Last Plane to Heaven: The Final Collection by Jay Lake
Jay Lake died in June of 2014. It was a tragic loss but not a surprise, since Lake had made his experiences with cancer public. Last Plane to Heaven, edited by Lake himself, is a reminder of just how much the speculative fiction world lost.
I have always loved Lake’s prose, but I had trouble with his novels. This collection of thirty-two stories shows him, mostly, at his best and strongest. As with his novels, even when a story is, by my lights, less than successful, it is still a fascinating read. Lake put a brief introduction to each story. In several cases these often humorous introductions are as interesting as the story. Fair warning, though; several of these introductions discuss the effect of his cancer and the treatments on his writing; be prepared.
Because there are thirty-two stories, I am not going to comment on all of them... Read More
I’m happy to temporarily come out of FanLit retirement to spend some time with my favorite author, Guy Gavriel Kay. Kay’s newest novel, River of Stars, was released today and...Read More
Night’s Master by Tanith Lee Night’s Master is the sort of book that not everyone will like, but for what it is, it’s brilliant. The styling is exquisite, the...Read More
The DC Infinite Crisis and the “Old” 52 (Part 2): “Lightning Strikes Twice” by Judd Winick In Part One, I gave an introduction to this series and discussed Countdown to...Read More
Last Plane to Heaven: The Final Collection by Jay Lake
Venom by Jennifer Estep
Venom is the third book in Jennifer Estep’s ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN series about Gin Blanco, an assassin who runs The Pork Pit, a barbecue restaurant in Ashland, Tennessee. My review will contain spoilers for the previous books, so you might not want to read it if you haven’t yet read Spider’s Bite and Web of Lies.
Gin has been trying to retire from her assassin’s trade, but as long as the Fire Elemental Mab Monroe runs Ashland as if she’s a crime boss, there will always be people in distress who need Gin’s help. Gin is all too happy to help them because her eventual goal is to take Mab down because Mab killed Gin’s mother and big sister about 15 years ago.
This time the damsel in distress is a vampire named Roslyn who is being stalked by Elliot Slater, the giant who’s Mab’s to... Read More
Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons
Carrion Comfort is one of Dan Simmons’s earlier works, first published in 1989. It is about psychic vampires who feed off of other people, manipulating their thoughts and thereby controlling their actions.
The notion of a psychic vampire is what made me want to read this book — it’s an idea far too interesting to pass up. Simmons’s vampires are unique, and they do live up to the hype in some ways. Ultimately, though, they often tiptoed right up to being absurd and ridiculous. The lack of believability at certain parts of the book diminshed my enjoyment of the novel. If there had been fewer completely unbelievable scenes — unbelievable even in the context of horror fiction — Carrion Comfort would be far more haunting than it is.
... Read More
This week, Red Sonja addresses the question on everyone's mind.
Red Sonja: In point of fact, yes. It does chafe. And it's freezing cold in any weather, and blazing hot in sunlight. It's awful. You can all stop asking me about it now. Also about why I keep wearing it. It's a laugh, isn't it? It's an impression. And it distracts feeble-minded men. Sometimes. And, and, it's a talking point, right? It makes me better-known. All publicity is good publicity, especially for a mercenary. It's all... it's...
... I'm terribly lonely.
Bill: Grading lightened up this week (for another 12 hours or so), this was a good period of time for quantity of reading, if a mixed one for quality. In order of preference:
Harvest by Jim Crace, a Man Booker Short-listed novel (my most reliable literary pr... Read More
In Real Life by Cory Doctorow (author) and Jen Wang (artist)
Though Cory Doctorow's In Real Life is a fictional story about a teenager introduced to the world of online multiplayer role-playing games, it's also about ethical issues involving the internet and labor. These ethical issues are not the usual ones we expect when discussing ethics and the internet: In Real Life mentions the obvious concerns we all have about online predators, but it focuses on the way the internet has the potential to be a force for good in terms of activism, as Doctorow explains in his insightful introductory essay.
Doctorow talks about how the internet allow... Read More
Lock In by John Scalzi
So because I picked up my copy of John Scalzi’s Lock In late, doing so based on Terry’s Sunday Status comment, I wasn’t able to take part in the review party Kat, Terry, and Marion threw (at least, my ego and I are going with that story instead of the “they didn’t invite me” one). Which might have turned out to be a good thing, as I might have been the annoying guy harshing everyone’s buzz. Not that I didn’t enjoy most of Lock In, but I seem to have enjoyed it somewhat less than the 4.5/5 ratings given it by those three.
I thought the premise was fantastic — several decades ago, a flu-like pandemic (Haden’s Syndrome) took several million people and “locked” them into their bodies... Read More
The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray
The Sweet Far Thing is the final book in Libba Bray’s GEMMA DOYLE trilogy about four girls at a boarding school in Victorian England. Gemma has inherited a magic that allows her to cross over to the Realms, the fantasy world that’s the source of her magic. She and her friends Felicity, Pippa, and Ann have been trying to keep the magic safe from people who might use it to unleash horrors upon the real world, yet Gemma has promised to share the magic with the people who have helped her so far. In this book she must figure out how to do both of those things at the same time.
As The Sweet Far Thing begins, Gemma and Felicity are getting ready to finish school and enter genteel society where eventually they’ll be expected to take on the roles of wives and mothers. Ann will suffer a worse fate — she is to be the governess for a... Read More
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
I am of the HARRY POTTER generation, so of course THE HUNGER GAMES hit me like it hit the rest of my demographic: square in the imagination. Although I adored the first two installments in this trilogy, Mockingjay left me feeling betrayed, let down, and ultimately dejected.
It seemed to me that this last installment in the trilogy was poor on every front. I felt that not only did the characters cease to be dynamic entities, the setting lost its unique qualities and the plot left everything to be desired. I think all of my problems with Mockingjay stem from the style being completely different. It felt choppier, less robust and much less well-thought-out than the prior novels.
What bothered me the most was the loss of the great characters. Though some of the supporting people stay dynamic and life-like... Read More
Blackdog by K.V. Johansen
While religion is often found in epic fantasy, rarely is it the main focus of a novel, as it is in Blackdog. It’s even more rare to find an epic fantasy that is a stand-alone rather than part of a long series or trilogy. While the fact that Blackdog is a stand-alone might turn some epic fantasy fans off, it is rather refreshing to read a fantasy on an epic scale that is contained within one book and has a definite beginning, middle and ending.
K.V. Johansen’s world building reminds me a bit of Steven Erikson’s MALAZAN series. The world is large, intricate and sprawls into lands that are just hinted at. It has a rich history which will keep the reader interested and yearning to learn more. Furthermore, the gods are steeped in that rich history and add an int... Read More
Today’s covers all come from books we reviewed in September 2014. Once you identify a book cover, in the comment section list:
1. The number of the cover (1-12)
2. The author
3. The book title
Please identify just one cover that has not yet been identified correctly so that others will have a chance to play. If they're not all identified by next Thursday, you can come back and identify more.
Each of your correct entries enters you into a drawing to win a book of your choice from our stacks. Winners are notified in the comments, so make sure to check the notification box or remember to check back in about 10 days. If we don't choose a winner within 2 weeks, please bug Marion.
And, as always, we've got Read More