I am really digging this series as it goes on. It's a web comic so you can read it all for free online, but I prefer waiting until collected volumes aI am really digging this series as it goes on. It's a web comic so you can read it all for free online, but I prefer waiting until collected volumes are published.
It's also very hard to describe what it's about (see all the shelves I tagged it with!). Gunnerkrigg Court is...what? Harry Potter + girl friendships + robot mythology + Lovecraftian extra-dimensional beings + magic vs. technology, all served with a healthy dollop of humor, some subtle and some slapstick, and the occasional bits of wisdom, poignancy, and tragedy.
You have to read it (and I recommend reading from the start) to follow the story at all, and after four volumes it is still sometimes hard to follow. But awfully fun.
Antimony Carver, the "fire-head girl," continues to develop as a medium and a protagonist. She's getting older and more powerful, and also a bit more adolescent. She's usually quite controlled and mature for her age, but we see her doing some reckless and petty things in this volume, such as her silly attempt to set up Jack for a fall by leading him on and then spurning him, which is pure tween drama, and normally out of character for Antimony, who seems so far to be largely immune to romantic/hormonal urgings. But it made sense as a vengeful streak that is beginning to fester in her - the girl has a lot of issues she's been burying, evidenced also by her unexpected message from her father.
Who, by the way, is a jerk, though Antimony's best friend Kat, the preteen robot-building genius, is the only one willing to say so.
Poor Kat. Yeah, she has a big ol' girl-crush on Antimony.
We also learn in this volume about the true origins of the curiously affectless Miss Jones. But the highlight of this volume is Coyote. Coyote is awesome.
Funny, insane, and just when you think he's just a clown, he reminds you that he can be scary as hell.
I highly recommend this series. It's bizarre and heartwarming and weird and has lots of literary allusions. And the students are going to school in an abandoned oil platform watched over by a giant psychic sea monster crustacean with a PhD....more
Argh, this book. It's so "Hollywood" and by that I mean it reads like a Hollywood script, like the author is full of Big!Ideas! and he can totally visArgh, this book. It's so "Hollywood" and by that I mean it reads like a Hollywood script, like the author is full of Big!Ideas! and he can totally visualize Chris Hemsworth and Scarlett Johansson playing Paul Donner and Maggie.
It's got Big!Ideas! executed with the finesse of a mediocre comic book scriptwriter doing a bleh imitation of Raymond Chandler.
Oh, I shouldn't be so harsh. The premise is fairly entertaining. A New York City police detective named Paul Donner who stumbled into a hold-up at a bodega gets murdered along with his wife in 2012. Forty years later, he comes back to life. It turns out that some sort of artificially created retrovirus triggered an event known as "the Shift," which literally brings the dead back to life, rejuvenating their bodies. They aren't zombies, they're just reborn. "Rebes," in this futuristic setting, are a feared and despised underclass who creep "normal" people out, in the first of many plot points which really didn't make much sense to me. Like I said, they aren't undead. They do age backwards, meaning they become younger and younger until they literally revert to fetuses and die, but basically they are the same people they were, so there's no reason for everyone to treat them like the walking dead, but because the retrovirus is supposedly contagious, a corporation called Surezal has literally built a wall around New York City (yes, a wall around the whole of New York City!) and turned it into a quarantined police state.
Donner is assigned a counselor "smartie," or artificial intelligence, named Maggie. Who despite being an advanced artificial intelligence spends the entire book being a cardboard cliche of a woman who blubbers emotionally at every tense moment and falls in love with Donner. Conspiracies then ensue, as Donner and his holographic girl Friday (but don't worry, a holographic artificial intelligence whose true form is a glowing sphere can totally have sex!) are manipulated and betrayed and jerked from one startling revelation to the next.
The plot goes in interesting but frequently dumb directions. I will admit that I didn't quite see the Big Reveal coming, and there was at least one twist that surprised me (though most of the others were entirely predictable), but the Big Reveal was.... stupid. As was the James Bond plot and sociopathic villain, yet another cardboard cliche woman, this one a cooing sociopath with monomolecular Japanese "tantos" (why is it always with the Japanese shit? like no one else in the history of the world ever made sharp weapons?) tucked up her sleeves.
There are several minor characters introduced for the sole purpose of dying and revealing some minor plot point that the author couldn't more intelligently fit into the storyline. The world of 2054 (at least New York City, which is all we see) is imaginative in a painted-over-cyberpunk kind of way, full of jokes about reborn celebrities, and retro fashion as apparently everyone decides to emulate the styles of various early 20th century eras, all of this mixing with flying cars, artificial intelligences, and plasma rifles.
This could have been a good book, but it just spiked my bullshit-meter way too often. Master villains should act like master villains, not idiots who conveniently leave big red buttons labeled "PUSH ME TO DEFEAT THE BAD GUY!" lying around. The characterization was cliched, the dialog trite, the prose flat. It's not a terrible book, but it irked me with its wasted potential, all the bad points irritating me too much to really enjoy it as a fun if dumb read, which at least would have earned it 3 stars....more
This short (4 hour) novella was a free download from Audible, so what did I have to lose? Apparently it is a "prequel" to the author's fantasy series,This short (4 hour) novella was a free download from Audible, so what did I have to lose? Apparently it is a "prequel" to the author's fantasy series, which I have not read.
Kaylin is a 13-year-old girl living in a rather generic fantasy kingdom that has a variety of non-humans: immortals, lion-men, hawk-men, dragons, a few other creatures. Kaylin herself is your basic standard-issue Spunky Street Rat with Issues - and Very Special Powers, of course. After a failed attempt to assassinate a noble, for inexplicable reasons the Hawk Lord decides to make her the mascot of the generic medieval fantasy multi-racial magic cops, where she is taken under their wing and endears herself to everyone with her spunk... and her Very Special Powers, of course. The plot involves children being abducted and used by Very Bad People for Very Bad Things.
The story moved along and it was a decent listen, but eminently forgettable. The prose was annoyingly repetitive (many, many instances of "blah blah blah, was the [insert adjective here] response") and Kaylin never really came alive for me, as the author couldn't decide whether she's a hardbitten waif who grew up on the mean streets or a soft-hearted child and Hero-in-training. Likewise, you'd expect a story involving children being sacrificed would have a touch of grimdark, but the author is afraid to do more than tip-toe up to the line there.
So, meh. As long as it's free, it's worth a download and a listen if you like medieval fantasy, but it did not succeed in its presumed goal of making me want to read the series....more
Although this is a classic, it's one of the few older sci-fi stories that isn't too dated, as the setting is a post-nuclear war Earth at some indefiniAlthough this is a classic, it's one of the few older sci-fi stories that isn't too dated, as the setting is a post-nuclear war Earth at some indefinite point in the future and all the technology is vague and generically futuristic (like "skimmers"). It's the characters where Zelazny exercised his imagination. Earth is now overrun by mutants who resemble creatures out of myth, and the main character, Conrad, appears to be an immortal and may even be a god. He's a typical Zelazny main character: mysterious, complicated, immortal and superhuman but not invincible, and fundamentally heroic but kind of an asshole.
All of the characters are interesting in this book, especially Conrad's friend, the assassin Hassan, and I particularly liked the dialog and the action scenes. Zelazny has always been good at writing great fight scenes.
The story wasn't perfect -- a lot of things were just dropped in without explanation, and it seemed a lot of plot points were just handwaved away. But if you like Zelazny or good old fashioned science fiction written much better than most Sixties sci-fi, it's worth a read....more
Another example of how Piers Anthony can start a series with interesting concepts and characters and run it into the ground. I really liked the firstAnother example of how Piers Anthony can start a series with interesting concepts and characters and run it into the ground. I really liked the first couple of books of the Incarnations of Immortality series, but they quickly became repetitive and tiresome, especially as Anthony increasingly made authorial speeches through the characters....more