Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lucky Jonglar - Sean McMullen

Clown gladiator kill rebound betrayal setup escape.


3.5 out of 5

Orsinian Tales - Ursula K. Le Guin

A collection of pretty average, only 2.86, all along the same lines, in general. Set in a non-fantastic nonexistent area.

Orsinian Tales : The Fountains - Ursula K. Le Guin
Orsinian Tales : The Barrow - Ursula K. Le Guin
Orsinian Tales : Ile Forest - Ursula K. Le Guin
Orsinian Tales : Conversations at Night - Ursula K. Le Guin
Orsinian Tales : The Road East - Ursula K. Le Guin
Orsinian Tales : Brothers and Sisters - Ursula K. Le Guin
Orsinian Tales : A Week in the Country - Ursula K. Le Guin
Orsinian Tales : An die Musik - Ursula K. Le Guin
Orsinian Tales : The House - Ursula K. Le Guin
Orsinian Tales : The Lady of Moge - Ursula K. Le Guin
Orsinian Tales : Imaginary Countries - Ursula K. Le Guin

King thief.

3 out of 5


Priest killing provokes change of attitude.

2.5 out of 5


Family murders.

3 out of 5


Get him married.

2.5 out of 5


No flowery evil.

2.5 out of 5


Quarried out.

3 out of 5


No great science.

3 out of 5


Get it out.

3 out of 5


Getting lighter.

3 out of 5


Princess opposition.

3 out of 5


Norse forest.

3 out of 5




1.5 out of 5

Imaginary Countries - Ursula K. Le Guin

Norse forest.


3 out of 5

The Lady Of Moge - Ursula K. Le Guin

Princess opposition.


3 out of 5

The House - Ursula K. Le Guin

Getting lighter.


3 out of 5

An Die Musik - Ursula K. Le Guin

Get it out.


3 out of 5

A Week In the Country - Ursula K. Le Guin

No great science.


3 out of 5

Brothers and Sisters - Ursula K. Le Guin

Quarried out.


3 out of 5

The Road East - Ursula K. Le Guin

No flowery evil.


2.5 out of 5

Conversations At Night - Ursula K. Le Guin

Get him married.


2.5 out of 5

Ile Forest - Ursula K. Le Guin

Family murders.


3 out of 5

The Fountains - Ursula K. Le Guin

King thief.


3 out of 5

Changing Planes - Ursula K. Le Guin

A standard quality collection, coming in at 3.25. The best work is in the last three stories. Planes here does not refer to the big metal sausage with wings variety, but the extra-world type.

Changing Planes : Sita Dulip's Method - Ursula K. Le Guin
Changing Planes : Porridge on Islac - Ursula K. Le Guin
Changing Planes : The Silence of the Asonu - Ursula K. Le Guin
Changing Planes : Feeling at Home with the Hennebet - Ursula K. Le Guin
Changing Planes : The Ire of the Veksi - Ursula K. Le Guin
Changing Planes : The Seasons of the Ansarac - Ursula K. Le Guin
Changing Planes : Social Dreaming of the Frin - Ursula K. Le Guin
Changing Planes : The Royals of Hegn - Ursula K. Le Guin
Changing Planes : Woeful Tales from Mahigul - Ursula K. Le Guin
Changing Planes : Great Joy - Ursula K. Le Guin
Changing Planes : Wake Island - Ursula K. Le Guin
Changing Planes : The Nna Mmoy Language - Ursula K. Le Guin
Changing Planes : The Building - Ursula K. Le Guin
Changing Planes : The Fliers of Gy - Ursula K. Le Guin
Changing Planes : The Island of the Immortals - Ursula K. Le Guin
Changing Planes : Confusions of Uñi - Ursula K. Le Guin

Alternate travel.

3 out of 5


Bear bowling.

3 out of 5


Plane saying.

3 out of 5


Not like me.

3 out of 5


Violence unvisited.

3 out of 5


Migratory pattern.

4 out of 5


Projecting power.

3 out of 5


Party secrets.

3.5 out of 5


Area examination.

3 out of 5


Restricted yankish.

3 out of 5


Smarter group.

3 out of 5


Safe but dull.

3 out of 5


Stonewalling.

3 out of 5


Winged handicap ritual.

3.5 out of 5


Carbon based longlife.

4 out of 5


Interplanary virtual reality craft.

4 out of 5




3 out of 5

The Nna Mmoy Language - Ursula K. Le Guin

Safe but dull.


3 out of 5

Wake Island - Ursula K. Le Guin

Smarter group.


3 out of 5

Great Joy - Ursula K. Le Guin

Restricted yankish.


3 out of 5

Woeful Tales From Madigul - Ursula K. Le Guin

Area examination.


3 out of 5

The Royals Of Hegn - Ursula K. Le Guin

Party secrets.


3.5 out of 5

The Ire Of the Veski - Ursula K. Le Guin

Violence unvisited.


3 out of 5

Feeling At Home With the Hennebet - Ursula K. Le Guin

Not like me.


3 out of 5

The Silence Of the Asonu - Ursula K. Le Guin

Plane saying.


3 out of 5

Porridge On Islac - Ursula K. Le Guin

Bear bowling.


3 out of 5

Sita Dulip's Method - Ursula K. Le Guin

Bear bowling.


3 out of 5

Bufffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences - Ursula K. Le Guin

A collection of stories basically about animals. It also includes a lot of poetry. A limited theme such as this from one author isn't likely to be too flash, unless they have produced hundreds of stories, perhaps and indeed, it is not, only around the 3 mark. A lot of short and consistently average work here.

Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences : Buffalo Gals Won't You Come Out Tonight - Ursula K. Le Guin
Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences : Mazes - Ursula K. Le Guin
Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences : The Wife's Story - Ursula K. Le Guin
Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences : The Direction of the Road - Ursula K. Le Guin
Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences : Vaster Than Empires and More Slow - Ursula K. Le Guin
Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences : The White Donkey - Ursula K. Le Guin
Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences : Horse Camp - Ursula K. Le Guin
Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences : Schrödinger's Cat - Ursula K. Le Guin
Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences : The Author of the Acacia Seeds and Other Extracts from the Journal of the Association of Therolinguistics - Ursula K. Le Guin
Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences : May's Lion - Ursula K. Le Guin
Buffalo Gals and Other Animal Presences : She Unnames Them - Ursula K. Le Guin


Don't eat the salmon.

2.5 out of 5


Dance communication.

3 out of 5


Man-Thing, no burning.

3 out of 5


Tree business.

3 out of 5


Empathetic comeback.

3 out of 5


Wife deal.

3 out of 5


A break for it.

3 out of 5


Shot or not.

3 out of 5


Lower order communication.

3.5 out of 5


Big cat story.

3 out of 5


Animals don't care.

2.5 out of 5




2 out of 5

She Unnames Them - Ursula K. Le Guin

Animals don't care.


2.5 out of 5

May's Lion - Ursula K. Le Guin

Big cat story.


3 out of 5

Schrodinger's Cat - Ursula K. Le Guin

Shot or not.


3 out of 5

Horse Camp - Ursula K. Le Guin

A break for it.


3 out of 5

The White Donkey - Ursula K. Le Guin

Wife deal.


3 out of 5

The Direction Of the Road - Ursula K. Le Guin

Tree business.


3 out of 5

The Wife's Story - Ursula K. Le Guin

Man-Thing, no burning.


3 out of 5

Mazes - Ursula K. Le Guin

Dance communication.


3 out of 5

Alamut - Harold Lamb

One curved sword, one princess.


3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tal Taulai Khan - Harold Lamb

Bored, time for hunting and battle.


3.5 out of 5

Wolf's War - Harold Lamb

Khlit, not just a Tatar.


3 out of 5

The Mammoth Book Of Best New Horror 17 - Stephen Jones

A 3.41 average, so pretty reasonable for one of these. The usual good epic overview - the editor stating that too many books get published each year, and that in this particular year more were published in the UK than the USA. That is certainly very crazypants.

Good stories here from Massie, Hirshberg, Morrell and Lumley, and the most interesting perhaps is Caitlin Kiernan's, which apparently she wrote with alcoholic insistence. She should give that a shot again, sometime! Or two or three.

Best New Horror 17 : The Decorations - Ramsey Campbell
Best New Horror 17 : Black and Green and Gold - David Herter
Best New Horror 17 : I Live With You and You Don't Know It - Carol Emshwiller
Best New Horror 17 : The Cubist's Attorney - Peter Atkins
Best New Horror 17 : All Fish and Dracula - Liz Williams
Best New Horror 17 : The Ball Room - China Mieville and Emma Bircham and Max Schaefer
Best New Horror 17 : Gulls - Tim Pratt
Best New Horror 17 : Pinkie - Elizabeth Massie
Best New Horror 17 : Glyphotech - Mark Samuels
Best New Horror 17 : One of the Hungry Ones - Mark Phillips
Best New Horror 17 : If I Should Wake Before I Die - Brian Hodge
Best New Horror 17 : The Other Family - Roberta Lannes
Best New Horror 17 : The Outermost Borough - Gahan Wilson
Best New Horror 17 : American Morons - Glen Hirshberg
Best New Horror 17 : Where Angels Come In - Adam L. G. Nevill
Best New Horror 17 : Sickhouse Hospitality - Terry Lamsley
Best New Horror 17 : Best New Horror - Joe Hill
Best New Horror 17 : La Peau Verte - Caitlin R. Kiernan
Best New Horror 17 : Time Was - David Morrell
Best New Horror 17 : Haeckel's Tale - Clive Barker
Best New Horror 17 : The Taint - Brian Lumley
Best New Horror 17 : The Winner Ramsey Campbell

Kill the worm.

3 out of 5


Rusalka ring.

3.5 out of 5


Multi personality generosity.

3.5 out of 5


Triple monster legacy.

3.5 out of 5


Dead return, Fin.

3.5 out of 5


Pissy playtime problems.

3 out of 5


Beach boy barbie.

3.5 out of 5


Smart pig killer.

4 out of 5


Horror seminar.

3.5 out of 5


Costume hunt.

3 out of 5


Miscarriage circle spread.

3 out of 5


Beach house swap.

3 out of 5


Big scratchy nude genius.

3.5 out of 5


Dirtwritten yankee sacrifice.

4 out of 5


Trespassing reduction.

2.5 out of 5


Save the rats.

3.5 out of 5


Hard to find editing terror.

3 out of 5


Naked stag destiny, sis, sorry.

4 out of 5


Sarsparilla didn't transport.

4 out of 5


Zombie orgy impregnation.

3.5 out of 5


Deep Ones, relatively speaking.

4 out of 5


Sick pub face noise.

3 out of 5




4 out of 5

The Winner - Ramsey Campbell

Sick pub face noise.


3 out of 5

The Taint - Brian Lumley

Deep Ones, relatively speaking.


4 out of 5

The Outermost Borough - Gahan Wilson

Big scratchy nude genius.


3.5 out of 5

Time Was - David Morrell

Sarsparilla didn't transport.


4 out of 5

Sickhouse Hospitality - Terry Lamsley

Save the rats.


3.5 out of 5

The Other Family - Roberta Lannes

Beach house swap.


3 out of 5

If I Should Wake Before I Die - Brian Hodge

Miscarriage circle spread.


3 out of 5

One Of the Hungry Ones - Mark Phillips

Costume hunt.


3 out of 5

Pinkie - Elizabeth Massie

Smart pig killer.


4 out of 5

All Fish and Dracula - Liz Williams

Dead return, Fin.


3.5 out of 5

Glyphotech - Mark Samuels

Horror seminar.


3.5 out of 5

Gulls - Tim Pratt

Beach boy barbie.


3.5 out of 5

The Cubist's Attornery - Peter Atkins

Triple monster legacy.


3.5 out of 5

Black and Green and Gold - David Herter

Rusalka ring.


3.5 out of 5

The Decorations - Ramsey Campbell

Kill the worm.


3 out of 5

20th Century Ghosts - Joe Hill

A reasonable collection of mostly horror, averaging 3.33. 20th Century Ghost and The Cape being the good stories.

20th Century Ghosts : Best New Horror - Joe Hill
20th Century Ghosts : 20th Century Ghost - Joe Hill
20th Century Ghosts : Pop Art - Joe Hill
20th Century Ghosts : You Will Hear the Locust Sing - Joe Hill
20th Century Ghosts : Abraham's Boys - Joe Hill
20th Century Ghosts : Better Than Home - Joe Hill
20th Century Ghosts : The Black Phone - Joe Hill
20th Century Ghosts : In the Rundown - Joe Hill
20th Century Ghosts : The Cape - Joe Hill
20th Century Ghosts : Last Breath - Joe Hill
20th Century Ghosts : Dead-Wood - Joe Hill
20th Century Ghosts : The Widow's Breakfast - Joe Hill
20th Century Ghosts : Bobby Conroy Comes Back from the Dead - Joe Hill
20th Century Ghosts : My Father's Mask - Joe Hill
20th Century Ghosts : Voluntary Committal - Joe Hill

Hard to find editing terror.

3 out of 5


Cinema-goers leave the dead in the aisles.

4 out of 5


My plastic pal who's fun to be with.

3.5 out of 5


Bug kid.

3 out of 5


Finding some horror in dad's other job, and weapons.

3.5 out of 5


Team sucks dad.

3 out of 5


Team sucks dad.

3.5 out of 5


Bloody grabby.

3.5 out of 5


I am the bad guy.

4 out of 5


Death collection.

3.5 out of 5


Tree ghosts.

2.5 out of 5


Dead gear.

3 out of 5


Romero reunion.

3.5 out of 5


Just forget your old man, kid.

3.5 out of 5


Crazy maze.

3 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

Voluntary Committal - Joe Hill

Voluntary Committal


3 out of 5

The Widow's Breakfast - Joe Hill

Dead gear.


3 out of 5

Dead-wood - Joe Hill

Tree ghosts.


2.5 out of 5

Last Breath - Joe Hill

Death collection.


3.5 out of 5

In the Rundown - Joel Hill

Bloody grabby.


3.5 out of 5

The Black Phone - Joe Hill

Kidnapper receiver bash.


3.5 out of 5

Better Than Home - Joe Hill

Team sucks dad.


3 out of 5

You Will Hear the Locust Sing - Joe Hill

Bug kid.


3 out of 5

Pop Art - Joe Hill

My plastic pal who's fun to be with.


3.5 out of 5

Best New Horror - Joe Hill

Hard to find editing terror.


3 out of 5

Warriors Of the Steppes - Harold Lamb

Some fine tales of Cossack adventure, here, and the same for neighbouring regions.

There's an introduction by David Drake, as well as by compiler Howard A. Jones, and also included at the end are some letters written to the magazine the stories appeared in, giving some historical background.

The second half of the book is certainly considerably stronger, in general, some of the earlier stories are a bit tedious, and the archaic speech patterns can get a little tiresome when not much is going on.

Especially after the meeting of Khlit and Abdul Dost, the major protagonists of the tales, things heat up.

Warriors Of the Steppes : The Lion Cub - Harold Lamb
Warriors Of the Steppes : The Skull of Shirzad Mir - Harold Lamb
Warriors Of the Steppes : Said Afzel's Elephant - Harold Lamb
Warriors Of the Steppes : Prophecy of the Blind - Harold Lamb
Warriors Of the Steppes : Rose Face - Harold Lamb
Warriors Of the Steppes : Ameer of the Sea - Harold Lamb
Warriors Of the Steppes : Law of Fire - Harold Lamb
Warriors Of the Steppes : The Bride of Jagannath - Harold Lamb
Warriors Of the Steppes : The Masterpiece of Death - Harold Lamb
Warriors Of the Steppes : The Curved Sword - Harold Lamb

Khlit needs a plan for Shaista Mirza.

3 out of 5


Khlit and some forceful turban removal.

3.5 out of 5


Shirzad Mir, outnumbered, decides that giving the enemy heffalump a really hot bum is a good plan for an ambush.

3.5 out of 5


Abdul Dost has some defending to do.

3.5 out of 5


A courtesan becomes involved in the conflict between Shirzad Mir and Jani Beg.

3 out of 5


Sir Ralph, Mogul camel jockey.

3 out of 5


One overly noisy singer, and Khlit vs Abdul Dost.

3.5 out of 5


Elder Ones Elephant God from the ruins. Not after Khlit or Abdul Dost luckily.

3.5 out of 5


Khlit and Abdul Dost are tasked to retrieve treasure after newsbearers are murdered.

Snake god temples and thug worshippers await, plus plenty of betrayal.

4 out of 5


Abdul Dost tries to hold the Mogul's army desperately waiting for his friend Khlit and band to come to his aid.

4 out of 5




4 out of 5

The Curved Sword - Harold Lamb

Abdul Dost tries to hold the Mogul's army desperately waiting for his friend Khlit and band to come to his aid.


4 out of 5

The Masterpiece Of Death - Harold Lamb

Khlit and Abdul Dost are tasked to retrieve treasure after newsbearers are murdered.

Snake god temples and thug worshippers await, plus plenty of betrayal.


4 out of 5

Monday, September 28, 2009

Superpowers - David J. Schwartz

Set in 2001, a book about five uni students that suddenly develop super powers of a fairly archetypal nature, except they have no energy projector. Flying, super strength, speed, telepathy, invisibility.

Written as it is about a few around 20 year olds trying to deal, the major problem it has it is is fairly flat, at least for the first 3/4 or so, anyway. So, is it trying to be realistic about what it might be like, or is it supposed to be a more four color approach? Appears to be stuck in the middle.

It certainly fails the first part - pretty much documented evidence of more than human activity in a city provokes zero interest from corporate, spook, major law enforcement, criminals, or others? Certainly the existence of an actual telepath might keep a lot of those people away from casual contact - but the All-Stars themselves wonder about this little themselves. They aren't morons, you are shown that - but pretty braindead given their situation. Not like this is happening in backwoods Kentucky or anything. Everyone who finds out has little problem believing, either, with no freakouts.

Them pretty much instantly deciding to fight crime on the back of some amateur martial arts training and some nifty seamstress work does lend more to the four colour interpretation, perhaps, where security and politics issues don't come to Keystone City unless the plot requires it. The Dial-H-For Heroness of the first part, them going along with nary a scratch, just the occasional hangover leans this way, too.

They do of course make mistakes - and things get worse as this is set in 2001, when some planes are crashed into major New York real estate. Revelations about the past as things get problematic.

However, points for giving a shot to a serious approach, as opposed to heavyhanded satire. The latter being significantly harder to do than the former.

A bit under 3.5 perhaps


3.5 out of 5

The Bridge Of Jagannath - Harold Lamb

Elder Ones Elephant God from the ruins. Not after Khlit or Abdul Dost luckily.


3.5 out of 5

The Scribe Of A Hundred Lies - Melinda Ross

Leopard thieving.


3 out of 5

Law Of Fire - Harold Lamb

One overly noisy singer, and Khlit vs Abdul Dost.


3.5 out of 5

Winter Song - Colin Harvey

A good old downed spaceman story, 21st century variety.

Here the voyager in question is something more than human - having built in nanotechnological advantages and access to information.

This novel may be a nod to Poul Anderson, with a 'Terran Hegemony' and problems with outlying worlds an undergoing a 'Long Night'.

Perhaps even further, with the setting - a colony of people from a hardline group of Icelandic descent (Anderson's was Danish). Now living a life of hardship, with native life such as 'dragons' and 'trolls' causing them problems. In Andersonian tradition there is a lot more to one of these lifeforms than meets the eye.

Also, as is common in the interloper from the stars variety there is a clash with the old conservatives, especially when it comes to a woman.

Karl has to manage to stay alive to be able to help himself, and hence attempt to help the deprived, struggling colony to better times.

Solid. People who want SF 'more like it used to be' should certainly find some interest here.


3.5 out of 5

The Queen Of Air and Darkness and Other Stories - Poul Anderson

A collection focused on stories of human life on other planets. The title novellas being far the best story, with the other good tale at the end. In the Shadow has some interest.

Queen Of Air and Darkness and Other Stories : THE QUEEN OF AIR AND DARKNESS - Poul Anderson
Queen Of Air and Darkness and Other Stories : HOME - Poul Anderson
Queen Of Air and Darkness and Other Stories : THE ALIEN ENEMY - Poul Anderson
Queen Of Air and Darkness and Other Stories : THE FAUN - Poul Anderson
Queen Of Air and Darkness and Other Stories : IN THE SHADOW - Poul Anderson
Queen Of Air and Darkness and Other Stories : TIME LAG - Poul Anderson

A fairy stole my baby.

4.5 out of 5


Is here, explosively.

2.5 out of 5


Colony attack fake.

3 out of 5


Ecosystem scout.

3 out of 5


There's another Earth, could take a while.

3.5 out of 5


Planet conquest collaboration amelioration science faith return.

4 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

In the Shadow - Poul Anderson

There's another Earth, could take a while.


3.5 out of 5

The Faun - Poul Anderson

Ecosystem scout.


3 out of 5

The Alien Enemy - Poul Anderson

Colony attack fake.


3 out of 5

Home - Poul Anderson

Is here, explosively.


2.5 out of 5

Ameer Of the Sea - Harold Lamb

Sir Ralph, Mogul camel jockey.


3 out of 5

Prophecy Of the Blind - Harold Lamb

Abdul Dost has some defending to do.


3.5 out of 5

The Skull Of Shirzad Mir - Harold Lamb

Khlit and some forceful turban removal.


3.5 out of 5

The Lion Cub - Harold Lamb

Khlit needs a plan for Shaista Mirza.


3 out of 5

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Innkeeper - Tony Shillitoe

No magic sword mercenary mate. Got a magic ring though.


4 out of 5

John Grimes Far Traveller Couriers - A. Bertram Chandler

A webscriptions omnibus of this particular part of Grimes' career, out of his official role, doing his own thing, and getting into plenty of trouble.

The Far Traveller
Star Courier
To Keep the Ship
Matilda's Stepchildren
Star Loot
The Anarch Lords
The Last Amazon
The Wild Ones


Grimes has apparently managed to get himself in a fair bit of trouble in the Survey Service, and here he ends up signing on with the Baroness, who happens to have a sentient computer, robots (Golden Amazons, no less) and a thing for dashing rogues that aren't Grimes. Not to mention being smarter - she wants Grimes to work for her while she tools around doing an academic survey of some planetary life, among other things in this collection/fixup or whatever you would like to call it.

Far Traveller : The Far Traveller - A. Bertram Chandler
Far Traveller : The Long Fall - A. Bertram Chandler
Far Traveller : The Sleeping Beast - A. Bertram Chandler
Far Traveller : Journey's End - A. Bertram Chandler

Grimes, out of the Survey Service, after helping raise a ship, finds his options limited by people that want to shoot at and/or arrest him, so hires on with the Baroness.

3 out of 5

Fungus is the bogeyman as the Baroness orders Grimes to help her do some first hand research for her thesis.

3.5 out of 5

Grimes Big Sister Baroness ejection rejection.

3.5 out of 5

Some robots please, Big Sisters.

3.5 out of 5



4 out of 5


Rogue Queen religion.

Grimes, after a Big Black Mark in the record sense and book sense quits the Survey Service, to strike out on his own - and this is the second novel in this part of his career.

Amazingly enough, he manages to have another Mannscheim Drive go screwy - and they need help.

The only available is alien - Shaara.

Aliens, religion, and violence is what he ends up in the middle of - not a nice mixture.

3 out of 5


Grimes is broke, and his ship expenses keep mounting, so he has to do something else to try and get enough money to get that cleared up.

Unfortunately, in the process he gets spacejacked by a couple of royal revolutionaries involved in a plot to try and win back control of their planet.

It isn't even that straightforward, given the bodyswapping and cloning that becomes involved later.

For someone supposedly lucky, he runs into a lot of bad stuff.

3.5 out of 5


Grimes depravity.

Although not by choice. He gets an opportunity to get out of hock when a scandalmongering tabloid wants to buy his story - and have his services available as transport for one of their head muckrackers.

The planet they had for is geared towards tourist entertainment of the adult kind - gambling, brothels, etc. On the surface. Underneath is a lot worse, slavery, an underground colosseum arena, torture and snuff porn - combined.

Some fun planet names throughout Grimes travels' Porlock, New Venus, New Alice - the latter of which has a couple of inhabitants he teams up with in this adventure - Darleen and Shirl. Very entertaining. More echoes of the Underpeople from a previous story - and Drongo Kane.

3.5 out of 5


Old Lucky Grimes still apparently has a somewhat dubious interpretation of his title, personally.

Here he has to fall in with old nemesis Drongo Kane - who is chortling over the fact. If Grimes succeeds, he makes with the moola - if not, maybe he gets dead - which apparently would make him equally happy.

This part aside, not really the best entry in this particular story, Baroness, Countess, Duchess, or whatever for our erstwhile courier.

2.5 out of 5


Having fallen far enough to have to stoop to politics, there are some advantages to being in charge.

Having had the certificate that made him allow to legally be in charge of a spaceship revoked by the original agency he obtained it from some time back, Grimes now finds himself with a good deal.

Being the Liberian governor means he can appoint the authority in charge of granting such paperwork on his own planet. Then of course take the exams himself. Some good old political quid pro quo - as failing your boss is likely a bad career move. Also a nice two fingered salute to those who put him in this situation - the same mob who did the revocation in the first place.

But, time for a new governor - one who doesn't want Grimes 'hanging around like a bad spell' - and John is more than happy to take his own ship and crew into space once more.

Things get a little Spartan again, as he ends up reuniting with multiple distaff elements from the past - Maggie, Fenella Pruin, Shirl, and Darleen. Things get rather athletic and violent again as a result, but much more fun from a reader's point of view are this particular group and Grimes' own crew.

3 out of 5


This time, Shirl and Darleen decide to come with Grimes, as they fancy the trip. A wild heritage that particular pair have. Grimes also has a robot passenger again, not so Australian as the pair of New Alicians - her name is Seiko.

After a pleasant visit with the rellos things get rather hairier, thanks to old pirate nemesis Drongo Kane:

'Oh, yes. And this fur export trade is the monopoly of Able Enterprises . . . .'

'Which outfit,' said Damien, 'is run by old cobber Commodore Baron Kane, of El Dorado.'

'No cobber of mine,' growled Grimes.

'But you know Kane. And you know that any enterprise in which he's involved is liable to be, at the very least, unsavory. Well, APS have heard stories about this fur trade. APS have asked me to carry out an investigation. After all, I'm only a rear admiral. But I have clashed, in the past, with the El Dorado Corporation and gotten away with it . . . .'

'With me as your cat's-paw,' said Grimes.

'Precisely. And, admit it, it does give you some satisfaction to score off Kane. Doesn't it?'

'I suppose so.'

'It does, and we both know it.' He turned to Madame Duvalier. 'Grimes and Kane are old enemies,' he explained. 'Apart from anything else there was rivalry for the favors of the Baroness Michelle d'Estang, who is now Kane's wife— hence his El Doradan citizenship.'

Not to mention a bunch of witch burning fanatics.

3 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

The Wild Ones - A. Bertram Chandler

This time, Shirl and Darleen decide to come with Grimes, as they fancy the trip. A wild heritage that particular pair have. Grimes also has a robot passenger again, not so Australian as the pair of New Alicians - her name is Seiko.

After a pleasant visit with the rellos things get rather hairier, thanks to old pirate nemesis Drongo Kane:

"Oh, yes. And this fur export trade is the monopoly of Able Enterprises . . . ."

"Which outfit," said Damien, "is run by old cobber Commodore Baron Kane, of El Dorado."

"No cobber of mine," growled Grimes.

"But you know Kane. And you know that any enterprise in which he's involved is liable to be, at the very least, unsavory. Well, APS have heard stories about this fur trade. APS have asked me to carry out an investigation. After all, I'm only a rear admiral. But I have clashed, in the past, with the El Dorado Corporation and gotten away with it . . . ."

"With me as your cat's-paw," said Grimes.

"Precisely. And, admit it, it does give you some satisfaction to score off Kane. Doesn't it?"

"I suppose so."

"It does, and we both know it." He turned to Madame Duvalier. "Grimes and Kane are old enemies," he explained. "Apart from anything else there was rivalry for the favors of the Baroness Michelle d'Estang, who is now Kane's wife— hence his El Doradan citizenship."

Not to mention a bunch of witch burning fanatics.


3 out of 5

The Last Amazon - A. Bertram Chandler

Having fallen far enough to have to stoop to politics, there are some advantages to being in charge.

Having had the certificate that made him allow to legally be in charge of a spaceship revoked by the original agency he obtained it from some time back, Grimes now finds himself with a good deal.

Being the Liberian governor means he can appoint the authority in charge of granting such paperwork on his own planet. Then of course take the exams himself. Some good old political quid pro quo - as failing your boss is likely a bad career move. Also a nice two fingered salute to those who put him in this situation - the same mob who did the revocation in the first place.

But, time for a new governor - one who doesn't want Grimes 'hanging around like a bad spell' - and John is more than happy to take his own ship and crew into space once more.

Things get a little Spartan again, as he ends up reuniting with multiple distaff elements from the past - Maggie, Fenella Pruin, Shirl, and Darleen. Things get rather athletic and violent again as a result, but much more fun from a reader's point of view are this particular group and Grimes' own crew.


3 out of 5

The Anarch Lords - A. Bertram Chandler

Grimes is running out of options, and after his latest misadventures isn't even allowed to be in charge of a ship anymore.

So, what does someone do who is too dodgy for the military, for working for someone, for running his own ship, and even too dodgy to be a pirate?

That's pretty easy, you become a politician!

Destination - planet Liberia.

Designation - Governor.

Which, given Liberia is a planet settled by anarchists is a role rather different than what you might expect. Where Grimes get sent, of course there will be trouble. With shooting, and shagging.


2.5 out of 5

Star Loot - A. Bertram Chandler

Old Lucky Grimes still apparently has a somewhat dubious interpretation of his title, personally.

Here he has to fall in with old nemesis Drongo Kane - who is chortling over the fact. If Grimes succeeds, he makes with the moola - if not, maybe he gets dead - which apparently would make him equally happy.

This part aside, not really the best entry in this particular story, Baroness, Countess, Duchess, or whatever for our erstwhile courier.


2.5 out of 5

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Khlit - Harold Lamb

Khlit does some sitting around in the middle of deviousness, and a spot of Tartar charging splitting.


3.5 out of 5

Enough Rope - Lawrence Block

A massive collection of stories that is most of Block's output at this point in time, with some new work. He points out all the Keller stories are not included, as they are in another book, but all the other collections are. Also he notes that his very earliest work is not here, as he doesn't think it as good, a couple of examples excepted - and that there is a collectible book with those included.

There are various serious characters, a scummy lawyer, a PI, a gentleman burglar, the introspective hitman.

Probably the stronger pieces are some of the very good standalone stories, often with a black humour element.

A 3.35 average for over 85 crime stories by one author is pretty good.

Enough Rope : A Bad Night for Burglars - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : A Blow for Freedom - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : A Little Off the Top - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : And Miles to Go Before I Sleep - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : As Good as a Rest - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : The Books Always Balance - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : The Boy Who Disappeared Clouds - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Change of Life - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Cleveland in My Dreams - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Click! - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Collecting Ackermans - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : The Dangerous Business - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Death Wish - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : The Dettweiler Solution - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Funny You Should Ask - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : The Gentle Way - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Going Through the Motions - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Good for the Soul - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Hilliard's Ceremony - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Hot Eyes Cold Eyes - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : How Would You Like It? - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : If This Be Madness - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Leo Youngdahl, R.I.P. - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Like a Bug on a Windshield - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Like a Dog in the Street - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : The Most Unusual Snatch - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Nothing Short of Highway Robbery - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : One Thousand Dollars a Word - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Passport in Order - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Someday I'll Plant More Walnut Trees - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Some Days You Get the Bear - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Something to Remember You By - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Some Things a Man Must Do - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Sometimes They Bite - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Strangers on a Handball Court - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : That Kind of a Day - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : This Crazy Business of Ours - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : The Tulsa Experience - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Weekend Guests - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : When This Man Dies - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : With a Smile for the Ending - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : You Could Call It Blackmail - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Death of the Mallory Queen - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : As Dark as Christmas Gets - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : The Ehrengraf Defense - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : The Ehrengraf Presumption - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : The Ehrengraf Experience - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : The Ehrengraf Appointment - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : The Ehrengraf Riposte - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : The Ehrengraf Obligation - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : The Ehrengraf Alternative - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : The Ehrengraf Nostrum - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : The Ehrengraf Affirmation - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : The Ehrengraf Reverse - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Like a Thief in the Night - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Keller By A Nose - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : The Burglar Who Dropped In on Elvis - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : The Burglar Who Smelled Smoke - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Answers to Soldier - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Keller's Therapy - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Keller on the Spot - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Keller's Horoscope - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Keller's Designated Hitter - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Out the Window - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : A Candle for the Bag Lady - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : By the Dawn's Early Light - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Batman's Helpers - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : The Merciful Angel of Death - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : The Night and the Music - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Looking for David - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Let's Get Lost - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : A Moment of Wrong Thinking - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Almost Perfect - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Headaches and Bad Dreams - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Hit the Ball Drag Fred - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : How Far It Could Go - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : In for a Penny - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Like a Bone in the Throat - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Points - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Sweet Little Hands - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Terrible Tommy Terhune - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : Three in the Side Pocket - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : You Don't Even Feel It - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : It Took You Long Enough - Lawrence Block
Enough Rope : You Can't Lose - Lawrence Block

You killed her, pawn.

4 out of 5


Trying the gun.

3.5 out of 5


Trying the gun.

3.5 out of 5


I'm dead discussions.

3 out of 5


Across the legal line holiday hookup.

3 out of 5


Blackmail removal bomb.

3.5 out of 5


Head removal?

3 out of 5


Head removal?

3 out of 5


Shrink the distance.

3 out of 5


Shrink the distance.

3 out of 5


Name for murder.

3.5 out of 5


Writing job.

3 out of 5


Killer suicide.

3.5 out of 5


Flaming killer insurance.

3.5 out of 5


Used jeans, where, pet food?

3.5 out of 5


Used jeans, where, pet food?

4 out of 5


Kidnapping kill suitcase switch.

3.5 out of 5


Seems I really am a killer.

3.5 out of 5


Hot blooded Togolese food dance.

3.5 out of 5


Seduction collection.

3.5 out of 5


Cruelty to animals? You'll be stuck with the consequences.

4 out of 5


Might not be, just an occasional killer.

3.5 out of 5


Dead funny.

2.5 out of 5


Duel.

3.5 out of 5


Netted assassin injection.

4 out of 5


Kidnapped daughter assistance switcheroo scam slaughter.

4 out of 5


Mechanic setting up, medium calibre.

4 out of 5


Mechanic setting up, medium calibre.

3.5 out of 5


Murder escape ticket.

3.5 out of 5


Kill one of the blokes for a change.

3.5 out of 5


Sleep with it, too.

2.5 out of 5


Scary ride souvenir.

4 out of 5


Just make a little mob war for revenge. I'm good at it.

4 out of 5


Gutted by story.

3.5 out of 5


Wife kill swap and more.

3.5 out of 5


Partnership kill leave it.

3.5 out of 5


Assassin fanclub removal.

3.5 out of 5


Assassin fanclub removal.

3.5 out of 5


Robbery scam, Pops.

3 out of 5


Dead mail job.

3.5 out of 5


Dead booker.

3 out of 5


Affair warning.

3 out of 5


Murder me story.

3 out of 5


Manuscript deal.

3 out of 5


Four tie son payoff.

3 out of 5


You're innocent to me.

3.5 out of 5


Innocence problem.

3 out of 5


IDC confession.

3 out of 5


Advance murder defence.

3.5 out of 5


Poetry kill.

3 out of 5


Shooting witness.

3 out of 5


Not a poisoner.

3 out of 5


EKG innocence columns.

3 out of 5


Proud Crowd game play.

3.5 out of 5


Big fix stamps.

3.5 out of 5


Big fix stamps.

3.5 out of 5


Media robbery.

3 out of 5


Media robbery.

3.5 out of 5


Printer wire end.

3.5 out of 5


Add one dog.

3 out of 5


Gift kill.

3.5 out of 5


Murderer's thumb.

3 out of 5


Baseball monthlong kill wait.

3.5 out of 5


Falling waitress.

3.5 out of 5


Trash does count.

3.5 out of 5


Not suicide woman.

3.5 out of 5


The Copyright Protection Case.

3.5 out of 5


AIDS work, pro bono.

3 out of 5


New York noise.

2.5 out of 5


Lover refigured.

3 out of 5


Cover cover up.

3 out of 5


Husband shooting.

3 out of 5


Beanball murder.

3.5 out of 5


Psychic bite.

3 out of 5


Golf bash.

3.5 out of 5


Be a gorilla.

3.5 out of 5


Knife edge between out and jail.

4 out of 5


Did your sister needling.

3.5 out of 5


A bit of hoop fixing.

3.5 out of 5


Hot dead surprise.

3.5 out of 5


Out racquet explosion.

3.5 out of 5


Dead husband hot.

3.5 out of 5


Title beating tie-up.

3.5 out of 5


No knock.

3 out of 5


Using your head job.

3.5 out of 5




3.5 out of 5

You Don't Even Feel It - Lawrence Block

Title beating tie-up.


3.5 out of 5

Three In the Side Pocket - Lawrence Block

Dead husband hot.


3.5 out of 5

Terrible Tommy Terhune - Lawrence Block

Out racquet explosion.


3.5 out of 5

Sweet Little Hands - Lawrence Block

Hot dead surprise.


3.5 out of 5

Points - Lawrence Block

A bit of hoop fixing.


3.5 out of 5

Like A Bone In the Throat - Lawrence Block

Did your sister needling.


3.5 out of 5

How Far It Could Go - Lawrence Block

Be a gorilla.


3.5 out of 5

Hit the Ball Drag Fred - Lawrence Block

Golf bash.


3.5 out of 5

Headaches and Bad Dreams - Lawrence Block

Psychic bite.


3 out of 5

Almost Perfect - Lawrence Block

Beanball murder.


3.5 out of 5

A Moment Of Wrong Thinking - Lawrence Block

Husband shooting.


3 out of 5

Let's Get Lost - Lawrence Block

Cover cover up.


3 out of 5

Looking For David - Lawrence Block

Lover refigured.


3 out of 5

The Night and the Music - Lawrence Block

New York noise.


2.5 out of 5

The Merciful Angel Of Death - Lawrence Block

AIDS work, pro bono.


3.5 out of 5

Friday, September 25, 2009

By the Dawn's Early Light - Lawrence Block

Not suicide woman.


3.5 out of 5

A Candle For the Bag Lady - Lawrence Block

Trash does count.


3.5 out of 5

Out the Window - Lawrence Block

Falling waitress.


3.5 out of 5

The Burglar Who Smelled Smoke - Lawrence Block

Fire lock kill.


3.5 out of 5

The Burglar Who Dropped In On Elvis - Lawrence Block

Media robbery.


3.5 out of 5

Like A Thief In the Night - Lawrence Block

No lurker in shrubbery.


3.5 out of 5

The Ehrengraf Reverse - Lawrence Block

Proud Crowd game play.


3.5 out of 5

The Ehrengraf Affirmation - Lawrence Block

EKG innocence columns.


3 out of 5

The Ehrengraf Nostrum - Lawrence Block

Not a poisoner.


3 out of 5

The Ehrengraf Alternative - Lawrence Block

Shooting witness.


3 out of 5

The Ehrengraf Obligation - Lawrence Block

Poetry kill.


3 out of 5

The Ehrengraf Riposte - Lawrence Block

Advance murder defence.


3.5 out of 5

The Ehrengraf Appointment - Lawrence Block

IDC confession.


3 out of 5

The Ehrengraf Experience - Lawrence Block

Innocence problem.


3 out of 5

Starship Mercenary - Mike Resnick

The third Starship book is much the same quality as the first two - some funny lines, too.

Wilson Cole decides being a pirate is not for him, so opts for a mercenary life instead.

Getting into a jam thanks to an overambitious booking agent he decides to get more knowledgeable advice.

The owner of the biggest lawless space station on the frontier.

This leads to increasing his forces, conflict, and a confrontation with his own best warrior, the ex-Pirate Queen Valkyrie.

The book also includes a timeline of Resnick's Birthright universe, and a short article of his on Pirate Queens.


3 out of 5

The House On the Borderland and Other Novels - William Hope Hodgson

Omnibus edition that includes

The House On the Borderland
The Boats Of the Glen Carrig
The Ghost Pirates
The Night Land

It includes an introduction by China Mieivlle, giving something of Hodgson's history - an ex-seafaring bodybuilder type, apparently.

--

You could say that The House On the Borderland is what you get if you take a H. P. Lovecraft type set-up and punch a huge chunk of Olaf Stapledon right into the heart of it.

Which is, indeed, a rather strange combination. Swine thing monsters attacking - and the death of the solar system, all in one bok, not to mention in one strange house.

The set-up is visitors on a fishing trip find a book - and inside that book is an account of madness - or at least they hope it is, because it is rather too disturbing otherwise.

I'd give this a 3.75.

3.5 out of 5




This throws you right into the middle of it, so to speak, in the boats.

Told as an account of the events of this attempt to return home after maritime misfortune you will find no dialogue therein, and only occasional use of names. Although lots of bo'sun, for example.

The boat men find a weedy patch of sea, and an island, and a hulk of a ship with others stuck in it - and more than a few giant sea creatures and monsters as the horror builds into an attempt to get away.

For example :-

"Now, scarce had we lit one fire, when the bo'sun cried out to the big seaman to make another, further along the edge of the cliff, and, in the same instant, I shouted, and ran over to that part of the hill which lay towards the open sea; for I had seen a number of moving things about the edge of the seaward cliff. Now here there was a deal of shadow; for there were scattered certain large masses of rock about this part of the hill, and these held off both the light of the moon, and that from the fires. Here, I came abruptly upon three great shapes moving with stealthiness towards the camp, and, behind these, I saw dimly that there were others. Then, with a loud cry for help, I made at the three, and, as I charged, hey rose up on end at me, and I found that they overtopped me, and their vile tentacles were reached out at me. Then I was smiting, and gasping, sick with a sudden stench, the stench of the creatures which I had come already to know. And then something clutched at me, something slimy and vile, and great mandibles champed in my face; but I stabbed upward, and the thing fell from me, leaving me dazed and sick, and smiting weakly. Then there came a rush of feet behind, and a sudden blaze, and the bo'sun crying out encouragement, and, directly, he and the big seaman thrust
themselves in front of me, hurling from them great masses of burning weed, w hich they had borne, each of them, up a long reed. And immediately the things were gone, slithering hastily down over the cliff edge."

3.5 out of 5


Another short novel that is a recount of a scary passage at see. This one is of the 'they're going to get us' variety. Spectres and shadows abound, as those on board get more terrified:

"They can't be flesh and blood," Tammy interrupted. "Where would they
live? Besides, that first one I saw, I thought I could see through it.
And this last one--the Second Mate would have seen it. And they would
drown--"

"Not necessarily," I said.

"Oh, but I'm sure they're not," he insisted. "It's impossible--"

"So are ghosts--when you're feeling sensible," I answered. "But I'm not
saying they _are_ flesh and blood; though, at the same time, I'm not
going to say straight out they're ghosts--not yet, at any rate."

"Where do they come from?" he asked, stupidly enough.

"Out of the sea," I told him. "You saw for yourself!"

"Then why don't other vessels have them coming aboard?" he said. "How do
you account for that?"

"In a way--though sometimes it seems cracky--I think I can, according to
my idea," I answered.

"How?" he inquired again.

"Why, I believe that this ship is open, as I've told you--exposed,
unprotected, or whatever you like to call it. I should say it's
reasonable to think that all the things of the material world are
barred, as it were, from the immaterial; but that in some cases the
barrier may be broken down. That's what may have happened to this ship.
And if it has, she may be naked to the attacks of beings belonging to
some other state of existence."

3 out of 5


An interesting idea, this doomed strange existence at the end. However, it is completely and utterly unreadable. The biggest abuse of the semi-colon in the history of the world, perhaps:

"Yet, truly, there was no use in help that was yet to come; for the need
did be then and instant; and I nowise loath to use my strength before
my sweet cousin. And I stepped forward, briskly, as I have told; and
the end of my staff I drove into the body of the left-ward man, so that
he dropped like a dead man. And I hit very sharply at the head of
another, and surely crackt it for him; for he made instantly upon the
earth; but the third man I met with my fist, and neither had he any
great need of a second blow; but went instant to join his companions,
and the fight thus to have ended before it was even proper begun, and I
laughing a little with a proper pride, to know the bewilderment that I
perceived in the way that the Lady Mirdath, my cousin, stood and
regarded me through the dusk of the hushed even."


1.5 out of 5

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Conan the Barbarian - Robert E. Howard

Apparently an Australian edition of a UK book company called Carlton. So a somewhat bizarre thing to do. It says it was printed in Thailand, so maybe that was cheaper than getting them from the pommieland.

Also, the copyright page is a lie. Really, media companies that like to complain about how bad things are might want to have a tiny bit of integrity themselves. This gives the usual boilerplate about 'no part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted yada yada yada'.

This is clearly a collection of the public domain Conan stories. Note the absence of The Vale Of Lost Women etc. Honest enough to say so? No. It's the same old bullshit the public scenario again. It doesn't have the novel The Hour Of the Dragon, either.

That doesn't mean I think it isn't a good idea to do the book, just don't lie about the contents.

The format is fairly nifty, although claiming it is a hardback is a bit rich, it is somewhere in between that and a trade paperback, as the covers are definitely bendy. It is done in a square shape and coloured to look like an 'ancient tome' or thereabouts. The paper certainly doesn't appear to be archival type stuff, either. However, looking up prices this is less than $30 here, so cheap for Australia at least, although you can likely get the UK edition cheaper from the Book Depository I'd imagine, given the weakness of the pound.

There a few pages of intro from a 'series editor' named Rod Green. No idea if this means there will be more Howard books in a series, or more other books in a series, or what.

The book is actually illustrated throughout, a piece per story or so. Although only quick and average by the looks, but that is still a bit different.

As for the content, this is Robert E. Howard's Conan. These are the best set of Sword and Sorcery stories, ever. Or pretty close to best set of any stories, ever.

If you just want to try out a couple - and you of course can find them online, and blog linked here, then Red Nails, Queen Of the Black Coast and Beyond the Black River.

Conan the Barbarian : The Hyborian Age - Robert E. Howard
Conan the Barbarian : The Phoenix on the Sword - Robert E. Howard
Conan the Barbarian : The Scarlet Citadel - Robert E. Howard
Conan the Barbarian : The Tower of the Elephant - Robert E. Howard
Conan the Barbarian : Black Colossus - Robert E. Howard
Conan the Barbarian : Xuthal of the Dusk - Robert E. Howard
Conan the Barbarian : The Pool of the Black One - Robert E. Howard
Conan the Barbarian : Rogues in the House - Robert E. Howard
Conan the Barbarian : Iron Shadows in the Moon - Robert E. Howard
Conan the Barbarian : Queen of the Black Coast - Robert E. Howard
Conan the Barbarian : The Devil in Iron - Robert E. Howard
Conan the Barbarian : The People of the Black Circle - Robert E. Howard
Conan the Barbarian : A Witch Shall be Born - Robert E. Howard
Conan the Barbarian : Jewels of Gwahlur - Robert E. Howard
Conan the Barbarian : Beyond the Black River - Robert E. Howard
Conan the Barbarian : Man-Eaters of Zamboula - Robert E. Howard
Conan the Barbarian : The Hour of the Dragon - Robert E. Howard
Conan the Barbarian : Red Nails - Robert E. Howard

This is not a story as such, but an account of the fictional history of Howard's world through the ages, to the time of Kull and Atlantis down to the entitled time when Conan ran amok. Quite nicely done.

4 out of 5


King Conan is bored. Politics and statecraft and maps, and all that stuff.

In a dream, a man magically enhances his sword, and that certainly comes in handy later when the odd traitor and demon relieves the tedium of the ruling class.

4 out of 5


King Conan's army of Aquilonians has been smashed by a far superior force, led by a wizard. Conan refuses to sign over his kingdom, and the wizard throws him in a dungeon.

He escapes an assassin and a monster, and rescues a wizardly rival that Tsotha had imprisoned. This wizard, please, summons a flying steed to bear Conan back to his kingdom, to take revenge.

4.5 out of 5


Conan is in thieving mode here. In a tavern, he is asking the assembled crowd of nogoodniks why no-one has stolen a famous jewel from this tower.

They tell him because it is guarded by some very nasty things.

He, of course, investigates, and meets a master thief attempting the same thing.

Humans, animals, a giant spider and a wizard are to be encountered, not to mention an alien.

4 out of 5


Princess Yasmeela is visited by the sorceror Natokh, in an unearthly appartion. Terrified, she consults the oracle of Mitra, who tells her to make the first man she sees head of her armies.

It is her good fortune that this man is Conan. Her understands her political and military problems, and leads her army in war against the forces of Natokh, who has a resurrected monster up his sleeve.

4 out of 5


Conan and the woman with him find a strange city in the desert, after attacks and problems, they finally come across two weird inhabitants, a man and a woman :

'..I am Thalis the Stygian,' she replied. 'Are you mad, to come here?'

'I've been thinking I must be,' he growled. 'By Crom, if I am sane, I'm out of place here, because these people are all maniacs.'

The strange, deadly black shadows don't care who they take, though, and Conan and Natala must face those, and weird dream warriors, before the end.

4 out of 5


Conan has escaped an island where he was in trouble, and swum out to a nearby ship, boosting himself over the side and inviting himself onto the crew.
He plots to take over leadership, but when he follows the pirate leader ashore later, he gets more than he bargained for with a lot of black followers and something nasty in the Pool.

He rallies and rescues what is left of the pirate crew, and has himself a ship, and a woman.

4 out of 5


Conan is yet again in trouble because of drinking and wenching. A crime has gone wrong, and a woman he was with has betrayed him to the authorities.
He is offered a way out, if he will kill a man. This man is Nabonidus, The Red Priest.

The only problems involve breaking in, a huge hulking ape-man servant, and then The Red Priest himself and his powers.

3.5 out of 5


Conan comes across an Hyrkanian battle leader who has slaughtered the mercenaries he was with. He slays him and allows a girl the dead man had captured to come with him.

Attempting escape they come across pirates, a man ape, and spooky statues at night.

4 out of 5


One of the classic Conan stories. The barbarian goes a-reavin', and finds another of the rare women that can match him. Belit has fire, and presence, and command, but again, it does not end well. Highly recommended.

4.5 out of 5


Conan, working as a hetman of the Free Peoples is on the trail of a girl he had met in camp. He comes across an odd, dreamlike area, but soon encounters yet another giant defender, but this one even he cannot kill.

The same cannot be said of his rival in the opposition forces, and he takes the girl with him afterwards.

4 out of 5


Conan is again in a leadership position, and seven of his lieutenants have been captured and are under sentence of death. He goes to see what he can do about it. In a flash, he makes off with their leader, the Devi. She is not all he has to worry about, as spies, plots and the wizardry of the Black Seers will all hinder him, not to mention the odd small army, along with the Devi herself.

4.5 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


To quote Mr. Howard - "Conan was basically a direct-actionist. Such subtlety as he possessed had been acquired through contact with the more devious races."

and when a woman tries some subterfuge, about being a goddess :

"Why, you sacrilegious little hussy!" rumbled Conan. "Do you not fear
the gods? Crom! Is there no honesty anywhere?"

For military reasons, Conan has to get the Teeth of Gwahlur from their hiding place in a mystic castle before his political and military opposition.

He decides he can get the girl Muriela to run the same scam she tried on him, on some others. The only problem is that the real goddess Yelaya shows up! Then it is time to scarper, sharpish.

4.5 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


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


Conan is travelling, finds a dead woman, and then encounters Valeria of the Red Brotherhood. After trading some insults, they have the misfortune to stumble across a dragon.

Then they have fun in an abandoned city full of crazed warriors, two evil, leering royals, and a third undead type one. Capture, bondage, slayage, all the great stuff in this tale of a fantastic partnership.

5 out of 5




5 out of 5

Prince Of Flowers - Elizabeth Hand

Vegetarian home feeding.


3.5 out of 5

Sun - Edmond Hamilton

Apparently it has a moon called Vulcan!


3 out of 5

Magic Moon - Edmond Hamilton

Captain Future is in trouble in two arenas in this adventure:

In the polyp labyrinths of the seas of Neptune, and also with the not so goodniks of Planet Town on Stygia.

Then there's Brains going missing on a film maker.

Very, very silly this one. Not one of the better examples.


2 out of 5

Alien Worlds - Paul Collins

Another book in this particular Worlds series, with stories ranging from bad to outstanding. Overall a 3.17, so a bit ordinary, but it is only a one country original anthology in the overwhelming majority. A couple of notables though, and one of my all time favorites here.

Alien Worlds : Transition - Wynne Whiteford
Alien Worlds : Who Killed Cock Robin? - David J. Lake
Alien Worlds : Pin a Medal for Winkle - Trudy Rose
Alien Worlds : A Laughing Stock - Bruce Gillespie
Alien Worlds : Skyworld - David King
Alien Worlds : Excerpts from Matilda's Stepchildren - A. Bertram Chandler
Alien Worlds : Coochie Coochie Coo - Paul Collins
Alien Worlds : Odd Man Search - Cherry Wilder
Alien Worlds : Capsule of Infinity - Kendall Evans
Alien Worlds : One Clay Foot - Jack Wodhams
Alien Worlds : Chocolate Sundae Heist - John Clark
Alien Worlds : The Horizontal Player - Alan Carr
Alien Worlds : The Stage Is Set - Lynette Godfrey
Alien Worlds : Scenes from a Marriage - Rob Gerrand
Alien Worlds : Within the Soul Lies Waking - Van Ikin
Alien Worlds : Goldenlight and Fleetwood - C. C. Clingan
Alien Worlds : Japanese Tea - Terence Green

Catmen captive colony.

3.5 out of 5


Dinosaur space blasted.

3.5 out of 5


Hope she doesn't punish me too much.

3 out of 5


Dull direction homeshow.

3 out of 5


Blue, shiny. Maybe wet.

2.5 out of 5


Several short parts excerpted and titled.

3.5 out of 5


Space mafia spell regression.

3 out of 5


Armless alone.

3 out of 5


Long trip unreality tape.

3 out of 5


Space fighter pilot strategy.

5 out of 5


Banana bender robo judge, jury, executioner.

3.5 out of 5


Fire Dragon show.

3 out of 5


Ultimatum science transmission research.

3 out of 5


Knight, bell rings for your funny bone.

2.5 out of 5


Katatonics.

2 out of 5


Top sheila mind death.

3.5 out of 5


Daughter home.

3.5 out of 5


Sex drugs and anarchy marks.

3 out of 5




3 out of 5

Pirate Sun - Karl Schroeder

Admiral hunt.

Or, it seems everybody would like to have their hands on Chaison Fanning, the man who managed to decimate an opposing fleet with only six ship.

This includes militaries of various cities, politicians, pirates, rebels, invading artificial intelligences, torturers and zero gravity gaolers. Then there are agents of the Virga Home Guard, and even his own spousal unit, Venera Fanning - the protagonist of previous volumes.

Chaison is not as sneaky, devious or nasty as his wife, but does have a few cunning plans of his own to get through this, even if a few altruistic streaks distract him into helping others at times. Escapes on airbikes, hawkmen style and more are to be found.

Many would still like to have the Key to Candesce.


3.5 out of 5

Japanese Tea - Terence Green

Sex drugs and anarchy marks.


3 out of 5

Boundary Echoes - John M. Ford

SIGMAPS end cycle.


3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Goldenlight and Fleetwood - C. C. Clingan

Daughter home.


3.5 out of 5

Within the Soul Likes Waking - Van Ikin

Top sheila mind death.


3.5 out of 5

The Ehrengraf Presumption - Lawrence Block

You're innocent to me.


3.5 out of 5

The Ehrengraf Defense - Lawrence Block

Four tie son payoff.


3 out of 5

You Could Call It Blackmail - Lawrence Block

Affair warning.


3 out of 5

With A Smile For the Ending - Lawrence Block

Dead booker.


3 out of 5

Scenes From A Marriage - Rob Gerrand

Katatonics.


2 out of 5

MIND MELD Behind the Scenes How the Hottest Short Fiction Anthologies Are Created Part 1 - John DeNardo

Or an anthology of anthologists describing what goes on.


5 out of 5

http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2009/09/mind-meld-behind-the-sceneshow-the-hottest-short-fiction-anthologies-are-created-part-1/

When This Man Dies - Lawrence Block

Dead mail job.


3.5 out of 5

Weekend Guests - Lawrence Block

Robbery scam, Pops.


3 out of 5

The Tulsa Experience - Lawrence Block

No footprint double act kill.


3.5 out of 5

This Crazy Business Of Ours - Lawrence Block

Assassin fanclub removal.


3.5 out of 5

That Kind Of A Day - Lawrence Block

Partnership kill leave it.


3.5 out of 5

Strangers On A Handball Court - Lawrence Block

Wife kill swap and more.


3.5 out of 5

Sometimes They Bite - Lawrence Block

Gutted by story.


3.5 out of 5

Some Things A Man Must Do - Lawrence Block

Just make a little mob war for revenge. I'm good at it.


4 out of 5

Something To Remember You By - Lawrence Block

Scary ride souvenir.


4 out of 5

Some Days You get the Bear - Lawrence Block

Sleep with it, too.


2.5 out of 5

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Someday I'll Plant More Walnut Trees - Lawrence Block

Kill one of the blokes for a change.


3.5 out of 5

Passport In Order - Lawrence Block

Murder escape ticket.


3.5 out of 5

One Thousand Dollars A Word - Lawrence Block

Writing stickup.


3.5 out of 5

Nothing Short Of Highway Robbery - Lawrence Block

Mechanic setting up, medium calibre.


4 out of 5

The Most Unusual Snatch - Lawrence Block

Kidnapped daughter assistance switcheroo scam slaughter.


4 out of 5

Like A Dog In the Street - Lawrence Block

Netted assassin injection.


4 out of 5

Like A Bug On the Windshield - Lawrence Block

Duel.


3.5 out of 5

Leo Youngdahl RIP - Lawrence Block

Dead funny.


2.5 out of 5

If This Be Madness - Lawrence Block

Might not be, just an occasional killer.


3.5 out of 5

Evil Ways - Justin Gustainis

Walpurgis Night is for shagging, Satan summoning, and shooting.

The behind the scenes antagonist from the first novel, Walter Grobius returns. His rapidly deteriorating health and a full moon on this particular occasion have led him to hire a powerful black wizard named Pardee. For a deal with the devil, of course. Eternal youth, etc. Filthy rich already.

To do so, murders of children and removal of organs continues for part of the ritual - and this again draws the attention of FBI agent Fenton and his partner, who happens to be one of Libby Chastain's sister witches.

Mr Quincey Morris gets involved himself when someone attempts to kill Libby, and they set out to try and work out why.

Luckily they have a few sources of advice and assistance. Wizard, Harry Dresden and his hangout, supernatural expert Frank Black, and a monster hunter named Hannah Widmark - the Widowmaker. One hardboiled dressed in black badarse monsterfragger. Vampires, servants of satan, black wizards, to her they all need shooting. That is what she is, a shooter, and what you'd call her if say, she worked for a more usual organisation. She favours twin Colt .45 automatics. A preference taught to her by one shadowy figure named Cranston, determined to train her to weed out bitter fruit, supernatural or otherwise.

It seems that there is past history tied up in this, and relationships between Quincey, Libby, Hannah, Pardee and others come to light and have bearing on what is going on, and what happens to the protagonists.

Not quite as good as the first book, perhaps because of a broadening of focus and scope away from Morris and Chastain, but still a good book overall. The cover is actually relevant to the story, too.

It is very rare to have a male/female hero pairing of friends and equals equals who the author does not desperately or deliberately want to have shag. Blaise and Garvin, Steed and Peel, Mulder and Scully and... err... So let's hope it continues, as those examples are some of the best stories ever.

Also an excerpt from the next book included. Always a good idea where possible.


4 out of 5

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cobra Trap - Peter O'Donnell

The final book in the Modesty Blaise series is a collection of tales of mostly similar length, quite similar to Pieces Of Modesty. A little less action packed perhaps, as the pair and their friends have aged.

A great end for a great pair.

Cobra Trap : 1 Bellman - Peter O'Donnell
Cobra Trap : 2 The Dark Angels - Peter O'Donnell
Cobra Trap : 3 Old Alex - Peter O'Donnell
Cobra Trap : 4 The Girl With the Black Balloon - Peter O'Donnell
Cobra Trap : 5 Cobra Trap - Peter O'Donnell


A day at the races and a couple of Mickey Finns leave Willie and Modesty in a hunt, with them as the prey, as an old enemy has a score to settle.

4 out of 5


A Jumpin' Jehosophat deception as Tarrant needs some assassins out to kill foreign captains of industry taken care with Modesty and Willie's help.

4 out of 5


An opportune rescue by an old Frenchman with a startling past leaves Modesty and Willie involved again with doing something about Salamander Four.

4 out of 5


A Nobel prize winner is held hostage by one of the bizarrest Liberation front type groups - and with one of Tarrant's men dead already, Jack Fraser asks Modesty for help. It is Willie who finds the strange balloon girl.

4 out of 5


Many years later, the Colliers are working in a Central American Republic, when a revolution gets out on away. Attempting to get out by train, Willie Garvin with them - an attack forces Modesty Blaise to come to their aid.

3.5 out of 5




5 out of 5

Cobra Trap - Peter O'Donnell

Many years later, the Colliers are working in a Central American Republic, when a revolution gets out on away. Attempting to get out by train, Willie Garvin with them - an attack forces Modesty Blaise to come to their aid.


3.5 out of 5

Hot Eyes Cold Eyes - Lawrence Block

Seduction collection.


3.5 out of 5

The Girl With the Black Balloon - Peter O'Donnell

A Nobel prize winner is held hostage by one of the bizarrest Liberation front type groups - and with one of Tarrant's men dead already, Jack Fraser asks Modesty for help. It is Willie who finds the strange balloon girl.


4 out of 5

Old Alex - Peter O'Donnell

An opportune rescue by an old Frenchman with a startling past leaves Modesty and Willie involved again with doing something about Salamander Four.


4 out of 5

The Dark Angels - Peter O'Donnell

A Jumpin' Jehosophat deception as Tarrant needs some assassins out to kill foreign captains of industry taken care with Modesty and Willie's help.


4 out of 5

You Can't Lose - Lawrence Block

Using your head job.


3.5 out of 5

It Took You Long Enough - Lawrence Block

No knock.


3 out of 5

Keller By A Nose - Lawrence Block

Big fix stamps.


3.5 out of 5

Keller's Horoscope - Lawrence Block

Murderer's Thumb.


3 out of 5

Keller's Designated Hitter - Lawrence Block

Baseball monthlong kill wait.


3.5 out of 5

As Dark As Christmas Gets - Lawrence Block

Manuscript deal.


3 out of 5

Death Of the Mallory Queen - Lawrence Block

Murder me story.


3 out of 5

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Of the Year 3 - Jonathan Strahan

A reasonable volume for a Year's Best, at 3.70.

However, here's a quote from the editorial introduction: "The other trends that stood out in 2008, beyond the simple dominance of science fiction over fantasy (it seemed this year that there was much more interesting SF published than fantasy at shorter lengths—something that may directly correlate with the dominance of SF in the anthology market)".

I have to agree, if I split it out in to the two books, so there are 14 in each (some you could maybe call either SF or fantasy - Kessel, Lanagan for example) then there is a stark difference :-

Science Fiction - 4.04
Fantasy - 3.36

The fantasy is singularly unimpressive, even allowing for the fact I don't like fantasy as much in general - you could call it 3.50+ for that if you like to allow for that. Still not very good, Bear and King aside. Whereas the SF selection has a couple of 5's and multiple 4.5's.

The fantasy section also suffers from a lot of the contemporary not very fantastic sameness whether written by the writers for kids like Black and Aiken, or not in McCarron and Scholes.

With Night Shade going to do a horror volume too, not sure how that impacts on the selecting of stories, not much along the horror or darker line on the fantasy side. This is possibly editorial predilection, too. So you get the feeling of it all being a bit fluffy at times (not the case for the sf stories though). The majority of the fantasy is by women, and it seems a bit like the horniness of teenage girls (and lusting after older men) overshadows any fantasy elements in multiple stories. Men writing about older men have sex with young females will often be accussed of being creepy - not so women writing about the same thing?

Perhaps doing some of what the editor has said he mostly excludes the same sort of thing from mainstream writers for. He also says he is looking for stuff that 'transgresses the boundaries'. Not quite sure how you reconcile all that. Not very successfully as far as the fantastic goes in this volume, certainly.

To sum up all the boring waffle :

Great year for SF stories
Poor year for fantasy stories

Book approaching 4.25.

SF and F Best 03 : Exhalation - Ted Chiang
SF and F Best 03 : Shoggoths in Bloom - Elizabeth Bear
SF and F Best 03 : Uncle Chaim and Aunt Rifke and the Angel - Peter S. Beagle
SF and F Best 03 : Fixing Hanover - Jeff VanderMeer
SF and F Best 03 : The Gambler - Paolo Bacigalupi
SF and F Best 03 : The Dust Assassin - Ian McDonald
SF and F Best 03 : Virgin - Holly Black
SF and F Best 03 : Pride and Prometheus - John Kessel
SF and F Best 03 : The Thought War - Paul McAuley
SF and F Best 03 : Beyond the Sea Gates of the Scholar Pirates of Sarskoe - Garth Nix
SF and F Best 03 : The Small Door - Holly Phillips
SF and F Best 03 : Turing's Apples - Stephen Baxter
SF and F Best 03 : The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates - Stephen King
SF and F Best 03 : Five Thrillers - Robert Reed
SF and F Best 03 : The Magician's House - Megan McCarron
SF and F Best 03 : Goblin Music - Joan Aiken
SF and F Best 03 : Machine Maid - Margo Lanagan
SF and F Best 03 : The Art of Alchemy - Ted Kosmatka
SF and F Best 03 : 26 Monkeys Also the Abyss - Kij Johnson
SF and F Best 03 : Marry the Sun - Rachel Swirsky
SF and F Best 03 : Crystal Nights - Greg Egan
SF and F Best 03 : His Master's Voice - Hannu Rajaniemi
SF and F Best 03 : Special Economics - Maureen McHugh
SF and F Best 03 : Evidence of Love in a Case of Abandonment - M Rickert
SF and F Best 03 : From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled - Michael Swanwick
SF and F Best 03 : If Angels Fight - Rick Bowes
SF and F Best 03 : The Doom of Love in Small Spaces - Ken Scholes
SF and F Best 03 : Pretty Monsters - Kelly Link

Brain dissection end of universe equilibrium optimism.

5 out of 5


Prehistoric mutant master replacement martial decision.

4.5 out of 5


Dybbuk painting possession.

3 out of 5


Airship engineer escape extreme prejudice recovery.

4 out of 5


Laosy science news not enough until girlpopped.

4.5 out of 5


Black Widow water rights kiss.

4 out of 5


Unicorn gone.

3 out of 5


It's Alive with Prejudice.

3.5 out of 5

Boltzman brain zombie survival.

3.5 out of 5


Giant starfish cat Fury.

3.5 out of 5


Weirdo defender, tired.

3 out of 5


Post-crash pre-advice.

4 out of 5


G. M. Joe.

4 out of 5


Slight connection.

3 out of 5


Short, biked and buried.

3.5 out of 5


Feeling up the sexbot.

3.5 out of 5


Carbonised razor-sharp corporate competition.

4 out of 5


Not going ape for this list.

3 out of 5


Toasting the wife rebound.

3.5 out of 5


AI research society universal escape flareup.

5 out of 5


Plural copy execution pet team-up comeback.

4.5 out of 5


Getting a Chinese Wal-Mart New Life revolution.

3.5 out of 5


Friday night mum executing lights.

3.5 out of 5


Trust debt.

3 out of 5


Jumper boy.

3.5 out of 5


Many bath red dress replacement refusal.

3.5 out of 5


Clementine jailbait goat ordeal.

3 out of 5




4 out of 5

Beyond the Sea Gates Of The Scholar Pirates Of Sarskoe - Garth Nix

Giant starfish cat Fury.


3.5 out of 5

The Doom Of Love In Small Spaces - Ken Scholes

Many bath red dress replacement refusal.


3.5 out of 5

Machine Maid - Margo Lanagan

Feeling up the sexbot.


3.5 out of 5

Goblin Music - Joan Aiken

Short, biked and buried.


3.5 out of 5

Virgin - Holly Black

Unicorn gone.


3 out of 5

Pretty Monsters - Kelly Link

Clementine jailbait goat Ordeal.


3 out of 5

An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat - Glen Cook

A very pleasant surprise to see this, as Cook pretty much doesn't write short fiction for some time. Even better to see that there is a third story about the crew of the Vengeful Dragon - Hell's Forge. The other two, Ghost Stalk and Call For the Dead are excellent. The third is good, too, if not quite at the level of those two.

The other couple I hadn't read were apparently possible Norse legend/folktale type stories that with very minor tweaks could be set in the appropriate region of the Dread Empire. So Finding Svale's Daughter and Silverheels have a different style and tone to the other heroic or low fantasy entries.

Multiformat, DRM free, great price. Highly recommended, as these stories are my favorite Cook work outside the Black Company.

An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat : Soldier of An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat - Glen Cook
An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat : The Nights of Dreadful Silence - Glen Cook
An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat : Finding Svale's Daughter - Glen Cook
An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat : Ghost Stalk - Glen Cook
An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat : Filed Teeth - Glen Cook
An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat : Castle Of Tears - Glen Cook
An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat : Call For The Dead - Glen Cook
An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat : Severed Heads - Glen Cook
An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat : Silverheels - Glen Cook
An Empire Unacquainted With Defeat : Hell's Forge - Glen Cook

Old soldiers, beware of.

4 out of 5


No trusting wizards or kings.

3 out of 5


Trolls, dragons and thunderers.

3.5 out of 5


Crazy pirate spook ship hunt.

4.5 out of 5


We had a Lord Hammer.

3.5 out of 5


Bowman's pirate purgatory.

4 out of 5


Great death entry.

3 out of 5


Kitten vs dragon transformation.

3.5 out of 5


Vengeful Dragon's Fish portal sorcery.

4 out of 5




4.5 out of 5

Hell's Forge - Glen Cook

Vengeful Dragon's Fish portal sorcery.


4 out of 5

Silverheels - Glen Cook

Kitten vs dragon transformation.


3.5 out of 5

Finding Svale's Daughter - Glen Cook

Trolls, dragons and thunderers.


3.5 out of 5

Hit Man - Lawrence Block

A collection of stories about an introspective assassin of variable methods who never appears to be quite grounded. Slowly develops misgivings here and there about what he is up to, but still mostly lets it wash over him.

Very consistent in quality, a 3.75 type book.

Hit Man : Answers to Soldier - Lawrence Block
Hit Man : Keller on Horseback - Lawrence Block
Hit Man : Keller's Therapy - Lawrence Block
Hit Man : Dogs Walked, Plants Watered - Lawrence Block
Hit Man : Keller's Karma - Lawrence Block
Hit Man : Keller in Shining Armor - Lawrence Block
Hit Man : Keller's Choice - Lawrence Block
Hit Man : Keller on the Spot - Lawrence Block
Hit Man : Keller's Last Refuge - Lawrence Block
Hit Man : Keller in Retirement - Lawrence Block

Printer wire end.

3.5 out of 5


Crash beaten.

3 out of 5


Add one dog.

3 out of 5


People poisoned.

3.5 out of 5


Wrong kill variety.

3.5 out of 5


Fake hit setup cleanup.

3.5 out of 5


Client kill reversal dog left.

3.5 out of 5


Gift kill.

3.5 out of 5


Stranger killing not appreciated.

3 out of 5


Just a part-time philatelist.

3.5 out of 5




4 out of 5

Keller In Retirement - Lawrence Block

Just a part-time philatelist.


3.5 out of 5

Keller's Last Refuge - Lawrence Block

Stranger killing not appreciated.


3 out of 5

Keller On the Spot - Lawrence Block

Gift kill.


3.5 out of 5

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Keller's Choice - Lawrence Block

Client kill reversal dog left.


3.5 out of 5

Keller In Shining Armor - Lawrence Block

Fake hit setup cleanup.


3.5 out of 5

Keller's Karma - Lawrence Block

Wrong kill variety.


3.5 out of 5

Dogs Walked Plants Watered - Lawrence Block

People poisoned.


3.5 out of 5

Keller's Therapy - Lawrence Block

Add one dog.


3 out of 5

The Stage Is Set - Lynette Godfrey

Ultimatum science transmission research.


3 out of 5

The Horizontal Player - Alan Carr

Fire Dragon show.


3 out of 5

Chocolate Sunday Heist - John Clark

Banana bender robo judge, jury, executioner.


3.5 out of 5

Angel Of Death - J. Robert King

Samael, son of, et. al.

Angels, serial killers, biblicalness. None of the three things here hold any fascination whatsoever for me. That is pretty much what you get in this novel, however. Although I am interested in supernatural horror.

Unlike the mundane horror of the previous Angry Robot horror novel, this is both more supernatural and more go out and find someone to slice, as opposed to the seduce and lure technique of the crazy woman in their previous volume.

There's a definitely not crazy ordinary woman in the middle of this.

Perfectly fine writing, perfectly standard quality novel, e.g. around the 3.25 mark. A nifty enough nasty denouement and followup to get me to round it up, though.


3.5 out of 5

The Cradle Of Life - Dave Stern

The second Tomb Raider novelisation pales a bit compared to the first. Perhaps a lower class of bad guy, going from power hungry Illuminati to genocidal bioterrorist.

Lara again has to work with a disreputable but highly competent individual from her past - indeed, someone else she had shagged, to make it more interesting. This time it is a former expert soldier turned mercenary who had managed to get him locked up.

The villain here is after Pandora's Box - an alien artifact with the potential to destroy by plague most of humanity - having done for Alexander the Great already. A race to find it, and save most of the people on the planet.

The start is pretty good, with the underwater temple scene, but it fades slowly after that.


3 out of 5

Matilda's Stepchildren - A. Bertram Chandler

Grimes depravity.

Although not by choice. He gets an opportunity to get out of hock when a scandalmongering tabloid wants to buy his story - and have his services available as transport for one of their head muckrackers.

The planet they had for is geared towards tourist entertainment of the adult kind - gambling, brothels, etc. On the surface. Underneath is a lot worse, slavery, an underground colosseum arena, torture and snuff porn - combined.

Some fun planet names throughout Grimes travels' Porlock, New Venus, New Alice - the latter of which has a couple of inhabitants he teams up with in this adventure - Darleen and Shirl. Very entertaining. More echoes of the Underpeople from a previous story - and Drongo Kane.


3.5 out of 5

To Keep the Ship - A. Bertram Chandler

Grimes is broke, and his ship expenses keep mounting, so he has to do something else to try and get enough money to get that cleared up.

Unfortunately, in the process he gets spacejacked by a couple of royal revolutionaries involved in a plot to try and win back control of their planet.

It isn't even that straightforward, given the bodyswapping and cloning that becomes involved later.

For someone supposedly lucky, he runs into a lot of bad stuff.


3.5 out of 5

Star Courier - A. Bertram Chandler

Rogue Queen religion.

Grimes, after a Big Black Mark in the record sense and book sense quits the Survey Service, to strike out on his own - and this is the second novel in this part of his career.

Amazingly enough, he manages to have another Mannscheim Drive go screwy - and they need help.

The only available is alien - Shaara.

Aliens, religion, and violence is what he ends up in the middle of - not a nice mixture.


3 out of 5

Capsule Of Infinity - Kendall Evans

Long trip unreality tape.


3 out of 5

Saturday, September 19, 2009

In For A Penny - Lawrence Block

Knife edge between out and jail.


4 out of 5

Explorers - Gardner Dozois

The subtitle for this book is 'SF Adventures to Far Horizons', and it definitely means it. Depending on the story this can be the Solar System, or somewhere much, much further away through other galaxies and other existences.

This is a very strong collection, with a 3.80 average, full of acknowledged masters and the occasional unknown older story like H. B. Fyfe. Fyfe it seemed laid down the 'man stuck on planet air running out' form.

Explorers : The Sentinel - Arthur C. Clarke
Explorers : Moonwalk - H. B. Fyfe
Explorers : Grandpa - James H. Schmitz
Explorers : The Red Hills of Summer - Edgar Pangborn
Explorers : The Longest Voyage - Poul Anderson
Explorers : Hot Planet - Hal Clement
Explorers : Drunkboat - Cordwainer Smith
Explorers : Becalmed in Hell - Larry Niven
Explorers : Nine Hundred Grandmothers - R. A. Lafferty
Explorers : The Keys to December - Roger Zelazny
Explorers : Vaster Than Empires and More Slow - Ursula K. Le Guin
Explorers : A Meeting with Medusa - Arthur C. Clarke
Explorers : The Man Who Walked Home - James Tiptree Jr.
Explorers : Long Shot - Vernor Vinge
Explorers : In the Hall of the Martian Kings - John Varley
Explorers : Ginungagap - Michael Swanwick
Explorers : Exploring Fossil Canyon - Kim Stanley Robinson
Explorers : Promises to Keep - Jack McDevitt
Explorers : Lieserl - Stephen Baxter
Explorers : Crossing Chao Meng Fu - G. David Nordley
Explorers : Wang's Carpets - Greg Egan
Explorers : A Dance to Strange Musics - Gregory Benford
Explorers : Approaching Perimelasma - Geoffrey A. Landis

Moon machine.

4 out of 5


Scared in a sea of rock.

3.5 out of 5


Big ol' beast ride.

4 out of 5


Demeter discovery.

3.5 out of 5


Navigational mathematics seems like magic, so a flying ship is just like, 'Wow!'

3.5 out of 5


Vulcan solution.

3.5 out of 5


Rage through space, really fast to dreams out of space.

4.5 out of 5


Ship brain Venus trip.

2.5 out of 5


Old Special Aspects.

3.5 out of 5


Cold place defense.

3 out of 5


Empathetic comeback.

3 out of 5


Jovian airship's robojock first contact radio days.

4 out of 5


Annual accidental time travel peepshow.

4 out of 5


Ship girl sent seeding.

3.5 out of 5


Local accomodations mostly plastic.

4 out of 5


Black hole alien visiting lady bomb is decapitated. Sense of self maintained, now becomes filthy rich spider liaision.

4.5 out of 5


Dead life discovery.

3 out of 5


Callisto christmas action tape vacation.

4 out of 5


Force grown sungirl intelligence.

3.5 out of 5


'But the milieu of the Gentleman Adventurer requires that one return from the adventure to recount it.'

4 out of 5


A conservative transhuman polis sets out to search for alien life on other planets. The planet they find surprises them in a bit way, as the carpetlike inhabitants seem to grow by a pattern described by an obscure mathematician. Their nature allows them to perform as a Turing machine, and they are running one pretty impressive simulation.

A story you might just have to read a bit of twice.

5 out of 5


Zap pow intrusion response broadcast communication.

4 out of 5


Black hole wormhole fun.

4.5 out of 5




4.5 out of 5

The Red Hills Of Summer - Edgar Pangborn

Demeter discovery.


3.5 out of 5

Moonwalk - H. B. Fyfe

Scared in a sea of rock.


3.5 out of 5

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Century Of Noir - Max Allan Collins and Mickey Spillane

An overview of this style of story, with a brief introduction detailing among other things the relationship between the two editors. Doesn't particularly say so, this is basically an American anthology. There were a handful of writers here I was not familiar with.

I'm only an occasional reader of crime fiction, but this sort of thing is certainly my favorite.

The order of stories is generally chronological, from pioneers such as Daly right up to Collins himself.

The best stories here are by Brackett, Ross MacDonald, David Goodis, Lawrence Block, and Bill Pronzini, of whom the past stories I have read I hadn't thought much.

The real find, of writers I had not known anything about, was Benjamin Schutz. The sort of story that says, 'where do I find more by this bloke'? An editorial quote is 'it is but one part of his fine Leo Haggerty saga, one of the truly underappreciated bodies of work in today’s private eye field.' If the rest is of similar quality, I'd have to agree.

The writer's background is noted as a psychologist that works with abused children and along those lines. To seem, it would seem there are similarities in style, authorial background and character between Schutz and Andrew Vachss and his Burke creation. Something that is most definitely a good thinig.

A good overview, certainly, even if not matching the strength of Pronzini's 'Hardboiled' anthology. I'd call this a 3.75 rounded up.

Century Of Noir : The Meanest Cop in the World - Chester Himes
Century Of Noir : Just Another Stiff [Race Williams] - Carroll John Daly
Century Of Noir : Something for the Sweeper - Norbert Davis
Century Of Noir : I Feel Bad Killing You - Leigh Brackett
Century Of Noir : Don’t Look Behind You - Fredric Brown
Century Of Noir : Death Comes Gift-Wrapped - William P. McGivern
Century Of Noir : Murder for Money [All That Blood Money Can Buy] - John D. MacDonald
Century Of Noir : Cigarette Girl - James M. Cain
Century Of Noir : Guilt-Edged Blonde [Lew Archer] - Ross Macdonald
Century Of Noir : The Gesture - Gil Brewer
Century Of Noir : The Plunge - David Goodis
Century Of Noir : Tomorrow I Die - Mickey Spillane
Century Of Noir : Never Shake a Family Tree - Donald E. Westlake
Century Of Noir : Somebody Cares - Talmage Powell
Century Of Noir : The Granny Woman - Dorothy B. Hughes
Century Of Noir : Wanted - Dead and Alive [Chester Drum] - Stephen Marlowe
Century Of Noir : The Double Take [Shell Scott] - Richard S. Prather
Century Of Noir : The Real Shape of the Coast - John Lutz
Century Of Noir : Dead Men Don't Dream [Curt Cannon] - Evan Hunter
Century Of Noir : The Used - Loren D. Estleman
Century Of Noir : Busted Blossoms [Toby Peters] - Stuart M. Kaminsky
Century Of Noir : The Kerman Kill - William Campbell Gault
Century Of Noir : Deceptions [Sharon McCone] - Marcia Muller
Century Of Noir : The Nickel Derby - Robert J. Randisi
Century Of Noir : The Reason Why [Jack Dwyer] - Ed Gorman
Century Of Noir : No Comment - John Jakes
Century Of Noir : How Would You Like It? - Lawrence Block
Century Of Noir : Grace Notes [V.I. Warshawski] - Sara Paretsky
Century Of Noir : One Night at Dolores Park [Nameless private eye] - Bill Pronzini
Century Of Noir : Dead Drunk - Lia Matera
Century Of Noir : Kaddish for the Kid [Nate Heller] - Max Allan Collins
Century Of Noir : Lost and Found - Benjamin M. Schutz

Prison nightmare.

3.5 out of 5


Race Williams, The Flame and some drug running.

3.5 out of 5


Impersonation for trust.

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


Book plant knife.

3.5 out of 5


No Cherry at murder.

3 out of 5


Chief Adjuster widow find.

3.5 out of 5


Legalised gamble.

3 out of 5


Mom, I'm running out of family, here. Tell her Mr. Archer.

4 out of 5


Going to use the gun.

3 out of 5


No Dice, take the fall.

4 out of 5


Sheriff Mayor robbery up the sleeve.

3.5 out of 5


Genealogical Exchange Black Widow.

3 out of 5


Park girl kill.

3 out of 5


Dead a spell, silver bullet.

3 out of 5


Killer hire scam.

3 out of 5


Shell Scott con.

3.5 out of 5


Drowning chess.

3 out of 5


Protection removal.

3.5 out of 5


“We got the squeal on your kidnapping a few minutes ago,” Kirdy said. “I was just heading out there when you two showed.”

3.5 out of 5


Scripted knifing.

3.5 out of 5


Rug connection.

3 out of 5


Fake suicide costume murder.

3.5 out of 5


Rigging case.

3 out of 5


Death jump truth.

3.5 out of 5


Shutting up slice.

3 out of 5


Cruelty to animals? You'll be stuck with the consequences.

4 out of 5


Mystery cousin Mob score.

3.5 out of 5


Art couple argument shot through.

4 out of 5


Perrier killer pickup.

3.5 out of 5


Missed the partner.

3 out of 5


Desert marriage murderer dessication.

4 out of 5




4 out of 5