Friday, April 30, 2010

Enchantress of Venus - Leigh Brackett


Number of words : 25000
Percent of complex words : 5.0
Average syllables per word : 1.4
Average words per sentence : 12.5


Fog : 7.0
Flesch : 79.9
Flesch-Kincaid : 5.2


Eric John Stark

N'Chaka, Man Without a Tribe. Looking for his lost friend.


Captain of the ship Stark takes to Shuruun.


A friend of Stark's who disappears in Shuruun.


An Earthman, and now Shuruunian who assists Stark. Survives as a medical practitioner.


The young daughter of Malthor, who tries to warn Stark.


Lhari woman.


Lhari youth and fond of dragons.


Lhari man who wants to marry Varra. Slavemaster.


Older Lhari woman.


Large, monstrous Lhari ruler.


A cripped and apparently worthless Lhari man, according to the others.


A dead girl.


Helvi's brother, died in Shuruun.


Lhari and Egil's brother.


Red Sea

Venusian Ocean

Mountains of the White Cloud

Beyond which lie the Red Sea.


Venusian pirate city.

Twilight Belt

Mercurian zone inbetween the two sides.


A town near where Helvi hails from.

High Plateaus

Area of Venus where the Cloud People come from.


Martian ruined city.


A Low Canal town.


A Low Canal town.


Has buried tombs.


Site of the cliff-caves.



The Lords of Shuruun. Rulers and slavers, with access to remnants of ancient possibly alien technology.

Cloud People

Live on the Venusian High Plateaus.


The Lost Ones

Those taken by the Lhari as slaves.



A small flying pet of the Lhari.

Lord of the Rocks

A large lizard.


Black Rod

An energy weapon Egil uses.


Used by the guards to control the Lost One slaves.



Used to control the Lost One slaves. Hurt or kill if a barrier is crossed.

Cosmic ray machines

Technology used by the Lhari to change living cells. There a variety of types, including tomblike.


Eric John Stark is looking for his friend, a barbarian princeling. He has disappeared in Shuruun, a city of outlaws and pirates on Venus. Stark hires one such to take him there over the Red Sea.

He finds a city in the grip of the Lhari, the remnants of an advanced race, using those they can catch as slaves on a technology project to restore their former glory.

The arrival of an uncowed and fearless Stark throws the Wild Man among the pigeons, and draws the attention of one of the women - provoking jealousy in the man who would wed her. He places Stark among the slaves. A bad move, as Stark is not one to be caged. His friend Helvi is there also, to show him the ropes until their can organise a fight for freedom.

There are divisions among the Lhari, too. Treon has been doing his own technology work, unknown to the others, even though the monstrous Grandmother still rules.

The Lhari also have well armed guards and minions like Malthor the pirate who brought Stark to them, and the slaves have to fight their way past these before they can take on the Lhari. Their internal jealousies help the slave revolt, but the slaves and Stark and Helvi are still in trouble, until the arrival of Larrabee with some of the locals.

4 out of 5

Parallax - Laird Barron


Number of words : 9700
Percent of complex words : 10.1
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 10.8


Fog : 8.3
Flesch : 68.0
Flesch-Kincaid : 6.4


Jack Carson

An artist. Part of Penny Royal. Married to Miranda.

Miranda Carson

An artist. Part of Penny Royal. Married to Jack.


TV Interviewer.

Kurt Marchland

An ex-homicide detective on the investigation into Miranda Carson's disappearance. Old boyfriend of Miranda Carson.

Martin Fisher

A homicide detective on the investigation into Miranda Carson's disappearance. Marchland's partner.

Judith Pierce

An artist. Part of Penny Royal.

William Tucker

A documentary maker.

Freddy Snopes

An artist. Part of Penny Royal.

Larry Torrance

An artist. Part of Penny Royal.

Joe Adams

An artist. Part of Penny Royal.

Norman Rockwell

An American artist.

Patty Angstrom

Otero County Sheriff's office spokesperson.

Ricardo Montalban

A Mexican actor.


Carson's evil apprentice.

Mason Barnes

An investment banker from Oakland, and a chapter leader of the Ordo Templi Orientis. Once a backer of Carson.

Mark Fuhrman

A corrupt police detective in Los Angeles.

Bundy, Ridgeway, Yates, Bianchi, Russell, Dodd

Washington State serial killers.

Marvin Cortez

A tough guy friend of Carson's.

Lance Pride

A private detective hired by Carson.


A woman who may have seen Miranda.


A one-night stand of Jack's.

Annette Funicello

An American actress.

Frank Sinatra

An American singer, nicknamed Old Blue Eyes.

Rod Jones

TV station interviewer of Miranda Carson.


News 6

A television station.

Penny Royal

An artist community.

Alamogordo Daily Telegraph

A newspaper in New Mexico.

Seattle Post Intelligencer

A newspaper.

Environmental Life Force

An ecoterrorist group.

Action 9

A tv station.


Crown Royal

A scotch.


A white rum.


Tau Ceti

A star.


A museum in Washington DC.

White Sands National Monument

A National Park in Otero County, New Mexico. So called for the gypsum crystals there.

The Cloud Room

A nightclub the Carsons visited.

China Clipper

A restaurant.

Diamond Inn

A resort hotel near White Sands.

Samovar Inn

A hotel.

Schneider's Christmas Tree Farm

A favorite place for the Carsons to take their dogs.

Washington State Correctional Facility

A prison.


Achilles statue

Sculpture of the ancient Greek hero by Jack Carson.


A documentary by William Tucker.

Ladies Home Journal

A magazine.

The Decameron

A collection by Giovanni Bocaccio.


The wife of a famous modern artist has disappeared in strange circumstances. Strange attacks have plagued Jack. They were both part of an artist group that had connections to black magic, and accusations of Satanism and assorted hedonistic practices in the past.

One of the detectives investigating Miranda's disappearance had a previous relationship with her, and his testimony in the case is discredited. A documentary is made about the situation, and Marchland's partner thinks Carson may be a serial killer.

However, with all this, is it really Miranda that has disappeared?

4 out of 5

Old Virginia - Laird Barron


Number of words : 8000
Percent of complex words : 9.9
Average syllables per word : 1.5
Average words per sentence : 8.4


Fog : 7.3
Flesch : 70.6
Flesch-Kincaid : 5.5


Captain Roger Garland

An old, decrepit Company legend. Veteran of two World Wars.


One of Garland's black ops team.


One of the team of spies. An Ivy Leaguer.


One of the team of spies.


One of the team of spies.


One of the team of spies.


One of the team of spies, with flat feet.

Dr. Herman Strauss

A CIA Director and team leader and picker of Garland.

Dr Porter

Caltech educated unethical physicist and researcher.

Dr Riley

Caltech educated unethical physicist and researcher.


An old woman, subject of TALLHAT. A remote viewer, clairvoyant and much worse.


Virginia's scary lurking parental monster.



A black ops project in West Virginia.


Umbrella team for the CIA's mind control experiments.



Site of CIA Headquarters.

Badger Hill

Site of Strauss' cabin and Project TALLHAT.

Roanoke Island

Site of an early colony to America. One of the young settlers was named Virginia Dare.

Croatoan Island

A nearby island. Also a scary entity.


CIA Director Strauss hires Captain Roger Garland, a veteran of black ops through multiple wars. He wants him to help babysit an experiment in psychic abilities. What he doesn't realise is that it is not just an experiment. Strauss and the subject need men that nobody will miss if they disappear. Virginia's Mother is an entity that is scarier than an old lady with mind control powers. Things go badly when Virginia manages to bypass the anti-psychic helmet technology the team uses.

4 out of 5

The Beasts In the Void - Paul W. Fairman

Mind stuff hunt.

3.5 out of 5

Tangle Hold - Floyd L. Wallace

Pseudo-flesh circuit.

3.5 out of 5

Instant of Decision - Randall Garrett

Ancient Earth time experiment.

3 out of 5

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The League of Heroes 1 - Xavier Maumejan

"Lord Kraven was awakened by loud, creaking noises. The airship had come dangerously close to the mooring pylon, located on a bare plot of land near Customs House, secretly purchased by the Reform Club, a.k.a. the Empire’s Intelligence Service. If English Bob crashed the Albion Ascendant, the two daring heroes and the Heir to the Kingdom would drown in the Thames–a shameful end. Bob took off his goggles. The Great Detective had been a good teacher. With great care, the youth managed to pull the airship up so that the ground crew could grab the mooring cables. When they did so, he sighed deeply. Mission accomplished again! Sir Phileas Fogg was waiting for them in the warehouse."

4 out of 5

The Midwich Cuckoos 1 - John Wyndham

"Janet and I had lived there just over a year then, and found this to be almost its leading feature. Indeed, had there been posts at the entrances to the village bearing a red triangle and below them a notice:




they would have seemed not inappropriate. And why Midwich should have been singled out in preference to any one of a thousand other villages for the curious event of the 26th of September seems likely to remain a mystery for ever."

2.5 out of 5

Second Variety 2 - Philip K. Dick

If there's a bear in there, you are rooted. Out there isn't good, either, in the long run.

4.5 out of 5

Second Variety 1 - Philip K. Dick

If there's a bear in there, you are rooted. Out there isn't good, either, in the long run.

4.5 out of 5

The Call of Cthulhu 2 - H. P. Lovecraft

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.

4.5 out of 5

The Call of Cthulhu 1 - H. P. Lovecraft

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.

4.5 out of 5

Grand Central Arena 51 - Ryk Spoor

"Well flown, Captain. Though I may have to agree with Simon's evaluation of your mental stability."

3 out of 5

Grand Central Arena 50 - Ryk Spoor

""Minds and Manipulation!" was the translation of the obvious curse Orphan gave. He was silent for a moment, then with a humanlike sigh he seemed to give up, slumped down on the deck. "It … is true. But not exactly as you envision it, Ariane Austin. I have never… precisely… lied to you.""

3 out of 5

Grand Central Arena 49 - Ryk Spoor

"The double-arrowhead racing ship leaped forward and began spinning like a drillhead along its main axis, whirling multiple times a second. It literally bored through the swarm, batting aside zikki like fish caught in a paddlewheel. Inside Ariane felt the world spinning crazily, the ship shuddering with impact after impact as it drove through the swarm by sheer power and centripetal acceleration, a straight-line brute-force approach completely different from – and considerably more dangerous than – Sethrik's ballet of evasion."

3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Grand Central Arena 48 - Ryk Spoor

""Wait a minute!" she said, stepping forward despite her inherent squeamishness. But even as the creature stepped backward, the shadows seemed to simply grow heavier, obscuring, blending with the black robes… and then the light strengthened, and there was nothing but shadow under Skylark's rearmost wing.

Dammit but I hate that! And right before the race? And what the hell is going on with Orphan?"

3 out of 5

Grand Central Arena 47 - Ryk Spoor

" As Ariane had no Human vessels at all appropriate to an Arena-focused race, Nyanthus had proposed – with Orphan supporting – that both contestants use essentially identical vessels (with controls modified to fit their expectations) from some other race's base designs, so that neither would be any more or less familiar with the equipment; this was one point that Sethrik had balked at, but been overruled on; clearly he'd hoped to use a Blessed-designed racing vehicle and gain that advantage over Ariane. The race, therefore, would be performed in modified Vengeance scout-combat units called thysta, roughly translating to some kind of venomous fast-striking creature – cobra, viper, something of that nature."

3 out of 5

The Nyctalope On Mars 1 - Jean de la Hire

"What a strange voice, gentle and solemn at the same time! Who was this strange man, then, this kidnapper of young women, who spoke of conquering a planet with such august simplicity? By virtue of an obscure necessity of rebellion, though, she attempted to mock. “Conquer Mars!” she said. “Are the Martians all of the same species as those who invaded England ten years ago? In that case…” “Mademoiselle,” Koynos interrupted, gravely, “the Martians are terrible creatures, with an intelligence more advanced than ours—but the very invasion of which you speak revealed a part of their strength to us, permitting us to elevate our intelligence and our science to their level. Victory will not be won without terrible dangers to the Fifteen—dangers in which you will often share—but I know that you have sufficient courage.”"

3 out of 5

Star Psi Cassiopeia 1 - C. I. Defontenay

"Beyond the orbits of Uranus and Neptune, higher than the region of the sky where Sirius blazes, menaced by the sword of Orion, fix your gaze on the line which runs from Polaris to Andromeda on the starred vault; transport your imagination to distances greater than several million times the distance from Sirius to the Sun—equal to an unlimited, almost infinite, number of times the distance from the Sun to the Earth—and, once that particle of the immensity of the Heavens has been glimpsed even imperfectly by your mind, go farther, farther still, ascend, ascend forever!…"

3 out of 5

Doctor Omega 3 - Arnold Galoupin

"At the Doctor’s request, I accompanied him to the bridge of our new ship. There, he asked me to hold on to the two devices, while he crawled on the floor under the steering wheel. I soon heard the buzz of that strange screwdriver of his, and a few seconds later, he gestured to me to pass him the temporal rotor (which is how I learned its name), then the vector generator."

3 out of 5

The Vampires of Mars 12 - Gustave Le Rouge

"Robert instinctively stepped backwards. Suddenly, with disconcerting rapidity, a form leapt up, jumping on to the sand.
Robert froze, struck by fear. The monster that he saw surpassed the horror of the most extravagant nightmares. Imagine the rough approximation of a human face fashioned out of viscous transparent gelatin.
The lidless eyes had the dull and glacial gaze of an octopus, but the nose with quivering flaps and the enormous mouth furnished with black teeth gave it an expression of melancholy ferocity and disdainful sadness.
This fantastic face was surrounded on every side by thousands of white tentacles, which the engineer had initially taken for marine worms.

3 out of 5

Grimjack The Manx Cat 08

No GrimBlac threesomes.

4 out of 5

Robert E. Howard's Hawks of Outremer 1

Page 8, this one.

4 out of 5

Actu SF Interview - Kim Stanley Robinson

"Actusf : You have a degree in littérature, not science. You have nonetheless researched the planet Mars for many years and worked with many scientists in several fields. How did you manage to présent such a crédible and scientifically accurate universe in your books ?
Kim Stanley Robinson : The science in science fiction is a matter of language, not mathematics ; so it can be made to look solid by a careful use of language, and by educating oneself to the social functions and styles of science and scientists. I am married to a scientist and spend a lot of time in the company of scientists, and have paid attention to them. Then also I have read the magazine Science News faithfully every week for 30 years, that’s a real education, in a general sense ; and I research the particularities of the sciences I need for my stories. It’s been a reiterative or accumulative process : because the Mars novels had a certain scientific solidity, I was invited by the US National Science Foundation to join their Antarctic artists’ program, and that taught me more. So the science in my novels is a combination of research and rhetorical efforts, applied over a long time."

4 out of 5

The Variable Man - Philip K. Dick

The Variable Man - Philip K. Dick
Defense lag ftl bomb random effects expansion.

4 out of 5

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Subterranean Online 13 - William Schafer

An overall of only 3.15. The best story easily is Livia Llewellyn's, with the Bishop and Baker worth a look, too.

Subterranean Online 13 : Judge Sn Goes Golfing - John Scalzi
Subterranean Online 13 : Harboring Pearls: A Lucifer Jones Story - Mike Resnick
Subterranean Online 13 : Her Deepness - Livia Llewellyn
Subterranean Online 13 : Second Journey of the Magus - Ian R MacLeod
Subterranean Online 13 : The Bohemian Astrobleme - Kage Baker
Subterranean Online 13 : At the Store - Neal Barrett
Subterranean Online 13 : Flu Season - Barbara Roden
Subterranean Online 13 : The Heart of a Mouse - K. J. Bishop
Subterranean Online 13 : The Library of Babble - Michael Bishop
Subterranean Online 13 : The Nonesuch - Brian Lumley

Bad course hazard.

3 out of 5

Wong partner.

3 out of 5

Gillian cycle descent.

4 out of 5


2.5 out of 5

Scarlet witch power.

3.5 out of 5

Scarlet witch power.

3 out of 5

Dead mom dinner.

3.5 out of 5

Furry Apocalypse runt run.

3.5 out of 5

Furry Apocalypse runt run.

2.5 out of 5

Drunken octopus bastard thing.

3 out of 5

3 out of 5

Her Deepness - Livia Llewellyn

Gillian cycle descent.

4 out of 5

Make-believe - Michael Reaves

Arrowhead cave gunfight.

3 out of 5

Grimjack The Manx Cat 07

Cynosure Tourbot plague.

3.5 out of 5

Her Deepness 4 - Livia Llewellyn

"She knows, because the gaze has never left her, not since her mother squeezed and coaxed her squalling body from some profane crucible within the world’s core, not since the Welsh witch Morwyn split her apart and ran, leaving the spurting wreckage to the geologic being that fathered her."

4 out of 5

Her Deepness 3 - Livia Llewellyn

"The chimera slides a webbed hand over hers, clasping it tight. “Don’th lie. I’m really am thycic, too.”

“I thought so.”

The chimera reaches into the bag at her feet, and rummages around, pulling out a small ampoule filled with yellow smoke. She pops the cap and sticks the end into the O of her mouth, sucking hard. Gillian says nothing, shocked. The chimera’s eyes roll up, and she shudders, then after a long minute, lets out a soft, languorous sigh. Gillian sniffs the air, but detects no odor of any kind. Whatever the creature inhaled, she completely absorbed it.

The chimera drops the empty ampoule into the bag, and smiles. “I’m also a drug addict.”"

4 out of 5

Her Deepness 2 - Livia Llewellyn

"The lower levels of the station are all grey granite and sharp echoes, with occasional glimpses of smoking black steam engines resting on tracks, waiting to devour their passengers and race away. Names as terrible and magnificent as their quaking frames adorn onyx sides in letters of silver and gold: Lord of the Seventh Kingdom, Fantasma Imperador, Fist of the Southern Star. Gillian finds Track #16 at the far end of the wing, beyond a thick arch of rough-hewn stone. Under the low vaulting of the tunnel, Empress of Devastation awaits, her long black body throbbing with every pull and pound of the pistons and gears. Steam explodes from the stack and undercarriage, filling the space with python-sized coils of wet smoke. That Devastation’s six foot high wheels float several feet above the tracks makes Gillian understand that this is a lucid dream, that her body is already somewhere within the real Empress, fast asleep as her mind sinks in the oubliette of images flickering through her brain."

3.5 out of 5

The Nonesuch - Brian Lumley

Drunken octopus bastard thing.

3 out of 5

The Library of Babble - Michael Bishop

Cacophony Pa.

2.5 out of 5

The Heart of a Mouse - K. J. Bishop

Furry Apocalypse runt run.

3.5 out of 5

Flu Season - Barbara Roden

Dead mom dinner.

3.5 out of 5

At the Store - Neal Barrett

Billy Bob Stinkton.

3 out of 5

Blogging The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu by Sax Rohmer Part Five: The Green Mist - William Maynard

"A century ago, such views were secondary to the consideration of good storytelling and in “The Green Mist,” Sax Rohmer delivered the goods. The story introduces us to the blustering, bombastic figure of Sir Lionel Barton. The frequently infuriating Egyptologist is Rohmer’s take on Sir Richard Burton (one of Rohmer’s strongest influences) by way of a healthy dose of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s other immortal character, Professor Challenger. The dialogue crackles every time Sir Lionel takes center stage and the character is obviously one the author enjoyed sharing with his readers. Little wonder that Rohmer would come to create so many return appearances for the character as the series progressed."

4 out of 5

Black Gate Interview With Part 1 - Marc Miller

"Traveller has an obvious familiarity with the military that is not typical of most role-playing games.

I certainly agree with that observation. It also carried the military background from the wargames that we were designing at Game Designer’s Workshop at the time. Learning how to play France 1940 at the games club at ISU quickly turned into a small group of people who really cared about wargames. Now, the first game that I really designed was Triplanetary, which was just based on an observation that you could draw vectors from the center of hex to center of hex; it quantified drawing vectors so we had this nice little space combat vector movement combat game. We all enjoyed it and it was one of the first games that Game Designer’s Workshop published because it was complete. It was ready to publish."

3.5 out of 5

The Bohemian Astrobleme - Kage Baker

Scarlet witch power.

3.5 out of 5

Second Journey Of The Magus - Ian R. MacLeod


2.5 out of 5

Her Deepness 1 - Livia Llewellyn

"“Not me, my dear. The Minister of Necropoleis wants you to retrieve the item, and deliver it to Hellynbreuke, after which you will remain there permanently, as director of Hellynbreuke’s carving and restoration shops. All those beautiful monuments, and you’ll be in charge of them all.” Shattuck leans forward, sliding the letter toward her fingertips. His watch chain clicks against the desk. She recognizes the metal, knows its qualities, its name.

“Gillian Jessamine of Hellynbreuke, the cemetery queen,” he says. “How does that sound?”"

4 out of 5

Judge Sn Goes Golfing - John Scalzi

Bad course hazard.

3 out of 5

Harboring Pearls - Mike Resnick

Wong partner.

3 out of 5

Grimjack The Manx Cat 06


3.5 out of 5

Wheels Within - Charles De Vet

Headache choice time.

3 out of 5

An Interview With Mark Twain - Rudyard Kipling

"I was burning to ask him all manner of impertinent questions, as to which of his works he himself preferred, and so forth; but, standing in awe of his eyes, I dared not. He spoke on, and I listened, grovelling.

It was a question of mental equipment that was on the carpet, and I am still wondering whether he meant what he said.

‘Personally I never care for fiction or storybooks. What I like to read about are facts and statistics of any kind. If they are only facts about the raising of radishes, they interest me. Just now, for instance, before you came in’—he pointed to an encyclopaedia on the shelves—‘I was reading an article about “Mathematics.” Perfectly pure mathematics."

3.5 out of 5

The Romantic Analogue - W. W. Skupeldyckle

Curve analysis.

3 out of 5

Jack Vance: The Master of the Dragons - Frederik Pohl

"I came late to Vance. Most of his early stories appeared in magazines and other places that I didn’t normally read. Friends with my best interests at heart did try to persuade me to give this Vance person a try, but I never quite got around to following their sage advice. Then Horace L. Gold began to find the editing of Galaxy too much for him to handle. I helped him as needed for a while; then he retired and the publisher asked me to take over."

4 out of 5

Thunder Road - Mercedes Lackey and Cody Martin

Murdock gets CCCP action.

3.5 out of 5

Science fiction's forgotten agent - Leah A. Zeldes

"Though little remembered today, Robert Park Mills (1920–1986) played a quiet but prominent part in shaping science fiction and fantasy from the 1950s through the ’80s. He was no flamboyant character, but as an editor and, especially, as a literary agent, Mills put into print some of the best-known works of the era."

4 out of 5

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Light 1

"It's in me and it burns."

3 out of 5

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pulpetti Interview - Christa Faust

"You are one of the few female practitioners of the new hardboiled or neo-noir writers. Why do you think this genre doesn't gather more female writers - there were more in the past, like Leigh Brackett and Margaret Millar.

Maybe there aren't a lot, but there are strong, talented women writing hardboiled and noir fiction today. Women like Megan Abbott and Cathi Unsworth. What I really like about today's female noir authors is that they don't hide their gender with masculine cliche and try to write just like the boys. They bring a new, distinctly female perspective to the genre."

3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Grimjack The Manx Cat 05

Like me and die.

3.5 out of 5

One Man's Poison - Robert Sheckley

Plugger surprise.

3 out of 5

Broken Mirrors 07 - Tim Pratt

"“Uh. You want me to jump into a guy driving a moving car? In traffic? I mean, I’ll do it, of course I’ll do it, you’re the boss, but –”

“No, you’re right, a crash would be counterproductive. There are too many cars here. Because there are too many people. There needs to be a culling.”"

3.5 out of 5

World of the Drone - Robert Abernathy

Dworn vs red spider.

2 out of 5

Stamped Caution - Raymond Z. Gallun

Taking him back to Mars.

2.5 out of 5

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Hand - Jerry Sohl

Six-fingered retriever.

3.5 out of 5

Atom Drive - Charles L. Fontenay

G-Boat Mars experiment.

1.5 out of 5

Monday, April 19, 2010

Diplomatic Immunity - Robert Sheckley

Tough guy, no breaks, messy.

3.5 out of 5

Silent Blade - Ilona Andrews

"A faint tug on her senses from the left. She didn't hear it, didn't see it, but felt it with some innate sixth sense, or perhaps an imperceptible combination of all five.

Meli struck.

Her eyes were still closed, but in her mind she clearly saw a ribbon of transparent green snapping from the bracelet on her hand. She felt the energy sear the target and smelled fried electronics.

"Good God," Angel said.

She opened her eyes in time to see the manta ray shaped disk of interceptor crash to the floor in a smoking ruin. Quiet and equipped with small caliber cannon, robotic interceptor units had long become a favorite in security. Their state of the art sensory systems ensured that they located intruders quickly and the absolute silence of their flight made their detection nearly impossible until their ammunition bit the back of the target's neck. She made it a point to kill at least one a month, to relieve tension and practice her strike on a moving target. It helped her stay sharp.

"It always rattles me when you do that," Angel said. "Here is the file.""

4 out of 5

Magic Bleeds 1 - Ilona Andrews

"“Okay.” I sighed. “What about the critter in the cellar? What do we know about it?”

“Big,” Vik said. “Hairy. Big teeth.” He held his hands apart, demonstrating teeth with his fingers. “He was like the spawn of hell.”

“How did this spawn get into the cellar?”

The smaller bouncer shrugged. “I was trying to make my way to the bar, where the shotgun was, and then some asswipe hits me with a pool cue and I take a tumble down this stair and hit my head a bit. Once the room stops spinning, I try to get up and I see this huge thing coming down. Wicked fangs, eyes glowing. I’m thinking I was done for. It jumps right over me and into the cellar. I slam the door shut and that’s that.”

“Did anybody see this beast come in with the man who killed Joshua?”

Nobody said anything. I took it as a no.

“Did it try to get out?”

Both bouncers shook their head.

I rose to my feet and pulled Slayer from my back sheath. The opaque saber caught the blue light of feylanterns. A light mother-of-pearl shimmer ran along the blade. Everybody took a step back.

“Lock the door behind me,” I told them.

“What if you don’t come out?” Maggie asked.

“I’ll come out.” I unlatched the heavy wooden door, opened it, and ducked inside."

4 out of 5

Star Raiders 1 - Elysa Hendricks

"She shifted away from those eyes that watched her too closely. “I already have your ship. It’s a shame to dismantle such a beautiful piece of machinery, but she’s worth more as parts. No buyer would dare fly an ELF ship loaded with C.O.I.L. technology out here. Too many pirates would be gunning for them.”

Something about the ship’s design struck her as familiar. He lifted an eyebrow. “That’s what I’m here about.”

“Pirates? What do they have to do with me? You boarded my ship. I’m no pirate.”

“Evidence says otherwise.”"

3 out of 5

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Scalped 1

Bad Horse is back.

4 out of 5

Hero Wanted 1 - Dan McGirt

“I’m not a demon!” I protested.

“He lies!” said Lombardo. “Think on it! Have not your crops failed, your livestock sickened, your children disobeyed, your wives nagged you?” The wide-eyed villagers nodded assent to these propositions. Lombardo jabbed at me with the rapier. Evading it, I stumbled backward over the bench and tumbled to the floor. “There is the cause! He poses as one of you even as he casts vile enchantments over all you hold dear!”

“It is a terrible thing,” said Ames wisely, “when a man casts vile enchantments over all his neighbors hold dear.”

“True,” said Burlo. “Of course Jason ain’t a man no more. He’s a demon in human form.”

This was getting out of hand. I regained my feet. Lombardo kept his sword extended in my direction, but the point no longer reached me and the table remained between us. He made no move to close the gap.

“You’ve known me all my life!” I said. “I was born here! I’m a farmer like you, a Hicksnittler, a proud son of dismal Darnk!”

“Precious little farmin’ I seen you do,” said Farmer Godfrey, squinting at me from his seat across the room. “Your turnip patch is half the size of any other man’s.”

“Because I’m also the village woodcutter! You know that! I cut the firewood that keeps you warm through the cold Darnkish winter. I supply the lumber for your proud shacks. As did my father before me, and his father before him.”

“What about the books?” said Ames. “Evil things, books. Full of black magic.”

3.5 out of 5

Sarah Palin: Vampire Hunter in Twinkle - Dan McGirt

"Now Edmund clamped his entire hand across Stella’s mouth, silencing her.
“Just hush,” he said. “Please. Not another word. You are so beautiful, Stella. So perfect. I love the way the moonlight shines on your luminous white skin. The way your dark hair catches the shadows. The heat of your body. So, so perfect.”
“Mmfph!” said Stella.
“And the beating of your heart.” Edmund pressed his ear against Stella’s chest. His head rode the rise and fall of her breath. “The perpetual pulsing rhythm, pushing your delicious—I mean, precious—blood through every part of your body. Through your fingers, through your toes…through the veins of your throat. I love that sound. But I can’t hear it, even with my exceptional hearing, over the unyielding cacophony of your incessant yammering. So, please, don’t spoil our last moment together, Stella. Just hush.”
He removed his hand. Stella took a breath. She opened her mouth to speak. Edmund regarded her sternly. She hesitated, but could not contain herself.
“Last moment?” she asked, half in hope, half in fear of what he meant.
“The last moment before everything changes for us,” he said.
“Do you really mean this, Edmund? Is it time? Are you finally going to do it to me?”
“Yes, Stella.”
“Oh, Edmund! I’m so happy! You have no idea what this means to me! I can’t wait to finally be—”
Edmund clamped his hand over her mouth again and bent the girl’s head back, exposing the soft white flesh of her throat. The scent of her excitement, the rush of her quickening heartbeat, sent a thrill through his cold form. She shuddered in his grasp.
“This may sting at first,” said Edmund. His incisors protruded. “But it will all be over soon.”
Edmund pulled Stella more tightly against him. He leaned in, brushing her skin with his lips. He opened his mouth. She closed her eyes. Stella’s whole body vibrated with anticipation of what was to come next.
Then Edmund’s head exploded."

4 out of 5

Arc of the Dream - A. A. Attanasio

"Weird. He bent over to force more blood into his head, because he thought the exertion of the parlous climb was affecting him. He rarely worked this hard, and the scintillations he had seen around the metal slug had to be the retinal flares of oxygen hunger. Same with the euphoria: A feeling like the end of day in New England retreated as he caught his breath. He had not the slightest inkling that the object that he held lived, let alone that it was a vaster being than himself.

The alien in his palm knew terror and great pain. It was a 5-space being exquisitely bound to a precise point within the continuum, and by moving it, Donnie was killing it. Within its iridium shell, its brain verged on panic. A conflagration of horror and confusion consumed it.

How strangely fearless the alien had felt when it had first entered this universe. Its jaunt had been an act of play, at first an accident of evolution and then an exuberant experiment with its newfound ability to push outward. Outward! The concept still seemed bizarre to it—though here it was, outside 5-space, outside the pith. Of course, it had been stunned to enter so quickly a universe made of points. Within its 5-space origin, everything was one point, and its transition to 4-space had been abrupt. It had evolved to where it could trespass outward, and so it had—instantly. But the journey back home would be restrained by 4-space physics, which meant it would take time and could happen only gradually. The alien had known this at once, but the full implications were still too strange to grasp.

Time itself opened as something new. When the alien first entered 4-space, it moved at light speed through this bizarreness called a continuum. Its sentience extended into the photon field and along the inertial contours of the universe, feeling the teeming points and all their connections. No point appeared separate or central. All points shone radiantly, luminous in their nets of quantum energies. And all were scattered and scattering farther each instant. Light streamed among them, reaching outward in elastic fields of energy."

4 out of 5

Tome of the Undergates - Sam Sykes

Only excerpt appears to be at this blog? This is something that Gollancz (or Orion) are terrible at. This book being actually out and all.

"choose now, in the prime of your imminent death, to start worrying about women?”

“Not ‘women,’ exactly, but ‘woman.’”

“A noble endeavor,” Denaos replied, taking another swig.


There was a choked sputter as Denaos dropped the skin and put his hands on his knees, hacking out the droplets of water. Lenk frowned, picking up another half-log and placing it upon the companion vessel’s hole.

“Is it that shocking?” the young man asked, plucking up a nail.

“Shocking? It’s immoral, man.” The rogue gestured wildly off to some direction the aforementioned female might be. “She’s a shict! A bloodthirsty, leather-clad savage! She views humanity,” he paused to nudge Lenk, “of which you are a part, I should add, as a disease! You know she threatened to kill me back in Irontide?”

“Yeah, she told me.” Lenk began to pound the nail.


“And what?” He glanced up and shrugged. “She didn’t actually kill you, so what’s the harm?”"

4 out of 5

A Dribble Of Ink Interview - Sam Sykes

"But, anyway, there is a lot of violence, and if you’re asking how I managed to achieve that, I’ve always had a personal philosophy when it comes to action: “Ramp that shit up.” Conflict, I feel, has to keep growing to remain interesting. Immediate conflict has to grow immediately. Thus, if you stab the first man with a sword, you have to hack off the next one’s head. After you decapitate that guy, you have to rip the arms off the next one. After you’ve killed three guys, you have to have a giant fish-demon evangelist rise up and strangle someone."

4.5 out of 5

Big Liar Comes Good - Sam Sykes

Interview about Tome of the Undergates :-

""They are pretty much degenerates who don't have a chance. It's clear by their conversations that they can't actually function in a normal society. They kill people and take their stuff. They are not going to be liked by many."

Tome of the Undergates is violent, a virtual slaughter-fest. Sykes says two people thrusting at each other with swords does little to move the action along and his use of violence stems simply from practicality.

It's ugly, it's messy and it's about fighting for your life. This cannot be done fairly and involves cheating as much as possible."

3.5 out of 5

Daughter of Elysium 1 - Joan Slonczewski

"Blackbear adjusted his turban at his forehead. “This planet looks more like a swamp than an ocean.” Shora, home of the native Sharers and the ageless Elysians, was an ocean world—the only inhabited world covered entirely by ocean. And yet, the closer came the ocean’s surface, the more it looked like a field of vegetation, scraggly green and brown patches with brackish puddles in between. It made his stomach churn, already unsettled from the shifting g-forces of the shuttlecraft.

“Maybe it’s Valedon, by mistake,” he added, referring to Shora’s dryer moon-twin. A country doctor from the frontier of Bronze Sky, a world still largely uncharted, Blackbear distrusted all spacecraft and, for that matter, any contrivance that produced light and speech from no discernible origin.

But he would put up with it. For what he sought on this ocean, countless doctors would give their lives: the secret of immortality.

Raincloud laughed, eyeing the vast “swamp” some ten thousand meters below. “You could herd a lot of goats down there.” Her voice clicked crisply, in the language that had earned their people the epithet “Clickers.” Clickers farmed the Caldera Hills of the Dark Goddess, beneath a volcanic bronze sky. Twenty light-years distant, yet Bronze Sky was just a rei-gi tumble away from here, through a hole in the galactic Fold.

Hawktalon’s braids bounced, and she pulled herself up a notch on her mother’s back. “Can we really keep our goats after all, Mother? And have room to let the dogs run? Oh please, let’s send for the dogs—”

“No,” clicked Raincloud. “I told you, we’ll be indoors the whole time, within a giant Elysian city.”

“Shaped like a bubble, you said,” Hawktalon added.

Elysium, the republic of “immortals.” Elysians never aged. They lived a thousand years or more, within their twelve opulent “cellular cities” that floated upon Shora’s ocean.

“But even in Founders City,” Hawktalon reminded her mother, “people kept dogs.” The capital of Bronze Sky was the only city the six-year-old had ever known."

3 out of 5

The Children Star 1 - Joan Slonczewski

"The call had become a part of the morning routine, since the “creeping” had spread. The creeping began as a numbness in the fingers and toes that crept upward over several months. It spread among people living together; how, ’jum did not know.

“Any dead?” The call came closer now, and the barrow came to a halt just outside. Usually, ’jum’s mother would call to her from her bed, for ’jum to go out and answer. Of course, if no one answered, the man would just come in. Such a man with such a barrow had come in before, first for her sister, then her brother, then at last her father. Then the factory where ’jum worked had found out and sent her home. No more days of counting strange bits of metal to piece together, one thousand twenty-one, one thousand twenty-two; only the lightcraft to be counted, and the windows in the proud towers that reared opposite the hillside.

With an effort ’jum pulled herself up and pulled the paper back from the doorway. The man’s grayish brown arms poked like sticks through his cloak. His cart already held two twisted bodies. Now he stared back at ’jum.

’jum closed her lips tight and shook her head.

Expressionless, the man picked up the two handles of the barrow. The wheels creaked: one-and...two-and...’jum held on to their rhythmic sound. One always comes before two, and the digits of any number divisible by three add up to be divisible by three. As her family had subtracted, one by one, ’jum had added and multiplied, creating families of factors in her head. Six hundred ninety-three was a family of four: a seven, eleven, and twin threes...

’jum bit into the rat, tearing out its flesh as best she could. Then she thought of her mother, who could no longer rise from her sleeping mat and needed ’jum to feed her. ’jum felt her way across the room, lighted only by the window, to the mat where her mother slept, covered by a sack ’jum had salvaged from the factory still bearing the sign of Hyalite Nanotech. Her mother’s hand lay across it in the same position as the night before. Yet something had changed; the color of her hand was different, grayer. ’jum reached over and touched her mother’s hand."

3.5 out of 5

Arkfall - Carolyn Ives Gilman

"It would have looked hellish enough to other eyes. A chain of seafloor vents snaked along the valley floor, glowing in places with reddish rock-heat. Downstream, black smokers belched out a filthy brew loaded with minerals from deep under the planet’s gravity-tortured crust. Tall chimneys encased the older vents. Everywhere the seafloor was covered with thick, mucky vegetation feeding on the dissolved nutrients: fields of tubeworms, blind white crabs, brine shrimp, clams, eels, seagrass, tiny translucent fish. The carefully nurtured ecosystem had been transported from faraway Earth to this watery planet of Ben. To Osaji, the slimy brown jungle looked like the richest crop, the most fertile field, a welcoming abundance of life. Patient generations had created it.

Beside her, a pore in the lipid membrane of the ark released a jet of bubbles, making the vessel sink slowly toward the floodlit harbor where a dozen other arks already clustered, docked to flexible tube chutes that radiated from the domes like glowing starfish arms. It was time for Osaji to go inside, but still she lingered. All her problems lay inside Cormorin’s membrane, neatly packaged. Once she went inside, they would immerse her again.

A voice sputtered over her ear radio, “Will she be coming in soon?” It was the Bennite idiom: tentative, nonconfrontational. But no less coercive for that. Osaji sighed, making her breather mask balloon out, and answered, “She will be pleased to.”

Pushing off, she dived downward past the equator of the ark’s globe, gliding over its silvery surface. The top portion of the ark was filled with bladders of gas that controlled buoyancy and atmosphere, along with the tanks of bacteria and algae that processed seawater into usable components. Only at the bottom did the humans live, like little mitochondria in their massive host.

On the ark’s underbelly Osaji found a pore, tickled its edges till it expanded, then thrust her arms and head in, pulling herself though the soft, clinging lips of the opening. Inside, she shook the water off her short black hair and removed her facemask and fins. She was in a soft-walled, gently glowing tube leading upward to the living quarters. As she walked, her feet bounded back from the rubbery floor."

4 out of 5

Halfway Human Prologue - Carolyn Ives Gilman

"By night, the enclave of Djenga Shana glittered, and smelled. The palaces of temptation clustered around the waystation, feeding on the nutrient wash of tourists that issued from the wayports, ripe with money and desires. The Worwha Shana, natives of the enclave, made no secret of their wish to eradicate all infidels who didn’t share their odd religion; but they had no intention of doing it by violence. Instead, they provided the deadly vices that allowed the infidels to destroy themselves.

It had just rained in Djenga Shana. The streets were smeary with neon rivulets, and a steam-haze rose from hot pavement. Down a dark side street, where the walls were plain gray brick, a door opened for a moment, exhaling a hot breath that smelled of stimsmoke and ambergris. The light from the door silhouetted a figure that slipped out, barefoot and wrapped in a raincoat that was sizes too big. In the dim light it was impossible to tell whether it was a boy made up to look like a woman, or a large-boned woman trying to conceal her sex. Pulling the raincoat tighter and cinching the belt, the figure thrust hard fists into the pockets and headed for the street.

Participarlors, stimulation studios, creep shows, and druggeries showed their wares for the passing crowds. Beneath a patch of translucent pavement, a naked dancer writhed under shifting lights, first scalded red, then skeletal white, jerking like a marionette on piano-wire strings. The wanderer in the raincoat paused to watch, collar turned up high. Then a nearby door opened its moist, fleshy lips, and a feedback buzz of music issued, making the tense body under the coat flinch back. Over the music came a woman’s laugh, sharp as a needle, and the wail of a pocket alarm going off. Then the door pursed shut, choking off the noise.

Underfoot, the pavement was strewn with discarded things whose pleasure-value had been used up: a fresh corsage, partly crushed; a tangled wad of shorn hair; a lost endorphin-brooch, the kind made to be pinned direct through skin. The barefoot figure stopped to reach out for the brooch, then thrust the outstretched hand into a pocket instead, where it closed over something hard. For an instant the light from a sign that read Every Wish Fulfilled picked out a glint of tousled golden hair as the wanderer turned down a narrow alley.

The sound of a sharp explosion ricocheted out onto the street. A panhandler paused in midspiel; two drunken students with songbirds tethered to their shoulders peered down the alley. But there was nothing to see, no novelty to lure them, and they turned away. The streetlights cycled through the spectrum, hallucination bright. Their glare hid the trickle of blood mingling with the greasy rain."

4 out of 5

In Other Worlds 1 - A. A. Aatanasio

"“Perhaps because you are, at this moment, bodiless.”

“And you call that alive?” The propinquity of madness alarmed him. Maybe this wasn’t a dream. “Where am I? I can’t see myself.”

“You are inside me. I am reshaping you. To even begin to understand how this is possible, you must know something about my world. I live in a special region inside the cosmic black hole at the end of time. The universe around me is small and hot. Spacetime has long ago completed its expansion, braked, and begun to fall back on itself. At the time of this telling, one hundred and twenty-five billion years after your star, Sol, cindered to frozen rubble, the whole universe is a mere six hundred thousand parsecs wide, the distance from your Earth to the Andromeda galaxy. All of spacetime has been reduced to a mote of what you knew the cosmos to be.”

“I knew the cosmos to go from Brooklyn to the Bronx,” Carl’s voice quaked. “Where am I?”

“I’ve told you. You are at the end of time.”

“But why?” Carl whined. “I was just at home, taking a shower—”

“One hundred and thirty billion years ago.”

“I’m hallucinating. I must be hallucinating.”

“Would you rather not hear this?”

“I have a choice?”

“Of course.” The eld skyle’s voice had the long patience of a horizon. “I am narrowing my five-space consciousness to your human smallness, because it pleasures me. It is not at all necessary. If you prefer, I’ll just pass you on into my world. Words are useful only if you can believe them. In your case, perhaps, experience itself is the best teacher.”

“If you’re going to put it that way—go ahead, tell me everything.”"

3 out of 5

The Walk 1 Sensurround - Lee Goldberg

There weren’t any of those ominous, early warning signs that everyone ignored, like big flocks of birds flying away or dogs barking for no reason, or the little rumbles that were shrugged off as a big truck passing by on the street.

Marty wasn’t getting married, retiring from the force, embarking on a maiden voyage, or christening some bold, new construction project, each a definite precursor of disaster, at least according to Irwin Allen, the acknowledged expert on the subject.

And at least one thing turned out like the movies—here he was, underneath his car, just like Charlton Heston in Earthquake. That’s where any similarity between Marty and Charlton ended.

He wasn’t clutching Ava Gardner, and he certainly wouldn’t sacrifice himself to save her over Genevieve Bujold. And after the shaking was over, Charlton wasn’t curled in a fetal position, covered in dust and sprinkles of broken glass, wondering if the itchy wetness he felt on his legs was blood, something from the car, or his own piss.

Marty didn’t want to move. He felt just like he did waking up in his soaked sleeping bag at Camp Cochise, afraid to stir, hoping everything would dry before the other campers, especially that bully Dwayne Edwards, woke up and discovered he was a bed-wetter. The sharpness of the fear and shame, thirty years later, surprised him almost as much as thinking about it now.

It was enough to embarrass him into opening his eyes and pushing away the bricks and broken glass that surrounded the car. He dragged himself from under his Mercedes, scraping his fingers on the shards of glass in his haste. But he didn’t care. He had to get out.

The first thing he noticed was the dust, the chalky mist of pulverized plaster, mortar, and brick. It was everywhere. In his eyes, in his nose, in his lungs. Coughing, he staggered to his feet, his balance totally shot. It didn’t help that asphalt was all cracked and bubbled, like something was trying to break out from underneath.

The derelict warehouse he’d been in just a few minutes before, making the obligatory network exec visit to the set of Go to Heller, was now just a pile of bricks, which slopped onto his car, flattening it like a $42,000 German beer can.

The warehouse was never retrofitted for earthquake safety. It had been abandoned and neglected for decades, which made it a great seedy location for cop shows.

But it wasn’t abandoned today.

There were fifty or sixty people in there. The cast, the crew, the director. Now they were under tons of rubble. And if Marty had schmoozed ten seconds longer, he would have been, too."

3.5 out of 5

Dead Space 1 - Lee Goldberg

"Her illusions about Stipe ended the moment he peeled open his Velcro girdle and his stomach flopped down over his crotch, hiding whatever might be there.

His illusions about her began the moment she unzipped her space suit, and her flesh burst out the seams like Pop 'n Fresh dough. But they were too far along and far too desperate to stop now.

They had dream sex.

The wanna-be Nymph of Zontar dreamed she was being colonized by Captain Pierce and the Confederation of Aligned Galaxies. Stipe dreamed he was young, successful, and frolicking with the buxom cowgirl from Big Hooters magazine's "Vixens of Double-D Ranch" spread.

Five minutes later, it was over, leaving one of them unsatisfied and embittered, the other flatulent and fast asleep. She zipped herself back into her space-suit and slipped out of his room, plotting to switch her precious scifi allegiance to SeaQuest."

3.5 out of 5

The Man With the Iron-on Badge 1 - Lee Goldberg

"I’m just the guy in the shack. The one who either waves you through and opens the gate, or stops you to see if you’ve got a pass. If you do, or if I get the homeowner on the phone and he says you’re okay, then I jot your name and license number in my ledger, open the gate, and return to my reading.

I do a lot of reading, which is the one big perk of the job and, truthfully, the reason I took it in the first place, back when I was going to community college. Mostly I read paperback mysteries now, cheap stuff I get at used bookstores, and it’s probably why I was so susceptible to his offer when it came.

I guess on some level I wanted to be like the tough, self-assured, no-problem-getting-laid guys I read about. I conveniently forgot that in a typical book, those guys usually sustain at least one concussion, get shot at several times, and see a lot of people die.

It was after midnight, but still early enough that I hadn’t settled into a book yet, when Cyril Parkus drove up in his white Jaguar XJ8, the one with a forest of wood and a herd’s worth of leather inside, and instead of going through the resident lane to wait for me to open the gate, he drove right up to my window.

We’re supposed to stand up when they do that, almost at attention, like we’re soldiers or something, so I did. The people who live at Bel Vista Estates are quick to report you for the slightest infraction, especially one that might imply you aren’t acknowledging their greatness, wealth, and power.

Even just sitting in that car, Parkus exuded the kind of laid-back, relaxed charm that says to me: look how easy-going I am, it’s because I’m rich and damn happy about it. He was in his mid-thirties, the kind of tanned, well-built, tennis-playing guy who subscribes to Esquire because he sees himself in every advertisement and it makes him feel good.

In other words, he was the complete opposite of me."

3.5 out of 5

Guilty 1 - Lee Goldberg

""What are you up to?" the woman asked in a ragged breath nearly drowned by mucous.

"Killing time."

"That's my job." Her voice was smooth and soft this time, betraying youth. The man broke up another Alka Seltzer in his hands and threw it to the tottering birds mirrored in his sunglasses.

"We have a job for you." He clapped his hands against each other to wipe off the powder and removed a manila envelope from the inside pocket of his jacket. He handed it to her without turning to look at her.

The woman set the envelope on her lap and opened the flap. Inside, she found six sheets of typewritten paper and six black and white photographs. A bird fluttered in the air, screeched, and dropped onto the bench between them.

She regarded the dead bird with a sideways glance and saw the Alka Seltzer wrappers around the man's feet.

"Pigeons don't belch," the man said, watching the birds peck at the Alka Seltzer bits. "Their stomachs just blow up."

She carefully slid the papers back into the envelope.

"My fee is a million dollars," she said.

"We've already wired the funds into the designated Swiss account."

"If you put a spring inside a piece of meat and toss it to a dog, he'll swallow it whole," she remarked casually, "and then scratch his stomach until he tears himself open."

The man smiled appreciatively.

She carefully sealed the clasp and slid the envelope between the slats of her shopping cart. "Why do you want me to kill a bunch of ordinary people?"

He rose to his feet with his back to her. "Brett Macklin is no ordinary man." He kicked a convulsing bird from his path and walked away."

3.5 out of 5

Payback 1 - Lee Goldberg

Macklin was actually bringing the Cadillac back to its spiritual roots. The chassis of the 1959 Cadillac was inspired by the World War II Lockheed P-38 Lightning Fighter plane and now his new, restored "Batmobile" was just as lethal.

First, Macklin made the car nearly impregnable to gun fire. He replaced the fuel lines with steel tubing, armored the 221 inch chassis with metal plates, fitted the sloping, teardrop-shaped cab with bullet proof glass, and equipped the car with self-sealing white wall tires.

Macklin hid a set of strong halogen lamps, designed to blind night-time pursuers with a burning flash of white light, behind the rocket-like rear grill beneath the sharp fins. But the teeth of the 1959 Cadillac's defensive power lay cloaked behind it's menacing front chrome work. Two air-cooled .50 caliber machine guns, capable of firing bullets three times as heavy and three times as destructive as .44 Magnum shells, could burst out spitting hot lead from the center most of the quadruple headlights.

Macklin stepped back, admiring the car's gleaming black finish, and reached for his can of Michelob on the garage workbench. Sitting in the stuffy garage throughout the humid evening, Macklin felt like a battered Kentucky Fried Chicken in a pressure cooker. His white, 1984 Olympics t-shirt clung to the damp skin between his shoulder blades and against his sternum. His Levi cut-offs itched his small buttocks firmed by years of jogging. The t-shirt was his passing nod to his teenage dream of being an Olympic class runner. The dream died but was strong enough to get him through UCLA on a track scholarship.

The remaining three gulps worth of beer was lukewarm, a pleasant reminder of how long and how deeply he had been immersed in his work. He wanted to finish the car in time to drive he and Shaw to the campaign fundraiser Sunday for black state assemblyman Cecil Parks, an old friend of theirs running as the Democratic candidate for U.S Senator.

Humming the Michelob jingle, Macklin strode to the rear of the car, squatted, and pulled a folded sticker from his back pocket. He removed the brown backing and carefully affixed the sticker to the gleaming chrome bumper.


"You vicious, sadistic bastard!"

Startled, Macklin jerked his head up and saw Jessica Mordente, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, standing in the doorway leading to his laundry room. She wore faded blue jeans and a pink, Oxford shirt. Her olivine green eyes were wide and glassy, rage tightening her face and forcing the veins and tendons in her neck to bulge against her flushed skin.

"You're Mr. Jury," she shouted, making quick stabs towards him with her finger, "and I'm going to expose you!"

3.5 out of 5

Adjourned 1 - Lee Goldberg

"Listening to the Bowel Movement made Los Angeles Mayor Jed Stocker grimace. The tinny electronic sound and screeching lyrics blaring over the stereo speakers across the room made Stocker feel like he wasn't in his office but strapped into a dentist's chair having his teeth drilled.

Without Novocain.

An insistent pounding at the door, which at first Stocker thought was part of the song, gave him the excuse he needed to leave his desk and twist the stereo's volume down low.

"Come in," Stocker yelled gratefully, the last note of the song ringing in his ears.

Sgt. Ronald Shaw stepped in, closing the door behind him. "I got here as quickly as I could." He noticed the album cover for the Bowel Movement beside the stereo. It depicted a toilet, the open seat cover fanged like the mouth of a hungry shark, chasing a Ronald Reagan lookalike out of the bathroom. "I didn't know you liked that kind of music, sir."

Stocker removed the record from the turntable. "I don't. My son, Jed Jr., known as Faced to his fans, just became the lead singer of a this new wave group. This is their latest album. I decided to give it a chance. He told me the only way to enjoy it is loud."

The mayor flung the record like a Frisbee into the garbage can beside his desk and clapped his hands together. "I think I've just discovered the only way to enjoy that record."

Shaw chuckled. "Why does he call himself Faced?"

"It's shorthand for shit-faced." Stocker walked back to his desk and settled into his high-backed leather chair, the city's seal on the wall behind him. "And on that point, I'd have to agree with him. The kid has so much crap in his veins he never knows night from day." He nodded in Shaw's direction. "Sit down, Sergeant."

Shaw took a seat facing Stocker, who was flanked on one side by the state flag and the national flag on the other. "What can I do for you, sir? Your message was rather vague."

Stocker scooted his chair forward and opened a file that was on the desk. "It's about your investigation into the murders of those young girls." He shuffled through the papers for a moment before finding the one he wanted. "Oh yes, here it is."

Leaning back in his chair, propping the file open in his lap, Stocker shot a scornful glance at Shaw. "Well, Sergeant, thanks to you, the city is being sued for Three million dollars.'"

3.5 out of 5

Judgment 1 - Lee Goldberg

"Lady Luck blew a kiss to Oscar and kicked him in the cojones.

As Oscar stepped forward, eight grinning youths, eyes alight with malevolent joy, burst through the kitchen doors and began firing into the crowd. A waterfall of bullets swept through the room, upending tables, riddling the walls, splattering glass and twisting people across the floor in obscene blood-splashing dances.

Two bullets tore into Oscar's chest, spinning him around like a top and bouncing him off the buffet table. Oscar, feeling little pain, grieved for himself as he lay on his side and felt the hot flush of his fleeting mortality.

The slugs caught the four executives and slammed them against the wall. They slid slowly to the floor, covering the wall with bloody self-portraits of violent death.

The storm passed for a second. The boys, in their sleeveless T-shirts and faded jeans, hard faces and grim smiles, took in the scene with a breath. Sweat glistened in their faces and dampened their chests.

Lady Luck, in a red nightgown, lay down beside Oscar and pressed herself against him."

4 out of 5

My Gun Has Bullets 1 - Lee Goldberg

"Eddie's hands were moving now, as if grabbing ideas out of the air and thrusting them into the hungry maw of his voracious pitch. Crofoot watched with a poker face. Eddie didn't care whether Crofoot liked it or not; the pitch had a life of its own, it couldn't be stopped.

''Then a black Corvette pulls up and out steps Dr. Francine 'Frankie' Stein, a scientist with a badge, a black-belt beauty with more dangerous curves than Mulholland Drive. She picks up Nick's decapitated head and clutches it to her heaving bosom. He was her lover, the best she ever had, and damn it, she's going to bring him back, somehow, someway." Eddie was feeling the rush, carried by the energy of his idea, of his vision, of what had to be the best fucking idea ever.

"She takes his head, and the corpses of the dead cops, back to her secret, high-tech, underground lab where, using the latest advances in surgical engineering, cybernetic organs, and computer imaging, she makes medical history." Eddie was in the homestretch, the finish line in sight, the prize money and the fame his for the taking. "She builds a man. He's got Nick's head, and the best body parts and healthiest organs from the seven other dead cops. He's also got a gun. And a badge. He's no ordinary man. And he's no ordinary cop. He's Frankencop, and he's serious about fighting crime. Dead serious."

Eddie stopped then, a broad smile on his face, waiting for the rousing applause. Crofoot nodded, taking it all in.

"Are we talking a two-hour pilot?" Crofoot asked.

Not exactly the enthusiastic response Eddie had hoped for, but at least he was showing an interest. "We can shoot some sex scenes and sell it overseas as a big, wall-to-wall action movie—on the slim chance MBC is stupid enough to pass on a sure thing.""

3.5 out of 5

Broken Mirrors 06 - Tim Pratt

"Marla frowned. She tried to imagine a situation in which she would fund freedom fighters being oppressed by a jaguar god in California, but it was tricky. “Oh? Why’s that?”

“Because as horrible as the Jaguar is, Marla, there’s someone in my world that’s even worse, even more hated, even more cruel, even more dangerous.” He pointed his index finger at her face. “And that someone is you.”"

3.5 out of 5

Forget Me Nearly - Floyd L. Wallace

Ion memory gun retrogression.

3 out of 5

The World That Couldn't Be - Clifford D. Simak

Cytha arrow track deal.

3.5 out of 5

No Charge For Alterations - H. L. Gold

World fit people.

3 out of 5

Second Variety - Philip K. Dick

If there's a bear in there, you are rooted. Out there isn't good, either, in the long run.

4.5 out of 5

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Dark Is Rising 1 - Susan Cooper

"Will tossed uneasily. He had never known a feeling like this before. It was growing worse every minute. As if some huge weight were pushing at his mind, threatening,trying to take him over, turn him into something he didn't want to be. That's it, he thought: make me into someone else. But that's stupid. Who'd want to? And make me into what? Something creaked outside the half-open door, and he jumped. Then it creaked again, and he knew what it was: a certain floorboard that often talked to itself at night, with a sound so familiar that usually he never noticed it at all. In spite of himself, he still lay listening. A different kind of creak came from further away, in the other attic, and he twitched again, jerking so that the blanket rubbed against his chin. You're just jumpy, he said to himself; you're remembering this afternoon, but really there isn't much to remember. He tried to think of the tramp as someone unremarkable, just an ordinary man with a dirty overcoat and worn-out boots; but instead all he could see once more was the vicious diving of the rooks. "The Walker is abroad...." Another strange crackling noise came, this time above his head in the ceiling, and the wind whined suddenly loud, and Will sat bolt upright in bed and reached in panic for the lamp."

4.5 out of 5

Watership Down 1 - Richard Adams

"His companion seemed less at ease. He was small, with wide, staring eyes and a way of raising and turning his head which suggested not so much caution as a kind of ceaseless, nervous tension. His nose moved continually, and when a bumblebee flew humming to a thistle bloom behind him, he jumped and spun round with a start that sent two nearby rabbits scurrying for holes before the nearest, a buck with black-tipped ears, recognized him and returned to feeding.

"Oh, it's only Fiver," said the black-tipped rabbit, "jumping at bluebottles again. Come on, Buckthorn, what were you telling me?"

"Fiver?" said the other rabbit. "Why's he called that?"

"Five in the litter, you know: he was the last -- and the smallest. You'd wonder nothing had got him by now. I always say a man couldn't see him and a fox wouldn't want him. Still, I admit he seems to be able to keep out of harm's way."

The small rabbit came closer to his companion, lolloping on long hind legs.

"Let's go a bit further, Hazel," he said. "You know, there's something queer about the warren this evening, although I can't tell exactly what it is. Shall we go down to the brook?""

4.5 out of 5

Melting Pot

By Kevin Eastman, it appears.

3.5 out of 5

Pleasure Model 1 - Christopher Rowley

"The man was a massive specimen. Heavy shoulders, powerful arms, solid delts and lats. The deeply lined face was hidden in shadows, the head bowed with pain, but it was a strong face, brutal even, or so Mistress Julia thought.

She had finished. One hundred strokes with the single-tail whip, following on eighty with the number three rattan cane. All delivered quite slowly, ten seconds apart, stretching the ordeal out to an hour. Blood ran from several welts on his back and buttocks. His head, shaved to the skin, glistened with sweat.

He dropped to his knees and kissed the feet of the Virgin Mary. The statue stood, smiling serenely in the living room. Blood smeared the polished marble floor as he swayed."

4 out of 5

Mad Hatter Interview - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

"MH: For those who haven’t read Diving Into the Wreck, what can you tell perspective readers to whet their appetites?

KKR: If you like space opera, you’ll like Diving. If you don’t know what space opera is, but you like thrilling adventure fiction, then this is your book. I deliberately wrote sense of wonder science fiction, and the readers tell me I achieved it."

4 out of 5

Mad Hatter Interview - Neal Asher

"MH: You recently mentioned on twitter you're working on researching your next book, which is tentatively titled Zero Point. Will this be part of the Polity Universe as well? What sort of research is this project entailing?

NA: This answers your question below too. In my last 3 book contract for Macmillan the middle book was one outside of the Polity Universe based on my ‘Owner’ stories in The Engineer ReConditioned. It is called The Departure and I finished it last year. The next book was to be another Polity book, provisionally titled Gabbleducks. Since The Departure was the start of an entire new series, the editor at Macmillan wanted to swap round my publishing schedule so the whole series would be published consecutively. I agreed and therefore knuckled down to finish the Polity book, which then acquired the title The Technician. So there are two books waiting in the queue and now I’m looking at writing the second book in the ‘Owner Sequence’ which is called Zero Point. The research I was referring to was into zero point energy since, if viable, it could lead to inertialess space drives and possibly tapping infinite energy from the very fabric of the universe, so I’m reading some books on that. If it all turns out to be bunkum (highly possible) the title might have to change."

4 out of 5

SF Signal Shine Interview - Alastair Reynolds

"[Interviewer's Note: This is a series of interviews featuring the contributors of Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic SF edited by Jetse de Vries.]

Alastair Reynolds was born in 1966. His first short fiction sale appeared in 1990, and he began publishing novels ten years later. Chasm City, his second novel, won the British Science Fiction award in 2002. His ninth novel, Terminal World, is due imminently. He is about to embark on an ambitious and broadly optimistic trilogy documenting the expansion of the human species into solar and then galactic space over the next 11,000 years. A former scientist, Reynolds worked for the European Space Agency until 2004, when he turned full-time writer. He is married and lives in Wales, not too far from his place of birth.

Charles Tan: Hi! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. First off, what's the appeal of science fiction for you?

Alastair Reynolds: Everything. It's the only stimulus that lights up a very particular part of my brain - and I like having that brain area stimulated! Nothing else does it, not even media SF

CT: What made you decide you wanted to write science fiction?

AR: I wrote stories as soon as I could hold a pen. From the beginning they were science fictional - stuff about robots and rockets and lasers. No change there, then! I never wanted to be "a writer"; I only ever aspired to be an SF writer. They'll tear that badge out of my cold dead hands. "

4 out of 5

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Year's Best SF and Fantasy 2010 Recommended Reading Part 1 - Rich Horton

Actually, this bit is A through Cornell.

4 out of 5

The Year's Best SF and Fantasy 2010 Recommended Reading Part 2 - Rich Horton

Wherein it would appear we have C through K.

Why they want to break it up that much, dunno?

4 out of 5

The Knights Of Arthur - Frederik Pohl

The Knights Of Arthur - Frederik Pohl
No body? Get a ship.

3 out of 5

Witchblade 001

Hot undercover weapon.

2.5 out of 5

Wanted 1

You're a killer, kid, get with the program.

4 out of 5

Hunter Killer 0

Sam hunt Wolf.

3 out of 5

Hunter Killer 1

Bad paranormals, get 'em. Even the kids.

3.5 out of 5

SF Signal Interview - Gareth L. Powell and Aliette de Bodard

"Charles Tan: First off, what's the appeal of science fiction?

Aliette de Bodard: For me, science fiction is about imagination--it's not so much making accurate predictions of the future (because we know that past the 10 or 20-year mark, we can't hope to be accurate), than it is about how we deal with the future. When such-and-such a technology is developed, how will we react? When such-and-such a culture forms, what will it look like? What will people think like, given such-and-such circumstances? For me, science fiction is a huge sandbox through which to view all possible variations of human (or not-quite human) nature.

Gareth L. Powell: I agree with Aliette. As a writer, science fiction gives you so much more to work with. It enables us to examine what it really means to be human, by placing characters in situations that never arise in the world we see around us today. It's a vast playground, and its scope encompasses the lifetime of the universe: past, present and future."

4 out of 5

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Eel - Miriam Allen DeFord

Who wants the superthief?

3.5 out of 5

The Eel - Miriam Allen DeFord

The Tunnel Under the World - Frederik Pohl

Brain capacity reduction circuit.

(maybe a 3.25)

3 out of 5

The Tunnel Under the World - Frederik Pohl

Mnomquah - Lin Carter

Much alienage of the right kind, thank Tsathoggua.

3 out of 5

The Vault Beneath the Mosque - Lin Carter

Nnh Doom.

2.5 out of 5

The Offering - Lin Carter

Watch out for frightful Noogs.

2.5 out of 5

The Thing Under Memphis - Lin Carter

"NOTE: This is the infamous Second Narrative from the Necronomicon; it directly follows "The Doom of Yakthoob" and is itself followed by "The City of Pillars". More than a few scholars have noticed how this collection of first-person narratives (evidently drawn from Alhazred's own career as a sorcerer and necromancer) seems closely modeled upon the "Episodes of Eibon of Mhu Thulan", the second book of the Livre d'lvonis. In both of these compilations of hellish lore they seem to serve the identical purpose, i.e., as precautionary tales designed to alert the student of sorcery to the numerous perils attendant upon such studies. "

2.5 out of 5

A Day In Derleth Country - Lin Carter

"It was Noel who pointed out that August Derleth lived not very far from Minneapolis (as the airplane flies). Although I had been exchanging letters with Augie Derleth for the past seventeen years, we had never met. This looked like the perfect opportunity to do so. My travel agent informed me that the nearest city to Derleth's home town --- Madison, Wisconsin --- had an airport and was only fifty minutes flying time from Minneapolis. After a little juggling of schedules and hotel reservations, we decided to fly to Madison after the convention, spend the day of June 22 with Derleth, and fly out that evening for Chicago.

Derleth was delighted at the idea, and promised to meet us in Madison and drive us to Sauk City. He and I had been in almost constant touch the past four months while I had been researching my book on Lovecraft. We had exchanged endless letters of questions and answers, long phone calls almost weekly, and he had recently taken the time out of his busy schedule to read and criticize the first one hundred and four pages of my Lovecraft manuscript."

4 out of 5 Interview - Richard L. Tierney

"Probably the best-known character you have created is Simon Magus, also known as Simon Of Gitta. What can you tell us about the inspiration behind this escaped gladiator turned sorcerer?

I saw that old movie The Silver Chalice when it first came out, and enjoyed Jack Palance's portrayal of the sorcerer, Simon Magus. In about 1960 I wrote my first Simon of Gitta tale, "The Ring Of Set", picturing Simon as Jack. I never intended it as the start of a series. It lay around in manuscript for about 16 years, till my friend, Kirby McCauley, submitted it to Andy Offutt for his first Swords Against Darkness anthology, which appeared in 1977. That encouraged me to write more, and from that time the series of Simon tales took off and grew. "

4 out of 5

MIND MELD The Best Sword and Sorcery Stories - John DeNardo

Wherein various people give their favorites.

4.5 out of 5

Sargasso Of Lost Starships - Poul Anderson

Black Nebula telekinetic battle breakout.

4 out of 5

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Ogre's Pride - Ari Marmell

Knight bashing at the pointy end.

3 out of 5