This comic was a fun way to pass an afternoon, but little more. The concept is strong, but Hickman drops the ball by making every single character a dThis comic was a fun way to pass an afternoon, but little more. The concept is strong, but Hickman drops the ball by making every single character a despicable human being, violating one of Vonnegut's basic rules of writing: "Give the reader at least one character they can root for." My advice: read the graphic novel biography of the real Richard Feynman instead....more
Nice to have Mr. Moore & O'Neill taking on a story a little lighter, more accessible, and less apocalyptic after the mind-melting, Harry-Potter-deNice to have Mr. Moore & O'Neill taking on a story a little lighter, more accessible, and less apocalyptic after the mind-melting, Harry-Potter-defiling finale to LXG: Century. And it's weird to use the words "lighter and more accessible" to describe a story with so much death and a visit to Lovecraft's Mountains of Madness. And while Moore continues to dance around the edge of copyright violation, I was more than a little pleased to find an old childhood hero, Tom Swift, finally appearing in the series, albeit as a villain. I wasn't sure Moore had anywhere left to take the League after Century, but I'll happily follow more little side-trips like this one should they choose to continue....more
Well, that was refreshing. Refreshing, original, and utterly bonkers - even more so than it needed to be, but Powell doesn't hold back. Ack-Ack MacaquWell, that was refreshing. Refreshing, original, and utterly bonkers - even more so than it needed to be, but Powell doesn't hold back. Ack-Ack Macaque is a WWII flying ace who battles Nazi pilots and parachuting Ninjas - except that his whole world is nothing but an immersive MMRP video game (that's not a spoiler). In the "real world" (an alternate-history future in which Britain and France merged in the 1950s) someone is killing people and cutting out their brains, while the Crown Prince falls in with a pack of student radicals who want break the "monkey" out of his A.I. prison.
Everyone loves the monkey.
Except I don't, in general, go for monkey/gorilla stories, and I particularly dislike romantic subplots involving princes or princesses, but for this book I didn't mind at all. I'd have never guessed that all you had to do was give the monkey a cigar, bomber jacket, and a pair of six-shooters, and anything else would be fair game. I want more monkey! Thank god there are sequels.
My only gripe might be that for all Powell's crazy ideas - alternate future, flying monkeys, brain backups, etc - he throws them all at you in the first third of the book, building an expectation (at least for me) that new SF tropes would keep falling out of the sky like Nazi Ninja paratroopers, but the back half of the book falls into a standard thriller format. But that's a small nitpick for a great start to a series.
This year's big DC crossover was a massive let-down, partly because it was yet another "alternate timeline" story of the kind that was handled much beThis year's big DC crossover was a massive let-down, partly because it was yet another "alternate timeline" story of the kind that was handled much better ten years ago in "Age of Apocalypse," but also because it was trumped by the real event of 2011, the Total DC Reboot. Flashpoint was simply a time-travel way to justify starting everything over in-story, but as soon as the news broke, Flashpoint not only lame-ducked every single in-continuity title DC published over the summer, but it did the same to itself. It's hard to care about any of the events of the story when you know that in a larger sense nothing that happens is really going to matter (unlike, for instance, last year's Blackest Night or Marvel's counter-programmed Fear Itself).
That wouldn't matter if the story were, in itself, gripping. It's not. It's just another excuse to trot out a bunch of "what if" concepts, but aside from the Thomas Wayne as Batman arc, none of the alt-history ideas in this crossover are very interesting. I get the feeling that DC's creators were saving their A-games for the relaunch (and rightly so), and as a result Flashpoint was given creative short shrift.
Personally, I think the Total Reboot would have felt more natural and made more story sense if it had followed on the heels of Final Crisis....more
Here I am again with another completely unbiased 5-star review of an anthology that just happens to contain one of my own stories (in this case, a litHere I am again with another completely unbiased 5-star review of an anthology that just happens to contain one of my own stories (in this case, a little piece called "Jumping the Rails").
A few of my favorites, though:
"Grass Elephant" - another extremely engaging story from M. Keaton set in the wilds of Africa.
"Cicada Summer" - Jon Klement's heartwarming tale of childhood and alien invasion.
"The Big Golden Apple" - by Cindy MacLeod, set in a steampunk Manhattan with a surprising connection to our own.
On the whole, an even stronger collection than Dreams volume one. Looking forward to volume three!
I know that a lot of people like this book. I wanted to like it too. I started out liking it, then about fifty pages in I realized I'd been tricked inI know that a lot of people like this book. I wanted to like it too. I started out liking it, then about fifty pages in I realized I'd been tricked into reading a paranormal romance novel. Normally I'd have quit right there, but my book group is discussing Greyfriar this month, so I made myself finish it. Around the halfway point, I got over my ire and started enjoying the book for what it was, and not what I'd hoped it would be when I started. I'm glad I did, too - the climax of the book is really well done and sets a good hook for volume 2.
So what do I have against paranormal romance? Well, in this case... It starts off well with a human Princess under attack and on the run from an army of vampires. And let me say, I like these vampires. They're inhuman, alien monsters, with a psychology quite different from that of mere mortals. The world-building, what there is of it, is intriguing and drags you into the novel. And then...
The Princess is rescued by a Dashing Rogue who turns out to be... wait for it... a Prince in disguise. If you suddenly ask yourself, "What is this, a Disney movie?" you might understand how I feel. You might also suspect that you can predict every single story beat from that point on by applying the "beautiful, conflicted princess meets handsome superman with a dark secret" formula, and you'd be right.
I could go on about a few other pet peeves that Greyfriar rubs the wrong way, such as making every single character who isn't royalty a cardboard cutout, etc. but I won't. I know there's an audience out there for this sort of thing, but I'm not in it. I would, however, recommend this novel to any paranormal romance fan who wanted to sample something a little edgier than the normal bodice-ripper....more
By Jove, I love Mark Hodder. Once again he's set the bar that all other steampunk ought to be measured by. One - he knows his history. Two - he knowsBy Jove, I love Mark Hodder. Once again he's set the bar that all other steampunk ought to be measured by. One - he knows his history. Two - he knows how to spin a fantastic adventure. Three - he's completely nuts. Gone are the exploding werewolves of the first book in this series, only to be replaced by a behemoth, flesh-eating rabblerouser, ghosts made of steam, and unfailingly polite zombies.
This book starts off at a slower burn than the first installment, but rises through several how-do-they-get-out-of-this scenarios to a battle scene that forever puts to shame the zombie wars of Boneshaker. The Clockwork Man of the title is something of a fake-out, since the action instead centers around the Tichbourne Claimant, a madman posing as the long lost heir to a family fortune. Along the way, Hodder acknowledges that the laws of nature in a steampunk story aren't quite the same as in the real world, then goes the extra mile to provide a perfectly good explanation.
So why not five stars? The characters still lack any real depth beyond what's needed to propel the action, and Hodder still seems to be unaware that the female sex exists aside from the occasional housemaid. To be fair, one of the main antagonists this time around is a woman, but she's little more than a cackling lunatic who's only there to give Sir Richard Francis Burton someone to face off against.
Still, that sounds like I'm complaining when I'm really not. If you're at all interested in steampunk, read the Burton & Swinburne series before dipping your toes anywhere else. Commercial over. 'Nuff said....more
Not so long ago, Cherie Priest's Boneshaker made a bid for "definitive Steampunk novel." While it was a valiant attempt, I think the crown should trulNot so long ago, Cherie Priest's Boneshaker made a bid for "definitive Steampunk novel." While it was a valiant attempt, I think the crown should truly go to Mark Hodder's Spring Heeled Jack. Based in an alternate Victorian England, but using a cavalcade of real historical figures for its dramatis personae, Hodder mixes historical fact, steampunk technology, Victorian mores, a 19th Century urban legend, and one of the maddest takes on time travel ever.
The protagonist is Sir Richard Burton, who accomplished so much in his real life that were a fiction writer to make him up, he would come across as unbelievable. After a series of attacks in London's East End by spontaneously combustible werewolves, and a personal encounter with the demonic character of the title, Burton is appointed "King's Agent" - kind of a 19th Century James Bond. He teams up with several others, most notably the rakish poet Algernon Swinburne, to investigate the case, which leads to the startling possibility that his entire world only exists because of a single instance of history being changed.
The book's one flaw is that aside from Burton the characters are a little thin. That suits the novel's pulpy nature, however, and the fact that the book never takes itself too seriously. (Go back and re-read the phrase "spontaneously combusting werewolves" if you don't believe me.) For all its muck and horror, there's an underlying silliness to the Victorian era that most writers never seem to face up to. Hodder uses it all to good effect....more
First, let me recuse myself from giving anything like an unbiased review of this collection. Full disclosure: it includes my story "Dead Man's Hand,"First, let me recuse myself from giving anything like an unbiased review of this collection. Full disclosure: it includes my story "Dead Man's Hand," which the editor (Kimberly Richardson) assures me has creeped people out.
However, I'd like to give a shout-out to a few of my other favorite stories from the collection: "Black Rhino" by M. Keaton, "Five Copper Bowls" by Dale Carothers, "Harry Was One of Us" by Sara M. Harvey, and "Phoenix" by H. David Blaylock. All the stories were unique and creative variations on the steampunk theme, and the collection as a whole is a warm, welcome bundle of sheer pulpy goodness.
You have to stand in awe of the way Cherie Priest managed to tap into the pop culture zeitgeist with her steampunk zombie pulp-fest. Anyone who thinksYou have to stand in awe of the way Cherie Priest managed to tap into the pop culture zeitgeist with her steampunk zombie pulp-fest. Anyone who thinks she was simply following these trends doesn't appreciate exactly how long it takes to get a book from idea to the shelf. It feels as if Priest was trying to write the definitive steampunk novel, with solid, logical reasons for all of the standard trappings: goggles, airships, advanced weaponry, and mad science. It will be interesting to see where she goes with the series. Boneshaker loses a little bit of steam (heh) in the middle, but picks up again toward the end to a satisfying conclusion.
There are only two quibbles that I have with the story: One, Priest postulates an entire society of people living "on the edge" in a zombie-infested Seattle, but she never (to my mind) gives a pressing reason why any of these people would choose to remain. They're not trapped, since there is commerce with the outside world. Supposedly this society exists because the zombie-gas that caused the problem in the first place can be refined into a narcotic, but if they're staying in Seattle for the money, what do they plan to spend it on?
Two- I don't really feel that Priest did right by her villain, Minnericht. He stays in the shadows for most of the novel, and when he finally does appear on the scene, he breathes a burst of new life into the story. Unfortunately, the mystery of Minnericht's identity is revealed a little too easily, and the way that it happens effectively emasculates him as an antagonist.
Nevertheless, the final chapters in particular are beautifully written, and I'm looking forward to seeing where the story goes in volume 2....more