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Ares: Bringer of War: A great new take on an old tale

Ares: Bringer of War by George O'Connor

Ares: Bringer of War is George O'Connor's sixth title in his OLYMPIANS series of graphic retellings of Greek myths for younger readers. Short take? I'm wondering why the Hades I don't own the first five, an oversight I will quickly rectify. Long take below . . .

I absolutely loved this book. Beginning with its opening segment on the distinction to be made between the two gods of War in the Greek pantheon: Athena and Ares. O'Connor begins with Athena, whom he calls the "the goddess of martial skill. Of formations, of strategy. Of training realized and wisdom applied." And the art presents just such a calculating image of war, with its highly symmetrical depiction of Greek soldiers, their feet, spears, bodies, and shields precisely aligned, all against a cool blue background. But war isn't always so neatly organized; it is often "chaotic, unpr... Read More

Lexicon: You’ll never look at words the same way again

Lexicon by Max Barry

Compare two commonly-used adages: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” versus “The pen is mightier than the sword.” In your own life, which saying have you found to be truer? It's all well and good to claim that an intangible thought, either spoken or written, is less powerful than a physical object, but one can easily come up with several examples to the contrary: Discarded treaties between the United States government and various Native American tribal peoples; Chairman Mao's infamous little red book; documentation in South Africa upholding the so-called legality of apartheid; Stalin's issuance of the Great Purge and subsequent refusal to acknowledge its existence; Adolph Hitler's deranged, inflammatory Mein Kampf. Words are powerful, dangerous things. One might even say that they're magical. In Lexicon, by Max Barry, they are all ... Read More

Horrible Monday: Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

When I read Terry Weyna’s review of Broken Monsters last year, I knew I had to get this book. Lauren Beukes’s earlier horror novel, The Shining Girls, was compelling and original, and Broken Monsters does not disappoint. More than a terrifying horror novel, it’s a study of ... Read More

Rivals of Weird Tales: Nary a clinker in the bunch!

Rivals of Weird Tales edited by Robert Weinberg, Stefan R. Dziemianowicz & Martin H. Greenberg

From 1923 – ’54, over the course of 279 issues, the pulp publication known as Weird Tales helped to popularize macabre fantasy and outré horror fiction, ultimately becoming one of the most influential and anthologized magazines of the century, and introducing readers to a “Who’s Who” of American authors. I had previously read and reviewed no fewer than six large collections of tales culled from the pages of “the Unique Magazine,” and had loved them all. But Weird Tales, of course, was far from being the only pulp periodical on the newsstands back when, as amply demonstrated in the appropriately titled, 500-page anthology Rivals of Weird Tales. In this wonderfully entertaining, generous collection, editors Robert Weinberg, Stefan R. Dziemianowicz and Martin H. Greenberg (who had put... Read More

Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem by Steve Niles

Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem by Steve Niles, Matt Santoro, & Dave Wachter

Though I’ve read multiple golem tales over the years, I became aware of their history the most fully after having read the extremely well-researched SF novel He, She and It by Marge Piercy. That was about twenty years ago, and I’ve been on the lookout for quality golem stories ever since. Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem is one of the best I’ve ever read, and it’s written by Steve Niles and Matt Santoro as a story that is appropriate even for young adult readers, ... Read More

John Golden: Freelance Debugger: A blast to read

John Golden: Freelance Debugger by Django Wexler

Django Wexler, the man with such a fun name, hasn’t just limited himself to epic fantasy. In February Wexler released a novella called John Golden: Freelance Debugger. In proper Wexler form he took a genre that is almost too saturated (urban fantasy) and slammed his way into it with something new, eye catching, and unique.

John Golden tells the story of a man (Surprise! His name is ‘John’) who fixes computers by debugging them. While that might seem fine and dandy, the truth is that the entire premise of how this protagonist debugs computers (and just what the “bugs” are) is just about as interesting as anything else in the novel. Wexler packs quite a story into his few short pages (62 pages, actually).

Don’t let the technospeak and the footnotes put you off. While typically people like their text to flow certain ways, and footnot... Read More

The War in the Air: Should be mandatory reading for all thinking adults

The War in the Air by H.G. Wells

The War of the Worlds
wasn't the only masterpiece that H.G. Wells wrote with the words "The War" in the title. The War in the Air, which came out 10 years later, in 1908, is surely a lesser-known title by this great author, but most certainly, in my humble opinion, a masterpiece nonetheless. In this prophetic book, Wells not only predicts World War I -- which wouldn't start for another six years -- but also prophesies how the advent of navigable balloons and heavier-than-air flying craft would make that war inevitable. Mind you, this book was written in 1907, only four years after the Wright Brothers' historic flights at Kitty Hawk, and two years BEFORE their airplane design was sold to the U.S. Army for military purposes. In The War in the Air, Wells also foresees ai... Read More

Birchfield Close by Jon McNaught

Birchfield Close by Jon McNaught

Birchfield Close by Jon McNaught is another wonderful offering from Nobrow Press. It is a quiet work filled with noises, a Mona Lisa on a postage stamp, an epic in sonnet form, and a study in time captured in minutes and seconds. All these contradictions should make it clear how difficult it is to write about a book that’s only about twenty-five pages long, covers a brief period of time at the end of a day, and has no dialogue between characters.

Physically, the book is about the size of a typical paperback, and many of these fairly small pages have such tiny panels that a single page can have as many as twenty-six panels, though the number of pane... Read More

Station Eleven: A literary post-apocalyptic novel

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel, is a book you need to read. In a market cluttered with variations of the apocalypse and post-apocalyptic life, this one is the deepest and the quietest; the most poetic and the most literary in the best sense of that word. Yes, it’s a quiet, poetic literary “After the End of Everything” novel.

Station Eleven stretches out, backward and forwards in the story’s timeline, like an intricate spider web, and the enter of this delicate but strong narrative is Arthur Leander, actor and former superstar. Arthur had a huge movie career when he was younger. Now fifty-one, he feels his fame waning. At a performance of an unusually-staged King Lear, Arthur suffers a heart attack and dies. This happens in the first five pages of the book.

By dying, Arthur escapes that terror and pa... Read More

Spera by Josh Tierney

Spera (Vol 1) by Josh Tierney and various artists

Spera by Josh Tierney is a YA fantasy work that I raved about in a Sunday Status Update about a month ago. The story is of two young girls, fleeing princesses, on the run from murderous relatives and accompanied by an Aslan-like creature made of fire. One of the princesses, Lono, is a hesitant-young lady in a dress; the other, her protector, is a bold tomboy named Pira who wields a magic sword. The graphic novel is comprised of episodic tales overall, but as the table of contents indicates, it’s organized as a four-chapter novel plus an additional section of five short stories. I enjoyed this episodic approach, which seemed an appropriate way to ... Read More

Shutter by Joe Keatinge & Leila Del Duca

Shutter by Joe Keatinge (writer) and Leila Del Duca (artist)

Shutter is another fairly recent Image title that is a five-star read, and it’s further evidence that science fiction fans should keep their eyes on this publisher. Shutter opens up with a father-daughter outing . . . on the moon! After that quiet, peaceful moment, the story picks up pace in the first issue, and starting in the second, the action almost never lets up. It’s about family, growing up, and getting to know more about our parents than we ever wanted to know, attempting to reconcile our gilt-edged memories with our realizations that those memories may be less golden than we thought. The heroine of this story is kept so busy, however, that she has little time to deal fully with the emotional impact of her new-found kn... Read More

Elephantmen: Wounded Animals by Richard Starkings & Moritat

Elephantmen (Vol 01): Wounded Animals by Richard Starkings (writer) and Moritat (artist) and other artists

Hip Flask, one of the main characters of Elephantmen, has been around for over a decade now, and the first images I saw did not immediately appeal to me. However, after reading the first issue, I realized this reaction is essential to the entire point of the series, because we are led to see how these Elephantmen, who have been terribly mistreated, continue to be discriminated against by humans. So, if you also are put off by the appearance of a humanoid hippopotamus dressed in a trench coat, then you still are likely to enjoy this series: You are being invited into this fictional world by being asked to respond as any human would. The goal of the author and artist is to make you care about these creatures after your initial difficulty in empathizing. However, as you begin to empathize within the very first issue, ... Read More

THE WICKED + THE DIVINE: THE FAUST ACT by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie

THE WICKED + THE DIVINE (Vol. 1): THE FAUST ACT by Kieron Gillen (writer) and Jamie McKelvie (artist)

IMAGE is THE publisher to watch these days, and THE WICKED + THE DIVINE by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie is further proof that, outside of your canonical superhero stories, IMAGE is where you’ll most likely pick up stories written for the mature adult, both male and female. IMAGE has taken the promise of VERTIGO and made it a reality, and all the best writers and artists, even the ones still working for MARVEL and DC, take time off to put out their dream projects with the hands-off editors at IMAGE. Consider this list: SAGA, VELVET, THE FADE OUT, DREAM MERCHANT, COPPERHEAD, SEX CRIMINALS, PRETTY DEADLY, DEADLY CL... Read More

The Lies of Locke Lamora: Couldn’t put it down

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The Lies of Locke Lamora introduces the reader to a world of politics, intrigue, history, and thieves. Locke is the leader of a particular gang (The Gentlemen Bastards) who don’t play by the rules — not even the ones set out by the king of the underground. Before this can even begin to get them into trouble however, there are other things in the works for them. It is a story of deceit, betrayal, blood, life, and inevitable revenge that keeps you turning pages until the bitter end.

I couldn’t put The Lies of Locke Lamora down. It’s a common saying, but I found this book so enthralling for so many reasons that it became my constant companion until I had read it through (twice).

The characters are well thought out and developed people. Every single character, whether they are around for two paragraphs or twenty chapters,... Read More

Tooth & Claw by Kurt Busiek and Benjamin Dewey

Tooth & Claw by Kurt Busiek (writer) and Benjamin Dewey (artist)

I rarely write a review of a first issue, because there are other sites that keep up with weekly releases; instead, I prefer to tell you about the best trade collections available for purchase in paper or digital format. But every now and then, I make an exception. Kurt Busiek’s Tooth & Claw, which just came out, is worth telling you about. First, it’s got over forty pages of story in the first issue (for only $2.99!), and second, it’s an incredible story that you do not want to miss. I think this story, though nothing like Saga, is going to compete with Saga in the larger SFF category. However, while Saga Read More

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