Boy girls.

3 out of 5


Tunnels.

3.5 out of 5


Hydrofarm hookup.

3.5 out of 5


Traxyl fights.

3.5 out of 5


For a long con.

4 out of 5


I do him, you do her first.

3.5 out of 5


Hit machine.

3.5 out of 5


Escort bridge jumper.

3.5 out of 5


Harp hit.

3.5 out of 5


Prison wife con.

3.5 out of 5


Casino heist setup shootout.

3.5 out of 5


Not the right kind.

3 out of 5


Might hurt less dead, but I dunno.

3 out of 5


Need a terminal way in, kid.

4 out of 5


Hidding flaming actor situation.

3 out of 5


Everybody's woman not worth shooting over.

3 out of 5


No going back to it, really. Especially not with a bang.

3 out of 5


Buried evidence.

3.5 out of 5


Prison transfer kill.

3.5 out of 5


Both sides divorce dead.

4 out of 5


Dad death hunt.

3 out of 5


Cross, for dog murder.

3.5 out of 5


Organ donation hit.

4 out of 5


Kid dope deal.

3 out of 5


Transmit or receive. Make sure.

3.5 out of 5


South American girl spring double Cross.

4.5 out of 5




4.5 out of 5

Waking the Moon - Elizabeth Hand

Moon Goddess kill cult.

A meeting of several students at one semester at an arty university in Washington DC does not go well.

Tied into this is some ancient archaeological discoveries related to a female mythological figure that favored more of the Kali the destroyer modus operandi.

The protagonist here gets caught up in this (perhaps this uni needs a few more physicists, engineers, or even lawyers given all the magicians, cults and goddess avatars running around).

Or, strange horrible magic stuff happens, people die. Mostly blokes, as you would expect.

A short part follows, but the major second part of the book follows the same woman, now working as a museum cataloguer in the same city.

She discovers thanks to a tv broadcast that her old uni mate is still alive, and something of an infamous author, and the whole cult thing has caught on. More deaths follow, less choosy of the flavour.

Blood cult death priestess woman has a son - and this is the part that might be hard to buy if the mystic destiny thing doesn't do it for you, that he happens to be in the same city and meet various protagonists.

Then again, it is supernatural horror, so not that much of a stretch given the rest of the book.

The question being of course, will anyone that isn't a fan of the whole ritual sacrifice bloodletting thing get out alive.

Stylishly done, not your slasher type of book.


4 out of 5

Ares Express - Ian McDonald

Areoformed train reality.


In the past, a human-AI conflict has left Mars the domain of quantum reality controlling AI with humans tooling around the place on giant tokamak powered trains.

When a crazy guy decides it might be time for more of that past apocalyptic war, throw in time travel, some cheesy fourth wallesque story commentary and much whacky adventuring as a young train Engineer tracks down a deity and tries to stop a madman. Who of course has a big flying vessel.


3 out of 5

Everybody Pays - Andrew Vachss

South American girl spring double Cross.


4.5 out of 5

Two-way Radio - Andrew Vachss

Transmit or receive. Make sure.


3.5 out of 5

Pigeon Drop - Andrew Vachss

Kid dope deal.


3 out of 5

Harvest Time - Andrew Vachss

Organ donation hit.


4 out of 5

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Searcher - Andrew Vachss

Dad death hunt.


3 out of 5

Hit Man - Andrew Vachss

Both sides divorce dead.


4 out of 5

Good For the Soul - Andrew Vachss

Prison transfer kill.


3.5 out of 5

Perp Walk - Andrew Vachss

Buried evidence.


3.5 out of 5

Piecework - Andrew Vachss

Everybody's woman not worth shooting over.


3 out of 5

Stuntman - Andrew Vachss

Hidding flaming actor situation.


3 out of 5

Escort Service - Andrew Vachss

Need a terminal way in, kid.


4 out of 5

Stepping Stone - Andrew Vachss

Casino heist setup shootout.


3.5 out of 5

Word Play - Andrew Vachss

Prison wife con.


3.5 out of 5

Goin' Down Slow - Andrew Vachss

Harp hit.


3.5 out of 5

Time Share - Andrew Vachss

Escort bridge jumper.


3.5 out of 5

Big Sister - Andrew Vachss

Hit machine.


3.5 out of 5

Summer Girl - Andrew Vachss

I do him, you do her first.


3.5 out of 5

Just the Ticket - Andrew Vachss

For a long con.


4 out of 5

Monday, January 26, 2009

Melancholy Elephants - Spider Robinson

The title story here is really excellent. Unfortunately the rest is an average, motley bunch - although with a broad range from lighthearted to sex to grim.

Melancholy Elephants : Melancholy Elephants [short story] - Spider Robinson
Melancholy Elephants : Antinomy [short story] - Spider Robinson
Melancholy Elephants : Half an Oaf - Spider Robinson
Melancholy Elephants : Satan's Children - Spider Robinson
Melancholy Elephants : No Renewal - Spider Robinson
Melancholy Elephants : In the Olden Days - Spider Robinson
Melancholy Elephants : Not Fade Away - Spider Robinson
Melancholy Elephants : True Minds - Spider Robinson
Melancholy Elephants : Chronic Offender - Spider Robinson
Melancholy Elephants : It's a Sunny Day - Spider Robinson
Melancholy Elephants : High Infidelity - Spider Robinson
Melancholy Elephants : Rubber Soul - Spider Robinson


""Senator, if I try to hoard the fruits of my husband's genius, I may cripple my race. Don't you see what perpetual copyright implies? It is perpetual racial memory! That bill will give the human race an elephant's memory. Have you ever seen a cheerful elephant?""

5 out of 5


Leukemia layover revival shock.

3 out of 5


Fat half future punt.

3 out of 5


Truth serum spread.

3.5 out of 5


Past termination time.

3.5 out of 5


They were dumb.

3 out of 5


Didn't off me? You bastards!

3.5 out of 5


Telepath love.

3 out of 5


Goldfobber six slug hot squat.

3 out of 5


Stay behind.

2.5 out of 5


Brain transplant sex swap.

3.5 out of 5


Getting the band back together.

2.5 out of 5




3 out of 5

Rubber Soul - Spider Robinson

Getting the band back together.


2.5 out of 5

High Infidelity - Spider Robinson

Brain transplant sex swap.


3.5 out of 5

It's A Sunny Day - Spider Robinson

Stay behind.


2.5 out of 5

Chronic Offender - Spider Robinson

Goldfobber six slug hot squat.


3 out of 5

The Man In Crescent Terrace - Seabury Quinn

Mummies just do not run around the street killing people.


3.5 out of 5

True Minds - Spider Robinson

Telepath love.


3 out of 5

No Renewal - Spider Robinson

Past termination time.


3.5 out of 5

The Adventures Of Sam Spade - Dashiell Hammett

A very consistent collection of stories at 3.36. The first three are the Sam Spade tales other than The Maltese Falcon, and the others are a variety.

Adventures Of Sam Spade : TOO MANY HAVE LIVED - Dashiell Hammett
Adventures Of Sam Spade : THEY CAN ONLY HANG YOU ONCE - Dashiell Hammett
Adventures Of Sam Spade : A MAN CALLED SPADE - Dashiell Hammett
Adventures Of Sam Spade : THE ASSISTANT MURDERER - Dashiell Hammett
Adventures Of Sam Spade : NIGHT SHADE - Dashiell Hammett
Adventures Of Sam Spade : THE JUDGE LAUGHED LAST - Dashiell Hammett
Adventures Of Sam Spade : HIS BROTHER'S KEEPER - Dashiell Hammett


Sam Spade finds waxed poetic.

3.5 out of 5


Australian scam, one murder will do.

3.5 out of 5


No Max Chill.

3 out of 5


"Well, what are you waiting for?" the detective asked. "You want to make it a fancy caper — kill her on her birthday or a legal holiday?"

3.5 out of 5


Quite happy this colour.

3 out of 5


No beak leniency.

3.5 out of 5


Go out there and fight, dumb kid.

3.5 out of 5





3.5 out of 5

His Brother's Keeper - Dashiell Hammett

Go out there and fight, dumb kid.


3.5 out of 5

The Judge Laughed Last - Dashiell Hammett

No beak leniency.


3.5 out of 5

Night Shade - Dashiell Hammett

Quite happy this colour.


3 out of 5

They Can Only Hang You Once - Dashiell Hammett

Australian scam, one murder will do, says Spade.


3.5 out of 5

Too Many Have Lived - Dashiell Hammett

Sam Spade finds waxed poetic.


3.5 out of 5

Matter - Iain M. Banks

A promising prologue has your usual sneaky Culture type doing some untraceable interfering into some low-tech warfare on a planet - or actually an environment that is part of a Shellword - a huge structure that has what seems to be multiple planets or planetary analogues, one per level. An interesting idea.

Unfortunately, 80% or so of what follows is tedious, as a plot and murders to remove a king and relatives, and give power to a man on the aforementioned world happens. He, too, has some knowledge and advantages over the local - but a survivor of this coup has a sister who much earlier was given to Special Circumstances. So the book meanders along until the last 6th or so, where suddenly the various races of technological ability and their plots and conflicts start to get interesting, then it ends.

You could chop out half this book and not miss it one bit.


2.5 out of 5

Books Of Blood 3 - Clive Barker

The Books of Blood score continues to deteriorate, at 3.30. The last two stories are best.

Books of Blood 3 : Son of Celluloid - Clive Barker
Books of Blood 3 : Rawhead Rex - Clive Barker
Books of Blood 3 : Confession of a Pornographer's Shroud - Clive Barker
Books of Blood 3 : Scape-goats - Clive Barker
Books of Blood 3 : Human Remains - Clive Barker

Lost in a gunfighter dunny.

3.5 out of 5


Exhumed carnage.

3 out of 5


Not liking it.

2.5 out of 5


Corpse cruise.

3.5 out of 5


Roman dead ringer.

4 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

Scape-goats - Clive Barker

Corpse cruise.


3.5 out of 5

Confession Of A Pornographer's Shroud - Clive Barker

Not liking it.


2.5 out of 5

Rawhead Rex - Clive Barker

Exhumed carnage.


3 out of 5

Winterlong - Elizabeth Hand

Postapocalyptic theatrical genetic grotesque festival.


An after-disaster novel of a distinctly different kind to the bands of marauding mutants with clubs, or militas and mail, or even priests and canticles. There are apes, however. The title doesn't refer to a trek through freezing cold, and ice, either, but rather a song. In this case Neil Young's Winterlong, and a similar title in more words by the Strawbs. A song I have never heard, the latter, and I actually like the Pixies cover of the former more, so you can check all those out.

The strangeness here is more of some of the kind that could be found in Logan's World, or discovered by A Boy And His Dog, or even Zardoz, if you want to go that far.

The radiation and bioweapons have turned this particular locale at least into almost a fantasy land, and caused division into Groups, with explicit capitals. Whether by occupation, inclination, or mutation: Ascendants, Curators, Zoologists, Botanist and more, you get the idea.

It also seems to be de rigeur (much like alternate history and WWII) in novels of this type to run into scenes of outlandish performance art - and in this case the theatre - and who else, but Shakespeare.

As the author explains in her informative afterword: "...Winterlong ended up an odd amalgam of everything I loved: Twelfth Night, Pinocchio, punk rock, Neuromancer, ruinous buildings, talking animals, Bertolcht Brett, the theater, hallucinogenic drugs and neurochemistry, Dhalgren, sex, Catholic ritual and Aegean mythology, and most of all, The City Of Trees itself." The Last apparently refers to Washington D. C., according to the back cover.

The novel itself follows the travels of a sister and brother, the former having psionic empath abilities thanks to the current conditions and some experimentation. Crazed mad scientists of course are also a feature of this sort of book. You won't be disappointed in that score.

Plenty of bizarre and baroque encounters to lead up to the end - and here there is a ritual/festival/horror or whatever you want to call it that is also titled Winterlong. Cue any number of elements from Hand's list of favorite things for this final over the top extravaganza.

Or, to quote Mr. Neil Young:

"If things should ever turn out wrong
And all the love we have is gone,
It won't be easy on that day."


3.5 out of 5

Inversions - Iain M. Banks

A non-explicitly Culture novel.

This is set on a low technology planet and setup tells us that it will be recounted in the style of an unnamed narrator. Or even more than one. A story of a Doctor, and a ruler's bodyguard. The former is a foreigner to the particular environment, and being your more feudal society a woman in a position of authority is looked upon askance.

Obviously, being a Culture book she is a lot more foreign than being from another continent. Her problem is that she has become too involved with her mission, and the bodyguard's, too involved with the plotting around him.

(call it 3.25)
3 out of 5

Son Of Celluloid - Clive Barker

Lost in a gunfighter dunny.


3.5 out of 5

Gamblers - Andrew Vachss

Traxyl fights.


3.5 out of 5

Charmed Life - Andrew Vachss

Hydrofarm hookup.


3.5 out of 5

Safe Sex - Andrew Vachss

Tunnels.


3.5 out of 5

The Writing On the Wall - Andrew Vachss

Book Boy girls.


3 out of 5

Curtains - Andrew Vachss

Book Boy Questioner.


3.5 out of 5

The Stone Canal - Ken MacLeod

Like others in this series, it alternates viewpoints between the existence of characters in a reasonably temporary time and politics and activism.

Then there's the posthuman future history, with a spaceship, a wormhole, and a Jovian civilisation of uploaded people.

The main character awakens here with little memory, and the rest of the story traces him remembering, finding out where his mind has been stored and other people he knew, and what is going on.

Also the friend who killed him.

Not enough time is spent I think on the more interesting future society, and too much on the mundane chatting up in pubs.


3.5 out of 5

Look To Windward - Iain M. Banks

A novel that looks at the damage that war has done to a pair of individuals, or a pair of pair of individuals even, if you want to get more technical.

As usual, conflict happens when The Culture decides to meddle, or does so out of necessity, here, the nature of AI or posthuman citizens deciding to just up and leaves means one particular race is not happy with the Culture, and decides to extra an amount of revenge that will entail a large number of deaths on an Orbital.

In fact, there is a discussion about the natural of Artificial Intelligence and its behaviour, and the Culture minds themselves:

"What various Involveds including the Culture had also tried to do, often out of sheer curiosity once AI had become a settled and even routine technology, was to devise a consciousness with no flavour; one with no metalogical baggage whatsoever; what had become known as a perfect AI.

It turned out that creating such intelligences was not particularly challenging once you could build AIs in the first place. The difficulties only arose when such machines became sufficiently empowered to do whatever they wanted to do. They didn't go berserk and try to kill all about them, and they didn't relapse into some blissed-out state of machine solipsism.

What they did do at the first available opportunity was Sublime, leaving the material universe altogether and joining the many beings, communities and entire civilisations which had gone that way before. It was certainly a rule and appeared to be a law that perfect AIs always Sublime.

Most other civilisations thought this perplexing, or claimed to find it only natural, or dismissed it as mildly interesting and sufficient to prove that there was little point in wasting time and resources creating such flawless but useless sentience. The Culture, more or less alone, seemed to find the phenomenon almost a personal insult, if you could designate an entire civilisation as a person.

So a trace of some sort of bias, some element of moral or other partiality must be present in the Culture's Minds."

"To flourish, make contact, develop, expand, reach a steady state and then eventually Sublime was more or less the equivalent of the stellar Main Sequence for civilisations, though there was an equally honourable and venerable tradition for just quietly keeping on going, minding your own business (mostly) and generally sitting about feeling pleasantly invulnerable and just saturated with knowledge."

This particular race reactivates a stored military man, and partners him with another in one body. The other individual involved is a Culture Mind - but also something of a twin, as in its history early in the Idiran war it was lost and presumed destroyed during a desperate battle, a backup was made and activated, then the two met up again, with one of them dying later in the war, and the remnants merging with the survivor. This Mind is the Mind of the Orbital in question - and the time of the attack is to coincide with a celebratory concert to honor a particularly destructive long ago war event and the arrival of the light from said blowing up of stars.

Interspersed with the more serious nature of this you will find plenty of funny lines, even some indulgence by characters in a sort of word game based on the crazy Ship names that exist in The Culture.

Perhaps a bit higher than a 3.5.


3.5 out of 5

Mother Of Kings - Poul Anderson

Mother of Kings is one of those books that after a chunk I had not interest in finishing. Also, as one of Anderson's very late works - as a whole, these later books are generally far inferior to early work, and this would appear to be another example. Those who like the historical novel may enjoy this more, but it was too tedious for me, this Vikings and leaders and faux dialect stuff.


1.5 out of 5

Sunday, January 25, 2009

True Colors - Andrew Vachss

Latina Savage Dragon Army.


3.5 out of 5

Slow Motion - Andrew Vachss

Gunfighting's for money.


3.5 out of 5

The Real Thing - Andrew Vachss

Lolita phone sex shot.


3.5 out of 5

Going Home - Andrew Vachss

Last disguise leaving chance.


3.5 out of 5

Mission - Andrew Vachss

Boy abuse Bushido sentence stalk.


4 out of 5

Homeless - Andrew Vachss

Like to kill.


3 out of 5

Tag - Andrew Vachss

Ink markup justice.


3.5 out of 5

Last Date - Andrew Vachss

Bobbie stalkers.


3 out of 5

Reaching Back - Andrew Vachss

Seven Slayer baby brother time raise right deal.


4 out of 5

Trouble Is My Business - Raymond Chandler

A collection of longish stories, all structure with chapters. At a 3.42 average, a 3.75 type book. There are some Philip Marlowe tales in the latter part of the book. Plenty of private investigations.

Trouble Is My Business : Killer in the Rain - Raymond Chandler
Trouble Is My Business : The Man Who Liked Dogs - Raymond Chandler
Trouble Is My Business : The Curtain - Raymond Chandler
Trouble Is My Business : Try the Girl - Raymond Chandler
Trouble Is My Business : Mandarin's Jade - Raymond Chandler
Trouble Is My Business : Bay City Blues - Raymond Chandler
Trouble Is My Business : The Lady in the Lake - Raymond Chandler
Trouble Is My Business : No Crime in the Mountains - Raymond Chandler
Trouble Is My Business : Trouble is My Business - Raymond Chandler
Trouble Is My Business : Finger Man - Raymond Chandler
Trouble Is My Business : Goldfish - Raymond Chandler
Trouble Is My Business : Red Wind - Raymond Chandler

"I sighed. "Gunfire," I said. "A dead man on the floor. A naked, doped girl in a chair not knowing what had happened. A killer I couldn't have caught and you couldn't have caught--then. Behind all this a poor old roughneck that was breaking his heart trying to do the right thing in a miserable spot. Go ahead--stick it into me. I'm not sorry."

3.5 out of 5


Saints and Snares.

4 out of 5


Silver-Wig gone.

3 out of 5


Bruising finish.

3 out of 5


Psychic strong-arm man.

3 out of 5


Big Chin slipper her, Shorty.

3.5 out of 5


Sloppy plant.

3.5 out of 5


Shoe money half coyote not quite out of Japanese gunmen, but out of nazis.

3.5 out of 5


"How else would I make a nickel?"

4 out of 5


Casino killing group.

3 out of 5


Double pearler deception.

3.5 out of 5


Some missing pearls, a dame, a dodgy cop, and a really good night for drinking.

3.5 out of 5




4 out of 5

Blood Bound - Patricia Briggs

Not as interesting as the first book, this time Mercy is asked for help by a vampire.

Apparently he believes her abilities will allow her resistance to vampire wiles in a situation where she will be overlooked.

This leads straight to a vampire sorcerer massacre scene, and the individual responsible being the problem the sensible werewolves, vampires and fae around the place would like to deal with.

Cops, too. No-one likes an evil sorcerer.

There's a lot of less interesting garden variety for these days werewolf pack this, Alpha that, female the other thing that lacks the narrative tension present in the first novel, particularly in the middle. It improves in the latter third, so probably a bit long leading up to the 'its vampire hunting time' denouement.


3.5 out of 5

Camouflage - Joe Haldeman

An artifact is disovered in the ocean - and appears to not be human as many tests fail to penetrate it.

An outside expert is brought in to help on the research into it.

After this, there are three strands to this book - the research in to the artificat, and the history of two long-lived alien shapeshifters on the planet, both to converge in the present time at the artifact site.

One of them is a martial killer, able to take the form or any man, and has been in armies since the stone age.

The other remembers back to the thirties and also living in the ocean, as whales, sharks, etc., where it became a boy, and then took a variety of forms after that, often female.



3 out of 5

Footsteps Of the Hawk - Andrew Vachss

Burke is caught in the middle of a conflict between two police officers, and isn't quite sure why - but knows it is bad.

He has to work out which one, if either, is not dodgy, or the least dodgy, anyway.

Meanwhile, the Prof is training a promising young fighter who has a chance to go a long way - and Burke and his team have a stake in the boy.

The roots of what is going down lie in the past of these particular police individuals.

Plenty of Pansy the giant mastiff here, too in more of Vachss' extremely spare styling.


4 out of 5

The Burning Man - Mark Chadbourn

Horrible mystery tour.


At least for the Brothers and Sisters of Dragons, anyway. For the reader, this is as good as the last book.

Church and the rest of his Five have begun to realise what is going on with the Void's Mundane Spell - so that the everyday person is a bit stuck in the Matrix, if you like, supernatural style.

The first thing they need to do is to pull the other modern day group out of it, and this is where the start of the book finds Ruth and Church - out to retrieve Mallory and Sophie. The others have similar missions to gather the remaining two corporeal members of Mallory's Five. Tom's prophetic abilities also begin to come back, similarly.

The other problem is their power source, the Blue Fire is ebbing, and this entails a world tour and encounters with pantheons of all sorts (you even get Church going toe to toe with the Norse God of War!)

The various Tuatha and their realm still play an important part, for better or worse, helping, harming, fighting by and betraying the various members of the Five - and this is where having read the earlier volumes the Age of Misrule will enhance understanding of what is going on. Plenty of other supernatural strangeness to be had and weapons to be gathered.

Veitch and his injustice society version, the Brothers and Sisters of Spiders are still doing their own thing, as is the Libertarian. In the case of the former, an interesting dynamic develops between Etain, Veitch and Ruth. Church and company also want to make contact with those of the past Five members that Veitch and friends have not managed to slaughter, for help in the final battle.

With this rapidfire set of supernatural religious power confrontations undergone, Chadbourn also reveals there are Gnostic underpinnings to his story, and the titular figure actually comes from something a bit New Age - The Burning Man Festival. This is counterbalanced by entertaining pop culture banter anmd insults between the bunch, even to the level of Legion of Substitute Heroes jokes.

Chadbourn continues to deliver.


4 out of 5

Daemons Are Forever - Simon R. Green

Strangely enough, for Simon Green, this book is a little slow in places.

I think with his style longer works tend to suffer - so that the Nightside books are a lot more readable than Deathstalker, for example.

Daemons is on the longer end, and has a lot of talking amongst the various Drood members jockeying for position as Eddie realises he needs to get some military training into his family.

He has taken their torcs, so he recruits some dangerous outside help to teach most of them to fight without armour.

No military genius, he makes mistakes and people die. Nastily, of course.

This leads to time travel and a surprising recruit as the second half of the book ups the pace and the super powered slaughter levels.

Call it a 3.25.


3.5 out of 5

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Books Of Blood 2 - Clive Barker

The second in this series at 3.40 isn't as strong as the first, and the initial tale is the best.

Books of Blood 2 : Dread - Clive Barker
Books of Blood 2 : Hell's Event - Clive Barker
Books of Blood 2 : Jacqueline Ess Her Will and Testament - Clive Barker
Books of Blood 2 : The Skins of the Fathers - Clive Barker
Books of Blood 2 : New Murders in the Rue Morgue - Clive Barker

Fear experiment just axeing for some clowning around.

4 out of 5


Devil race rivalry.

3.5 out of 5


Remaking man.

3 out of 5


Inhuman confrontation.

3 out of 5


Where is that ape, anyway.

3.5 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

New Murders In the Rue Morgue - Clive Barker

Where is that ape, anyway.


3.5 out of 5

The Skins Of the Fathers - Clive Barker

Inhuman confrontation.


3 out of 5

Jacqueline Ess Her Will And Testament - Clive Barker

Remaking man.


3 out of 5

Hell's Event - Clive Barker

Devil race rivalry.


3.5 out of 5

The Quiet War - Paul J. McAuley

Outer-Earth generational conflict.

I've been looking forward to something like this from McAuley for a while.

Earth is recovering from centuries of ecological and economic abuse, which involves a lot of people and hard work. Outer colonies on Jupiter and Saturn have higher technology levels, and stable populations, so, barring the need the spacesuits to walk around outside problem can be nicer places to live, if more restrictive.

People in this future are longer lived, and the older generations being capable for longer have tended to hold onto power longer. Which means the younger generations are restless and resentful. 'Grandpa, let's do something' becomes an even worse, 'Great-great-great Grandpa, let's do something!' They want to move on, go further, start colonies on other moons and worlds.

Their conservative elders want the status quo, and long slow deliberation before anything happens - and preferably not to get into space war with Earth. Starting a war may get the youth what they want, to some degree, at least those that live through it, anyway. There are also always the Earth hawks who are happy to shoot people and blow things up, too.

The book follows several characters. A specially bred warrior boy - genetics technology is a feature, and modifying humans is commonplace - a pilot of a new type of fighter spaceship, a technician trying to get along who gets caught up in the games of her political masters and ends up moved from place to place, an Earth 'gene wizard', and the various people they interact with.

Most see conflict as inevitable, but are not exactly sure what to do. This unpredictability is a feature of this novel, not knowing what to expect. So, in style perhaps a cross between bits of Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars, without the lengthy self-absorption of the people involved in that planetary romance, and something a little more space opera by Charles Sheffield. In fact, there's a mention of a 'Tierra' - a habitable world outside the solar system, even though no such people appear in this particular book.

There are also other Quiet War stories, associated to various degrees for those further interested.

Certainly not a cut and dried novel, so definitely scope for more. A welcome, solidly good book.


4 out of 5

Friday, January 23, 2009

Books Of Blood 1 - Clive Barker

A good collection of six hardcore horror novelettes at 3.58, half of which are quite strong stories.

Books of Blood 1 : The Book of Blood - Clive Barker
Books of Blood 1 : The Midnight Meat Train - Clive Barker
Books of Blood 1 : The Yattering and Jack - Clive Barker
Books of Blood 1 : Pig Blood Blues - Clive Barker
Books of Blood 1 : Sex, Death and Starshine - Clive Barker
Books of Blood 1 : In the Hills, the Cities - Clive Barker

Bloody floor stories.

3 out of 5


Hanging slab City Father silent food supply.

4 out of 5


Polo orders.

3 out of 5


She ate him.

3.5 out of 5


Undead theatre.

4 out of 5


Urban decay contest honeymoon definitely over.

4 out of 5

Pig Blood Blues - Clive Barker

She ate him.


3.5 out of 5

The Yattering and Jack - Clive Barker

Polo orders.


3 out of 5

The Midnight Meat Train - Clive Barker

Hanging slab City Father silent food supply.


4 out of 5

The Book Of Blood - Clive Barker

Bloody floor stories.


3 out of 5

The Great SF Stories 01 - Martin H. Greenberg and Isaac Asimov

An anthology of stories from a pivotal year. Again this does include some fantasy tales, so Asimov and Greenberg mean SF in a broader sense.

Great SF Stories 1939 : I ROBOT - Eando Binder
Great SF Stories 1939 : THE STRANGE FLIGHT OF RICHARD CLAYTON
Great SF Stories 1939 : TROUBLE WITH WATER - H. L. Gold
Great SF Stories 1939 : CLOAK OF AESIR - Don A. Stuart
Great SF Stories 1939 : THE DAY IS DONE - Lester Del Rey
Great SF Stories 1939 : THE ULTIMATE CATALYST - John Taine
Great SF Stories 1939 : THE GNARLY MAN - L. Sprague De Camp
Great SF Stories 1939 : BLACK DESTROYER - A. E. Van Vogt
Great SF Stories 1939 : GREATER THAN GODS - C. L. Moore
Great SF Stories 1939 : TRENDS - Isaac Asimov
Great SF Stories 1939 : THE BLUE GIRAFFE - L. Sprague De Camp
Great SF Stories 1939 : THE MISGUIDED HALO - Henry Kuttner
Great SF Stories 1939 : HEAVY PLANET - Milton A. Rothman
Great SF Stories 1939 : LIFE-LINE - Robert A. Heinlein
Great SF Stories 1939 : ETHER BREATHER - Theodore Sturgeon
Great SF Stories 1939 : PILGRIMAGE - Nelson Bond
Great SF Stories 1939 : RUST - Joseph E. Kelleam
Great SF Stories 1939 : THE FOUR-SIDED TRIANGLE - William F. Temple
Great SF Stories 1939 : STAR BRIGHT - Jack Williamson
Great SF Stories 1939 : MISFIT - Robert A. Heinlein

Yes, I am smart with feelings.

3.5 out of 5


Gnome sweetener.

4.5 out of 5


Mother rebellion blackness.

3.5 out of 5


Hairy belly superseded.

3 out of 5


Greenbeefo transfer.

3.5 out of 5


Neanderthal lightning strikee holds his age like Vandal Savage.

3.5 out of 5


A ship's crew lands on a planet and meets an alien with extraordinarily dangerous abilities.

3.5 out of 5


Girl surplus probability plane past contact conquest conflict choices.

3 out of 5


Cheap tub-thumping revivalist anti-space anti-space moron defiance moonshot success plaudits.

3 out of 5


Whacky animal park.

3 out of 5


Wrong Tibet.

3 out of 5


Atomic fightoff.

2.5 out of 5


"I can tell you when the Black Camel will kneel at your door."

3.5 out of 5


I can tell you when the Black Camel will kneel at your door.

3.5 out of 5


Tv problem.

2.5 out of 5


Clan mother job for me, with history.

3 out of 5


Can't rebuild us.

3 out of 5


Duplicate relationship.

2.5 out of 5


Maker gift no loss.

3.5 out of 5


Space Marine bad boy builders.

3.5 out of 5





3 out of 5

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Star Bright - Jack Williamson

Maker gift no loss.


3.5 out of 5

The Four-Sided Triangle - William F. Temple

Duplicate relationship.


2.5 out of 5

Rust - Joseph E. Kelleam

Can't rebuild us.


3 out of 5

Pilgrimage - Nelson Bond

Clan mother job for me, with history.


3 out of 5

Heavy Planet - Milton A. Rothman

Atomic fightoff.


2.5 out of 5

The Blue Giraffe - L. Sprague De Camp

Whacky animal park.


3 out of 5

The Ultimate Catalyst - John Taine

Greenbeefo transfer.


3.5 out of 5

I Robot - Eando Binder

Yes, I am smart with feelings.


3.5 out of 5

My Favorite Fantasy Story - Martin H. Greenberg

An anthology wherein various well known (of varying degree) fantasy writer types choose the story of this genre they like the most. None of my favorites match up with this lot.

At only 3.25, the best of this lot are Vance's Mazirian, Bloch's Train, and Zelazny's Unicorn Variation.

My Favorite Fantasy Story : GHOSTS OF WIND AND SHADOW - Charles de Lint
My Favorite Fantasy Story : MAZIRIAN THE MAGICIAN - Jack Vance
My Favorite Fantasy Story : TROLL BRIDGE - Terry Pratchett
My Favorite Fantasy Story : THE TALE OF HAUK - Poul Anderson
My Favorite Fantasy Story : IN OUR BLOCK - R. A. Lafferty
My Favorite Fantasy Story : THE GNARLY MAN - L. Sprague de Camp
My Favorite Fantasy Story : MY LAD - M. R. James
My Favorite Fantasy Story : HOMELAND - Barbara Kingsolver
My Favorite Fantasy Story : STEALING GOD - Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald
My Favorite Fantasy Story : SHADOWLANDS - Elisabeth Waters
My Favorite Fantasy Story : MOPSA THE FAIRY - Jean Ingelow
My Favorite Fantasy Story : LIANE THE WAYFARER - Jack Vance
My Favorite Fantasy Story : THE SPRING - Manly Wade Wellman
My Favorite Fantasy Story : THAT HELL-BOUND TRAIN - Robert Bloch
My Favorite Fantasy Story : THE DANCER FROM THE DANCE - M. John Harrison
My Favorite Fantasy Story : MORE SPINNED AGAINST - John Wyndham
My Favorite Fantasy Story : THE BAGMAN'S STORY - Charles Dickens
My Favorite Fantasy Story : UNICORN VARIATIONS [short story] - Roger Zelazny

Faerie music.

3 out of 5


Spell use needs to be judicious.

4 out of 5


Being a barbarian hero isn't what it used to be.

3.5 out of 5


Zombie skipper dad.

3.5 out of 5


Make some stuff.

2.5 out of 5


Neanderthal lightning strikee holds his age like Vandal Savage.

3.5 out of 5


White as a sheet, it was, not me.

3 out of 5


Great Mam story.

2.5 out of 5


Gunning for the Grail.

3 out of 5


Reverse Orpheus.

3 out of 5


Winding up Jack. Slowly.

2.5 out of 5


Silver John's friend Zeb has a witch girl issue.

3.5 out of 5


Time-stop devil of a deal indecision.

4 out of 5


Slice Kiss-O-Suck.

3 out of 5


Spider myth discovery scheme.

3.5 out of 5


Ugly old chair dude.

3.5 out of 5


Mythological species replacement with sasquatch chess master.

4 out of 5


Witchy Lith.

3 out of 5




3 out of 5

The Dancer From the Dance - M. John Harrison

Slice Kiss-O-Suck.


3 out of 5

Shadowlands - Elisabeth Waters

Reverse Orpheus.


3 out of 5

Homeland - Barbara Kingsolver

Great Mam story.


2.5 out of 5

In Our Block - R. A. Lafferty

Make some stuff.


2.5 out of 5

Ghosts Of Wind and Shadow - Charles de Lint

Faerie music.


3 out of 5

Robots - Martin H. Greenberg and Isaac Asimov and Charles G. Waugh

A Standard quality reprint anthology, at 3.50. There are some fine stories here such as PKD's Second Variety, and the Waldrop Sun Up teamup, among others, but several of the average variety, too.

Robots : The Tunnel Under the World - Frederik Pohl
Robots : Brother Robot - Henry Slesar
Robots : The Lifeboat Mutiny [AAA Ace] - Robert Sheckley
Robots : The Warm Space - David Brin
Robots : How-2 - Clifford D. Simak
Robots : Too Robot to Marry - George H. Smith
Robots : The Education of Tigress McCardle - C. M. Kornbluth
Robots : Sally - Isaac Asimov
Robots : Breakfast of Champions - Thomas A. Easton
Robots : Sun Up - A. A. Jackson & Howard Waldrop
Robots : Second Variety - Philip K. Dick
Robots : The Problem Was Lubrication - David R. Bunch
Robots : First to Serve - Algis Budrys
Robots : Two-Handed Engine - Henry Kuttner & C. L. Moore
Robots : Though Dreamers Die - Lester del Rey
Robots : Soldier Boy - Michael Shaara
Robots : Farewell to the Master - Harry Bates

Brain capacity reduction circuit.

3 out of 5


Violent end.

3 out of 5


Droning on defeat.

4 out of 5


Project Lightprobe robot explorer crazy.

3.5 out of 5


Robot defense.

4 out of 5


Little metal bastard.

3.5 out of 5


Want it all woman botromise.

3.5 out of 5


Robocar protection.

4 out of 5


Robot warrior.

3 out of 5


AI's Orion ramjet jumpstart supernova surf return.

4.5 out of 5


If there's a bear in there, you are rooted. Out there isn't good, either, in the long run.

4.5 out of 5


Needs Oiler.

2.5 out of 5


Soldier prototype problems.

3.5 out of 5


Fury killing.

4 out of 5


Plague Ship robot rebuild.

3 out of 5


Take the monkey thing home.

3 out of 5


Gnut our ship, you gorilla.

3 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

Though Dreamers Die - Lester Del Rey

Plague Ship robot rebuild.


3 out of 5

The Problem Was Lubrication - David R. Bunch

Needs Oiler.


2.5 out of 5

Breakfast Of Champions - Thomas A. Easton

Robot warrior.


3 out of 5

Too Robot To Marry - George H. Smith

Little metal bastard.


3.5 out of 5

The Warm Space - David Brin

Project Lightprobe robot explorer crazy.


3.5 out of 5

Brother Robot - Henry Slesar

Violent end.


3 out of 5

Uncle Jack Eats A Mummy - Alan Robbins

Immortality lifestyle scam.


3 out of 5

After the Vikings - G. David Nordley

A collection of stories of two far future denizens looking back at some history of the planet - and some of these stories of humans exploring Mars and space are then told, too.

After the Vikings : Around an Ancient Star - G. David Nordley
After the Vikings : Morning On Mars - G. David Nordley
After the Vikings : A World to Take - G. David Nordley
After the Vikings : The Day Of Their Coming - G. David Nordley
After the Vikings : A World to Build - G. David Nordley
After the Vikings : Comet Gypsies - G. David Nordley
After the Vikings : Monsters Below - G. David Nordley
After the Vikings : A Life On Mars - G. David Nordley
After the Vikings : A World to Remember - G. David Nordley
After the Vikings : Martian Valkyrie - G. David Nordley
After the Vikings : A World to Share - G. David Nordley

We're the new race on Mars.

3.5 out of 5


Watching the Solar System.

3 out of 5


Muddy tentacles.

3 out of 5


New Reformation alien.

3.5 out of 5


Airy folk.

3 out of 5


Zarkhov Vampira visit.

3.5 out of 5


Funny looking not so suited bunch.

3 out of 5


Beamrider trip breaks.

3.5 out of 5


Found us some pictures.

3 out of 5


First race return.

3.5 out of 5


Meet the new people.

3 out of 5




3 out of 5

Mummy No 50 - D. R. Meredith

Shooting up a new one.


3 out of 5

A World To Share - G. David Nordley

Meet the new people.


3 out of 5

Martian Valkyrie - G. David Nordley

First race return.


3.5 out of 5

A World To Remember - G. David Nordley

Found us some pictures.


3 out of 5

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Just Another Stiff - Carroll John Daly

Race Williams, The Flame and some drug running.


3.5 out of 5

The Meanest Cop In the World - Chester Himes

Prison nightmare.


3.5 out of 5

The Best From Fantasy and Science Fiction Twenty-Third Series - Edward L. Ferman

A collection of work from Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine, as well as stories, includes some non-fiction (e.g. Asimov on cloning), jokes, bits on movies, etc. Three strong stories here, and a lot of average.

Best From FSF 23 : I See You - Damon Knight
Best From FSF 23 : The Detweiler Boy - Tom Reamy
Best From FSF 23 : Zorphwar! - Stan Dryer
Best From FSF 23 : Stone - Edward Bryant
Best From FSF 23 : Nina - Robert Bloch
Best From FSF 23 : In the Hall of the Martian Kings - John Varley
Best From FSF 23 : Upstart - Steven Utley
Best From FSF 23 : A House Divided - Lee Killough
Best From FSF 23 : Brother Hart - Jane Yolen
Best From FSF 23 : The Man Who Had No Idea - Thomas M. Disch
Best From FSF 23 : Project Hi-Rise - Robert F. Young
Best From FSF 23 : Prismatica - Samuel R. Delany

A switch to the left, a switch to the right, let's watch the time warp again. Either with voyeuristic or revolutionary intention. Or whatever.

4 out of 5


Twin's a real weight on my shoulders.

3 out of 5


Space war game accounting.

3 out of 5


Stim trax stunner.

3.5 out of 5


Snake girl coupling.

3.5 out of 5


Local accomodations mostly plastic.

4 out of 5


Challenging authority, even Lords of Creation.

4 out of 5


Poly practice fight.

3 out of 5


Horny hunted.

3 out of 5


Temporary license is right.

2.5 out of 5


Babylon Tower union.

3 out of 5


A bit of colour about the joint would be good.

3 out of 5




3 out of 5

Project Hi-Rise - Robert F. Young

Babylon Tower union.


3 out of 5

Brother Hart - Jane Yolen

Horny hunted.


3 out of 5

Nina - Robert Bloch

Snake girl coupling.


3.5 out of 5

A House Divided - Lee Killough

Poly practice fight.


3 out of 5

Zorphwar! - Stan Dryer

Space war game accounting.


3 out of 5

The Best From Fantasy and Science Fiction Eleventh Series - Robert P. Mills

Another old best of the magazine anthology, but only a couple of stories of note in Vonnegut and Anderson, with Cordwainer Smith the best of the rest.
3.00 average only.

Best From FSF 11 : The Sources of the Nile - Avram Davidson
Best From FSF 11 : Somebody to Play With - Jay Williams
Best From FSF 11 : Softly While You're Sleeping - Evelyn E. Smith
Best From FSF 11 : The Machine That Won the War - Isaac Asimov
Best From FSF 11 : Go for Baroque - Jody Scott
Best From FSF 11 : Time Lag - Poul Anderson
Best From FSF 11 : George - John Anthony West
Best From FSF 11 : Shotgun Cure - Clifford D. Simak
Best From FSF 11 : The One Who Returns - John Berry
Best From FSF 11 : The Captivity - Charles G. Finney
Best From FSF 11 : Alpha Ralpha Boulevard - Cordwainer Smith
Best From FSF 11 : Harrison Bergeron - Kurt VonnegutJr.
Best From FSF 11 : The Haunted Village - Gordon R. Dickson

Family disappearance.

2.5 out of 5


Bunk Earth.

2.5 out of 5


Just be undead.

3 out of 5


Coin flip strategy.

3 out of 5


Old point of view.

3 out of 5


Planet conquest collaboration amelioration science faith return.

4 out of 5


Milktoast decision.

2.5 out of 5


Alien doctor deal.

3 out of 5


Great Yeti monk.

2.5 out of 5


Hundred out half mad.

3 out of 5


Hard to believe in France.

3 out of 5


Handicap gravity uplift termination.

4 out of 5


Alien intruded on.

3 out of 5




2 out of 5

The Captivity - Charles G. Finney

Hundred out half mad.


3 out of 5

The One Who Returns - John Berry

Great Yeti monk.


2.5 out of 5

Shotgun Cure - Clifford D. Simak

Alien doctor deal.


3 out of 5

George - John Anthony West

Milktoast decision.


2.5 out of 5

Go For Baroque - Jody Scott

Old point of view.


3 out of 5

Softly While You're Sleeping - Evelyn E. Smith

Just be undead.


3 out of 5

Somebody To Play With - Jay Williams

Bunk Earth.


2.5 out of 5

The Sources Of the Nile - Avram Davidson

Family disappearance.


2.5 out of 5

The Vampire Sextette - Marvin Kaye

An anthology of longer vampire stories, the highlights of which are the series character entries from Kim Newman and Nancy Collins - Genevieve and Sonja Blue respectively.

A 3.75, rounded up.

Vampire Sextette : The Other Side of Midnight - KIM NEWMAN
Vampire Sextette : Some Velvet Morning - NANCY A. COLLINS
Vampire Sextette : Sheena - BRIAN STABLEFORD
Vampire Sextette : Vanilla Blood - S. P. SOMTOW
Vampire Sextette : In the Face of Death - CHELSEA QUINN YARBRO
Vampire Sextette : The Isle Is Full of Noises - TANITH LEE

Vampire movies, porn and otherwise.

Genevieve is looking into what is going on with vampire movie production, whether Orson Welles, or less salubrious.

She also runs across one Barbie the Vampire Slayer and her Overlooker.

3.5 out of 5


Red Velvet Manor draining Blue Monster interruption.

4 out of 5


Reincarnation goth girl.

3.5 out of 5


Vampire sex trial.

3.5 out of 5


Loiny frisson.

3 out of 5

Anthropological boo-hoo.

2.5 out of 5




4 out of 5

In the Face Of Death - Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Southern general vampire lover.


3 out of 5

Vanilla Blood - S. P. Somtow

Vampire sex trial.


3.5 out of 5

Some Velvet Morning - Nancy A. Collins

Red Velvet Manor draining Blue Monster interruption.


4 out of 5

Perilous Planets - Brian Aldiss

Another anthology in this series (Space Opera, Galactic Empires, etc), and quite a poor one, easily the worst of those I have come across. Only a few decent stories and that is it.

Perilous Planets : How Are They All on Deneb IV? - C. C. Shackleton
Perilous Planets : Mouth of Hell - David I. Masson
Perilous Planets : Brightside Crossing - Alan E. Nourse
Perilous Planets : The Sack - William Morrison
Perilous Planets : The Monster - A. E. van Vogt
Perilous Planets : The Monsters - Robert Sheckley
Perilous Planets : Grenville's Planet - Michael Shaara
Perilous Planets : Beachhead - Clifford D. Simak
Perilous Planets : The Ark of James Carlyle - Cherry Wilder
Perilous Planets : On the River - Robert F. Young
Perilous Planets : Goddess in Granite - Robert F. Young
Perilous Planets : The Seekers - E. C. Tubb
Perilous Planets : When the People Fell - Cordwainer Smith
Perilous Planets : The Titan - P. Schuyler Miller
Perilous Planets : Four in One - Damon Knight
Perilous Planets : The Age of Invention - Norman Spinrad
Perilous Planets : The Snowmen - Frederik Pohl
Perilous Planets : Schwartz Between the Galaxies - Robert Silverberg

Perverted story.

2 out of 5


Organising a climb.

3 out of 5


Drive hot.

3.5 out of 5


Dead race destruction discovery toasting.

3 out of 5


Stop killing the women.

3 out of 5


Wisher Mapping Command.

2.5 out of 5


Can't stop you landing, could kill you though.

3.5 out of 5


Space navy Noah helps alien videos kill the radio seals.

3.5 out of 5


Lost sight.

2.5 out of 5


Virgin climb.

3 out of 5


Writing art.

2.5 out of 5


Chinese Venusian megadrop.

3 out of 5


Blood-Giver First Man Beast Master.

3.5 out of 5


New man hope.

3 out of 5


Old style art.

3 out of 5


Not hot for aliens.

2.5 out of 5


Anthropological boo-hoo.

2.5 out of 5




2 out of 5

How Are They All on Deneb IV? - C. C. Shackleton

Perverted story.


2 out of 5

The Age Of Invention - Norman Spinrad

Old style art.


3 out of 5

Four In One - Damon Knight

New man hope.


3 out of 5

The Titan - P. Schuyler Miller

Blood-Giver First Man Beast Master.


3.5 out of 5

The Seekers - E. C. Tubb

Writing art.


2.5 out of 5

Goddess In Granite - Robert F. Young

Virgin climb.


3 out of 5

On the River - Robert F. Young

Lost sight.


2.5 out of 5

Beachhead - Clifford D. Simak

Can't stop you landing, could kill you though.


3.5 out of 5

Grenville's Planet - Michael Shaara

Wisher Mapping Command.


2.5 out of 5

A Life On Mars - G. David Nordley

Beamrider trip breaks.


3.5 out of 5

Monsters Below - G. David Nordley

Funny looking not so suited bunch.


3 out of 5

A World Named Cleopatra - Poul Anderson

A shared-world setting anthology:

"The planetary system lies in Ursa Major, 398 light-years from Sol. This causes certain changes in the appearance of the heavens."

The rest of the introductory piece by Anderson then gives some astronomical detail and overview of the planet, including biology.

World Named Cleopatra : A WORLD NAMED CLEOPATRA [short story] - Poul Anderson
World Named Cleopatra : THE SERPENT IN EDEN - Poul Anderson
World Named Cleopatra : FABER-MASTER - Michael Orgill
World Named Cleopatra : AMONG THE MOUNTAINS - Jack Dann
World Named Cleopatra : WAYSIDE WORLD - George Zebrowski

Planetary data.

3.5 out of 5


Dinosaurs better than people.

3 out of 5


Political act.

3 out of 5


Ambush plague.

3 out of 5


Broadening view.

3 out of 5




2.5 out of 5

Wayside World - George Zebrowski

Broadening view.


3 out of 5

Among the Mountains - Jack Dann

Ambush plague.


3 out of 5

Faber-master - Michael Orgill

Political act.


3 out of 5

Cosmic Tales - Adventures In Far Futures - Toni Weisskopf

An anthology of similar quality to the first Cosmic Tales book, although perhaps a little more consistent. There are multiple stories connected to other series, here, in these pieces about people on planets a long, long way from here in general.

Cosmic Tales 2 : The Tree of Dreams - James P. Hogan
Cosmic Tales 2 : Bring Out the Ugly - Mark L. Van Name
Cosmic Tales 2 : On Suivi Point - Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald
Cosmic Tales 2 : Genie Out of the Bottle - Dave Freer and Eric Flint
Cosmic Tales 2 : Botany Bay - Paul Chafe
Cosmic Tales 2 : Beyond Pluto - Gregory Benford

Less paperwork to stay.

3 out of 5


I'm a machine, but let's do something.

3.5 out of 5


Dead Blonde blasting.

3 out of 5


Getting some Military Intelligence, with rat.

3.5 out of 5


Killer colony murder.

3 out of 5


Darksider High Flyer contact.

3.5 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

Botany Bay - Paul Chafe

Killer colony murder.


3 out of 5

On Suivi Point - Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald

Dead Blonde blasting.


3 out of 5

Bring Out the Ugly - Mark L. Van Name

I'm a machine, but let's do something.


3.5 out of 5

Genie Out Of the Bottle - Dave Freer and Eric Flint

Getting some Military Intelligence, with rat.


3.5 out of 5

No Star Is Lost - Leigh Brackett

Champ takes one for the Kid.


3.5 out of 5

Design For Dying - Leigh Brackett

Smart man frame-up rough stuff setup showdown.


3.5 out of 5

Murder In the Family - Leigh Brackett

Blackmail go round sabretooth sister skewer.


4 out of 5

The Case Of the Wandering Red-head - Leigh Brackett

Hard-man's Sheila starveout shooting.


4 out of 5

Red-headed Poison - Leigh Brackett

Hard-man's Sheila starveout shooting.


4 out of 5

Murder Is Bigamy - Leigh Brackett

Bradbury double dealing death dog deception discovery.


3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Weekend Magus - Edward D. Hoch

Loch Ness mummy.


4 out of 5

Beetles - Robert Bloch

Scarab madness.


3.5 out of 5

A Locked-Planet Mystery - Mike Resnick

Chlorine planet case.


3 out of 5

Remains To Be Seen - Sharyn McCrumb

Coven screams.


2.5 out of 5

Asleep On the Job - Scott Parson

Guard robber, tomb robber.


3 out of 5

Bones - Donald A. Wollheim

Face fallen.


3.5 out of 5

Cosmic Tales Adventures In Sol System - Toni Weisskopf

An anthology of SF stories set in the local area. The highlights and Charles Sheffield, and the story of insane want to be world dominating supervillain types, and his science explantions of what they get up to afterwards. Close to the usual sort of standard original anthology quality, at 3.27.

Cosmic Tales 1 : McAndrew and THE LAW - Charles Sheffield
Cosmic Tales 1 : Jailhouse Rock - James P. Hogan
Cosmic Tales 1 : Windows - Jack McDevitt
Cosmic Tales 1 : Cleaning Lady - Travis S. Taylor
Cosmic Tales 1 : Communications Problem - Margaret Ball
Cosmic Tales 1 : High Roller - Allen M. Steele
Cosmic Tales 1 : Moon Monkeys - Wen Spencer
Cosmic Tales 1 : Earth's First Improved Chimp Gets Job as a Janitor - John Ringo
Cosmic Tales 1 : Time in Purgatory - Rebecca Lickiss
Cosmic Tales 1 : The Cutting Fringe - Paul Chafe
Cosmic Tales 1 : Blood's a Rover - Gregory Benford

Entropy brane.

4 out of 5


Mocha hijack putaway.

3 out of 5


Don't miss the trip, human kid.

3 out of 5


Nuke tug sail.

3 out of 5


Different date plan.

3 out of 5


Casino job.

3.5 out of 5


Burrowing in, baby.

3 out of 5


Enhanced kid shot stop.

3 out of 5


Legs Sidewinder showdown.

3 out of 5


World economic takeover space plan.

4 out of 5


Dawn Meta Searcher Malign.

3.5 out of 5




3 out of 5

Communications Problem - Margaret Ball

Different date plan.


3 out of 5

Cleaning Lady - Travis S. Taylor

Nuke tug sail.


3 out of 5

The Cutting Fringe - Paul Chafe

World economic takeover space plan.


4 out of 5

Time In Purgatory - Rebecca Lickiss

Legs Sidewinder showdown.


3 out of 5

Earth's First Improved Chimp Gets Job as a Janitor - John Ringo

Enhanced kid shot stop.


3 out of 5

Moon Monkeys - Wen Spencer

Burrowing in, baby.


3 out of 5

Monday, January 19, 2009

Masque - Ed Gorman

Looney Tunes bandage bits.


3 out of 5

Time Bomb and Zahndry Others - Timothy Zahn

A reasonablish collection of science fiction at 3.31, with the near future aviation 'High Place' story the pick. Teleportation, telekinesis, telesensing and time travel, among others.

Time Bomb and Zahndry Others : Ernie - Timothy Zahn
Time Bomb and Zahndry Others : Raison d'Etre - Timothy Zahn
Time Bomb and Zahndry Others : The Price of Survival - Timothy Zahn
Time Bomb and Zahndry Others : Between a Rock and a High Place - Timothy Zahn
Time Bomb and Zahndry Others : Houseguest - Timothy Zahn
Time Bomb and Zahndry Others : Time Bomb - Timothy Zahn
Time Bomb and Zahndry Others : The President's Doll - Timothy Zahn
Time Bomb and Zahndry Others : Banshee - Timothy Zahn

'Porting punch.

3.5 out of 5


Spoonbender intelligence.

3 out of 5


Slight shift save rumination.

3.5 out of 5


Skyport shuttle crash survival.

4 out of 5


Tricorn residence brain food.

3 out of 5


Garwood Effect probability shift damage.

3.5 out of 5


Voodoo communication politics.

3 out of 5


Presidential death jumper.

3 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

Banshee - Timothy Zahn

Presidential death jumper.


3 out of 5

The President's Doll - Timothy Zahn

Voodoo communication politics.


3 out of 5

Time Bomb - Timothy Zahn

Garwood Effect probability shift damage.


3.5 out of 5

Houseguest - Timothy Zahn

Tricorn residence brain food.


3 out of 5

Between A Rock and A High Place - Timothy Zahn

Skyport shuttle crash survival.


4 out of 5

The Price Of Survival - Timothy Zahn

Slight shift save rumination.


3.5 out of 5

Raison d'Etre - Timothy Zahn

Spoonbender intelligence.


3 out of 5

Guardian Angel - Mike Resnick

Jake Masters has a Crunchtime investigation shooting.


3.5 out of 5

Angel Rising - Dirk Flinthart

New Ceres is a designed society - one that is supposed to resemble eighteenth century Earth to some degree, or as much as can be possible knowing that you live in a future with starships and planetary colonies.

The anachronistic setting is a feature in these stories, and given that, I call it a planetary romance of sorts. There are two previous magazine/anthologies of stories in this setting, all high quality, and one of them, She Walks In Beauty, features George Gordon, the main character in this tale. See http://freesf.blogspot.com/2007/05/new-ceres-1-alisa-krasnostein.html and http://notfreesf.blogspot.com/2007/05/new-ceres-2-alisa-krasnostein.html

You can get the first New Ceres here now it appears http://twelfthplanetpress.blogspot.com/2008/11/new-ceres.html

Gordon is an adventurer, a bon vivant, but not a complete rogue, as on New Ceres he has an official role as a Proctor. Which, basically means working for the woman in charge of the place (The Lady Governor) as a troubleshooter, to sort out whatever problems might occur and protect the stability and sovereignity of the realm, if you like.

Here he is sent away from the more Western-style settings of previously, to a part of New Ceres that is Japanese in style. He is not a fan of the local comestibles, and decides to go prepared: "I imagine you’ll be all right, sir. Three cheddar wheels ought to be enough.’ Gordon frowned. ‘I don’t know why I bothered, really. Good cheese calls for decent wine, not filthy saki. Rice wine! If the Lord had meant for us to drink rice wine, Stilton, rice would be red and sweet and juicy and grow on vines."

It doesn't take long for him to find some trouble to shoot (or more correctly slice, or fry, on his part, as he has certain augmentations). Now while New Ceres has technological restrictions, the powerful, the wealthy, and the dodgy of course just might happen to have a bit more of the good gear than the average inhabitant, as can be seen when the local top dog samurai challenges our bloke:
"Gordon glanced down. ‘I have no honour,’ he said. ‘But you have no pants. Gordon one, Digubi nil. Game, set and match.’"

Things escalate from there: "Gordon ducked back around the corner, the whirr and clatter of razor-pointed throwing stars all around him. Ninja! It made a certain crackbrained sense. If you were going to re-enact the whole Edo-period society, you might as well re-enact the ninja as well."

...

"With a chorus of shrill ululations, the Martial Sisters of the Twelve Stone Tigers sprang over the low wall, into the Daimyo’s garden, weapons at the ready."

The reason he has been called in has ramifications beyond the local colony, and is balance of power altering:

"Gordon sat back, leaning up against the cool concrete wall. ‘Mad,’ he said. ‘This whole business. Madness. Simulations. Computer intelligences. Ninja fighting with nuns. It would be a farce, if it wasn’t such a tragedy.’"

George has to get to a crash site and stop those who don't care what happens to his home from getting their hands on what has arrived.

This is at times funny, at times poignant culture-clash and technology-clash adventure. The earlier New Ceres stories were high class, but this novella tops those.

While clearly boozy upper classish adventures, ninjas and martial arts nuns make for some over the top adventure, it is handled well, and certainly is not cheesy farce. If you wanted another Australian comparison, this sort of story would most resemble Sean McMullen's humour and mayhem work, off the top of my head.

Flinthart is a writer who clearly has a respect and love for adventure stories (Also likes to whack people with swords, much like George :- you can read his livejournal here :- http://flinthart.livejournal.com/")

Given his liking and output in short work, this novella should demonstrate that he has what it takes for a publisher to give him a shot a the what presumably will have to be collection-disguised-as-novel given publishing these days. He is clearly ready, now.

He also has three sword and sorcery stories (that I know of) of a monster hunter in Renaissance Italian style (think Solomon Kane), known as The Red Priest.
Red Priest : 1 The Red Priest's Homecoming - Dirk Flinthart
Red Priest : 2 The Red Priest's Vigil - Dirk Flinthart
Red Priest : 3 The Garden of the Djinn - Dirk Flinthart

The first longer work you can find in The Year's Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy by Bill Congreve and Michelle Marquardt, and the latter in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine.

If you want another comparison, Pyr has recently announced that there will be a forthcoming 'novel' from James Enge, called Blood of Ambrose, with sword and sorceryesque stories combined to make a longer work. Enge has some fine work, and a recent Black Gate post talks about putting together this episodic novel. Flinthart is easily in this class, to me, but isn't American. Can't accuse Pyr of blindness to non-American work, of course, compared to others.

I haven't read every story Flinthart has written, and apparently one of his recent SF works is fine, too, which could be further evidence of growing powers, but with what I have read so far, it would seem that this sort of work is his natural inclination and strength.

I look forward to more from this bloke. Well done to Twelfth Planet Press for giving some novellas a shot, too.


4.5 out of 5

Four Ways To Forgiveness - Ursula K. Le Guin

Maybe even five if you want to call the 'Notes' 'historial' piece a story. It also has a timeline.

Apart from that, all longer stories of life, conflict and rebellion on this planet, particularly from the point of view of Ekumen types. A couple of strong novellas in the middle.

Four Ways To Forgiveness : Betrayals - Ursula K. Le Guin
Four Ways To Forgiveness : Forgiveness Day - Ursula K. Le Guin
Four Ways To Forgiveness : A Man of the People - Ursula K. Le Guin
Four Ways To Forgiveness : A Woman's Liberation - Ursula K. Le Guin
Four Ways To Forgiveness : Notes on Werel and Yeowe - Ursula K. Le Guin

Peace shack.

3 out of 5


Ekumen embassy explosion entrapment unreast.

4 out of 5


Envoy lessons.

3.5 out of 5


Slave teachings.

4 out of 5


Planet history.

3.5 out of 5




4 out of 5

Notes On Werel And Yeowe - Ursula K. Le Guin

Planet history.


3.5 out of 5

A Man Of the People - Ursula K. Le Guin

Envoy lessons.


3.5 out of 5

Betrayals - Ursula K. Le Guin

Peace shack.


3 out of 5

Time-out - Connie Willis

Hodiechron setup.


2.5 out of 5

The Scapegoat - C. J. Cherryh

Elf war last kill.


4 out of 5

The Eyes Of Ya Long - Harold Lamb

Camel-man barbarian hanging priest photography.


3 out of 5

Chasing Sacrifice - Mark W. Tiedemann

Intruder time drive discovery.


3.5 out of 5

Etiquette - Bud Sparhawk

Scrofulous salty risk.


3.5 out of 5

Alliances - Bud Sparhawk

Twenty billion is a fair rebel space pirate haul.


3 out of 5

Broadside - Bud Sparhawk

Space war makes you sick.


3 out of 5

Sinking Ship - Dave Smeds

Bridge burned war over.


3.5 out of 5

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Gathering Of Doorways - Michael Jasper

Wanting a change to get going again leads a husband, his wife, and son into buying a rural property, from people described thusly : "F-Ts. Mister and Missus Finley-Thompson. What a great pair of hippies they were."

However, what Gil sees a great deal, a steal, or a hustle doesn't turn out that was, as the organic crops his wife is growing are having problems, and he is having strange dreams of an odd placed called 'The Undercity'.

I suppose you could describe the atmosphere as sort of like a toned down, less grotesque Clive Barker, perhaps. A lot less bloody slaughter, too, but you get the idea.

Of course, in a story like that, the neighbours are not just the weird bloke up the road, or the dodgy guy over there, they have far more secrets than that. Of a decidedly supernatural bent, both the place and the denizens: "I kept coming back, just to see something new here. And there was always something new, even in the places I thought I’d figured out and mapped in my head. The whole place is shifty like that. Bendy. But powerful. It called to me, Gil."

The parental units in this tale had lost one child at birth, and now are in danger of losing another when it appears their son Noah has disappeared, accompanied only by a salamander and the dragon and prince stories his father would tell him.

A sinister search, confrontation and revelations await in this often creepy story.


3.5 out of 5

Dreamworks - David King

An entirely unremarkable anthology, apart from a couple of funny bits in aunt simulation and Lake, and the presence of Greg Egan. This book is a 2.25 rounded up because I favour the latter sort of stuff.

This selection also renders his argument that the best writers are critics or academics a load of male bovine faecal matter. Not to mention the rest of reality, of course.

Dreamworks : Life the Solitude - Kevin McKay
Dreamworks : Arthur's Aunt - Henry Gasko
Dreamworks : The Parish and Mrs Brown - Lucy Sussex
Dreamworks : Above Atlas His Shoulders - Andrew Whitmore
Dreamworks : What God Said to Me When He Lived Next Door - Bruce Gillespie
Dreamworks : Mirror City - David King
Dreamworks : Drowning in Fire - Damien Broderick
Dreamworks : Artifact - Greg Egan
Dreamworks : Crystal Soldier - Russell Blackford
Dreamworks : Land Deal - Gerald Murnane
Dreamworks : The Pure Light of the Void - David J. Lake
Dreamworks : Feedback - George Turner

Windmill man mess.

3.5 out of 5


Relatively friendly simulation.

3.5 out of 5


Woman leaves crap mother, crap boyfriend, settles on fruitbat advice.

2.5 out of 5


Arena existence.

3 out of 5


Deity neighbour divination.

3 out of 5


Same trip.

2.5 out of 5


Given half a chance, I'd kill the lot of you.

3 out of 5


A man is unable to deal with being in space, despite the unique opportunity of investigating an artifical structure around a black hole.

3 out of 5


Solid state for a spell.

3 out of 5


Dreamtime gear.

3 out of 5


Campbell Astounded by Creator experimental control.

4 out of 5


Empath creation.

2 out of 5




2.5 out of 5

Strange Attractors - Damien Broderick

Broderick's rambling introduction points out that the first mass market Australian SF book of stories didn't appear until John Baxter's Pacific SF in the late sixties - and until the Worldcon in the seventies, not much was happening, although a few writers published overseas - and at the time of this book, the better variety were also doing that with yank or pom outfits.

Still the case today, and certainly the local publishers ignore science fiction and short stories in favor of fat epic fantasy for females, in the main. Same even applies to the fang-or-fur shagger books like Keri Arthur's.

As for this book, your sort of expected 3.2ish original Australian anthology, with a couple of highlights in Blackford and Turner.

Strange Attractors : The Lipton Village Society - Lucy Sussex
Strange Attractors : Time and Flowers - Anthony Peacey
Strange Attractors : A Step in Any Direction - Timothy Dell
Strange Attractors : The Way She Smiles the Things She Says - Greg Egan
Strange Attractors : Mr. Lockwood's Narrative - Yvonne Rousseau
Strange Attractors : Glass Reptile Breakout - Russell Blackford
Strange Attractors : After the Beowulf Expedition - Norman Talbot
Strange Attractors : Precious Bane - Gerald Murnane
Strange Attractors : The Ballad of Hilo Hill - Cherry Wilder
Strange Attractors : The Elixir Operon - David Foster
Strange Attractors : The Sanctuary Tree - John Playford
Strange Attractors : On the Nursery Floor - George Turner
Strange Attractors : Cave Amantem - Carmel Bird
Strange Attractors : Jagging - Anthony Peacey
Strange Attractors : The Interior - Damien Broderick

Imaginary land instantiated.

3.5 out of 5


Chairless prehistoric.

2.5 out of 5


Polish on, polish off.

2.5 out of 5


A computer geek kid and robotics = girlfriend.

4 out of 5


Female character descent.

3 out of 5


Miracle music. Flickdancing. The old bags and old bastards still feel threatened by the rock and roll.

4 out of 5


Do you remember Vera and Lim.

3 out of 5


Book fetish.

3 out of 5


Sailing story.

3 out of 5


Cell world.

3 out of 5


Croweater nazi conflict Wild Hunt.

3.5 out of 5


Super intelligence creation.

4 out of 5


Red ridingish.

3 out of 5


Space hitching.

3 out of 5


Dead Heart spirit.

3.5 out of 5




3 out of 5