A world where the gods are real, and for the humans living on the savannah, appeasing them could mean the difference between life and death. In spiteA world where the gods are real, and for the humans living on the savannah, appeasing them could mean the difference between life and death. In spite of their prayers and dances to the gods of the rain and the savannah, their village has faced drought and been destroyed by fire. They have fled to the edge of the savannah, where the forest meets the plains, to start a new life.
But this has drawn the attention of the steward of the forest, Doto, son of the forest god, Kwaee. Doto governs the forest in his father's stead, and he notices the humans have moved close. He assumes they are here to destroy everything, as they once did in the past. His father gives him a task: bring one of the men to him alive.
Meanwhile, Clay, a human in the village devoted to the gods, suffers his brother's blasphemy. Laughing Dog does not believe the gods exist at all. If they did, why did they have to move? Why did the gods not hear their prayers? Perhaps man should start doing things himself instead of begging the gods for favor. Clay is injured on a hunt, and Laughing Dog is held responsible and banished to the desert. Doto snatches Clay from his village and takes him on the long journey to meet his father and answer for the crimes of his people.
The book has a very slow start. The first chapter is interesting, meeting a god, learning how his world works, what his part is in it and how he can manipulate it. Meeting his father had the same effect on me as it had on Doto. *I* was intimidated. Then the focus turns to the humans, and I wasn't nearly as interested in Clay and Laughing Dog as I was in Doto.
It isn't until chapter 4, when Doto takes Clay from his village, that the book picks up. We learn about the world as we journey with Doto and Clay, as they learn about one another's worlds, and things begin to make sense. There are rules the gods must obey, and the book does a good job establishing and sticking to them. Once I got past the buildup and the story began moving, it became a page-turner.
Laughing Dog becomes a much more interesting character when he's on his own, trying to prove his conviction that the gods do not exist. Watching him become a servant, believing all the while it is his will and his idea, becomes scary towards the end. It, too, has a slow start, but the wait does pay off.
A few paragraphs in chapter 4 telegraph where Clay and Doto are going to end up. There is a lot of sexual tension between these two, and the hints early on go too far beyond foreshadowing. Still, watching these two develop a relationship is enormously satisfying, never letting the reader forget they are not equals. This is a god and a man, and the god sometimes behaves like an arrogant child having a tantrum. Over the course of the book, Doto is humbled, both in large ways and in small. He changes a lot from the beginning of the book to the end, and I like what he becomes.
Clay is a passive main character through the whole book, but there is a very good reason for him to be. Towards the end, he does begin to assert himself, and I hope he continues to do so. The book ends hinting at a role reversal, and after all that, it will be a welcome change.
The world Campbell creates is well thought-out and tantalizing, and I look forward to learning more about it, and the people and gods who populate it. The buildup is slow, but the payoff is worth it....more
The current head of the Rosewater Foundation, Eliot Rosewater, is a very peculiar man. He was born to a rich family, has more money than he could everThe current head of the Rosewater Foundation, Eliot Rosewater, is a very peculiar man. He was born to a rich family, has more money than he could ever spend on his own, and yet all he wants to do is help the poor. There are people conspiring to declare him insane so they can install a new head of the Foundation. Someone they can manipulate into diverting some of that money into their undeserving hands.
The narrative is so disjointed, never finding a focus. It wanders back and forth from past to present and from character to character, some of whom have no relevance to the plot, but serve to illustrate the theme in some way.
It's the same theme of Player Piano, but more mature and better-defined. In this day and age when man's jobs are replaced by machines, people are still expected to make a living. (Vonnegut predicts that if this trend continues, people will need two doctorates just to find a job. We're almost there.) As the poor are pushed into unemployment, the wealthy people in the country teach the poor to feel bad about themselves for not having enough determination to get rich, as they themselves have done.
The rich people in this book believe all poor people are just lazy freeloaders who should thank the rich for all that they've created, such as the sunrise and the ocean.
However, none of the rich people earned their money through determination and hard work. They're living off the wealth their ancestors made, and because they have money, it's easy for them to make more. Hell, their money grows on its own without them having to do a thing to it. Their ancestors didn't even make their fortunes by working hard, but by swindling the right people and making investments that happened to pay off.
Vonnegut mocks the conservatives who tell the people they must work hard to achieve success. He even pokes at the people who think wealth redistribution is the answer to America's problems by showing that people who gain large sums of money become useless, too.
That's the heart of the story: uselessness. The poor have no money, their jobs are replaced by machines, and so they have no purpose in the world anymore. The rich have money, don't need to work, and therefore have no purpose in the world either. The two case studies of uselessness, a rich town and a poor town, show the same futility. Opposite sides of the same coin.
The rich think it's pointless to help the poor because if you help the poor, you take away their incentive to help themselves. Charity, welfare, etc. make people dependent on the handouts of others and they become lazy and useless. Eliot discovers this several times, when he buys something for a person, only for that person to squander it.
Vonnegut shows that the rich have had handouts of their own, primarily though inheritance, and have become the very definition of "useless" they despise.
Only a few have actually done well under the free market system, and they are still slaving away to get by.
It's rich verses poor in this disjointed, meandering tale of human beings who struggle against uselessness. Fifty years after this book was published, and people are still saying the same things. Nothing has changed at all since the 60's.
Is Eliot insane? For daring to think of people as human beings instead of judging them by what use they are to the world, yes. He is....more
One of those books that can be retitled "Can You Finish It?" It's a thick, dense story that takes a long time to get started. In fact, the book didn'tOne of those books that can be retitled "Can You Finish It?" It's a thick, dense story that takes a long time to get started. In fact, the book didn't grab me until about halfway through it!
It starts with J. Arnold Ross and his six-or-seventh-grade son taking a car ride to a place in California where they are going to negotiate rights with a community to drill for oil on their land. You see, Mr. Ross is an independent oil baron. He's drilled dozens of tracts all over California, and has made quite a name for himself in the industry. The community descends into bickering with one another, and Ross abandons negotiating with those people. Instead, he drills somewhere else, on land with a much more reasonable person.
During this, Ross Jr. ("Bunny") meets Paul Watkins, a teenage runaway who wants to escape his father's religious fanaticism and strike out on his own, where he's free to think for himself and question the faith. Paul tells him there's oil on his father's land, but they're about to lose their house because they can't pay the bank anymore. Paul vanishes into the night.
Bunny is moved with compassion, so he takes his father there and begs him to buy the lease. He sees a way to get his father to do it: buy the lease and get an oil land to himself at the same time. They'll be helping a family in need and securing an oil field at once.
So they get to the Watkins ranch, Ross buys the land but doesn't tell the family there's oil on it. He is set to get millions out of the land, but only pays a few thousand for it. Bunny feels uneasy about this, but it is business.
To drill the oil, Ross has to bribe officials and buy local politicians just to get a road built. And then there is the strike. Bunny's father, along with the Petroleum Employers' Federation, put down a strike.
In practice Dad had observed that a labor union enabled a lot of officials to live off the work of the real workers; these officials became a class by themselves, a sort of vested interest, and they look out for themselves, and not for labor. They naturally had to make some excuse for their own existence, and so were apt to stir up the workers to discontent ...
Ah, but Paul, now head of the labor, argues that before Mr. Ross joined the Federation, he paid his employees a dollar a day more just to attract better workers. Once he joined what amounts to a union for the employers, he had to pay them the standard rate. The entire oil industry is unionized at the employer level who fixes prices, wages and working hours, so why should the workers not have a union to represent their interests, too?
Capital verses Labor. Bunny gets to see this conflict over and over, and then at the 45% mark or so, something interesting happens: the oil baron's son becomes a communist sympathizer. I had to slog through over 200 pages before the book got interesting. Up until then, everything Mr. Ross does comes across as just necessary to do business. But when Bunny starts to turn Red, now I have to see how this plays out.
The first world war happens, and though Bunny is protected from serving, Paul goes into it and ends up in Siberia for over a year. Bunny learns from one of his college professor the real reason for the war:
What Mr. Irving said was that our troops were in Siberia because American bankers and big business men had loaned enormous sums of money to the government of the Tsar, both before the war and during it; the Bolshevik government had repudiated these debts, and therefore our bankers and business men were determined to destroy it. It was not merely the amount of the money, but the precedent involved; if the government of any country could repudiate the obligations of a pervious government, what would become of international loans?
Bunny slowly begins to understand how the country works, and who's running it, and it isn't the government.
Bunny's father joins with Victor Roscoe, another independent oil baron, and form a joint company. As the years go by, Dad and Mr. Roscoe apply those old techniques on a bigger scale. They buy politicians, judges, everyone they need to obtain more land for drilling and to keep the workers down.
This book portrays what the communist movement was really all about, and it had nothing to do with taking hard-earned money and giving it to people who didn't earn it. It was about getting rid of the elite class of fat cats living off the work of others.
It even presents the Capitalist's point of view:
"I can buy officials, just the same as I can buy any politicians, or anybody else that a bunch of boobs can elect to office. ... It's because i had the brains to make the money, and I got the brains to use it. Money ain't power till it's used, and the reason I can buy power is because men know I can use it. ... I'm going to find oil and bring it to the top of the ground and refine it and sell it to whoever's got the price. So long as the world needs oil, that's my job; and when they can get along without oil, I'll do something else. And if anybody wants to share in that job, let him do like I done, get out and sweat, and work, and play the game."
"But Mr. Roscoe, that's hardly a practical advice for all the workers. Everybody can't be an operator."
"No, kiddo, you bet your boots they can't--only them that's got the brains. The rest have to work."
Bunny realizes all his father's wealth was earned on the backs of underpaid, overworked workers. People die getting their oil out of the ground, and yet the oil barons don't think the workers deserve a living wage, or safe conditions.
This is fascinating, watching a rich kid come to terms with the reality of where his life of luxury came from. He's not really a communist, but he does sympathize with them. Really, what were the ideas that constituted a Red?
Apparently there are communist ideas: To acknowledge that the whole reason we go to war and are involved with other countries is because the rich business owners demand a return on their investment, therefore the rest of us must fight and die for them. They buy the press, the movies, the politicians and get them to present it as a moral and just reason to fight, but really it's all about money and protecting their status as the rich elite.
Perhaps we have no right to be in foreign countries. Perhaps we should leave other countries alone. Perhaps these people were merely trying to fight for their equal right. Perhaps they fight to get rid of the burden of occupation, and we are in fact the bad guy? Maybe the only threat was to the white man's ruling class and it had nothing to do with morality at all, but to protect the current establishment?
These are the ideas that got someone branded as a communist? To dare criticize America's intentions, its institutions? There was a time when certain viewpoints were heavily censored. We don't like to call it that in America, but it's what happened. Voicing ideas like these was once forbidden. These were the ideas that were branded un-American and censored??
Nothing could change the fact that it was on money wrung from Paradise workers that Bunny was living in luxury; nothing could change the fact that it had been to increase the amount of this money, to intensify the exploitation of the workers, that Paul had spent three months in jail and the other fellows were to spend nearly a year in jail.
J. Arnold Ross got rich by working his people into the ground. The Capitalists argue that without themselves to direct the whole process, none of those men would have had a job to begin with, but, Bunny wonders, does that really justify taking everything and giving next to nothing to the people who got that oil out of the ground for them? The Socialist movement was about balance and fairness, not redistribution.
Bunny witnesses all the things his father did when he was just an independent. He took the Watkins land without telling them he thought there was oil on it, bribed politicians to get roads built for him, bought up land secretly so no one suspected an oil man was there and the prices go up. When it's small like this, it's just something a man has to go get business done without being cheated.
But when Mr. Ross and Mr. Roscoe do these things on a national scale, things are different. Their company buys politicians, judges, clerks and everyone up and down the line to manipulate the government to the oil barons' favor. People fake documents, destroy still more documents and create legal reason to kick people off their land when oil is discovered on or near it. These people are out of a home, receive no compensation for the oil on their land, or the land itself, and because the oil companies bought the judges and the politicians, there is no legal recourse.
A pitiful, pitiful story--and the worst part of it, you could see it wasn't a single case, but a system. One more way by which the rich and powerful were plundering the poor and weak!
Bunny learns it isn't those who work the hardest who get the reward of riches and success, rather those who exploit others the best that get to be rich and live easy lives. He wonders if there is a better system to live by than simply to throw all the world's resources on the ground and let everyone fight for it all, and only the greediest, nastiest, most heartless people get anything.
Here are a few more good quotes:
It was a world in which some people worked all the time, and others played all the time. To work all the time was a bore, and no one would do it unless he had to; but to play all the time was equally a bore, and the people who did it never had anything to talk about that Bunny wanted to listen to.
Capitalism formed a class of rich elites who do nothing but go to parties and gossip about each other. Bunny doesn't fit into this life at all. He sympathizes with the oil workers who risk their lives to get oil out of the ground, all so he and Dad can live easy. Bunny feels guilty about it.
but what did she want with five thousand a week? To buy more applause and attention, as a means of getting more thousands and for more weeks? It was a vicious circle--exactly like Dad's oil wells. The wobblies had a song about it in their jungles: "We go to work to get the cash to buy the food to get the strength to go to work to get the cash to buy he food to get the strength to go to work--" and so on, as long as your breath held out.
It was the working world then, as it is now.
...their lack of familiarity with their jobs was a cause of endless trouble; they would slip from greasy derricks, or get crushed by the heavy pipe, and the company had had to build an addition to the hospital. But of course that was cheaper than paying union wages to skilled men!
It is cheaper to hire people who don't know what they're doing and mess up more, than to hire skilled people a decent wage.
The book is about Bunny trying to decide what he is. Pink or Red. Socialist or Communist. Those who want to achieve better conditions and wages peacefully by negotiation, or those who want an outright revolution against the rich men who manipulate entire countries to protect their own power and business interests. This is what the Communists stood for. No wonder the Capitalists were so hell-bent against it.
The Capitalists despise democracy because it is only through buying the government that business can exist in this way, and they can have such power. Therefore, business becomes a competition to buy the government. The book portrays the Red goal being to break the strangle of big business on the government and restore democracy that represents the people's interests. Doesn't that sound familiar? Upton Sinclair wrote about today's world in 1927. Nothing has changed.
It's a very dense, hard-to-read book, but once J. Arnold Ross Jr. begins to sympathize with the communists, it becomes a surprising page-turner.
When a male confesses to not hating Twilight, of course he receives an intervention. A buddy of mine gave me some very good arguments for why I shouldWhen a male confesses to not hating Twilight, of course he receives an intervention. A buddy of mine gave me some very good arguments for why I should hate Twilight, and I don't disagree with him. In fact, I'm having a very hard time justifying why I didn't blatantly hate the book. It has everything I should not like, and yet I didn't hate it... I'm told Anne Rice told the same story with much more maturity and insight, minus the angsty teenage romance, preserving vampires as a genuine, monstrous threat, and yet I didn't hate the book. I realize the main character is pathetically passive and helpless, Edward loves her for no good reason, Bella is stupid and useless to the point of being unlikable, and yet I didn't hate the book! In fact, I liked New Moon better than Twilight.
If Twilight was all about finding a boyfriend and being head over heels in love with him, New Moon is all about how girls handle breaking up with their boyfriends. Every action has an equal but opposite reaction, and as giddy as Bella was about having a loyal, loving vampire boyfriend, she is just as broken up when he leaves her. His reason is almost noble: just him being there puts her in harm's way, so to keep her safe, he leaves Forks. He never asks her if she's willing to live with the danger; he just makes up his mind anyway. Stupid and melodramatic, but I can see how Edward might need a break from rescuing Bella from herself all the time.
Bella becomes paralyzed with grief from the breakup. She pines away for four whole months, becoming a zombie, unable to handle the reality that her beloved Edward, who didn't love her for any reason other than her blood scent made him love her, is gone.
This is pathetic. Really, it is. She doesn't even try to see Edward's point. Instead, she simply folds into herself and broods for four whole months. I honestly don't believe his absence justifies such a huge reaction. Again, Edward's only motivation for loving Bella was her scent. Bella's only motivation for loving Edward was the fact that he is interested in her, he's beautiful--in short, because he loves Bella for no good reason!
In Twilight I was willing to believe that she was beguiled by his vampire charm and under his spell and that's why she still yearns for him. The book implies that's how vampires lure their prey, so that must be what Bella is going through. Twilight hinted at this, but in New Moon it seems clear that... this is just who she is. I think if the book established this is why she's so obsessed with Edward, she'd be a hell of a lot more likable, but that's reaching. It's who Bella is. No vampire charm needed.
So she pines away, and then she starts hearing Edward's voice in her memory whenever she does something reckless and dangerous. She decides to start riding a motorcycle just to be reckless so she can hear Edward's voice again. She finds a couple old motorcycles on the side of the road, and remembers there's one person who can rebuild them: Jacob.
Ah, Jacob. He's the reason I enjoyed reading New Moon! He's the reason I read the entire middle-third of the book with a glimmer of hope in my heart for Bella!
Bella spends time with Jacob while he rebuilds the motorcycles for her. They share experiences, they do things together, Bella even laughs! They share a running joke between one another, and it's cute! I mean it, it made me smile! Jacob and Bella build a real relationship! Bella actually becomes a happy person!
This is way more than she had with Edward! Much, much more! There's actually a reason for Jacob to be interested in Bella, she actually has a reason to be interested in him! She's not as klutzy all of a sudden, she's laughing and enjoying herself! Instead of comparing herself to the perfect vampire and feeling horribly inadequate, she's on equal terms with Jacob, and it suits her a hell of a lot better!
Granted she's there for a very selfish, emo, illogical purpose, but it morphs into something beneficial, which is interesting and good! I wondered if Bella could be on the way to redeeming herself.
But nope. She's afraid to let go of the pain of losing Edward, probably because she's afraid to be happy without him. She's afraid to move on with someone else, like she should. She takes the wonderful relationship she builds with Jacob and throws it back in his face.
He actually asks her for a relationship. Not sex. A relationship, a commitment! Bella responds by leading him on, then pushing him away, then pulling him close because she "needs him," but she doesn't want to commit to him. Bella wants to use Jacob for emotional support, but she refuses to give him anything back, and it's not even sex he's after! The girl wants all the benefits of emotional support, but doesn't want to commit to him, and it's the guy who wants the serious relationship, not the girl. Is that bad writing or clever role reversal?
And I'm sure everyone knows Jacob is a werewolf, so there's no spoiler in giving that away. Why is Bella upset at Jacob for pushing her away after he first changes when she pushed him away first?
So then it comes out that a vampire named Victoria is hunting Bella, and the pack of werewolves have been the only thing keeping her safe. She is recruited to help lure the vampire close so the wolves can kill Victoria.
I love these werewolves... all big teenage boys bursting with muscles walking out of the woods bare-chested. Funny, and oh yeah I can understand why people hate these books. It's just so wrong to take terrifying creatures of the night and turn them into hot boys who are fighting over the ugly girl who doesn't deserve it.
But... men have been reimagining monsters into the image of beautiful women for male fantasy fulfillment for generations. Well, this book takes monsters and reimagines them into beautiful men for female eye candy. Again, payback hurts, don't it boys?
The solution to their problem should be simple: set Bella in a distant field, have the pack wait in the shadows for the vampire, and kill the bloodsucker as soon as she makes a move for Bella! It should be that easy, but the werewolves don't do this. They keep hunting for her while Bella goes about normal life, visiting the La Push reservation a little more frequently. They don't let Bella help, like Jacob proposed. I don't understand why they wouldn't. It would end the hunt a lot quicker.
So instead the werewolves hunt Victoria the hard way, keeping what she wants deep behind their lines. Even as these werewolves risk their lives to hunt the vampire that's stalking Bella, our protagonist broods over the loss of her boyfriend. Bella can't stand to be around Sam and Emily, two lovers on the reservation. Every time she's around them she's only reminded of what she and Edward once had and has to get away from them. First thought is: Bella, it's been months, get over it, Edward never really loved you, you never really had anything with him, the relationship you've built with Jacob is ten times stronger so stop teasing him and commit to a relationship damn it!
This seems very childish and wimpy but... from what my mother told me, it's like this. Girls handle the loss of a lover much differently than boys do. She hated being around older, happily married couples because all she could feel was the loss of her happy marriage. Whenever the pastor started preaching about things like unconditional love and marital commitment, she left the church to cry.
As stupid and illogical as her behavior is--and that we can't explain it away as being under the spell of a vampire--it's not supposed to be logical. Logic is not involved; emotions are running in high gear. Correct me if I'm generalizing, but isn't this how little girls think?
To drive that point home, while the werewolves are patrolling for Victoria, Bella decides to jump off a cliff into the ocean just to hear Edward's voice in her mind again. Bella, Bella, Bella... Jacob and Edward really are too good for you.
She is a very frustrating main character. She is pathetic, she is useless, she is helpless, but the reason I can read this and not hate it is because as insufferable as Bella is, being in such intimate touch with her thoughts characterizes her very well. It enables me to roll with her unjustified angst. She's still unlikable and I hate her intellectually, but thanks to the narration I believe that she believes what she does makes perfect sense. It's a bit like reading a book from the point of view of the villain. You might hate the person and what he does, but because you know what he's thinking, you believe in what he believes. Reading about Bella is like that. Even though I hate her, I accept her as a flighty, emotionally unstable, needy, teenage girl.
It's for the same reason I can't hate Al Bundy, or Homer Simpson, or Hyacinth Bucket. Outside the context of the sitcom, these are unlikable people! They are annoying, stupid, pathetic, insane losers--so much that we shouldn't like them, and yet we can't help but care what happens to them! I enjoyed reading Twilight and New Moon because I don't like the main character.
Honestly I am curious about this world of vampires and werewolves Twilight sets up, and that's why I'm reading. Edward's history is interesting. Dr. Cullen's history is interesting. His goal is admirable and I enjoy those sections of the story. The werewolves are also interesting--I would love to know more about this mental connection the pack shares, and just what kind of influence the alpha has on them. That's a really cool idea, but Bella is in the way of the story! I know she is and I should resent seeing this hidden world through her eyes, but I don't because Bella's pathetic brooding and self-destruction is fascinating, too, but for all the wrong reasons.
The conclusion of the book is disappointing. Ripping off Romeo and Juliet? Really? Is that the best the book could do?
It is interesting to find out Bella is immune to other vampires' talents as well, but her incessant whining about how she wants to become a vampire with Edward is irritating. To be fair, Edward doesn't make a good argument for why he wants her to stay human, but their relationship is built on such a weak foundation compared to what Bella had with Jacob I can't understand why she is so hellbent on it.
Of course, Bella wants it both ways. She wants Jacob as a friend and Edward as a lover, and she doesn't see why this could be a little unfair to both of them.
So far the series totally fails in its most important point: Edward and Bella are in love. I don't believe it. Jacob and Bella built a much stronger relationship in New Moon. Jacob brings out the best in her: humor, energy, life, sunshine! When Bella is with Edward, all she does is whine about wanting to be a vampire with him. She seems to make Edward more angry and frustrated than happy. Their love is not convincing. Meanwhile, with Jacob, they were both laughing and happy and sharing experiences together! To anyone else, it's a no-brainer what she should do, but not to Bella, and watching her make the wrong choices again and again is oddly addictive.
This series is so weak choosing to focus on the teenage angst and not the werewolves and vampires. The whole concept would be much better if Bella were like this because she is under a vampire's charm! Everything in the story would work--her angst, her brooding, her pining away, her helplessness--EVERYTHING would make sense and it would portray her as a sympathetic character destroying herself over this Edward!
But it's not. Bella really is an angsty teenager obsessed with a boy for no good reason. She's her own worst enemy, and this is fascinating to watch in another way altogether. It's the wrong reason not to hate a book, but it's the truth....more
A collection of short, narrative stories. Like a collection of modern folktales, gods such as Death, Time and Modesty are often personified, but withA collection of short, narrative stories. Like a collection of modern folktales, gods such as Death, Time and Modesty are often personified, but with a modern twist. Gods alongside cellphones and facebook, demons presented in strange fictional worlds populated by sorcerers and magic which turns out to be a clever allegory about pop culture. My favorites include:
"The New God" One of the surprise ending stories that seems to be about ancient peoples in old times...only to stab the reader through the funny bone and make us laugh at the present.
"The Scholar and the Moon" The first story in the collection that really grabbed me. In this town, the people's moods are set and reset every month by the moon. Some months the moon will turn everyone into murders. Other months everyone will become honest and compassionate. There is no way to tell, or to prepare. So what happens to the one man who isn't affected? It's quite a memorable tale set in a strange world full of old-world imagery and macabre humor.
"Everlasting Fire" A comedic story about two demons falling in love. Most of the stories in the collection have this motif going on: plague-era, old-world imagery and humor mixed with modern perspective. The mixture works very well here.
"The Warring Gods" A very short story about the gods of Sex and Lust that is potent and biting.
"When Love Calls" Can't find love? There's an app for that. Who needs humans when we have smartphones?
"The End" Monsters, it turns out, are not rare at all. What's the point of being a monster is nobody's around to be scared of you?
"Two Brothers" Another piece of short satire about the hypocrisy of what we consider success in the modern world.
The strange juxtaposition of gothic settings and characters with modern technology and satire is appealing and memorable. Highly recommended for those entranced by the plague-era artwork populated by dancing skeletons, those who want to see what happens when Death falls in love, and why cats always hide under buildings....more
Three short stories about an asshole werelion in high school protecting a neighborhood from supernatural creatures. Good setup for adventure, and alsoThree short stories about an asshole werelion in high school protecting a neighborhood from supernatural creatures. Good setup for adventure, and also light, gay fantasy. (Teenagers who have bodybuilder physiques... two beefy musclecats going at it in one scene...) The stories go by way too quick, which makes me wish there were more adventures of this group. Maybe there will be someday. It is a great setup for a world, and a good team made up of a werelion, a weretiger and a self-taught sorcerer. The action is well-written and the situations they get into are interesting, but it's begging for more depth to the situations, more meaningful character interactions, more scope, more of everything. It feels like a work in progress and I hope to read more of this world in the future....more
A little, "independent" collection of weird short stories. My standouts are:
Expansion Peach: fun visuals and totally absurd. A man and his son get sucA little, "independent" collection of weird short stories. My standouts are:
Expansion Peach: fun visuals and totally absurd. A man and his son get sucked onto a peach planet.
Pterodactyl Eggs in the Supermarket: the best story in the collection. Weird and surreal, but in a coherent way, which is what I like in fiction like this.
Thorquake: A mashup of Shatnerquake and Felix and the Sacred Thor. If you have not read them, this story will fly right over your head. But for those of you who have experienced both books, it's clever, funny and uncomfortable (for the authors of those books *ahem*)
We Will Start a Band: second favorite in the collection. We will start a band, and we will get famous by not making any music! Actually made me smile.
Zero: probably the most sincere story in the collection. By sincere, I mean it's the right balance of actual story combined with artistic technique. Many of the stories come across as trying too hard to be creative and artistic, and this one almost does, too, but it's actually a good use of nonlinear imagery to paint a memorable picture of a different world. I wish it had been published somewhere. It deserved to be.
I wish this were an actual published collection and not a free download. This would've stood quite well as a fully-published collection....more
100 horror stories of 100 words each. It's hard to review this collection because to describe any of the stories would use more words than the stories100 horror stories of 100 words each. It's hard to review this collection because to describe any of the stories would use more words than the stories do. Many of the stories (by the very nature of the format) go by so fast they leave no impression. But there are many that do manage to leave a lasting impression on the reader after they zoom by. My favorites are:
Growing a Spare (Rachel Green): I want to say so much about this, but anything I say will give away too much.
Fathers and Sons (Quinn Hernandez): The Amazon peek sample. What an impression...
Burrower (A. R. Aston): Yuck.
Homecoming (Nathan Barnes): "Transformation is upon me..." Into what? Doesn't matter.
Me Am Love You (Noah Mullette-Gillman): Playful, funny and also scary.
Wake Up (Kristal Stittle): I think everyone fears this.
Chop, Chop, Chop Goes the Knife (Peter Newman): I vote this as my favorite in the collection. True horror is not a monster. It is everyday life.
My Ceiling Bleeds (Jon McAchren): What happens upstairs always drips down.
Self-Harm (Jason D. Brawn): What is he feeding? I don't want to know.
Lying Eyes (James Fadeley): A very cool idea filled with powerful visuals in such a tiny space. Second best in the collection.
Cold (Scott Cole): What we must do to keep warm... The things we must burn...
The Power of the Pen (Shawn M. Riddle): I want my writing to wake the devil, too.
The Last Song (Ed Fortune): Horror that ends on a note of macabre hope. I like that.
Your list will be different. The beauty of this collection is there's plenty of variety so odds are something will grab you. That's also the collection's weakness. A lot of stories go by that leave no lasting impression, so proportionally it feels a bit too light. Still, it's worth a look!...more
Second issue of the mature, sophisticated publication that isn't pornographic or arrogant. I like this collection even more than the first release! MySecond issue of the mature, sophisticated publication that isn't pornographic or arrogant. I like this collection even more than the first release! My standouts:
Magtwilla and the Mouse (Mary E. Lowd): if you're wondering what the definition of "saudade" is, I'm pretty sure this is your answer. It's a story about a cat who loses her kittens and is unable to stop it from happening. The ending is uncomfortably happy, which takes skill to pull off.
Rearview (Sean Silva): for me, this story and Magtwilla tie for my favorite in the collection. A pig's car breaks down on the side of the road, and who should come to his rescue but a wolf? It seems at first like a retelling of the Three Little Pigs, which means it drips with suspense. The ending hit me hard.
Beyond Mundane Horizons (Altivo Overo): here's an elegant story about a fox and a horse...or something. Without giving away too much, it's a very magical tale of leaving the familiar behind and chasing opportunity when you see it.
One Sheep (Mary E. Lowd): a clever, funny piece. Hard to believe it's the same person who wrote Magtwilla and the Mouse because the tone is the total opposite. What impressive range.
Tiger Light (Alice "Huskyteer" Dryden): one hell of a drug trip. Fun visuals and a totally absurd premise and wow is it a joy to read about.
No More Monday Memos (Tristan Black Wolf): All right, I enjoyed this story for its message and its tone. It implies a world of humanized animals without actually explaining anything. But at the same time it made me uncomfortable to see this old man hanging out with this... uh... young man. The age difference is a little weird, but other than that it's well-written, tasteful and meaningful. Some people call themselves "humans?" I say there should be an aptitude test.
I personally think volume two is a stronger collection than the first. Worth supporting!...more