Excellent science fiction book. The author manages to build an intelligent, complex hard SF story while at the same time exploring and giving an homagExcellent science fiction book. The author manages to build an intelligent, complex hard SF story while at the same time exploring and giving an homage to the classical visions of Mars in classical science fiction. It's a long way from Leigh Bracket to Kim Stanley Robinson, but Guy Haley manages to cover it with elegance, all the while telling his own story and steering clear of derivative developments. The end result is intriguing, highly satisfying and at times moving. Wonderful book, highly recommended....more
Excellent if episodic revision of some space opera/military SF concepts, which turns into a very satisfactory and cohesive yarn. Great characterizationExcellent if episodic revision of some space opera/military SF concepts, which turns into a very satisfactory and cohesive yarn. Great characterization, some fun surprises, a wonderful mix of humor and melancholia. It reads real fast and stays with the reader for a long time. Highly recommended,...more
“Heroika – Dragon Eaters”, is a massive, highly entertaining collection of fantasy stories edited by Janet Morris and published by Perseid Press. The c“Heroika – Dragon Eaters”, is a massive, highly entertaining collection of fantasy stories edited by Janet Morris and published by Perseid Press. The contributors roster lines up a fine selection of authors: Janet Morris and Chris Morris, S. E. Lindberg, Walter Rhein, Cas Peace, Jack William Finley, A.L. Butcher, Travis Ludvigson, Tom Barczak, J. P. Wilder, Joe Bonadonna, Milton Davis, M Harold Page, William Hiles, Beth W.Patterson, Bruce Durham, and Mark Finn.
I like very much the central concept of the anthology – collecting stories in which men (and sometimes gods) pit their strength, spirit and wits against the power of dragons. This is a welcome return to stories in which the dragon was the adversary, an expression of power hostile (or alien) to our mindset and civilization. After so many stories of good dragons portrayed as an endangered species1, it’s good to have the dragon back as the bad guy. The civilization factor is also important – dragons and humans face each other in these stories across the ages and the historical periods, tracing an evolution of the relationship between Dragon and Man. Further on, we shift in the fields of sword & sorcery and more muscular fantasy, and then to modern-day fantasy, but always maintaining an extremely high level: these stories are wonderfully written, they deliver the heroic element as promised, and can surprise even long-time fantasy readers. It’s very nice to find an anthology which is virtually devoid of duds and filler. This is a beautiful book, and highly recommended....more
Anabel Donald's "An Uncommon Murder" is an unusual murder mystery, that elegantly subverts many of the clichés of the classic British mystery while reAnabel Donald's "An Uncommon Murder" is an unusual murder mystery, that elegantly subverts many of the clichés of the classic British mystery while respecting form and structure. Donald's cynical, disaffected Alex Tanner is a pleasantly tough but brittle main character, and her investigation in what looks like a decades-old cold case soon turns into a highly satisfying crime thriller. Set at the bitter end of the Thatcher years, the atmosphere perfectly suits the story of murder, lost innocence and betrayal. Excellent read, crisply written, with some excellent dialogues and a great protagonist. Recommended....more
A fun, fast read and a good start for a series about paranormal detectives Singleton & Trelawney. In the early '30s, in a suitably rainy, foggy LonA fun, fast read and a good start for a series about paranormal detectives Singleton & Trelawney. In the early '30s, in a suitably rainy, foggy London, the two detectives are called to solve a mysterious haunting in what's NOT Sherlock Holmes apartment. Because of course Holmes is a fictional character... or is he? The plot mixes nicely historical fact (Conan Doyle's late years obsession with spiritualist practices) and characters, literary references (all the classic Victorian bad guys of literature are co-opted for the grand finale) and pure fantasy, to build a highly entertaining, cultured and literate mix. The ending is a little abrupt - but it sets the scene for the next installment. Recommended....more
What caught my eye, in Melissa Burch’s "My Journey through War and Peace", was the tag-line: "Explorations of a young film-maker, feminist and spirituWhat caught my eye, in Melissa Burch’s "My Journey through War and Peace", was the tag-line: "Explorations of a young film-maker, feminist and spiritual seeker". For the uninitiated, Melissa Burch was a young camera operator and reporter during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s. So I expected the book to be about the sort of exploration that I like – a first-hand account of a war-torn sector of the map that has been war-torn for most of our history. What I got was much more.
Burch’s account is vivid and heartfelt – she was in the field with the mujahideen, she traveled through Afghanistan as the Russian army was getting deeper and deeper in the quicksand of the Afghan guerrilla. But the author is not simply interested in describing the events of the war. The book shows us the ambiguity of journalism – that can be turned into entertainment, or propaganda. The ease with which the information can be manipulated by all involved parties has a sinister, and sometimes surreal feel. Burch is very frank in her depiction of the events – sometimes almost painfully so. She’s also quite capable of describing the personality of the people she met with a few, precise and well-placed brush-strokes.
The events of the war are mixed with the events from the author’s life before and after the events – because the final purpose of the book, its actual exploration, is not an exploration of the Afghan territory, or of the Russian/Afghan conflict. Burch is exploring the development of her own personality, of her outlook and her spiritual awakening, together with the events that shaped these aspects of her life
The spiritual side is very pragmatic, personal and almost dry at times, and it is devoid of any new-agey psychobabble or other artifice. It feels authentic, and once again, at times almost painfully so.
Personal growth, international events, the power of images and of individual experience, the long-time effects of the events in our past… Burch’s Journey touches on a variety of subjects, showing how strange connections can shape the future, of both individuals and nations. A great read, highly recommended....more
An excellent introduction to British folklore and its influence on modern fantasy, The land of the Green Man traces the root of ancient (and modern) lAn excellent introduction to British folklore and its influence on modern fantasy, The land of the Green Man traces the root of ancient (and modern) legends to the British landscape. Standing stones, lakes and barrows become the source of stories about giants and ogres, while forests hide elves and other creatures, once strange, now familiar through literature. Fast paced, clear and amusing, The Land of the Green Man is at the same time an inspiration for the exploration of the country, and the library. Highly recommended....more
Originally published in 1966 and filmed (with Vincent Price in the title role) in 1968, "Witchfinder General" is a good, engaging historical novel. ItOriginally published in 1966 and filmed (with Vincent Price in the title role) in 1968, "Witchfinder General" is a good, engaging historical novel. It follows the evolution of Matther Hopkins, from second-rate lawyer and former foot soldier in Cromwell's Army, into the Witchfinder General, a man that is considered responsible of the trial and execution of no less that 300 women over a period of less than four years. The novel combines the accurate reconstruction of the Civil War in East Anglia with the personal events of Hopkins and his victims. The historical documentation makes this a chilling reading, a fascinating portrayal of an aberrant psychology, and a wonderful depiction of the way in which historical events shape personal histories. Highly recommended....more