Friday, November 30, 2012

The Way Of Cross and Dragon - George R. R. Martin

The Way Of Cross and Dragon - George R. R. Martin
Judas Star Knights. 3.5 out of 5

A Plague of Zhe - Maggie Clark

NI, deception, eternal life, but not too nasty. 3.5 out of 5

Contact - Eileen Gunn

Sentient deathflight, with sort of Russian. 3.5 out of 5

Yasmini of India - Rick Lai

"In the pages of Adventure, Talbot Mundy created several memorable characters who interacted with one another in the shadowy corners of India and the Middle East. This stellar cast included such luminaries as Athelstan King of the Khyber Rifles, James Schuyler Grim ("Jimgrim") and Cotswold Ommony. The most prominent female member in this recurring group of characters was Yasmini of India. Yasmini appeared in two novelettes, "A Soldier and a Gentleman" ( Adventure, January 1914) and "Gulbaz and the Game" (July 1914), and four novels, The Wind of the World (serialized in Adventure starting in July 1915), King of the Khyber Rifles (serialized in Everbody's beginning in May 1916), Guns of the Gods (serialized in Adventure beginning in March 1, 1921), and The Gray Mahatma ( Adventure, November 10, 1922)." 4 out of 5

Friday, November 23, 2012

Character Sketches of Jimgrim and Ramsden - Brian Taves

"In a series of letters to 1920s readers of Adventure magazine who first read of the exploits of James Schuyler Grim, known as "Jimgrim," Mundy provided the background of his hero. He "has served in the Intelligence Departments of at least five nations, always reserving United States citizenship. He speaks a dozen languages so fluently that he can pass himself off as a native; and since he was old enough to build a fire and skin a rabbit the very midst of danger has been his goal, just as most folk spend their lives looking for safety and comfort." Resourceful, calm, and cunning, friendly but also distant, only once does he nearly become romantically involved, when the wily Arab woman Ayisha hopes to ensnare him--but he instead marries her to the Arab chieftain Ali Higg to insure tribal peace (The Woman Ayisha). During the years around World War I and its aftermath, Jimgrim, in his late 30s, was recruited by the British army intelligence service because of his skill at impersonation and disguise and his knowledge of Arab life. Mundy asserted that all of his Jimgrim stories were founded on fact, and Grim was based on a real person who had fought behind Lawrence and twice made the pilgrimage to Mecca, "on one occasion overland, and once by train." " 3.5 out of 5

Author Interview - Hannu Rajaniemi

"The premise of The Fractal Prince takes its lead from The Arabian Nights… It seemed like a very natural link when you’re dealing with themes of stories within stories. The Arabian Nights is very rich body of source material and it’s also a very interesting, early construct in itself. There’s some quite science fictional material in there and it’s obviously been a big influence on Western culture. It was a nice way to portray this future world where technology approaches magic. Were you also interested in its historical context? You have these stories where people discover strange treasure in the desert or invade tombs. If you look how The Arabian Nights evolved, ancient Baghdad and Cairo were both built upon the ruins of ancient civilizations and grave-robbing was like a proper profession back then. There were manuals published about how to avoid the traps in the pyramids. I thought that was an entertaining analogy for the situation in the city of Sirr in The Fractal Prince, which exists amongst the ruins of technology in a world gone wild in a much more advanced period on Earth, as they try to scrape together some of the artefacts and software they find in this technological desert." 4 out of 5

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Talbot Mundy Philosopher of Adventure - Brian Taves

"Mundy spanned the interval between the Victorian classicism of Rudyard Kipling and the modernist era, earning a singular reputation for his unique ability to combine stories of adventure in the Far East with an investigation of Oriental philosophy and religion. While sharing certain similarities in background and literary style with Kipling, Sax Rohmer and H. Rider Haggard, spiritually and structurally Mundy was more akin to Joseph Conrad. Mundy's characters are philosopher-adventurers seeking to understand destiny and existence, accidentally stumbling across some fragment of its puzzle that involves them in adventure. Thus Mundy expands on the philosophy of adventure as his key motivational factor. Mundy gained an enviable reputation as one of the most popular, prolific and original authors of tales of contemporary adventure in the Far East; this was one of the most widely-read genres of the time, but Mundy also had a personal following. " 4 out of 5

Talbot Mundy - R. T. Gault

"Perhaps the single most important revival came when fan oriented publisher Donald Grant issued King Of the Khyber Rifles, complete with all the wonderful Joseph Coll illustrations which had originally graced the magazine edition, in 1977. This seemed to have rekindled interest and paved the way for Grant's own Bio-bibliography Talbot Mundy: Messenger of Destiny (1983) and Peter Barresford Ellis' Biography The Last Adventurer (1984). This may have finally bore fruit among a younger generation of comic and pulp fans such as artists Mark Wheatley and Frank Cho, whose Insight Studios published a lavishly illustrated edition of two of Mundy's early Jimgrim tales in Jimgrim and The Devil at Ludd in 1999. If remains to be seen if their projected reprinting of the entire Mundy corpus will find support, but it may well be a good sign, whatever happens. " 5 out of 5

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

MIND MELD: Optimistic Scenarios for Our Future World - Kristin Centorcelli

"You hear new stories every day: humans are ruining the planet. If we don’t do something now, we’ll certainly destroy the world for our children. Dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction is wildly popular, and for good reason! These scenarios, while bleak, are also exciting and offer the opportunities for lots of what-ifs. However, in the spirit of optimism, I wanted to explore some future scenarios that offer hope and a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. We asked this week’s panelists… Q: It’s not unusual to hear negative things about what the future might bring for the Earth and humankind, and dystopian narrative certainly makes for entertaining futuristic sci-fi scenarios (environmental disaster, overuse of technology, etc). In the spirit of optimism and hope, what are a few of your far future scenarios that speak to the possible positive aspects of our evolving relationship with our world?" 4.5 out of 5

Talbot Mundy the First Anti-imperial Writer of Empire Adventure Stories - Brian Taves

"Mundy’s second book, King–of the Khyber Rifles (1917), told of a fabulous character, Yasmini, who tried to conquer India, and quickly became a classic for its combination of fantastic elements with adventure. (The film versions have not been faithful to the novel). King–of the Khyber Rifles won Mundy a reputation as the successor to H. Rider Haggard and Rudyard Kipling–a comparison he found odious, since Mundy opposed Kipling’s jingoistic attitude toward colonialism. Native figures, especially those of the Indian sub-continent, often dominated Mundy’s novels, placed in the position of imparting Eastern wisdom to Western characters. " 4 out of 5

Monday, November 19, 2012

Writing Scandal - James Ellroy

"“Shakedown” is the story of Fred Otash, a real-life Hollywood private detective whose wiretapping on behalf of Confidential magazine in the 1950s make News International’s recent shenanigans seem tame in comparison. The book is set in purgatory, where Otash attempts to write himself into heaven by using Mr Ellroy as a ghost-writer." 3.5 out of 5

Author Spotlight - Simon McCaffery

"Finally, do you have any new projects you’d like to announce? I’m completing a science fiction/horror novel I successfully pitched to a respected independent publisher (fingers crossed), and I have a new “hard” science fiction story out in a UK anthology, Rocket Science, edited by Ian Sales. Other stories and a novella are due later this year in several anthologies and a shared-author, Corman-inspired undead novel LIVING DEATH RACE 2000. You can drop by my blog for news:" 3.5 out of 5

The Cristóbal Effect - Simon McCaffery

Wobby-Brane slicer Spyder stack sentence. 3.5 out of 5

Renfrew's Course - John Langan

Where only one of a pair gets the good stuff. 3.5 out of 5

Lost - Seanan McGuire

A fair percentage of kids. 3 out of 5

Author Spotlight - Kelsey Ann Barrett

"Your story, “My Teacher, My Enemy,” features strong, horrific violence. What was the inspiration? This story arose out of my interest in the Algonquin myth of the Windigo. I’ve heard different versions, but the basic idea is that people who resort to cannibalism become these amazing super-powered but cursed creatures. The idea of losing your humanity through the acquisition of greater-than-human power is a fascinating idea, especially when I began coupling it with other cannibalistic mythos, such as the old “eat your enemy’s heart to gain his strength” trope. I played with the idea for a while and gave it my own spin by leaning away from cannibalism and creating this idea of fashioning a sort of organic armor from the bodies of slain opponents. Then I constructed a world where such actions were not only accepted but desirable; I wanted it to be striking when the main character questioned her societal norms, despite how extreme and terrible they obviously are to us." 3.5 out of 5

My Teacher My Enemy - Kelsey Ann Barrett

No cape for her. 4 out of 5

Cup and Table - Tim Pratt

Cup and Table - Tim Pratt Should I stay or should I go now? If I go then fire and rubble And if I stay it will be trouble 5 out of 5

Lightspeed Interview - Anne Rice

"Your new novel, The Wolf Gift, is about werewolves. What made you want to write a book about these creatures? Actually, somebody suggested the idea to me, and it was at a very good time. I was working on a novel about Atlantis, and it wasn’t working, and I was very bogged down, and I really wanted something new to do. A friend of mine, an e-mail buddy, Jeff Eastin, who is the producer of the TV show White Collar, he just happened to write me an e-mail and say he had seen a documentary on werewolf legends and fiction, and that if I ever wanted to tackle that subject, he would really be there to buy the book." 4 out of 5

Author Spotlight - Tim Pratt

"What’s next for you? Books, books, always books. I’ve done a couple of roleplaying game novels lately, indulging my love for sword-and-sorcery—my Forgotten Realms novel Venom In Her Veins just came out, and a Pathfinder Tales novel called City of the Fallen Sky will be along shortly. I’m co-editing a literary fantasy/SF anthology called Rags and Bones with the great Melissa Marr, which should be out next year, and I have a not-exactly-steampunk novel coming out later this year under a pseudonym that’s currently secret but that I expect to reveal after the book hits the shelves. And that’s not even counting the things I’m writing now . . . I may get around to writing a Cup and Table novel someday, though of necessity, it would have to be a prequel." 3.5 out of 5

The Eternal Flame 1 - Greg Egan

"Carlo scooped up the chosen boy's co and pulled himself along the rope into the front room, a child clutched awkwardly in each free hand. From the box he took two clearstone vials and a syringe. He extruded an extra pair of arms, uncapped the first vial and filled the syringe with its orange powder. When he held the sharp mirrorstone tip to the base of the boy's skull he felt his own body start shuddering in revulsion, but he stared down his urge to take the child in his arms and soothe him, to promise him as much love and protection as he would lavish on any child of his own. He pushed the needle into the skin and searched for the angle that would take it between two plates of bone – he knew the invariant anatomy here was not that different from a vole's – but then the tip suddenly plunged deeper without the drop in resistance he'd been expecting upon finding the narrow corridor of flesh. The child's skull wasn't fully ossified, and his probing had forced the needle right through it. Carlo turned the boy to face him then squeezed the plunger on the syringe. The child's eyes snapped open, but they were sightless, rolling erratically, with flashes of yellow light diffusing all the way through the orbs. The drug itself could only reach a small region of the brain, but those parts it touched were emitting a barrage of meaningless signals that elicited an equally frenzied response much farther afield. Soon the tissue's capacity to make light would be depleted throughout the whole organ. In this state, Carlo believed, there could be no capacity for thought or sensation. When the boy's eyes were still Carlo withdrew the needle. His co's tympanum had been fluttering for a while, and now her humming grew audible. “I'm sorry,” Carlo whispered. “I'm sorry.” He stroked the side of her body with his thumb, but it only made her more agitated. He refilled the syringe with the orange powder, quickly drove the needle through the back of her skull, and watched the light of her nascent mind blaze like a wildfire, then die away." 4 out of 5

Author Spotlight - K. A. Bedford

"KAB: If you're talking about my new book, PARADOX RESOLUTION (Spider Webb's second outing), you've got a detective character who's rough and ready around the edges, who's a decent and honorable guy, but who gets stuck having to do this horrible job finding his boss's stolen, and illegal, hotrod time machine--and the two kids who stole it. " 3.5 out of 5

Friday, November 02, 2012

Cold Days 1 - Jim Butcher

"Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness, monarch of the Winter Court of the Sidhe, has unique ideas regarding physical therapy." 3.5 out of 5

Skulls In the Stars - Robert E. Howard

Skulls In the Stars - Robert E. Howard Kane is tracking, and being hunted by a swamp fiend, and realises when fighting it: "For man's only weapon is courage that flinches not from the gates of Hell itself, and against such not even the legions of Hell can stand." He finds the man that created the fiend, and adds the man to its list of victims, to appease it. 3.5 out of 5

Nimbus - Peter Watts

Nimbus - Peter Watts Storm fronts. Really big ones. Everywhere. 3.5 out of 5