It's not news that one shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but I have a soft spot for space opera; I confess, the big space base (which I initially mistook for a starship of some sort) adorning the cover of Neal Asher's novel, The Departure, helped sell me on it.
As it turned out though, The Departure hardly qualifies as space-opera and only squeaks by as science fiction pretty much the way Superman does: on technicalities only.
Though it's set in the future and some of the action takes place in orbit and on Mars, the book is really just a narrated first-person shooter dressed up in some SF tropes — a corrupt and incompetent world government, artificial intelligence, robotic weapons and a trans-human genesis.
But all that is only window-dressing. That spectacular cover is a gateway to lugubrious dialogue, sophomoric libertarian philosophy, hackneyed world-building and, especially, to one pornographic blood-bath after another.
The Departure is one of the worst books I have read in a very long time. More boring than Atlas Shrugged (which I reviewed a while back), it drips with just as much contempt for ordinary human beings. Unlike Rand's John Galt though, Asher's superman does much of his killing at first-hand.
A light and somewhat entertaining read, especially for fans of old-school Doctor Who. As Sarah Jane Smith, Sladen won the hearts of a generation of Wh...moreA light and somewhat entertaining read, especially for fans of old-school Doctor Who. As Sarah Jane Smith, Sladen won the hearts of a generation of Whovians; her return in The Sarah Jane Adventures was even more of a triumph, one which sadly gets short shrift in this volume.
P.T. Barnum is alleged to have said, "There's no such thing as bad press, so long as they spell your name right." But what is one supposed to do when...moreP.T. Barnum is alleged to have said, "There's no such thing as bad press, so long as they spell your name right." But what is one supposed to do when the press is good, but the spelling is not?
Shoot the messenger, bite the hand ... and toot one's own horn, I guess. So damn the clichés and full speed ahead.
I suppose I would better have done all of the above when I first got my complimentary copies of the magazine in the mail back in December, but illness and the press of other business got in the way of proper self-promotion.
Those copies made for a sort of early Christmas present, but signed with an insult (presumably unintentional).
Or, as the old joke goes, I found good news and bad news in my mailbox.
Since I am one who prefers his misery lessened rather than his happiness punctured, that's how I'll tell the (brief) story.
The bad news was that Humanist Perspectives magazine thinks my first name is spelled GeoffEry, not GeoffrEy.
The good news is, its Winter 2012/2013 edition contains my review of Christopher Hitchens' post-humus meditation on living with the cancer that led to his death, Mortality.
(And, perhaps karmically, though the ultimate E and R are reversed in my byline and the table of contents, both my name and my website address (that's www.ed-rex.com folks!) are exactly right inn the two-line bio below the essay.)
I won't pretend it isn't gratifying to see some of my work in actual (paper) print again. 2009 was a while ago.
But, though the Winter issue of Humanist Perspectives is still the current issue and can still be found on better newsstands across Canada, I think it's time to share the work with the rest of the world.
More than a year ago I reviewed the first half of what I thought then was a "gentle" children's adventure, Sta...moreThe girls, the monster and the Artifact!
More than a year ago I reviewed the first half of what I thought then was a "gentle" children's adventure, Stargazer, by Ottawa indie cartoonist Von Allan. I bought the concluding sequel back in December if memory serves, but circumstances didn't see me get to it until now.
A black and white comic book featuring three pre-pubescent girls in the role of unlikely heroines, Stargazer features a Magic Doorway in the tradition of Alice's rabbit-hole and Narnia's wardrobe (and the Starship Enterprise's warp drive, for that matter).
But what seemed a "gentle adventure" in its first half, proves to be a considerably more spicy brew in its second. What seemed to be turning into an exercise of that hoary old "And then she woke up!" cliché becomes something very different — and very memorable — by the time the story is over.
A little rough-hewn, Stargazer nevertheless has considerable virtues. This story of friendship and loss just might be a gateway drug to comics for that young boy or (especially) girl in your life — but keep a kleenex handy. My full review lives on my site, ed-rex.com/reviews/books/stargazer_volume_two.(less)
I hate coming down hard on books by relatively unknown writers; given my 'druthers, I'd much prefer to pass over them in silence. At the same time, if...moreI hate coming down hard on books by relatively unknown writers; given my 'druthers, I'd much prefer to pass over them in silence. At the same time, if a writer goes to the trouble of sending me a review copy (even an electronic copy), it seems disrespectful to ignore it.
So I've struggled with this review, and not only because I have been "friends" with the author (or rather, with his pseudonym) on Livejournal for a while, but because it became clear in the reading that Benjamin Tate's heart is very much in the right place.
Well of Sorrows tries hard to play with, and even to reverse, many of epic fantasy's tired tropes. The protagonist is more peace-maker than warrior, and in plays of scenes of glorious battle we are given the blood and the shit and the brutality of hand-to-hand combat.