This story is an example of the importance of editors. The book basically follows the script of most “super-soldier turning on his creators” origin stThis story is an example of the importance of editors. The book basically follows the script of most “super-soldier turning on his creators” origin stories. There are some good ideas here though it should be noted that the main character seems to be based on Warblade, a superhero whose main power is pointy fingers. Unfortunately, those ideas are overshadowed by numerous grammatical errors, odd semantic choices, and strange plot points a good editor would have caught. The plot moves quickly and there’s plenty of action, but not much time for characterization and, in some cases, simple logic. Based on this story, I’m not sure I’d be willing to spend more money on the author’s work.
*** SPOILER ALERTS ***
Here are some examples of plot issues in the form of questions I had while reading the story. Why did a super-secret government research group locate their facility in the middle of a city instead of in a more private, secluded area? The entire plot is contingent on the main character regaining his memory yet the story clearly indicates the research group that gave him his powers has the ability to completely eradicate their test subjects’ memories of their former lives. Why didn’t they do this to the main character as well? Why does a top-secret research group have helicopters emblazoned with their logo? That seems counter-productive from a “top-secret” perspective. The main character’s archenemy has magnetic powers. Why didn’t he use them on the main character’s metal prosthetics? There’s nothing in the main character’s sidekick’s background to indicate combat training or straight-up murder. When the bad guys show up at his hideout, how does the sidekick seamlessly switch from comic relief to gleefully and efficiently killing anything that moves? Why did the head bad guy transform the main character’s ex-fiancé into a mind-controlled assassin in advance unless he somehow knew the main character would regain his memory? The cyborg characters’ internal computers are often accessed via cables. Wouldn’t an advanced research group have gone wireless by now? On pp. 156-157, the main character arrives at a military base. Without showing any identification or even stating his purpose, he demands to see the base commander. Rather than being shot or taken into custody, his request is granted. Um…why? The main character’s sidekick is shot several times, including in major organs. When the main character goes to check on his friend a few hours later: “A quick scan of the attending physician’s charts revealed the wounded man could be out of the hospital in as little as a week.” (p. 257). That’s quite a recovery.
The biggest distraction for me was the numerous semantic and grammatical issues that a competent editor or average reader would easily catch. The most common issues I found: Word repetition within the same sentence. Odd or improper punctuation. Confusion about when to use a comma or ‘and’ versus when to use a period and start a new sentence. Proper verb tense. Odd, unnecessary, or repetitive explanations and details. Using “and” repeatedly where commas or some other sentence structure would be more appropriate. Odd sentence structures (sentence fragments, etc.). Sometimes the characters’ thoughts are put in quotation marks and sometimes they’re not....more
The Good: Similarities to Stephen King's "The Mist" aside, the book has an interesting plot and premise. The author gives excellent descriptions of plThe Good: Similarities to Stephen King's "The Mist" aside, the book has an interesting plot and premise. The author gives excellent descriptions of places, things, technologies, and overall atmosphere (I'm jealous of his vocabulary). There is usually a steady supply of action and monsters to keep the plot, most of which takes place in life boats stranded on a "dead sea", moving along.
The Not So Good: Too much of anything can be a bad thing. There is a fair amount of repetition in the description of both the characters' surroundings and the characters themselves. Establishing characters with their actions is much more effective than straight-forward exposition (show me don't tell me). Metaphors should be kept at a minimum too. It's usually sufficient to describe the thing itself without mentioning how much it's "like" something else. A constant stream of metaphors is just a distraction.
The Verdict: I would disagree that this is a Lovecraftian story, though it does have Lovecraftian moments. It's more of a haunted house story where the haunted house is another dimension. If there had been less telling and more showing I would have given it four stars. Overall, it was a fun read with lots of monstrous weirdness but would have been even better as a shorter, more streamlined story....more
Before I read this book, I was only familiar with Neil Gaiman via the Sandman comic and I hadn't read anything by Terry Pratchett so I didn't know whaBefore I read this book, I was only familiar with Neil Gaiman via the Sandman comic and I hadn't read anything by Terry Pratchett so I didn't know what to expect. That was years ago. Going back, I can now see which parts were most influenced by whom. The book is a nice blending of Gaiman's mythological world-building with Pratchett's cleverness and dry wit. To really appreciate it requires a working knowledge of Christianity and an extremely dry sense of humor. Not for everyone but I really enjoyed it. ...more
To me, Thomas Ligotti's work is a good demonstration of how horror is most effective in small doses. These illustrated adaptions of a handful of his sTo me, Thomas Ligotti's work is a good demonstration of how horror is most effective in small doses. These illustrated adaptions of a handful of his stories haul you in but don't give you enough time to become acclimated (and therefore desensitized to) the premise before bringing things to an abrupt (anti) resolution. Ligotti is one of the modern masters of weirdness and the artwork ranges from decent to downright spooky. Interesting stuff.
James Pratt, author of "When Dead Gods Dream" ...more
Protagonist Howard Roark is an eccentric genius who lives by the philsophy that people shouldn't pay him to do what THEY want, they should pay him toProtagonist Howard Roark is an eccentric genius who lives by the philsophy that people shouldn't pay him to do what THEY want, they should pay him to do what HE wants. Anything else would be a compromise of principles. With the exception of the place-holder love interest, all the other characters fall into two distinct categories, those who respect Howard but just can't live up to his standards or those who hate Howard because they can't live up to his standards. It's a very black and white story with no gray areas. Like John Galt, Howard Roark is a mystery to lesser men. The mystery to me is how anyone consider this an admirable, much less realistic, mentality. Roark isn't principled, he's a diva. Flat broke, he turns down jobs because he only wants to do what HE wants to do. Imagine having that conversation with a physician:
You: Doctor, I've got this weird growth and it keeps getting bigger. Doctor: Oh, sorry. I don't do growths. My only passion in life is treating rashes with topical creams. You: But I'm really worried. What if it's cancer? Can't you run some tests? Doctor: Nope, sorry. That would be compromising my principles. Why would you ask me to do that? Come back when you have a rash.
It isn't a story about principles, it's about a grown man with the mentality of a spoiled child who wins in the end only because he's a character in a story. Holding oneself to a high standard is admirable. So is pursuing a dream. But in the real world necessity and practicality are also (major) considerations. There's no shame in doing a day's work for a day's pay. It doesn't make you sheep, it makes you a responsible adult. I think Rand's message is that if everyone is serving their own best interests they will give 100% and society will benefit as a consequence. But most people don't want to pay you to follow YOUR dream or achieve YOUR vision. They want to pay you to provide a good or service that matters to THEM. Doing so isn't a compromise of principles, it's just how society works. ...more
An obvious follow-up to "Cthulhu Unbound", this collection of Lovecraftian tales appropriately spans across space and time. As with most Lovecraft antAn obvious follow-up to "Cthulhu Unbound", this collection of Lovecraftian tales appropriately spans across space and time. As with most Lovecraft anthologies, the stories vary in level of sophistication and connection to the mythos, but pretty much all these are at the least decently written and entertaining in their own way. And as always, there are a few standouts (for me, "The Tenants of Ladywell Manor" and "Tomb on a Dead Moon"). All of the tales seem firmly rooted in the Cthulhu mythos, as opposed to simply "Lovecraft-esque", making them a "conventional" collection thematically if not structurally. It might be my imagination but there does seem to be an emphasis on tongue-in-cheek tales, though straight-forward horror is certainly represented here too. Long story short, if you like tales with traditional Lovecraftian props and themes set in not so traditional Lovecraftian settings, you should enjoy this book or at the least find a few tales that appeal to you....more
Clive Barker is best known for the Hellraiser movies which is sort of a mixed blessing. I assume he's made piles of cash off of Pinhead and his fellowClive Barker is best known for the Hellraiser movies which is sort of a mixed blessing. I assume he's made piles of cash off of Pinhead and his fellow Cenobites, but Barker's real strength lies in his writing, most of which is far more visceral than overt and just wouldn't translate well to the big screen. He isn't so much a horror author as an amazing writer who happens to set most of his tales in the horror genre. Even his mediocre stories consist of a decent hook bolsterd by clever pose and imagery ranging from artfully understated to squirm-inducingly vivid. As it turned out I'd already read some of these stories as part of another Barker collection ('Books of Blook vol. 5' contains the same stories as 'In the Flesh', I believe), but it was fun to revisit them. Stand-out stories include 'Revelations' (I love Barker's take on ghosts and hauntings), 'Down Satan!' (a quick little tale about obsession), 'In the Flesh' (a weird tale that would have done H.P. Lovecraft proud), and 'The Life of Death' (a great demonstration of the fine art of dread). Long story short, Barker rules. ...more