Friday, May 28, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Mammoth Book Of Best New Horror 12 - Stephen Jones

Pretty much the same quality as 11 at 3.27. With the same comprehensive overview of what came out that was related, although the litany of small press limited editions gets rather tedious. Especially after the editor complains that this is a real book he is doing here with actual distribution, not POD or ebook. The latter doesn't stop him mentioning anything of course, which is good. And these intros are goldmines for finding stuff that might be of interest you have never heard of given the brief mention of what novels are about, etc. Having a spousal unit who is a mummy freak for example.

So, call this book not quite a 3.75, a bit much weak work to get the roundup ot 4.

Best New Horror 12 : Castle in the Desert - Kim Newman
Best New Horror 12 : The Keeper of the Rothenstein Tomb - Iain Sinclair
Best New Horror 12 : Forever Gramma - Mick Garris
Best New Horror 12 : At Home in the Pubs of Old London - Christopher Fowler
Best New Horror 12 : In the Water Works (Birmingham Alabama 1988) - Caitlin R. Kiernan
Best New Horror 12 : Bone Orchards - Paul J. McAuley
Best New Horror 12 : No Strings - Ramsey Campbell
Best New Horror 12 : The Grotto - Kathryn Ptacek
Best New Horror 12 : Merry Roderick - Geoffrey Warburton
Best New Horror 12 : Climbing Down from Heaven - Terry Lamsley
Best New Horror 12 : Empty Stations - Nicholas Royle
Best New Horror 12 : Flesh of Leaves Bones of Desire - Charlee Jacob
Best New Horror 12 : The Repulsion - Tim Lebbon
Best New Horror 12 : The Detailer - Dennis Etchison
Best New Horror 12 : Coming Home - Mark Morris
Best New Horror 12 : The Hunger of the Leaves - Joel Lane
Best New Horror 12 : Xenos Beach - Graham Joyce
Best New Horror 12 : At Eventide - Kathe Koja
Best New Horror 12 : Pareidolia - Steve Rasnic Tem
Best New Horror 12 : I Have a Special Plan for This World - Thomas Ligotti
Best New Horror 12 : The Handover - Michael Marshall Smith
Best New Horror 12 : The Other Side of Midnight - Kim Newman

Marlowe. He is trying to track down a child.
Hilariously, in a diner, he runs into the Rubber Duck - who wants to partake of vampire girls.
Genevieve gives him a bit of a fright.

3.5 out of 5

Mirror problem.

2 out of 5

Sexing my dead grandmother.

3.5 out of 5

Microneedle of death in hand.

3.5 out of 5

White wormed.

2.5 out of 5

Mr Carlyle proactively helps a ghost girl.

3.5 out of 5

Violin players are scary.

3 out of 5

Of Estruscan Death Goddesses.

3.5 out of 5

Bone to pick with you.

3.5 out of 5

Next door sisterless.

3 out of 5

Hard to find again.

3.5 out of 5

Skeleton stick it to me baby men.

3.5 out of 5

Double holiday.

4 out of 5

Bloody car issues.

3 out of 5

I'll be back for xmas, baby.

3.5 out of 5

Useless to sorcerer.

4 out of 5

Holiday tent swim hookup travail.

4 out of 5

Box me dead.

3 out of 5

Bad poetry.

2.5 out of 5

Murder Town.

3 out of 5

Would the last one to die please take down the sign?

3 out of 5

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

3.5 out of 5

The Handover - Michael Marshall Smith

Would the last one to die please take down the sign?

3 out of 5

I Have A Special Plan For This World - Thomas Ligotti

Murder Town.

3 out of 5

Pareidoilia - Steve Rasnic Tem

Bad poetry.

2.5 out of 5

At Eventide - Kathe Koja

Box me dead.

3 out of 5

Xenos Beach - Graham Joyce

Holiday tent swim hookup travail.

4 out of 5

Coming Home - Mark Morris

I'll be back for xmas, baby.

3.5 out of 5

The Detailer - Dennis Etchison

Bloody car issues.

3 out of 5

Flesh Of Leaves Bones Of Desire - Charlee Jacob

Skeleton stick it to me baby men.

3.5 out of 5

Empty Stations - Nicholas Royle

Hard to find again.

3.5 out of 5

Climbing Down From Heaven - Terry Lamsley

Next door sisterless.

3 out of 5

Merry Roderick - Geoffrey Warburotn

Bone to pick with you.

3.5 out of 5

The Grotto - Kathryn Ptacek

Of Estruscan Death Goddesses.

3.5 out of 5

No Strings - Ramsey Campbell

Violin players are scary.

3 out of 5

In The Water Works - Caitlin R. Kiernan

White wormed.

2.5 out of 5

At Home In the Pubs of London - Christopher Fowler

Microneedle of death in hand.

3.5 out of 5

Forever Gramma - Mick Garris

Sexing my dead grandmother.

3.5 out of 5

The Keeper of the Rothenstein Tomb - Iain Sinclair

Mirror problem.

2 out of 5

Combined Free SF Reader and Not Free SF Reader List By Author updated

Combined Free SF Reader and Not Free SF Reader List By Author updated :-

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Analog 950 - Stanley Schmidt

A fairly similar quality and breakdown to the last issue at 3.13. With a column on gender in languages.

ANALOG950 : Analog 950 - Stanley Schmidt
ANALOG950 : SPACE ALIENS TAUGHT MY DOG TO KNIT! - Jerry Oltion and Elton Elliott
ANALOG950 : HEIST - Tracy Canfield
ANALOG950 : AT LAST THE SUN - Richard Foss
ANALOG950 : A TIME FOR HEROES - Edward M. Lerner
ANALOG950 : CARGO - Michael F. Flynn
ANALOG950 : CONNECTIONS - Kyle Kirkland

A Glimmer that it is not just worm slime, Slag.

3 out of 5

Fridge slime phone home.

3.5 out of 5

Just blowing your UFO conspiracy.

3.5 out of 5

No AI crime family retirement.

3 out of 5

Giant undersea tentacle scientist.

3 out of 5

Virt improvement slaughter.

3.5 out of 5

River demons, Old Nob.

2.5 out of 5

Dysphoria Yoobie Op.

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

Connections - Kyle Kirkland

Dysphoria Yoobie Op.

3 out of 5

Cargo - Michael F. Flynn

River demons, Old Nob.

2.5 out of 5

A Time For Heroes - Edward M. Lerner

Virt improvement slaughter.

3.5 out of 5

At Last the Sun - Richard Foss

Giant undersea tentacle scientist.

3 out of 5

Heist - Tracy Canfield

No AI crime family retirement.

3 out of 5

Space Aliens Taught My Dog To Knit! - Jerry Oltion and Elton Elliott

Just blowing your UFO conspiracy.

3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Light Conversation - Alastair Mayer

Fridge slime phone home.

3.5 out of 5

The Anunnaki Legacy - Bond Elam

A Glimmer that it is not just worm slime, slag.

3 out of 5

Sos the Rope - Piers Anthony

SOS the Rope does make an interesting pair with Steppe. However, rather than a barbarian travelling into the future, this time we have a barbarian living in the future.

A post-apocalyptic future that has nomadic warrior tribes or loners, as well as more advanced technological groups that keep them fed and housed, in an interesting symbiosis.

Two men meet and challenge in the Battle Circle - one a fine warrior, but the other a master, as the former learns. The stakes escalate because they are both intrigued by the same woman, and the predictable happens. Both having the same three letter name Sol, the vanquished has to change his to Sos, and doesn't get to become married, either.

The winner has a plan, build an empire, and realising that Sos is an educated planner, wants him as his adviser, despite having wagered the right never to use any of the six major weapons again. So you can tell from the title what happens there. Not to mention the almost hilariously slashy cover.

This scenario progresses as their differences and the chance meeting at the same time with the one woman they both live affecting all things further in the novel, and discoveries of the other parts of society.

Again, better than I thought it would be. It is also illustrated.

3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fritz Leiber-Selected Stories - Fritz Leiber

An eclectic collection of fantasy stories with a little science fiction at 3.56, the best of which are in the middle, with Ill Met in Lankhmar and Gonna Roll the Bones. There are multiple Lankhmar stories to be found here, which is good.

Fritz Leiber-Selected Stories : SMOKE GHOST - Fritz Leiber
Fritz Leiber-Selected Stories : THE GIRL WITH THE HUNGRY EYES - Fritz Leiber
Fritz Leiber-Selected Stories : COMING ATTRACTION - Fritz Leiber
Fritz Leiber-Selected Stories : A PAIL OF AIR - Fritz Leiber
Fritz Leiber-Selected Stories : A DESKFUL OF GIRLS - Fritz Leiber
Fritz Leiber-Selected Stories : SPACE-TIME FOR SPRINGERS - Fritz Leiber
Fritz Leiber-Selected Stories : ILL MET IN LANKHMAR - Fritz Leiber
Fritz Leiber-Selected Stories : FOUR GHOSTS IN HAMLET - Fritz Leiber
Fritz Leiber-Selected Stories : GONNA ROLL THE BONES - Fritz Leiber
Fritz Leiber-Selected Stories : THE INNER CIRCLES - Fritz Leiber
Fritz Leiber-Selected Stories : AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL - Fritz Leiber
Fritz Leiber-Selected Stories : BAZAAR OF THE BIZARRE - Fritz Leiber
Fritz Leiber-Selected Stories : MIDNIGHT BY THE MORPHY WATCH - Fritz Leiber
Fritz Leiber-Selected Stories : BELSEN EXPRESS - Fritz Leiber
Fritz Leiber-Selected Stories : CATCH THAT ZEPPELIN! - Fritz Leiber
Fritz Leiber-Selected Stories : HORRIBLE IMAGININGS - Fritz Leiber
Fritz Leiber-Selected Stories : THE CURSE OF THE SMALLS AND THE STARS - Fritz Leiber

Spectral look.

3.5 out of 5

Supermodels possibly creepier than vampires.

3 out of 5

Strange social fashions.

4 out of 5

A dark star interloper rips the earth out of its orbit, and everything freezes. One family finds a way to construct a shelter to survive the freezing.

3.5 out of 5

Sexy ghost deal.

3.5 out of 5

Superkitten research.

3.5 out of 5

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

4.5 out of 5

Dead on act.

3.5 out of 5

Dicing with Death.

4.5 out of 5

Cryptic power recruit.

3 out of 5

Puritan grumpy.

3.5 out of 5

Wizard errands suck, so do commercial crapsters.

4 out of 5

Short, secondhand inspiration.

3.5 out of 5

Nazi gas delayed, no chamber.

3.5 out of 5

Airship transport changes.

3 out of 5

(Vanishing Lady).

3 out of 5

Archimages decided they need their hero helpers back home, despite a couple of personal Death obstacles.

3.5 out of 5

4 out of 5

Horrible Imaginings - Fritz Leiber

(Vanishing Lady).

3 out of 5

The Green Leopard Plague and Other Stories - Walter Jon Williams

An excellent collection of stories at 3.83, headlined by the brilliant title story 'The Green Leopard Plague.' Of the others I would have included Dinosaurs and Video Star or one of his Wild Cards stories ahead of weaker stuff like Send Them Flowers, but pretty much agree with the rest.

A great value collection that anyone can buy, DRM-free.

Green Leopard Plague and Other Stories : Daddy's World - Walter John Williams
Green Leopard Plague and Other Stories : Lethe - Walter John Williams
Green Leopard Plague and Other Stories : The Last Ride of German Freddie - Walter John Williams
Green Leopard Plague and Other Stories : Millennium Party - Walter John Williams
Green Leopard Plague and Other Stories : The Green Leopard Plague - Walter John Williams
Green Leopard Plague and Other Stories : The Tang Dynasty Underwater Pyramid - Walter John Williams
Green Leopard Plague and Other Stories : Incarnation Day - Walter John Williams
Green Leopard Plague and Other Stories : Send Them Flowers - Walter John Williams
Green Leopard Plague and Other Stories : Pinocchio - Walter John Williams

Dead boy's program needs maturity.

3 out of 5

Pairing memory recreation problems.

3.5 out of 5

Nietzsche at the OK Corral.

4 out of 5

Just the right brain for the occasion.

3.5 out of 5

Plant people economic overthrow research romance revenge.

5 out of 5

Diatom outbreak scuttling solution.

4 out of 5

Parental supervision control program subversion.

4.5 out of 5

In all Probability, that will be trouble.

3.5 out of 5

Gorilla too vanilla for flash in the pan pack-man.

3.5 out of 5

4.5 out of 5

The Haunter of the Ring and Other Tales - Robert E. Howard

This is a collection of some of the public domain horror stories of Robert E. Howard, in general. There are several very good stories here.

This book can be had by Australians from the Book Depository for less than the price of mailing it from one state to another locally, as such.

Skull-Face is one for the fans of Big Trouble In Little China, for sure.

Others if you are going to just pick a few:- The Fire of Asshurbanipal, The Horror From the Mound, People of the Dark.

A fine deal.

Haunter of the Ring and Other Tales : In the Forest of Villefere
Haunter of the Ring and Other Tales : Wolfshead - Robert E. Howard
Haunter of the Ring and Other Tales : The Dream Snake - Robert E. Howard
Haunter of the Ring and Other Tales : The Hyena - Robert E. Howard
Haunter of the Ring and Other Tales : Sea Curse - Robert E. Howard
Haunter of the Ring and Other Tales : Skull-Face - Robert E. Howard
Haunter of the Ring and Other Tales : The Fearsome Touch of Death - Robert E. Howard
Haunter of the Ring and Other Tales : The Children of the Night - Robert E. Howard
Haunter of the Ring and Other Tales : The Black Stone - Robert E. Howard
Haunter of the Ring and Other Tales : The Thing On the Roof - Robert E. Howard
Haunter of the Ring and Other Tales : The Horror from the Mound - Robert E. Howard
Haunter of the Ring and Other Tales : People of the Dark - Robert E. Howard
Haunter of the Ring and Other Tales : The Cairn on the Headland - Robert E. Howard
Haunter of the Ring and Other Tales : Black Talons - Robert E. Howard
Haunter of the Ring and Other Tales : Fangs of Gold - Robert E. Howard
Haunter of the Ring and Other Tales : Names in the Black Book - Robert E. Howard
Haunter of the Ring and Other Tales : The Haunter of the Ring - Robert E. Howard
Haunter of the Ring and Other Tales : Graveyard Rats - Robert E. Howard
Haunter of the Ring and Other Tales : Black Wind Blowing - Robert E. Howard
Haunter of the Ring and Other Tales : The Fire of Asshurbanipal - Robert E. Howard
Haunter of the Ring and Other Tales : Pigeons from Hell - Robert E. Howard

Hanging around Spanish noble types is bad for your health. This time, it took a while to work out whether this gentleman Was Don Leopard, or Don Lupin. The latter was the case, and causes quite a few problems.

3.5 out of 5

Scary snooze leaves sleeper smooshed.

2.5 out of 5

Shapeshifter of the not so high class variety.

3 out of 5

A group of local seamen and basically criminals, and when they cause the death of a girl, a woman curses them, quite impressively :-

'I curse you by sea and by land, by earth and by air, by the demons of the swamplands, the fiends of the forest and the goblins of the hills! And you'--her lean finger stabbed at Lie-lip Canool and he started backward, his face paling--'you shall be the death of John Kulrek and he shall be the death of you! You shall bring John Kulrek to the doors of hell and John Kulrek shall bring you to the gallows-tree! I set the seal of death upon your brow, John Kulrek! You shall live in terror and die in horror far out upon the cold grey sea! But the sea that took the soul of innocence to her bosom shall not take you, but shall fling forth your vile carcass to the sands!'

This is what she causes them to run into :-

'From the hell of lost craft Satan sent a ship of bygone ages!'

Needless to say, not good for them.

3 out of 5

Chinese master villains, Egyptian sorcerers, Atlantean myths, Afghan killers, voodoo, magic elixirs, no wonder Steve Costigan is bewildered. Holey crapadoley.

4 out of 5

Dead dude's digits dancing.

3 out of 5

Anthropological arguments and reminiscences over Cthulhu cults.

3 out of 5

A Cthulhoid type venture. Not somewhere you want to be. Fairly proficiently done.

3.5 out of 5

A book collector acquires a copy of Nameless Cults. It motivates the man he got it for to go back to th temple of the Toad God.

The amulet he acquires there has very unfortunate consequences.

3 out of 5

If an old priest tells you that the body in the tomb is an undead Spanish nobleman, and you happen to be a credulous cowboy, next time, believe him!

4 out of 5

'I came to Dagon's Cave to kill Richard Brent.' 10 out of 10 for courage, minus several million for common sense. Luckily, there is a bit of reincarnated presence ancient barbarian named Conan and other action here so not everybody dies.

4 out of 5

Another reincarnation type horror, with a Norse flavor. Nice to be given necessary supernatural artifacts via the reapparance of centuries dead ancestors, when that happens, that is for sure.

3.5 out of 5

Brill's execution murder postponed by leopard man.

3 out of 5

Swamp Cat more voodoo than tiger Steve Harrison finds, knife work here.

3 out of 5

Harrison has a few problems on river street. There are bad Khans around. Ok, how many stories are the Khans the good guys? No, female drummers don't count, sorry. The odd scary publication and object to go along with it.

3.5 out of 5

Egyptian sorcerer makes placid wife a bit accidentally murderous.

3 out of 5

Rodents start at the head, not the knees, as far as human bodies go, as scared men have Harrison on the trail of a murderer.

3.5 out of 5

Devil cult's family reduction attempt.

3.5 out of 5

If you suspect a priceless gemstone with a magic-type name may be connected to cthulhoid alien monsters, well, I would suggest that trying to rob your local jewellery store bare-handed is a less hazardous activity than the acquisition of such an artifact.

4 out of 5

A man is murdered, and in no ordinary fashion. When law enforcement investigates this is the story he gets from a witness:

'and my God, sir, he was dead! His head had been split open. I saw brains and clotted blood oozing down his face, and his face,,,'

It appears there is a zuvembie in town, the long awaited aftermatch of a property that had white women mistreating their black slaves, badly.

4 out of 5

3.5 out of 5

Cthulhu's Reign - Darrell Schweitzer

Given the narrowness of the theme a very solid anthology. Better than your garden variety original anthology, certainly.

The stories range from black humour capers (Frost) to the out and out science fictional (Chappell).

The strongest work is from Ian Watson and Laird Barron. The former doomridden, the latter the tale of a supervillain who could give the authority a run for their money.

A rather better book than I thought it would be at 3.43.

Cthulhus Reign : The Walker in the Cemetery - Ian Watson
Cthulhus Reign : Sanctuary - Don Webb
Cthulhus Reign : Her Acres of Pastoral Playground - Mike Allen
Cthulhus Reign : Spherical Trigonometry - Ken Asamatsu
Cthulhus Reign : What Brings the Void - Will Murray
Cthulhus Reign : The New Pauline Corpus - Matt Cardin
Cthulhus Reign : Ghost Dancing - Darrell Schweitzer
Cthulhus Reign : This is How the World Ends - John R. Fultz
Cthulhus Reign : The Shallows - John Langan
Cthulhus Reign : Such Bright and Risen Madness in Our Names - Jay Lake
Cthulhus Reign : The Seals of New R'lyeh - Gregory Frost
Cthulhus Reign : The Holocaust of Ecstasy - Brian Stableford
Cthulhus Reign : Vastation - Laird Barron
Cthulhus Reign : Nothing Personal - Richard A. Lupoff
Cthulhus Reign : Remnants - Fred Chappell

Cthulhu all the way down - until it comes to bride selection.

4 out of 5

Rising to tentacle worship.

3 out of 5

Monster family transformation.

3 out of 5

Three way angles get you.

3.5 out of 5

Vornado soul container.

3.5 out of 5

Christ and Cthuhlu.

3 out of 5

Think I'll save the human sacrifice this time.

3.5 out of 5

Cthulhu airwaves, baby.

3.5 out of 5

Bruce island end.

3.5 out of 5

Traitor priest poison.

3.5 out of 5

Translation stuffup sacrifice.

3.5 out of 5

Head fruits are made to be eaten.

3 out of 5

If Warren Ellis and Mark Millar sat around getting blasted on Peach Schnapps while reading Lovecraft to each other, you might get something like this.

4 out of 5

Yuggoth space contraterrene virus landing.

3.5 out of 5

Seeker Starhead Echo Remnants.

3.5 out of 5

4 out of 5

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Remnants - Fred Chappell

Seeker Starhead Echo immaturity.

3.5 out of 5

Nothing Personal - Richard A. Lupoff

Yuggoth space contraterrene virus landing.

3.5 out of 5

The Holocaust of Ecstasy - Brian Stableford

Head fruits are made to be eaten.

3 out of 5

The Seals Of New R'lyeh - Gregory Frost

Translation stuffup sacrifice.

3.5 out of 5

Such Bright And Risen Madness In Our Names - Jay Lake

Traitor priest poison.

3.5 out of 5

The Shallows - John Langan

Bruce island end.

3.5 out of 5

This Is How the World Ends - John R. Fultz

Cthulhu airwaves, baby.

3.5 out of 5

Ghost Dancing - Darrell Schweitzer

Think I'll save the human sacrifice this time.

3.5 out of 5

The New Pauline Corpus - Matt Cardin

Christ and Cthuhlu.

3 out of 5

What Brings the Void - Will Murray

Vornado soul container.

3.5 out of 5

Spherical Trigonometry - Ken Asamatsu

Three way angles get you.

3.5 out of 5

Her Acres Of Pastoral Playground - Mike Allen

Monster family transformation.

3 out of 5

Sanctuary - Donn Webb

Rising to tentacle worship.

3 out of 5

The Walker In the Cemetery - Ian Watson

Cthulhu all the way down - until it comes to bride selection.

4 out of 5

Monday, May 17, 2010

Occultation - Laird Barron

I believed that Laird Barron was the greatest new horror writer around after reading his first batch, so it was slightly nervously that I approached Occultation. I had already read two of the stories - The Forest, which is an extremely good science fictional mad scientist not-quite horror depending on how you look at it story, and The Lagerstatte, which is a good ghost story. Not much of a fan of ghost stories in general, either. Could he keep it up?

I need not have worried. Occultation is every bit as outstanding as The Imago Sequence, and even a little better (3.94 as opposed to 3.89). There's nothing to match the novella Hallucigenia, but there's nothing as weak as The Royal Zoo is Closed, either. Only problem is that there are only 9 stories to be found here. Unfortunately, Barron is no speed demon.

The collection starts with its strongest story (4.5), and branches out from there. There are two 'nameless couple' terrors in Occultation (4) and Six Six Six (3.5), another Asian mundane horror story is found in Strappado (3.5), and this time in India, and another similarly in the Pacific Northwest.

This is a setting that more normally has his Mythos horrors lurking, but here a pair of investigators are alone with a past relationship on the site that used to house a cult of serial killers. So goes --30-- (4).

Catch Hell gets outside of Seattle and all pentagram and devil summoning on us, and is also a very good scary vacation tale (4).

Mysterium Tremendum (4) and The Broadsword (4.5) return to supernatural Mythos Washington State and surrounds, the former a camping and drinking tour to the site of an ancient dolmen, and the latter, despite its title, a horror hotel-now-apartments experience. These two tales demonstrate that he has established a baseline output at a very high level, and continues to build on that. As the number of tales increases, the interconnectedness between his story cycles grows, which is sure to delight his fans. On his livejournal he wrote that an upcoming story 'Blackwoods Baby' is loosely connected to Catch Hell. There you will also find his notes on what he is working on every so often, as well as announcements of new work.

The only real horror is having to wait so long for more.

So check out Occultation and his previous collection the Imago Sequence.

There is a master at work, here.

Occultation : The Forest - Laird Barron
Occultation : Occultation - Laird Barron
Occultation : The Lagerstatte - Laird Barron
Occultation : Mysterium Tremendum - Laird Barron
Occultation : Catch Hell - Laird Barron
Occultation : Strappado - Laird Barron
Occultation : The Broadsword - Laird Barron
Occultation : --30-- - Laird Barron
Occultation : Six Six Six - Laird Barron

Vastation - Laird Barron

If Warren Ellis and Mark Millar sat around getting blasted on Peach Schnapps while reading Lovecraft to each other, you might get something like this.

4 out of 5

Darkship Thieves - Sarah A. Hoyt

A fun old-style sf adventure where a rich young hellion get into trouble and is rescued by a genetically engineered boy. Cat, of course.

One society not found of this particular sort of humans, the other not fond of the genetically engineered.

Whose parents have the most evil plans?

A book that actually improves a bit from a run of the mill first half as it goes on.

3.5 out of 5

The Windup Girl - Paolo Bacigalupi


Number of words : 145000
Percent of complex words : 9.1
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 9.1


Fog : 7.3
Flesch : 74.7
Flesch-Kincaid : 5.1


Anderson Lake

A calorie man, working on a project in Thailand. A foreigner, farang. Wants to discover Thai seed secrets.

Saint Francis

Would be a handy guy to have around in these calorie controlled times.

Lao Gu

A rickshaw driver and yellow card refugee.


The inventor of much more efficient kink springs at SpringLife.


SpringLife's head of Quality Assurance.

Tan Hock Seng

Lake's assistant. A yellow card Chinese refugee from Malaya. Ex-head of the Three Prosperities.


SpringLife's day foreman.


A messy artist.

The Dung Lord

A rich union leader. An underworld figure.


Flotsam of the old Expansion, another farang. Runs a kinky whorehouse.

Pom and Nu and Kukrit and Kanda

SpringLife workers.

Lin and Lek and Chuan

SpringLife workers, the latter being dead.


A skinny girl from the SpringLife production line.

Doctor Chan

A yellow card Chinese doctor who repairs Lake after a Megadont rampage.

Lewis Carroll

Author of Alice in Wonderland.


The Trade Minister.

General Pracha

Head of the Environment Ministry and white shirts.

Gregg and Yee

Investors in SpringLife.


The Windup girl, a Japanese created woman.


Dominatrix at Raleigh's whorehouse.


Old owner of Emiko.


Emiko's mistress in Japan.

Somdet Chaopraya

Protector of the Thai Child-Queen.

Gi Bu Sen

Gibbons, a generipper who protects Thailand from the calorie companies.

Captain Jaidee Rojjanasukchai

The Tiger of Bangkok. Leader in the field of the white shirts. An ex-professional fighter.

Lieutenant Kanya Chirathivat

His second in command, whose rank increases throughout due to events.

Premwadee Srisati and Apichat Kunikorn

Great minds of Thailand.

Richard Carlyle

Corporate head and importer.


One of Jaidee's men.


Jaidee's wife.


A biologist and ex-lover of Kanya's. Works in government quarantine.

Niwat and Surat

Jaidee and Chaya's children.

Charles Bowman

Possible gene hacker for Thailand. Disappeared and actually dead.


Possible gene hacker for Thailand. Disappeared.


An employee of Hock Seng's in Malaya. Could have turned him in during the purge.

Rana and Mohammed

Hafiz's wife and son, who is a Green Headband.

Laughing Chan

Ex-plantation overseer, now crew boss in Bangkok. Also a smugger.

Sukrit Kamsing

Dog fucker.

Ah Ping and Peter Siew

Chan's men.

King Rama XII

A Thai monarch with foresight.


Environment ministry officer.


An entrepreneur. One of the Farang Phalanx.

Lucy Nguyen

An entrepreneur. One of the Farang Phalanx.

Quoile Napier

An entrepreneur. One of the Farang Phalanx.


A Grahamite priest.

Phra Kritipong

A religious leader and monk.

Sir Francis

The barman.

Prime Minister Surawong

Politician who lost his head in a coup.


A diseased man.


Old head of the Ministry.


Muay thai opponent of Jaidee's.


A tank worker at SpringLife.

Old Bones and Horseface Ma

Thugs for Dog Fucker.

Sergeant Siriporn

Needs bribing correctly to allow illegal methane burning.


A tank worker at SpringLife.


A Trade man of the spy variety.

Charoen and Sakda

Muay thai fighters.

Ajahn Chanh and Chart Korbjitti and Seub Nakhasathien

Legendary Thai.

Teacher Lalji

Helped Thailand resist the calorie companies.

AgriGen Saint Sarah

A generipper.


A white shirt of the old guard.


A girl of Gibbons'.

Drs. Ping and Raymond

Gene wizards to rival Gibbons.

Mahmoud Sonthalia

Gene wizard to rival Gibbons.

Pak Eng and Peter Kuok

Fellow yellow cards of Chan's.

Mr Yashimoto

A painter.

King Bhumibol

Also a scientist.


A windup girl.


Kanya's dead radio operator.

Lieutenant Apichart

A white shirt officer.

General Som

A white shirt. Assassinated.

Karmatha and Phailin

Dead white shirt officers.

Private Sarawut

One of Kanya's men.

Elizabeth Boudry

One of AgriGen's executives sent to Thailand after the civil war.

Malivalaya and Yuthako

Kanya's new underlings.



A fruit.


A new resistant fruit variety.

Snakehead fish


Red-fin plaa.

More seafood.


New resistant crops.

TotalNutrient Wheat

Proprietary crop.


Proprietary crop.

HiGro Corn

Proprietary crop.

Betel Nut

Used as a drug.


Flatbread type.

Mekong whiskey

Thai booze.

Khmer whiskey

Cambodian booze.

HiGro Bamboo

Proprietary crop.

Laksa asam, kopi and roti canai

Hock Seng's favorite foods.

Nam plaa prik

A papaya dish.




A type of fish.


A fruit.


Blister rust

A disease that destroys food crops, and humans.

Genehack weevil

A disease that destroys food crops. Japanese.


A disease that destroys food crops, and humans.

Sabis mold

A disease that destroys food crops. Japanese.


Cigarette brand.

Treadle computers

Human powered variety.


Mechanical power storage devices.


A building material.

Algae baths

Part of the new kink-spring production process.

Pha sin

Thai dress.


An amphetamine.

Crank fan

Mechanical cooling device.

Fa' gan fringe

Engineered disease.

Bitter water mussels

Engineered disease.

Gold Leaf

A type of cigarette.



Major city of Thailand. Krung Thep, locally.

Des Moines

City in Iowa, USA. Calorie company base.

City Pillar Shrine

Religious site in Bangkok.

Thanon Sukhumvit

Market in Bangkok.


River in Thailand.


City in Burma.


City in India.

Koh Samet

Island in Thailand.


City in Japan.

Chatachuk Market

Market in Thailand.

Chao Phraya

River in Thailand.

Khao Yai

National Park in Thailand.

Anchor Pads

Site for landing of imports in Bangkok.

Bang Rajan

Site of a battle against foreign invaders in Thai history.


An old Thai city that was attacked by Burma in the past.


Old Expansion tower site.

Koh Angrit

A source of smuggled goods.


Now drowned.

Lumphini Stadium

Site of the fights.


Region of Thailand.

Sir Francis Drake's

A bar frequented by the wealthy farang.

Khlong Prem

A Thai prison.


City in India.


Northern city.


Japanese city.


Malaysian city.

Phuket and Chiang Mai

Razed Thai cities.


City in China.



A calorie company.

Environment Ministry

A Thai government department.

White shirts

Environment Ministry police.


A company working to generate much higher capacity springs.

Chakri Dynasty

Monarchs of Thailand.


A Chinese company that makes kink-springs.


A Japanese company thatmakes anti-bacterial handlegrips

Bo Lok

A company that makes ceramic water filters.

Trade Ministry

A major Thai government department.

Green Headbands

Anti-Chinese violent xenophobes in Malaysia.

Carlyle & Sons

Shipping company. A firm of complainers.


A calorie company, Anderson Lake's.

Midwest Compact

A calorie company group in the USA.


A calorie company.

Megodont Union

Controls the use of the power generating beasts.

Customs Service

Government organisation that controls importing.


Japanese company.


A calorie company. Makes bamboo.

Sri Ganesha Insurance

An insurance company that covers importers.


Reactionary christian group.

Alabama New University

A Grahamite college.

Jai Yen, Nam Yen

Cool Heart, Cool Water. Ice maker company.

Black Panthers

Royal elite guards.

Quarantine Department

Medical government section that works on controlling disease outbreaks.


Grahamite Bible

A religious tract.

Global Management in Practice

Old business tomes, also Intercultural Business, The Asian Mind, The Little Tigers of Asia, Supply Chains and Logistics, Pop Thai, The New Global Economy, Exchange Rate Considerations in Supply Chains, Thais Mean Business, International Competition and Regulation.

The Bangkok Morning Post

A newspaper.

Thai Rath. Kom Chad Luek. Phuchatkan Rai Wan

Bangkok whisper sheets.

National Radio

A government network.

Sawatdee Krung Thep!

A whisper sheet.


Water buffalo

Beasts of burden in Thailand.


Giant elephantine beasts used in power generation.


Genetically engineered feral cat. They have chameleon abilities.


Egg eating lizard.


Nocturnal bird.


A game bird.

Ivory beetles

A common insect sight.


Phra Seub amulets

Superstition protection device.

King Rama XII images

Superstition protection device.


Growth thanks to abundant energy.


When Expansion conditions were no longer the case.

Ocean Bounty

A project that was a failure.


An elephant handler. Or Megadont.


Chinese dialect.

Phii Oun

The cheshire trickster spirit.

Phra Kenet

Elephant-headed god.

Kuan Yin

Goddess of mercy.

Yellow cards

Immigrant refugees in Thailand.


Thai New Year's festival.

Muay Thai

A martial art and sport.

Buddha, Phra Pikanet


The Coal War

An energy conflict.


A god with monkey warriors.

Mizuko Jizo Bodhisattva

A deity that favours New People.

Triple Gem

Buddha, damma, sanga.


A deity.



Human powered ground transport.


An airship.

Kink-spring skiff

Mechanically powered boat.

Dawn Star

A clipper ship of Hock Seng's in Malaya.

Kink-spring scooter

Mechanically powered two wheelers.


New People

Created humans. Windups. Have enhanced physical abilities like speed, but some have built in limitations that prevent them using them a lot without overheating.


Bo tree

Now extinct.


Spring gun

Kinetic energy disk firing weapon.

Blade bomb

A booby trap.


Thai generip terror.

The setting is Bangkok, or, colloquially, Krung Thep. It is also a near future dystopia. The city now houses many displaced Chinese refugees from a Malaysia turned fundamentalist muslim fanatics. (See his story Yellow Card Man for background) Bangkok itself is only kept from drowning by engineering and technology.

This is a post-oil world, with very little petroleum technology available, remaining. No evidence of solar tech, either, really. Power is provided by human labor and genetically engineered highly efficient animals pourding kinetic energy into springs, which then can be used to power machines. Treadle computers, even. Countries have shrunk in upon themselves as a result, but are beginning to look outward again, with ships, and dirigibles. This makes this setting rather unlike the mass-media or AI ridden future India and Brasil etc. of Ian McDonald's devising.

Particularly nasty are the 'calorie companies' - organisations that have the ability to manufacture crops in large supply: but their crops are sterile, so you always need to go back for more. That is if bugs and plagues 'weevils' and 'blister rust' do not get them. Much dirty, violent dealing in support of this activity (see his story The Calorie Man) and there are mentions of it going horribly wrong in other countries. One of the questions this raises is how they manage to stay around - why, with such hatred of them, are the calorie men and women not mercilessly hunted and slaughtered. The only intimations you get of this are economic power, based in the USA. Also China is apparently dysfunctional, and many other countries are devastated. Thailand, through foresight, is struggling on, and is hence a point of interest. Their genetic stocks and the genetic engineering expert they have on hand to help defend them are of interest to all.

The rapidly mutating diseases caused by genetic engineering meddling and conflict kill many - with mainly the calorie companies having the resources to combat their own hellish offspring, if they care to. Mutated cats with no real predators except humans have also destroyed a lot of the food chain.

The novel has many viewpoints:

Anderson Lake, An American calorie man representative, brought in to try and increase productivity at a factory working on more efficient power springs. More than he seems, however.

Hock Seng, The Yellow Card Man, an elderly fallen Chinese merchant who escaped massacres and now works for Lake.

Emiko, The Windup Girl. A Japanese artificially created human. Unable to reproduce, overheats easily but has many unknown talents. Left behind by her owner, currently a working bar girl.

Kanya, an officer in the Environment Ministry's corps of field soldiers responsible for protecting the city from incursions of disease, animals and artificial humans.

Conflict develops from many angles - there is longstanding resentment between the Environment Ministry and Trade Ministry because of different philosophies, inward, and outward looking, respectively. The foreign merchants look to exploit this. Then there is of course anti-refugee racism. As mentioned before, and historically, the Asian against Asian racism or nationalism is quite horrific.

After Jaidee, the Tiger of Bangkok and leader of the Environment Ministry's field policing arm is killed, protests erupt, and basically Bangkok devolves into Civil War.

The white shirts crack down.

Emiko also is under pressure at Raleigh's, and when pushed too far kills a group of patrons with the superhuman speed of which she is capable. Unfortunately for her, one of them was the Queen's protector. This gives the Trade Minister a lever - an illegal import that has committed an outrage against the monarchy.
Akkarat does a deal with the farang, and also gets the military on side and soon crushes white shirt resistant, but does serious damage to Bangkok in the meantime. Kanya agrees to surrender. At the formal ceremony, she is surprised to hear Akkarat name her head of the Environment Ministry.

The SpringLife factory is diseased, thanks to slackness in their algae processes, and Lake has caught it, despite thinking himself immune.

Moving further forward, a calorie company woman comes to get samples from the seedbank as part of the deal, and Kanya is there to oversee. She decides that giving away this vital part of the country is not on, and blows the calorie woman's head off, and has the monks take the seeds and disperse. She also orders Bangkok flooded.

There we find Emiko still, surviving pretty nicel as the few odd people staying in the flooded city are no threat to her superior abilities, and a fish is easy to catch with her reflexes.

Finally, Gibbons the generipper shows up, and they discuss her situation. His opinion is that the new state of the world is what it is, and it is far easier to modify humans to exist there, than to fight it. Humans like Emiko, who are immune to the diseases, and are better, faster, stronger, smarter, etc. He has the skills to engineer non-sterile New People using her DNA.

5 out of 5

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Vastation - Laird Barron

Short Story

Number of words : 6300
Percent of complex words : 11.9
Average syllables per word : 1.6
Average words per sentence : 15.7


Fog : 11.0
Flesch : 56.8
Flesch-Kincaid : 9.2


Superhuman narrator

Likes to play with humans and aliens alike. For some some space-time continuum twisting evil torturer's definition of play.


The G. Pontiff Sacrus. Lord High Necromancer.


A dead fat rock star.


Dead fat piano player.

Wife 2.0

An android.


A custodian body to use.


An Intelligence Ministry underling.

Hu Wang

Tormented Chief Science Officer.

Genghis Khan

Tormented Mongol conqueror.

Billie Jean King

Tormented American tennis player.

George Bush Jr

Tormented Presidential nepotee.


The Undying City

A misnamed area, at least for most.


A distorted black star.


A Greek city.


A Greek island.


A Caribbean archipelago.


Western European mountain range.

Mare Imbrium

On the moon.

Dimension X

One of many.


Nuked Japanese city.


Holland & Holland .50

Large calibre rifle.

Orbital batteries

Good for nuking major cities from orbit.



A philosophy.

Openers of the Way

Crazy people with an elder god deathwish.


CAT Scan

Three dimensional x-ray imaging technique.

Hoover Dam

In Nevada, USA.


Faster than light travel.



His cat.


Byzantine Empire

The Eastern Roman Empire.

Territorial Intelligence Ministry

For which he was muckety-muck.


Pod People

Mushrooms, Hollow Men, The Fungus Among Us. Alien invaders.

Old Ones

Ancient powerful beings.



A Chinese dialect.


The Cask of Amontillado

An Edgar Allan Poe story.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day float

Exhibit in a parade for television in the USA.


A crazed superpowered man loops through time and existence doing and slaughtering (and monologuing) as he may. And occasionally getting extremely annoyed with alien invaders and Elder Gods who come visiting. Plus the rise and fall of humanity, more than once. Also doesn't mind tormenting his own past self.

4 out of 5

People of the Talisman - Leigh Brackett


Number of words : 39500
Percent of complex words : 5.9
Average syllables per word : 1.4
Average words per sentence : 12.5


Fog : 7.3
Flesch : 78.8
Flesch-Kincaid : 5.4


Eric John Stark

N'Chaka, the Man-Without-a-Tribe. Earthman, out of Mercury.


A dying Martian.


The warlord of Mekh.

Ban Cruach

A great Martian king of old.


Leader of the Riders of Mekh.


One of Ciaran's men. Elderly and crazed.


A Kushat girl who helps Stark. Balin's sister.


The military leader in Kushat.


A soldier of Kushat. Thanis' brother.


A noble in Kushat.


A girl Stark knew in his youth.


A noble leader in Kushat.


One of the old race.



A Martian desert region.


Where Stark is heading. A city in the Martian north. The King City.

Thieves' Quarter

Where Camar was born.

Gates of Death

A pass that opens into the black mountains beyond Kushat. Domain of Ban Cruach.

Jekkara and Valkis and Barrakesh

Southern cities of Mars.

The Festival Stones

Two miles northeast of Kushat.

Quarter of the Tomb-Robbers

In Kushat. Quarter of the Blessed, a burying ground.

Kesh and Shun

Martin tribal areas.


The city that is Ciaran's eventual conqueror's goal.

Jekkara and Valkis

Cities of of the Sea-Kings.

Wells of Tamboin

Sand-drowned ruins.


City of the Ever-Living.


Lord of Silence

A deity.

High Martian

Ancient dialect.



A crystal lens, some four inches across with an intricate interlocking of many
facets. Ban Cruach's, and contains his knowledge.


Riders of Mekh

Ciaran's barbarian warriors.


Martian desert dwellers.

Border States

Martian political area.


The old race

Golden skinned and large eyed, with thumb spurs.


Globed weapons

Not a good idea to use, as they are not what they seem.


Rock lizard

Martian desert reptile.


Stark's friend Camar has taken the Talisman of Ban Cruach, and wants to take it back to Kushat. However, he has been mortally wounded, so passes it on to Stark.

Stark runs into a problem when he encounters the Riders of Merkh - a barbarian horde under the command of Lord Ciaran. He is brought in front of the lord, who shows both intelligence and brutality, but he manages to escape and make it to Kushat.

Despite being suspicious of Stark, they do take his advice and organise the city for war. The defense holds out for some time, but it is clear the city will fall.

Stark organises some people via Thanis to fall back to the Festival Stones, as a second line of defense. Ciaran is a strong leader and it doesn't take her long to take some men from the sacking of the city to go and put and end to this small band. However, Stark has a plan and lays a trap. He engineers a rockslide that cuts Ciaran off from all but a few of her men, and she is quickly captured after they are slain, and is now a hostage.

However, the Kushat exiles must go somewhere, and the draw of the talisman of Ban Cruach is strong, so they head for his old towers.

This place is strange, but also not empty. Dwelling there are the remnants of an old, decadent golden-skinned race. When they hear Kushat has fallen, and Ban Cruach's old promise of their safety gone, they aren't happy, but agree to arm the Kushat people with some of their advanced weaponry.

Except they don't, they aren't weapons of war. They have decided to end their days in a frenzied game of hunting and destroying humans and each other. After using the weapons, Stark has woken naked and unarmed, and is being herded. The talisman is destroyed by Hrillin.

Finally he finds the body of Rogain, and a sword. Not long after he encounters Ciaran, similarly armed, and he realised Hrillin knows they are enemies, and wants them to fight for their amusement. This pair of warriors has other plans, looking to breakout and fight their way to shutting down the mechanisms that keep the cold of the city at bay, allowing their antagonists' existence.

With the promise of power from this city gone, Stark makes a deal with Ciaran if she will take her army and leave, letting the Kushat people have their city back.

4 out of 5

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Broadsword - Laird Barron


Number of words : 14300
Percent of complex words : 10.3
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 12.0


Fog : 8.9
Flesch : 65.5
Flesch-Kincaid : 7.11


Pershing Dennard

Percy. A resident of the Broadsword Hotel in room 119 on the sixth floor, which is now an apartment building, despite the name. A retired state surveyor.

Terry Walker

His lost friend and co-worker.


The Broadsword's custodian.


The Broadsword's superintendent.

Morris Miller or Pete Cabellos

Rabid outdoorsmen.


The crew leader.


His wife who died in 1979.


Connie, his second now ex-wife.

Lisa Anne

His daughter by Constance.


His son by Constance. In construction.

Anderson Heck

The old Broadsword Super.


His current girlfriend.

Bobby Silver

Or Sly, a Broadsword lecher.

Mark Ordbecker

A high school maths teacher living below Dennard, with his wife and two children.

Eric Ordbecker

Mark's son.

Frankie Walton

An hard of hearing man that lives next to Dennard.

Mel Clayton

A friend of Dennard's. An engineering consultant who lives in The Broadsword.

Elgin Bane

Another friend of Dennard's. A social worker. Lives in Yelm.

Kerouac and Ginsberg



His brother in Denver.

Nancy Clayton

Mel's ex-wife. Now lives in Seattle with a new husband.


Gina. Mel's second wife, a baker.

Ansel Adams

A photographer.

Ken Griffey Jr

A talented American professional baseball player.

Randy Freeman

A radical.

Che Guevara

A revolutionary.

Fred Nilson

A Broadsword resident.

Brad Cox

An absent Broadsword resident.

Barton Ingles III

Lisa Anne's stepfather.


A female appearing alien.

Detective Klecko

Investigator on the Eric Ordbecker case.


Ghost of Christmas Past

Character in a Dickens novel.

Will Robinson

A boy Lost in Space with a robot.

The Thinker

A statue.

This Old Man

An old song.

The Fortean Times

A publication of the strange.

Black Hole Sun

A Soundgarden song.


The Broadsword Hotel

An apartment building that used to be queenly in her time, a seven-floor art deco complex on the West Side of Olympia on a wooded hill with a view of the
water, the marina, and downtown. In 1918 a posh club and gambling joint.


Capital of Washington State.

Olympic Peninsula

Where he lost Terry in 1973.


Where dwell your superstitious hillbilly types.

The Manticore

A bar.

The Red Room

A bar.

The Black Hills

Outside Olympia.

Waddel Valley

Seen from Wanda's back porch.


Expensive restaurant near the marina.



Tough dried meat.


A canteloupe-like melon.




A red wine.


Delectable bits of mammals.


A spice.

Johnny Walker

A blended scotch.


Sticky, stretchy confectionery.


Your usual cheap and poor mass market American beer.



Native American monster legend.


Fiber-optic snooper cable

Spy gear.


For measuring electromagnetic fluctuations.


Anti-anxiety drug.


Pershing Dennard is a retired, widowed and divorced surveyor living in an apartment building in Washington State. During a work excursion in 1973 a friend of his disappeared.

He has begun to hear strange voices talking and singing to him. He confides in a couple of friends, one of whom offers to bring some spy gear to check out if he is bugged.

It is much worse than that though - when he is visited by the supposedly deceased Terry. Or what used to be Terry. Alien entities from the outer dark are immortal - so only breed by taking over the local lifeforms. Like guys named Terry. Or women named Gloria, presumably. They have now taken a fancy to him. The monstrous pair from the shadows begins to have their way with him.

Dennard blacks out for three days, and a police detective comes calling, wanting to know if he knows anything about the disappearance of a neighbour boy. He says no.

His two friends are creeped out, too, so they decide to go on a holiday away from the city lights, taking the respective wives and girlfriends (haven't watched enough movies, apparently, this group_. However, Percy begins to realise and remember: he is transforming, to become like then. And it begins to finalise just as night deepends on their first night away, and they are turning in as Dennard is turning out.

4.5 out of 5

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Broadsword - Laird Barron

Dark space alien boy breeding visitation.

4.5 out of 5

Strappado - Laird Barron

Short Story

Number of words : 6000
Percent of complex words : 14.1
Average syllables per word : 1.6
Average words per sentence : 15.4


Fog : 11.8
Flesch : 55.0
Flesch-Kincaid : 9.4


Kenshi Suzuki

Called Ken. A naturalised US citizen. A jetsetting business type.

Swayne Harris

His occasional lover. Travels the world on art business.

Rashid Obi

An assistant to an executive producer at a local firm.

Luis Guzman

An elderly Argentinean in quasi-political exile. Public relations guru for a profoundly large international advertising conglomerate.


An artist.


A weathergirl.


Chief weather comptroller.


Managed distribution for a major vodka label.

Françoise, Jean Michelle and Claude

French software developers.


A German photographer.


His assistant.


A Spanish advertising consultant.


A fat, American colonial barbarian.

Van Iblis

A macabre artist. Likes using dead bodies in exhibitions.



An island country.


An island belonging to Malta with cyclopean ruins.


A state of the USA.

The Golden Scale

A hotel in an Indian tourist town., eighty kilometres down the coast from grand old Mumbai.


City in England.


City in Mali, Africa.


City in India.


City in India.

The Ivory Tiger

An hotel in the same tourist town.


Ghost of Christmas Past

From Dickens' A Christmas Carol.


Darwin Award

Given to those whose incredible stupidity gets them killed in often spectacularly dumb fashion.


Hydrochloric Acid

A strong, highly corrosive compound.


A phonograph, or early record player.



An international policing organisation.


Two occasional lovers meet while on business trips. This time, the pair end up going to a dive in a smaller Indian town for entertainment. There they meet a cosmopolitan band of fellow travellers and do some drinking.

They get invited to an exhibition by the artist Van Iblis, famous for his guerilla and macabre stagings, often involving the dead.

This involves being ordered to strip at balaclava and machete point, and being chosen for one of two doors. As it turns out, this means bad things with pits and acid barrels.

3.5 out of 5

Yellow Card Man - Paolo Bacigalupi


Number of words : 14500
Percent of complex words : 7.2
Average syllables per word : 1.4
Average words per sentence : 12.8


Fog : 8.0
Flesch : 74.4
Flesch-Kincaid : 6.1



The Yellow Card Man. A Chinese businessman forced to flee Malaysia, his family lost.

Dung Lord

Local unofficial ruler of the non-resident underclass.

Ma Ping

Works with the Dung Lord.

Li Shen

Acquaintances of Tranh's.

Hu Laoshi

Acquaintances of Tranh's. Squashed by a Megadont.

Lao Xia

Acquaintances of Tranh's.

Li Ka Shing or a reborn Richard Kuok


Potato God

Loading overseer.

Windup girl

A Japanese created woman. Her herky-jerky gait announces her as a creature not human, no matter how beautiful she may be.

Ma's boss

A Farang.


A white shirt government employee.


A white shirt government employee.



A fruit.


A cognac.


A type of whiskey.


A spice.


A spice.

Serpent head fish



U-Tex potatoes.


Blister rust

Disease affecting food crops.


Disease affecting food crops.


Old world situation thanks to abundant energy at the time.

Genehack weevil

Disease affecting food crops.

Gweilo, yang guizi, farang

Foreigners, in different languages.

Quan Yin

A deity.


A mythological Indian scholar.


How the world got to its current energy state.

New Expansion

Term for the idea of a new energy prosperity.


A Chinese dialect.

Scabis mold

Disease affecting food crops.



A natural fibre.


Power generation machine.

Kink springs

Power storage machine.


Thai currency.

Crank fans

Mechanical coolers.


Expensive gold watch.



Old business of Tranh's.


A calorie company. Make rice.


A calorie company.

Red Star

A calorie company.

Green Hands

Anti-Chinese violent xenophobes in Malaysia.

Hwang Brothers


Three Prosperities

Warehouses are toasted.


A calorie company.


A calorie company. Make wheat.

Intellectual Property Police

Look for uses of proprietary crops.

Sukhumvit Research Corporation

A science company.

Mishimoto & Co.

Fluid Dynamics company.

Environment Ministry

Thai government department.

Standard & Commerce

A corporation.

Ministry of Trade

Thai government department.

Megadont unions

Beast controller workers group.

Line inspector unions

Assembly line workers group.


Palawan Plaza

A shopping centre.


Thai major city.


Malaysia city.


Malaysia city.


Indian city.

The Kingdom




Human propelled passenger transport.


Chiu Chow

Chinese that integrated in Thailand.


Malay Chinese.


Komodo Lizard

Very large, dangerous reptile.


Large elephantine beasts.

Devil cats

Genetically engineered nasty moggies.

Water buffalo

Wagon haulers.


Spring guns

Kinetic disc firing weapons.


Tranh is a displaced Chinese businessman and entrepreneur who fled to Thailand after a xenophobic uprising saw many Chinese in Malaysia slaughtered, including his family. He now is part of a refugee type underclass just trying to make enough money to eat in this calorie starved world.

He runs into someone who used to work for him and he fired that is in with a local boss. An acquaintance is killed while doing daywork unloading potatoes, squashed by one of the giant beasts of burden, a Megadont. He also sees a windup girl.

Staying out past a curfew he runs into a government police squad, and the Rolex watch Ping is wearing angers them, and they beat him. He is spared, but still alive Ping asks for his help. Instead, he kills him with a broken beer bottle, knowing that his job with the farang will open up, and is something he is suited for and can now get a jump on.

5 out of 5

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Strappado - Laird Barron

Blue door or red no acid barrel of laughs.

3.5 out of 5

Mysterium Tremendum - Laird Barron


Number of words : 22600
Percent of complex words : 9.6
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 11.3


Fog : 8.4
Flesch : 67.3
Flesch-Kincaid : 6.7



An article writer.


His lover. Junior partner at a software development firm that hadn't quite been obliterated by the dot-com implosion.


Stocky and bald and decidedly non-violent. A rich poetry editor. Dane's husband.


Managed telecommunications and advertising for the Denver Broncos. A rugged blond with a flattened nose and cauliflower ears from amateur boxing matches and tavern brawls. Victor's husband.

Bruce Campbell

An actor.

Billy Collins

A poet.

Charles Simic

A poet.

Mark Stran

A poet.

Stevie Wonder

A singer.

Graham Greene

An author.

Dr Berman

A professor at Central Washington University. Used to own the Black Guide.


An individual from Ellensburg with a strange journal.


A strange friend of Glenn, Dane and Victor's, now dead. Black Irish.

Michael Bolton

A crappy pop singer.


A friend of Glenn, Dane and Victor's. Involved in a glass coffee table shagging accident.

Becky Rimmer

Max's rich girlfriend.

Takashi Miike

A movie director.

Boris Kalamov

Smarmy eighteenth-century charlatan who faked his academic credentials. Also has a dolmen.


Doesn't give much good advice.

Marty Robbins

A singer.

Ginsberg and Kerouac; Johnny Cash and Natalie Wood. Lee Van fucking Cleef

People in Victor's dreams about Tom.

Raymond Carver

An author.

Leland and Portia Teller

Run a B&B in Sequim.

Boris Karloff

An actor.


Willem's new partner in New York.


Jenkins' Field Guide to Birds of Puget Sound

Avian reference for a small area of Washington State.

Moderor de Caliginis

The Black Guide. A strange almanac.

Army of Darkness

A Bruce Campbell movie.

Ebony and Ivory

A Stevie Wonder song.

Beethoven, Chopin, Gershwin, Sibelius

Classical music.

Neil Sedaka, Miles Davis, and Linda Ronstadt

Pop music.

History Channel

A cable tv network.

An American Werewolf in London

A movie.

The Essential Victor Hugo

The Blackmore translation. A book.

Athos and Porthos

Two of the three Musketeers.

Cool Water and Big Iron

Marty Robbins songs.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

A movie, also a novel by Suskind.


A movie.

The Golden Bough

An occult book.

Dr Faustus

Devil dealer.


Burgess Shale

A fossil field in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Washington State

In Northwestern USA.


Suburb of Seattle.

Walla Walla

Town in Washington State.

Olympic Peninsula

In Washington State.

Mount Vernon

In Washington State.

Tacoma Museum of Glass

In Tacoma.


Capital of Washington State.


Town with a Lavender Festival. Near the Dungeness River at the heart of a shallow basin of the Dungeness-Sequim Valley.


In Washington State. Has a hotel with seances.

Mystery Mountain

Has a National Park. Also has a dolmen.

The Angry Norseman

A pub.

Klallam River

Watercourse near where the ancient Klallam tribes lived.

Kalamov Caverns

Cavern site near Mystery Mountain National Park.

The Kalamov Dolmen

Named after Dr. Boris Kalamov, who discovered it in 1849,

Mystery Mountain National Park

At Mystery Mountain.

The Flintlock Hotel

A brick and plaster building set back from Capitol Boulevard between a floral shop and an antique furniture store. Established in 1895.

Juniper Dunes

Creepy place in Washington State.

The Mima mounds

Creepy place in Washington State.


A mountain range.

Sarcobatus Tavern

A bar full of frat boys to beat up.

Ciudad Juarez

Site of a cantina shootout in Mexico.


Tourist city in Mexico.


City in Washington.


Disputed Balkan territory.

Pacific Northwest

Term for a region of the USA.


An ancient monument in England. There's a fake in Eastern Washington.

Harborview Hospital

Near Mystery Mountain.


Desert in Southern California.


A highland region between Missouri and Arkansas in the USA.


A town in New York.



An old tomcat.


Denver Broncos

A professional football team.

Parker Brothers

A boardgame manufacturer.

University of Washington

In Washington State.

Washington State University Cougars

A college sports team.

Rite Aid

Convenience store chain.


American version of the Royal Automobile Association.


Proposition Eight

Overturned the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and rebanned gay marriage in California.

Ouija board

Device for receiving messages from the dead.

Baba Yaga

Russian witch.



A tequila ridden cocktail.




A scotch.



Warm Natty

A sucky beer.


Single malt Islay scotch.

Fruit cocktail

Tinned dessert.

Canned hash

Cheap meat.


Hot casserole.



Bad cigarettes.


Painkiller headache tablets.


Land Rover

A four wheel drive. Glenn's was a rattletrap, sky-blue hulk.



Ancestors of humans.


Two couples - four friends, are taking a carousing camping holiday through parts of Washington State. Willem has acquired a strange tome, the Moderor de Caliginis which gives details of some rather strange places. They also suffer strange visits from a dead friend.

After managing sex, drugs, booze, and something approaching rock and roll if you squint a lot along with a large helping of violence, they decide to continue their odyssey. And avoid the cops.

This involves taking a dodgy road up Mystery Mountain to the site of the Kalamov Dolmen and Caverns. A site that really doesn't look like it belongs in the USA. Neither do ruins, idols and tentacled horrors.

They get the hell out, some faster and with less damage than others, and are actually pleased to see the police.

Willem and Glenn are at home, when another visitor appears in creepy monster fashion: Rose, wanting to take them both back to her world.

Willem declines, and heads for the other side of the country, and starts living with Burt. Where he waits with loaded gun and glass for another inevitable visit from one of the departed.

4 out of 5

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mysterium Tremendum - Laird Barron

Mystery Mountain dolmen darkness tentacle terror.

4 out of 5

The Pasho - Paolo Bacigalupi


Number of words : 9700
Percent of complex words : 8.00
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 10.1


Fog : 7.2
Flesch : 72.2
Flesch-Kincaid : 5.7


Raphel Ka' Korum

A new Pasho, and a Jai.


A local.

Bia' Giomo



A local.

Bia' Dosero

Lived at Clear Spring Village.

Pasho Giles Martin

An author.

Bia' Hanna

A married woman.

Bia' Raphel

His mother.

Old Gawar

Legendary hook knife fighter. Raphel's grandfather.

Pasho Eduard

An author.

Pasho Mirriam Milliner

An author. There is a statue.


Bia' Hardez' Niece.

Pasho Cho Gan

An author.

Renali family

Have a daughter.

Pasho Nalina Desai

An author.




Sugar Rocks


Attainment marks

The old alphabet in tiny script on the body.

Learning Hooks

The One Hundred Books, The Rituals of Arrival and Release, The Scientific Principles, The Rituals of Cleansing, Essentials of the Body, Bio Logic, The Rituals of Quaran, Chemic Knowledge, Plant and Animal Observation, Matica, Physical Matica, Principles of Construction, Earth Studies; Core Tech: Paper, Ink, Steel, Plastic, Plague, Production Line, Projectiles, Fertilizer, Soap


Used to deal with sand and dust.



Tribe who live near the water.


A desert people.


An in-between tribe helped by the Keli.



Ritual lifestyle used by the Jai.



A drink that can be poison.



Burned by his grandfather.


Burned by his grandfather.


Burned by his grandfather.

Dry Basin

Jai area.

Kettle Rock

Where Mala lives.


Hook knives

Close combat Jai weapon.


Weapons of war.


Raphel is a Pasho or learned man who has been educated in Keli. He returns to his home, where he comes into conflict with his grandfather, a past military leader who razed Keli and other places, and talks of doing it again to stop the Jai and Keli becoming more alike.

Raphel doesn't want his people to slaughter the Keli and undo all the Pasho works, so he poisons his grandfather when he is drinking with him, via the Mez drink. He is then free to make technological progress in Jai lands, too.

3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Six Six Six - Laird Barron

Short Story

Number of words : 6400
Percent of complex words : 8.3
Average syllables per word : 1.4
Average words per sentence : 10.7


Fog : 7.6
Flesch : 73.5
Flesch-Kincaid : 5.7



Inherited his father's creepy old house.


Not impressed with the new accomodation.


His vanished brother.

Frank Sinatra

Old Blue Eyes. A singer.


His father.

Ingmar Bergman

Swedish movie director.

Max Von Sydow

An actor.

Billy Joel

A pop singer.


ABBA's dead drummer.


Not dead Beatles drummer.


Possibly dead Beatle.


Definitely dead Beatle.


Fifth wheel Beatle.


His creepy sister. Karl tried to kill her on multiple occasions, apparently.

Eadweard Muybridge

Guy who invented motion pictures.



The cat.


Something Scary

A game they played.


A horror show.


Animation using 3D malleable models.


The Village People

A pop band.

Movin' Out

A Billy Joel song.


A Swedish pop band hated by countless millions.

Lepers of the Black Wood

A phantasamagoria made by a guy in Snoqualmie around 1890.


Magic Lantern

Early image viewing machine.


Costa Rica

Central American country.


Carribean country.


His parents die in a helicopter accident in Colorado, and he inherits the house and goes to visit. It is creepy, and he tells his wife the sordid family history after she mentions his sister coming to visit.

He drags out an old magic lantern and a phantasmagoria, which horrifies her and appears to summon a supernatural experience.

Not longer after he opens up his sealed shut old bedroom, and his sister and supposedly dead father are there for a good old-fashioned devil summoning black-robed get-together. Unfortunately the pair may be part of the method.

3.5 out of 5

Catch Hell - Laird Barron


Number of words : 11700
Percent of complex words : 12.1
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 11.5


Fog : 9.4
Flesch : 64.3
Flesch-Kincaid : 7.1


Katherine Reynolds

Sonny's wife and visitor to Olde Towne. Vice president of communications for the Blessingham Agency

Sonny Reynolds

Katherine's husband and visitor to Olde Towne. Taught cultural anthropology at a little college in Pasadena. A mythology expert.


Their dead baby.


A feuding clan.

Kent Prettyman

Humble steward of the Black Ram.

Derek Lang

His accomplice.

Billy and Zack

The burly farm boy porters.


The concierge.


Katherine's parent.


Katherine's other parent.

Bob Hope

An entertainer.

Gary Woodruff

Retired investment banker on vacation from Manhattan

Lyle Cockrum

A Black Ram guest.

Melvin Ting

Assistant curator of the Welloc-Devlin Museum in Olde Towne.

Quentin Reynolds

Sonny's father. Did a lot of important work for the Primate Research Group in the 1950s.

Johansen Welloc

One of Olde Towne's self-styled nobles during the early 1900s.

Evelyn Fabini

Mr. Cockrum's pale young mistress.

Nurse Jennifer

Carer of Katherine's.

Nurse Margaret

Carer of Katherine's.

Dr. Green

Doctor of Katherine's.

Reverend Jerry Falwell

Televangelist bigot.

Benny Hinn

Another televangelist bigot.


An author.

Le Fanu

An author.

Agrippa, Bruno, and Mathers

Producers of treatises.

Kafka and William Burroughs

Authors of the bizarre.


Olde Towne

Forty miles east of Seattle in hill country.

Black Ram Lodge

Holiday accomodation for the Reynolds couple. established as a trading post in the 1860s.

Snohomish Valley

In Washington State.

The Goat's Head Bungalow

Mr. Lang's house.


Wet city in Italy.


Malachite ring

With a star, worn by Prettyman.

Philco radio

Old fashioned machine.

Tuffenup Buddy

A pain reliever drug.


Super Burger

A crappy fast food chain.

Kyoto University

In Japan.


Cliff Notes

Cheat sheet type study guides used by American students.

The Golden Bough, The Key of Solomon

Occult books.

700 Club

American religious fundamentalist tv show.


Old Man of the Wood

The Old Goat. Wild Bill, Splayfoot Bill, Billy the Black. The Goat Lord.


Garish colours.


Jewish mysticism.


Scotch broom

A shrub.


A tree.


The Reynolds are taking a holiday as part of a recovery from the death of their daughter.

The Black Ram Lodge is in a town that was apparently founded by some people into the occult, and the Lodge itself has no modern communications.

The legend of the Goat Lord is discussed at a dinner, and a painting of him hangs in the Lodge.

It also transpires that Sonny himself is here in search of occult lore, and even some Devil summoning. This is past history too, having trying it before, and also indulging in occult sexual practices with Katherine, who is definitely not as enthusiastic as him.

Lang discovers what Sonny is up to, and ponders blackmail with Katherine, who would now rather get out of here.

She finds a note in her room for a midnight rendezvous. However, it is not with Lang, but with Splayfoot Bill himself. He is a granter of wishes, and hers, of course, is for a child.

What she does not expect after this demonic encounter is that having sex with her husband will result in his instant disappearance and transformation into an occupant of her womb.

This leaves her in a mental institution, and the baby when it is born most definitely looks like her disappeared husband.

4 out of 5

Six Six Six - Laird Barron

Phantasmagoria family reunion ritual.

3.5 out of 5

Monday, May 10, 2010

Catch Hell - Laird Barron

Billy Goat's old souled birth wish.

4 out of 5

--30-- - Laird Barron

Coyote Ugly monster Family.

4 out of 5

--30-- - Laird Barron


Number of words : 14400
Percent of complex words : 8.8
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 10.5


Fog : 7.7
Flesch : 72.0
Flesch-Kincaid : 5.8


Male researcher

An expert animal tracker. Likely a zoologist field specialist.

Female researcher

A zoologist, geologist and insect expert.

Jessica Lange

An actress.

Keith David

An actor.

Sidney Poitier

An actor.

Tommy Billings

Destroyed a station with a possible booze debacle.

Doctor Toshi Ryoko

A strange researcher.


Ryoko's muscle.

Shannon Tweed

An actress.

Howard Hawks

An American director.

Kit Carson

A Wild West scout.


Lab rat type.

Michael Moore

An American documentary director.

Dahmer, Bundy, Gacy

Serial killers.

Billy Bob

Thought he saw Satan on a tractor.

Roald Dahl

An author.

Tyson and Holyfield

Professional boxing heavyweight champions.


Of the researcher, based in Seattle.


Ghost of Christmas Past

A character from Dicken's A Christmas Carol.


A song.

Simon and Garfunkel

Pop singers.

The Landlady

A Roald Dahl short story.



A Native America monster legend.

The Rapture

Flying into the air to meet Jesus when he does his second zombie act.


The Family

A cult based in this research area.


Cecidostiba semifascia

A type of wasp.


A small furry mammal.


A puppy he gave her.

Gray catbirds

A bird.

Canyon wren

A bird.

Red-tail hawks

A bird of prey.

Great horned owls

A large bird.


A wild North American canine.


Trail mix

Nuts and fruit packed for use when hiking.

Maker's Mark

A bourbon.


Processed tinned meat.


An Islay single malt scotch.


A wine.


The Pyrenees

A mountain range between France and Spain.


An American city.

Olympic National Forest

In Washington State.

The Sierras

An American mountain range in California and Nevada.

The Barbary Coast

Middle and western coastal regions of North Africa.



A type of tree.


Pall Malls



Device used for transporting goods manually.

Muriatic Acid

Hydrochloric acid. Very dangerous.


Tranquiliser gun

Used for acquiring animals non-lethally.



Ancient people from an area South of Egypt.


The Hindenburg

A zeppelin famous for blowing up.


Two researchers who had a previous relationship are in an observation station presumably possibly in Washington State. The site is in an area where a dangerous cult called The Family operated. Possible Satanism, occult practices, all that good stuff. So the pair are stuck in isolation in a creepy setting to start with. The animal and insect life here seems odd.

Things deteriorate with strange knocking noises outside, and film of something between human and animal. Both of them begin to revert to naked savagery, and things get violent between them. Plus worse, when he tracks down where she has disappeared to.

4 out of 5

Feeling Rejected - Alastair Reynolds


Number of words : 920
Percent of complex words : 19.8
Average syllables per word : 1.8
Average words per sentence : 27.1


Fog : 18.7
Flesch : 25.3
Flesch-Kincaid : 16.5

: Feeling Rejected - Alastair Reynolds


Analysis of the gravitational signals from a newly discovered Kardashev II civilization in the Sombrero Galaxy: Part 1 by Whimbrel et al : Feeling Rejected - Alastair Reynolds

Paper submitted to the Journal of Xenoastronomical Studies.

Bataleur and Becard : Feeling Rejected - Alastair Reynolds

Authors of a 2049 paper.

Chukar, Francolin and Dickcissel : Feeling Rejected - Alastair Reynolds

Authors of a 2051 paper.

Takahe and Smew : Feeling Rejected - Alastair Reynolds

Authors of a 2045 paper.

Wonga and Grebe : Feeling Rejected - Alastair Reynolds

Authors of a 2044 paper : Feeling Rejected - Alastair Reynolds


Sombrero Galaxy : Feeling Rejected - Alastair Reynolds

A region under discussion.


SWINE : Feeling Rejected - Alastair Reynolds

The System-Wide Imaging Network for Exoastronomy.

Dyson sphere : Feeling Rejected - Alastair Reynolds

A structure built to contain a sun.

OLGA : Feeling Rejected - Alastair Reynolds

Obscenely Large Gravity Array.

Semantic Anonymity Preserver Version 5.1 : Feeling Rejected - Alastair Reynolds

Used to remove certain stylistic or cultural markers in research work.


Kardashev scheme : Feeling Rejected - Alastair Reynolds

A stellar system classification. Type I, II, III etc.

Third Gonolek catalogue : Feeling Rejected - Alastair Reynolds

Classification reference known to be afflicted by serious sampling errors.


A discussion of efficient methods and classifications of xenoastronomy in snarky academic language.

4 out of 5

Beyond the Aquila Rift - Alastair Reynolds


Number of words : 12500
Percent of complex words : 8.1
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 9.7


Fog : 7.1
Flesch : 73.9
Flesch-Kincaid : 5.4



Friend of Thom's.


A syntax runner. Part of Thom's crew.

Captain Thomas Grundlet

Thom, the Blue goose captain.


Part of Thorn's crew.


Thom's wife at home.


Working on the ship repair.


Greta's husband.



The planet where it all started to go wrong.


A planet.

The Aquila Rift

As far out as anyone ever goes. At median tunnel speeds, it's a year from the center of the Local Bubble.


A planet.

Schedar Sector

Not where they were supposed to be.

Local Bubble

Large area of space. The sun itself is sitting right in the middle of a
four-hundred-light-year-wide hole in the dust.

Samluki Station

Orbiting a brown dwarf star in the Large
Magellanic Cloud. You're one hundred and fifty thousand light-years from home.

Taurus dark cloud, Rho-Ophiuchi dark cloud

Area of the galaxy.

Loop I, Loop II, Lindblad Ring

Area of the galaxy.


A constellation.


A star.


A star.


Surge Tank

Protection during space travel.


Alien language that is used to manipulate wormhole travel.


Ashanti Industrial

Company Thom works for.

Aperture Authority

The AA. Governs wormhole travel.


Blue Goose

Thorn's ship.


On planet transport.



Large plant-eating dinosaur.


Syntax Runners

Humans with a grasp for manipulating the alien runes.



Guitar music.

Thom is the captain of the Blue Goose, a ship that travels between the stars thanks to a not-comprehensive grasp of an alien system of wormholes. That is, things can go wrong.

Here, they do. He wakes up out of his surge tank, surprised to find a familiar face that is not part of his crew. Greta breaks it to him about what has happened. That, in fact, they are way overdue and off course, a lot of light years and over a century. She says it has happened to a few ships. She talks to him about waking up his fellow crew members and introducing the idea to them gradually as well. However, as he does, Suzy's subconscious mind continues to resist, and realises that all is not well.

However, as it turns it he starts to suspect something, after being there for some time. In fact, they are a lot further off course than that. They have made the jump to a separate part of the network - another domain that used to be. He is in fact in a simulation. They are the first human ship to make it this far, way, way further than they can comprehend travelling. 'She' warns him that showing him the present reality may drive him mad, but he demands it.

At the end, he wakes up with Suzy and Ray there as he comes out of the Surge tank. A 'minor routing error' Suzy says. So, home and dry?

4.5 out of 5