Books

Review: Dawn – Book One of Octavia E. Butler’s Xenogenesis Trilogy

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Review: Dawn – Book One of Octavia E. Butler’s Xenogenesis Trilogy

I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to read one of Octavia E. Butler’s novels, but I’m glad I finally chose this one to start with. The woman was an icon of science-fiction, winning four Nebula Awards, two Hugo awards, and was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame posthumously, so I knew that anything I chose would be good. I just didn’t realize I would like it as much as I did.

Lilith Iyapo only just barely survived the nuclear war. She’s saved by mysterious forces, and after what feels like an eternity of sleeping and waking in solitary confinement she finally meets her rescuers. The Oankali are horrifyingly alien, covered in tentacles and possessing technology Lilith can’t even begin to understand. They’ve kept her in suspended animation for most of the last two centuries, and now they’re planning to return her and the thousands of other human survivors to Earth. The price for this – for saving them, for curing cancer and other diseases, for fixing the planet – is that the humans will crossbreed with the Oankali. And no, they don’t have a choice about it.

In one generation, the human race as we know it will cease to exist.

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Review: Blood Music

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Review: Blood Music

My extensive reading into apocalyptic fiction (three massive short story collections edited by John Joseph Adams and one novel – Station Eleven – all read over the course of fifteen months) shows that when it comes to ways for the world to end, accidentally-engineered plagues outnumber alien invasions, but only just slightly.

But what about an apocalypse that’s both?

First released as a short story, Greg Bear’s classic 1985 book Blood Music shows the Earth being destroyed not by aliens, but by trillions upon trillions of microscopic beings that were engineered from our own blood cells, but which have become something so far beyond humanity that they might as well have come from another planet. It’s an apocalypse that’s horrifying, sometimes beautiful, completely beyond humanity’s control, and very very far over my head in quite a few places.

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Review: The Gospel of Loki

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Review: The Gospel of Loki

I don’t wish to brag, but really, folks, the day that I don’t have a plan is the day Hel freezes over.

There are a lot of stories about the Norse god Loki, his jokes, his mean-spirited pranks, his betrayals followed by begging for mercy and then secretly plotting revenge. But they’ve all been a little one-sided since we don’t get to see the stories from his point of view.

Until now.

Fans of the Marvel movies take note, the trickster in Joanne M. Harris’s The Gospel of Loki is not the adopted Odinson and tortured soul as played by Tom Hiddleston. This is the Loki from the original Norse mythology: red-haired, wild-eyed, self-serving agent of Chaos, father of Fenris and mother (you heard me) of Odin’s eight-legged horse Sleipnir. Loki gives us a first-person account here of all the best known Norse myths, telling what really happened and how he’s honestly not entirely to blame for how it all went down. For the most part. Really.

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Review: The Water Knife

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Review: The Water Knife

No one, Lucy realized. No one is in charge.

Picture the worst devastation you’ve ever seen on the news: gang violence, war refugees, famine, people dying while trying to escape into another country. Now imagine that what people are fighting and dying over isn’t oil, or land, or even drugs, but water. Imagine it’s happening in the United States. Imagine it’s happening to you.

Paolo Bacigalupi’s latest novel The Water Knife takes the reader deep inside a near-future America where water supplies are failing. A hired assassin – a water knife – is following the rumor of a new water claim on behalf of his Vegas boss. A Phoenix journalist along with a young Texan migrant are caught up in the search, and everyone involved tries to not get tortured, murdered, or eaten by hyenas. Because the world has gotten exactly that dangerous, and more than a little insane.

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Review: Letters To Zell

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Review: Letters To Zell

My wedding is going to be awesome. In two short weeks, I’ll walk down the aisle with a man I don’t love, flanked by friends who aren’t speaking to me, and, afterward, I’ll celebrate by killing my stepmother.

I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t want to come…

The main characters of Camille Griep’s first novel Letters to Zell would probably hear the phrase “fairytale romance” and just laugh and laugh. Cinderella’s husband doesn’t understand her, Snow White is engaged to a good friend for purely political reasons, and Sleeping Beauty married a complete jerk who’s sleeping with everyone in the realm except her. And all of that was before Rapunzel decided to chuck everything and move to Oz to raise unicorns.

Who knew that happily-ever-after would be so damn difficult to find?

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Ricky Whittle cast as Shadow Moon in “American Gods”

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Ricky Whittle cast as Shadow Moon in “American Gods”

Starz and FremantleMedia North America (FMNA) announced today that Ricky Whittle (“The 100,” “Austenland”) has been cast as Shadow Moon in the upcoming adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed contemporary fantasy novel, American Gods. The series will begin shooting in April.

Neil Gaiman said, “I’m thrilled that Ricky has been cast as Shadow. His auditions were remarkable. The process of taking a world out of the pages of a book, and putting it onto the screen has begun. American Gods is, at its heart, a book about immigrants, and it seems perfectly appropriate that Shadow will, like so much else, be Coming to America. I’m delighted Ricky will get to embody Shadow. Now the fun starts.”

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Review and Preview – Rainbow Children: The Art of Camilla d’Errico

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Review and Preview – Rainbow Children: The Art of Camilla d’Errico

Camilla d’Errico is a world-renowned painter, illustrator, comic artist, and clothing designer. This gorgeous hardcover compilation of her artwork is the perfect addition to the collection of anyone that appreciates manga-inspired fine art.

Click the jump for preview pages and a review of Rainbow Children: The Art of Camilla d’Errico.

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Review: X’s for Eyes

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Review: X’s for Eyes

“I, for one, have no interest in being tortured, imprisoned, or experimented on. Again.”

The story begins in a school for assassins in the Himalayas, so at first it looks like this will be a tale of deprivation and physical training. But then it switches to two brothers leaving the temple for their summer vacation, looking forward to a few months of brawling and debauchery: firearms, booze and women mandatory. Except the brothers are awfully young (12.5 and 14.5 to be exact) so this is really more of a boy’s adventure, except that they’re the heirs to a multinational family/corporation that’s in the middle of a war with several other families, a war that’s exacerbated by an arms race and a secret plot involving contact with a shambling intelligence from beyond the stars…

…I think I should probably start over. This story is all over the place, and like a lot of Laird Barron’s writing, it’s kind of hard to describe.

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Review: Legenda Maris

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Review: Legenda Maris

I somehow missed the news of Tanith Lee’s passing for several months. Ms. Lee’s career as an author started with her novel The Birthgrave back in 1975, and on through ninety-three books that included fantasy, horror, gothic romance, science-fiction, and works that felt like a mix of a few different genres (Biting the Sun, anyone?)

Tanith was also one of my favorite authors; her collection of re-told fairytales Red As Blood is one of those books that I keep nearby for comfort-food reading, as is her gloriously decadent, vampiric (sort of) book of the Scarabae, Personal Darkness. (Damn. I just realized that the rumored fourth novel in the Blood Opera Sequence will never happen now. One more volume for the Sandman’s Library of Lost Books, I suppose.)

She kept on writing up until the very end, and she had plans in place for several themed short story collections. Lengenda Maris is the first of those: eleven tales of the ocean featuring monsters, mysteries, and hapless people caught up in the places where the land meets the sea.

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