Quick review: There's some hit or miss with this collection, but the hits stand out from a market flooded with Lovecraftian short fiction. Dave BaileyQuick review: There's some hit or miss with this collection, but the hits stand out from a market flooded with Lovecraftian short fiction. Dave Bailey and Nathan Ballingrud's "The Crevasse" is one of my favorite Mythos-inspired stories ever--it's about a small team of Antarctic explorers and their dogs who come face to face with their mortality and something not of this world. Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette's "Mongoose" ventures into the future and beyond Earth--think space opera with Mythos creatures. There's solid work by Caitlin Kiernen, Michael Chabon, and Holly Phillips.
Ellen Datlow and her authors captured the feel and the spirit of Lovecraft while updating it for modern sensibilities. They did this while largely avoiding pastiche, for which I'm grateful. If I want to read Lovecraft, his works are always available. This brings something new to the sub-genre. ...more
I highly recommend this for middle-grade readers interested in learning more about the Japanese-American experience in the internment camps during WorI highly recommend this for middle-grade readers interested in learning more about the Japanese-American experience in the internment camps during World War II. We have the chance to really get to know Sumiko, the main character, as her family is forcibly removed from their flower farm in California to a reservation in Arizona. Internal strife and racist attitudes--not only towards the Japanese but also between the Mohave, the Japanese and the mostly white government--are unflinchingly portrayed.
On a personal note, I listened to this as an audiobook and then followed up immediately with Julie Otsuka's When the Emperor was Divine. It was immediately apparent that they are written for different audiences, and I'm definitely more in When the Emperor...'s target readership than in Weedflower's. I think this is one of the complications of buying books online. Those tiny little cover icons on Audible convey less information than, say, walking into the YA or adult fiction sections of Powells or Barnes and Noble. ...more
For me, Ready Player One is a nostalgic and imaginative mash up of the 80s and several decades of nerd culture. The plot centers on a hunt through a vFor me, Ready Player One is a nostalgic and imaginative mash up of the 80s and several decades of nerd culture. The plot centers on a hunt through a virtual world for the greatest software Easter Egg Of. All. Time. and references buried throughout turn every page into Easter morning for the reader. It wins points for Billy Idol, obscure D&D references, and giant robot battles, and being read by Wil Wheaton (including a meta-moment where Wil Wheaton reads about Wil Wheaton in the text), and loses points for uncritically celebrating so much of the white maleness that dominates early geek culture. There's some believable diversity among the supporting cast, but there were moments that were kind of a sexist punch in the gut, like this one where the main character is excitedly sharing a list of authors who influenced the creator of the hunt and the virtual world:
"Douglas Adams. Kurt Vonnegut. Neal Stephenson. Richard K. Morgan. Stephen King. Orson Scott Card. Terry Pratchett. Terry Brooks. Bester, Bradbury, Haldeman, Heinlein, Tolkien, Vance, Gibson, Gaiman, Sterling, Moorcock, Scalzi, Zelazny. I read every novel by every single one of Halliday's favorite authors."
As Wil read the list, I was first excited, and then began to get worried. By the end, I was kind of dejected. No Le Guin? Anne McCaffrey? Madeleine L'engle? Connie Willis? Octavia Butler, Mary Shelley, Margaret Atwood?
And heads up that Spielberg, one of the long list of white male filmmakers he subsequently geeks out about, is working on converting this for the big screen. ...more
Good stuff. The main character is the jaded lead singer for a popular heavy metal band, and he's haunted by the ghost of a man who was trained in psycGood stuff. The main character is the jaded lead singer for a popular heavy metal band, and he's haunted by the ghost of a man who was trained in psychological warfare. The most frightening parts have less to do with tropes of the supernatural horror genre (and there are plenty, including possessed vehicles and the nearly impossible to kill villain) and more to do with family violence and the potential that lies in each of us to harm other humans.
What makes this novel especially enjoyable is the love story that blossoms within it. The characters start out as the heavy metal and goth stereotypes that we might see in them, and that they wish to present to the world, but as the novel progresses, they develop into rich, complex, believable human beings that I identified with and loved and rooted for.
The book is definitely not for the squeamish. Also, sexual abuse triggers abound. ...more
First off, my usual caveat that I save 5 stars for life/mind-transforming books. Also, I listened to the audiobook version of this, which is why I mayFirst off, my usual caveat that I save 5 stars for life/mind-transforming books. Also, I listened to the audiobook version of this, which is why I may shy away from writing place and character names.
There is so much to love about Throne of the Crescent Moon.
Setting: The setting is refreshingly non-European: I felt that it was inspired largely by the Baghdad of 10-12 centuries ago, when it was the center of a great Islamic empire, and a seat of cosmopolitan learning and commerce and culture. (I think the main city of Damsawaat is close to the River of Tigers). Religion and god are a huge part of the milieu and the lives and concerns of the people who populate this world, and Ahmed handles this with grace where many others might fumble.
Characters: The main character is a self-described "fat old man" and ghul/demon hunter. Like those around him, I grew to love this lecturing, grumbling, gas-passing tired old hero. It's hard for me not to think of him as a real human being. The PoV switches mainly between him and his four allies, and he uses these opportunities to carefully layer complexity into each character and their relationship to the others, showing loves (romantic and filial), jealousies, struggles with self-doubt, irritation, moments of temptation, etc.
Plot: I don't want to go too deeply into this for fear of revealing spoilers. I think my main concern with the book was the flatness and the lack of screen-time for the primary villains (who are SO. VERY. EVIL.) I felt that these were sacrificed to devote more time to lay out other plot threads and to pay more attention to the main characters themselves, and that this was absolutely worth it.
I am very much looking forward to the author's next book, and am now tracking down his many short stories so I can continue to get my Saladin Ahmed fix!...more
Powerful, transforming book. Lincoln is portrayed as willful yet humble, melancholy and jolly in turns, and ever both shrewd and magnanimous. His visiPowerful, transforming book. Lincoln is portrayed as willful yet humble, melancholy and jolly in turns, and ever both shrewd and magnanimous. His vision triumphs against the criticism of enemies and friends again and again. Reading this infected me with a deeper curiosity about the Civil War period, a better understanding of political divisions today, and a desire to become a more generous human being. While I question some of the possible biases of the author, and although it took me months to savor my way through this giant feast, I recommend this without hesitation. ...more
The best quality of the book is its meta quality. There is plenty of hilarious fan service for Trek-lovers (I loved TOS, but don't quite count myselfThe best quality of the book is its meta quality. There is plenty of hilarious fan service for Trek-lovers (I loved TOS, but don't quite count myself a Trekkie). In the audiobook, Wil Wheaton read a scene in which the Chekov-analogue rants drunkenly about being sent on away team missions that left me LOLing.
I'm more likely to pick up a Scalzi than most SF works out there, but I'm always a bit put off by how much his main characters sound like each other (and like him). Most have a clever way with words that might work well with one character, but when I see others speaking in the same witty form, it throws me out of the story momentarily.
I'd definitely recommend this as a light, entertaining read for anyone who loves SF TV tropes. ...more