Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Heroine Addiction - Jennifer Matarese

A genuine delight to come across superhero prose like this.

A retired superhero (a teleporter) has moved away from the big city to a smaller community and opened a cafe called Tea and Strumpets. A fun name, and her own style is sort of a swing dancing Bettie Page. So of course she is named Vera. She has the usual hassles - a business partner, a staff, an ex-girlfriend. A family that she doesn't talk to that are world-famous superheroes, including a father, mother and brother. The local rednecks. Revealing she was bi as a teenager. Her last name is Noble, and yes, this family is a little like the one in Noble Causes in its dysfunctionality.

Things get interesting when a superintelligent supervillain turns up to tell her her father the telepath is missing. Said bad guy being her father's lover. To solve what is going on will require the help of an immortal friend, the man she'd like to be with, her ex-girlfriend, and the ability to make her family function together for awhile.

A book that manages in first person style to be charming, sad, funny, superheroic, with believable characters and with the ability to avoid the tedious and obvious satire analogues that infect the work of better known writers.

Very well done.


4 out of 5

Monster Hunter Vendetta - Larry Correia

Monster Hunter Vendetta is a fun sequel. Owen Pitt is now a veteran on the the top Monster Hunter team. The new recruits in training look up to him. Plus the big nasties want to do bad bad things to him.

Use him, drive him crazy, sacrifice him to Elder Gods and all that good stuff.

One cool part - he has to rescue his brother from a death metal concert that is being attacked by Japanese monsters with the help of some orc fans and a chase in a tour bus.

Some more Agent Franks fun stuff, too.

The perils of fighting monsters: dead friends and potential terminal loss of humanity as ghosts, trolls, Cthulhu death cults, vampires, werewolves, zombies or whatever else try and corrupt, control, kill or eat you.

Killing back requires a lot of armament and proficiency with stuff. Even works on softy squishy human underlings.

Call it a 3.75.


4 out of 5

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Neon Graveyard - Vicki Pettersson

The final Signs of the Zodiac novel has Joanna trying to survive as a Gray amidst the Shadow and Light conflict, as well as attempt to get her boyfriend back and live long enough to give birth to her kid.

This involves some lateral thinking and management given she is currently lacking in the superpower department and her Tulpa father has to get rid of her if his multi-world ruling plan is to succeed.


3.5 out of 5

Friday, July 22, 2011

Reality 36 - Guy Haley

Here's another Post-Collapse story of a sort from Angry Robot.

A little different though in that the protagonists in this novel are a cyborg and an AI. The latter likes to run around physically in a robot body, too.

Apart from having come through wars and conflicts, the human race has also had to deal with the rise of artificial intelligences - some of whom went crazy. There are different designations - some smart enough to be toasters or shoot things, past those that can be pathologists and right up to the Fives. These are sophisticated enough to run governments if they are so inclined.

Along with the recovery came virtual worlds and uploading technology. Of the kind that you need IV and support technology to exist in such as in Tad Williams' Otherworld series. Complete with the baroque fantastical environments, too.

Thanks to the work of an academic and some activists, AI have some civil rights brokered in uneasy compromise. Therefore there are anti-AI fanatics, fanatic AI who want to use technology to control things for themselves, and everything in between.

This is where our heroes come in. An ex-military cyborg and his Five partner do troubleshooting and detective work. They become involved with the death of the leader of the AI rights movement - but he seems to have died multiple times. His best student is on the run and Richards and Klein have to find her before bad things happen to her, too.

A really interesting future setting with realigned political power. Not your overt dystopia or utopia anything, but more along the lines of this is just where we got to in this future. Something that takes a bit more invention and thought in general, I think.

Had no idea who Guy Haley was - but from this book, he is very good.

However, it appears he has committed duology or trilogy or something. As in, cliffhanger! You bastard! So not a completely self-contained story serial as murder investigation type novels usually are, although that part does get solved.

Very good.


4 out of 5

Rule 34 - Charles Stross

Rule 34 is Stross doing what he does best. Intelligent extrapolation of current technology and seeing what some of the what we would see now as bizarro outcomes would be.

Breadmix organic fabbing, morality rule software programs into AI, virtual country stings, policing getting too complicated to handle, murder by domestic appliance control, public transport route bidding, etc., etc.

Like Halting State Liz Kavanaugh is a character, as are others, an organised crime executive, a dodgy low-rent white collar criminal. These are given alternating chapters. Minor characters also get some as interludes.

Very good.


4 out of 5

Embedded - Dan Abnett

An investigative journalist that spends a lot of time in space travelling from job to job ends up on the 86th colonised exoplanet that humanity have managed to get to.

Mostly run by an American company and a supposedly neutral military he smells a story. The latter are geared up for what is a 'dispute' with Russian bloc forces but in reality appears to be a small war.

A cutting-edge technique that allows him to share consciousness with one of the troopers going into the battle zone will allow him access to what is being hidden. Problem here of course is not being killed in ambush, or being able to coexist in a body that lives and dies by its military reflexes. Then discovering what they are really fighting over.

Imagine something along the lines of Peter F. Hamilton's Fallen Dragon without the wordprocessor diarrhoea.

Another very solid Angry Robot from one of my preferred comics writers.


3.5 out of 5

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Last Run - Greg Rucka

The third Queen and Country novel has Tara Chace, a Minder One with a five year old daughter that thinks she has just about had enough of the whole in the field super agent thing. Her boss is also running out of friends in the political sense as he tries to do the best for his agents.

In Tehran a message from an old asset is received - the nephew of the Ayatollah Khomeini. This is the spy game, and all is not as it seems. The SIS people expect a setup, not a defection setup.

A good tense story with twists and turns as you would expect.


4 out of 5

The Heroes - Joe Abercrombie

Some more of the same.

Bayaz the wizard has again been manoeuvring people - and this time we have yet another conflict between North and South. Black Dow's army and Marshal Kroy's. Looked at in multiple strands via an aging named man, a teenager who thinks he wants to be a warrior, an ambitious colonel's wife, the disgraced champion etc.

So a pointless war for politics, and the title is the rock formation on top of a hill that becomes the final battleground and a sardonic observation on those who like to play with swords out of choice and kill lots of people.

Nothing new here, and shows signs as many series that get to crazy lengths after many books do that the story is running out and becoming run of the mill.


3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Damage Time - Colin Harvey

A post-Collapse cop story.

An elderly detective literally about to retire gets forced back to work thanks to unfortunate timing, one day short of a pension.

A lot of the standard characters are to be found here. And, boringly and unfortunately it is set in New York - when lots of others places in this world sound way more interesting. However, that may be to place this old detective and a muslim in a bit of an outsider role. The USA is broke, and other economies less dependent on petrochemicals after the crash have done better. California has seceded and has artificial intelligences. He is also it is implied one of the remaining dyed-in-the-wool aggressive heterosexuals compared to later generations.

So you have your hooker with a heart of gold - but she is intersexual. You have the crimelord, but Asian. The suffering department widow - but also a co-husband. The thuggish dumb crimelord's son - but a memory ripper, making the whole story a bit Strange Days. Memories can be stolen. A tolerant partner who is bisexual (so yeah, things don't go well for him). A new rookie partner, a gruff captain who does what he can for his people, an honest Internal Affairs cop, etc. A junkie daughter.

So all pretty standard cop stuff, but made more interesting by the energy poor setting. Where the flatfoots actually hoof it around town, or catch the train. Complete with pedal bikes you can use to offset the train's energy use and get a discount if you are a garden variety passenger. Same with gyms in buildings. So interesting background. When the cops here say they are sick of sitting around, they mean it, they don't race off to plant themselves back in a car. The towns are worse off for resources and energy, and population has crashed in the 'Dieback' as part of the conflicts and hardships of previous times. An 8 million packed in city is now only 3 million. But does still have the lights on in places. That is all good - the ability to extrapolate a plausible and believable future that has fought back to survive. Personal communication technology has advanced from phones to eyepieces. Identities are controlled in a very fascist manner, a la Walternate and Fauxlivia's world in Fringe. So quite a bit of rather nasty here, but done with intelligence. Not your garden variety post-fall all we have left is a donkey, three shotgun shells and a couple of gaslamps to fight off the cannibal mutants with.

A long simmering conflict between cop and crimelord erupts into violent and memory ripping attacks when the dumb son makes one mistake too many, giving law enforcement an opening. Our protagonist is an expert on the use of memory technology analysis in crimesolving, so they are hitting him where it hurts.

The title comes from another background setting tweak. The power supply is of course not stable, so brownouts can come during professional sporting events, making electronic timing erratic. Therefore the referee on the ice can manually add on a little extra between regulation and extra time for what he thinks is the difference - Damage Time.

A high 3.5 if you like.


3.5 out of 5

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Black and White - Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittredge

A book with two different time periods, one where two young girls are students at the mandatory superhuman academy and become friends. The other where they are antagonists.

Both have series daddy issues. The Shadow hero Jet's father went crazy and killed her mother. The Light hero-turned-outlaw Iridium's father when rogue and supervillainish and has been imprisoned.

An organisation of humans that despises the extrahumans - and has a huge membership further complicates things.

As students their final qualification missions sees Iridium kill a would-be rapist. The not nice part comes in when the hero Corporation (complete with admin and gofer support) decides this is worthy of brainwashing. Although as it turns out, genetic engineering and brainwashing is how they do things.

Iridium, with some help from dear old dad's contacts decides to throw a large network shutdown spanner in the works.

Can two former friends and now enemies save the world from out of control and designed to fail superhumans? Given there's a book two, you know the answer to that one. It is the aftermath that appears to be a serious problem.


3.5 out of 5

Friday, July 15, 2011

Clowns at Midnight: A Tale of Appropriate Fear - Terry Dowling

Now quite a few people find clowns creepy. Those that do not may find the idea of a book centred around a man that has intense coulrophobia - fear of clowns, and also other assorted masks and odd things - as rather silly. Maybe eye-rollingly so when the man is a writer of books, too.

A sensible place to go for a bloke in therapy to avoid clowns and other such is into the bush. Your average snake, bird, possum or koala is pretty unlikely to be running around in circus gear.

Unfortunately for him there's a bunch of expatriate Mediterraneans in the area - so, hijinks of loopy Cretan cultists may trigger the odd phobia.

Pretty understated, and you would have to buy in to the phobia to find it scary, much. The writer writing about writers writing aspect is tedious as usual.

What Dowling is especially good at is a pitch perfect evocation of Australian country setting and landscape, so you can appreciate it for that if the odd premise doesn't appeal.

A decent book but not up to the level of some of his other work.

3.5 out of 5

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Swords and Roses - Michael Moorcock

The final Elric collection in this series contains a new story, a novel, a screenplay, an article, a couple of intros and a reader's guide to Elric at the end. Which is an odd place to put it - they want you to get all of these books first before you find out where you can get the stuff elsewhere?

A lot easier to get this book of course than the magazine that Black Petals was in.

Swords and Roses : THE REVENGE OF THE ROSE - Michael Moorcock
Swords and Roses : STORMBRINGER: FIRST DRAFT SCREENPLAY - Michael Moorcock
Swords and Roses : BLACK PETALS - Michael Moorcock
Swords and Roses : ASPECTS OF FANTASY PART 4 - article first published in Science Fantasy
Swords and Roses : INTRODUCTION TO THE SKRAYLING TREE
Swords and Roses : INTRODUCTION TO THE FRENCH EDITION OF ELRIC
Swords and Roses : ELRIC: A NEW READER'S GUIDE - John Davey

This is another Elric book that was published around 1990, quite a time after the the others, and after The Fortress of the Pearl.

Elri must locate the soul of his father, to enable him to stop his doomed wandering. At least, according to a dragon, anyway. With him will be the female warrior Rose. As is often the case, agents of Chaos, and the Duke Arioch will stand in their way.

The true motivations of the Rose will decide Elric's actions.

3.5 out of 5


An idea for a movie adaptation.

3.5 out of 5


Elric is weak, out of drugs and looking for a fabled black plant cure to his condition.

Only problem as it turns out that a giant man-eating plant is what he is looking for - and it also finds Melniboneans tasty, as Elric ventures there with some of his kind.

3.5 out of 5


Oddly on SF and fantasy and its history.

3 out of 5


Talks about his own creation being American influenced - so that this is an American homage.

3 out of 5


About the influences, history in France and no more novels.

3 out of 5


Tries to sort out the complicated history for people.

4 out of 5



3.5 out of 5

Black Petals - Michael Moorcock

Elric is weak, out of drugs and looking for a fabled black plant cure to his condition.

Only problem as it turns out that a giant man-eating plant is what he is looking for - and it also finds Melniboneans tasty, as Elric ventures there with some of his kind.


3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Elric: A New Reader's Guide - John Davey

Tries to sort out the complicated history for people.


4 out of 5

Introduction To The French Edition Of Elric - Michael Moorcock

About the influences, history in France and no more novels.


3 out of 5

Introduction To The Skrayling Tree - Michael Moorcock

Talks about his own creation being American influenced - so that this is an American homage.


3 out of 5

Aspects of Fantasy 4 - Michael Moorcock

Oddly on SF and fantasy and its history.


3 out of 5

In the Dream Realms - Michael Moorcokc

In this collection you get a later novel, a short story, some esoterica and a homage, along with some artwork from various previous sources.

In the Dream Realms : THE FORTRESS OF THE PEARL - Michael Moorcock
In the Dream Realms : ELRIC: THE MAKING OF A SORCERER - Michael Moorcock
In the Dream Realms : A PORTRAIT IN IVORY - Michael Moorcock
In the Dream Realms : ASPECTS OF FANTASY PART 3 - Michael Moorcock
In the Dream Realms : EARL AUBEC OF MALADOR - Michael Moorcock
In the Dream Realms : INTRODUCTION TO THE TAIWAN EDITION OF ELRIC - Michael Moorcock
In the Dream Realms : ONE LIFE FURNISHED IN EARLY MOORCOCK - Neil Gaiman

This novel was published in the late eighties, but comes in around second, chronologically.

Elric is in trouble, and when he arrives at the mysterious city of Quarzhasaat he is easily convinced to undergo a quest in return for aid.

He must find the Pearl at the Heart of the World. It ain't that easy though, as it is in a fortress. But Elric is still Elric, and having recovered his strength, he still has Stormbringer along with his other talents.

3.5 out of 5


Script of the comic.

3.5 out of 5


Elric, busted.

3.5 out of 5


On Faustian characters.

3 out of 5

Talking about the growth of the fantasy industry - including D&D making him go more corporate.

3.5 out of 5


Elric story boy.

3 out of 5



3.5 out of 5

Introduction To The Taiwan Edition Of Elric - Michael Moorcock

Talking about the growth of the fantasy industry - including D&D making him go more corporate.


3.5 out of 5

Earl Aubec of Malador - Michael Moorcock

Outline for a proposed four novel series.


3 out of 5

Aspects of Fantasy 3 - Michael Moorcock

On Faustian characters.


3 out of 5

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Clockwork Rocket - Greg Egan

The Clockwork Rocket is about a species living in a universe where different colours of light move at different speeds.

The particular species in question on the planet that is the initial setting also have a very different biology. They can morph their bodies to gain extra limbs, or to use their skin as notepads with some training. Reproduction involves the female getting to the stage of literally breaking down into usually four children, two male-female pairs of siblings. The males then have the responsibility of childcare, but also eventually die. Their physiologies have problems with overheating. The process can be staved off for some time by the use of drugs.

They have a low-end industrial society but do have tertiary and other institutions making progress in the sciences.

Yalda is a little different in that she does not have such a sibling and decides to leave the bucolic and dull farming life to become a tertiary student. As it turns out she is rather talented at the whole physics thing, rapidly coming up with a new idea. And also hanging out with some fellow solos and iconoclasts - who are not surprisingly seen as somewhat subversive.

Her studies with others lead her too a worrying story - their planet is in the pass of an increasingly dangerous bombardment from space. Eventually a planetkiller will get them. Eventually being a probability with a mean of not too many years, given that another body of their solar system has suffered this fate.

From such a low industrial base with a non-sophisticated understanding of methods of travel - they decide on the feasible method - launch a mountain into space with a big enough population to maintain a society. And with the physics here, travel into space for them will mean they can be gone for generations, and come back with only a few years passed on the planet, hopefully with scientific advances enough to save them. As long as they survive in space and their society can survive with the original members all long dead.

So a nice outsider girl grows up to be a scientist, leader and hero.

An absolute pleasure to read.


4 out of 5

The Horns of Ruin - Tim Akers

When you have a low tech society with religious cults - well, you get murderous power struggles and assassinations.

In this case, our protagonist pretty much loses her whole organisation (and god type) and has to attempt to work out why the hell this happened.

There are hints of technology in buildings and devices in admidst the live gods, chained acolytes and magic swords.

Towers, computing type archives that are portable, etc.

Plus crazy god-power boilers.

A 3.25ish book.


3.5 out of 5

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Code Duello - J. C. Hay

Romance tourism Proctor setup.


3.5 out of 5

The Widow's Seven Candles - Thoraiya Dyer

Naked man candles and stolen Caesium.


3.5 out of 5

Debutante - Dirk Flinthart

A daughter's arrival is in the middle of an attempted coup by dropship.


3.5 out of 5

Magic Slays - Ilona Andrews

Magic Slays is also very good.

Seems that being an oddball hybrids ends up with you becoming a dodgy low-rent PI.

Roland's Daughter's Partner the Gunner also fits the description, and ends up working with Kate after being given the boot from the racist organisation that forcibly retired her.

So, two women looking to kill stuff for money. Or just lock them back up if they are a giant troll that regenerates.

Funny wisecracks interspersed with outbreaks of violence and snarling shapeshifters is made worse when you add a group of loser racist terrorists that are well armed and organised and have a magic-species-specific weapon of mass destruction. Beast Lords, Vampire Masters, Frost Giants, Blood extruding sword wielding maniacs, Shamanic types of Baba Yagas or whoever have to team up in this one.

This series continues to be a pleasure to read.


4 out of 5

Friday, July 8, 2011

Year's Best sf 16 - David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer

Too much mediocre and poor in this for a Year's Best anthology, although definitely a down year for SF stories to go along with that.

Two standouts with Reynolds and Popkes - and a couple of very good stories from Schroeder and Sparks are the next best.

But only a 3.38 average is low.

Year's Best SF 16 : Sleeping Dogs - Joe Haldeman
Year's Best SF 16 : Castoff World - Kay Kenyon
Year's Best SF 16 : Petopia - Benjamin Crowell
Year's Best SF 16 : Futures in the Memory Market - Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Year's Best SF 16 : A Preliminary Assessment of the Drake Equation Being an Excerpt From the Memoirs of Star Captain Y.-T. Lee - Vernor Vinge
Year's Best SF 16 : About It - Terry Bisson
Year's Best SF 16 : Somadeva: A Sky River Sutra - Vandana Singh
Year's Best SF 16 : Under the Moons of Venus - Damien Broderick
Year's Best SF 16 : All the Love in the World - Cat Sparks
Year's Best SF 16 : At Budokan - Alastair Reynolds
Year's Best SF 16 : Graffiti in the Library of Babel - David Langford
Year's Best SF 16 : Steadfast Castle - Michael Swanwick
Year's Best SF 16 : How to Become a Mars Overlord - Catherynne M. Valente
Year's Best SF 16 : To Hie from Far Cilenia - Karl Schroeder
Year's Best SF 16 : The Hebras And The Demons And The Damned - Brenda Cooper
Year's Best SF 16 : Penumbra - Gregory Benford
Year's Best SF 16 : The Good Hand - Robert Reed
Year's Best SF 16 : The Cassandra Project - Jack McDevitt
Year's Best SF 16 : Jackie's Boy - Stephen Popkes
Year's Best SF 16 : Eight Miles - Sean McMullen
Year's Best SF 16 : Ghosts Doing the Orange Dance - Paul Park


Dysprosium cornering memory fix.

3.5 out of 5


Nanoship landing.

3 out of 5


Jelly kicking.

3 out of 5


Geeta business.

3 out of 5


Planets For Sale - all for us.

3.5 out of 5


Bigfoot umpire.

3 out of 5


Dead poet's society.

2.5 out of 5


'Massri's dinosaur fantasy was off by a factor of at least 7.4.'' Sporky.

3 out of 5


Postapocalyptic inconsistency, goodbye old crush on to surfing and beer.

4 out of 5


Dinosaurs rock more than zombies or robots.

4.5 out of 5


They is tagging our stuff.

3 out of 5


House love cop torching.

3.5 out of 5


One morning you will wake up and ask Y.

2 out of 5


Oversatch sanotica it 2.0/3.0 plutonium dispersal.

4 out of 5


Predator prey colonist diplomacy.

3.5 out of 5


Gamma ray burster, moon shadow Asia no burn.

3.5 out of 5


French nuking resistance.

3.5 out of 5


Alien bad news hid.

3 out of 5


Talking elephants and dragons.

4.5 out of 5


Angelica lives advances.

3 out of 5


A trial.

1.5 out of 5




3 out of 5

Penumbra - Gregory Benford

Gamma ray burster, moon shadow Asia no burn.


3.5 out of 5

To Hie From Far Cilenia - Karl Schroeder

Oversatch sanotica it 2.0/3.0 plutonium dispersal.


4 out of 5

All The Love In The World - Cat Sparks

Postapocalyptic inconsistency, goodbye old crush on to surfing and beer.


4 out of 5

Sleeping Dogs - Joe Haldeman

Dysprosium cornering memory fix.


3.5 out of 5

About It - Terry Bisson

Bigfoot umpire.


3 out of 5

A Preliminary Assessment Of The Drake Equation - Vernor Vinge

Planets For Sale - all for us.


3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Kiss Me Twice - Mary Robinette Kowal

Is that an AI in your peripheral vision, or are you just happy to see me?

And try not to get shot by the teacart.


4 out of 5

The Fighter - Colin P. Davies

Gladiator hero chip kill.


3.5 out of 5

Apocalypse Daily - Felicity Shoulders

Alien invasions with quislings - always the best fun and money.


4 out of 5

Walking Stick Fires - Alan DeNiro

Being alternate reality bike jump fail brane gun Worm-Hare brain-bolt success for Eisenhower and Nicklaus.


4 out of 5

All The News That's Fit - Carol Emshwiller

Real news, not hidden innocence please.


3.5 out of 5

The Cold Step Beyond - Ian R. MacLeod

Warrior Bess chops pretend Elli.


3.5 out of 5

Asimov's 423 424 - Sheila Williams

This issue started in disappointing fashion, but it was the last part that recovered and dragged it towards respectability and 3.23. From Tom Purdom's very good through a couple of decent and the standout is the final story. Kristine Kathryn Rusch demonstrates again she is a very talented writer of novellas.

Asimov's 423 424 : THE DAY THE WIRES CAME DOWN - Alexander Jablokov
Asimov's 423 424 : AN EMPTY HOUSE WITH MANY DOORS - Michael Swanwick
Asimov's 423 424 : NORTH SHORE FRIDAY - Nick Mamatas
Asimov's 423 424 : CLOCKWORKS - William Preston
Asimov's 423 424 : THE HOMECOMING - Mike Resnick
Asimov's 423 424 : THE FNOOR HEN - Rudy Rucker
Asimov's 423 424 : SMOKE CITY - Christopher Barzak
Asimov's 423 424 : A RESPONSE FROM EST17 - Tom Purdom
Asimov's 423 424 : THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY - Esther M. Friesner
Asimov's 423 424 : THE FLOW AND DREAM - Jack Skillingstead
Asimov's 423 424 : BECALMED - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Gibbons and guards.

3 out of 5


Couple of me, one of her.

2.5 out of 5


Yifti ghost.

3 out of 5


Brain fixing.

3 out of 5


Plants, changes and Pythons.

3 out of 5


Chicken squidskin warp.

3 out of 5


Kid cry.

2.5 out of 5


Message Integration Turbulence Attack.

4 out of 5


A species of seafaring easy virtue.

3.5 out of 5


Monitor life.

3.5 out of 5


Alien dispute four language street fighting Fleet deception.

4.5 out of 5



3 out of 5

Becalmed - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Alien dispute four language street fighting Fleet deception.


4.5 out of 5

The Flow And Dream - Jack Skillingstead

Monitor life.


3.5 out of 5

The One That Got Away - Esther M. Friesner

A species of seafaring easy virtue.


3.5 out of 5

A Response From Est17 - Tom Purdom

Message Integration Turbulence Attack.


4 out of 5

Smoke City - Christopher Barzak

Kid cry.


2.5 out of 5

The Fnoor Hen - Rudy Rucker

Chicken squidskin warp.


3 out of 5

The Homecoming - Mike Resnick

Plants, changes and Pythons.


3 out of 5

Clockworks - William Preston

Brain fixing.


3 out of 5

North Shore Friday - Nick Mamatas

Yifti ghost.


3 out of 5

An Empty House With Many Doors - Michael Swanwick

Couple of me, one of her.


2.5 out of 5

The Day The Wires Came Down - Alexander Jablokov

Gibbons and guards.


3 out of 5

Analog 960 - Stanley Schmidt

A bit better at 3.20 with 3 decent stories. An article on nanoparticle medicine.

Analog 960 : ENERGIZED 1 - Edward M. Lerner
Analog 960 : CITIZEN-ASTRONAUT - David D. Levine
Analog 960 : TAKE ONE FOR THE ROAD - Jamie Todd Rubin
Analog 960 : STONE AGE - Alastair Mayer
Analog 960 : KAWATARO - Alec Nevala-Lee

Space power necessary.

3.5 out of 5


Space accident blog.

2.5 out of 5


Mercury Maggie murder.

3 out of 5


Space tomb raider archaeology deal.

3.5 out of 5


Pendred Syndrome area.

3.5 out of 5



3 out of 5

Kawataro - Alec Navala-Lee

Pendred Syndrome area.


3.5 out of 5

Stone Age - Alastair Mayer

Space tomb raider archaeology deal.


3.5 out of 5

Take One For The Road - Jamie Todd Rubin

Mercury Maggie murder.


3 out of 5

Citizen-Astronaut - David D. Levine

Space accident blog.


2.5 out of 5

Energized 1 - Edward M. Lerner

Space power necessary.


3.5 out of 5

Analog 959 - Stanley Schmidt

Articles on psychology in deep space and Gliese 581G. The most interesting fiction of the poor 3.00 average is the decent Vajra novel.

Analog 959 : TOWER OF WORLDS - Rajnar Vajra
Analog 959 : BOUMEE AND THE APES - Ian McHugh
Analog 959 : THE WOLF AND THE PANTHER WERE LOVERS - Walter L. Kleine
Analog 959 : WHAT I DID ON MY SUMMER VACATION - Jerry Oltion
Analog 959 : THE OLD MAN'S BEST - Bud Sparhawk
Analog 959 : ELLIPSES - Ron Collins
Analog 959 : BLIND SPOT - Bond Elam

Anti-Queen mutagen raid.

3.5 out of 5


Great bull musth.

3 out of 5


How about not being dead?

3 out of 5


Boring MMO.

3 out of 5


Space beer.

3 out of 5


Maybe alien aliens.

3 out of 5


Oblivion Nano-Mnemonic painting.

3.5 out of 5



3 out of 5

Blind Spot - Bond Elam

Oblivion Nano-Mnemonic painting.


3.5 out of 5

Ellipses - Ron Collins

Maybe alien aliens.


3 out of 5

The Old Man's Best - Bud Sparhawk

Space beer.


3 out of 5

What I Did On My Summer Vacation - Jerry Oltion

Boring MMO.


2 out of 5

The Wolf And The Panther Were Lovers - Walter L. Kleine

How about not being dead?


3 out of 5

Boumee And The Apes - Ian McHugh

Great bull musth.


3 out of 5

Tower of Worlds - Rajnar Vajra

Anti-Queen mutagen raid.


3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Battle In The Dawn: The Complete Hok the Migh - Manly Wade Wellman

A collection of Wellman's stories about the Stone Age leader Hok, including some additions set in the same time period and a fragment. The stories display a great deal of consistency in quality.

Battle In the Dawn : Battle in the Dawn - Manly Wade Wellman
Battle In the Dawn : Hok Goes to Atlantis - Manly Wade Wellman
Battle In the Dawn : Hok Draws the Bow - Manly Wade Wellman
Battle In the Dawn : Hok and the Gift of Heaven - Manly Wade Wellman
Battle In the Dawn : Hok Visits the Land of Legends - Manly Wade Wellman
Battle In the Dawn : Day of the Conquerors - Manly Wade Wellman
Battle In the Dawn : For the Love of Oloanna - Manly Wade Wellman
Battle In the Dawn : Untitled Hok Fragment - Manly Wade Wellman

Hok becomes a young chief when his father is killed, and leads his tribe in savage defense against the Neanderthals that occupy the area they have travelled to.

3.5 out of 5


Our caveman hero meets a woman warleader on horseback, and gets to see a city, fight a giant octopus, and get all explosive.

3.5 out of 5


Hok finds that while cool new distance weapons are good, a wife with a spear can still come in very handy.

3 out of 5


A meteor brings Hok the means to make a sword.

3.5 out of 5


A mammoth hunt leads Hok to a tropical valley and a new race of tree people.

3.5 out of 5


Martian invade - to find that twelve of them won't do the job with the Flint people and others have a quick witted leader. Even in the face of rayguns.

3.5 out of 5


Hok decides to literally take a wife - who is not at all pleased with the idea, until he lets her go.

3.5 out of 5


Start of a story in which Hok meets Plorr.

3 out of 5




4 out of 5

Untitled Hok Fragment - Manly Wade Wellman

Start of a story in which Hok meets Plorr.


3 out of 5

For The Love Of Oloanna - Manly Wade Wellman

Hok decides to literally take a wife - who is not at all pleased with the idea, until he lets her go.


3.5 out of 5

Day of the Conquerors - Manly Wade Wellman

Martian invade - to find that twelve of them won't do the job with the Flint people and others have a quick witted leader. Even in the face of rayguns.


3.5 out of 5

Battle In The Dawn - Manly Wade Wellman

Hok becomes a young chief when his father is killed, and leads his tribe in savage defense against the Neanderthals that occupy the area they have travelled to.


3.5 out of 5

Hok and the Gift of Heaven - Manly Wade Wellman

A meteor brings Hok the means to make a sword.


3.5 out of 5

Monday, July 4, 2011

No Hero - Jonathan Wood

Jonathan Wood has come up with a secret government department that protects the UK from monsters story that might be what you get if you crossed Caballistics, Inc with Hellboy and only gave them the budget of the unit in New Tricks or Taggart. Plus a 15% off frequent buyers card for all Duracell purchases. So if you like that sort of thing (or Torchwood, Primeval, et. al) then this book is definitely for you.

A senior police detective and his offsider come across a murder - the only problem is the sword wielding maniac woman they have tracked down is still around, and gives said detective a torso piercing in extremely short order.

The woman he doesn't know that comes to visit him in hospital turns out to not actually be a doctor as he thinks but the head of MI37. Which seems a bit odd, given that as far as anyone is aware, they only go up to 6. Their job? Dealing with the supernatural terrors - including powerful interdimensional Lovecraftian horrors, otherwise called The Progeny.

Shaw wants him because she has a magic nerd academic, a goth research geek and the aforementioned superhuman killing machine, and could use someone level headed that knows how to handle an investigation. He has also managed to not get killed yet, despite an encounter.

So you have one ordinary average competent plod, Detective Wallace who is now rather freaked out about his new employment. Throw him into a save the universe situation with little background, briefing or time to get one and you can assume that given the Lovecraftian many-angles things are going to get nasty.

The line that sold this to me is 'What would Kurt Russell Do?' When actually in the field what tends to race through his brain is 80s action movies, as per the opening paragraphs:

"It’s the pretty blonde that completes the scene. No question. Pressed up against the side of a building? Check. Life-and-death situation? Check. Significantly more sweat running down my back than really seems appropriate? Big check for that one. And yes, against all likelihood, there’s a pretty blonde by my side. Check.

Because now, after years of paperwork, after years of trawling through minutia, police work is finally fulfilling the promise Tango and Cash made to my impressionable teenage self.

It is time for action.

Except that, in the heat of the moment, my heart beating a sharp tattoo against my ribcage, I rather wish that Kurt Russell had taken the time to turn to the camera and explain the sheer bowel-loosening terror involved in doing this sort of thing. Because right now, even with a killer so close, even with a life on the line, paperwork has never seemed so appealing."

There's a couple of annoying things like the painful American insistence on changing things to be Americanised at times. For an English book set in the UK talking about 'bangs' for example for a fringe of hair knocks you out of believing you are reading about the UK. It may not for yank readers perhaps, but how many of Night Shade's buyers readers are dumb enough not to know this?

The webscriptions book itself is much higher quality than your useful major publishing effort. It has a cover, it works, it is multi-format and DRM-free. Also appears to be free of the usual typos and errors you find in those these days with all their cutbacks. So a good job there, editingwise.

Distractions like that aside, the writer has done his job well in that the book hooks you, and maintains a consistent and actually increasingly interesting story throughout where you definitely are not sure what is going to happen.

If he writes a sequel, I can't wait to see how he moves through the Kurt Russell oeuvre of the nineties and considers how Tombstone can help him with things from Hell or Stargate with horrors from the depth of space.


4 out of 5