If you liked the first two Laundry books, you'll enjoy this one, too. If you didn't like the earlier Laundry books, well...you probably won't like thiIf you liked the first two Laundry books, you'll enjoy this one, too. If you didn't like the earlier Laundry books, well...you probably won't like this one, either.
That being said, Fuller Memorandum is my favorite of the Bob Howard books so far - the James Bond tropes in Jennifer Morgue went a little overboard for my taste, and the pacing issues in Atrocity Archives bugged me. This third book in the series hits a sweet spot in terms of pacing, as the action starts in the first chapter and doesn't let up much throughout. It's also the first Laundry book that really felt like it was set in a world where the eldritch nightmares are real; the horror is a lot more, well, horrifying than in the previous two books. In the first one I think you get distracted by the campy space Nazis, and in the second you get distracted by the Bond gimmicks. I guess what I'm trying to say is that, despite the series being set in a Lovecraftian world, this is the first book that actually feels Lovecraftian, like Stross turned up the levels of madness-inducing horrors and blood-drinking cultists and zombies and the like. ...more
There are some genuinely memorable and thought-provoking stories in this collection, and Le Guin, as always, writes with wit, insight, and immense feeThere are some genuinely memorable and thought-provoking stories in this collection, and Le Guin, as always, writes with wit, insight, and immense feeling. That being said, the final product left me underwhelmed - I suspect that Le Guin wrote a handful of the stories, then decided to do an entire book around the concept, and subsequently wrote the rest. It's a theory that explains the unevenness of the quality from chapter to chapter. Some short stories are better in their natural form than once they've been stretched into books, and some stand better as sketches and outlines than fully realized worlds. Nonetheless, Changing Planes was certainly worth my time....more
This is probably my favorite Lovecraft collection, and it's mostly because it features (almost) all the Randolph Carter stories, of which the titularThis is probably my favorite Lovecraft collection, and it's mostly because it features (almost) all the Randolph Carter stories, of which the titular novella is my favorite. Rather than horror, I would classify these stories as surrealistic fantasy - while there are horror elements, Carter is basically an action hero, and the dreamscapes though which he travels are as fascinating as they are strange....more
I picked this book up because it looked ridiculous, and it did not disappoint my expectations in the slightest. I mean that as a compliment - in the gI picked this book up because it looked ridiculous, and it did not disappoint my expectations in the slightest. I mean that as a compliment - in the genre of trashy action/adventure SF, Necrom is an absolute standout. Fast-paced, creative, and frequently funny, it hits a lot of cliches and invents a few more. Well worth my time....more
There were a lot of things about Abarat that absolutely blew me away. I was really impressed to learn from the back flap that Clive Barker painted allThere were a lot of things about Abarat that absolutely blew me away. I was really impressed to learn from the back flap that Clive Barker painted all of the art himself; it's gorgeous, in a disturbing way.
Abarat reminds me, in a lot of ways, of Neil Gaiman's writing - and I always mean that as a compliment. The artwork is lush and creepy and surreal, which works wonderfully to illuminate the understated, fable-like prose (in much the same way that Dave McKean's art helps create the oppressive atmosphere of Sandman). Reading Abarat is like reading a dark, disturbing fairy tale. The "stitchlings" - creatures sewn together from mud and bits of corpses - are genuinely frightening.
Abarat is also, however, very funny - the heroine, Candy Quackenbush, is just the first in a serious of ludicrously-named characters, and her wry observations about the magical world she finds herself in are endlessly entertaining. Barker uses absurdist humor in the way only fantasy writers can - his non-human characters are dynamic and simultaneously hilarious, and the reflections that the Abarat shows of the mundane human world ("the Hereafter," to people from the Abarat) are incisively funny.
I have only two issues with the book, and I'm withholding judgment because I haven't finished the series, and Barker may yet resolve them. One is the clumsiness of Barker's anti-corporate message, which thus far doesn't feel like it fits into the narrative at all. Even though I agree with him completely about the issues, I don't think it meshes with the way he's designed the culture of the Abarat. The subplot about Commexo City, and it's founder's dream of commercializing, sanitizing, and controlling all of the islands, feels tacked-on, and it's the one part of the book where Barker's subtlety seems to fail him. Maybe it gets better later in the series; I'm holding out hope.
My second problem is the pacing- the book takes off pretty well at the start, but the back half alternates between almost too action-packed to keep up with and pages of mysterious, cryptic exposition. Candy is the saving grace here, because she's just as fed up with the mystery as the reader, and just as tired of running back and forth all the time. I hope that, now that the necessary world-building exposition is finished, the rest of the books won't have the same pacing issues.
I'm off to hunt down the rest of the series....more
As always with Gaiman, the writing is full of moments of subtle brilliance and disturbing but enlightening themes, and as always with McKean, the artAs always with Gaiman, the writing is full of moments of subtle brilliance and disturbing but enlightening themes, and as always with McKean, the art is nothing short of stunning. What keeps Mr Punch from being a five star piece of work is the general disconnectedness of the story - while any reader of Gaiman's is used to a vague, dreamlike gloss over the whole piece, in Mr Punch the vagueness sometimes slips into confusion as portions of the narrative become entirely cut off from one another. Not Gaiman's best writing, but frankly, his worst is still better than most writers'. ...more