A++ world-building in this one. Set in 2133, when we've conquered physical illness and even death (for those who can afford it), the author does a masA++ world-building in this one. Set in 2133, when we've conquered physical illness and even death (for those who can afford it), the author does a masterful job of setting up a world that's as different to our own as ours would be to someone in 1900--spinning out some of our current issues (inequality, technological obsessions, personal branding, social media follower numbers, etc.) to a logical, nightmare conclusion. This is one of those rare books that I WISH was the beginning of a series--I'd like to see more. ...more
I went to the library looking for Daryl Gregory's "Pandemonium", which was checked out. But this one was in, and the cover drew me like a magnet. (It'I went to the library looking for Daryl Gregory's "Pandemonium", which was checked out. But this one was in, and the cover drew me like a magnet. (It's a neat trick with the eyes--wish I'd thought of it.) The story begins like this: Paxton Martin, lately of Chicago, is returning home to the small town of Switchcreek, Tennessee, for the funeral of a childhood friend who has committed suicide. Switchcreek is no ordinary place, however. Fifteen years before, the entire town was infected with what's been called 'Transcription Divergence Syndrome' (TDS) which killed some of the population and turned the rest into monsters: 8 foot grey-skinned 'argos', hairless magenta-skinned 'betas', and 'charlies' who are as wide as they are tall. Paxton is one of a handful that was 'skipped' by the disease, which creates problems of its own. It's a wildly imaginative book, and the author goes into an incredible amount of detail to bring the new people to life. I really enjoyed it, and want to seek out more of his books. ...more
The story of Francis Orme, who works as a living park statue and collects objects that have been loved by others, and seven other eccentrics living inThe story of Francis Orme, who works as a living park statue and collects objects that have been loved by others, and seven other eccentrics living in an English mansion that has seen better days. Dreamy writing, highly original and creative. ...more
This was my first Lucy Ellmann book, and it won't be the last. It begins as a deceptively simple story about an English rose perfectionist named Dot,This was my first Lucy Ellmann book, and it won't be the last. It begins as a deceptively simple story about an English rose perfectionist named Dot, and rockets from the mundane to the sublime at warp speed in this bizarre, fanciful, funny, dark, profound and occasionally rather dirty little book. I loved the ever-present exclamation points and ALLCAPS treatment of seemingly random words, as well as all the 'Britishisms', and Ellmann's viciously satiric take on American Suburbia. And the angry bit in the middle about the deification of Science (an opinion I share) only served to endear the author to me. Reminded me a bit of James Thurber in places, which brought back fond memories. I have a feeling people really like Ellmann's books or really don't; she's not one you can be 'meh' about. I definitely do.
Here's Dot explaining how the Underworld works:
"The thing about the Underworld is that you have to fill out so many FORMS. And they're full of impossible questions, like your National Insurance number, your NHS number, your father's date of birth, your mother's mother's mother's country of origin. Not many in the middle of their death throes think to bring all this information with them--but they sure WISH they had.
You fill out all the forms as best you can and hand them in to belligerent BUREAUCRATS who hand them right back, asking MORE questions. It is a silly and childish GAME they play with you, it's INTOLERABLE. As if you never existed if you can't remember your Vehicle Registration Number! They don't actually CARE who you are or what your Vehicle Registration Number is, they are just trying to delay your rightful progress toward REINCARNATION, for the HELL of it! The thing is, if you can't prove you were BORN, you might have to start over as a microscopic SPIDER or a PLANT. That's how they run things in that old Underworld."
Ghosts, she explains, haunt houses because they're looking for their paperwork. Seems sensible to me. ...more
I wasn't sure I wanted to read this at first, and then when I did I couldn't put it down. SimGen, a big biotech company has created a slave race by enI wasn't sure I wanted to read this at first, and then when I did I couldn't put it down. SimGen, a big biotech company has created a slave race by engineering the DNA of chimps and humans--the Sims--to do menial and dangerous labor that humans don't want to do. Of course, greed, money and the Department of Defense get involved, and you can guess the rest.
Wonderfully written, with a shocker at the end that I didn't see coming. It was a great introduction to an author who has turned out to be a favorite of mine....more
Highly recommended (although certainly not for everyone) this one is by graphic novel deity Warren Ellis, although it's not a graphic novel itself. WhHighly recommended (although certainly not for everyone) this one is by graphic novel deity Warren Ellis, although it's not a graphic novel itself. Where has this guy been all my life? I obviously need to spend more time around the graphic novel genre, as this put a grin on my face that I couldn't chisel off for hours. I remember cackling, "He's covered heroin, the Fashion Channel, super rats, Enya and tantric sex with ostriches, and I'm only on page 12!" If I had to compare it to something, I'd say it's Raymond Chandler as interpreted by Hunter S. Thompson. Hilarious, and deliciously evil. Definitely not everyone's cup of tea, but some of you (and you know who you are) would LOVE it.
I was hooked from the first paragraph:
"I opened my eyes to see the rat taking a piss in my coffee mug. It was a huge brown bastard; had a body like a turd with legs and beady black eyes full of secret rat knowledge. Making a smug huffing sound, it threw itself from the table to the floor, and scuttled back into the hole in the wall where it had spent the last three months planning new ways to screw me around. I'd tried nailing wood over the gap in the wainscot, but it gnawed through it and spat the wet pieces into my shoes. After that, I spiked bait with warfarin, but the poison seemed to somehow cause it evolve and become a super-rat. I nailed it across the eyes once with a lucky shot with the butt of my gun, but it got up again and shat in my telephone." ...more
It's rare these days that a book "has me from hello" (to paraphrase a cheesy line from a *urp* Tom Cruise movie), but this one did. Check out the firsIt's rare these days that a book "has me from hello" (to paraphrase a cheesy line from a *urp* Tom Cruise movie), but this one did. Check out the first two paragraphs:
"Never buy yellow clothes or cheap leather. That's my credo and there are more. Know what I like to see? People killing themselves. Don't misunderstand; I'm not talking about the poor fucks who jump out windows or stick their sorry heads into plastic bags forever. No "Ultimate Fighting Championship" either, which is only a bunch of rabid crewcuts biting each other. I'm talking about the guy on the street, face the color of wet lead, lighting up a Camel and coghing up his soul the minute he inhales. Good for you, Sport! Long live nicotine, stubbornness and self-indulgence.
"Let's have another round here, Jimmy!" croons King Cholesterol down at the end of the bar. He with the rosy nose and enough high blood pressure to lauch him and his whole family tree to Pluto. Gratification, mass, texture. The heart attack that'll nuke him will last a few seconds. The cold beer in thick mugs and perfume of grilling T-bone steaks are forever until he dies. It's worth the trade-off. I'm with him."
I think I'm in love. This, of course, is from The Wooden Sea by Jonathan Carroll, an author who has been around for a while but somehow escaped my notice, something I'm very happy to correct. The book quickly gets very weird, something I very much approve of--a reviewer described a point in his books when "the floor turns to Vaseline and you're looking for a handhold". My kind of book. And the only thing I love more than discovering a new author is finding out that they wrote 12 other books besides the one I'm reading and loving. Score another one for that Waterstone's list. I'm beginning to think they may really know what they're doing there....more