I am a SUCKER for alternate history stories. Dale Cozort has filled this genre need for me twice now, though it is not technically alt history. Both CI am a SUCKER for alternate history stories. Dale Cozort has filled this genre need for me twice now, though it is not technically alt history. Both Cozort novels I have read deal solidly with people in our world stepping into a side dimension where tandem time is running like a river, but diverted by a single, but critical change in the historical record.
In "All Timelines lead to Rome", the empire never left the European continent. Expansionism was stopped dead in its tracks. The Americas were never 'discovered', plague never overtook the Western Hemisphere. It was a mass cascade effect of changes, pretty much removing all semblance of a world we would recognize.
In our world, we have found that the membrane between our timelines is malleable, with the right science, weaker spots can be temporarily opened allowing access to Timeline X. The difficulty here is that any involvement with timeline x could devastate it. An organization has been built to keep the purity of the timeline. Said org has found evidence of a huuuge breach in protocol, putting the entire timeline at risk.
Did I enjoy this book? Hell yeah I did. Would I read it twice? Unlikely. The reread value of this was low. The possibility of a sequel is also low, it was written in a way that I am unsure how it could expand. Too many loose ends conveniently tied up. I dunno.
There were a couple character elements that had me rolling my eyes, but over all they didn't diminish the novel, they simply didn't add to it.
Overall, a favorable and enjoyed read. Everything else is just me being nitpicky.
---------- Much as with the book itself, about three quarters of the publisher description is hand fed to you with answers contained within the first quarter of the book. It introduces one character, then references a second by name with no explanation.. It is overly fluffy and confusing by proxy. I think they dropped the ball on this and made the book less accessible, by being harder to get off the shelf. The cover is interesting and a good choice.
Here is my take- ReBlurb--
"In an alternate earth timeline, Rome never spread it's wings. The Romans never great their empire outside of Europe, they just lollygag around home and portions of Europe. Horrific Euro plagues never spread.
Native North Americans are never impacted by the bevy of terrible problems that expansionism brought our world.and thrive with the paradigm provided. A single human cold from our world will destroy theirs.
So what could justify a corporation's decision to bypass timeline quarantines and blatantly pollute the time streams? What could be worth the potential of becoming the shepherd of xenocide in someone else's history?
Government experts Darla and Scott are going to find out, and it all starts with a dead woman's cellphone."
Publisher's description: "A dead woman's cell phone chip leads to a mystery spanning the U.S. rustbelt, a surviving Roman empire and a North America without Europeans.
A unique alternate history: Newly created portals lead to an alternate reality where prehumans survived on a Mediterranean island, enslaved by local farmers. Alternate history Rome rebuilt their culture around the slaves, preserving the empire but causing it to stagnate. As a result Europeans never discovered America and American Indians still control the alternate New World.
Intertwined mysteries: When Detective Darla Smith investigates a picture of an alternate reality Roman scroll concealed on a murder victim, she is dogged by her past and other mysteries. Why did alternate timeline Rome stop changing? How did Roman slave-raiders get to alternate reality North America? What does software giant Burgen Industries want in the alternate reality?
Powerful forces headed for a violent collision: A wealthy, idealistic business woman and her menacing security chief try to sidetrack the approaching investigation. An Indian town is attacked by raiders with modern guns. The trail leads Darla and Scott through cyberspace, decaying rustbelt towns and an Indian-controlled alternate North America toward a final confrontation."
Would you risk your entire career for the chance to save a city? If the only proof you have that your efforts will have impact is the rantings of an oWould you risk your entire career for the chance to save a city? If the only proof you have that your efforts will have impact is the rantings of an old man, seemingly coherent, and 35 years out of work?
In ‘Strange Attractors’, this is the situation faced by undergraduate Heller Wilson when he bases his thesis on 35 year old theories by Dr Spencer Brown. Reclusive Brown is a self proclaimed custodian of New York City, making minor and major adjustments to keep the big apple from decaying and imploding. Brown tutors and molds Wilson in his forte “Complexity Math” and it’s use in mapping the health of the city as it teeters on the edge of destruction.
Clocking in at 144 pages, the plot was enjoyable and adequate. Though it felt a little rushed at points, the graphic novel was ultimately satisfying. Taking math from Pi, juvenile pranks from Fight Club, and the obvious Butterfly Effect references, Strange Attractors kept me motivated to finish reading, though it took a few pages to initially grab me. The authors could have opted to leave the bow off the wrapped up package plot, it may have helped add weight by allowing this to hint at a continued story line, instead, tied with a nice bow.
Artwork was not a problem here, with vivid colors reserved for certain scenes and muted tones prevailing. Hard crisp lines appearing throughout many pages were stunning, and those that were not were industry par with solid details and clean presentation to compensate.
The self publishing industry is a whole lot like Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or any other second hand thrift depot. You dig through the refuse lookiThe self publishing industry is a whole lot like Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or any other second hand thrift depot. You dig through the refuse looking for gold, sometimes running into a half eaten sandwich in the process, or cutting yourself on a chipped teacup. There are times when the digging really pays off. You locate the missing piece of a rare set you collect, or something so bizarre that you fail to have the words to accurately describe your findings.
The Peeling Trilogy caught my attention amid the detritus of self published muck. Being a trilogy of short novella about the end of the world, it took an approach that was unusual. As with King and McCammon, a global erasure of human life is in process. Fingers are being pointed, countries are being blamed. The opening was well built, showing the onset and progress of a disease as it melts away the flesh of a man, bubbling and stripping it away until bone glistens under loose gore. The mind though, beneath the pain of the flesh the mind is still active.
The Peeling is a fresh take on global pandemics. Like a reverse zombie novel, humans are eaten away until they are begging for release. They are aware till the end, slowly spinning into an insanity as their bodies fail.
Not council the intro, this trilogy follows three separate plot lines housed in the UK. Set in varying degrees of the disease cycle, the first shows the initial days, when people still have hope of redemption and a cure. Parts two and three follow after the fall of society, with a band of refugees intent on survival and a roving military squad working to maintain the peace even after the upper brass become unresponsive.
The trilogy was highly enjoyable from my perspective but was left on a blue note when the final few pages laid out an extra-worldly spin on the science behind the plague. If Ian Rob Wright plans to extend the series to expand on the plague source it could be solid. As it is, it takes away from the story by adding an unneeded layer to the story.
Dear Andersen Prunty, recently you and I began to officially court each other. I cannot say that all of our dates have been positive, but they have alDear Andersen Prunty, recently you and I began to officially court each other. I cannot say that all of our dates have been positive, but they have all been memorable. At first I was hesitant. I mix well with the strange, but your genre, Bizarro Fiction, is still fairly new to the recognized literature scene as anything more than inappropriate.
At first, I didn't want to fully embrace you, but was bothered by the possibility of you passing me by.. Many times I have picked up The Beard and considered perusing it... Some how, you talked me into lowering my guard. Before I knew it you were poking me in my head orifices with your dirty body parts. I was disturbed. Then I was into it. then I was disturbed again.
More specifically: Billed as a collection of Horror stories, your work [Bury the children in the yard] was not appropriately labeled. Horror it was not, colorful and frequently brilliant, and disturbingly "spermy" at some points? All of the above are true of it.
You presented this to me semi-nude, dripping of milk, with one foot firmly planted in the a motherhood disturbing erotic sensationalism camp. The other foot was precariously lodged in the realm of speculative fiction. Six short stories and one novella.. Each story incrementally better and different, and the novella making me cringe. Your portions gave me mixed reactions.
- You held my hand during "Library of Trespass". It was good, but seemed out of place. It felt as if it should have been one of many interconnected stories in a single volume, not a standalone. - You fed me sweets and said nice things to me. "Music from the Slaughterhouse" made me a mouth breather, eyes moving from page to page. I hate you for not having more here. I felt it was excellent, and for that I hate you, but I appreciate you as only a conundrum can be appreciated. - You let me smell a steak at dinner, before replacing it with a green salad. You clearly knew I was a meatatarian and knew that you were doing me wrong.. "Butterfly in Ice" and "The Spot" were conceptually good, but I found their endings abrupt or incomplete. I was not particularly a fan of these as the abruptness took away from other wise enjoyed items.. - You caressed my knee as we drove to your home for a nightcap and some cuddling. "Laundrymen" and "Warm House" were both very enjoyable for opposing reasons. No other commentary available. - You stuck it in me by surprise, lube free, and smacked me on the back of the head with a roll of twenty dollar bills while calling me a clown-whore. The final story, a novella called "Bury the children in the yard"... I had no idea this was coming. I have no idea what spawned this thought process, drove you to write it, or approved it for print. This was disturbing, disgusting, hilarious, well written, and rough as fuck.
All in all, some spit shine could have made this more pleasing to the individual reader as it was unpolished in many areas. You could have also warned me you were going to be so rough, the title story was drastically different in topic, presentation, and length.. You were kind not to stick me with the dinner bill.
Our courting is complete and I am now your semi-willing clown-whore booty call. stop by as you please, leave some cash on the table with my dignity.
Others who are going to read this should be aware that the novella is "the Anti-50-shades".. this is not for all housewives and teenagers sneaking a peak at books Oprah has approved of.
This is something you would find on a coffee table in Blue Velvet, next to an ear, in a world where Oprah doesn't exist. Weak of stomach and easily vomitous folks should refrain from reading. The short stories however are accessible to a far greater number of readers.
Thor, made fallible by the power of science, works a diminutive job as a bellhop. The world has ended, between fifteen and thirty times (I lost countThor, made fallible by the power of science, works a diminutive job as a bellhop. The world has ended, between fifteen and thirty times (I lost count and do not trust the 22 listed in the book description on amazon). But neither the zombie apocalypse, the apocalypse that allowed ghosts to rule the internet, nor the one that made clones of great world leaders of history battle to the death on pay-per-view can get Thor down. Hold on, that isn’t right.. All of those things get him down. He went from God status to supplying extra pillows to asshats in one if the few buildings in town not on fire or being collapsed by molemen from the center of the earth. That would get just about anyone down.
Quetzalcoatl on the other hand, is drunk. After going on a modern day rampage across Central America and the southern US, he is tired. His mind is smashed, he is smashed, and the realities of the philosophers guild growing sizable in the hobo nation… are smashed. When he regains some stability, perhaps he will remember why he hates the hobos so much and why their deaths please him…
Queue a battle royale to stop one final apocalypse, the one we can’t rebuild from.
This was a damned laugh. It was like Roseanne had unprotected sex with Douglas Adams which culminated in the birth of a child, who was hanging out with Neil Gaiman smoking some pot at a circus before slipping roofies to a recently resurrected Bill Hicks and shagging his brains out.. Which culminated in the birth of a child named Snake Pliskin who will travel to the past to kill Roseanne.
Like that, with gods, werewolves, scientists with hot bods and paperbag heads, sentient squirrels, chainsaws, cowboys & indians. Oh, and Robots. lost of robots.. an Undead Bovine.. Clowns.. … It was excellent, It was nonsensical, it was in some cases brilliant prose and in others painfully painful. You should read it.
I repeat, excellent, read it. I repeat, excellent, read it.
I should point out there is a sequel. “Exponential Apocalypse: Dead Presidents”.. Haven’t read it, but I will :)
I want to say I was “disappointed” but I wasn’t really, I do not know that I had any real reaction to this. The thing is that there was nothing here tI want to say I was “disappointed” but I wasn’t really, I do not know that I had any real reaction to this. The thing is that there was nothing here that really stood out as either above par or under par, it just existed.
With an international bestseller, the posthumous glory of the author has to top out someplace. This graphic novel was not that pinnacle, in fact, it might be a sign of the end. After world wide book translation, successful foreign films, unneeded US films, a lackluster graphic novel seems like the next step before lunchboxes and old-navy baby t-shirts.
It isn’t that the story became bad when this was created, it is just that there was nothing new. It doesn’t translate well to the format. The original plot-line of the novel is DRY DRY DRY. the only thing that drives the plot is Lisbeth’s tale. to be honest, most people could give a rats ass about the Millennium story-line in the beginning.
The actual written conversion to Graphic Novel was well done, but bland. This is not the fault of the adapter, it is a bland story until you reach a certain point. Volume 1 effectively details the first half of the original plot… which mainly sucked. This graphic novel starts to get interesting about three quarters in, which is to be expected based on said original novel plot. Unfortunately, I am not sure how this will help keep readers engaged. Many people gave up on the book before getting deeply into it.
Graphic novels are known for sometimes carrying slow plot-lines, it can be effective for bolstering tough stories by pairing them with stunning artwork to help ensure interactive readership. This failed in that regard. The beautiful cover work created by Lee Bermejo is not indicative of the artwork inside by Manco and Mutti. It is not that the art is bad, it just is not awesome. All pages not focused on Lisbeth were meh at best, or lacking pop and density at worst. The pages looked historic and dated. there was a real missed opportunity here to stand out.
Parents should keep in mind that this is NOT a children’s story.. The pages dealing with rape and mutilation should be enough to snatch this from your kids grasp should you see them reading it. If that is not enough for you, the undercurrent themes of parricide might do it.
I have a thing for Todd Grimson, his novels are sharp, clean, and tracking the pulse of cool before the cool folks know what they are looking for. HisI have a thing for Todd Grimson, his novels are sharp, clean, and tracking the pulse of cool before the cool folks know what they are looking for. His groundbreaking vampire novel ‘Stainless’, and the stylish Voodoo-chic of ‘Brand New Cherry Flavor’ are solid works deserving the attention of horror and speculative fiction fans.
Grimson is not to be pigeon holed as just a novelist. Over the years, his Short Stories have been published in various magazines and compendiums. ‘Stabs at Happiness’ is a new collection of shorts is comprised of previously published work, both under his own name and varied pseudonyms.
There are thirteen stories in the collection. As with all Short stories, readers will find that certain shorts resonate more with them than others. I found myself commonly wishing that there were more to the stories, that they were a single chapter of a book I could pull from a shelf and consume liberally. This does not read as "incomplete" only that i wanted more. and am greedy. Others were not much more than a lengthy character sketch, which many people I know would love. As such approach this collection with gleeful skepticism, you may not be dragged into every tale, but those which grab you won’t let you go.
Stand outs from my reading:
- “Brighter and Brighter”, a none too lengthy ride with a man and a child in an old Plymouth. Blood recently spilt and a code of ethics in the way of an easy escape, their conversation raises mixed feelings of honor vs post crime cleanup. I cant tell if I like the driver, or if I want some one to cap him.
- In “P not Q”, a man leaves a bunker in the heat of the desert, freshly showered and dedicated to the underground project he is part of. Picking a man up at the airport, turns out to be more confusing than the underground org is expecting. I was as confused as the characters on this, bur it was enjoyable.
- “Lamentations of Babylon”, Kimberly and Jean-Luc, in a stormy paranoia, traverse a world of beat poetry and film snobbery. It is a mess of human douche baggery, combined with the fall of Assyria. An excellent read, but might require an open wikipedia search for folks unfamiliar with the above key points…
- The title work “Stabs at Happiness” is a total ClusterF*ck of awesome. It is not for everyone.. Read on.. It is angsty, erotic, a fair amount of disturbing. The main character Nikki is a little bit Lisbeth, a little bit Wednesday, and a lotta bit Trinity sans matrix. If you do not care to read about strap-ons and a sad sad boy, you may skip it.. But it is very good.
- The true shining gem in this collection deserves to be stripped out and novelized. “Batista’s Lieutenant” is a Cubano tale that spans multiple years/decades. The characters are vibrant, the story engaging. The trouble is the short story format. This deserves a re-treatment as a full novel, or even a novella. I hope the author gets some additional feedback and gives this story the respectful treatment it commands.
Feng Shui Assassin is tailor made to be converted to a cult movie; This book demands a sequel that will probably never come, which iHo-ly e-book gold.
Feng Shui Assassin is tailor made to be converted to a cult movie; This book demands a sequel that will probably never come, which is a damn shame. It was written (per the author) after some long pub discussions, which means auto-win right?
Harvey Barker is in London, hunting the board members of the Valentine Trust. Blamed for the death of his environmental activist sister, his goal is to destroy them one by one. As with any murder plot, the question of how to do it without getting caught is paramount to success rate. Harvey had this nailed down.
Harvey is a Feng Shui Assassin. Chi that flows easily and unfettered brings luck and grace to a persons life. Chi that becomes stagnant can bring misfortune and unhappiness. Adjusting objects in space to create pools and eddys of negative chi, Harvey’s specialty is helping nasty things happen to people by muddying their flows. His work leaves no tangible mark tying him to a crime.
Harvey opens the book by turning a high power broker against himself, altering the flow of his office to make a dead pool.
Detective Amanda Morgan is investigating the suicidal jump of a high power broker. His plummet from office to pavement makes no sense. She cant put her finger on the root of it, but knows something is off. She is determined to break this case, proving murder rather than suicide.
I know, i know.. Feng shui as a murder tool? It is a campy thought and it really works well. The author has created a fairly vivid world. Amanda has some killer scenes that would rival her against any blockbuster action heroine. The assassin himself is particularly cool. The evil henchmen are evil badasses (origami weapons master, yoga/chakra ass kicker)
Perceived issues: There were some editing problems in this book. There is a major antagonist character who was painfully annoying in a couple chapters right in the middle of the novel (he really could have done without his monologue). It ended rather than had promise of a continuation that would be well deserved.
Available on amazon for 99cents, you cant go wrong. It you wanna save a buck, grab it for free off smashwords
Found at Goodwill for a whopping $1.99, I bought this novel with no thought that it would be capable of sp‘Die, Famous!’ surprised the hell out of me.
Found at Goodwill for a whopping $1.99, I bought this novel with no thought that it would be capable of spanning generations as a classic, only that it would be “crappy-goodness”. The cover caught my attention, the synopsis baked the overall premise into my brain. Cha-ching, 2 bucks spent. I figured it cant be worse than actual reality tv, which has a strange magnetism that both sucks me in and nauseates me. .
I was wrong on a number of levels. ‘Die, Famous!’ is witty, well written, epitomizes the reality culture and mind set. I couldn’t stop reading it. It was well approached, giving a perspective to all characters via reality tv confession booths, but the core story follows a single man. He has been given four hours to tell the tale from start to finish, confessing all details. Instead of chapters, you are given a countdown of this four hour period.
The plot centers around thirty-two reality tv all-stars being dropped into a new game with no explanations regarding the end goal. None of them know where they are located. only that they are in a city in a desert. the city is an amalgam of various cities in the world- Paris, New York, San Francisco- with tourist stops miniaturized and typically made of trash and recycled materials. Holed up on the main floors of a building, the players find that non-player areas are filled with old paper and electronics, refrigerators and fridges, rotting food and spilled chemicals. Knocking holes in walls often provides secret caches of viable food or materials, hidden in the trash. Then they start finding weapons along with the food.
This novel is part ‘Battle Royale’, ‘Lord of the Flies’, ‘House of Stairs’ , ‘Jersey Shore’, and MTVs Liquid Television. It kept me entranced, wondering how f*cked things could get, and concerned as I grew to like a number of the characters. There was the right amount of commentary, action, gratuity, and in the end I had not figured out whodunit. It is nice to have something that is just edgy enough that it is uncomfortable, but just familiar enough that one can become fully engrossed and engaged.
It doesn’t hurt the book that it is filled with clever text and descriptions that made me stop and wonder if this novel is being overlooked only because it is independently published and has such a high price tag (a freakish $19.95 for a trade paperback, free shipping only in Canada). See the below excerpt.
Background – Destiny and Sanity are both players in the game, inserted into the world after the other players have been in play for a week or greater. Sanity is a confusing love interest, which spawns the following:
Destiny was a tough nut to crack. And Sanity, she was elusive. Because if she wasn’t pulling me close or pushing me away, then I had a moment to think rationally about it, and at those rare moments I felt bad for the way in which humanity callously toyed with the emotions of the yo-yo, a simple creature of wood and string that maybe only wanted to be left alone.
This novel is set in ‘current’ day San Francisco. A small group of friends skip school to play a live action multi-player geocache game. While out wanThis novel is set in ‘current’ day San Francisco. A small group of friends skip school to play a live action multi-player geocache game. While out wandering the city, a loud concussive blast rumbles the area. A series of explosions have taken out the Bay Bridge and all four friends find themselves mindlessly following the herd of fearful humans to perceived safe areas.
Trouble doesn’t end with the explosion, there is always one total dick hole in any large crowd. While white eyed fear ruled the mob, one of the four gets stabbed and nearly trampled. They escape from the crowd and begin desperately trying to wave down medical assistance. Covered in blood and nowhere near where they should have been at that time of the day, it is little wonder they are detained by a passing Homeland Security team.
What follows is a scarily realistic view of what any world government could do when given enough unchecked power. Tortured, interrogated, with their families left wondering if they are dead, these fictional teens are illegally held by a paranoid and Terrorist primed government agency. There are no lawyers, no phone calls, and no public recognition that they even exist. On release from ‘Guantanamo by the Bay’ they are prohibited from discussion of their experiences, discussion would ultimately risk re-disappearance.
Little Brother, a YA novel by Cory Doctorow, is a piece of work. This novel is devoted to the perspective of M1k3y and his underground fight to keep simple freedoms like ‘communication’ alive. At some points the story gets a little heavy handed, but this is to be expected. A novel about liberties being removed is almost certainly going to take liberties to adequately describe the world in play.
Doctorow attempts to ensure all readers will be equally treated, but there are times where being a geek will have definite interpretive advantages. Non Linux-savvy readers should be prepared for what at times may feel like OS religious drivel. A complete technical novice may have trouble with some of the concepts discussed (RFID hacking, firewalls, decentralized communication hubs, gait-identification).
Regardless of age anyone interested in grass roots and do-it-yourself methods to bypassing security measures will enjoy this. It is full of general ways to just completely fuck up a world that is heavily dependent on and regulated by computers. Even in the absolutely painful sections where individual liberties are stripped and stomped on, this book was still very funny, highly educational, and served the purpose it was intended to… Education and Entertainment.
Having read the hard cover version of this novel, I was treated to an afterword written by Bruce Schneier (subscribe to CRYPTO-GRAM, Bruce will ruin your faith in technological safety and you will thank him for it). Bruce put the final nail in the coffin, detailing out very common misconceptions in the daily safety of our modern technological world.
Read this.! - You can buy it in hardcover or paperback via pretty much any retailer. - If you have an e-reader, the Doctorow provides access to it for free on his own site.. if you pay $9.99 for a kindle or B&N version, well.. you are just dense..: free legal ebook - craphound.com/littlebrother/download/ Schneier's CryptoGram - schneier.com/crypto-gram.html