Friday, August 31, 2012

INTERVIEW: Author of One Click Banishment - Jeremiah Tolbert

"Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how? It was challenging in that I had a solid idea for the worldbuilding, but the nature of the protagonist was slow to develop. Then I realized that parts of the story were expressing my own anxiety about growing older and falling behind on tech, so I made that central to my character and it started to work much better. Most authors say all their stories are personal. If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you? Well, see the previous question really. I spend 9-10 hours online every day for my work. The anxiety that Hidr faces, the fear of not being on top of what can be done, is a very real one for anyone who works in web design for a living. Staying on top technologically is crucial to our ability to make a living." 3.5 out of 5

One-click Banishment - Jeremiah Tolbert

User agreements, even Elder Gods hates them. 5 out of 5

The Cristobal Effect - Simon McCaffery

James Dean brane slicers. 3.5 out of 5

The Goat Variations - Jeff VanderMeer

Mushroom adept prediction time.

3.5 out of 5

Family Tree - David Barr Kirtley

Best wizard in this one. 3.5 out of 5

Card Sharp - Rajan Khanna

Ace up the sleeve but can also use a Joker. 3.5 out of 5

The Magician And The Maid And Other Stories - Christie Yant

Audra-rora defense. 2.5 out of 5

The Thirteen Texts Of Arthyria - John R. Fultz

One True World variety. 3.5 out of 5

Cerile And The Journeyer - Adam-Troy Castro

Witch Wish greener. 3.5 out of 5

So Deep That The Bottom Could Not Be Seen - Genevieve Valentine

Magical Congress. 3 out of 5—-genevieve-valentine/

Wonder - Matthue Roth

Perving on Spacegirl. 3.5 out of 5

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Miracleman Chapter 4: Dragons - Julian Darius

"“Dragons” opens with another image of the Sunburst Cybernetics skyscraper. Over the first few panels, the captions recap the Miracleman Family story. They call the old Miracleman Family villains “monsters and dragons.” When recounting Young Miracleman’s death, the caption reads, “One up to the dragons” (meaning, “score one for the dragons”). When recounting Miracleman’s rebirth, the caption states that “it wasn’t until today that he remembered about the dragons…” When recounting Kid Miracleman’s story, the captions state: “Without the other two heroes to bother him, he could do whatever he liked… / He grew up. He grew up into a dragon.”" 4 out of 5

The Colors - John M. Shade

Circus fights escape, Mother. 3.5 out of 5

Sword and Mythos Sitting In A Tree - Silvia Moreno-Garcia

"Sword and sorcery, that pulpy sub-genre which can trace its roots to Robert E. Howard and the less well-known (but awesome) C. L. Moore, got into bed with the Cthulhu Mythos a long time ago. Considering the friendship between Howard and Lovecraft (Moore was also part of their circle of writers), one could say it was bound to happen." 3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Gathering Glory - Steve Stanton

Psionic aliens among us. 2.5 out of 5

They Do It With Robots - Eric James Stone

Dead heart out. 2 out of 5

Everybody Loves A Hero - Fran Wilde

Small jobs and sordid setups. 3 out of 5

Floaters - David D. Levine

Companion species? 3 out of 5

Shall I Tell You The Problem With Time Travel? - Adam Roberts

Nuclear energy problem. 3 out of 5

Notes From A Recent Polar Expedition - Darren Goossens

Bruceworld. 3.5 out of 5

The Yesterday Gambit Part 4 - Julian Darius

"As Warpsmith and a severely fatigued Miracleman return to 1985, they immediately turn back to the threat posed by the story’s unspecified “enemy.” Warpsmith “pray[s] to the sacred Dau” that they haven’t arrived too late, a sign that this alien also has an alien religion. And he immediately attempts to “contact our comrades and establish whether they have managed to contain the enemy.”" 4 out of 5

A Cosmic Odyssey Into The Hypernaturals - Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

Hypernaturals "Earlier this week, CBR explored the pair's contributions to DC's "Legion of Super-Heroes" franchise and the stories that gave birth to Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy." Today, our massive two-part interview continues as DnA dig into their cosmic creator-owned series "The Hypernaturals" published by BOOM! Studios. Set 100 years after a super intelligent A.I. called The Quantinuum redefines life on planet earth, the Hypernaturals are a rotating team of superheroes whose five-year terms of service see them crisscross the galaxy protecting humanity's interests. When the most recent team of recruits goes missing at the other end of a wormhole, a ragtag group of former Hypernaturals and fairly green recruits must team up to solve the mystery." 4.5 out of 5

Still Life With Cats - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

I could eat them, or you could magic them to another universe.

3 out of 5

Monday, August 27, 2012

Clarkesworld 71 - Neil Clarke

Not too much of interest here. Clarkesworld 71 : Mantis Wives - Kij Johnson Clarkesworld 71 : Honey Bear - Sofia Samatar Clarkesworld 71 : Fade to White - Catherynne M. Valente Eating ways. 2.5 out of 5 Fair Folk no kid dump. 3 out of 5 Capital A-OK vaporizing. 3 out of 5 2.5 out of 5

Fade to White - Catherynne M. Valente

Capital A-OK vaporizing. 3 out of 5

In a Carapace of Light: A Conversation with - China Miéville

"Are there any books that you inhabited when you were younger that changed you in a significant way? Books that you keep visiting in your mind? Oh my god, so many! Absolutely heaps, and often when I am asked to list them, one forgets them because they are so close up. It's like that thing when you look for your glasses, and you are wearing them. The paradox is a lot of the books that are most embedded in me are books that I sometimes forget to mention, which is a terrible injustice. The short answer is yes, loads. I mean there is no hard division between children's books and adult books. I would say book that did that for me, hugely, was The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers, which is not a children's book. It's an adult book, but I read it when I was probably eleven. It absolutely took up residence in my head. It's one of the key texts in my head." 3.5 out of 5

Honey Bear - Sofia Samatar

Fair Folk no kid dump. 3 out of 5

Mantis Wives - Kij Johnson

Eating ways. 2.5 out of 5

Clarkesworld 70 - Neil Clarke

A couple of good stories and a couple of good articles. Clarkesworld 70 : Astrophilia by Carrie Vaughn Clarkesworld 70 : The Switch by Sarah Stanton Clarkesworld 70 : Iron Ladies Iron Tigers by Sunny Moraine A telescope is worth how many alpacas? 3 out of 5 Beijing holiday rebuild. 3.5 out of 5 Gone a bit future, CERA. 3.5 out of 5 4 out of 5

Iron Ladies Iron Tigers - Sunny Moraine

Gone a bit future, CERA. 3.5 out of 5

The Switch - Sarah Stanton

Beijing hologram rebuild. 3.5 out of 5

Astrophilia - Carrie Vaughn

A telescope is worth how many alpacas? 3 out of 5

To Save Ourselves: A Conversation with - Nancy Kress

"Where did you start After the Fall? What came first? [Laughs.] It started with the Gaia theory from James Lovelock which came out in the '70s, and which now has pretty much fallen into some disrepute, but I was always fascinated by it. I got his book and I read it, and his basic theory is that the earth can be considered as a large self-regulating, non-conscious entity adjusting itself endlessly to make conditions possible for life. For instance, with all the salt that's washed down into the ocean from the rivers over the millennia, it should be saltier than it is, but it isn't. There are mechanisms for removing the salt down on the ocean floor, and locking it up in a way that the ocean doesn't get too salty to support fish, to support life, so that cells don't burst. And this has turned around in my mind for 30 years now, and at one point it came to me, "Well, if the earth is trying to remove conditions that are inimical to life, the thing on it right now that's the most inimical to life is probably us, with the climate change, pollution, and dead zones in the ocean." I thought, "What if the earth started to fight back?"" 3.5 out of 5

Life After Quatermass: Hammer Films' '60s Science Fiction - Mark Cole

"So far, however, Hammer has announced no plans to explore another important part of its legacy (although one unfamiliar to many of their fans): science fiction. Hammer's SF films of the '50s—inspired by the legendary Quatermass serials—were the company's first venture into horror. Not only did their success encourage Hammer to make its first Gothics, but they played a pivotal role in the development of British SF cinema over the next decade." 4 out of 5

Parking Space Vigilantes - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Getting a multiple moving violation violent offender.

4 out of 5 4 out of 5

I Love You Like Water - Angela Slatter

Dry, bloody cloud busting. 3.5 out of 5

Escape To the Jungle - Howard Andrew Jones

"I took the chance and picked up that 1950s issue of Jungle Stories. I wasn’t quite sure what I’d get; but what I didn’t expect was an action-packed adventure with glowing zombie-men who disintegrated into ash when slain, or the machinations of an ageless sorceress intent on… well, I don’t remember what she was intent on, really, but she wanted to conquer something, and she fell for Ki-Gor, hard, as scheming villainesses do. It was corny and ridiculous and over-the-top, and certainly not politically correct. But you had the sense while reading it that the writer had said to himself, “Okay, well, if I’m being hired to write a cliched jungle adventure, I’m going to make it the best cliched jungle adventure I possibly can.” I had stumbled outside of my genre comfort zone and discovered something fascinating. I had to find more Ki-Gor. Who was he, and what about these Jungle Stories? Were they all this much fun, with so many fantasy elements?" 4 out of 5

The Best of Jungle Stories - Howard Andrew Jones

"Over at Black Gate today I waxed on about the peculiar glories of the adventures of Ki-Gor in old Jungle Stories magazine. My friend Charles Rutledge was posting about them a few months ago over at his web site, Singular Points. My main article on Ki-Gor and why he’s worth reading can be found at Black Gate. Here, though, is my list of the best of the run, in no particular order. See for yourself just how many lost civilization, priestesses, and beasts make an appearance!" 3.5 out of 5

Friday, August 24, 2012

Guest Post: Lee Battersby - Writer

"What it amounts to, really, is that 1979 fucked my mind. Not the Smashing Pumpkins song, no. The year, the actual I-lived-through-it-coz-I’m-older-than-the-rest-of-you 1979. 1979, I was eight years old. We moved from Narrogin, a wheat-belt town of 18 people and half a dog to a much larger town on the coast, where 26,000 people waited to teach me that I was different and not in a good way; that my English accent made me a target; that using two forms of cutlery in the same meal was foreign and disturbing; and that wearing glasses, being good at sport and maths, and reading without moving your lips constituted an invitation to kick the shit out of me any time they managed to bandage up their knuckles sufficiently for the task." 4 out of 5

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Just Outside Our Windows Deep Inside Our Walls - Brian Hodge

Drawn a boy. 3.5 out of 5

My Shelf Confessions Interview - Madeline Ashby

"How did this story come to you – I find it so unique, and since I haven’t read it yet I’m curious to know any tidbits of how you got to your starting point. Did you start at the end and work back? you know …like dessert first – I do so love my dessert first! I was working on a Master’s thesis on Japanese animation, cyborg theory, and fan culture, so I was watching a lot of anime — everything Ghost in the Shell in particular. My first husband had this theory that the Tachikomas would turn into von Neumann machines as a method of prolonging their lives, and then I started wondering the same about Naruto’s shadow clones. (Specifically, I wondered if all the shadow clones worked in parallel process. Could they act like a distributed cognition network, etc.) So self-replication was on my mind." 3.5 out of 5

The Brave Little Toaster - Cory Doctorow

Loony Goony. 3 out of 5

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Elvis At the White House - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Impersonator crime, Granny. 3 out of 5

The Stainless Steel Rat - Harry Harrison

The Stainless Steel Rat - Harry Harrison Slippery Jim stymied and Specialised. 4 out of 5

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

REFLECTIONS: Rereading Philip K. Dick - Robert Silverberg

"They were ugly little things. I mean the first editions of Philip K. Dick’s first novels—squat, scrunchy, cheaply printed1950s paperbacks, artifacts of a primitive era in science fictionpublishing. Ace Books was the name of the publishing company—they are still in business, though vastly transformed—and Acewriters then were paid one thousand dollars per novel, which even then was thebottom rate for paperback books, although in modern purchasing power it’s a good deal more than most new SF writers can command today. Still, there were harbingers of things to come in those earlyDick books. The very first sentence of the very first one tells usthat in the most literal way: “There had been harbingers.” That’s Solar Lottery, Dick’s debut novel, an Ace Double Book of 1955,printed back-to-back, as Ace did in those days, with Leigh Brackett’s The Big Jump. As the novel opens, the harbingers include “aflight of white crows over Sweden,” “a series of unexplained fires,”and the birth of a two-headed calf. For us, the readers of sciencefiction half a century ago, the harbinger was the book itself, theannouncement of the presence among us of a brilliant, quirky newwriter." 4 out of 5

Break Time - Kay Jaybee

Bar staff. 3 out of 5

A Clean Sweep With All the Trimmings - James Alan Gardner

Kitty, spacemen after. 3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor 1 - Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga

"It occurs to Brian Blake as he huddles in the musty darkness, the terror constricting his chest, the pain throbbing in his knees: If only he possessed a second pair of hands, he could cover his own ears, and maybe block out the noise of human heads being demolished. Sadly, the only hands Brian currently owns are busy right now, covering the tiny ears of a little girl in the closet next to him. The seven-year-old keeps shuddering in his arms, jerking at the intermittent THWACK-GAHHHH-THUMP outside the closet. Then comes the silence, broken only by the sticky sound of boot steps on bloody tile, and a flurry of angry whispers out in the vestibule." 4 out of 5

Arctic Rising 1 - Tobias S. Buckell

"The Arctic still had an island of ice floating around the actual Pole. It was kept alive by a fusion of conservationists, tourism, and the creation of a semi-country and series of ports that sprang up called Thule. They’d used refrigerator cables down off platforms to keep the ice congealed around themselves despite the warmed-up modern Arctic, a trick learned from old polar oil riggers who’d done that to create temporary ice islands back at the turn of the century. It was an old trick that didn’t really work anywhere else but near the Pole now. But even the carefully artificial polar ice island that was Thule still calved chunks, some of which would get as far south as Lancaster. Hit one at the speed this ship was going, they’d sink easily enough. “Shall we get closer to him and sniff him over?” Anika asked. “Remind him to slow down.”" 3.5 out of 5

Shadow Ops: Control Point 1 - Myke Cole

"“To arms, Pyro-1. Let’s smoke ’em out,” Harlequin’s voice crackled over the channel. “Spare the good Captain Rutledge’s men and light her up, stories three and higher.” The Pyromancer stepped onto the helicopter’s skid, the bright fire extending to engulf his entire body. He raised his arms, and the flames curled in on themselves, shifting from red to orange to white. The air shimmered around them, then folded in on itself as the Pyromancer thrust his arms forward. The flames rocketed outward with a roar that competed with the helicopter engines." 3.5 out of 5

Range of Ghosts 1 - Elizabeth Bear

"No hunger moved him, but Temur slit the belly of a war-butchered mare and dug with blood-soaked hands in still-warm offal until he found the liver. Reddened anew to the shoulders, he carved soft meat in strips and slurped them one by one, hand pressed over his wound with each wary swallow. Blood to replace blood. He would need it. There was no preserving the meat to carry. He ate until his belly spasmed and threw the rest as far away as he could. He couldn’t do anything about the reek of blood, but as he’d already been covered in his own, it seemed insignificant. Crammed to sickness, Temur folded a sweat-and-blood-stiff saddle blanket double and used it as a pad, then leaned back. The dead horse was a chill, stiff hulk against his spine, more a boulder than an animal. The crusted blanket was not much comfort, but at least it was still too cold for insects. He couldn’t sleep and brush flies from his wound. If maggots got in it, well, they would keep the poison of rot from his blood, but a quick death might be better." 4 out of 5

A Wrinkle In Time 1 Mrs Whatsit - Madeleine L'Engle

"“How do you know?” Meg had demanded. “How do you know I’m not dumb? Isn’t it just because you love me?” “I love you, but that’s not what tells me. Mother and I’ve given you a number of tests, you know.” Yes, that was true. Meg had realized that some of the “games” her parents played with her were tests of some kind, and that there had been more for her and Charles Wallace than for the twins. “IQ tests, you mean?” “Yes, some of them.” “Is my IQ okay?” “More than okay.”" 3.5 out of 5

Railsea 1 - China Mieville

"He had been made to memorise a poemlike list of the moldywarpe’s other names—underminer, talpa, muldvarp, mole. Had seen ill-exposed flatographs & etchings of the grandest animals. Stick-figure humans were drawn to scale cowering by the killer, the star-nosed, the ridged moldywarpe. & on one last much-fingered page, a page that concertinaed out to make its point about size, had been a leviathan, dwarfing the specklike person-scribble by it. The great southern moldywarpe, Talpa ferox rex. That was the ploughing animal ahead. Sham shivered." 3 out of 5

Existence the Shelter of Tradition - David Brin

"The Shanghai Universe of Disney and the Monkey King loomed straight ahead across a broad plaza, its artificial mountain lined with cave-rides and fabulous fortresses, with fabled beasts and impossible forests that were always shrouded in glorious, perfumed mists. Here one might find the sort of fantastic things that you only saw on wild layers of virspace, only made palpable and solid! A mix of imagination and solidity that could only have been brought into being by wondrous blendings of art, science, engineering and astronomical amounts of cash. In the foreground, just ahead, loomed those famous, wide-welcoming gates of shimmering Viridium that were topped by giant, holomechanical characters who preened and posed with theatrical exaggeration. She recognized Snow White and Pocahontas and beautiful Princess Chang’e. There was wise old Guanyin, accompanied on his epic westward journey by the mischievous Zhu Bajie and his brothers, the Three Little Pigs. A flying elephant with flapping ears flew joyous circles in an overhead dance with the wondrous dragon-horse. And everyone’s favorite, Sun Wukong, the Monkey himself, capered up and down a tower decked with pennants that seemed as colorful as they were impossibly long, playing catch-me-if-you-can with lumbering King Kong." 3.5 out of 5

A Tall Tail - Charles Stross

NAIL SPIKE FOOF fake, red mercury. 4 out of 5

Fate of Worlds: Return From Ringworld 1 - Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner

"Of course he was a civilian. At the first hint of danger, Puppeteers ran. As, even now, the trillion Puppeteers aboard the Fleet of Worlds fled from an astronomical phenomenon that would not reach this corner of the galaxy for twenty thousand years. Puppeteers only defended themselves in desperation, when neither flight nor surrender was an option. Or when—undeniable, because Puppeteers had set their robots to seize Long Pass—they could strike with overwhelming superiority and their meddling could not be traced back to them. Cowardice did not preclude ruthlessness. A few Puppeteers, outcasts and misfits, had asked to remain after New Terran independence. More Puppeteers had arrived as refugees amid the Gw’oth War; some of them had stayed, too. Most had settled on the continent of Elysium, on territory first planted as a nature preserve for Hearth life. A very few lived and worked among humans. This Puppeteer was deep in conversation, in full two-throated, sixvocal-corded disharmony. With a final jangling chord he made some point, to which, voices rumbling out of the dangling pocket comp, another Puppeteer responded in similar atonality." 3.5 out of 5

The Mongolian Wizard - Michael Swanwick

Not toy soldiers. 3.5 out of 5

Doctor Who: Shada 2 - Gareth Roberts

"Chris decided to humour him. ‘I do hope I’m not taking up any of your valuable time.’ ‘Time?’ the Professor laughed. ‘Time! Don’t talk to me about time. No no no. When you get to my age, you’ll find that time doesn’t really matter very much at all.’ He looked Chris up and down and added, a little sadly, ‘Not that I expect you will get to my age.’ Chris wasn’t at all sure how to take that remark. ‘Oh really?’" 3 out of 5

Homeland 1 - Cory Doctorow

"But BRC has no official surveillance. There are no CCTVs, no checkpoints—at least not after the main gate, where tickets are collected—no ID checks at all, no bag searches, no RFID sniffers, no mobile phone companies logging your movements. There was also no mobile phone service. No one drives— except for the weird art cars registered with the Department of Mutant Vehicles—so there were no license plate cameras and no sniffers for your E-ZPasses. The WiFi was open and unlogged. Attendees at Burning Man agreed not to use their photos commercially without permission, and it was generally considered polite to ask people before taking their portraits. So there I was, having my picture taken through the blowing dust as I gulped down water from the water jug I kept clipped to my belt at all times, sucking at the stubby built-in straw under cover of the blue-and-silver burnoose, simultaneously observed and observer, simultaneously observed and unsurveilled, and it was glorious." 3.5 out of 5

Ironskin 1 A House Cracked and Torn - Tina Connolly

"Jane stared. The masks were as grotesque as the doorknocker. Each was uniquely hideous, and yet there was a certain similarity in the way the glistening skin fell in bags and folds. Clearly they were all made by the same artist, but what sort of man would create these monstrosities—and who would buy them? They would fit a person, but surely no one would wear them, even for a whimsy like that masked cocktail party Helen had attended. In the flickering oil light they looked hyper-real, alive. Like something fey from the old days, before trade had given way to war.She lifted her veil to see more clearly, reached up to touch one sagging cheek. “Do you like my collection?” Jane jumped back, wrapping her veil close." 3.5 out of 5

Forge of Darkness 1 - Steven Erikson

"No one lets dead poets lie in peace. We are like old meat on a crowded dinner table. Now comes the next course to jostle what’s left of us, and even the gods despair of ever cleaning up the mess. But there are truths between poets, and we both know well their worth. It is the gristle we chew without end. Anomandaris. That is a brave title. But consider this: I was not always blind. It is not Anomander’s tale alone. My story will not fit into a small box. Indeed, he is perhaps the least of it. A man pushed from behind by many hands will go in but one direction, no matter what he wills." 3.5 out of 5

Forge of Darkness 3 - Steven Erikson

"‘We never had an army, Sagral,’ Haut replied, the vertical slits of his pupils narrowing as if in bright light. ‘We are Jaghut. Armies are anathema, and we have no taste for war. When facing fools who proclaim themselves our enemy, we simply destroy them. And we are thorough. For centuries you have tested us, and each time we have flung you back.’ ‘We came in small packs,’ Sagral said in a growl. ‘This time, we shall come in our thousands.’ ‘And when you came to raid, in your small packs, Sagral, we were content to drive you off, killing only a few of you. Should you now come in your thousands, our restraint is at an end.’" 3.5 out of 5

vN 6 Amy Alone - Madeline Ashby

"You’re a host right now. “No, I’m not. I mean, I haven’t been. No.” Was this the job interview? “Well, that’s good. No retraining. The whole performing-the-brand schtick is really important within the Electric Sheep franchise flock.” If possible, her smile stretched even wider. She wore something frosty on her lips. Amy wished she could see in colour. “Do you see what I did there? Sheep? Flock?” Amy’s giggle had never felt quite so literally mechanical. “See? I thought it was funny, too. I’m Shari, by the way. I’m the boss. And I tell everybody they’ll need a sense of humour if they want to work here.” Amy made her mouth work. “Just like that?” “Just like that.” The woman rolled her eyes. “Do you know how hard it’s been to find a Portia these days? They’re all being rounded up and taken to Redmond.”" 4 out of 5

Forge of Darkness 2 - Steven Erikson

"‘These are Tiste lands,’ Anomander countered. ‘Purake lands. I do not recall my invitation extending to the extravagant use of sorcery. Though,’ he added with a half-smile, ‘I find I cannot entirely object to a cloudless sky over us.’" 3.5 out of 5

Seven Wonders excerpt - Adam Christopher

"He knew it was coming, of course. Well, hoped it was coming. Hell, the last week had been one wild ride, so it was inevitable – he dared to suggest – that the most glorious, most enjoyable of all superpowers would hit sooner or later. Typically, of course, it had been later, the last of his powers to manifest. But who was complaining? Tony could fly, game over. Sure, he could freeze a can of beer with a glance and light the gas hob on his stove with a flick of the wrist. He could chop firewood up at his old man’s lodge in the hills with his bare hands. He also thought, maybe, that if the skin of his hand was like the steel blade of an axe, perhaps he was bulletproof as well. That would sure be handy in a city as dangerous as San Ventura, but hardly the kind of superpower you could just test, unless you were the kind of guy who got a kick out of Russian roulette." 4 out of 5

Faster Gun - Elizabeth Bear

Doc Holliday and the moon man. 3.5 out of 5

Looking For Lovecraft In All the Wrong Places - Jonathan Wood

"If there was a fight between the big three staple monsters of horror writing—vampires, werewolves, and zombies—do you know who would win? Goddamn Cthulhu. I know he wasn’t in the fight. It doesn’t matter. He’s Cthulhu. He has tentacles coming out of his face. He is dead and dreaming. He’s on an island called Rl’yeh. It has an apostrophe in it and isn’t really pronounceable. He goddamn wins. Live with it. This is the genius of Howard Phillips Lovecraft. A man whose horror writing was so good that he has transcended the silliness of his own last name. Because Lovecraft tapped into a terror deeper than any fear inspired by our own bestial inner nature (suck it werewolves) – he managed to capture and crystallize exactly how small and meaningless we are in the face of the large uncaring universe. His work taps into a profound existential terror that can freeze your blood. And then he gave it tentacles." 3.5 out of 5

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Exterminator's Want-Ad - Bruce Sterling

Reconstruction bugs me. 3 out of 5

The Death of the Duke - Ellen Kushner

Bleeding him quickly. 3 out of 5

The Perfect Wave - Rudy Rucker and Marc Laidlaw

The Perfect Wave - Rudy Rucker and Marc Laidlaw
Skeghead game design. 3 out of 5

The Imitation Game - Rudy Rucker and Marc Laidlaw

The Imitation Game - Rudy Rucker
Turing facing up to spook assassins. 3.5 out of 5

Hormiga Canyon - Bruce Sterling and Rudy Rucker

Hormiga Canyon - Rudy Rucker and Bruce Sterling
Cosmic ant music time FX. 4 out of 5

Colliding Branes - Bruce Sterling and Rudy Rucker

Blogger Black Egg shagging survival multirace moderation.

4 out of 5 4 out of 5

Spin the Sky 1-8 - Kathy Stauber

"Cesar stormed off fifteen years ago to the Spacer War as a strapping young man with short red hair and an unmarked face. He knows he bears little resemblance to that young man now. Cesar feels his current long white beard and mane is rather dashing when his hair isn’t matted and his beard isn’t so long he might keep mice in it. He smiles at his own vanity. At least the beard covers some of the scars. “And Lord knows, I’ve got little enough to be vain about these days,” Cesar muses. His days fighting in the Spacer War gave him a mild but definite limp. One of his later adventures earned him the jagged scar running down his right cheek. A narrow escape from a fire left him with a scarred and twisted left ear that his long hair helps to cover. For all the wear he’s seen, he moves with vitality and the odd sort of grace that a man used to trusting himself in space carries. Down the elevators, Cesar steps off and sucks down a deep breath. He bends down and flips the small switch in each of his boots to turn off the electromagnet. Most Spacers have grav boots with strong electromagnets in the heels needed in low gravity to keep them from floating away. Earthers who want to pretend buy the cheaper biosteel boots, but they aren’t strong attractors like the pure stuff. “Ah yes. That’s it. That smells like home. I can die happy now,” Cesar mutters to himself as people walk past him, looking askance. Time to see the ranch. The population of Ithaca is small, so they have plenty of room. Thus the space between habitations is large enough for privacy. Although the crops and livestock are on the level below, the habitation level is made to look as much like a small Earther city as possible. Gardens and small plots of well-tended grass separate the houses. The Vaquero Ranch is set far away from the shops, factories, moving sidewalks and the public elevators. Cesar plods along slowly, hoping he doesn’t die before he reaches his goal. After what seems like hours, Cesar spots a ranch in the distance. His breath catches and he shakes his head desperately to clear his vision. Then his heart sinks. This can’t be his home. Cesar remembered well his simple one-story ranch with the wide porch. This house is twice as big. It has two stories with biostone and other expensive trimmings. A lush garden surrounds the sides where there had only been dust and dirt. There is even a pen of mini-pigs. They must be fantastically rich to afford the water that supports all this" 3.5 out of 5

The Timpanist Of The Berlin Philharmonic 1942 - Kim Stanley Robinson

Nazi music captives. 3 out of 5

Takes Us Beneath the Seas of Osiris - E. J. Swift

"I’ve always been drawn to the sea and although in OSIRIS the ocean is a hostile environment, I wanted the novel to have an immersive feel, a sense that the sea is all-pervading – so for example in Osiris terms ‘dry’ is skint, ‘wet’ is dripping with cash. Tales of land are passed down through generations; those born in Osiris have never seen it, but their dreams are haunted by the ground they have never walked upon. The central characters for me are very much the products of their environments; not only in the relative wealth or poverty of their situations, but in the sense that this city in the middle of the ocean, cut off from the rest of the world, could drive you slowly insane. What happened to Adelaide’s twin brother Axel was a direct expression of this and something I would like to explore further at some stage, possibly through short fiction." 3 out of 5

Al-Qaeda Zombies and American Vampires: On Christopher Farnsworth’s Blood Oath - Lavie Tidhar

"Let me sum it up for you: Cade, the President’s vampire, must save the United States from an Al-Qaeda zombie attack. Perpetrated by Dr. Frankenstein. Who is an ex-Nazi. And the best part? The very best part? There’s a moment in the book when Cade has to get from somewhere back to Washington in time to save the President. From the zombies. Who are made of the body parts of dead US Servicemen. I am not making this up! But he can’t make it back in time. It’s a three hour flight by conventional airplane. So he rings up the US Air Force. And they send over a plane designed from alien technology recovered from the Roswell crash. As you do!" 4 out of 5

Cardboard - Kay Jaybee

Multiple box arrangement. 3.5 out of 5

Queen of the Iron Sands 8: Across Savage Mars - Scott Lynch

" "Would you challenge me, blueworlder?" "Hell yes! I'll face you any way you people do it." It was a Flash Gordon ploy, imaginary reader, and though I'd learned to my sorrow just how few citizens of other planets actually played by Flash Gordon rules, what choice did I have? I tried not to think of how tired and weak I was, or how it had felt to have that Thoraved guard in my prison cell bounce me off the floor. "Just you and me, First Huntress. Tell me how it's done. You can even have choice of weapons, if you like." " 3.5 out of 5

Henry Caesar of the Air His Life and Times or The Book of Qat: Part 5 – Lavie Tidhar

""You must find the great conch of Qat," the man told him. "And blow it three times, and a road will open." "Where will I find it?" Henry said--but the man had disappeared, and a solitary bird flew high above the rocks and was then gone. Henry sighed." 3.5 out of 5

Henry Caesar of the Air His Life and Times or The Book of Qat: Part 4 – Lavie Tidhar

"Qasavara had the strength of several men, but Henry's power was in his desperation, which did not acknowledge pain. A morning fire roared between them, that Qasavara had built, entire tree trunks smoldering in the flames. The heat made sweat come pouring down Henry's body. It entered his eyes and nearly blinded him. For a long time they fought, leaping and punching across the fire, the giant man-eater and his punitive enemy, until both were bruised and cut, and their blood flowed freely and fed the flames." 3.5 out of 5

Henry Caesar of the Air His Life and Times or The Book of Qat: Part 3 – Lavie Tidhar

"In his mind a cold flame began to flicker and burn. Her taste was the taste of the snake and the woman both. When she bit his lips his blood was hot and her tongue licked it clean. Her hands were on him and his hands reached for her and found her scales and he thought her beautiful. He sank to the ground. Writhing above him was a giant snake. From a distance he could hear Manlepei, shouting, but he couldn’t make out the words, and didn’t care. Her cold tongue was in his mouth, and then it penetrated into his mind and he screamed." 3.5 out of 5

Henry Caesar of the Air His Life and Times or The Book of Qat: Part 2 – Lavie Tidhar

"Tangaro Gilagilala, Tangaro the Wise, saw the skin and said, "This is Qat's banana skin. He is following us," but his brothers silenced him. "He is trapped yet, or dead!" they said. A little later a second banana skin came floating up to the boat, and again the argument broke out." 3.5 out of 5

Henry Caesar of the Air His Life and Times or The Book of Qat: Part 1 - Lavie Tidhar

"There had been a crash... A ball of fire... Details were hazy. His head felt strange. There had been a... He remembered islands, a ship that moved seemingly by itself. Metal birds that flew, impossibly... He pushed himself up and stared at the uturgurgur." 3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

On Geekdom Action Flicks and Cthulhu - Jonathan Wood

"GD: Top ten action flicks? JW: God, I love this question… OK, the first two are obvious to me. Die Hard and The Matrix. Those movies bookended the 90s and are still massively influential. Die Hard taught us that its fun to watch our hero get pounded on. The Matrix taught us how to mash genres and styles, and how just to look damn cool. ... That’s 9, right? There are so many movies to put into the last spot… Maybe something less well known. The Brotherhood of the Wolf is a french movie with kung fu and sword fights and Monica Bellucci in a corset." 4 out of 5

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Ten Sigmas - Paul Melko

Ten Sigmas - Paul Melko
Millions of me for music nicking. 3 out of 5

Digging - Ian McDonald

Big one, Tash. 3 out of 5

Tonight at Powell's - Paul Tobin

"How did Prepare to Die! come about? I'd originally envisioned it as a creator-owned comic book series. It was initially given a green light, and I began developing it further, fleshing out the characters and events. Then, the project hit a dead end. I set it aside for a couple months, but the story kept resonating for me. One day, I found myself sitting down and saying, "Screw it. I don't have to depend on comics. I can run this ship all by myself." I typed the first line, the second, and so on. Three days later I'd completely abandoned all my notes except for the original premise... and the novel was being born. Three months later, there it was. More after the jump." 3.5 out of 5

Exclusive Q & A with - James Enge

"But fantasies would no doubt be better if they had a richer political ecology. We wouldn't get so many chosen ones who were prophesied in the beforetime to do all that stuff that chosen ones always do. I've tried to mix it up a little in the earlier Morlock novels, having him run afoul of bureaucracies and timocracies and theocracies. And the Wardlands were always supposed to be a little different--a kind of utopia, that Morlock was cast out of. What's the ideal government for free people, after all? No government at all--no restraints on personal autonomy except respect for others' autonomy." 3.5 out of 5

The Apocalypse Codex 2: Skills Matrix - Charles Stross

""Yes please. They're trying to turn me into one of them." I shudder slightly at the memory of managers past. Bridget and Harriet, banes of my life, who lost a game of king–of–the–castle to Angleton. Andy, who is a nice guy with a bad habit of dropping me in it occasionally. Iris, the best line manager I ever had, who turned out to have hidden depths of a most peculiar and unpleasant kind. I generally have terrible luck with managers—except for Angleton, who isn't a manager exactly (he just scares the crap out of everyone who tries to use him as a chess piece). Sitting uneasily somewhere outside the regular org chart, off to one side, doing special projects for Mahogany Row, he hardly counts. "You're wrong," Mo says crisply, and pours a goodly dollop of pinot noir into my glass. "If they tried to turn you into another pointy–haired clone they'd destroy your utility to the organization—and beating swords into ploughshares is not in the game plan. They're gearing up to fight a shooting war." She tops up her own glass. "Here's to your imminent officer's commission, love."" 4 out of 5

Q & A With - Neal Asher

"I did take a risk with Cowl and, when I delivered it, an editor’s response to someone else was: ‘We might have made a mistake here’, whereupon that book went on to be shortlisted for the Philip K Dick award. I took a risk writing Orbus in present tense, and that polarized opinion with some hating it and some thinking it my best book to date. 

So, I departed with The Departure (the first book of the Owner series) because I did not want to be trapped in the Polity forever. I took this risk because I didn’t want to become stale. I’ve opened up another option, another future in which to set books because I’m here to stay and intend to keep on writing books until they nail me into a coffin. I suspect that most of those Polity fans who may dislike this book are not going to dump me at once. Maybe they won’t buy or read the next two books in this trilogy (which would be a shame because it gets a lot more sfnal), but they’ll probably pick up the next Polity book I produce (which I’m thinking of calling Penny Royal – I may have ‘departed’ but that doesn’t mean I’m never coming back to the Polity). Meanwhile, this book is attracting new people to my stuff, and it’s expanding my market, since many of those new people will go on to try my previous books." 4 out of 5

Thursday, August 02, 2012

No Hero - Jonathan Wood

Jonathan Wood has come up with a secret government department that protects the UK from monsters story that might be what you get if you crossed Caballistics, Inc with Hellboy and only gave them the budget of the unit in New Tricks or Taggart. Plus a 15% off frequent buyers card for all Duracell purchases. So if you like that sort of thing (or Torchwood, Primeval, et. al) then this book is definitely for you. A senior police detective and his offsider come across a murder - the only problem is the sword wielding maniac woman they have tracked down is still around, and gives said detective a torso piercing in extremely short order. The woman he doesn't know that comes to visit him in hospital turns out to not actually be a doctor as he thinks but the head of MI37. Which seems a bit odd, given that as far as anyone is aware, they only go up to 6. Their job? Dealing with the supernatural terrors - including powerful interdimensional Lovecraftian horrors, otherwise called The Progeny. Shaw wants him because she has a magic nerd academic, a goth research geek and the aforementioned superhuman killing machine, and could use someone level headed that knows how to handle an investigation. He has also managed to not get killed yet, despite an encounter. So you have one ordinary average competent plod, Detective Wallace who is now rather freaked out about his new employment. Throw him into a save the universe situation with little background, briefing or time to get one and you can assume that given the Lovecraftian many-angles things are going to get nasty. The line that sold this to me is 'What would Kurt Russell Do?' When actually in the field what tends to race through his brain is 80s action movies, as per the opening paragraphs: "It’s the pretty blonde that completes the scene. No question. Pressed up against the side of a building? Check. Life-and-death situation? Check. Significantly more sweat running down my back than really seems appropriate? Big check for that one. And yes, against all likelihood, there’s a pretty blonde by my side. Check. Because now, after years of paperwork, after years of trawling through minutia, police work is finally fulfilling the promise Tango and Cash made to my impressionable teenage self. It is time for action. Except that, in the heat of the moment, my heart beating a sharp tattoo against my ribcage, I rather wish that Kurt Russell had taken the time to turn to the camera and explain the sheer bowel-loosening terror involved in doing this sort of thing. Because right now, even with a killer so close, even with a life on the line, paperwork has never seemed so appealing." There's a couple of annoying things like the painful American insistence on changing things to be Americanised at times. For an English book set in the UK talking about 'bangs' for example for a fringe of hair knocks you out of believing you are reading about the UK. It may not for yank readers perhaps, but how many of Night Shade's buyers readers are dumb enough not to know this? The webscriptions book itself is much higher quality than your useful major publishing effort. It has a cover, it works, it is multi-format and DRM-free. Also appears to be free of the usual typos and errors you find in those these days with all their cutbacks. So a good job there, editingwise. Distractions like that aside, the writer has done his job well in that the book hooks you, and maintains a consistent and actually increasingly interesting story throughout where you definitely are not sure what is going to happen. If he writes a sequel, I can't wait to see how he moves through the Kurt Russell oeuvre of the nineties and considers how Tombstone can help him with things from Hell or Stargate with horrors from the depth of space. 4 out of 5

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The Return to Editing - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

"That left me two options. I could try to sell anthologies into traditional publishing–which was a dicey proposition (and I might still have ended up with someone “overseeing” my work)–or I could start up another company. Dean and I had started Pulphouse Publishing in the late 1980s, and it required a massive amount of work, partly because of the technology involved in book publishing. Now that technology has changed. It’s relatively easy to get anthologies onto the market and into the hands of readers. Suddenly, editing is no longer a daunting prospect. Neither Dean nor I want to edit full-time. We have major writing careers and a lot of writing projects to finish. But we both miss editing. We always have. As I say in my Recommended Reading lists, I love sharing great fiction with you guys. Fiction River will provide another way to do so." 4 out of 5

On 2312, Mars and Climate Change - Kim Stanley Robinson

"FF: Do you consider a 2312 an ecologically oriented science fiction novel? Why? (or why not?) KSR: Yes, of course. All these issues are foregrounded and discussed in a realist-fantasty scenario, as in any science fiction novel. These questions you are asking are answered by me at much more length in 2312 and other novels, not directly but in thought experiment form, in which I suggest that if we do x, y, and z, we are going to then have to be dealing with a, b, and c, three hundred years down the line. There are many ecological questions the novel itself asks, in narrative form. If you read the book you will see what I mean." 4 out of 5

Tarzan Revisited - Gore Vidal

"Though Burroughs is innocent of literature and cannot reproduce human speech, he does have a gift very few writers of any kind possess: he can describe action vividly. I give away no trade secrets when I say that this is difficulty for a Tolstoi as it is for a Burroughs (even William). Because it is so hard, the craftier contemporary novelists usually prefer to tell their stories in the first person, which is simply writing dialogue. In character, as it were, the writer settles for an impression of what happened rather than creating the sense of a happening. Tarzan in action is excellent." 3 out of 5