Books

Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven – Review and Interview with Brandon Easton

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Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven – Review and Interview with Brandon Easton

Whether you grew up watching professional wrestling or The Princess Bride, you need to read this graphic novel. Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven is the story of man who was, literally, bigger than life.

It’s the biography of someone who was over six feet tall by his twelfth birthday, who was drawn to the wrestling ring both as a place where he belonged, and where his size would be an asset, instead of an embarrassment.

Click the jump for a review of the book, preview pages, and an interview with writer Brandon Easton.

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Review: “The Elder Ice” and “Broken Meats”

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Review: “The Elder Ice” and “Broken Meats”

Then they saw the trickles of blood running from under his hat. They crowded round and persuaded Waters to stand still while one of the men took off his hat, stiff with blood, to inspect the injury.

The back of Waters’ head came off with it.

Now that October has officially begun, it’s time for another month of horror-themed book reviews. And what better way to start than with two new novellas by David Hambling, author of Shadows from Norwood (first book I ever reviewed for Pixelated Geek!) and many other suitably Lovecraft-themed stories.

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Review: Speak Easy

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Review: Speak Easy

Mr. Puss-Boots dreams a story like this, a story where a prince goes creeping down into the underworld after twelve dancing princesses because some king decided the girls were having too much fun and wanted to rub their faces in how hard he owns them.

Like several of her previous books and short-stories, Catherynne Valente’s latest book (well, novella) is loosely based on a fairytale, in this case The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Very loosely based. In fact, without a couple of brief asides by the narrator and the actual description from the book cover, it wouldn’t have occurred to me to connect this with the original fairytale.

Set in the fantastical hotel Artemisia in the middle of New York at the high point of the Roaring Twenties, Speak Easy is filled with Valente’s usual luscious descriptions and a cast of thousands (dozens, anyway), each with their own story. So many stories in fact, that the book could have been stretched out for at least a few hundred more pages. As is, there’s not enough room to give most of the characters more than a brief mention; the results are tantalizing, but also a little cluttered.

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Review: Angela: Asgard’s Assassin Vol. 1 – “Priceless”

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Review: Angela: Asgard’s Assassin Vol. 1 – “Priceless”

I’ve been curious about the Angela: Asgard’s Assassin for a while now, since the Comic Issues folks have such glowing things to say about the series on their podcast. The release of the first graphic novel collecting the story of Thor’s long-lost sister seemed like a really good place to jump on board the bandwagon.

First two impressions: a) Marguerite Bennett (co-writing with Kieron Gillen) is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers.

And b) the artwork on this series is really pretty.

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Review – C.J. Cherryh’s Tracker

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Review – C.J. Cherryh’s Tracker

Several months ago C.J. Cherryh published the first book in her sixth trilogy of the Foreigner Sequence, and I’m very glad I read it.

However.

I’ve always said that the Foreigner books are difficult to recommend, because they take so much work to read. I enjoy catching up with the characters I’ve known for so long, watching their interactions, and seeing where the story takes them. But I don’t know how interested you’d be if you jumped in on Tracker, the sixteenth book. Even if you decided to skip fifteen books, this book is still a lot of work to read.

I think it’s worth it, but I’ve read so many it’d be hard to stop now. (There’s a poll at the end of the review, I’m curious what everybody else thinks.)

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Review: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

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Review: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

It wasn’t exactly a normal robbery. Whoever broke into Nathaniel Steepleton’s rented apartment left without taking anything; and exactly what kind of burglar washes the dishes and then leaves a beautiful gold pocket watch on the pillow? Thaniel felt ridiculous reporting it, and he almost couldn’t blame the police for laughing.

It was a lot less funny six months later when a perfectly timed alarm from the watch saves Thaniel from being killed in a bomb blast at Scotland Yard. With no idea of who gave him the watch, the still-dazed telegraphist looks for the watch’s maker instead, and finds a lonely but friendly Japanese immigrant with a stunning talent for watchmaking and a sock-stealing clockwork octopus for a pet.

Natasha Pulley’s debut novel features my favorite element of Steampunk – clockwork – and includes a cast of eccentric characters set in Victorian London, with a plot that’s never boring but becomes almost too clever towards the end.

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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