A fun, solid sci-fi detective novel set in a future in which fossils have been discovered on Mars and human consciousnesses can be transplanted into i...moreA fun, solid sci-fi detective novel set in a future in which fossils have been discovered on Mars and human consciousnesses can be transplanted into immortal machines. It feels a bit cluttered and haphazard, what with the fusion of classic noir, Canadian gold rush, paleontology and Asimovian sci-fi elements, but that odd, incongruous melange is also what makes it so engaging. The protagonist is definitely not a GOOD man, but he's got a sense of honor and obligation to his clients which makes him worth following throughout the story.
This is my second Robert J. Sawyer novel in as many weeks, and I think I'm picking up on a few constants which take me out of his stories. This man LOVES paleontology (which I can respect), but is also a passionate proponent of his native Canada (which gets a bit silly). I enjoy his novels, but we'll see how long I can stand his repeated contentions that Canada is (and will be!) far more important and influential than it really is... It's one thing to love your homeland and sing its praises, but there's such a thing as going too far.(less)
A genuinely moving tale of a super-villain trying to go straight, torn between the ideals with which his mother raised him, and nearly 50 decades of b...moreA genuinely moving tale of a super-villain trying to go straight, torn between the ideals with which his mother raised him, and nearly 50 decades of bad company and worse advice. This is a novel about second chances, bad choices, and the crippling fear that you can escape neither your origins nor the consequences of your actions.(less)
Perhaps it was a mistake to pick up the third book in a series? I wasn't already invested in the characters, the setting, etc., and if I had known tha...more Perhaps it was a mistake to pick up the third book in a series? I wasn't already invested in the characters, the setting, etc., and if I had known that it was the third in a series, I probably wouldn't have bothered. And yet, it feels like you should be able to pick up any book in a series and find it engrossing -- Book X should make you want to go back and read Books V & W AFTERWARD, then continue on to Books Y & Z, not make you think "Huh. Guess there's no point in reading this if I haven't read the others. What other unrelated book that I already own shall I read instead?" My first Ellis Peters novel was The Leper of Saint Giles, but that book gripped me immediately and left me eager to read everything that had come before and after. Not the case with "A Stitch In Time".
Apparently there's a "crafty crime" somewhere in the pages of this novel, but roughly 1/4 of the way through I had found nothing but lengthy discussions of cross-stitching, small-business struggles and small-town gossip. I have no problem with those sorts of things in small doses, but this novel is supposed to be a mystery. There are no conflicts set up, no clues, no hints of malfeasance, and if there's no mystery by about the 25% mark, I'm afraid it's just not for me. Someone else might enjoy it, so I can't say it's bad -- i can only say that I personally found it extremely boring. I'm moving on.(less)
This is arguably one of Lovecraft's most racist stories, born out of his increasing sense of isolation and negative impressions of immigrants while li...moreThis is arguably one of Lovecraft's most racist stories, born out of his increasing sense of isolation and negative impressions of immigrants while living in Brooklyn. It was this antipathy towards others that gave birth to one of my favorite songs by The Mountain Goats (cf: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrHgZR... also: http://www.thejeffreylewissite.com/Mt... ).
Lovecraft's racism appears to be a manifestation of modern post-Enlightenment racial theory, but I think that's giving modernity entirely too much credit. Everything he says is perfectly in keeping with the ancient xenophobic writings of the Greeks & Romans; they curse the same races, they implicate the same religions, they use the same descriptive language...Lovecraft's version is simply slathered in a veneer of early-20th century Scientism. When I finish my dissertation, I could probably write a book about the ancient authors who inspired Lovecraft's racial antipathies -- using almost all the same sources.
Aside from all that, this is one of the most effective urban-horror stories H.P.L. ever wrote. The sense that dark things lurk beneath the surface of the urban landscape, that the countless strangers surrounding the urbanite could be -- and likely ARE -- planning something nefarious, that the old world and the new world are alike in venerating things which most humans on their own would shun... Well, it all works extremely well here.(less)
Amazingly cynical and subversive detective stories, of the sort I never would have expected from Chesterton!
The titular character gives himself that...moreAmazingly cynical and subversive detective stories, of the sort I never would have expected from Chesterton!
The titular character gives himself that monicker because he is related to / friends with nearly all the important people in Britain, and therefore knows exactly how the country is REALLY run and how the legal system REALLY works. This inspires in him a sense of fatalism and resignation, as he sees the backroom deals, cover-ups and treachery which make the world go 'round, and he solves numerous crimes only to see the guilty parties escape justice due to their power, influence, wealth or even the prejudices of the local constabulary. In essence, it's Chesterton criticizing both British politics and human nature through the medium of dark-yet-beautiful detective stories. And it works. (less)
Look, I appreciate what they're trying to do, but I have comics (both pre- and post-Crisis) from decades ago in which Batman and Catwoman are already...moreLook, I appreciate what they're trying to do, but I have comics (both pre- and post-Crisis) from decades ago in which Batman and Catwoman are already an item. This is what happens when authors don't know anything about the history of the characters they're writing. Batman doesn't feel like Batman, though I liked the reflections on his relationships with Nightwing/Robin I, Jason Todd/Robin II, and Tim Drake/Robin III. What is more, I suspect that this story inspired the craptacular resurrection of Jason Todd.
Also, fewer Jim Lee cheesecake shots, please. I found myself wondering how Catwoman, Huntress & Talia could possibly have time to fight/orchestrate criminal activity, given all the time they spent stretching and posing provocatively.(less)
The comic version of Renee Montoya is younger, less-competent, more abrasive, sexier and more scantily-clad than the original. Also she's a lesbian. O...moreThe comic version of Renee Montoya is younger, less-competent, more abrasive, sexier and more scantily-clad than the original. Also she's a lesbian. Obviously. Because strong, independent women have to be lesbians. And have chips on their shoulders. And somehow exist in that mythical world fiction insists upon pretending exists, where every lesbian looks like a Victoria's Secret model.(less)
A big disappointment. I really enjoyed the first novel in this series, Death Warmed Over, but this second volume fell distressingly flat. The plot see...moreA big disappointment. I really enjoyed the first novel in this series, Death Warmed Over, but this second volume fell distressingly flat. The plot seemed scatter-shot; the villains, twists, and revelations were all immediately obvious; and the author's approach to social commentary was heavy-handed and unnecessarily dominated the majority of the narrative. For 90% of the book I felt more like I was reading a thinly-veiled political tract than a detective novel. Tiresome. I kept getting the distinct impression that he's one of those political ideologues (in this case a Liberal) who isolates himself entirely from people with different views, and then perceives the entirety of the opposition as cartoonish strawmen who justify his a priori conclusions. This sort of political propaganda ruins the stories which are stretched loosely over its frame, and actually makes me feel antipathy towards the cause the author seeks to champion.(less)
Light. Fun. The references were great, and the protagonist and supporting cast were equally likable. Suffered from a few cliches, a few predictable pl...moreLight. Fun. The references were great, and the protagonist and supporting cast were equally likable. Suffered from a few cliches, a few predictable plot-points/twists (which at this point seem to be inevitabilities of the genre), but a delightful read nonetheless. I might even pick up the sequel!
EDIT: I knew the name Kevin J. Anderson sounded familiar! Turns out he's written quite a few books, but the only one i've read was the book he co-wrote with Dean Koontz, Prodigal Son -- a book so bad i never would have read the sequel if I hadn't purchased them both as a package on eBay. The sequel was actually a really great book, which I suspect had more to do with Koontz jettisoning Anderson and getting someone else to help him co-write it. I never would have thought I'd read something GOOD by Anderson, but here we are!(less)
This is where the story really starts getting good, just like in the anime. The identities of the reborn Shion & Shukaido are finally revealed, wh...moreThis is where the story really starts getting good, just like in the anime. The identities of the reborn Shion & Shukaido are finally revealed, while Alice begins to doubt (reject, really) her identity as the reborn Mokuren; Rin's actions are finally explained, as are his erratic behavior and startling powers, and the true nature of what befell the alien scientists is revealed. Surprises galore as children and teenagers struggle to deal with adult problems from lives they're only now discovering they once lived.
It's worth noting as well that many questions left completely unanswered (and bafflingly so!) in the anime are answered here. It's almost as though the writers for the anime were so concerned with squeezing as many important scenes into the series as possible that they left out much of the substance... Rin's obsession with the Tokyo Tower is explained, the reasons behind Rin & Haruhiko's appearances are explained, and Shukaido's motivation is finally revealed!(less)
A bloody, foul and glorious tribute to H.P. Lovecraft, detective fiction, and the post-WWII American South. Great atmosphere. All in all a fantastic o...moreA bloody, foul and glorious tribute to H.P. Lovecraft, detective fiction, and the post-WWII American South. Great atmosphere. All in all a fantastic opening salvo.
My two complaints: 1) The sexual elements seemed unnecessary. They were effectively disturbing enough that it left me disgusted with the idea of sex acts, but...still unnecessary. 2) The attempt to mix the Lovecraftian mythos with gods like Ahriman, Mithras, Cybele...Interesting, but questionable. Though part of that might be that I study those gods for a living.(less)