You should know first that I am fan of Cinema Sins. Jeremy is half the writing team behind Cinema Sins and the narrator so when I saw on their YoutubeYou should know first that I am fan of Cinema Sins. Jeremy is half the writing team behind Cinema Sins and the narrator so when I saw on their Youtube channel that Jeremy had written a book I figured that I should check it out. It didn’t hurt that John Dies at the End author David Wong has a nice little quote up over on the book’s website. I jumped when I saw that Netgalley had it up. The Ables is about a secret society of superpowered peoples living around us. We don’t see them but they are there protecting us from both regular criminals and from super-powered individuals who do not have out best interests at heart. So when Phillip Sallinger learns that he has inherited superpowers he absolutely ecstatic; even if his telekinesis is difficult to use due to his blindness.
Phillip is placed in a special education class at his new superhero school along with other youths whose special abilities are impaired by physical or mental disabilities. Phillip is dead set on not letting his disability affect his ability to be a Custodian. Things really kick-off with the introduction of the SuperSim; an event where super-powered adults create a town wide Danger Room like situation where teams of super-powered kids can try their hand at super-heroics without the risk of the real-world. Overcoming some adversity Phillip and his other classmates take their first steps towards being superheroes only fail pretty spectacularly. However, it’s this failure that spurs them onward toward exploring their abilities in new and deeper ways in order to find a way to overcome their physical limitations.
The Ables would be an entertaining book if it was just watching these kids experiment with their abilities. Scott comes up with some creative and fun ways for these kids to use their abilities and it’s an absolutely joy to experience each little triumph along the way. However, there are darker doings going on in the background of The Ables’ world as full-fledged Custodians are disappearing and a mysterious figure keeps taunting Phillip and his friends. Scott doesn’t flinch from putting his hero through the wringer and he does an excellent job at describing the emotional aftermath of the handful of traumatic events Phillip faces throughout the novel.
While I found The Ables conclusion to be initially entertaining, Scott really stacks the odds against the heroes, some last minute twists and revelations felt a little too contrived for comfort. The novel’s final heroic reveal was telegraphed a bit too neatly for my tasted. Then again, Scott’s target audience is not a 33-year old somewhat jaded fan of genre fiction so the book’s final revelation might come as more of a surprise. The Ables is an entertaining and exciting read whose vibrant characters leap off the page. I definitely anyone looking for an excellent bit of middle-grade fiction give Jeremey Scott’s The Ables. For avid Cinema Sins fans I feel it worth also noting that Scott himself reads the audiobook version. Both the print and audiobook versions of The Ables are available now....more
I’m not one to typically read short story collections or anthologies but the theme behind the latest John Joseph Adams’ edited Operation Arcana was suI’m not one to typically read short story collections or anthologies but the theme behind the latest John Joseph Adams’ edited Operation Arcana was sufficiently intriguing to pique my interest. The focus of Operation Arcana is on military fantasy and includes a wonderful list of contributors. The stories in Operation Arcana run the gamut from high action, to more subtle medications of war and combat. By and large Operation Arcana is full of tight, entertaining fiction. I’m not going to go through every story in the anthology but there were really a handful of stories that absolutely blew me away.
Ari Marmell’s Heavy Sulfur offers an interesting take on the First World War; an area not often covered in fantasy fiction. Marmell grounds the story in reality; injecting it with subtle magic; it’s a unique backdrop and one I’d be interested in seeing employed more often. I skipped over Weston Ochese’s goofy-titled Seal Team 666 but his story here, American Golem, has me seriously reconsidering that decision. Featuring some serious action and a quiet mediation on the horror of war and the nature of existence make for a well-rounded and entrancing story. Myke Cole’s Weapons of the Earth, deals goblins and takes place in the magical Source seen in his Shadow Ops novels. While the Shadow Ops series has offered glimpses into the lives and culture of the goblins, Weapons of the Earth really delves into things as it focuses on a tribe of nomadic goblins who are being held as POWs by a less benevolent set of goblins. Weapons of the Earth is a real eye opener and I sincerely hope that Cole follows up with more short fictions set in the world of Shadow Ops; it’d be neat to get something from the Naga! I was extremely impressed with Seanan McGuire’s In Skeleton Leaves. In this story she reworks the story of Peter Pan in a very dark way; it is an interesting look at being forced to grow up in a land where that is supposed to be impossible.
Oddly the story I was most excited about, a Black Company story by Glen Cook called Bone Eaters, I found extraordinarily difficult to get into. Maybe it’s been too long since I’ve finished the Black Company series combine with the fact that Bone Eaters takes place right around the events of The White Rose. It wasn’t bad in anyway but it was difficult going back to cast of character who, to me at least, have been mostly dead for a number of years. Perhaps it’s about time I went back and re-read The Black Company novels. While I’ve only discussed a hanful of stories that I thought were the best in the anthology there were no real disappointments (outside the above). Each and every story in Operation Arcana is a fine read with many offering a unique take on the anthology’s premise. Operation Arcana is an anthology that I whole-heartedly recommend to anyone and everyone who enjoy exciting military themed fantasy fiction....more
The Guard by Peter Terrin is translated from the dutch by David Colmer centerting on two security guards, Harry and Michel, who are stationed in a higThe Guard by Peter Terrin is translated from the dutch by David Colmer centerting on two security guards, Harry and Michel, who are stationed in a high security apartment building offering hotel-like services to the wealth and the elite. One day the residents, seemingly all but one, leave almost en masse leaving Harry and Michel to their lonely posts. I knew nothing about this novel going in but its jacket flap hinted at something a bit post-apocalyptic so I decided to give it a shot. The story unfolds across numerous short chapters, sometimes less than a couple of a paragraphs, as both Harry and Michel ruminate on their position, on the possibility of promotion, and very rarely on the residents of their strange charge.
The Guard is a novel where not a lot happens. It is the kind of novel that when I was I done I wasn’t quite sure what it was exactly that I had read. Its short chapters and meandering borderline non-existent plot left me wondering if something isn’t lost in translation. I keep wondering if there isn’t some sort of overarching message to the novel that I can’t quite pin my finger on. With the majority of the novel having taken place within the confines of Harry and Michel’s guard post in a concrete parking basement it feels strange to say that when things move away from that setting the novel loses a little steam. Part of the reason behind that is that my own frustration with the novel’s meandering and lack of answers arrived just around the same time as the characters’ own frustration with being stuck in that garage. Unfortunately, Harry and Michel’s escape didn’t really seem to solve the problem for me and the confusing journey up the tower left me feeling more confused than ever.
Terrin’s writing and Colmer’s translation is engaging even during its most mundane moments. In fact the rote nature of Harry and Michel’s day-to-day lives enhances the novels surreal quality particularly when things start to go a little haywire. Truth of the matter is by the time the novel was over I wasn’t entirely sure that Harry existed. I can’t say with any certainty that I’m write but the completely contrary nature of Harry’s and Michel’s personalities reminded me a bit of the dual nature of Tyler Durden/Jack. I’m most certainly wrong in this instance but there is such a dream-like quality towards the latter half of the novel that I can’t be one hundred percent certain. The novel’s conclusion as ultimately unsatisfying though not outright infuriating. The Guard is likely to be a divisive novel for many but one that might be worth look at for readers looking for something a bit off the beaten path....more