Aylett at his most unhinged. Usually peppers his books with scifi, fantasy, or noir elements and lots of satire so you pretend you understand what is...moreAylett at his most unhinged. Usually peppers his books with scifi, fantasy, or noir elements and lots of satire so you pretend you understand what is happening. Here it’s a bubbling stew of mind mutilating anti-rational psychedelic rant after psychedelic rant. Probably better in small does, so keep by your bedside if you want this creepy babbling echoing in your head while you attempt to get some peace. Iain Sinclair’s blurb (a writer, fans of Aylett should search out and vice versa) is right on. “Prodigiously paranoid routines delivered with a toxic fizz. A catalogue of synapse-scorching similes any bankrupt Martian poet would kill for. Watch them scatter like buckshot through the works of all self-respecting thieves and plagiarists” (less)
Whittemore in 5 interconnected novels, three of which I have read (only Sinai tapestry reads poorly as a stand alone) presents his gonzo secret histor...moreWhittemore in 5 interconnected novels, three of which I have read (only Sinai tapestry reads poorly as a stand alone) presents his gonzo secret history of the 20th century. These books combine magic realism, war stories, gothic horror, tall tales, romantic adventure, allegory, and spy thriller (Whittermore can be placed on that short list of authors who was also a spy or intelligence agent hanging out with Graham Greene, James Tiptree jr./Alice Sheldon, Cordwainer Smith, and Christopher Marlow). The tone ranges from whimsical and funny to unsettling and depressing, in fact he resembles Heironymous Bosch in print when describing historical atrocities like the massacre at Smyrna or the Rape of Nanking. A bizarre cast of over the top and eccentric characters including gunrunners, gangsters, drug addicts, serial killers, revolutionaries, and lunatics move through magical and historical events in locations ranging from the far east, middle east, America, British Islands, and Europe. Fans of the romantic, doomed adventures of Alvaro Mutis, the depressed thrillers of Greene, the gothic story-weaving of Angela Carter or Dineson, and the erudite wit of Borges will find much to love here.(less)
A collection of pulp tales that are amusing, campy , and of course lots of fun(but for those who don’t love pulp and Moorcock neophytes may want to st...moreA collection of pulp tales that are amusing, campy , and of course lots of fun(but for those who don’t love pulp and Moorcock neophytes may want to steer clear.) Taking elements and characters from his Bastable political steampunk adventures, Elric’s decadent sword and sorcery adventures, and the metaphysical weirdness of the Von Bek stories and then filtering through his love for Sexton Blake(and especially his adversary Monsier Zenith the Albino), Moorcock manages to write works that are parodies, alternative history, metafiction, and great adventures and mysteries. I have heard accusations of a lack of political subtlety, but when is pulp subtle? “The Mystery of the Texas Twister” casting of Bush and his cronies as pulp villains is decidedly not a stretch, and its also great pulp romp with steampunk gadgetry(which to extant all these stories feature) in an intriguing alternative United States. For fans of Moorcock and of course pulp fiction.
Comparable to genre weirdos like Howard Waldrop and Michael Swanwick or more mainstream talents like Robert Coover and T.C. Boyle, also the tone and d...moreComparable to genre weirdos like Howard Waldrop and Michael Swanwick or more mainstream talents like Robert Coover and T.C. Boyle, also the tone and details in these stories reminds me of the films of the Coen brothers (and in just world Tim Burton would make a great film of “Grand Guignol”), this first collection of stories by Duncan have an encyclopedic grasp of pop culture, antic comic sense, palpable sense of melancholy, and subtle touches of horror, fantasy, and sci-fi. These dwell in the world of tall tales, urban legends, folklore, secret and alternative history, and gothic tales(especially the southern variant). A Robert Johnson figure on the outskirts of hell, silent film actress on the Titanic, an eternal guild of executioners, a the corpse of pope being put on trial, unsettling parable of media manipulation(“Fenneman’s Mouth”), the madness and alternative lives of General Patton, and other erudite, whacky and ghoulish fun. A very fun and worthwhile read. Also, not included in this collection but free online are the “Pottawatomie Giant” and “The Chief Designer”( a great secret history of the Soviet space program). (less)
Calder’s Dead trilogy is a Frankenstein monster made up of masturbatory fantasies about anime, serious fevered study of De Sade and Bataille, love of...moreCalder’s Dead trilogy is a Frankenstein monster made up of masturbatory fantasies about anime, serious fevered study of De Sade and Bataille, love of the baroque prose of Nabokov and Angela Carter, and fin de siecle decadence held together with cyperpunk wiring and then torn to pieces with narrative scatterbombs from Burrough’s Nova trilogy and Moorcock’s Cornelius Quartet. If you don’t like these references, you won’t like Calder. (less)
Roth gets points for tackling a scifi genre(of course he had no idea that it was long established genre) that isn't dystopia or post apocalypse, unlik...moreRoth gets points for tackling a scifi genre(of course he had no idea that it was long established genre) that isn't dystopia or post apocalypse, unlike other "Literary" authors when they go "slumming" in genre. But the book is a toothless dud. Read Howard Waldrop's "Us"(about three possible lives for the Lindbergh baby) or Ian R. Macleod's "Summer Isles (about facism coming 30's England) as they deserve all the praise this book somehow got.(less)
Kitchen sink gothic horror magical surrealism but very English...only Ligotti and Borges are worthwhile comparisons for these beautiful tales..also of...moreKitchen sink gothic horror magical surrealism but very English...only Ligotti and Borges are worthwhile comparisons for these beautiful tales..also of note this is some of the best prose being written anywheres...(less)
Endlessly inventive parody/pastiche of high fantasy a la Lord Dunsany or Jack Vance. One of Aylett’s most immediately rewarding text, if this was more...moreEndlessly inventive parody/pastiche of high fantasy a la Lord Dunsany or Jack Vance. One of Aylett’s most immediately rewarding text, if this was more easy and cheap to find it would be a great introduction to his work. Plus the Alan Moore intro is a great tribute/analysis of Aylett’s oeuvre. Oh and read Seth's super in depth review.
Soon to be released in the U.S. this book is definitely one of the science fiction books of the year. The third book by Mcauley I’ve read in a row, an...moreSoon to be released in the U.S. this book is definitely one of the science fiction books of the year. The third book by Mcauley I’ve read in a row, and I have found each more absorbing than the last. This is a space opera with all of the romanticism and swashbuckling removed. Playing almost like a nasty John le Carre spy thriller with the characters being drawn into increasingly claustrophobic situations as their societies plunge towards an idiotic war. A spare style that at first didn’t grip me and didn’t quite build an atmosphere, Mcauley with great characters, scientific detail, and a fully realized world soon completely absorbed me in his vision. The tension builds to unbearable fever pitch in the last third of the book (for anyone who finds the first part slow going) with some amazing set pieces. The dialogue may be a tad expository at moments but with the complexity at play most of the time I’m willing to forgive. A contemporary fable with its eyes set on the future, Mcauley satirizes our present cultural nightmare and throws down an overload of ideas and edge of your seat thrills. On a side note Mcauley seems to have an unabashed loved for space travel and exploration that I find rare today
A baroque picaresque/romp of surrealistic porn and grand guignol a la Angela Carter’s Passion of New Eve or Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman...more A baroque picaresque/romp of surrealistic porn and grand guignol a la Angela Carter’s Passion of New Eve or Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman, with a mix of the decadent adventures of Moorcock, and more than a hint of Ballard pushed through a vision where anima, 30’s pulp, and French Symbolism are of equal import. Strangely fun if you give it a chance and wade through the purple prose with lots of cruelty and outrageous gore and an overload of style. Set in version of world where an event called the Abortion forced another reality on our own with lots animal people, a weird mix of technology (airships and muskets, teleporter and one stomping robot), and divided into Afric, Europa, Cathay, and Atlantis who wages war on all with their air navy and robots and in a wonderful inverse are the last remaining humans (the others ruled by the tribes of the perverse). Romping through this world on their way to the Moon and mythical freedom are a goblin princess (half rat and human) who will die when she orgasms, a brain eating revenant, and their dwarf maid. Balloon rides, a birth from a corpse, squid weaponry, necromancers, a queen who has her brain transplanted in a freshly killed young girl every year, a mix of myth and technology add to the perverse thrills of this book. Edgar Allen Poe and Marquis de Sade would have loved this one.
Piñera crafts an odd allegorical novel. A parody of coming of age novels or the novel of education, he has his young man Rene coming to self realizati...morePiñera crafts an odd allegorical novel. A parody of coming of age novels or the novel of education, he has his young man Rene coming to self realization in a very twisted version of our own world, where people are obsessed with eating meat (Piñera was a vegetarian I believe), a school teaches its students to suffer in silence (electrocuting them in chairs with muzzles on), murder is legal, people are paid to be surgically rendered as people’s identical doubles (also everyone seems to have a mannequin), and secret societies fight over the distribution of chocolate. A parade of grotesque characters (Skeleton and Ball of Meat, the king of meat), odd encounters, a surreal dead pan orgy out Marquis de Sade, and general absurdity is the state of affairs in this novel. Resembles very little, except possibly Kobo Abe’s bizarre novels of the seventies (Box Man, Secret Rendezvous) and Burroughs (though more linear). Not for the faint of heart.(less)
A sequel,more like a continuation of his stories like "R&R" and "On the Border", that heads into Stross and Sterling territory with cyborgs, rogue...moreA sequel,more like a continuation of his stories like "R&R" and "On the Border", that heads into Stross and Sterling territory with cyborgs, rogue AIs, nanotechnology, mystical weirdness, and demonic energy. Plus a character named Eddy Poe.(less)
Cynical, decadent adventure tale like Moorcock(including a living sword) or Vance(with a protagonist as arrogant and obnoxious as Cugel) that is remar...moreCynical, decadent adventure tale like Moorcock(including a living sword) or Vance(with a protagonist as arrogant and obnoxious as Cugel) that is remarkable straight forward for Calder with little of his baroque prose and density of weirdness. Set in the same future as his Frenzetta but set so far in advance of that book that its events have become a fable. This book has everything you would want from an adventure story: a world decaying with lost secrets, traps, narrow escapes, traveling carnivals, a hollow earth(or an underground hell or demon realm in its center), plenty of action, ancient technology, castles, ghosts, dimensional gateways, cruel experiments, and a quest. The place and character names are all taken from Milton, De Quincy, and the Old Testament which adds to the atmosphere. The protagonist is so arrogant and self centered I wonder if Calder is poking fun at his own notoriously solipsist protagonists. So this was a rip roaring adventure with plenty of pulpy and gothic wonders but a little to straightforward to be one of Calder’s better work. Maybe he wanted to see if he could restrain himself and actually write a book that kind of made sense? Fans of Moorcock, Vance, Wolfe, Rudy Rucker (Hollow Earth), Milton, Lucius Shepard’s Dragon Griaule stories, E.R.Burroughs, and George R.R. Martin (House of the Worm) will find this a fun addition to their bookshelf.(less)
Two recent story recent story collections represent a particular strain of American short story writing represented by master such as Flannery O’Conno...moreTwo recent story recent story collections represent a particular strain of American short story writing represented by master such as Flannery O’Connor and Raymond Carver and also the harsh viewpoint on American life found in Dashiell Hammett, James M Cain, and Nathaniel West. These two collections are Knockemstiff by Donald ray Pollock and Dead Boys by Richard Lange. Set in the wildly disparate environments of low rent L.A. and the hollow of Knockemstiff, Ohio. One urban and one rural but both decaying and filled with terrifying extremes of humanity, and in both the setting is a major character, the one that is in every story. Both collections you should also dip into every once in awhile rather than all at once, as the stories are dense and intense but also might have their individual charms overlook for the general atmosphere of the books. These are low rent lives (some of Lange’s character approach middle class while Pollock’s are universally dirty poor) filled with guns, drugs, terrible decisions, with the only light in the tunnel an oncoming train (who did I steal that from?) but delivered with pitch black humor, impressive language, and a lived in compassion that never makes them feel exploitive and gives them their own grandeur. The authors know these characters and so do you. (less)