The tagline for The End Specialist by Drew Magary is, “Who wants to live forever?” My immediate answer is, well, I do. Who would turn that down, right? My review copy from Voyager differed slightly with the words, ”Immortality Will Kill Us All (Except for me).” Interesting how a few words could make me reevaluate my answer to the first question. That’s exactly what Magary’s book is all about. What would happen if we had the cure for aging? Is it really a good thing or something we should even be pursuing? End Specialist is a long form response to those questions, very much in the tradition of Marvel’s What If? comics.
Monthly Archives: August 2011
I don’t read a lot of anthologies. No particular reason really other than I tend to read them a story at a time in between novels. Thus they take forever for me to finish, and oftentimes I’ve forgotten the less memorable stories by the time I actually finish the whole collection. If I were smart, I’d do a quick paragraph on each story as I finish them. In case you’re curious, I’m not and I didn’t. So instead I’m going to do more of a short review about the overall tone of Fast Forward 1: Future Fiction from the Cutting Edge edited by Lou Anders and give a few of my favorites.
Anders, in his introduction to the anthology, reminds us that, ”To a very real extent, we live today in the science fiction of the past.” He’s so right – just look at William Gibson’s notion of cyberspace in Neuromancer (1984). … Read the rest
My wife and daughter were out of town this past week so I took the opportunity to really plow through some of my to read pile backlog. K.V. Johansen’s Blackdog coming out this September is hard to justify as “backlog”, but it’s a title that’s called to me from the first time I laid eyes on it. The cover is another one from Raymond Swanland who has done such good work for James Barclay, Glen Cook, and others. His covers always contain such tangible motion and barely contained violence, which appropriately describes K.V. Johansen’s novel.
I read Thomas World by Richard Cox while on a plane to San Francisco. It wasn’t my first choice. I fully planned on sitting down to read God’s War by Kameron Hurley. When that didn’t totally grab me, I tried Necropolis by Michael Dempsey (both are also Night Shade titles and both have subsequently become more compelling). It didn’t get me either. After about ten paragraphs of Thomas World, I was hooked. That’s not to say it’s an exciting read. In fact, it’s a little slow and lacks any action to speak of. So what made it so hard to put down? It’s a first person look at a man losing his mind wrapped around an ode to Philip K. Dick. In other words, it’s just super cool.
Thomas Phillips knows he’s losing his mind. He’s been losing it for as long as he can remember. And yet, when a strange old man asks him to consider that he, out of everyone in the world, knows the real truth, Thomas’ life begins to spiral out of control.… Read the rest
I haven’t posted in six day, but I have a good excuse. I flew to San Francisco to spend a long weekend with an old friend (also, the best man at my wedding). He moved to San Francisco about a year to take a job with LucasArts. I had to sign a NDA to even get in the building. What follows is my video essay of a trip to Skywalker Ranch and LucasFilm in the Presidio. Sometimes it pays to have friends.
First we went to Skywalker Ranch which is located across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County. After a long drive up a windy mountain road, we arrived.
|Welcome to Skywalker Ranch. This is the “Main House” where
the executive offices are located. Going to the second floor will
get you an official reprimand.
|This is the reverse view from the front door of the “main
house.” I think this guy George Lucas has some money.
Over at Bleeding Cool there was an article on Monday about a novel called Mirkwood, by Steve Hillard. I’d never heard of Mirkwood and Hillard, but apparently the novel features J.R.R. Tolkein as a main character. Earlier this year it was reported that the Tolkein Estate was in a legal battle with Hillard to have all copies of the novel destroyed. The estate was demanding an immediate halt to further sales, and threatened legal action to obtain damages.
It’s now being reported that Hillard has reached an agreement with the protective estate that will see the novel make it to publication. He also signed a deal that will see the book adapted to a movie. The 450-page work recounts a young woman’s quest to find her grandfather after discovering documents given to him by Tolkien. Here’s the blurb:
Mirkwood, re-invents J.R.R. Tolkien as a man haunted by the very myths he rewove into his famous works.
I had a feeling when I finished Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline that my review was going to be a personal one. This can happen when the protagonist has a painful resemblance to my teenage self. It’s common for me to connect with a book on an emotional level or an intellectual one, but personal? That’s pretty rare. Cline’s novel really hit home with me and I don’t know how to talk about without talking about myself – weird that.
Ready Player One is all about a teenager named Wade, although to everyone he knows he’s Parzival, a level 3 warrior in OASIS. OASIS is something akin to World of Warcraft meets Second Life meets Windows. It’s equal parts game, alternate reality, and operating system. As far as Wade is concerned it’s his entire world.
Set in a dystopian Earth some thirty years in the future, OASIS has become the primary means by which the population interacts with one another. … Read the rest
Wait, solid covers in the UK and the
US? Poppycock I say!
I love historical fiction. Shogun by James Clavell, Pride of Carthage by David Anthony Durham, and Gates of Fire by Stephen Pressfield, are a few of my favorites off the top of my head. What I love about the genre is how it stimulates me to learn about historical events or individuals that I haven’t had an opportunity to pay much attention to. If an author is clever enough to take this historical fiction element and blend in some science fiction the end result is something I can’t help but want to read. After finishing The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder I feel a great deal of conviction in saying, “Please sir, can I some more?”
Set in London, 1861, Sir Richard Francis Burton and Algernon Charles Swinburne stand at a crossroads in their lives. They are caught in the epicenter of an empire torn by conflicting forces: Engineers transform the landscape with bigger, faster, noisier, and dirtier technological wonders; Eugenicists develop specialist animals to provide unpaid labor; Libertines oppose repressive laws and demand a society based on beauty and creativity; while the Rakes push the boundaries of human behavior to the limits with magic, drugs, and anarchy.… Read the rest
I think it’s quite good and the overall tone reminds me of the cover from The Fallen Blade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood. It should since both were done by artist Larry Rostant. There’s definitely a photorealism theme afoot right now in the cover art world. I’m not sure I love the general trend, but this is one of the better ones.
|Super cheesy cover, but
it makes sense right?
Who is Sam Sykes? Parts of Tome of the Undergates would suggest he might be to fantasy what Douglas Adams is to science fiction or what Christopher Moore is to whatever the hell genre Christopher Moore writes. Other parts make me think he’s a glorified AD&D Dungeon Master who decided to write down his most recent campaign in painstaking detail. And still others make me think he might be the next great voice in epic fantasy. So I guess my answer to my opening question is – I don’t have a freaking clue, but I really want to find out.
Tome tells the story of a band of six adventurers (pejoratively) none of whom particularly like one another or themselves. Led by Lenk, a charismatic warrior with some sanity issues, the group is hired by Lord Emissary Miron Evenhands to recover a stolen tome that has the power to return the demon goddess Mother Deep from the depths of hell (or its reasonable approximation). … Read the rest