Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

One Big Monkey - Ray Vukcevich

Space Caterpillar smoke rings.

2 out of 5

Thunder Beach - Michael Lister

A journalist who has lost his job as part of the failure of newspapers in Florida also has a family tragedy. His wife and biological son were killed when she lost control of a car. This left her two biological children and given that the had never legally formalised any relationship their biological father took them back and out of his reach. When he too is gone, the young woman Casey is forced to try and support her autistic brother by herself know that our protagonist is out of the picture.

He tries to track her down in amidst running out of money to see if he can help, know that their father is gone. What he finds is worrying, as he is warned off when asking how to get in touch with her via a magazine cover from a swimsuit contest she won.

He uncovers a nasty ring of criminals in the midst of the titular party event and has to try and get to his daughter-in-all-but-paperwork while she is still alive. And also to sort out what he is going to do with himself and his own relationships.

The author is apparently a local, so this gives some of the atmosphere a versimilitude that elevates the story of dodgy bars, takeaway joints, strip clubs and cop contacts.

Almost hard to say why this works as well as it does. The writing is pretty good, the story is fairly standard as are the antagonists. A nebulous girlfriend, some social commentary that is not overly didactic, and a very likable central character. Someone you'd be happy to buy a crappy beer and some buffalo wings for. One funny bit being he actually orders a Tecate and they don't have one, so he keeps having to settle for rubbish Corona.

It all just seems to work very cohesively, making it un-putdownable. If Tyrus can cherrypick books like this, think I will have to try some of the others by people I have never heard of.

4 out of 5

Teenagers from the Future: Essays on the Legion of Super-Heroes - Timothy Callahan

An excellent anthology of essays dealing with Legion history roughly in chronological order, and looking at various facets, from the writers to fashion, race and sexuality. Very much worth getting.

Teenagers From the Future : Foreword - Matt Fraction
Teenagers From the Future : Introduction - Timothy Callahan
Teenagers From the Future : The Perfect Storm: The Death and Resurrection of Lightning Lad - Richard Bensam
Teenagers From the Future : Liberating the Future: Women in the Early Legion - John G. Hemry
Teenagers From the Future : The Silver Age Legion: Adventure into the Classics - Christopher Barbee
Teenagers From the Future : The Often Arbitrary Rules of the Legion - Chris Sims
Teenagers From the Future : Shooter's Marvelesque - Jeff Barbanell
Teenagers From the Future : The Legion's Super-Science - James Kakalios
Teenagers From the Future : Bridging Past and Present with the Future: The Early Legion and the JLA - Scipio Garling
Teenagers From the Future : Decades Ahead of Us to Get It Right: Architecture and Utopia - Sara K. Ellis
Teenagers From the Future : Those Legionnaires Should Just Grow Up! - Greg Gildersleeve
Teenagers From the Future : Thomas Altman Levitz and the 30th Century - Timothy Callahan
Teenagers From the Future : The Amethyst Connection - Lanny Rose
Teenagers From the Future : Revisionism Radical Experimentation and Dystopia in Giffen's Legion - Julian Darius
Teenagers From the Future : Coming Out of Future Closets: Gender Identity and Homosexuality in the Legion - Alan Williams
Teenagers From the Future : Diversity and Evolution in the Reboot Legion - Matthew Elmslie
Teenagers From the Future : Fashion from the Future or I Swear Computo Forced Me To Wear This! - Martín A. Pérez
Teenagers From the Future : Generational Theory and the Waid Threeboot - Matthew Elmslie
Teenagers From the Future : A Universe in Adolescence - Paul Lytle
Teenagers From the Future : The Racial Politics of the Legion - Jae Bryson
Teenagers From the Future : Afterword - Barry Lyga

Not being a Legion fan as such he talks about working in a comic shop and old back issues, for one.

"Because Legion comics are crazy. Craaazy. Capital koo-koo crazy."

4 out of 5

Gives an overview of the Legion and the reason for the book.

4 out of 5

Talking about editorial methodology at the time with Weisinger - and actually killing off a character and having multi-part stories.

4.5 out of 5

Talking about the influence of the early Legion - and having a female leader, for example.

3.5 out of 5

On the nicking of plots from old novels, e.g. The Super Moby Dick of Space.

3.5 out of 5

On the avoiding of editorial edicts and whacky constitutions.

3 out of 5

On introducing a different style of writing to DC, teen prodigy and all.

4 out of 5

A physicist reflects on the possibilities of force fields and flight rings.

4 out of 5

Discussing the Legion predating the JLA and the differences between amateurs like the JSA and the writing of artiifical roles by power.

4 out of 5

A formal academic style article, relating the forward looking style of the past to the Legion.

3 out of 5

On the problems of aging your cash cows, and the fact that the Legion has gotten older in some versions. As have other heroes.

3 out of 5

Lengthy essay about Levitz and his influences and his working style and methods, with excerpts from correspondence and interview. Altman being the movie maker, Thomas being Roy Thomas of Marvel fame.

5 out of 5

Or what is up with Princesses and that Sorcerer's World.

3.5 out of 5

Talking about changing the tone completely, reboots, and how perhaps the world would have been a better place if all the people fighting over all the various different versions of Superman in different media had never been born.

4.5 out of 5

American comics: very biphobic and homophobic until recently, and how this has been handled in the Legion - by implication until recently.

3.5 out of 5

The problems of dealing with fans who cry when you change things like skin colour - looks at other things a little like the cartoon series.

4.5 out of 5

Disco but no legwarmers please.

3.5 out of 5

Four cycles of generations and history and how they interrelate based on a particular historian's theories - and relating this to the threeboot.

3.5 out of 5

The problems of Utopian existence and being not ready for conflict as par as the Threeboot Legion and the adult society around them goes.

3.5 out of 5

On finally getting black Legionnaires. Tyroc, and the fact that Jim Shooter wanted to make Ferro Lad black, but they wouldn't let him because they were worried the racist Southerners would refuse to sell the comics.

4 out of 5

On the density of Legion material and may it and fans live long.

3.5 out of 5

4.5 out of 5

Sunday, April 24, 2011

City Infernal - Edward Lee

A fun black comedy horror novel. When a goth virgin's drunken seduction by her twin sister's boyfriend result in said sister shooting the bloke then herself she ends up in therapy for a while, the moving to a redneck town to live with her retired rich lawyer father.

Then she sees dead people. Apparently her unique status gives her the powers of an Etheress. Or, she can blow heads off in Hell real good and inspire the revolution of a rebel Fallen Angel that looks like Brad Pitt. Hell here being sort of what Hell would be like if designed by Simon R. Green and John Meaney, full of all sorts of oft-hilarious grotesques and suffering.

Some laugh out loud funny lines amid the carnage as Goth Princess tries to stay alive in her Mephisotophilis City soujourn via hellbound train. The local yokels are entertaining as well as the damned souls.

4 out of 5

Sunday, April 17, 2011

One Foot in the Grave - Wm Mark Simmons

A Kansas public radio one man night shift with a strange disease finds out that it is actual partial vampirism, as he is rescued from attack by a researcher and a werewolf.

Trying to get by surviving this and the death of his family in a car accident.

He then gets involved with inter-supernatural demesne conflict not to mention Dracula thanks to his unique situation.

3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Quack - Jerry Oltion

Reality homeopathy investigation.

3 out of 5

Remembering Rachel - Dave Creek

Diplomacy investigation.

2.5 out of 5

Blessed Are the Bleak - Edward M. Lerner

Virtual enabler.

3 out of 5

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Two Look At Two - Paula S. Jordan

Alien and pets.

4 out of 5

Small Penalties - Alastair Mayer

Spam fly exile.

3.5 out of 5

The Flare Weed - Larry Niven

Solar sail seed.

3.5 out of 5

Ian's Ions And Eons - Paul Levinson

Time travel meddling can balance out, businesswise.

3.5 out of 5

Monday, April 11, 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Galaxy of Mirrors - Paul Di Filippo

Mirror Sickness? Aliens?

3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

ReVamped - J. F. Lewis

Not as good as the first, but does have vampires that actually seem to be vampires.

Or as Eric puts it, even though I try and have a stable of blood supplies around, I still end up murdering 130 people or so a year.

So yes, the various supernatural elements do have to work things so that should of carnage doesn't get counted.

This novel details the conflict (and a wager) between Eric and another strong vampire, with a demon in the middle - and Eric now having a vampire car (a Mustang no less that can play its stereo all by itself - a soundtrack for eating people by).

Caught in the middle or orchestrating things are a pair of current and former girlfriends dealing with their various states of deadness.

The weakness in this book is that one of the threads stars Tabitha the vampire girlfriend - who is nowhere near as interesting as Eric, and you just want those bits to be finished.

Sorcerous plotting and mayhem to be found here, as well as a bat-winged chase scene.

3.5 out of 5

Ship Breaker - Paolo Bacigalupi

A kid's book and it definitely reads like it. A very simple, obvious and straightforward story.

A teenage boy working his guts out stripping the wrecks of ships on a climate-blighted beach has the problem of being the spawn of a junkie father who is an excellent killer.

When he and a colleague find a wreck with a rich girl on it, almost dead, things get more interesting. In fact, it is fairly slow up to that point. It turns out she is part of an intra-company violent conflict over who should run the show. Nailer has to decide if he will help her, and how much it is worth risking for a rich babe from a world he has never been part of and likely never will be.

3.5 out of 5

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Permanent Fatal Errors - Jay Lake

Are the aliens hiding in brown dwarf stars flashing green lights?

3.5 out of 5

Tiassa - Steven Brust

Something of an oddity, this installment. Or a crossover, if you like, of the Vlad stories, the Khaavren Romances and the Paths of the dead, although more the first two as Vlad features in the first half and Khaavren in the second. It their various involvements in a Jhereg plot to kill Vlad by faking a Jenoine invasion and also a Tiassa plot to kill Vlad for the possibility of Easterner bardic insertion.

3.5 out of 5

Friday, April 1, 2011

Report From the Field - Mike Resnick and Lezli Robyn

Humans too scary to talk to, particularly with sport and X-Men.

3.5 out of 5