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
Coming in at a hefty 1,141 pages, The Stand is widely considered one of Stephen King's best works, and for good reason. With all that space to work wiComing in at a hefty 1,141 pages, The Stand is widely considered one of Stephen King's best works, and for good reason. With all that space to work with, King puts together and fleshes out an excellent cast (definitely not a guarantee in his work) and runs them through his authentically horrific post-apocalyptic vision with time to spare for insightful dissection of the modern man and the technological house of cards we've built around ourselves. More than that though, it's reassuringly hopeful, and even though my credentials as a Christian are more than a little expired, it's one of the most moving defenses of God in an age of science and death I've yet read. This is coming right after my experience with Desperation, another King and an absolutely disappointing instance of Christian Horror. But regardless of the Jesus stuff, it's a fantastic book, even if I can see why the editors felt the need to trim a good 40% for its first publishing. An excellent novel to sit down with for the long haul, and a massively revealing piece in the puzzle that is King's endlessly multifaceted book-universe....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
This one took much, much longer to read than I expected it to. An ambitious, unfortunate sci-fi novel, City of Golden Shadow was written in the late 1This one took much, much longer to read than I expected it to. An ambitious, unfortunate sci-fi novel, City of Golden Shadow was written in the late 1990's by a man who'd just discovered MMORPGs and decided to predict a grim dystopian future where the entire internet was essentially a virtual reality equivalent to Ultima Online. It's a neat concept, but it has that way-off-the-mark tragedy you normally only find in sci-fi written back half a century or more. That alone wouldn't be a major detraction, but coupling it with the vaguely awful writing just does not paint the author in a very flattering light. There's too much drab dialogue, too much monologuing, and too many hokey, one-dimensional characters that lack any kind of intriguing edge. It's not a bad world, mind you; the multicultural approach to casting was a good idea (if crappily executed), and as a Dwarf Fortress enthusiast I can't say the concept wasn't interesting, but the book could stand to lose a good 60% of its page count. Top it all off with the fact that this trilogy-launcher spends an unforgivable amount of time building up to something interesting before hitting you with a whammy of a cliffhanger and you have a book best left unstarted. I'm curious about what comes next, but not enough to start book 2 in this lifetime....more
The protagonists are perfect and faultless. The bad guys are cruel and stupid. The science is hilariously debunked. That being said, The Moon is a HarThe protagonists are perfect and faultless. The bad guys are cruel and stupid. The science is hilariously debunked. That being said, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress still manages to be a sharp, fast-paced read, chock full of amusing pidgin dialogue and set in a surprisingly exotic world of politics and bureaucracy-bashing. Set in the subterranean warrens of the fertile moon, a mongrel nation of abandoned lunar convicts and their omnipotent accidental AI plot to cast off the shackles of a cruel planet that bleeds them dry in the name of profit. Noble savages rise and libertarian / anarchist philosophy flies wild. It is not a book to be taken especially seriously, but it's a fun heap nonetheless, and can be read for free here:
"it starts off with a monster eating a baby! it is OFFENSIVE TO CULTURAL NORMS! it has men wearing makeup and shooting each other with fireballs! and"it starts off with a monster eating a baby! it is OFFENSIVE TO CULTURAL NORMS! it has men wearing makeup and shooting each other with fireballs! and EVERYTHING IS A PENIS!"
-My facetious description of this book to a friend, which, upon consideration, really covers everything just right
(For the records, I really enjoy the book, even if the social commentary is way too heavy handed and the characters are paper-thin and the romantic intrigue is cardboard.)...more