The writing was solid, and overall the story was pretty good. The "gotcha" ending was a little disappointing, but Camilla Way created a mystery througThe writing was solid, and overall the story was pretty good. The "gotcha" ending was a little disappointing, but Camilla Way created a mystery through foreshadow and kept it together. Worth getting in to....more
Reading this anthology was a lot like meeting someone and getting off to a really bad start, and then getting a chance to know that person through friReading this anthology was a lot like meeting someone and getting off to a really bad start, and then getting a chance to know that person through friends and coming to realize your first impressions were totally wrong.
Actually, it's not like that at all. That's exactly what this collection of short stories did to me for Professor Challenger. I remember hearing about this anthology when it was first being put together a couple years ago. Not the biggest Author Conan Doyle fan (as in, I simply haven't read a lot of his work), I had no idea who Challenger was. I downloaded a copy of "The Poison Belt" off Gutenberg and met this illustrious professor.
I have to be honest here. I hated the character. I found him to be a pompous, insufferable bull of a man. The worst kind of self-righteous jerk.
And I couldn't have been more wrong, but it took an anthology such as "Professor Challenger: Professor Challenger: New Worlds, Lost Places" to show me the error of my ways.
The anthology is edited by J.R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec, a couple guys who know a thing or two about the work of Arthur Conan Doyle. It features 10 stories that place Challenger against an array of fantastic enemies, and involves characters culled straight from the Challenger stories and from the minds of the grandfathers of science fiction themselves -- including a fascinating take on the infamous Dr. Moreau.
More than that, though, these stories serve as a filter to allow the reader to see Challenger as those closest to him do. That insufferable brute of a man (with the mind of a genius) is also a loyal, understanding, and compassionate man. One who would just as soon toss you out a window as look at you... unless he calls you friend, in which case, he would move Heaven and earth for you. And this, to me, is what makes Prepolec and Campbell's vision of Challenger truly great.
I hope they come back and do another one of these anthologies. There is so much more for Challenger to do. I found myself thinking of the stories which could be mined from the collective world built in this anthology. A world of science, but also a world of dinosaurs, aliens, body thieves, lunar insect kingdoms, crypto zoology, time travel, genetic manipulation... and, of course, Nazis.
Also, I feel I owe Professor Challenger an apology. I simply didn't know him as well as his friends do, and now, after reading "Professor Challenger: New Worlds, Lost Places," I can see why they love him. ...more
Surprisingly lean writing. Considering when it was printed, expect to the see the kind of stuff books this old are routinely criticized for - racism aSurprisingly lean writing. Considering when it was printed, expect to the see the kind of stuff books this old are routinely criticized for - racism and misogyny mostly, and the celebration of colonialism. "Look how awesome white people are!" Is it worth getting upset about? No. Burroughs has been dead a long time... too long to care. And most likely he'd disagree with any argument you could come up with.
I'd definitely recommend reading Tarzan. You can get them for free out of the Gutenberg library. Well worth your time. I actually read this book when I was six or seven, as my grandfather had a copy sitting around. It was the 1975 Ballantine paperback with Turkoz on the cover, his fingers laced in Jane Porter's hair, with Tarzan hot on his heels. The Gutenberg eBook version has none of the charm or the smell of cheap yellow paper. But it has the story.
To re-read it more than 30 years later, I'd forgotten almost all of the story - except for my grandfather complaining about the lack of French in the Chris Lambert film when we finally got around to seeing it some years later. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series....more
Probably the worst of the series so far. Half the novel is through the eyes of a Bond Girl, with all the horrible old-school misogyny you could ever wProbably the worst of the series so far. Half the novel is through the eyes of a Bond Girl, with all the horrible old-school misogyny you could ever want from a writer your grandfather probably loved when he was a young man.
The book itself is fairly straightforward. You follow the life and times of Vivienne Michel, a French-Canadian woman who finds herself victimized again and again by the men in her life, until she has sworn off men with the intention of having a grand adventure on her own terms from the back of a little scooter - by travelling from Quebec to Florida. Unfortunately, just a few days into the adventure, she finds herself a victim again, this time from two brutish thugs intend on spending an evening raping and beating her before killing her when they are done.
Finally, about 75 per cent through the book, James Bond appears to save the day, and, finally, "Viv" is set straight on men and love by finally landing a real man.
If there is anything to take away from this book, it would found in the wind-down of the story, after the action has ended and Bond has ridden into the sunset. A discussion between a fatherly sheriff and Viv takes place where Viv is told about how men like James and the two villains are all cut from the same cloth; that is, they are little more than sharks in fancy clothes, and even the good ones will take a bite out of your hide sooner or later.
This is an interesting bit of awareness rarely seen in the other novels, though. If you want to skip through all the bullshit in the first 2/3 of the novel, I wouldn't blame you. The ending of the book IS worth a read, however....more
The second book in the Bill Hodges trilogy. While I wasn't as impressed with Finders Keepers as I was with Mr. Mercedes, Mr. King can spin a crime stoThe second book in the Bill Hodges trilogy. While I wasn't as impressed with Finders Keepers as I was with Mr. Mercedes, Mr. King can spin a crime story and there were some great characters here. The story felt rushed in places, and the plot seemed to fall apart in favour of chaos (not that it's a bad thing), but there are some fantastic scenes involving ideas of literary obsession, and the nature of how fiction affects our lives. It's really worth reading just to see how the characters deal with their obsessions.
My one criticism is that now Mr. King is an old man, he should really consider ending this need to write about children. They are not a strength. These children he writes about do not exist in the real world, and no matter how many pop culture references he glues onto them, they feel out of place.
The children of King are like those whitewashed, vaguely hip-hop kids you used to see in PSAs back in the 1980s. You know, the kids who stop playing b-ball just long enough to rap with you about drug abuse or keeping away from strangers.
They should consider putting down their copies of Divergent, shut off their Frozen DVDs, pop in the earbuds for their iPhone 5s, and wander out into traffic.
Overall though, not a bad read. Well worth the 40% off sticker price Wal-mart is selling it for in order to stay in line with Amazon. ...more
Fantastic book for a guy like me, who was struggling to really nail down what exactly "steampunk" means. This anthology definitely answers that questiFantastic book for a guy like me, who was struggling to really nail down what exactly "steampunk" means. This anthology definitely answers that question. Plus, some amazing stories in here. Really displays the diversity found in the (sub?)genre....more
Signal to Noise shows the magic in music By J.W. Schnarr Taber Times Vauxhall Advance email@example.com
There is a scene in Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s dSignal to Noise shows the magic in music By J.W. Schnarr Taber Times Vauxhall Advance firstname.lastname@example.org
There is a scene in Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s debut novel Signal to Noise (Solaris) where the two main characters, Meche and Sebastian, are standing across the street from each other and seeing each other for the first time in many years.
Then without saying anything, they turn and walk away. The scene says almost nothing in terms of action, but it says everything in terms of who these people are and who they have been.
For me, the scene was a pivot for every thing that happened before that moment and everything that happened after.
Signal to Noise could have been called “The Book of Sighs” and I think it would have been just as fitting. The novel is filled with wishes and regret, and magic, and the words feel like the heavy breeze before rain.
There are two stories braided together in this novel, though in all honesty it seems less like a braid and more like one thread wrapped around the other. The story of Meche discovering magic with her friends Sebastian and Daniela in Mexico during the 1980s is by far the anchor here, while another side of the story involves Meche returning to Mexico for her estranged father’s funeral years later and seemed to be the “wraparound” portion of the tale.
It makes sense, as that story as Meche as an adult deals with the fallout and repercussions of the things that happened decades earlier.
In the 1980s, Meche is obsessed with music and discovers it has power – she is able to channel spells by harnessing the energy built in to her father’s vinyl albums. The system of magic in the story is simple and quite effective. Meche has spell casters in her lineage (her grandmother), while the vehicle for that magic comes from her father, who instilled in her a love of music and allows her to discover the power of it on the human soul.
Moreno-Garcia’s characters are people you probably knew in your life when you were young.
Meche is a defensive, brooding soul, easily offended and hurt by the world around her.
She is every teen who was ever outraged by their lot in life, reacting before thinking at times, and strong enough to speak her mind regardless of consequence. Alternatively, Sebastian is manipulative and single-minded in pursuing a relationship as the source of his happiness, traits which are often negatively attributed to women in a lot of fiction.
The two characters follow their own paths but orbit each other through story – a decaying orbit – with a stability in the early chapters that quickly gives way to an impending sense that they will have no choice but to smash together as the story progresses.
In the course of this journey, they tackle the things that hurt us all as young people, from unrequited love to broken marriages and problems at home, to feeling like an outcast and not fitting in, to the pain we cause to those we love most when we’re too blinded by our emotions to see around us.
Their ability to glean magic from music and bend it to their wills begins as a shared secret binding the three friends together. Later, it becomes a survival tool as they use it to fend off the darkest parts of their lives.
But things really begin to unravel when a sense of entitlement grows out of their successes, and their own individual goals threaten to destroy the safety they have as a group.
Signal to Noise is a strong first effort by Moreno-Garcia, and by stepping into the lives of these people I get a sense of great things from her in the future. She has a concise, understated writing style I found a pleasure to read.
If you are looking for a book this summer, you could do much worse than pick up a copy of Signal to Noise, which is perfectly paced for hot summer nights.
Not what I was expecting. A little weird toward the end of the book, almost as though Hodgson was just writing down the first thing that came to mind.Not what I was expecting. A little weird toward the end of the book, almost as though Hodgson was just writing down the first thing that came to mind. Still, you have to respect your elders, and this book DID have some great ideas in it. Unfortunately, it ended when it was really starting to pick up,as so many of these old tomes seem to do....more
Excellent book. I had the ending spoiled with all the OSC stuff floating around on social media sites, but wanted to read it before I saw the film. IfExcellent book. I had the ending spoiled with all the OSC stuff floating around on social media sites, but wanted to read it before I saw the film. If you can set religion aside for a little while and read this, you won't be sorry....more
Norse gods running amok in Canada? How could you not love this book?
Okay, sooo...it's Manitoba. Still, awesome. I don't get to read nearly enough CanaNorse gods running amok in Canada? How could you not love this book?
Okay, sooo...it's Manitoba. Still, awesome. I don't get to read nearly enough Canadian fiction where cool, world-altering shit is happening in places I've actually been in this gigantic country of mine.
The story revolves around Ted Callan, a man who is dragged into the Norse world of gods, dwarves, and giants after witnessing a towering fire giant step into the realm of men during an explosion in the Alberta oilpatch. He then runs into some dwarves who bestow their "gifts" upon him - body tattoos with magic powers and which have a life of their own (think Bradbury's Illustrated Man) - turning him into a Thor-like godling so he can smash heads and wreak vengeance of those who have wronged and betrayed him along the way. Oh yeah, and stop the next Ragnarok from happening.
He travels with Loki, the god of mischief (seriously, will I be seeing Loki as Tom Hiddleston for the rest of my life?) and Tilda, a witch who uses runes for spells and can see the future. She's also a super-hawt rock n' roll chick, and about half Ted's age, making her the perfect short-term girlfriend.
Ginther has created characters you instantly want to be friends with. I'm looking forward to more books in this story (I understand more are coming) just so we can all hang out again and be buddies and talk about cool shit like muscle cars, dating hot young girls, and tattoos that grant magic powers. The book itself has a Gaiman-esque vibe to it. I was reminded of "American Gods" while reading "Thunder Road", and I imagine it was the whole 'old gods are people too' thing.
Definitely worth a read. Especially for you Canuckleheads out there....more
Amazing what you can do with simple, declarative sentences.
There's a quote in the 2008 Rambo film where John Rambo reveals the peace he has made withAmazing what you can do with simple, declarative sentences.
There's a quote in the 2008 Rambo film where John Rambo reveals the peace he has made with his nature and being an instrument of war. It goes, "You know what you are; what you're made of. War is in your blood. Don't fight it. You didn't kill for your country. You killed for yourself. God's never gonna make that go away. When you're pushed, killing's as easy as breathing."
Blood Meridian is a book that expands on this statement, revealing the good and proper nature of all men to be war-like creatures. The men in the novel are at their best when they are making war and causing chaos; during times of peace they are usually drunken agents of destruction or slowly dying from the elements. They are just as destructive to the villages they visit between battles as they are during the battles themselves.
"If you're not living, you're dying" has never been more true than in the pages of this book.
There is apparently a bit of history to this novel, as it is loosely based on actual events. A grim, stark contrast to the romanticism of the Old West, Blood Meridian reveals a land filled with people as hard and unforgiving and final as the land itself....more
There are probably about 6 writers out there who wouldn't benefit from more Elmore Leonard in their lives.
I started this book before he died, and finiThere are probably about 6 writers out there who wouldn't benefit from more Elmore Leonard in their lives.
I started this book before he died, and finished it after he died. That means there is no more Leonard coming down the pipes for me. On the bright side, I still have a lot more to go through.
I could say what everyone knows about Leonard already: tightly woven, masterful dialogue, and gritty, real characters. Clever plots. I could go into greater detail, but other people already have, and writing about them again would break Leonard's strict rule on not wasting words.
Come to Newfoundland, they said. Check out the sights, immerse yourself in culture, they said...what they didn't mention was the horde of First NationCome to Newfoundland, they said. Check out the sights, immerse yourself in culture, they said...what they didn't mention was the horde of First Nations and old Viking spirits in corporeal form running the streets and wrecking up the place. Enter Krista D. Ball's novella, "Spirits Rising".
Once the action starts, it doesn't let up until the last page. As a Canadian who has never been to the Atlantic coast of my country, there was a lot of insight into the culture of Newfoundlanders that I was especially interested in. Hopefully it's something which continues in future instalments of the series.
Ball has a tendency to write feminine protagonists who are smart, tough, and think on their feet (which are both firmly planted in reality), and it's always a refreshing change of pace from the dangerous sex kittens who haunt genre fiction. While our main character in Spirits Rising may start out a little heartsick and floopy, she comes around by the end to become the hero we all know her to be. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next in this series....more