I’ve fallen behind a bit in my reviewing, with some ten books read as yet unreviewed. In an effort to catch up, I’m going to do write three short reviews here. It isn’t just a matter of catching up, the truth is books don’t always have a thousand word review in them, and who would want to read a thousand words about everything I read?
Armor by John Steakley
Steakley’s classic often stands in the shadow of Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War. It’s true that all three feature power armor and have military forces gallivanting across the galaxy killing wacky aliens, but Armor is an all together different kind of novel. That fact is not clear at first, featuring Felix, an Earth soldier encased in special body armor designed to fight an insectoid alien horde. This part of the novel is much like the Heinlein and Haldeman novels, describing the horrors of war from an ‘in the thick of it’ point of view.… Read the rest
He caught Handsome’s wrist just as he pulled his axe free, wrenched it up and with the other hand snatched the knife from his fancy belt and rammed it in his groin, dragging up the blade, ripping him wide open, blood spraying the pair of them.
And so goes Red Country. For those living under a rock, Joe Abercrombie is the best living fantasist. Notice, I didn’t qualify that by saying he’s the best living British fantasist, or the best living fantasist who doesn’t write A Song of Ice and Fire, or the best living fantasist who isn’t quite as good looking as China Mièville. I say this, not to trade in unnecessary superlative, but because I genuinely believe it. He’s subversive, creative, authentic, and all together, undeniably, modern.
His original trilogy, titled The First Law, was a fantasy enfilade — hard hitting, gruesome and completely unapologetic for a Nietzsche-esque worldview.… Read the rest
Rumors surfaced today of a merger between Random House, the largest English-language trade book publisher in the world, and Penguin Books. HarperCollins is also being considered.
The New York Times (blog) reported:
Pearson, the British media conglomerate, said Thursday that it was in talks to combine its Penguin publishing house with Random House, owned by Bertelsmann of Germany.
The deal, if completed, would bring together two of biggest book publishers in the world, uniting Penguin and its iconic orange logo with the owner of Crown Publishing and Knopf Doubleday. The combination would create a division with greater scale that could compete in a rapidly evolving e-book market. Traditional publishing houses have increasingly come under pressure, especially in the e-book category, from online retailers like Amazon and Apple.
As I’m hope most everyone is aware, A Dribble of Ink syndicates two of my reviews a month, usually with a new release on the first Tuesday and then an older title from my so-called back list. With Kameron Hurley final novel in her Bel Dame Apocrypha being released, I thought it would be appropriate to rerun my God’s War and Infidel reviews at A Dribble of Ink, before publishing a review of Hurley’s concluding volume, Rapture.
I had a problem though, I didn’t really think my review of God’s War was any good. It was one of my earlier reviews as a blogger, and I thought it deserved better. So I rewrote it — never an easy thing to do. I think it came out pretty well.
Beginning with Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl three years ago, Night Shade Books has made a concerted effort to produce meaningful debut novels.
Last month I moved my blog from Google Blogger to my own WordPress site here at staffersbookreview.com. At the time, I changed the look of the blog because I had to, but it wasn’t what I ultimately planned for the site. I quickly put my head down and got to work on what the kind of design I felt my blog deserved.
I took a lot of inspiration from Aidan Moher’s beautifully designed blog, A Dribble of Ink. For the past two weeks I’ve been ‘blowing up’ his gChat getting this thing together. He does this kind of thing professionally after all. He’s been a tremendous help and I can’t thank him enough. But, maybe this is a start:
The goal was to create something clean, fast, and slick. If you can believe it, almost everything is text, excepting the background image and the images embedded in the posts. New, modern browsers and developments in CSS and HTML5 have opened up all kinds of new avenues for the creative mind.… Read the rest
David Hair’s first adult novel, Mage’s Blood, does a bit of hand waving. I’ll go into detail about it later, but suffice to say that he doesn’t think very far beyond the snapshot in time that contains his narrative. I’m also a little tired of the female character who sleeps around to gain an illusion of power. Those flaws aside, recognizing them for what they are, Mage’s Blood is one of the better epic fantasy series first installments I’ve read in recent years.
It should be noted that when I refer to the term epic fantasy, I really mean it. Sweeping conflicts, clashes of cultures, political and personal entanglements, rich and in-depth magic, and mighty warriors dot the landscape. There’s even descriptions of food,
. . .they ate a cold meal of dried meat and breads, washed down with a small flask of arak and some water, all from the wagon’s spoils.
The Constantine Affliction is easy one of the best titles Night Shade Books has published in 2012 and stands as an absolute best practices for the legion of writers currently writing in the urban fantasy and/or steampunk genres. T. Aaron Payton, or Tim Pratt as he’s more widely known, has given readers a reasonably well executed mystery wrapped in a historical and science fictional gauntlet that challenges the too often rose colored portrayal of the Victorian Era. Oh, and it has a few things to say about today too.
Set in 1864, thirteen years after Henry Cole’s Great Exhibition, London is in upheaval. Alchemical lights brighten the night and automated carriages litter the streets. Amid this emerging technology a new affliction strikes the city’s denizens, killing some and leaving others with transformed gender. Evidence suggesting the disease is transmitted sexually, leading promiscuous men to satisfy themselves with clockwork courtesans, a new design in the technological petri dish that London’s become.… Read the rest
I met Brian McClellan last year at ConFusion in Detroit, Michigan. He was being shown the ropes by another Orbit author by the name of Brent Weeks. McClellan, a young guy and a former student of Brandon Sanderson’s at Brighan Young University, hadn’t quite yet finalized the details of his contract, so I didn’t get a chance to get much information about the series. But, the elevator pitch, and the author’s demeanor left me very intrigued.
Today, Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist, a little blog that’s been around a lot longer than mine, posted a review of James S.A. Corey’s Caliban’s War. He begins his review with one of the most asinine first paragraph I’ve ever read:
James S. A. Corey’s Leviathan Wakes was one of my favorite reads of 2011 and I was eager to sink my teeth into its sequel! Sadly, there was a screw-up at Orbit and not only did I never receive an Advance Reading Copy, but I never got a review copy of the novel. It took a while for me to sort everything out, which is why this review of Caliban’s War was so late in coming.
Putting aside for a moment the smug tone and the sense of entitlement, neither of which I have a particular objection to beyond personal dislike, let’s focus on the intent of the statement.… Read the rest
Jack McDevitt wrote a story for Lightspeed Magazine in 2010 titled ‘The Cassandra Project’. It features the same protagonist and concept as his new novel with Mike Resnick by the same title. The short, told in the first person as opposed to the third person used in the novel, would not be recommended reading prior to The Cassandra Project novel. It’s essentially a 5,000 word spoiler. Nevertheless, I think it informs the review.
Based on my experience, it seems McDevitt and Resnick might be analogized as the science fiction equivalent of Lays Potato Chips whose famous slogan reads, “betcha can’t eat just one.” Both have strong followings who turn out time and again to buy their novels, many of which seem to have similar premises and styles. Having not read either at novel length, Cassandra Project was, I suppose, my test ground to see whether the analogy holds up.… Read the rest