This one didn't hold my attention as much as the others. It was well written and had bit of a downer ending, but it just wasn't hitting on all cylindeThis one didn't hold my attention as much as the others. It was well written and had bit of a downer ending, but it just wasn't hitting on all cylinders. It was a bit confusing at times....more
This four episode audio play is the first in Big Finish's short lived Sapphire & Steel range. Firstly, each episode does include the original TV tThis four episode audio play is the first in Big Finish's short lived Sapphire & Steel range. Firstly, each episode does include the original TV theme. Secondly, no resolution of the TV series ending is given, simply a throw away line that it has "been a long time" since Sapphire and Steel have seen each other. The recasting of the lead roles is also not addressed. Thankfully, none of this really matters as David Warner and Susannah Harker slip perfectly into the roles originally played by David McCallum and Joanna Lumley. Episode one does a magnificent job of capturing the atmosphere and creepiness of the original series. Frankly I was blown away. That's why this story gets four stars even though the last two episodes kind of loose their way narratively. This play also introduces Gold, played wonderfully by Mark Gatiss. If you're a fan of the original series, you should definitely give this a try....more
The latest in a long line of themed anthologies from George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, Rogues compiles one of the more impressive lists of populThe latest in a long line of themed anthologies from George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, Rogues compiles one of the more impressive lists of popular authors I've seen grace a contents page in quite some time. To be frank, the main reason I cracked this book was for the new Hap & Leonard story by Joe R. Lansdale. I didn't have much intention of reading the whole thing, but after taking a chance with the opening story, I've decided to delve in headfirst. As usual, I'll break it down by story. (Let me get one thing out of the way quickly. I've only read works by four of the authors in this collection: Joe R. Lansdale, Neil Gaiman, Paul Cornell, and George R. R. Martin. I'm saying this now so that I don't have to mention during most of the story reviews that I've never read anything by that particular author before.)
Introduction: Everybody Loves a Rogue by George R. R. Martin Not much to say about this introduction. Martin lays out some of the fictional rogues that interested him as a child. He goes on to explain that rogues are more compelling than goody-goody heroes and also makes a notable point that they stand the test of time better. He ends with a short explanation of his genre philosophy and how that fed into the author selection seen here. Tidy and to the point.
Tough Times All Over by Joe Abercrombie I have been told by many that Joe Abercrombie's books are excellent. So, being the type of contrarian whose willingness to read a book is inversely proportional to the popular opinion of said book, this story is my first exposure to Abercrombie's writing. While his writing style took me a few pages to settle into I ended up really loving this story. It is apparently set in the same universe as his "First Law" series and concerns a macguffin being passed around, by choice or by chance, from character to character. While the frequency of hand-offs can be a bit far fetched the whole affair is simply an excuse to have fun with an array of interesting and entertaining characters. It was this very thing, Abercrombie's ability to draw and develop these characters in a tiny span of time, that made me want to read more by him. I was also glad to see the story contain a high number of female characters and of various sexual preferences. Four out of Five Stars.
What Do You Do? by Gillian Flynn This genuinely compelling story impresses greatly. It concerns an intelligent and relatively kind con artist/sex worker who is pulled into what appears to be a Shirley Jacksonesque haunting. Of course, things may not be quite as they seem, and once the twists and turns start coming, they never really stop. Aside from the quality of writing, this tale has two major things going for it: a compelling beginning and a brain twisting ending. While this may seem like the goal of any good short thriller, it's the uniqueness of each that stands out. Any story that opens with a frank discussion of hand jobs is going to grab you (or turn you off if you're a prude). What really sticks with me though, and I keep turning over in my head, is the ending. It's the kind of ending that compels me to reread the story, and that is a sure sign of successful storytelling. Five out of Five Stars.
The Inn of the Seven Blessings by Matthew Hughes Reading like a fairytale for rogues, Matthew Hughes delivers a diverting, if unexceptional tale. Booklist has referred to Hughes as the "heir apparent" to Jack Vance. I know little of Vance's work but I recognize this compliment of Booklist's to be high indeed. I found a few of this story's ideas interesting. However, while I felt the writing style of Hughes to be clinical to the mild detriment of the story, was left with a smile one my face. Three out of Five Stars.
Bent Twig by Joe R. Lansdale As I mentioned above, this new Hap and Leonard tale is the sole reason I checked this book out. There's not much new I can say about Lansdale's H&L stories. This one follows the usual formula: H&L hear about some trouble, get into it themselves, beat the everliving hell out of some bad guys, and get away with a rap on the knuckles from the law. For those who have read these stories before, you would expect nothing more or less. For me, reading a H&L story is like listening to a fine piece of music: There's few things I'd rather do. Five out of Five Stars.
Sadly, I've had to return the book before finishing it. Hopefully I'll complete this review one day. ...more
I purchased this book on a whim, and shortly thereafter wondered if I had not made a bit of a mistake. For years I've owned the first paperback of LeiI purchased this book on a whim, and shortly thereafter wondered if I had not made a bit of a mistake. For years I've owned the first paperback of Leiber's Lankhmar tales published by Dark Horse, but at every attempt to read it, found myself unable to get past the florid language. It was the inclusion of Lovecraft's critique and the fact that this is edited and notated by S.T. Joshi (who I am at times a mawkish fan boy of) that drove me to spend forty-five dollars on such a small tome. I am glad to say that my purchase is not one I regret.
For some odd reason Leiber's florid language was not a stumbling block for me when I sat down to read this story, as it had been previously. At first it was rough going, but I quickly fell into a comfortable rhythm. The only reason I can think of for this being so much easier to engage with than my old paperback is that this story jumps right into the relationship and lives of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, whereas the Dark Horse volume begins with a slow and methodical origin of each character, eventually leading up to their meeting. Also, while the draft of Adept's Gambit found here is the earliest known manuscript and lacking a great deal of polish, the quality of storytelling, humor, action, tension and horror is undeniably high. If I have any quibbles with the story it's that the climax is a bit too drawn out for my taste and the villain's dialogue and motivation feels a bit flat.
This book ends with a reprinting of Lovecraft's critique of the story. Having never read any of Lovecraft's correspondence despite the multitude of collections available, I found his thoughts and feelings deeply interesting. In this short letter he displays a kindness, humor, knowledge, pedantry, insight, and humanity that I have not discerned in such a direct fashion, my knowledge of his person being previously obtained only through the filter of his fiction.
I cannot recommend this book enough to the Lovecraft and/or Leiber fans out there. I am now determined to read more of Leiber's output and would also like to pick up a copy of Fritz Leiber and H.P. Lovecraft: Writers of the Dark....more
This is a truly top notch, hard nosed crime thriller. Lansdale's homage to the Gold Medal crime novels is a total home run and one of the best books IThis is a truly top notch, hard nosed crime thriller. Lansdale's homage to the Gold Medal crime novels is a total home run and one of the best books I've read. ...more
Bendis' writing is engaging as usual and the art is high quality, but there's not really a whole story in this book, just a lot of setup. The jury isBendis' writing is engaging as usual and the art is high quality, but there's not really a whole story in this book, just a lot of setup. The jury is still out until I can pick up volume two....more
While I found the overall story enjoyable, I had quite a few problems with this book. First off, Loeb's script is nothing to write home about. Sam's hWhile I found the overall story enjoyable, I had quite a few problems with this book. First off, Loeb's script is nothing to write home about. Sam's hellish high school experiences are written in a kind of dramatic shorthand as if he just wanted to get through them quickly. They feel like chewed up and spit out vintage Spider-man scenes. Loeb's dialogue for Sam also has a forced hipness to it that doesn't always ring true to a real young person. My other major problem is with McGuiness' art. While the man can obviously draw, I found his panel layouts to be very uninspired and they felt a bit amateurish. The one upside to the lack of Sam's depth is that I want to see/read more about the character since he has a lot of potential....more