It’s been a long time since I used this particular trick. Cheryl is back.
Why do I use Cheryl? Because I tend to finish everything I start. If I only read things that I enjoy, how will I ever stretch myself? I’m also loathe to spend 800 words eviscerating someone’s baby. Thus, Cheryl was born. Cheryl is my imaginary personal assistant who helps me “review” novels I really did not like. Instead of just doggedly attacking a novel’s failures, I try to have some fun with it.
What follows is a conversation I had with Cheryl about Mira Grant’s new novel, Parasite.
… Read the rest
As I’ve been moving lately, I find my writing time has declined somewhat. I’m sure things will settle down soon. Until then, here’s three quick reviews of some recently read stuff.
Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach
Rachel Bach is also Rachel Aaron, author of the more young adult oriented Eli Monpress Trilogy. She’s taken the name Bach to brand her science fiction as separate, at least in part because it’s quite a bit more mature. That is to say there’s sex and swearing.
Devi Morris is a power armor mercenary with plans to become one of the elite warriors in the galaxy, but it’s tough getting noticed. To speed up the process, she takes a job on the aptly named Glorious Fool. Known for attracting trouble like bees to honey, one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years anywhere else. And so begins Fortune’s Pawn.… Read the rest
Two novels read this past month demonstrate an ongoing dichotomy in fantasy fiction. Anthony Ryan’s much heralded first novel, Blood Song, was a run away success as a self-published novel before it was bought by big publishing. It is, for all intents and purposes, a classic epic fantasy structurally reminiscent of Patrick Rothfuss’s Name of the Wind, with a texture more comparable to Brent Weeks’s Night Angel trilogy. Juxtapose it with Chris Willrich’s The Scroll of Years, which Scott Andrews described as Fritz Lieber meets Catherynne M. Valente, and the two faces of fantasy go to war.
But, the conflict doesn’t start or end with the fact that one echoes epic fantasy and the other a more literary style. Rather it’s a sense of going somewhere new, beyond traditional narratives that have for decades been a staple in the genre. A few sentences from Willrich’s blurb will begin to illustrate that,
Persimmon Gaunt and Imago Bone are a romantic couple and partners in crime.
… Read the rest
I read a lot of novels. They can blur together, particularly reading in a genre that sources the same texts again and again. It’s a distinct treat when a novel so deeply rooted in science fiction surprises, rips away any sense of déjà vu, and adopts another frame of reference. Ann Leckie’s first published novel, Ancillary Justice, does that and more.
Breq, a soldier on a quest for information, searches an icy planet. The information Breq requires is how to kill Anaander Mianaai, the near immortal Lord of the Radch, a galaxy spanning empire that Breq once defended. See, Breq used to be Justice of Toren, a self-aware starship that controlled thousands of corpse soldiers known as ancillaries. Now, the Justice of Toren is alone inside one of those soldiers. Justice of Toren is just Breq.… Read the rest
Generation V by ML Brennan
So I spent two hundred pages of this novel waiting for Five to show up. I’m thinking there’s five members of the main family? Nope, four. There’s five victims of murder? Nope. And you know what I decided? ML Brennan is just a liar. Nothing in this novel has anything to do with FIVE. One star.
Oh, the V is for vampire? Yikes. This is embarrassing. The novel makes a lot more sense now. But, the vampires don’t sparkle and they’re not even particularly Gothic. Are you sure it’s a vampire novel? Huh. Here I thought I was reading a story about a barista with a creepy family who has to solve a murder with the help of a smoking-hot shape changing fox. Nope. It’s a vampire barista with a creepy vampire family who has to solve a murder with the help of a smoking-hot kitsune!… Read the rest
Fire with Fire by Charles Gannon
Fire with Fire is the first Baen novel I’ve ever read that wasn’t written by Lois McMaster Bujold! Is that crazy or what? Although, I read it concurrently with The Sheepfarmer’s Daughter by Elizabeth Moon, which Baen published in 1988. One has to give proper dues, after all.
Charles Gannon’s first solo-novel is a science fiction thriller that has something in common with H. Beam Piper’s Little Fuzzy if it were dropped into the middle a science fictional spy novel and Jack Holloway was a polymath instead of a prospector turned legal advocate. That’s really not a good description at all, but roll with it.
Gannon presents a galaxy spanning space opera setting, but only arrives there after a lengthy ‘prologue’ (half the book?) where humanity extends its reach among the stars. At a critical point in that expansion, Fire with Fire becomes a story of first contact.… Read the rest
Today begins my deep, dark, dive into the mind of Joe Abercrombie. I touch on my interpretation of grimdark, what Abercrombie is trying to accomplish in The First Law Trilogy, and begin rereading the prologue.
Go check it out:
Welcome to the officially unofficial reread of Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself, and, unless I do something horrifically offensive, eventually the entire First Law Trilogy.
If you’re not familiar with Joe Abercrombie I ought to cast you into Tartarus. However, due to the constraints unfairly placed on me by Tor.com’s legal team, I’ve elected to educate rather than banish to hell. Consider yourself warned.
[Read more after the jump. . .]
… Read the rest
It’s been a long time since I did an “If you liked” post. Since Joe Abercrombie is becoming the center of my blogging life for the foreseeable future, I figured I’d talk about him some more. One of the things that makes Abercrombie unique is that all of his books are written in a different style. The First Law Trilogy riffs on epic fantasy. Best Served Cold plays with the exploitation revenge thriller. The Heroes leans on war novel tropes. And Red Country dresses up in wild west garb.
Since I’m going to be writing the Abercrombie reread at Tor.com, and I presume many of my readers here have already read Abercrombie, I want to provide some Abercrombie inspired recommendations for those who’ve enjoyed his work. To make it more fun I’ve made a recommendation inspired by each of his works, and a fifth recommendation based on his entire catalog.
Enjoy!… Read the rest
Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
If ever there’s been a book most closely described by a single word, it would be Altered Carbon and the word would be visceral. It’s a word with many connotations, but one definition I read said, “dealing with crude or elemental emotions.” I think that puts a fine point on what kind of novel Richard Morgan wrote.
The bed went first, erupting into gouts of white goose down and ripped cloth, then Sarah, caught in the storm as she turned. I saw one leg turned to pulp below the knee, and then the body hits, bloody fistfuls of tissue torn out of her pale flanks as she fell through the curtain of fire. — Richard K. Morgan
The novel begins there, with Takeshi Kovacs gunned down with his partner, and lover, Sarah. Although never directly stated, it seems that they’ve been participating in some lawless activity.… Read the rest
Where do novels begin? Is it the protagonist? The plot? Some cool magic system? Or a world detail? It’s a silly question, because there is no right answer. And even if there was, it only matters insofar as it scratches a bad interviewer’s curiosity. But, it is interesting, and meaningful, to discuss which of those aspects make a novel sing. In the case of Abaddon’s Gate and Black Halo, novels by James S.A. Corey and Sam Sykes respectively, it’s the characters that give them soul.… Read the rest