Sunday, December 23, 2007

Metatemporally a Merry Christmas!

Hobbit / Mark posted the second part of the 2007 Round up by Adam/Werthead, Deornoth/Graeme, Robert/Cervantor, and Aidan/'al Kael, Mark and myself. The first part resulted in a great discussion at SFFWorld, I hope this part does the same. While the focus of the first part was Fantasy, in the second, we turn our attention to Science Fiction, Films, and Comic books. Admittedly, the latter two don't receive as much attention at SFFWorld, but are worth disucssing.
Don't forget to vote for your favorite 2007 at SFFWorld!

Also up at SFFWorld is my latest review, The Metatemporal Detective. I couldn't help posting the awesome cover by John Picacio, which more than many of the covers of the boosk I've recently read, captures the feel of the book so well.

John's one of the top artists in the field right now and it is no mistake that his covers have graced a good number of books by Pyr. John also has done great covers for Jeffrey Ford's two collections from Golden Gryphon books and he recently posted the three covers to the Golden Gryphon versions of Jeff Ford's spectacular Well-Built City trilogy


Merry Christmas to all! Happy Christmas to all!




Sunday, December 16, 2007

SFFWorld's 2007 Reader's Poll & Spin

Over at SFFWorld.com, we are running our annual member poll for favorite reads of 2007.

Hobbit also posted the first part of SFFWorld's annual review., wherein we discuss the books, authors, films, and events in Speculative Fiction. In the past, it was just Hobbit and I who put this thing together. This year we invited some of the regular visitors/bloggers from the forum: Adam/Werthead (http://thewertzone.blogspot.com/), Deornoth/Graeme (http://www.graemesfantasybookreview.com/), Robert/Cervantor (http://fantasybookcritic.blogspot.com/), and Aidan/'al Kael (http://www.aidanmoher.com/blog/).

I finished Robert Charles Wilson's Spin a couple of days ago, and had it fit the eligibility rules we set in place, I might have given it one of my top spots. This book was as good as everybody said it was, not the least of whom are Stephen King and the people who awarded it the Hugo award.

This was an epic book filled with human, well drawn characters who had to deal with earth-shattering (or rather earth-encompassing) events. Diane (the primary female character) seemed to get a bit of the short end of the stick, compared to the other two characters. I think that is mainly due to the smaller amount of screen time given to her character compared to Jase (her brother) and Tyler (narrator/protagonist). That being said, her character in its absences, still exhibited a certain power that neither Jase or Tyler did.

I think the title was a metaphor of sorts, and maybe an inverse metaphor. People are constantly told to stop and not let the world pass by them. In this case the world was stopped and the life, the universe, and everything nearly passed by us. Or so it seemed for much of the novel. I also saw the metaphor of how the story began and ended, for the most part, at the same location.

The political climate RCW depicted seemed very accurately presented. However, we didn't quite get to see the everyman's point of view of what happened. I suppose Tyler was intended to fit this role to a degree, but being the best friend of one of the most powerful men on the planet isn't so everyman.

On the whole, I really REALLY enjoyed this book. I thought it was an extremely human look at a near future where people were confronted with a technological event far beyond anything people in the world are capable of doing. I am not surprised it received the Hugo and think it will be considered a top SF book for a while. The ending was a little frustrating because I wanted to see what would happen next, but I also consider the ending to be appropriate.

The only other novel I've read by RCW is Darwinia, which I also enjoyed. The ending "event" reminded me of that novel. I will be picking up Axis, as well as some of his other backlist titles, as if I don't have enough unread books on the shelf.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Eye of Heaven, Wheel of Time

Seems I'm on a good-bad-good-bad streak with the books I've been reading lately. The latest review up at SFFWorld is a bad one, David Keck's In the Eye of Heaven. When the book first published last year, there was mostly positive buzz, with a couple of naysayers mixed in the buzz. Through most of the book, I was unable to care about the protagonist and what happned to him or any of the characters. Read the review for more. I told Pat this would be another book about which we would disagree.

In bigger news, of course is that Brandon Sanderson will be writing the last and concluding volume of The Wheel of Time. From what I've seen Sanderson really is becoming something of an heir apparent at Tor. He is finishing up the Mistborn series, plus I think he is contracted for another trilogy (or is it duology?) with Tor. His Mistborn novels, at least the first two, I found to be very solid. The guy, from all accounts, is a pro and churns out books at a very impressive pace. That said, there will of course be Jordan fans who won't be happy with this. Either way, I'm glad for Brandon and think Tor made a smart choice on this one.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Aliens, Assassins, and a new Arena

My latest review, Fleet of Worlds by Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner is now up at SFFWorld. This was my introduction to Niven's Ringworld saga, as well as his novel-length fiction. I liked it quite a bit, have others read this and I'm interested to read how it stacks up against his other fiction, both the Ringworld novels and others.

Another very good book I just finished was Steven Brust's most recent Vlad Taltos novel, Dzur. I've been following Brust's witch-assasin and dragon-like familiar since Ace books decided to repackage his early novels in a few nifty omnibus volumes. It has been a few years since I last read one of the Vlad Taltos novels (Issola, to be precise) and I nearly forgot how much fun I have listening to Vlad, er rather Brust, tell me stories.













Brust is a solid writer who should be getting more recognition and deserves a larger readership. When I read The Lies of Locke Lamora last year that something about Lynch's writing reminded me of Brust, not surpising considering both writer's protagonists are known for prodigiously sticking knives in people. That connection came even more strong after reading Dzur. So I can only HIGHLY recommend that people check out Brust's Taltos novels while waiting for the next Lynch book, starting with The Book Of Jhereg (the first Taltos omnibus) or Jhereg (the first Taltos novel).

Brust has acknowledged that his writing was influenced by Roger Zelazny and is an admitted fan of the legend's writing. Much of the plot Zelazny' Amber stories takes place through the conversations of the story's characters, Brust's Taltos novels are as well.

Outside of the Vlad Taltos novels, Brust "reimagined" Satan's revolt in Heaven in the entertaining To Reign in Hell. Brust also wrote a very well received vampire novel, Agyar as well as a collaboration with Emma Bull and one with Megan Lindholm.

Though not explicitly part of the Vlad Taltos series, Brust wrote a few books that take place in the Dragaeran empire, which is the setting for the Taltos novels. Collectively, these are known as the Khaavren Romances and are comprised of The Phoenix Guards, Five Hundred Years After, and The Viscount of Adrilankha, (published in three volumes: The Paths of the Dead, The Lord of Castle Black, and Sethra Lavode).

Like I said, Brust has been writing for a while and should definitely not be lost in the shuffle (so to speak) of all the new emerging writers.

For more information check out his Wikipedia entry.

I enjoyed my first NJ Devils game at the new Prudential Center on Friday. It, of course, didn't hurt that the Devils won 4-0 and Zach Parise got a Hat Trick. The arena is great looking, easy to get to via train and a VAST improvement over the Meadowlands. The seats are a bit small, but the design of everything, the Red/Black color scheme, and stylish concourse/entrance is really awesome.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Forest Mage, or the Slacker Protagonist

Yesterday, I closed up what is possibly the most frustrating book I've read in the past few years, Forest Mage by Robin Hobb. Frustrating that the writing itself was good and parts of the story sucked me in, which contrasts with the utter despair at the hopelessness of protagonist Nevare's character. Frustrating because I've come to expect the good writing, and even the passivity of the slacker protagonist, but here it was almost too much to bear. Frustrating because I hold Hobb’s earlier works in such high regard, a measuring stick by which I compare other writers.

I agree with much of what is said in the SFFWorld forum topic about the book: 200 pages of this novel amounted to a constant reminder of how fat Nevare had become. I felt browbeaten into submissive into beliefy. Much of the novel (maybe 50 pages worth even) was Nevare constantly saying "I don't know what to do" or some similar phrase. Basically, far too much of the obvious being hinted at without stating the obvious.

Many readers have complained that Fitz (from the Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies) was something of a dullard. I hope for their sake, they never read this book. Nevare's outright stubborn insistence on doing absolutely nothing was also frustrating. Am I the only one who was thinking from about the first third of the novel that he could have gone to Epiny for assistance with his magic? It is almost as if Nevare forgot that she helped in the prevoius novel.

Watching Nevare persist in doing nothing for himself other than accept the meagerness thrown at him rather than be proactive was akin to driving slowly past a horrific car wreck. You don't want to look and see the blood and death, but part of you is fascinated by it, while the other part wants to see the reason for their delay. I don't know if that is a compliment, but that quality about the story did keep me reading, and fervently at that.

I don't even think there was a good case to support either sides of the conflict (Specks vs. Gernians). Both sides are callous in their approach to the other side and nothing compels me to truly give a rat’s ass which side “wins.” I; however, suspect neither will win.

On the converse side, I would attribute much of Nevare's despair and hesitance to act as a result of his un-acceptance of the magic. To me, this novel could have been trimmed considerably; it would have been a stronger novel, without the browbeating. I get the sense that perhaps this "trilogy" with some judicious (and often needed) editing, could have been a more powerful duology.

In the end I was very compelled (almost as addictively as Nevare's eating compulsion) to read through to the end, and to even want to read the final installment. What is also frustrating is that it took Nevare so long to finally take some sort of stand and do something. Unfortunately this happens in the last handful of pages and the novel ends on a cliffhanger.

Will I read the final book? Probably, I am a completist and a big fan of Hobb. I am also curious if this story would have indeed read as well (or better) as a duology.

Sure, I know this book was published over a year ago here in the US and before that in the UK, but I couldn’t not drop a post about the book here.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Empire of Ice Cream

Jeffrey Ford is one of the more decorated writers in speculative fiction over the decade or so. His first fantasy novel, The Physiognomy, won the World Fantasy Award, as have his first collection, The Fantasy Writer’s Assistant, a short story and a novella (Botch Town, which appears in his second collection).. The story whose title, The Empire of Ice Cream, serves as the name of his second collection, won a Nebula award. For all the awards, his writing deserves a much bigger audience. Those who have read his work, at least most of those with whom I’ve come into contact, think very highly of his writing.

What I’ve read from Mr. Ford has been spectacular, and his most recent collection (the aforementioned The Empire of Ice Cream) is no exception. The first story, The Annals of Eelin-Ok though distinct in its story, does set a tone for the overall collection. Just under our noses, small fairy folk live on the beaches we visit every summer. Ford’s story is the diary of one of thse little folk and it is supremely effective at giving the reader a different lens by which to view the world.

The second story, Jupiter’s Skull, had the feel of an old folk tale, something passed down through the generations. Considering the nuts and bolts of the story itself, this is very fitting. An old artifact is inexplicably passed down through generations and has a magical effect, something of demonic possession one might say, on those who come into contact with it, particularly if they are of opposite sexes.

A Night in the Tropics is a very surreal and powerful story which is a showcase of Ford’s ability to capture the everyday life of his characters. The mood and characters are so real and believable that the fantastic elements come across just as real. In this story, a cursed artifact has made its way to a person from the protagonist’s past.

The story which lends the title for the collection had probably the deepest connection to his award winning novel, The Physiognomy. A misunderstood boy with a “condition” goes through much of his life distanced from reality. Only when the right doctor comes along and diagnoses his condition does the protagonist’s life take a foothold in reality. The archaic condition here is synesthesia, a neurologically based phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway, or where one can taste colors and hear smells. This was possibly the most tragic story in the collection. For the time being, this story is still online at the SciFiciton archives.

The Beautiful Gelreesh has the feel of a modern fable or parable to it, although there are also hints of science fiction. Like any such story, humanity’s fears and emotions are at the core of what drives the story. The enigmatic Gelreesh makes promises to those with whom he speaks, but the price is not negotiable, or known at the outset.

I first read Boatman's Holiday in the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, in fact I purchased the issue primarily for the story. Here, Ford plays with the myth of the ferryman who carries souls across the river Styx. I liked this one quite a bit; there was a wry, dark sense of humor to it.

Botch Town, the largest story in the book, is also the most richly alive story of the collection. The story reminded me of the best of Stephen King’s stories of youths who encounter things of the other. Stories like The Body, Hearts in Atlantis, and his massive novel IT. Like many of Ford’s stories, Botch Town, has a ring of the truth about it, you believe the narrator and imagine the strange events could happen. The nugget of fantastic here is that a model town in a family’s basement can be used to show how events will happen in the future.

The only story that didn’t completely connect with me was A Man of Light. This is not to say it is a bad story, I just don’t think it succeeded as well as the other stories. However, the story’s authentic seeming pseudoscience did resonate with his novel, The Physiognomy.

Perhaps the weirdest story in the collection was Giant Land. Ford transports his characters across strange landscapes in this story that felt very much a stream-of-consciousness. Characters are plucked from an everyday commute into a world of Giants, both human and human with animal heads. Without missing a beat, the story shifts slightly into a dream like state as the protagonist realizes the reality that mirrors our own is not hers. The story flips between fantastical and “real” without missing a beat, displacing the reader’s sense of reality.

The Trentino Kid closes out the collection and is perhaps the most personal story of the bunch. Many of the tales collected in this novel either are informed by Ford’s life and/or include a protagonist named Jeff. This gives the stories a greater air of authenticity, and this trait is on its greatest display in The Trentino Kid. The life of people who work on the ocean can be very wearying, even more so considering the very real dangers the work entails. Part ghost story, part semi-autobiography, this story would fit in very nicely with some of Rod Serling’s classic and chilling Twilight Zone episodes.

I don’t know if this collection is better than his previous World Fantasy Award winning collection, The Fantasy Writer’s Assistant, but it isn’t any lesser a collection. What we have here is a writer unrestrained by bounds of genre and imagination. Jeffrey Ford’s writing has such an authenticity about it, you cannot help but trust that the stories he tells have a ring of truth to them. More importantly, you want to believe them as real and year for the next stories to be told.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Dribbled, Part 2

Aidan posted the second part of the blogger-go-round here.

Turkey Day is almost upon us. Or as the rest of the world knows it, Thursday. I'm looking forward to plenty of good eating, driving across Union County from one family to the other.

More later.

Monday, November 19, 2007

New Review and Heroes

After far too long a hiatus, we finally updated the front page of SFFWorld.com. We've had a lot of content go up on the Web site over the past few weeks, but haven't had the chance to do a full update. The big "get" is an interview with George R. R. Martin. Part of the update included my latest review, Wayne Thomas Batson's latest novel, Isle of Swords.

Heroes has been very good the past couple of weeks; I liked the filling in of the missing pieces last week and thought tonights episode was as tough to turn away from as any of the episodes from last season. Granted, I thought a couple of scenes and events were a little predictable, but overall I was very satisfied and am looking forward to the next episode.

Non-segue, I tried Sam Adams Winter Lager a couple of weeks ago after a couple of years of not really liking it. I don't know why I didn't care for it initially, but now I like it quite a bit. All the spices that float through the beer are a nice, refreshing addition to any meal. That Jim Koch, he knows what he's doing. The winter beers are on the shelves and I'm a happy guy.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Tables Turned on Me

Aidan, of A Dribble of Ink, decided he was going to round up some of the bloggers from SFF online community. He wanted to turn the tables on us and interview us. It was a bit odd, but pretty neat. I thought it turned out very well.

Then again, half the people who read my blog are probably other members of the group interviewed by Aidan.

Anyway, here is the first part of the interview.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

33/3

I turned 33 on Thursday, who-hoo. Mrs. Blog o’ Stuff gave me xmradio and made an awesome dinner for me. I had some good beer with my in-laws, and with my parents, so I can’t really complain.

My third “blogoversarry” also passed since I last posted, and I might try some new things after the New Year with this blog. Not the least of which is more regular blogging and maybe a regular “feature.” Exciting, isn’t it? I know the huddled masses are chomping at the bit.

Monday, November 05, 2007

It's Electric, Botched and a God Killer

My review of Jeff Somers's The Electric Church is now up at SFFWorld. I thought it was a pretty good book, an interesting look at a dark future. While not an uncommon story (all-controlling government, corrupt church) Somers did enough interesting things in the novel to make it stand out. As I say in my review, I kept hearing Queensrÿche’s Operation:Mindcrime as I read the book.

About a month ago, SFFWorld posted Pat's interview with Jeff Somers, which is worth checking out as well. Jeff also happens to be a fellow Jersey-boy.

I was unable to go to another World Fantasy Convention, but congratulations to the winners. I'm in the middle of one of the award winners right now, Botch Town in Jeffrey Ford's incredible (so far) collection, The Empire of Ice Cream. Everything I read by Ford is on a different level than almost every other writer. Whether in short for or long form, his stories really make the fantastic seem real, the dream-like seem lucid. I think this is because his does such an incredible job of capturing the reality of human pathos and interaction. Again, another writer from New Jersey.

Last week i finished another marathon of a Malazan book, House of Chains. I liked it better than the previous book, Memories of Ice. Karsa Orlong is probably my favorite character in the series right now and I love how Erikson is building up the legend and myth of the character.

Karsa's challenging of his gods reminds me a bit of Kratos's storyline from God of War. Is that a strange analogy? I don't know, but it works for me. I also happend to beat God of War II last week. I liked the game a lot, but the gameplay wasn't as balanced as the first game.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Just in time for Hallowe’en, I posted my review of the H.P. Lovecraft collection, The Horror in the Museum. Well, the stories are re-writes/ghost-writes/co-written by Lovecraft, but most were still pretty damned good. As I say in my review, my only other foray into Lovecraft’s writing was Black Seas of Infinity, which I thought was a superb collection edited by Andrew Wheeler.

The Yankees named Joe Girardi their new manager today after the unsurprising firing/non-acceptance of contract by Joe Torre. As much as Don Mattingly was my favorite player, I think Girardi is the right choice as manager. I liked him as a player and probably more as an announcer on YES. Granted, the way Joe Torre was not brought back was sloppy, I think Girardi is a step in the right direction. The best news out of Yankee-land is Alex Rodriguez opting out of his contract.

Somehow the fact that a film version of Stephen King’s The Mist is coming out in November slipped by me. I liked the story a lot when I first read it years ago. Even more so, I enjoyed the Cool Audio version of the story released more than a decade ago. On the good side, Frank Darabont wrote and directed it, who also had a hand in The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption. On the other, Thomas Jane (who I thought was great as Mickey Mantle in 61*) was also in the King clunker, Dreamcatcher.

The more I watch Reaper, the bigger my crush grows on Missy Peregrym. I like the show and make sure I see it every week, it reminds me a little bit of Ghostbusters. Ghostbusters is one of my favorite, most quotable, and most quoted movies.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Review, stuff


I posted my review of Hurricane Moon by Alexis Glynn Latner the other day, but since sffworld.com was a little wonky yesterday, I couldn't retrieve the review to mention here. It was an interesting book, but didn't completely work for me.

Rutgers seems back on track after taking down the #2 team last Thursday. On one hand this is great, on the other this tells me they "should" be undefeated. Their two losses were to teams that were not of the same caliber as USF. Granted, Cincinatti is doing some pretty good things, butstill frustrating nonetheless.

The more commercials I see for Beowulf, the more I want to see it. What I do find ironic is that the script for the movie is written by Neil Gaiman and that Todd McFarlane Toys has the license to do the "officially licensed" action figures from the movie.

I have to say, one of the cool things about doing these book reviews is getting early looks at some forthcoming books. Case in point, I received a nice big fat ARC from Del Rey of Peter F. Hamilton's next Epic Space Opera, The Dreaming Void. Another, equally cool, perk is receiving the same e-mail from Simon Spanton Pat did, with the synopsis of Richard K. Morgan's foray into Epic Fantasy, The Steel Remains.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Meme-ology

Gacked from where most of these memes are gacked, the Antimucker.

MOUTHOLOGY
Q. What is your salad dressing of choice?
A. 1,000 Island or Robusto Italian

Q. What is your favorite fast food restaurant?
A. White Castle.

Q. What is your favorite sit-down restaurant?
A. The Chimney Rock Inn. The Loaded Rock Fries are a heart-attack on a plate but are awesome.

Q. On average, what size tip do you leave at a restaurant?
A. Usually 20%; I start at 15% and the waiter/waitress decides from there. That is, if they are good it goes up.

Q. What food could you eat every day for two weeks and not get sick of?
A: Steak.

Q. What are your pizza toppings of choice?
A. Meatballs

Q. What do you like to put on your toast?
A: Peanut Butter

TECHNOLOGY
Q. What is your wallpaper on your computer?
A: See Ray Run on one computer, a Neil Gaiman/Sandman background on the other.

Q. How many televisions are in your house?
A: 4.

BIOLOGY
Q. Are you right-handed or left-handed?
A. Right.

Q. Have you ever had anything removed from your body?
A. Wisdom teeth.

Q. When was the last time you had a cavity?
A. Only one, about three years ago.

Q. What is the last heavy item you lifted?
A. What do you consider Heavy? 8o lb dumbells at the gym?

Q. Have you ever been knocked unconscious?
A. No.

BULLSHITTOLOGY
Q. If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die?
A. No.

Q. If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
A. World’s Coolest Millionaire

Q. What color do you think looks best on you?
A. One Million Dollars.

Q. Have you ever swallowed a non-food item by mistake?
A. Probably.

Q. Have you ever saved someone's life?
A. If so, inadvertently.

Q. Has someone ever saved yours?
A. I don’t think so.

DAREOLOGY
Q. Would you kiss a member of the same sex for $100?
A. I need more money than that.

Q. Would you allow one of your little fingers to be cut off for $200,000?
A. Now you are talking.

Q. Would you never blog again for $50,000?
A. yes...

Q. Would you pose naked in a magazine for $250,000?
A. Yes, but that magazine would lose money.

Q. Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1000?
A. Absolutely.

Q. Would you, without fear of punishment, take a human life for $1,000,000?
A. It depends on the specific human life; however, I do recall an episode of the Twilight Zone (or maybe Amazing Stories) where somebody was offered something along these lines, with the disclaimer that you would not know who the person to die would be. They, of course accepted, only to be told that the next person who was offered the $1M would have no idea who would be killed, either. Karma's a bitch.

DUMBOLOGY
Q: What is in your left pocket?
A: Nothing.

Q: Is Napoleon Dynamite actually a good movie?
A: Good is a strong word.

Q: Do you have hardwood or carpet in your house?
A: Yes.

Q: Do you sit or stand in the shower?
A: I wish I could sit.

Q: Could you live with roommates?
A: I have in the past (college) and I do now (wife).

Q: How many pairs of flip flops do you own?
A: One pair with a bottle opener in it although mine are black.

Q: Last time you had a run-in with the cops?
A: A few months ago when I blew through a stop sign.

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A: A superhero.

Q: Who is number 1 on your top 8?
A: ????

LASTOLOGY
Q: Friend you talked to?
A: My old college roommate.

Q: Last person who called you?
A: See above.

Q: Person you hugged?
A: Mrs. Blog o’ Stuff.

FAVORITOLOGY
Q: Number?
A: 7 or 23

Q: Season?
A: Summer

CURRENTOLOGY
Q: Missing someone?
A: Not really.

Q: Mood?
A: Somber

Q: Listening to?
A: Baseball playoffs.

Q: Watching?
A: See above.

Q: Worrying about?
A: Bills, work, house-projects.

RANDOMOLOGY
Q: First place you went this morning?
A: The bathroom.

Q: What can you not wait to do?
A: Retire.

Q: What's the last movie you saw?
A: Theaters: Stardust. Home: Snakes on a Plane courtesy of TiVO.

Q: Do you smile often?
A: Only when I do evil things.

Q: Are you a friendly person?
A: At times.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Summer in October - Waiting for the Cold


My latest review, Brian Ruckley’s Winterbirth, went up at SFFWorld tonight. I have to admit I was disappointed in the book. It wasn’t a bad book, and I think has some good qualities. However, the book just didn’t connect with me. Apathetic might be a strong word, but I did find it difficult to completely immerse myself in his world and the story.

Mark/Hobbit posted a couple of reviews, too: Mike Carey’s The Devil You Know and Karen Miller’s The Innocent Mage.

The weather is perfectly normal here in New Jersey for October – the temperature has been in the 80s for the better part of the last week or so. This makes a little odd to be enjoying Oktoberfest beers like Widmer’s Octoberfest, and Post Road (Brooklyn) Pumpkin Ale, and Smuttynose Pumpkin.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The life of o’ Stuff has been interesting and hectic the past couple of weeks. I picked up a new car a little over a week ago, sold the old one, and my company moved its office 7 miles closer to my house. 7 miles may not seem like all that much to some, but when those 7 miles less are in North Jersey, it makes a considerable difference.

I thought the premiere of Reaper was pretty enjoyable and the second episode is turning out pretty well, too. I’m glad Heroes is back and like last season, the show keeps me hooked and anticipating the next week’s episode. I'm hoping Christopher Eccleston comes back this year, I really liked the small role he played last season. Right now, Peter's story is working the best for me even if it might be a small re-tread of his arc last year.

I posted my review of Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself today. Right now it is near the top of my list for 2007 reads, Abercrombie’s snarky writing reminded me of Scott Lynch. He really built up a lot of tension and has me eager to read Before They Are Hanged.

I'm sure most of the same people who follow my blog, at least the fantasy fans, also follow Aidan's blog. If you don't and are a fan of Steven Erikson's Malazan Empire, click on over. I've been waiting for the right time jump back into Malazan after plowing through the first three a couple of months ago and now seems as good a time as any.


Surprise, surprise the Yankees made the playoffs again. I like their chances against Cleveland and think the Red Sox will be tired out by the Angels; hopefully. How about those Mets? Wow, that has to be as bad as the Yankees being bounced by Boston after their collapse a couple of years back. The National League is really wide open.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

MEME: Top 50 Dystopian Movies of All Time

MEME: Top 50 Dystopian Movies of All Time
(gacked from SFSignal)

Below is Snarkerati's list of Top 50 Dystopian Movies of All Time. A great topic for a meme!
You know the drill...copy the list and BOLD the movies you have seen. Post yours in the comments, or on your own blog (a link back here would be appreciated!)

1. Metropolis (1927)
2. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
3. Brazil (1985)
4. Wings of Desire (1987)
5. Blade Runner (1982)
6. Children of Men (2006)
7. The Matrix (1999)
8. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)
9. Minority Report (2002)
10. Delicatessen (1991)
11. Sleeper (1973)
12. The Trial (1962)
13. Alphaville (1965)
14. Twelve Monkeys (1995)
15. Serenity (2005)
16. Pleasantville (1998)
17. Ghost in the Shell (1995)
18. Battle Royale (2000)
19. RoboCop (1987)
20. Akira (1988)
21. The City of Lost Children (1995)
22. Planet of the Apes (1968)
23. V for Vendetta (2005)
24. Metropolis (2001)
25. Gattaca (1997)
26. Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
27. On The Beach (1959)
28. Mad Max (1979)
29. Total Recall (1990)
30. Dark City (1998)
31. War Of the Worlds (1953)
32. District 13 (2004)
33. They Live (1988)
34. THX 1138 (1971)
35. Escape from New York (1981)
36. A Scanner Darkly (2006)

37. Silent Running (1972)
38. Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001)
39. Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)
40. A Boy and His Dog (1975)
41. Soylent Green (1973)
42. I Robot (2004)
43. Logan's Run (1976)
44. Strange Days (1995)
45. Idiocracy (2006)
46. Death Race 2000 (1975)
47. Rollerball (1975)
48. Starship Troopers (1997)
49. One Point O (2004)
50. Equilibrium (2002)

More than half. Not bad, I guess.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Realms Reviewed by Rob

The latest review went live on SFFWorld, Paul S. Kemp's Erevis Cale Trilogy. Paul popped into the SFFWorld forums a couple of times and his postings generated some interesting discussion. He and I got to e-mailing and I wound up reviewing the books. To be honest, I wasn't sure exactly what to expect, since my only exposure to the Forgotten Realms was Salvatore's Drizzt books, which I enjoyed.

Kemp's books I enjoyed a bit more, his writing has a darker edge and the tone is slighty more tense. The story itself was enthralling and Kemp has me looking forward to his next set of books.
I do hopes all ye joined in the bottle of rum for today's e'er so special day, YO HO! I know I did, wearing an eye patch and bandana at work, AARGH-ing it up. Last year when the holiday rolled around, I was dared to talk and wear the get-up all day, even so far as to go in an speak to a Senior VP with the accent. I, of course, am not one to be dared lightly and received a nice bottle of Captain Morgan.

Robert Jordan's death is still having a strange affect on me, I didn't expect to be as moved by it as I have been. This is especially true since I've been known on minor occassions to poke fun at the Wheel of Time over at SFFWorld, and haven't been as into the books since Winter's Heart published. Seeing people's thoughts on his work and remmbering how much I enjoyed the books when I first read them is making me want to jump back into The Eye of the World. I remember when I first had jury duty nearly ten years ago and I was reading Path of Daggers at the time, how I struck up a conversation with one of my fellow jurors about Jordan's books. Earlier this year I was at a family thing and speaking with a cousin who I hadn't seen very much in recent years and the conversation, very surprisingly to me, turned to Robert Jordan. He was one of the last people I'd expected to have read the books.

Pat posted his thoughts, as have many others. I missed Ken's nice post, which echoes much of my thoughts and The Hornswoggler had a good, if different perspective.

On a somewhat unrelated note FantasyBookCritic is a pretty good blog.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Wheel Turns...R.I.P. Robert Jordan

James Oliver Rigney, also known as Robert Jordan passed away yesterday. I’m just one of many blogs, fans, and news sites reporting this, but it is still worth mentioning here. His Wheel of Time is easily one of the most popular (if not the largest) multi-volume sagas in the genre and helped to make fantasy (and I’m sure by extension, Science Fiction) a more commercially viable genre in the nineties on through to today. For all the finger pointing at Jordan for his shortcomings as a storyteller, he was one of the great “gatekeepers” of the genre, and hopefully will be for many years. The Eye of the World, and to a lesser extent his Conan novels, are some of the first fantasy books people read, or fiction people read in general.

I can only relate my own experience with his writing, and how it helped to bring me back in a greater way to reading fantasy and science fiction. I’d always enjoyed reading; after all I was an English major in college. As I might have said, I cut my reading chops at a very young age on those Choose Your Own Adventure books as well as The Three Investigators, then I moved onto Stephen King somewhere just before middle school. That brought me a bunch of horror, basically whatever my parents had on the shelves. Then, I found Dungeons & Dragons as a game, and DragonLance as a story. Soon, though, college called and my “free-time” reading became something of the past.

As college wound down, my free reading time returned. One of the first books I recall buying was The Eye of the World; I saw something about this Wheel of Time series on one of those news shows the SciFi Channel once aired, Sci Fi Buzz hosted by Mike Jerrick. He and Jordan were discussing the Wheel of Time. The concept interested me; I liked the idea of resonating myths coming to life; a fantasy world that has echoes of our own. I recalled Jordan’s name when I visited Barnes & Noble some time later. I figured, what the heck, the book looks interesting. I was hooked, and I have to admit to still recalling some of the scenes from the first book pretty clearly even a decade later. When I joined the Science Fiction Book Club shortly thereafter, I wound up ordering the next two books and read though them fairly quickly. I didn’t want to have to wait to mail in my order the SFBC and then wait for them to deliver the next books, which would have been The Shadow Rising and The Fires of Heaven, so I bought one in paperback and the other as a discounted hardback.

I remember reading some of the scenes in Lord of Chaos long into the night and in general, those first five or six books of the Wheel of Time were some of the most fun and compelling reading experiences I had, at least up until that point. Despite how a couple of the later books in the series left me unsatisfied, The Wheel of Time will always have a special spot on my bookshelf. I’ve been wondering for a while now if the first books would hold up as well if I were to re-read them. I was considering going through them again once the final book was to be published. Perhaps, as David Gemmell’s widow did, Jordan’s widow can finish off the last volume. She was, after all, his editor.

Before The Eye of the World was published, Jordan published other novels, but he also lived a damned interesting life. He studied physics at the Citadel, he was a nuclear engineer, and fought in the Vietnam War where he received awards for his bravery in the war and settled into a house built in the late 18th Century. Not a shabby set of life experiences, if you ask me.

Robert Jordan, through his Wheel of Time, was an ambassador to the genre, welcoming new readers. Jordan has been compared to Tolkien, and say what you will, Jordan’s importance to the genre cannot be understated. George R. R. Martin has already posted a very nice remembrance of Jordan and a thanks, as have many others. The Wheel of Time helped to make fantasy a much larger genre, and brought in a large audience. As of yesterday, the genre has lost another giant and is a shade smaller.

For that, and the many hours of reading pleasure he brought to his fans, James Oliver Rigney will be missed. Death is never easy, even when you are given a set time to live. My condolences go out to his family, friends and many readers, including those who came together in life through his books.

Over at SFFWorld, we’ve got a thread recalling his work where our members are posting their thoughts and remembrances.

http://ofblog.blogspot.com/2007/09/rip-jim-rigney-robert-jordan-1948-2007.html
http://grrm.livejournal.com/21250.html
http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2007/09/jim-rigney.html
http://www.tor-forge.com/NewsArticle.aspx?articleId=574
http://www.dragonmount.com/RobertJordan/?p=90
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/009381.html#009381
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Jordan
http://thewertzone.blogspot.com/2007/09/very-sad-news.html

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Career Matchmaker

This is interesting, except I suck at my number 1 match. Oh well.

Instructions:
1. Go here: http://www.careercruising.com/default.asp
2. Put in Username: nycareers, Password: landmark.
3. Take their "Career Matchmaker" questions.
4. Post the top results.

1. Cartoonist / Comic Illustrator
2. Desktop Publisher
3. Fashion Designer
4. Costume Designer
5. Set Designer
6. Cook
7. Writer
8. Critic
9. Graphic Designer
10. Artist
11. Communications Specialist
12. Market Research Analyst
13. Translator
14. Computer Animator
15. Website Designer
16. Print Journalist
17. Medical Illustrator
18. Industrial Designer
19. Interior Designer
20. Animator
21. Baker
22. Special Effects Technician
23. Sign Maker
24. Plumber
25. Glazier

In some form or another, I've had rresponsiblities similar to 2, 7, 11, 12, 15, and I love to cook. But a freaking plumber? I'm not bad at dealing with plumbing issues in my house and nothing against the plumbing profession, but that doesn't fit with the rest. And a glass cutter? Wow.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fire and Blood

Knacked from the Hornswoggler & Aidan. I can live with that, though I thought I would be a Stark.

Your Score: House Targaryen


63% Dominant, 63% Extroverted, 63% Trustworthy



Ancient. Noble. Passionate to the point of insanity. Transcending lesser beings, you are of House Targaryen.

You are a dominant personality—in fact, you are the most dominant of all eight house types. You will not suffer yourself to be ignored. You will not suffer yourself to be ruled. The phrase "I will not suffer myself to _____!" was practically made for you. You are willful, arrogant, and exceedingly dangerous to screw with. With a temper like yours, anyone stupid enough to saunter into your line of fire won’t soon forget their mistake.

You are also extroverted, which means that everyone in the world knows exactly what your intentions are. Unlike your cohorts (who hide behind smiles and courtesies and court politics), you think of it as your birthright to come riding in on an enormous dragon, breathing fire and fucking your siblings. Hey, what you lack in subtlty, you make up in style!

Finally, you are trustworthy. Your absurd amounts of power and borderline psychosis are not used unjustly. Unlike many, your general aims are just and true. You we bred for rule, and the fact that you cannot rest until you are doing so is not your fault. If you make up your mind, it becomes reality. Never one for empty threats or vainglorious lies, you can only speak the truth. And the truth is "fire and blood."

Representative characters include: Daenerys Stormborn, Rhaegar Targaryen, and Viserys Targaryen

Similar Houses: Baratheon, Lannister,and Tully

Opposite House: Frey

When playing the game of thrones, you play it to the death.

Link: The Song of Ice and Fire House Test written by Geeky_Stripper on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Feast of Books Continues

The latest review I’ve posted is today’s: Feast of Souls by C.S. Friedman, the first book in her new Magister Trilogy. Ms. Friedman is no stranger to fantasy and science fiction readers, but this book seems to have flown under the radar since it published in February. Shame really, because Friedman is an excellent writer.

I suppose her writing will always hold a special spot on my shelf because her Coldfire Trilogy was what I read on the beach in Hawaii, and the plane to and from the Island State when Mrs. Blog ‘o Stuff tied the knot over seven years ago.

The only books I haven’t read by her are The Wildling and This Madness Season. I remember liking This Alien Shore quite a bit when I read it.

That’s the long of it. The short of it is that I really enjoyed Feast of Souls, check out my review.

Over the weekend, I watched Pan’s Labyrinth, which was sitting on my TiVO for a few weeks. It was dark, both in the fantastical elements and real elements. The costumes/creatures were great, the acting worked for me, and I just really enjoyed the movie.
I don't see much talk about The 4400, which happens to be a pretty entertaining show. Part X-Men, part, Heroes, part conspiracy. The only surprisng thing is that it is on USA and not SciFi.

Rutgers is 2-0 and the Yankees have a healthy lead in the wild card. Sports are looking good from my vantage point.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Ascension

Another Monday* and another new review up at SFFWorld by yours truly. This time it’s Mistborn: Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson. I liked this one very much and can see why Tor is getting behind him in a big way. So far, he’s cranked out three books in three years, so he delivers regularly. More importantly he delivers quality in spades.

We also posted the David Anthony Durham interview I conducted alongside with Pat, Larry, and Ken. Pat posted a while ago, but SFFWorld put it up tonight. I read Durham’s Acacia Book I: War with the Mein earlier in the year and was really impressed with the book.

RU started off the season very nicely, beating the point spread. It was a bit “different,” shall I say, to see a completely packed stadium, as well as participating in crowd chants numerous times throughout the game. Granted, there were some games when I attended that had big crowds, but the atmosphere was odd: it felt like what a college football game should feel like. As one friend I ran into at the tailgate said, its kind of weird to see so many people at a Rutgers game wearing Rutgers attire.

If Rutgers want to maintain and/or move up, we need to see more of the same, in terms of offense. I was never a big proponent of teams running up the score; however, it seems to be an unfortunate means to an end of getting the top rankings.

*I know, sometimes I put up my new reviews on Tuesday.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Elves, Pandas, and Knights

I just posted my review of Gary Wassner’s latest GemQuest novel, The Revenge of the Elves. I continue to enjoy Gary’s writing and hope his audience increases with this book.

Neil Gaiman is a very cool guy and a great writer, which is why he gets to have Pandas on his lap.

Although this is probably old news by now to the folks who read this blog as well as those on my side bar, but La Gringa is back to regular blogging. This is a good thing, especially with all daily genre updates she’s been doing.


Thursday Knight is Rutgers Football Kickoff and I’ll be in attendance. I haven’t been to too many games since I graduated, so this should be fun. With the team starting out in the Top 20 (#16) and Ray Rice as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate, it looks to be a great year. I don't recall expectations ever being so high for Rutgers; it is a weird place to be for this team, though one they will hopefully be in over the next big handful of years. Just a few years ago I had trouble finding Rutgers merchandise in stores and malls. Now it is everywhere. Regardless of how well the team ever did, there was never any excuse for not being able to find RU merchandise. Especially in the malls closest to the school. Enough of that bitching for now, the forthcoming season looks like it will be a ball.

Monday, August 27, 2007

SFFWorld Stuff & a Meme

A slew of new material has been posted to SFFWorld in the past few days. Hobbit posted reviews of Cowboy Angels by Paul McAuley and Steven Paul Davies’s The Prisoner Handbook. Art posted his (as always) thoughtful review of Queen of Candescence by Karl Schroeder. We also just posted the second half of Aidan Moher’s Changing of the Guard article.

I’ve got two reviews ready to go up to the Web site, after one last read through for later this week.

I saw Stardust last week and really enjoyed it. Althought the comparison was made by many reviewers/critics, I don’t think comparing it to The Princess Bride was fair, regardless of how fun, delightful, and entertaining Stardust was. It was easily my favorite movie so far this year, at least what I’ve seen in theaters. Was it perfect? No, but very few movies are perfect. If it was cut by maybe 10 minutes it would have been perfectly paced. That said, I would have like to see more of the ghostly brothers bickering, something I recall being more prevalent in the novel.

Found these over at Wistful Writings

What are you reading right now?
Dawn of Night by Paul S. Kemp, Hurricane Moon by Alexis Latner, and the latest issue of Realms of Fantasy. Kemp is entertaining, I just cracked open Gardner’s debut and the stories I’ve read in RoF so far are good.

Do you have any idea what you'll read when you're done with that?
I usually have a pretty good idea. Since Dawn of Night is a middle book in a trilogy, I’ll logically enough move onto Midnight’s Mask straight after DoN. The books are enjoyable so I’m not complaining. Once I finish Latner, I’ll probably grab a handful of books and ask Mrs. Blog o’ Stuff to pick from the bunch.

What magazines do you have in your bathroom right now?
Realms of Fantasy and a bunch of catalogues.

What's the worst thing you were ever forced to read?
You flip the coin: Heads it’s Wuthering Heights; tails it’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

What's the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?
One book? That’s tough, since I recommend based off the personality to whom I’m recommending. Lately though, it’s been A Game of Thrones.

Admit it, the librarians at your library know you on a first name basis, don't they?
I can’t say they do. Since I moved three years ago the only time I went to the library was for elections.

Is there a book you absolutely love, but for some reason, people never think it sounds interesting, or maybe they read it and don't like it at all?
As the saying goes, Mileage May Vary; however no one book stick out like a sore thumb more than any other.

Do you read books while you eat? While you bathe? While you watch movies or TV? While you listen to music? While you're on the computer? While you're driving?
Yes, no, TV, yes, occasionally and no.

When you were little, did other children tease you about your reading habits?
Not really, although everybody in school knew I was a big Stephen King fan.

What's the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down? Half the night?
Maybe The Name of the Wind.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Dog Days of Summer

I haven’t felt inclined to post lately, obviously. Summer has been busy with work, work around the house and seeing friends on the weekends. For the first time in a few years, I went to Great Adventure earlier in the week. Mrs. Blog o’ Stuff and I met some family members there and had a pretty good time, despite the oppressive heat. Of course Kingda Ka was not running, but El Toro, the ginormous wooden coaster was. What an incredible ride.

All of this has left me with very little reading time over the past couple of weeks. The books I’ve been reading; however, have been good. Particularly Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn: The Final Empire, the most recent book review I posted. I saw the buzz for Elantris (which will coincidentally be the SFFWorld Book Club Fantasy book for September) two years ago and actually won a hardcover of The Final Empire in one of Pat’s contests. When an ARC of the second book, The Well of Ascension, I cracked open The Final Empire. I was thoroughly impressed and the sequel is living up to the first book.

I’m also in the middle of Gary Wassner’s forthcoming GemQuest novel, The Revenge of the Elves. I’m about halfway through and enjoying this one very much, too. I’m hoping readers will discover Gary’s books soon, they deserve a wider audience.

I caught The Simpsons Movie last weekend with a couple of friends. It was entertaining and made me laugh more often than not, even if some of the jokes were far too telegraphed. Of course the funniest part of the whole film was the Spider-Pig sequence.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Rags, Harry and Jackhammers

I just posted my review of Tobias Buckell's Ragamuffin, a very entertaining space opera. Earlier today, Mrs. Blog o' Stuff and I saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I was entertained for the most part, but thought the pacing was a little uneven. The film was a bit choppy during the beginning where too many events from the book were condensed (or seemingly ignored). The final wizard battle, while great to watch, came together without enough build up. I understand things will be cut from the book, but I don't see any reason why this film couldn't have been three hours in order to cover more of the plot elements from the book.

It has been a loud couple of days here at home, I had some minor construction done in my basement. I tell ya, nothing compares to the sound and feel of a jackhammer blasting away at your basement floor at 10:30 in the morining. The rain back in April really screwed me over and since then, water has become too good of a "friend" to my basement. So, over a five-to-six hour period yesterday, about 4.5 tons of concrete was removed from my basement so a drain system and sump pump could be installed. I will no sleep much better during rainy nights.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

JTH-The Dark River

A couple of days ago, I posted my review of The Dark River by John Twelve Hawks. I liked it almost as much as The Traveler, the first book in the sequence, and on the whole, the novel did a great job of continuing the story, further developing the plot/world, and gearing me up for the final volume.

I finally finished Memories of Ice over the weekend. I really enjoyed it, but the book was like running a marathon. I felt tired and exhausted, but found it rewarding. I will be jumping back into House of Chains, but need a break from Malazan so I don’t over exhaust myself.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Breakaway and Movie Talk

As my little sidebar indicates, I posted a new review today - Joel Shepherd's Breakaway. Good, action-packed Science Fiction here.

I saw 1408 last weekend and thought it pretty good. I went in with middle-of-the road expectations, so I was pleasantly surprised. I grew up watching John Cusack movies, and I have liked almost everything I've seen with him. This was no exception. I, as anybody who reads this blog knows, like most of Stephen King's work, though I never read the original story which inspired the movie.

One or two spots spooked me, more out of surprise than anything. When did a telephone ringing become such frightening thing in movies, by the way? The movie got a little hokey towards the end, but I enjoyed it. What I particularly liked about the film was some of the ambiguity - the ending seemed as if it was open to viewer interpretation, as did Samuel, "Evil Fucking Room" Jackson's role. I say this mainly because Mrs. Blog O' Stuff and I had different reactions to both, or rather, different interpretations.

So, a good movie, but not one I would judge as a Must Have on DVD.

I am fighting very hard against my urge to see the Transformers movie. I grew up watching the cartoon and had a bunch of the toys, and like most boys my age, loved the movie, which was Orson Welles's last role. I also dislike nearly everything* I've seen from Michael Bay, almost walking out of Armageddon, so I won't be expecting much. Well, The Rock wasn't so bad. Then again, Transformers does seem like a movie that should be seen in theaters and Speilberg has his name attached to it, so that gives me a faint glimmer of hope.

As it is, I will be seeing the next Potter film, part of me wants to see Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, but the film I'm most looking forward to seeing is Stardust. Despite it's crappy title, the trailers of Shoot 'Em Up have me intrigued - to see it when it hits cable.

Enough ranting for now, but I haven't been doing enough ranting here lately.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Red Seas


I posted my review of what thus far is my favorite book published this year: Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch. Scott did everything right in this book, much in the same way The Lies of Locke Lamora had all the right elements. The main difference is that Scott’s writing and plotting are even tighter with one book under his belt. I was lucky enough to get an early look at the Gollancz-UK version of the book, but chances are I’ll wind up picking up the US edition as well since I’m something of a completist.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Zombies - Is it the End of the World?

Waking today presented no problem. Unfortunately, the remainder of the day wouldn’t be so easy. The following days would not begin so harmlessly, I’m sure. My wife had already left for work by the time I was fully conscious, I vaguely recall her peck on the cheek before she descended the stairs. Nothing out of the ordinary there.

By the time I got in my car and made the turn onto the highway, I knew the day would be a problem. Cars were at a dead halt on the road, many of them crashed into each other. Since it was late spring, I was driving with my windows down, which allowed the stench of death to waft into my car. Once you smell death, you know it when you smell it again. There was nothing I could do to get on the road, even the shoulder was jammed. My only hope was to turnaround and try driving the back roads.

As I was doing that, I needed to make a phone call. I dialed my wife’s speed-number on my cell phone and waited what seemed an eternity for her to answer. “You aren’t going to believe this,” she said before I could say anything.

“I might, I’ve just seen the highway at a complete dead stop.”

“Well, I know why. There is a Zombie Uprising.”

“Shit, I just knew life was going too well. They say one happens every hundred years or so, right?” I asked.

“Yeah, at least that’s what my Dad says. His Dad supposedly lived through the last uprising,” she responded. I remembered hearing the tales from her father on a couple of occasions, mostly after a random Zombie or two shambled in from the woods. Random Zombie sightings, while not exactly common, weren’t entirely rare, either.

“Try and get home, keep you cell phone turned on,” I said, hearing some strange grunting in the background. “I’m going home to get some helpers.”

She knew what I meant, the old baseball bat, the axe, sledgehammer and pickaxe. They worked well enough on the lone zombies that shambled around on occasion. “I’ll do what I can, but the Zombies are starting to flood everything. I’m only halfway to work. I love you.” She said.

“I love you, too.” We both ended the call. I felt so goddamned helpless knowing she might be stuck in a death trap with her brains enticing the Zombies.

Zombies have been a semi-regular occurrence for a few hundred years and for some reason, they rise in droves once a century. Not too dissimilar to the loud buzzing cicadas, except the Zombies flock in greater number, eat brains, and smell a lot worse. In all the Zombie movies, comics and cartoons one thing that can never be conveyed is their utter stench. After all, a Zombie is a corpse that eats people, so the smell is bound to be offensive.

The Zombie Uprising that followed the Revolutionary War nearly destroyed the world. Only through the assistance of the various Native American tribes were the early Americans able to fend of the Uprising. I would hate for it to be the end of the world, but these Zombies might just be smarter.

Getting back onto my street wasn’t the refuge I hoped; Zombies were marching down my street. Marching is a strong word, but they did seem to share an unheard tune as they walked in cadence. I shouldn’t have been too surprised; I lived on the same street as a large elementary school, so there were plenty of potential new Zombies ready for the making should the Uprisers make their way to the school. I drove my car head into a bunch of them and turned into my driveway.

If the fiction couldn’t capture the smell of Zombies, they certainly captured the speed, or lack thereof. I was able to grab my makeshift weapons, drop a few in the trunk and throw one on the passenger seat. It was then I noticed my neighbors had been Zombified. I really liked Janet and Kyle, but they were no longer themselves. I hacked at them and was about to turn back out of the driveway. Much as I hate to admit this, I would expect them to do the same if our situations were reversed.

For whatever reason, the Zombies I didn’t run over continued to trundle down my street, almost as if I wasn’t there. I wasn’t complaining, which brings me to this point. I don’t know who will be reading this, but I have to blog this like it is the end of the world. The Zombies are rising; grab anything you can– a shovel, a pickaxe, or a baseball bat and swing for the fences.

Wish me luck as I try to fend of the Undead and get to my wife so we can live through this Zombie Uprising. Let’s hope I can post back here tomorrow with some good news.

-Rob

Monday, June 11, 2007

Newest "New" Fantasy Author on the Block: D.A. Durham

My latest review, David Anthony Durham’s Acacia Book I: War with the Mein, is now up at SFFWorld.com. Like last year, this seems to be a strong year for opening novels for multi-volume sequences. Last year Scott Lynch, David Louis Edelman, and Sean Williams* all launched impressive sequences. This year has already seen Patrick Rotfhuss and now David Anthony Durham’s sequence launch. Both authors have been making the rounds with interviews on SF Web sites and blogs.

Patrick Rothfuss interviewed by me and Pat (of the Fantasy Hot List)
A Dribble of Ink interview with Patrick Rothfuss (Part 2)
A Dribble of Ink interview with David Anthony Durham
Fantasy Book Critic interview with David Anthony Durham
Fantasy Book Critic interview with Patrick Rothfuss
FantasyBookSpot.com interviews Patrick Rothfuss
FantasyBookSpot.com / Jay Tomio interviews David Anthony Durham
WOTMANIA’s OFBlog interview with Patrick Rothfuss

*Technically Sean Williams saga launched a couple of years ago, but 2006 was when it was published in the States.

Also, I know Joe Abercrombie was highly-touted last year, so I'm looking forward to reading The Blade Itself when Pyr publishes it later this year.

I've been hearing a lot of grumbling at night lately, and it has been getting louder over the past couple of days. I could swear I'm hearing the word brains, but I can't imagine why.

Monday, June 04, 2007

David's Darkness

I posted my review of Peter David's Darkness of the Light, the first book in his Hidden Earth saga. I've been a fan of Peter's for a while, so I was looking forward to reading this book. Set in a far-future earth, the book has a feel not too dissimilar to Jack Vance's Dying Earth. If not in style, than in setting and some of the humor.

Only one week remains in SFFWorld's contest to win an advance copy of the book.

On the Malzan front, I'm still making my way through Deadhouse Gates and still enjoying it. I don't want to rush through these books, since the series is both unfished and the US versions haven't caught up with the UK. But goddamn does Erikson make it tough to close the book.

Nine days remain until the Uprising. I am mentally preparing.

Friday, May 25, 2007

SFBC WTF?!?

It has been reported in various Web spots (Jonathan Strahan, SF Scope, Andrew Wheeler [see May 22 & 23 entries], Publishers Weekly, Locus [see May 24th news entry]) that the US Science Fiction Book Club is undergoing major changes.

One of which is the early retirement of Ellen Asher, who recently became the editor with the longest tenure of any genre editor. (Bittersweet congratulations, I suppose.)

Editor Andrew Wheeler has stated he will still have a job, but rumors are flowing. Jonathan Strahan's above-linked post encapsulates why this is troublesome to both the genre and publishing in general.


Certainly, losing highly respected and knowledgeable editors like Asher and Wheeler has got to be a bad thing for the industry, and any contraction of the SFBC, which has a history of providing access to economical editions of new science fiction and fantasy direct to readers that stretches back to 1953, would be enormously disappointing. (Strahan)
The only caveat I will add to the excerpted quote is this: The SFBC has been offering economical (and convenient to obtain) editions of classics of the genre(s) for as long as I can remember in addition to the new stuff.

I've been a member on and off for about ten years and thought they offered some wonderful things to members and would be annoyed if things with the club would change for the worse. Most recently, I’ve received some of their books to review for SFFWorld.com. Their omnibus volumes alone are what kept me coming back – at the time I bought it, there was no easier way to get The Compleat Dying Earth by Jack Vance. Quite frankly, the cover art by Brom was great, too and the SFBC version was around a couple of years before Tor did their Orb omnibus. I also discovered Sean Russel’s work through the nice River into Darkness duology-omnibus. Thanks to the SFBC, I was able to read all of the (then 5) books of Orson Scott Card’s Alvin Maker series.

In addition to those omnibus editions, they started creating original books too. One of which was the fantastic Black Seas of Infinity collection of Lovecraft stories compiled by Andrew Wheeler. Their recent original anthologies, like the World Fantasy Award winning The Fair Folk and the Best Short Novels series edited by the aforementioned Jonathan Strahan were also fantastic books, ones initially ONLY available through the club. Sure, online retailers such as amazon.com, half.com and countless others no offer readers the ability to find books they want. But that takes a little bit of work, which can be fun but ultimately more time consuming and frustrating than anything else.

However, the SFBC, especially under the guidance of Ellen Asher and Andrew Wheeler (while I was a member) had the wonderful convenience offering new and classic books and wonderful prices – the 5 for $.01 promotion to join pays for itself in spades.

It isn’t clear what exactly will be happening to the SFBC in the coming days, weeks and year(s). One thing; however, is abundantly clear: the club as it has been known and loved is an important institution to the genre and where MANY fans and professionals had their first major exposure to the genre. Just read the comments at Jonathan Strahan’s blog post here.

I joined at one point and got my (then future) brother-in-law to join so I could get some books as part of the “refer-a-friend” deal and he could enjoy the benefits of membership. A couple of years passed and my membership lapsed. It wasn’t long before I joined again through my brother-in-law so I could sort of repay him. My brother-in-law and I are ten years apart so I thought this was really cool way for us to connect.

Speaking as a person who was laid of by a publisher as part of “corporate restructuring” I can sympathize with the plain fact that it sucks – because all that passion and dedication to the job seem to be forgotten. Regardless of what happens, I wish both Ellen and Andrew the best in whatever the foreseeable future brings them.

It should also be pointed out that the SFBC Blog Andrew Wheeler has been managing has become THE place for virtuall ALL the daily goings-on in the world of Science Fiction and Fantasy: book happenings, movie happenings, news, reviews, interviews. Basically if it was happening in or tangentially related to SF, it was there. The fact that it hasn't been updated since Tuesday May 22nd is not a hopeful sign.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Win a copy of Peter David's "Darkness of the Light "

SFFWorld is pleased to offer one lucky winner the chance to take a look at Peter David's forthcoming novel, Darkness of the Light

Peter David, writer of stuff, including the Sir Apropos of Nothing series, the Knight Life series of books, numerous Star Trek novels, as well as virtually every major comic book character from Spider-Man to Wolverine to The Incredible Hulk to Superman to Aquaman will soon see the release his latest epic, Darkness of the Light.

Darkness of the Light is the opening novel of The Hidden Earth trilogy. From the Publisher's Web site:

The Damned World is home to twelve races, each of which has fought the others for survival for generations. What none of them knows is that they are all creatures of Earth, a world of legend. On Earth eleven of the twelve races were creatures of human myth or folklore.

All live in awe of the all-powerful Overseer, whose authority none dare challenge. A new spirit has arisen among those sick of war and tired of living in fear. Some believe that it is possible for the races to become allies instead of adversaries. With this new spirit has come a time of possibility, of change.

Jepp, a human woman and Karsen, a Bottom Feeder, have broken with tradition and cast their lots together. They seek the Orb of Light, with which they believe they can gain the power and release the Damned World from its chains of violence and ignorance. But they’re not alone, for everyone who knows about the Orb would kill to get it. If someone gets the Orb, things will change. These are, as the proverb warns, interesting times.

Click Here ( http://www.sffworld.com/news/335.html) to enter!

I just finished reading the book today and really enjoyed it very much.

Good luck to all entrants!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Jury is in

Tomorrow I will be serving my third stint of jury duty. This will be the third New Jersey County I've been called to serve. It should be interesting, I hope. I'll be bringing Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson to help me through the day, finally diving back into his Malazan epic.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Colonies and Vampires, oh my!

As my sidebar indicates, I posted my review of John Scalzi's The Last Colony. I've read all four of the books Scalzi has published through Tor and I've enjoyed each one of them. His SF has a great balance of tension, humor, sf-nal trappings and just damned entertaining storytelling. You could do much worse than pick up any of his books.

The same can be said of E.E. Knight's Vampire Earth sequence. I just finished the most recent, Valentine's Exile, yesterday and enjoyed it just as much as the other books in the series. He threw a nice little curveball at the end giving a not-quite-cliffhanger feel to the story. This was Knight's first hardcover release and I think it is pretty well deserved. I'm a big fan of the apocalyptic setting and these books have that feel in spades. I interviewed him a couple of years ago and reviewed the first, second, third, and fourth books in the series.

Last and certainly not least, this Friday I will be seeing one of my favorite bands for the fourth time: Godsmack.