The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
I’ll start by saying that I’m not hugely familiar with Neil Gaiman’s work. I’ve read Stardust and watched his two Doctor Who episodes… and that’s it. At first I wasn’t sure whether or not to absorb more of his work before tackling The Ocean at the End of the Lane, but decided against it for the sake of a fresh perspective. So consider this a review from someone who has very few preconceptions about Gaiman’s style and themes.
Our middle-aged protagonist (I don’t recall if we ever learn his name) recounts to us his movements after a family funeral. Instead of going to the wake he drives through Sussex to his childhood home where vague memories begin to stir. Going down a little country lane he arrives at the Hempstock family farmhouse, certain that he used to play with the family’s young daughter Lettie. At the back... Read More
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Requiem by Ken Scholes
Requiem is the fourth book in Ken Scholes PSALMS OF ISAAK series, which while having a few minor issues throughout has mostly been a fresh mix of fantasy and science fiction, filled with intriguing characters and exploring complex issues involving the intersection of religion, technology, and society. Requiem continues that exploration, though in weaker fashion than the prior three novels.
By now, the plot has grown extremely complicated, so I’m not going to offer up much of a plot recap, which should probably clue you in that this is a series that requires reading the books in order. While earlier books had many of the main characters together or at least paired up, in Requiem, Scholes has chosen to separate them, sending several all the way to the moon (and separating even the ones there).
The Gypsy King, Rudolpho, helplessly outnumbered and outplanned... Read More
Sharp by Alex Hughes
Sharp is the second full novel in the MINDSPACE INVESTIGATION series and is a direct follow up to the first book Clean. Adam is still struggling from the after-effects of his over-extension of his abilities at the end of Clean and is having a hard time keeping up with the pace of his work while coping with the never-ending craving of addiction.
A new case comes up, a vicious murder, and Adam is tasked to determine if there is some psychic evidence that he can add to the investigation. When Adam and Detective Cherabino get to the scene of the crime, Adam is stunned to find that the victim is Emily, one of his former students. Adam had destroyed Emily’s psychic abilities through negligence while he was in the throes of his addiction and still an instructor for the Guild.
Mirroring reality, the city budget for law enforcement is facing serious budget reduction... Read More
Black Treacle Magazine is a free bimonthly Canadian horror journal edited by A.P. Matlock, dedicated to horror, dark fantasy and speculative fiction. It gives preference to Canadian writers, but accepts fiction from elsewhere as well. It publishes nonfiction criticism in addition to fiction, which gives it a nice variety for a short publication.
Issue 3 has three pieces. The first, “Getting Shot in the Face Still Stings” by Michelle Ann King, is a short story about Marc, a gangster who is plenty dangerous when he loses his temper, and his brother, Dom. As the story opens, Marc is in the process of beating a man to death with a nine iron for claiming he was robbed of the outfit’s profits through magical means. As it happens, though, the unfortunate man was telling the truth: Elena is a goddess of immortal death, able to endure any number of deaths. When she’s killed, time rewinds to a few moments before i... Read More
The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner
Purportedly written for children but with a strong appeal for adults as well, Alan Garner's first novel, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, is a swashbuckling heroic fantasy set in the present day, and one that conflates elements of Welsh, Nordic and English mythology into one very effective brew. Though now deemed a classic of sorts, I probably would never have heard of this work, had it not been for Scottish author Muriel Gray's article about it in the excellent overview volume Horror: Another 100 Best Books. In her article, Gray describes the book with expressions such as "truly gripping," "beautifully crafted" and "a young person's introduction to horror." And now that I have finally read the book, I can heartily concur.
In The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, we meet a brother and sister named Colin and Susan (their last name is never given, nor are their ages),... Read More
Extinction by B.V. Larson
Extinction is the second novel in B.V. Larson’s STAR FORCE series about professor Kyle Riggs who was picked up by an alien spaceship and now captains a fleet of ships that are protecting earth from other aliens. I called the first book, Swarm, “a silly, but exciting, male wish-fulfillment fantasy.” I wouldn’t have moved on to book two, but the audiobook publisher sent it to me for a review, so here we are.
Extinction takes place soon after the events of Swarm. Kyle has made a deal with the bad aliens. He promised that if they’d leave the Earth alone, he’d supply them with trained troops to help them fight their other battles around the universe. He needs to get those troops ready before the aliens come to collect. He also needs to figure out how to make more spaceships because the a... Read More
This week, Frodo lives.
Frodo: This week has been extremely traumatic so far, roaming in the wild and dodging Black Riders everywhere I turn. The worst of it is that every time I try to settle down and relax with a good book, Strider's there to bang on about some elven legend or another. Tonight he chanted what must have been half the bloody Lays of Beleriand, stopping every four verses without fail to tell us how much better it would sound in the original Quenya. Getting quite fed up with this, but Sam keeps encouraging our amateur jongleur to ever more ridiculous vocal gymnastics "so long as it's about elves, Mister Frodo." There are times I wish we'd never had that dinner with the elves in the Shire. Food is the way to win Sam's heart, and as the elves seem to bake honey into everything, I should have seen this infatuation coming.
The Forever Knight by John Marco
The Forever Knight is a follow-up novel that takes place after John Marco’s BOOKS OF THE BRONZE KNIGHT, but Marco does such a good job of filling in the gaps for new readers that it’s meant to be able to be read separately. If you’re interested in a kind of brutal, really tragic fantasy, then this is worth a read.
Lukien is the Forever Knight. He has betrayed his best friend and the love of his life is dead, but he can’t follow them into death because of Malator, a symbiotic spirit who has imbued him with powers, including virtual immortality. For most people eternal life would be an amazing gift, but for someone who has lost everything he held precious, it’s a curse.
Lukien is living a sort of half-life while seeking combat against dangerous monsters that infest the local environs of the city he has claimed as home. Among the people who Lukien calls friend is an o... Read More
Citadel by John Ringo
Citadel is the second in John Ringo’s TROY RISING series. The first book, Live Free or Die, had an interesting plot that was totally derailed by John Ringo’s intrusive and ugly political views which seem closer to neo-Nazism than anything else. So why did I read Citadel? Only because the audiobook publisher sent me a free copy and, out of a sense of completion, I wanted to review it for FanLit. I was prepared to hate it.
Fortunately, Tyler Vernon the Nazi is only a secondary character in Citadel. The plot mostly follows two new recruits who are joining Earth’s space defenses on Troy, the hollowed-out asteroid that Vernon built as a battle station. Dana is a pilot who’s got some mad flying skills. Butch is a welder. Interestingly, to me at least, Butch was trained in my hometown on Florida’s “Space Coast,” so Ringo won me over a little when we sp... Read More
Robert Silverberg was the Master of Ceremonies at the Nebula awards, which Marion and I attended a few weeks ago.
Robert Silverberg, Master of Ceremonies
Silverberg told stories about the writers of the Golden Age, like Clifford Simak, Damon Knight, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and even lesser known writers like Silverberg’s own mentor Randall Garrett.
There were clearly three “eras” in the room; the Golden Age (1938-1946 if you trust Wikipedia); the New Wave (1960s-1970s, again, Wikipedia) and the current era which I want to call The New Golden Age, ... Read More
The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig
Mookie Pearl is a big ugly brute who works for the boss of New York City’s criminal underworld. Mostly he’s called on to be a thug — it’s the thing he does best. One of his specific jobs is to manage (i.e., cajole, threaten, beat up) a team of workers who descend into the underground to collect the blue powdery drug that allows its users to see the supernatural creatures who have lived among us ever since some New York City miners accidentally blew open a portal to Hell while tunneling under the streets.
Things are never really safe in Mookie’s line of work, but everything suddenly comes to a head when the boss announces that he’s dying and leaving his son Casimir in charge of his criminal empire. When all the gangs in the city sense an imminent power void, and when his own immature teenage daughter makes a play designed to get revenge on the daddy who was never there for her, Mookie’s normally da... Read More
The Red Knight by Miles Cameron
The thing about military-esque epic fantasy is that it will always have an audience. Always. There will always be someone out there who sees a blurb about a knight on a horse and buys the book. It’s a sort of subgenre that will have fans no matter how redundant, or unique, the book may be. For me, books that fit into that genre have a greater challenge ahead of them. They need to do something new, or present an old story in a refreshing way because there really are only so many different things that you can say about a guy on a horse on a quest.
On the surface, The Red Knight is exactly what I look for in this kind of book. It’s unique. Set in an alternative earth/post-apocalyptic earth/secondary earth (I never was quite clear on that point), The Red Knight reads more like historical fantasy than anything else. There is a religious order that will call to mind the days of the... Read More