Books

Review – Last First Snow

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Review – Last First Snow

She was only a passing student of golemetrics, which required more dealing with demons than she liked. Not that Elayne had anything against demons per se – but her conversations with them often reminded her of a vicious joke in which she herself might well be the punchline. Perhaps the demons felt the same.

It’s hard to describe Max Goldberg’s book Last First Snow and really do it justice. I’ve said before that in his Craft Sequence books the whole economy is run on pieces of souls, so magicians have to be really good accountants, and that makes it sound so boring. In realty the world he’s created keeps getting weirder and more disturbing (in a good way) with each book. Yes it has lawyers and banks and insurance plans, but the lawyers practice black magic, the banks can process pieces of your soul through an ATM, and the insurance plans cover zombie apocalypse damages, so don’t be worried when I say this book centers around a real estate deal; it’s a really weird real estate deal.

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Review: Three Moments of an Explosion

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Review: Three Moments of an Explosion

I’ve said it before, but my favorite thing about China Miéville’s writing is how he comes up with ideas that are so off the wall, so completely out of nowhere, and then builds a whole story around them. And they become such a matter-of-fact part of the world you accept the idea completely, as if it wasn’t the most bizarre thing that couldn’t possibly exist in reality.

He did that with oceans made up of crisscrossing train tracks in Railsea. He did it again when two metropolises exist in the same place simultaneously in The City & The City. And he does it again dozens of times in his latest book of short stories Three Moments of an Explosion.

I loved most of the stories, was completely confused by several, and disliked a couple. But not a single one was boring, you can definitely say that.

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Review: Fables issue 150 – “Farewell”

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Review: Fables issue 150 – “Farewell”

Vertigo released the final chapter of the Fables comic book in July. The series that started with the quirky idea of refugees from fairytales, folklore and nursery rhymes all living together in a community in New York City eventually turned into an epic that spanned dozens of mythologies, launched several spin-offs/mini-series, and had a literal cast of thousands (if you take into account all the wooden soldiers and background mundies, that is).

So how do you wrap up all the threads of a thirteen-year story and still answer many of the “So whatever happened to…” questions in a single issue? Simple: you give it at least a hundred more pages and turn issue 150 into Fables: Farewell, the 22nd and final graphic novel of the series.

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Review: The Dark Forest

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Review: The Dark Forest

     The universe is a dark forest…

The second book in Cixin Liu’s “Three Body” trilogy picks up right where the first one left off, with the Trisolaran fleet making its way to Earth to wipe out humanity. The sophons – undetectable Trisolaran multi-dimensional computers surrounding the planet – have permanently sabotaged all high-energy physics experiments, guaranteeing that Earth’s technology will never progress to the level of Trisolaris. Earth now has the impossible job of trying to defeat an unbeatable enemy that won’t even arrive for four centuries. And the sophons can see everything that happens on Earth, meaning the Trisolarans and their human collaborators will know humanity’s defense strategies almost as soon as they’re created.

Almost. There’s still one kind of plan that can be kept a secret from the invaders: a plan that doesn’t even exist except in the mind of the person who creates it.  Read On

Review – The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering

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Review – The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering

It’s human nature to want to know what’s the point of something. What does it mean, where’s it going, why does it exist? This happens a lot when reading books; you try to figure out where the plot’s taking you, what’s the message in the end.

Sometimes that’ll just frustrate you. Certainly it did for me in Jeffrey Rotter’s book The Only Words That Are Worth Remembering. I kept trying to guess the end point, to figure out where the story was going.

You’ll have more fun if you decide it’s not really going anywhere, and just enjoy the scenery.

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Review : Cinder

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Review : Cinder

The fairy tale of Cinderella has been re-told dozens of times, if not hundreds. I’d be willing to bet not many of those versions have androids, hovercrafts, and the part of Cinderella being played by a cyborg in a future version of Beijing where cyborgs are social pariahs.

Marissa Meyer’s Cinder is a tale of princes and princesses and an evil queen, a mysterious plague, and interplanetary intrigue. It’s also a story about having to grow up way too fast, having to make impossible thankless decisions, trying to find your identity and a sense of your own worth no matter what everyone else thinks about you, and teenage romance. With cyborgs.

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Review – Blood Sisters

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Review – Blood Sisters

A lot of people think the “Vampire Bubble” may have burst (Vampire Diaries seems to be gearing up for its final season, True Blood is already gone, Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ Dracula never got off the ground) and that zombies have taken their place in that part of geek culture that wants to be scared by something that looks human but really, really isn’t.

And every time I think I’ve gotten my fill of vampires too, a collection like this comes along.

Blood Sisters is a selection of vampire stories (edited by Paula Guran) from as far back as 1982 and as recent as 2012. The fact that they’re all written by women is almost inconsequential; the focus is on both male and female characters, and there isn’t an overriding feminist theme to the stories. Many of them are fine as stand-alone pieces, some are okay, but several made me want to hunt up the authors who wrote them and see what other vampire stories they’ve created, because when it comes to off-the-wall interpretations of the original vampire myth, the well definitely isn’t dry yet.

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Review: The End Has Come

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Review: The End Has Come

People tossed around words like “collapse of civilization” and “post-apocalyptic,” but really everything was the same mess as always.

John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey wrap up their Apocalypse Triptych with 22 tales of the people who survive the destruction of civilization. And if you thought the lead-up to the end of the world was dark, this collection has some of the grimmest stories out of the entire trilogy.

The first book was about the match; the second was about the blaze. The End Has Come is supposed to be about what rises from the ashes, but for many of these stories all I could see was the ashes.

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Review: Deadpool’s Art of War

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Review: Deadpool’s Art of War

Even Chinese philosopher/strategists from the 6th century BC can become the target of a modern-day super assassin, and Deadpool isn’t about to let a 2500-year distance keep him from fulfilling a contract. After taking out Sun Tzu (and don’t expect an explanation about the whole time-travel issue, because you aren’t getting one), Deadpool stumbles across the military tactician’s masterpiece, The Art of War, and the dollar signs light up in his eyes. Here is a sure-fire ticket to fame, wealth, and the admiration of the world. But how to display a dazzling skill for war strategy on a global level when there isn’t a global war going on? That’s easy: you start one.

What follows is a continuity-free trek through the Marvel universe as Daredevil eggs on Loki to attack both Asgard and then Midgard, eventually dragging every recognizable superhero into the fray, all while keeping his eyes on the one prize that would be worth all of this destruction: a publishing deal.

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Review – David Duchovny’s “Holy Cow”

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Review – David Duchovny’s “Holy Cow”

With all the hubbub about the upcoming X-Files episodes, I thought it was time to finally read David Duchovny’s novel Holy Cow. I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I’d heard it talked about animal cruelty, and tolerance for others, which sounded like a pretty serious message.

This is not a serious book. This is David Duchovny being a complete goofball.

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