Brave New Worlds (second edition) edited by John Joseph Adams
This anthology of dystopian fiction, edited by John Joseph Adams, contains stories from some of the greatest names in fantasy and science fiction, including Ursula K. LeGuin, Paolo Bacigalupi, Cory Doctorow and Kim Stanley Robinson. The first edition was reviewed by Stefan Raets and earned a five-star rating. I picked up the second edition to see what the new volume added.
What I found was that the entire first edition was intact. Three stories were added, along with a study guide featuring questions for some of the stories if you wanted to use this in a book club (I w... Read More
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Brave New Worlds (second edition) edited by John Joseph Adams
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Perhaps the most well-known of Diana Wynne Jones's extensive body of work (and not just because of the Hayao Miyazaki film), Howl’s Moving Castle is colourful, imaginative, humorous, mysterious and immensely clever, where nothing — absolutely nothing — is what it seems. Chock-a-block full of vivid characters and a twisty-turny storyline, this is one of those rare books (usually reserved for adult novels) that I can read for the third, fourth, fifth time and still pick up on some new detail that I'd previously missed.
In a sendup of the usual fairytale formula, Sophie Hatter is the eldest of three daughters, and so well aware that she's destined to have no adventures whatsoever in her life — especially with two younger, prettier sisters. Still, she's resigned to working in her late father's hat shop until the day the notorious Witch of the Waste enters and turns he... Read More
Animal Man, Volume 2: Origin of the Species and Animal Man, Volume 3: Deus Ex Machina by Grant Morrison (writer) and Chas Truog (artist) issues 10-26
These two volumes of Animal Man — Origin of the Species and Deus Ex Machina — complete the collection of Grant Morrison's run on this once-minor DC character. This 26-issue run marks Morrison's entry into American comics. The Scottish Morrison, along with Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore, is one of the three writers from the UK who helped change American comics for the better in the 1980s and 1990s. Moore preceded them in his work on Swamp Thing and is probably the reason Karen Berger from DC was sent to find more talent abroad, but Morrison and Gaiman ... Read More
Galveston by Sean Stewart
This may be Sean Stewart's best novel, though it is not my favourite. Here we see Stewart displaying full mastery of his prose, his characterization, and his depiction of a fully realized magical world. Be warned though, neither the characters, nor the world presented, are always pleasant to behold.
We follow the story of Josh Cane, a young man with a chip on his shoulder due to the constrained circumstances of his life that are the result of his father's loss of a pivotal game of poker. Add to this the fact that Josh lives in a world after the occurrence of a magical apocalypse wherein everyone has to work hard to survive, not only due to their physical circumstances, but also due to the perilous proximity of the magical Otherworld, and you have the makings of a pretty downbeat story. Stewart himself has described this book as: "...your Basic "Boy Meets Girl, Boy Loses Everything, Girl becomes her Own Evil Twin, Boy... Read More
Grendel: Archives and Grendel: Devil by the Deed by Matt Wagner (writer and artist)
Now that I’ve read Matt Wagner’s Grendel: Archives and Grendel: Devil by the Deed, I regret how long it took me to read any of his Grendel stories, a series of comics that have a thirty-year history (and counting). I kept reading about them here and there, but had no sense of what they were about. I assumed they had something to do with Beowulf, and — having spent a year of graduate school translating old English line-by-line — I am not a big enough fan of Beowulf to watch movies or read novels and comics inspired by Beowulf. I've even talked to quite a few people who have made it clear that th... Read More
Mutant by Henry Kuttner & C.L. Moore
By the early 1950s, the great husband-and-wife writing team of Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore had moved to the West Coast to acquire degrees at the University of Southern California, and were concentrating more on their scholastic pursuits than their (formerly prodigious) sci-fi/fantasy output. In 1953, the pair released Mutant, which would turn out to be their final, novel-length work of science fiction as a team. Mutant is what is known as a "fix-up novel," consisting of four short stories originally published in 1945 and a final story released in 1953, cobbled together with some interlinking material. Taken as a whole, the book is another great achievement for the pair; a wonderfully well-written, thought-provoking, multigenerational piece of hard science fiction.
Mutant tells the story of the Baldies, a population of telepathic, hairless (natch) humans that h... Read More
Animal Man, Volume 1 (Issues 1-9) by Grant Morrison (writer), Chas Truog (artist, Issues 1-8) and Tom Grummett (artist, Issue 9)
The twenty-six issue run on Animal Man by Grant Morrison is one of the most important works in comics, but it must be understood in an historical and artistic context; otherwise, someone new to comics might just flip through it and see what looks like a slightly-dated comic with artwork that isn't currently as exciting and flashy and polished and colorful as newer comics. However, this twenty-five-year old comic is of higher quality than most of what is still put out on a monthly basis a quarter-of-a-century later. Most of the high quality comics being written today and aimed toward mature, intelligent audiences were made possible by and are a direct result of the risks Morrison took in writing the issues in this first volume of Animal M... Read More
Kull: Exile of Atlantis by Robert E. Howard
When the August 1929 edition of Weird Tales magazine appeared, it contained a story titled “The Shadow Kingdom” by Robert E. Howard, which introduced his character Kull, a barbarian adventurer from Atlantis who had risen to the kingship of an ancient kingdom Howard called Valusia. Kull was a precursor to Howard’s more famous later character, Conan, who of course later became well known through comic and movie adaptations, but the Kull character had some distinct differences from the later, lustier, rowdier Conan. For one thing, Kull was much moodier and given to introspective musing and philosophical inquiry into the nature of reality and his own existence. Only three stories in the Kull series were published during Howard’s lifetime (he died by his own hand in 1936), but Howard wrote or started at least nine other Kull stories and a poem about the brooding warrior king before aborting the se... Read More
Weird Tales: 32 Unearthed Terrors edited by Stefan R. Dziemianowicz, Robert Weinberg & Martin Greenberg
Though hardly a runaway success in its day, and a publication that faced financial hardships for much of its existence, the pulp magazine known as Weird Tales is today remembered by fans and collectors alike as one of the most influential and prestigious. Anthologies without number have used stories from its pages, and the roster of authors who got their start therein reads like a "Who's Who" of 20th century horror and fantasy literature. During its 32-year run, from 1923-1954, and in its 279 issues, Weird Tales catered to a select readership that could not help but be impressed by early efforts from the likes of ... Read More
The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore
I owe a debt of gratitude to writer Marvin Kaye, who selected Guy Endore's classic novel of lycanthropy, The Werewolf of Paris, for inclusion in Kim Newman and Stephen Jones's excellent overview volume Horror: 100 Best Books. If it hadn't been for Kaye's article on this masterful tale, who knows if I would have ever run across it. And that would have been a real shame, because this is one very impressive piece of work indeed. Read More
River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay
Since this is a fantasy review site, let’s get this out nice and early. Outside of its setting — a fictionalized and truncated version of China’ s 11th century Northern Song Dynasty — there is next to no fantasy in River of Stars, Guy Gavriel Kay’s newest work. A few ghosts, an occasional fox-woman, and that’s it. So fantasy readers will have to take those few bones tossed their way and then settle for graceful, lyrical prose, beautifully drawn characters, moments that stab the heart, a masterful sense of structure and pace, and an overall elegance and skill that denotes a novelist in complete control of his creation. Oh, the things we put up with.
The storyline is roughly that of the aforementioned period in China’s history. The Kitai Empire, reacting to long-ago rebellions by army commanders against the royal court, has allowed its armies to grow weak and its commanders in... Read More
The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles de Lint
From its charming dustcover to the muted two-page illustration at the end, The Cats of Tanglewood Forest is a beautiful book that I would love to read with, or to, a child. Charles de Lint and artist Charles Vess form a perfect collaboration here, with a wonderful, magical story for middle readers.
This novel is an expansion of de Lint’s novella, The Circle of Cats. De Lint uses as inspiration many of the Appalachian folk-tales, most prominently the strange old story about the King of the Cats, but stays close to his own roots, yarning about the old magic and new magic that imbues the American continent. Lillian is a little girl, an orphan, who lives with her aunt on a farm at the edge of the Tanglewood. Lillian plays in the woods; she scatters scratch for the wild birds after she’s fed the chickens, leaves saucers of milk for the feral cats ... Read More
Adiamante by L.E. Modesitt Jr
Suppose that the world had gone through an apocalypse based on a conflict between two groups of super-technologically-advanced people with fundamentally different beliefs on how technology should be applied. One group wanted the logic of technology to replace human thought, and the other wanted technology to merely enhance human perception. Could this difference provide the footing for outright war?
Ecktor is a Demi, a human who has been enhanced with physical and mental abilities hard-coded into his DNA. His wife has died; her memories are everywhere and permeate the very home he lives in. Ecktor’s life goes on with the mundane tasks of exercise, cooking and the work that keeps his credit-balance at a reasonable level. His grief would be overwhelming, however, except for the appearance of a fleet of high-technology warships inbound to earth. A leader is required to manage the pending contact with a group of hu... Read More
The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett
OK, here’s the thing about The Daylight War, Peter Brett’s third book of the DEMON CYCLE, following The Warded Man and The Desert Spear. I really, really want to say, Don’t Read This Book. Honestly. No sarcasm. No humor. That’s my first instinct. Because it’s bad? No. Because it disappoints in comparison to the first two, each of which I’ve given 4.5 stars to? No. No, the reason my first instinct is to say don’t read it is simple — because you’re going to want to read Book Four immediately. And at this point, there is no Book Four. The bastard. Now, if you happen to be reading this review a year or so after The Daylight War came out, and there is an existent Book Four, then ignore what I just said. But until that point, don’t read this book. At least, don’t read this book if you don’t want to read a really good book that continues... Read More
The Jack Vance Treasury by Jack Vance (edited by Terry Dowling & Jonathan Strahan)
While I don’t think there’s any one novel or short story or even collection of Jack Vance‘s work that comes close to capturing all the best aspects of his writing, I do think that this 633-page Subterranean Press collection does a fairly good job of exposing the reader to a wide array of Vance’s oeuvre. In addition to eighteen stories that span much of Vance’s writing career, there’s a brief comment from Vance himself after each story that gives a little view into how his mind worked while in creative mode, as well as some of the authors and factors that had a major impact on him in developing his writing (note to self after reading one of his comments: re-read P. G. Wodehouse, then find and read some Jeffrey Farnol, two of the writers he says influenced him). There’s also an “Appreciation” by Read More