It took me a while to make up my mind on this bit of retro sci-fi pulp fiction trash. The Sea is Boiling Hot is a heavy-handed example of the ecologicIt took me a while to make up my mind on this bit of retro sci-fi pulp fiction trash. The Sea is Boiling Hot is a heavy-handed example of the ecological disaster porn genre, in which man's reckless resource waste has reduced us to a state in which only absurd Jetsons technology allows life on Earth to continue. Everything is awful, joy-inducing lobotomies are all the rage, and everyone seems to finally agree with me that coffee tastes like crap.
Butt all is not lost! Our protagonist, Heron Attee, has discovered IMBUSTION, a technique which converts pollution to oil, nuclear waste to nuclear fuel, and makes Sir Isaac Newton spin in his grave. However, Heron is sick of civilization, and feels it deserves to die out. And so begins our happy tale!
I picked up the book hoping for weird sci-fi absurdity, which the title and cover promised in spades, but sadly the book was pretty tame here. Sci-fi dystopia tropes run rampant, but never really go that extra mile to be hilarious. Instead, the author seems intent on destroying sex. Heron's journey is filled with people who just want to screw him at first sight, nearly non-stop. Sexy octogenarian at the cafe? Check. Creepy cyborg lady with an aquarium for a torso? Check. Band of fifth graders? Check. The whole world is in heat, except for sad ol' Heron. There is a strong theme of discomfort around physical intimacy running around here, harkening back to the Puritanucal 50's before Woodstock and The Monkees came and sexed up everyone's brains. And since the book lacks characters or concepts of interest, as well as jolly fun Flash Gordon insanity, you're left with a stern mother's disapproving glare as the novel's strongest element.
Two stars. One for being a book, and one for a satisfying ending. And maybe out of leniency since this is the author's only published work. Feel free not to add this one to your collections....more
I am 30 years old, and I have just finished reading It. Liked It too, maybe even loved it. This is my second attempt on the book. I first tried to reaI am 30 years old, and I have just finished reading It. Liked It too, maybe even loved it. This is my second attempt on the book. I first tried to read It years back; I'm not sure how long ago, but my brother was alive. He saw me struggling with It and suggested a few other King titles instead, The Talisman and Desperation. I honestly don't know how deep a King fan he was, but he enjoyed them, and I'm pretty certain he realized how deeply caught up in the Kingverse I'd wind up some day.
I am 30 years old, and King was 40 when he wrote It, a story about middle-aged sorts and the children they once were and the odd uncanny gap between them. It's fantastic work on his part, considered by many to be his masterpiece (though I feel The Stand certainly holds its own). Even so, I'm only giving It four stars. It contains some of his most fleshed-out, believable, relatable characters, and demonstrates his knack for binding the unspeakably wrong to the every day through one of his most popular villains of all time (no small thanks to Tim Curry), but oh god, how it drags. The story takes place across a chasm in time - you see the cast as children - you see them as adults - you learn about the forces that shaped them over the last 27 years - you reminisce, remember your own childhood, your own chasm, but you do so quietly, because dear god Mr. King you're taking your sweet ass time building up these characters, and you pray he doesn't hear your life story and spend 27 more years drawing it out of you. There are lulls in the action, deadzones in the pacing, is what I'm trying to tell you, but in the end you see how worthwhile the time was; you wind up with a cast of human beings you care for and root for, and you can look back over their odd phantom lives with pleasure and sadness, and you damn yourself with a smile on your face for forgetting all the friends of your youth and oh hey the book's back up to five stars - I wonder how that happened.
There's a definite generational gap here. Stephen's kids grow up in an era nearly 30 years before I was born, and was written by a man 30 years after his own youth, recalling childhood as best he can while writing a story at least heavily concerned with that dark space between now and then, You Today and You The Delightful Scamp of Yesteryear. It doesn't matter though; even with occasional bursts of King's trademark oddball dialogue, the attempt still succeeds spectacularly, and you get hit by all the waves of nostalgia and forgotten memories roughly 1100 pages can hold. At least when the dark and horrible things aren't creeping in, of course, but It wouldn't be a King book without the things that go bump in the night, which certainly can't quite technically be real but feel all too horribly familiar, or the things that absolutely are real but which you never chalk up as something that could happen to you.
I wouldn't suggest It as an introduction to King simply due to the sheer mass of the thing. As a child, It discouraged me pretty handily barely a hundred pages in. For anyone who's already in the know, however, (or who read one of his crap pieces and is convinced the guy's a cheap hack) It is one of the best reads the man has to offer.
...Just don't hold me responsible when you discover yourself stuck with a new mantra....more
I went into Gerald's Game against the advice of a decent number of friends, all of whom claimed that the book was simultaneously 1) needlessly gruesomI went into Gerald's Game against the advice of a decent number of friends, all of whom claimed that the book was simultaneously 1) needlessly gruesome and torturous, and 2) actually kind of dull. I suppose both claims have merit, but enjoyed the read all the same. Gerald's Game is the story of a woman's ordeal; after handcuffing her to a bed for a round of kinky sex, Jessie's husband dies of a heart attack, leaving her nearly immobile in a cabin, miles from civilization (but only a few mocking feet from the keys). Along with the rigors of thirst and the agony of a slow, gentle crucifixion, she also must endure all the horrors and phantasms of (view spoiler)[a long-buried childhood abuse she suffered at the hands of her father (hide spoiler)]. The content is graphic, even by King's standards, but it's all entirely down-to-earth; this is not one of his supernatural fright-fests. Instead, it's an earnest attempt at capturing the horrors of rape culture, from the little subconscious slights all the way down to the absolute worst offenses imaginable (which is impressive considering that it was written 23 years ago). It may not be a particularly fun read, but this is still a powerful side of King's talent I haven't seen elsewhere in his work....more
The exposition and dialogue may be a little clumsy and confusing at times, and the scientific MacGuffins occasionally left me wincing, but The DescentThe exposition and dialogue may be a little clumsy and confusing at times, and the scientific MacGuffins occasionally left me wincing, but The Descent still accomplishes what it set out to do admirably: that being to be the best darn anthropological horror novel about cannibalistic underground demonoids ever. It's fast and fun and predictable and cheesy; if you find yourself in need of a silly weekend body horror fix, you can't do much better....more
A short story with a name so bizarre I couldn't pass it up, Hellhounds of the Cosmos is a fun little unpolished mish-mash of Lovecraftian weirdness anA short story with a name so bizarre I couldn't pass it up, Hellhounds of the Cosmos is a fun little unpolished mish-mash of Lovecraftian weirdness and kaiju monster beat-'em-up. It's unlikely I'll remember it a year from now, but as something to fill a bored afternoon with, it did quite nicely....more
A really excellent first salvo from promising new author Zack Parsons, Liminal States starts off as the story of two warring men (Warren Groves, the mA really excellent first salvo from promising new author Zack Parsons, Liminal States starts off as the story of two warring men (Warren Groves, the morally-compromised-yet-iron-willed sherriff, and Gideon Long, conniving son of a dying industrial magnate) before evolving into something much, much larger. Easily one of the most satisfying horror novels I've read, Liminal States playfully refuses to stick to a single genre, swapping tones while simultaneously hitting the reader with scenes of brutality, classic horror, and modern-day anxieties.
The book honestly reminded me of Machine of Death, taking a clever but seemingly simple gimmick and running with it much farther and more effectively than I would've ever expected. If it weren't for an unfortunately weak second act, I'd give this five stars, but as it stands it is still an exceptionally good bit of uncomfortable literature....more
There are far too many volumes of this for me to want to rate and review and track all of it, so here's my review of GantZ as a whole. Expect a wholeThere are far too many volumes of this for me to want to rate and review and track all of it, so here's my review of GantZ as a whole. Expect a whole lot of unexplained sci-fi mystery, garnished with ultra-violence, casual rape, lazy nihilistic philosophy, and teenage superhero power fantasies. The story follows Kurono Kei, an unpopular, untalented schlub who gets run over by a subway train and suddenly finds himself enlisted into an unexplained monster-hunting game, along with a number of other briefly-deceased Tokyo inhabitants. He is given a suit that grants him phenomenal strength, and when placed in this life-or-death situation, his intense will to survive makes him an unparalleled champion compared to the others who, in spite of their gifts, are by and large quickly torn to shreds by the horrible monsters they are pitted against. Time passes, the action escalates, the mystery thickens, the female characters are abused nearly without exception, and the cast comes and goes and explodes in messy splatters every so often.
The comic's not without its charms. The scumbaggy realism of the dialogue and gallows humor help soften the comical seriousness of the story, and there are a decent number of silly, likable, or even relatable characters in the massive cast. The artwork is unusual, incorporating heavy use of CG to create a very detailed, realistic end product, in spite of the fact that most issues feature some form of ridiculous monstrosity. The pacing and writing, while very trashy, are light enough to keep momentum going strong; this is a manga you can easily plow through in a single long sitting. Unfortunately, the plot just gets too muddled and overloaded with twists not to judge, and although it builds up to a very strong second half, the final pay-off is about as disappointing a resolution as you could imagine. I can't say I didn't enjoy it, but it's got some serious weak points and it's not the sort of read I'm about to start pushing on my friends....more
It's not John Dies At The End. And that's a good thing, trust me. As good as that opening salvo was, we really didn't need the nefarious Mr. Wong goinIt's not John Dies At The End. And that's a good thing, trust me. As good as that opening salvo was, we really didn't need the nefarious Mr. Wong going that insane again. Instead you have This Book Is Full of Spiders (Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It), the logical progression to that first mish-mashed slag of Lovecraftian/Kevin Smith-style ultra goremedy, because somehow we managed to salvage some characters and setting and linear plot from that wonderful debacle.
This time around, Wong takes a swing at the currently-impossibly-popular Zombie Horror fad that has consumed the internet for the last half a decade or so, simultaneously lampooning it and nailing all the necessary uncomfortable spots. While significantly less authentically eerie than JDaTE (thank you Jim), it still has some masterful settings that turn the stomach and punch the brain. Overall though it's a more pure-hearted comedy than the first; in spite of a slightly weak opening, I found myself stopping every few minutes for an uncontrollable cackling fit the last 150 pages or so, and that deserves serious praise. Like any good book two of a trilogy, I both look forward to and dread book three for the closure it will bring. If you only read one book about the Satan spiders that live inside your face this year, make it this one.
This review was written primarily so I could use the phrase, "the nefarious Mr. Wong."...more
While the first two entries in the The Strain series weren't exactly good books, they were at least fun. Del Toro's got a knack for monster design, anWhile the first two entries in the The Strain series weren't exactly good books, they were at least fun. Del Toro's got a knack for monster design, and the series served as an excellent vehicle for that. In spite of the hokey dialogue and action-flick writing quality, my 10-year-old self loved the grotesque ugly bastards.
By The Night Eternal, del Toro's all out of horror ammo. The vampires never manage to do more than occasionally kill off bit characters, and the Master's more concerned with gloaming around his evil lair than doing anything actually impressive. On top of that, the world has essentially ended and it's made everyone so dreary and annoying. The most interesting character went and kamikazed at the end of book 2, and the remaining cast is just generally pretty flat and colorless. There are still some fun spots here and there, but overall I can't say this is worth the read....more
A pretty alright collection of four Stephen King short stories, focusing on downward spirals, vengeance, and a little bit of redemption at the end ifA pretty alright collection of four Stephen King short stories, focusing on downward spirals, vengeance, and a little bit of redemption at the end if you're lucky. Not quite horror stories or even creepy stories, the intended tone seems to be depressing, settling darkness (suitably enough given the title). Fantastic supernatural elements are kept to a minimum but show up from time to time, while the common-people characters are likable (if occasionally a bit threadbare from showing up in so many other Stephen King stories already). My only real gripe would be that his male characters seem nearly incapable of anything but despicable, self-serving sneakery, but oh well, them's the breaks. Average but serviceable, and better than not reading a book....more