Night Watch: You can’t repeat the past (Of course you can)

Night Watch by Terry Pratchett

Sam Vimes of Ankh-Morpork’s City Watch has all but arrested Carcer, a serial killer who specifically targets members of the Watch, when they are thrown back in time.

Time travel is always inconvenient, but it is particularly trying for Sam Vimes, who is about to become a father. Worse, Vimes soon realizes this time in Ankh-Morpork’s history is especially awful because the city is about to revolt against the Patrician, Lord Winder. The people will revolt, Vimes remembers, and cavalrymen will put them down.

Vimes had only just joined the Watch when he first lived through the revolution, but he remembers many of the details, especially his old mentor, Sergeant John Keel. Keel taught Sam how to be a copper, a... Read More

Time Enough For Love: For masochists only

Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein

You’d think I’d learn, but no, I just keep torturing myself with Heinlein’s adult novels. That’s because when I was a kid, Heinlein was one of my favorite authors, so I still think of him that way. I know it’s not that my tastes have changed because I still love those books I read as a kid. The problem is that many of the books he wrote for his adult audiences, especially those he wrote in his later years, are just horrid. And Time Enough for Love (1973), even though it’s a classic, is one of these. It’s everything I hate about Heinlein’s later novels. In fact, if I had to sum it up in one word, I’d say “YUCK!”

Time Enough for Love is the last of Heinlein’s novels about Lazarus Long. In fact, the full title is Time Enough for Love: The Lives of Lazarus Long. Lazarus is 2000 years old. He feels like he’s done it all and he’s refusin... Read More

Notes from the Internet Apocalypse: Amusing and thoughtful

Notes from the Internet Apocalypse by Wayne Gladstone

Humorist Wayne Gladstone takes on the American obsession with the internet in Notes from the Internet Apocalypse, an amusing but thoughtful look at what might happen to our culture if the world wide web went down for good.

Gladstone himself is the protagonist of his story. Since both his job and his free time activities depend on the internet, he has no idea what to do now that it’s gone. So he begins keeping a journal about how the world is handling the crisis. Accompanied by a guy he’d previously met online and an Australian girl who earns her living selling online access to her in-shower webcam, Gladstone sets out on the streets of New York City to try to find out what happened to the internet. Is it a government conspiracy? Right-wingers? Muslim terrorists?

Many of the people Gladstone meets are trying to find low-tech ways to replace what they loved ab... Read More

Three by Kieron Gillen and Ryan Kelly

Three by Kieron Gillen and Ryan Kelly

Gillen is one of my favorite comic book writers for Marvel, so I was extremely eager to pick up Three, a new series written by him for Image. Otherwise, I wouldn’t normally find myself picking up a book on Ancient Sparta. I suppose I’ve always been partial to Athens. So, I had mixed feelings going into the book . . . and I have mixed feeling coming out of it as well.

Being the academic that I am, it pleases me to see that Gillen worked with Professor Stephen Hodkinson as an historical consultant, and I like the extensive notes in the back of this trade collection. Both Gillen and professor Hodkinson write these notes, and it’s enjoyable to see how clearly they enjoy discussing the historical material they had to work with and how that often questionable information had to be u... Read More

The King’s Dragon by Scott Chantler

The King’s Dragon by Scott Chantler

Though The King’s Dragon is the fourth book Scott Chantler’s THREE THIEVES series, and I have not read the first three, I had no problem picking up the story already in progress. In fact, if I hadn’t been given that information, I would have guessed it was the first volume of a great new series of comic book adventure stories for young readers. 

The basic story in this book focuses on Captain Drake, a member of The King’s Dragons. Due to some previous misfortune, a deep scar runs across his face and is long ... Read More

Fanboy Friday! Grandville, Bete Noire: Luscious Art Creates Good Escapist Fun

Grandville, Bete Noire by Bryan Talbot

Grandville, Bete Noire, Bryan Talbot’s third steam-punk themed graphic novel, has the same lavish detail and striking use of color as the first two. English Badger D.I. Archie LeBrock is back, as rough-and-tumble as ever, and in this book we spend a bit more time with Quayle or “Q,” a brilliant inventor adept at stealth weapons, like a smoking pipe that is really a bomb. It’s a nice wink in the direction of Ian Fleming.

The plot is slimmer and more predictable than the first two, and a large part of the story is taken up with the exploration of LeBrock’s relationship with the beautiful prostitute Billie, who he met in Grandville, Mon Amor. We find out a bit more about Billie, especially, in one hilarious and naughty frame, what her particular work “specialty... Read More

Fanboy Friday! The Eternal Smile: Three Stories

The Eternal Smile: Three Stories by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim

I just finished reading The Eternal Smile for a second time to see if I would like it as much as I did the first time. The answer is, "Yes." There's no doubt in my mind that this work is a truly great comic book that is unique in presenting three very different short stories with overlapping themes. They are extremely different in look and in genre, but they come together to present some unified ideas about the dreams we have, the stories we tell ourselves, and the stories of our lives that we want to deny.

Artist Derek Kirk Kim, though perhaps not as well known as Gene Luen Yang, has written and illustrated several books I love and hope to review in the near future: Read More

Fanboy Friday! Hinterkind: The Waking World

Hinterkind: The Waking World by Ian Edginton (writer) and Francesco Trifogli (artist)

I’m not a big fan of post-apocalyptic stories, but Hinterkind pulled in this reluctant reader — twice. Initially, I bought the first two monthly issues because of the artwork and because it was a Vertigo title (DC’s mature line of comics), but I dropped the title because the plot didn’t grab me, and frankly, there was an abundance of monthly comics coming out — too much for this fan’s budget! However, when I saw the first six issues of Hinterkind collected together in trade and available for reviewers, I thought I’d give it another chance. I’m glad I did. The art is good all the way through and the plot not only improves with each issue, it fully hooked me by the end of the story arc. And now I want to read... Read More

Lagoon: Aliens, Africa, and Adventure

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

A lifetime of nerdy movie-watching has taught me that Africa and Africans are not appropriate subjects for science fiction hijinks. Sure, Africa is a fine place to dig up magical artifacts, invoke Egyptian curses, or perhaps test your white manliness by crossing an un-crossable desert in pursuit of gold. And Africans themselves make very suitable cannibals, witch doctors, evil dictators, or impoverished victims in need of rescue. But, really, the continent in all its diversity and glory is just not suitable for the center-stage (Africa doesn’t even get a three-second shot in Armageddon, when they’r... Read More

The Storybook of Legends: Sucked into Matel’s merchandising scheme

Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends by Shannon Hale

Okay, call me clueless, but I when I picked up Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends I had no idea it was a tie-in to a line of popular dolls, diaries and YouTube Webisodes produced by Mattel. All I knew was that it was a children’s story written by Shannon Hale and I happen to really like Shannon Hale’s children’s stories. I soon found out the truth and was disgruntled that I was sucked into Mattel’s merchandising scheme, but I must admit that Mattel made a brilliant move by asking a Newbery Award winning author to write their storie... Read More

Honor’s Knight: More trouble for Devi

Honor’s Knight by Rachel Bach

Honor’s Knight is the second book in Rachel Bach’s PARADOX series. Don’t even bother to pick it up until you’ve read the first book, Fortune’s Pawn. (And you might not want to read past the second paragraph of this review, either, because it will spoil some of the plot of Fortune’s Pawn.)

This series is best described as romantic space opera. It’s light on the science (it doesn’t even try, in fact) and heavy on the relationship drama. For me, the best aspect of the story is the mystery. Our protagonist, Devi Morris, has gotten herself into a strange and dangerous situation and though I don’t care about her romance — as I explained in my review of Fortune’s Pawn, the “love” doesn’t feel real to me — I am interested in where the story is going.
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Voodoo Planet: A weak entry in an otherwise terrific series

Voodoo Planet by Andre Norton

Voodoo Planet
(1959), the third installment of the DANE THORSON / SOLAR QUEEN series, is a rather weak entry in this otherwise terrific bunch of books. Here, Dane, Captain Jellico, and Medic Tau are stranded on Khatka, a planet that had been settled many years ago by Africans after the Second Atomic War.

Our boys fight off many alien creatures in the wilds of Khatka — the fight with the rock apes is a highlight of the story — and help conquer the evil witch doctor who is trying to overthrow the legitimate government. Magic is thrown about left and right with only a superficial, mumbo-jumbo explanation of how things are done; something about ancestral memories. When all is said and done, the reader has enjoyed the sequences with the alien monsters but is left shaking his/her head at the implausibility of the magical elements. What might have worked in a tale of Norton’s WITCH W... Read More

Dreams of Gods and Monsters: A spectacular close to an epic trilogy

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

What do you get if you cross Paradise Lost with Romeo and Juliet? Laini Taylor’s DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE trilogy, a story that centres on an epic war between angels and demons with a pair of star-crossed lovers caught in the middle. Only the angels and demons aren’t exactly what you’d expect. In the world of Eretz, “angels” are winged humanoids known as seraphim and the “demons” are half-human, half-animal hybrids known as chimaera. Their conflict has been going on for centuries — and has finally spilled over into our world.

Whe... Read More

Marked: I admire Adam the drug addict

Marked by Alex Hughes

For a couple more days you can still enter to win a copy of Clean or Sharp, the first two MINDSPACE INVESTIGATION novels.

My friendship with Adam has covered three novels now. Alex Hughes has taken me into a different future of the world I live in and made it very real for me, but the best part is that I’ve befriended a hero who I completely understand and admire. That’s right, I admire Adam the drug addict.

In Marked, the third book in Hughes’ MINDSPACE INVESTIG... Read More

Horrible (YA) Monday: Dead Set by Richard Kadrey

Dead Set by Richard Kadrey

Zoe’s parents were punks in San Francisco when they met and fell in love. Zoe’s father managed punk bands, while her mother was a graphic artist, designing album covers. When they realized they were going to have a child, they went into the straight life, although Zoe’s dad never left punk music behind. Now Zoe is sixteen, her father is dead, and her mother is battling a heartless insurance company that is refusing to pay. They have moved from their pleasant house in the San Francisco East Bay area to a small apartment in the city. Zoe’s dreams are filled with menacing black dogs and a strange woman.

Richard Kadrey is probably best known for his SANDMAN SLIM series. Dead Set is something different; a young adult horror novel. Kadrey masterfully blends the supernatural horror elements of the tale with the real-world devastation Zoe faces. Zoe cuts most of her classes at the new high scho... Read More

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