I hadn't read the original Semiautomagic when it ran in serialized form, so everything in this slipcased edJerry Ordway's art is phenomenal as always.
I hadn't read the original Semiautomagic when it ran in serialized form, so everything in this slipcased edition was new to me. I really like the characters and the mysterious background, and would love to see this world more fully developed. I like urban fantasy, and while in that genre, this world has a totally different feel from the Dresden Files, Toby Daye books, InCryptid, etc: there seem to be no werewolves, vampires, faeries -- the focus seems more on the cosmic style of horror, which is a nice change. I hope, whether through more Kickstarters or through some other small press, Alex and Jerry get to continue to build this world....more
I'm slowly becoming convinced that the best way to experience memoirs and collected non-fiction is to hear the author read the words to you. I seem toI'm slowly becoming convinced that the best way to experience memoirs and collected non-fiction is to hear the author read the words to you. I seem to be purchasing fewer such books in print or e-format in comparison to audiobook format. And even though I also own this book in print, I'm incredibly glad I listened to it instead. Instead of imagining Neil's inflections and stresses, I get to hear him say the words the way he wrote them. I also got to hear his impersonations of Stephen King and Lou Reed, among others ... it's truly delightful hearing Neil attempt both Maine and New York City accents.
The essays, introductions and speeches collected here range from the very serious to the somewhat silly, and each piece is enjoyable and in many cases educational. I now have a way-too-long list of authors I need to read and works I need to reread. Thanks, Neil....more
Both of these stories feature cool twists and modern noir first person narration. Two excellent reads, one by a master of the genre and the other by aBoth of these stories feature cool twists and modern noir first person narration. Two excellent reads, one by a master of the genre and the other by a new voice I expect will gain a following very quickly if "The Murder Club" is any indication....more
When I first read The Fall of the Kings, some time after its release in 2002, I had no idea it was part of a series. I saw it advertised as a selectioWhen I first read The Fall of the Kings, some time after its release in 2002, I had no idea it was part of a series. I saw it advertised as a selection in one of the book-of-the-month-clubs I was in (whatever the name of the gay-oriented one was at the time) and it sounded interesting. It was, I believe, the first fantasy novel I'd read with gay lead characters (as I mentioned in my essay for Lightspeed Magazine's "Queers Destroy Science Fiction" issue two years ago). I read it, and I loved it, and I finished the book hoping that maybe someday the authors would go back and tell the other stories they'd hinted at: the Mad Duke Tremontaine's exploits, and those of his aunt.
It took me several years to discover those stories had already been told, of course, in Kushner's novels Swordspoint and The Privilege of the Sword, as well as several short stories and novellas. Two years ago I finally got to read, or rather listen to, those two novels and of course loved them both. I promised myself I'd re-listen to Fall as well, and it's taken me two years to get to it, but here I am.
The point of the preceding is: Yes, you can read this novel as a stand-alone and become completely immersed in the world of The City (including the Riverside district) and the Tremontaine family. You won't feel left out by mentions of the previous stories; instead, you'll be intrigued.
The world-building (or world-expanding if you've read the previous novels) is complex and beautiful, and I still find myself wanting even more stories set in this world during the time of, for instance, King Anselm the Wise or portraying the actual events of the murder of the last king that are discussed and haggled over by the characters in this book.
The characters are the real joy of the book, though. And real they are: Theron Campion reminds me of several of my nephews in the way he falls in and out of love so devastatingly; Basil St. Cloud and his peers remind me of more than a few professors I've studied under; Katherine Talbert and Jessica Campion remind of so many strong women I know. All of these characters are well-rounded, emotional and ambitious and often a bit snarky, as are the majority of the secondary characters (Justus Blake and Antony Lindley in particular).
The story plays out over the course of most of a year, early fall to late spring, and the story's pace ebbs and flows accordingly. A fast, hot start leads to a slow mid-winter building of intrigue, which leads to a powerful conclusion that the reader sees coming before the characters do but still can't help hoping will play out differently (and even then, there are surprises as to exactly how things happen and what the aftermaths are).
If you've read the previous two novels in the series, The Fall of the Kings features several scenes that will but a nostalgic smile on your face. If you haven't read the previous two novels, those same scenes will be the ones that make you want to read them without diminishing your enjoyment of the current book at all.
This is definitely one of my highest-recommended books, both in print and in audio. Kushner and some friends have been expanding the Tremontaine/Riverside back-story in a new series of short stories on Serialbox, but I'm really hoping she and Delia will give us a sequel to this book someday....more
It's no secret I love the world Jordan L. Hawk has built around her Whyborne & Griffin characters. Lovecraftian in inspiration and nature, but verIt's no secret I love the world Jordan L. Hawk has built around her Whyborne & Griffin characters. Lovecraftian in inspiration and nature, but very much her own. If there's one complaint (and it's a good complaint to have, in my humble opinion), it's that I always want more of the ever-growing supporting cast than the author can reasonably fit in a single book of the series, especially when the series is narrated by the two main characters. So a spin-off novella featuring two of the most under-utilized supporting players in the series was an easy sell for me, especially when I saw the narrator was the delightful Miss Maggie Parkhurst, working alongside Persephone Whyborne, the series' main character's long-estranged sister.
Hawk didn't disappoint me: Maggie's voice is true and clear, and different enough from Percival Whyborne and Griffin Flaherty's voices to stand out while sharing many of the men's insecurities. (Seriously, it's not a Hawk book if someone isn't feeling unworthy of being loved or regretting not making the first move. It's part of what I love about her books.) The action sequences are as thrilling as ever, and we get more details on the nature of the Ketoi race that Persephone comes from. And seriously, again: who can resist a fight sequence featuring the Fighting Librarians of the Nathaniel R. Ladysmith Museum?
The novella is just the right length for the story at hand, taking place as it does concurrently with the series novel "Fallow." It also made me hope for further Maggie/Persephone novellas. It also made me hope Hawk will also give us a Chrstine/Kander novella (yes, I know, they're a straight couple ... they still deserve a turn in the spotlight!)....more
I was familiar the work of four of the twenty authors in this anthology (Junot Dian, Sabrina Vourvoulias, Daniel Jose Older and Carmen Maria Machado)I was familiar the work of four of the twenty authors in this anthology (Junot Dian, Sabrina Vourvoulias, Daniel Jose Older and Carmen Maria Machado) so I expected to be introduced to a variety of Latin@ voices for the first time, and I was not disappointed in the depth and breadth of storytelling.
I really enjoyed this short look into where the characters of Daniel Jose Older's Shadowshaper may be headed, and really appreciated the focus on seveI really enjoyed this short look into where the characters of Daniel Jose Older's Shadowshaper may be headed, and really appreciated the focus on several supporting characters from the novel. I'm not sure Tee and Izzy really got to shine in the novel, but they do so here in all the indivuality that made me love them from the get-go.
The action is tightly-plotted, the main plot builds quickly, and there's one hell of an action sequence pay-off. Older's worldbuidling for his supernaturally-connected Brooklyn (both in the Shadowshaper YA books and the Bone Street Rhumba urban fantasy series, which clearly co-exist) is just fantastic. And of course, his prose is as lyrical and beat-filled as ever. And he doesn't skimp on the heartbreak, for sure.
This just made me even more excited for the next Shadowshaper novel later this year....more
A really enjoyable, and relatively calm (which is saying a lot when it comes to short stories and novellas set in McGuire's October Daye universe) talA really enjoyable, and relatively calm (which is saying a lot when it comes to short stories and novellas set in McGuire's October Daye universe) tale narrated by Quentin Sollys, erstwhile squire to October Daye. The stakes in this one are all emotional; not a single character ends up covered in blood. (Again, that's a departure for these characters!)
I absolutely loved it. It made me feel the way the first "A Day In The Life" issue of Marv Wolfman and George Perez's New Teen Titans series did: that the author was giving us character development and world-building without the need for high action stakes. Not that I don't love the ridiculous violent situations Toby and her friends end up in on a regular basis; but this was a nice break. And a nice chance to get to know how Quentin views his over-the-top life and his the relationships his friends have with himself and with each other.
And on top of that, it's an awesome coming of age story about a boy on the path to the man he will be, who learns more about himself every day....more
Let me start by saying: Dane Whitman, the Black Knight, has long been one of my favorite comics characters, and not only because I'm a sucker for anytLet me start by saying: Dane Whitman, the Black Knight, has long been one of my favorite comics characters, and not only because I'm a sucker for anything related to Camelot. Over the years, Dane's gone from interesting supporting character to well-developed lead character. If I still bought monthly comics, this would have been at the top of my pre-order list for the entire run. I think I'd have been just as disappointed reading it monthly as I was reading it in one full sitting.
I have no problem with revisiting the issue of Dane's Ebony Blade being an evil weapon that corrupts/addicts anyone who touches it, when that revisitation is done well. And I think moving Dane into a more fantasy setting (especially Marvel's classic Weirdworld, which I also loved back in the 70s as a kid) is a good way to give the character the surroundings he needs to set him apart from other Avengers. But this story is just not that good, despite pieces that should work.
What didn't I like?
First, The set-up of the Avengers hunting Dane. Why they were hunting him, told in poorly-paced flashbacks, felt rather anti-climactic. The "Avenger kills someone, goes on the run, gets caught, everything works out" thing has been done before, but the stakes in those stories usually felt real. This felt like a way to get a gaggle of popular guest-stars (including Deadpool?) into a story just to boost initial sales of Dane's new solo book. (I get the impression it didn't work.) This first arc would have been tighter had the creative team concentrated on Dane's attempts to run New Avalon and the problems he was facing, dropping hints as to how he got to Weirdworld and what he was running from while showing us the Blade slowly again trying to corrupt him.
Second, the lack of development for the supporting cast. We get a bit of personality for Dane's two main sidekicks, his "shield" and "spear," but not enough for me to even recall their names without reaching for the book. They didn't stand out, and they should have.
Third, the art. It just seemed muddy and inconsistent to me, and everyone looks emaciated. (Especially Brother Voodoo!) It distracted me from the story -- although I will give the artists props for conveying the ever-changing and unusual topography of Weirdworld and the cool look for the toad men.
I keep hoping someday someone will find the right solo story to tell with Dane Whitman, but this retread of "sword possesses hero" just didn't do it for me. Of course, your mileage may vary....more
Another tightly-told first person story with incredibly detailed world-building from Seanan McGuire. Narrator Jenna Pace's voice is authentic and famiAnother tightly-told first person story with incredibly detailed world-building from Seanan McGuire. Narrator Jenna Pace's voice is authentic and familiar without being a stereotypical female urban fantasy first person narrator: there's none of the pop-culture-referencing snark that I love so much about the characters in McGuire's InCryptid and October Daye series or in Jim Butcher's Dresden Files.
In 180 pages, we get the story's background, conflict and resolution. I had a hard time putting this one down even when it was absolutely necessary, and Jenna's voice lingers with me hours after finishing the book.
I'm also intrigued by the world Jenna exists in: of ghosts who can steal and give back time and witches who are tied to things that give them power. I want to know more about the ghosts, but also about the corn witches, sky witches, subway witches, and so on. There have to be more stories to tell in this world, whether those stories belong to Jenna, Brenda, Delia or others we haven't met.
Of course, I'm also curious if (and yes, how) this world connects to Seanan's other wonderful ghost story, Sparrow Hill Road. I can easily see these ghosts and witches co-existing with Rose Marshall and her world. But then again, there's no real need to connect them, either. This story stands very well as a world of its own....more
No time for a detailed review, but: I'm so glad I finally read this (it's been on the TBR list since I ordered it from Subterranean Press). I love eveNo time for a detailed review, but: I'm so glad I finally read this (it's been on the TBR list since I ordered it from Subterranean Press). I love everything I've read by both of these authors, and together they've crafted something that is wonderful: full of pain and regret and mystery but also healing and hope and answers. I mean it as a compliment when I saw this very much reminded me of an early Stephen King novella -- I can imagine it in the "Different Seasons" collection, for instance. Headley and Howard give us something nuanced and touching. A must-read, for sure....more