Scott Sigler is one of those new fangled podcast novelists who is revolutionizing the publishing industry. Sigler offered audiences his first couple oScott Sigler is one of those new fangled podcast novelists who is revolutionizing the publishing industry. Sigler offered audiences his first couple of novels free to the whoever wanted to download them. Through hard work and shameless self-promotion, Sigler got his name out there, drew in audiences and created a network of 30,000 plus rabid fans who couldn’t wait for the next insallment or novel.
Eventually, the publishing industry took notice and signed Sigler to a contract to put his stories in the old-fashioned brick and mortar stores. And unlike some first-time authors of this kind, Sigler wasn’t going out in paperback or a trade paperback. He was going hardcover with a full-on marketing push and blitz.
The first major label publication is Sigler’s popular story “Infected.” Not only because it’s one of his better books, but also becuase it’s creating the universe that Sigler plays in other novels. Hopefully the blitz and the publication will create new fans for Sigler as they realize what many of his podcast fans have known for years–the man can write one hell of a novel.
“Infected” is an alien invasion story, of sorts. Every-man Perry Dawson’s body has been invaded by some kind of alien virus. It starts out as a rash, but slowly evolves into something worse, to the point that the virus can communicate telepathically with Perry. The organisms are slowly turning into something, something sinister. But what they are and where they came from aren’t exactly know to Perry.
Meanwhile, a government team is trying to find a connection between a set of seemingly well-adjusted people who suddenly go mad and on a killing spree. One connection is the crazy person become suicidal and their bodies decay quickly after death.
These plot threads slowly and inevitably come on a collision course.
The first thing to warn readers is that “Infected” is not for the faint of heart. Perry’s attempts to get the sores out of his body become more and more intense as the story goes along. This is not a book to be read while eating or even if you’ve eaten lately or if you’re thinking of eating later. It is, however, a great book to lose weight by reading. Sigler finds the perfect balance between giving enough information on what’s unfolding and allowing our imaginations to fill in the rest.
The portions of the story with March are the most compelling of the book. Sigler seems to channel Stephen King or Richard Matheson in finding the everyman who is in some bizarre circumstance and trying to figure out how to react to it. March’s descent into madness works because Sigler lays out the journey and the decisions that eventually lead to his actions. That said, you’ll never look at chicken scissors in quite the same way again.
Where the story does drag a bit is in the governmental pursuit of the virus. While March’s story has a definite beginning, middle and end, the story of what the virus is and the pursuit of it feels more like the opening salvo of a larger storyline. If you’re looking for a lot of answers on that front, you’re going to come away being disappointed. “Infected” clearly leaves itself open for a sequel and I just hope sales justify the next installment of this series.
Of course, I guess even if they don’t the good news is that Sigler would still deliver the novel via podcast.
But why not pick up the book and encourage them to give us more? At times, “Infected” is a white-knuckle thriller that will keep the pages turning and there are certain scenes that will huant you long after the final page is turned. It’s a bloody, dark, violent gruesome affair and one of the best “first novels” I’ve read in a long time. Some day we may all look back and say, “Oh yeah, I read Sigler back when….”
Get on board the train now. You won’t regret it. ...more
Harry Dresden's universe keeps expanding with the seventh installment of The Dresden Files, "Dead Beat." I read somewhere that Jim Butcher takes a lotHarry Dresden's universe keeps expanding with the seventh installment of The Dresden Files, "Dead Beat." I read somewhere that Jim Butcher takes a lot of joy in putting his hero through the wringer and no where is that more true than in this book. Harry is beaten up physically and emotionally over the course of a novel that expands the on-going conflict between the Red and White councils, puts Harry at the center of a conflict to bring forth a god-like being and pushes some of the on-going plotlines of the series forward in an interesting fashion.
Harry's hired to find a lost book. Well, maybe hired is the wrong word. More like blackmailed in order to keep his friend, Karin Murphy out of trouble. Harry agrees, not realizing what he's getting himself into. Things quickly go from bad to worse for Dresden as the story unfolds.
"Dead Beat" finds Dresden become more world-weary from his battles with various demons, mosnters and villians, but he's still the same guy we met back in "Storm Front." He's a good man, trying to make the right choices, no matter how tempting the lure of the dark path might be. The story is an epic, sweeping one that will draw you in from the first page and keep the pages turning until the last one is done. Then, you'll be eager and anxious for the next installment, especially give some of the series-changing events that happen here.
And while it's good, I didn't find "Dead Beat" as great as the last several installments of the series. Part of that may be that missing elements of Murphy, who is off in Hawaii during these events.
That said, this is still the best fantasy series in print today and well worth the time. ...more
Star Trek novels used to be about whatever crew you were reading about showing up at a planet, finding something wacky and then spending the novel solStar Trek novels used to be about whatever crew you were reading about showing up at a planet, finding something wacky and then spending the novel solving whatever crisis they stumbled across. You could jump in and out of the Trek novels without much knowledge of prior events beyond which characters you were reading about this week. Rarely did the novels build on one another and create some type of overall cohesive storyline or continuity.
Then came New Frontier and changed the equation. Now it seems as if every Trek novels wants to tie-in to either an on-going series or the entire novel line as a whole. And as with all things Trek, there are some that do it well (New Frontier, DS9) and some that just don't quite spark my interest (Voyager). Somewhere in the middle are the voyages of the Titan, a spin-off from Next Generation featuring the adventures of Captain William T. Riker and his crew. The Titan is an explortion vessel and after spending the first three books dealing with the fall-out of Nemesis, "Sword of Damocles" finally feels as if it's the first official stand-alone episode of this new series.
Not that you can't or shouldn't have read the first three to get everything that's going on here. There are some subplots that will be richer if you know the background, but on the whole this is the first truly independent Titan novel and the best of the series to date. The Titan explores a region of space that disrupts the ability to generate a warp bubble and power the ship. Finding a nearby planet is the culprit, Titan sends a shuttle (they work out some technobabble way to get there) to investigate and ask the planet's inhabitants to cease their experiments in order to allow the ship to go free. The storyline opens up some real-world implications in the application of the Prime Directive that are far more compelling than a lot of the standard Trek episodes that look at if a captain and ship have the right to interfere or not. The argument that it's a nice policy until it bites you out on the frontier is fascinating.
The story does involve time travel, paradoxes and the notion of fate and destiny. However, in a story that could easily have been muddles under the weight of its various eras, paradoxes and solutions, the story stays straight-forward and it's easy to figure out where the characters are and what is happening. The only bad part is that solution becomes fairly evident early on in the crisis and plays out pretty much as you'd expect for a Trek novel.
That's not say it's a bad thing. There's a comfort in the obvious solutions of Trek novels at times and this one is no exception.
Not exactly a sequel to "Doomsday Book" but a novel set in the same universe with the appearance of several minor characters from the original. Ned isNot exactly a sequel to "Doomsday Book" but a novel set in the same universe with the appearance of several minor characters from the original. Ned is suffering from time lag, a condition brought about by making too many jumps to the past to try and find the bishop's bird stump. In the future, a rich benefactor is restoring the Covington Cathedral at great expense and wants every detail perfect. She has promised the University funding if she can utilize their time travel technology to make sure everything is exact, something which seemed like a good idea at the time but comes with unintended consequences.
To escape the nagging of Lady Shrapnel, Ned is sent back in time to a different era to restore history. Seems a fellow historian brought back an artifact, something that should never happen. Ned's goal is to return the artifact before history is set completely off course.
Willis' book is a fun, entertaining read that has a tendency to wander down the primrose path at times. For the middle third, Ned is trying to figure out what his assignment is and not having a good go of it. The book also starts at a deliberate pace, setting up the universe and the characters. However, the final third that examines the nature of time and the implications of time travel is fascinating and will please most sci-fi fans. ...more
Created specifically for audio book, "Pest Control" is an entertaining little story that encapsulates everything that's right and wrong about the modeCreated specifically for audio book, "Pest Control" is an entertaining little story that encapsulates everything that's right and wrong about the modern Doctor Who.
Read by David Tennant, the story finds the Doctor and Donna arriving on a planet torn apart by war. Each side has secrets and there's another evil lurking out there.
Not exactly ground-breaking Who, but it's still enjoyable enough for a quick listen. ...more
Before vampires were brooding, sparkly and sexy, Bram Stoker and Richard Matheson made them scary. They were creatures of the night, meant to be feareBefore vampires were brooding, sparkly and sexy, Bram Stoker and Richard Matheson made them scary. They were creatures of the night, meant to be feared and avoided at all costs.
If it was Stoker that introduced us to the world of the undead blood suckers, it was Matheson who took the genre the next step forward, exploring how the tropes of vampire mythology could be true based on scientific principles of the time.
But to categorize "I Am Legend" as just as vampire story is a huge mistake. As with all of the best Matheson stories, the supernatural element is the gateway to exploring something deeper about human beings. In this case, it's an exploration of loneliness and the depths it can drive a person to.
Robert Neville is the last survivor of the vampire apocalypse, started when China and Russia unleashed germ warfare as part of a border war. The germ proved too effective, quickly spreading across the globe and wiping out large chunks of humanity. Neville is immune to the disease thanks to a vampire bat bite he got while serving in Central America years before. Neville faces not only the horror of being tormented each night by a hoard of vampires led by his old friend, Ben Cortman, but he also has to live with the guilt that he had to kill his wife and daughter when they were resurrected as vampires by the virus.
As the story begins, Neville is eking out a day to day existence in which his only concerns are ensuring his house is safe from the vampire hoards each night and trying to deal with the oppressive loneliness he feels every waking minute of the day. It's been a long time since Neville had any company of any kind and the hope of female companionship is just one of the lures the vampires try to use each evening to draw Neville out in a moment of weakness.
Neville's essential isolation is underlined by his attempts to connect to anything that could possibly be a link to a normal life. Neville feels hopes when he sees an uninfected dog roaming the neighborhood and spends weeks trying to get the animal to trust him. Later he sees what appears to be an unaffected woman and he chases her down like a madman, trying to keep her from fleeing. Of course, what Neville doesn't realize is that the vampires are evolving and creating their own society. And that to them, he's become the monster and stuff of nightmares--an unchanged human with no regard to the fact that there are two different types of vampires now--some who are mindless killing machines and others who are evolving into something more.
Neville is typical Matheson hero--the everyman facing extraordinary circumstances and trying not only to come to grips with them but to survive. Unlike many of the movie adaptations (when will Hollywood get this story right?!?), Neville doesn't start out as scientist but becomes one over the course of the story. Circumstances force him to begin a process of learning and studying to see if a cure is possible and why certain elements of the vampire lore might be true. Matheson's idea may or may not be scientifically credible in the real world, but they work within the confines of the story and make the entire novella that much richer for it.
One of the good things about "I Am Legend" is that the vampires in it are scary monsters, something to be feared and protected against. But Matheson also shows not only the evolution of Neville, but the evolution of the vampires as well. Early on, the vampires try to tempt Neville with the women pulling up their dresses and Cortland telling him to surrender and leave his safehouse. But as the novel goes along, the vampires become less aggressive in their attack, setting up a devious trap that eventually leads to Neville's downfall. It's a fascinating arc to consider and one has to wonder what the vampire society being created might be like once the final page of the story is turned.
"I Am Legend" is a great portal to exploring the literary world of Mattheson. Most editions of "Legend" will include a few short stories to give you a bit more of a taste of how good Matheson can be. In many ways, he's one of the most prolific and influential writers that most people haven't heard of. Stephen King often cites him as one of his biggest influences and the more you read of both, the more you'll see the connection.
"I Am Legend" is a classic of multiple genres and worthy of a read or even a re-read. I've read it several times now and enjoyed it each time. If you've not read it, put it on the to be read list. If you have read it, maybe it's time to visit it again and sit back in wonder of how good Matheson can be.
And Hollywood--it's about damn time you got the movie version of this book right.
"It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine..."
That line from the old REM song pretty much sums up Nevil Shute's "On the Beach." The worl"It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine..."
That line from the old REM song pretty much sums up Nevil Shute's "On the Beach." The world has ended and everyone's pretty much OK with it.
Written in the late 50's and set in the near future of the early 60's, "On the Beach" finds World War III has come and gone. The final battle was set off by a misunderstanding with the bigger nuclear powers shooting first and asking questions later. The result is the northern hemisphere is gone, nuked to oblivion and the southern hemisphere is waiting for the radiation to slowly spread across the entire planet and kills the survivors.
It's these survivors that we meet in Australia. And they're all taking it pretty well. There's no chaos here. Everything is running fairly normally, except for the fact that we're all going to die in about six months. And not a pretty death, but a slow, painful one.
The big problem with this book is the quiet acceptance every character has of this. Yes, there are some characters deep in denial and some are planning for a world beyond six months from now, but never is there any sense of panic or desparation by anyone. The most panicked we get is they move up an auto race a few months becuase the time it's scheduled to take place will be after the radiation hits.
There are some moments of hope in the story that someone might be alive in the northern hemisphere or that the coming end might not come. But these are quickly dashed and then everyone accepts it with quiet resignation.
I'm sure when it was written, this book was strangely scary and virtually prophetic. But reading it now, it's a story that seems dated, with characters who fail to spark much interest for the reader. I haven't read a book since "Lucifer's Hammer" where I actively rooted for the apocolyptic event to happen already just to kill off some of the characters in the story and maybe get things moving. And that's the biggest flaw in "On the Beach"--nothing happens. We don't get to see the end of the world and nothing seems to make any impact on the characters. It's a hard book to read, not because of the subject matter but because virtually nothing happens and none of the characters are interesting enough to make the investment of time worth it in the end. ...more
“Planet of the Apes” is one of those books that’s hard to approach without bringing along the baggage of the original 60s film adaptation or the less-“Planet of the Apes” is one of those books that’s hard to approach without bringing along the baggage of the original 60s film adaptation or the less-than-successful remake a few years ago. The original film is such a part of our pop-culture concsiousness that it’s almost impossible to separate it from what we have here.
This is one of those books that is what it is–no more, no less.
I could spend several paragraphs detailing the differences between the movie and the book, but that would be kind of pointless and wouldn’t tell you much about the book as a whole. That said, Boulle’s original novel is a social satire, as advertises and it’s one of what I’d classify as a fairly light, “bubble-gum” sci-fi read. It has just enough in there to make you think while reading it, but it’s not going to stay with you long after you’ve finished the final pages.
The thing is that not a lot of the characters have much depth. They’re all in here to be part of the satire of modern life and humanity’s relationship with each other and animals. For a satire that wants to point out how drawing distinctions based on external apperances isn’t a great thing, you’d think it would have a bit more depth to the characters. Add to that that the central narrator has a tendency to become a bit pompous in his relation of events and you’ve got a story that works, quite frankly, better as a movie than it does as a novel. I’d even go so far as to say that without the series of movies, this is one novel that would have faded in memory long ago, remembered by some who read it for a few of the twists in the final pages but not much more.
It’s not to say I hated this novel. But it’s not to say I loved it or found it nearly as compelling as some of the mid-range works by Issac Asimov or Orson Scott Card. ...more
If your only exposure to Starship Troopers is the movie of the same name, you really owe it to yourself to pick up and read the original. While the moIf your only exposure to Starship Troopers is the movie of the same name, you really owe it to yourself to pick up and read the original. While the movie and book share some similarities, know that the script for the movie was written and then the rights to the book were optioned. Which means the producers took the familar name, some elements and added them to an existing script, all the while discarding much of what makes the novel so respected among sci-fi fans.
The cover advertises this one as a “controversial” classic, though having read it twice, I disagree with that. Heinlein give us his views on military service, child reearing and what it takes to win a war, but there’s not much in here that I found overly controversial—at least not in the same way as Stranger in a Strange Land or Friday. Instead, you get a few scenes of military combat woven between long lectures on Heinlein’s philosophy.
If anything, this is a melding of the two Heinlein writing styles—the philosophical debate tomes of his later years and his early young adult books. ...more
Takes a fairly forgettable and padded Pertwee six-parter and turns it into something special. Malcolm Hulke embellishes some things, fudges some contiTakes a fairly forgettable and padded Pertwee six-parter and turns it into something special. Malcolm Hulke embellishes some things, fudges some continuity and delivers a story that works better as a novelization than it does on-screen.