Monday, May 29, 2006

I Can't Believe I Actually Finished It

Have you ever wondered what would happen if a scam publisher insulted science fiction and fantasy writers by, basically calling them all hacks? And Have you ever wondered what would happen if a group of SF and fantasy writers retaliated by writing the worst book possible and getting the scammers to agree to publish it? No, I never wondered that either, but it happened, and the result is Atlanta Nights by Travis Tea (note the pun).

While I'm on the subject of literary scammers, I'd just like to mention the name of Barbara Bauer and state that she is on the 20 Worst agents List. If you want to know why, I'm posting this, check here or here. Feel free to send me one of your legendary Cease-and-Desist notices. It's lonely in here, and I might just print it out, frame it, and hang it on my wall. Now back to your regularly scheduled review.

Before I get any farther into the review, I should point oint that the publisher of Atlanta Nights,, is not the scam publisher in question, that would be Publish America. Once the writers involved revealed their little sting operation, PA revoked their offer. I find the whole thing extremely funny. If you want more information, buy the book and read the Afterword.

Atlanta Nights is almost certainly the most remarkable book I've ever read. The book is chock full of extraordinary plot devices including characters who change their sex from one chapter to another, or change their race, or come back from the dead. There areIf you're reading this, Barbara, also numerous creative uses of spelling and grammer. The authors are also obvoisly very ecologically friendly, as the recycled one chapter by using it twice. I should also note that cutting edge technology was used to allow a computer to generate one of the chapters--I hope it was chapter 34, because I would be seriously worried about the mental health of any human being who could write like that.

I'm going to give Atlanta Nights -5 out of -5 yo-yos. Now, see if you can figure out if that's a good thing or not. Up next, I'm reading C. J. Cherryh's The Chanur Saga.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Big Wheel (of Time) Keep on Turnin'

Okay, I've finished reading Robert Jordan's Knife of Dreams, which is volume 11 in the Wheel of Time--though sometimes it feels more like volume 100. Don't get me wrong, I like the series, but it's just way too long. I mean, 11 books so far and one more planned, with each book being thick enough to stun an ox with. Not only are they big and numerous, but several of the books in the middle of the series were completely unnecessary.

That is one of the major complaints I, and a lot of others, have about the series. The first few books were good, maybe even great, but towards the middle of the series, the plot stopped advancing. There were even a few books where the Dragon Reborn--the main character--would only be in one or two chapters. Not only that, but Jordan kept adding new characters and plots and cutting back on the older ones.

This is finally changing. The plot in this book actually moves forward. We Finally see Mat and Tuon married (Hey, it was prophesied so I'm not spoiling anything). We see advancements in Elayne's struggle for the throne and Perrin's attempts to rescue his wife. We here more of the Aelfinn and Eelfinn. We even find out something about Moiraine's fate.

There are still some problems though. There are so many characters and plot lines now that some of the major ones still get short changed. Lan is only in one chapter. Rand at'Thor, the Dragon Reborn, isn't in all that many either. Neither are Loiall, Aviehda, or Nynavere (sorry about any misspelled names, but they are very weird names and I don't feel like looking up the correct spellings). One of my favorite characters, the mysterious villain Padan Fain, isn't in it at all. Tying up all the lose ends is probably going to make the next book--which is supposed to be the final one--heavy enough to stun an elephant with.

I just hope there is going to be a next one. If you hadn't heard, Robert Jordan is seriously ill. By all accounts (that I've heard anyway), he's fighting well, and will hopes to be writing for years. I give this book 4.5 yo-yos. It's good, but the plot is kind of a tangled mess, and Jordan's going to have a hell of a time sorting it all out.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A (Fairly) Wild Ride

Okay, so, I've finished reading Trudi Canavan's Last of the Wilds. Actually, I finished it a few days ago, but I've been kind of lazy lately, so I'm just getting around to writing about it now.

If you've read my past reviews, you know that I've also read Canavan's Black Magician Trilogy, and that I liked it. This book, is the second volume of her second trilogy, Age of the Five. Even though I didn't write a review of the first volume, Priestess of the White, I really enjoyed it.

I really enjoyed this one too. All the characters from the first book are here, and all of them are very well crafted. Auraya has got to be one of my favorite heroines in all of fantasydom (if that's not a word, it should be). We learn more about the history of the characters, too, like the true story of Mirar and Leiard. We also learn a bit about the nature of the gods, and find out that the Pentadrians.

One thing I really didn't like--and really, I think either the author should have realized the mistake while researching or the editor should have picked up on it it--is the Twins. The are a pair of separated conjoined twins who are brother and sister. Anyone who knows anything about the subject knows that conjoined twins are ALWAYS identical. Next time, research.

I really did like the book, but that one glaring mistake annoys me so much, I'm giving it 4 yo-yos. Up next, the Wheel of time part 11, Knife of Dreams.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Necroscope (And Some Other Guys Too)

Ok, so I did pick up something at Borders that I decided to read first: Brian Lumley's Harry Keogh: Necroscope and Other Weird Heroes. As you may know, if you've looked at my older posts, I like the Necroscope books. Since I last reviewed one, I've read the series up to volume five, which is the last part of the regular series.

This is a short story collection. It contains three Necroscope stories, three Titus Crow stories, and two Dreamlands stories. While I have read Lumley's Necroscope books, I haven't read any of his other stuff; not because I don't want to, but because my local bookstores don't carry them, which is a shame. From reading these short stories, I think I would like the other series as well.

The Necroscope stories are "Dead Eddy," "Dinosaur Dreams," and "Resurrection." One good point about these stories is that, unlike the novels, Harry doesn't fight vampires in any of them. It's a nice change of pace to see him doing something else. I really enjoyed "Dead Eddy" and "Dinosaur Dreams," though I thought they were both perhaps a trifle long. " didn't like Resurrection though, "I just thought it was weird and boring.

I also though that the first Titus Crow story, "Inception," was boring. It makes me believe that secret origin stories should be saved for masked vigilantes and super heroes. The other two Crow stories were much better. I really enjoyed "Lord of the Worms," and I thought "Name and Number" was pretty good too.

The Dreamlands stories were fairly different from the rest. They were more like straight up fantasy as opposed to the horror/weird fiction feel of the Crow and Necroscope ones. Still, I like fantasy, and these stories, which seem to be set in the dreamland of H. P. Lovecraft, are very good. The heroes are very heroic, and the stories themselves are reminiscent of the dream tales of Dunsany and Lovecraft.

I have to give this book 4 yo-yos, because I really didn't like those two stories, but the rest were great. Up next will probably be what I told you I'd read this time.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Why is there no title here? Did I forget?

I just finished Charles de Lint's Mulengro. I liked, but then I like just about everything de Lint writes.

Mulengro is story about gypsies in Canada. There's a supernatural killer called Mulengro on the loose who targets them. He captures the mule of his victims--that's a sort of gypsy ghost not a donkey/horse hybrid--and uses them to kill. All in all, it's very creepy.

This novel features all the regular de Lint elements: an underdog hero (the gypsy Janfri Yayal), a writer or other artist (Ola & Jeff), Magic (Mulengro and the mule), and a talking cat (ok, that's not a standard de Lint Element, I just wanted to see if you're paying attention).

From reading this book, you can learn something about the Rom, that is the Gypsies. I would assume that de Lint actually did research to provide the bits of their culture peppered throughout the book, and this book interests me enough that I might do a little of that same sort of research. The bits of Gypsy folklore sound interesting, though I admit, I've always been interested in folklore.

The only real complaint I have about de Lint's stuff is that it's so damn hard to find and expensive. It seems like most of his more recent books aren't released in mass market paperbacks. Most of them seem to be small press type books that sell for a bundle. This one is at least from a major publisher and in paperback--probably because it's a reprint from 1985--though, it's one of those larger, more expensive paperbacks (it cost me $15).

Anyway, even though this book is darker than de Lint normal rare, it's still an excellent read. I give it 5 yo-yos.

I'm not exactly sure what I'll be reading next; I'm going to Borders later on today, so if I pick up anything really interesting I'll read that next. Otherwise, I'll probably read Trudi Canavan's The Last of the Wilds, unless I get the copy of Robert Jordan's The Knife of Dreams that I ordered from Zooba.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

I'm Back

Ok, it's been about six months since I've updated this blog. I have been reading quite a lot during these past few months, but for various reasons, I haven't bothered to write my usual reviews. At first, my computer crashed and I had to use my dad's to get online. Then, once mine was replaced, I was out of the habit of writing reviews. I've decided that it's time for this laziness to end. So, I bring you The Presiden't Vampire by Robert Damon Schneck.

I've always been fascinated by the "strange but true" type of story. I've never really cared if it was about ghosts fairies, UFOs, cryptids, strange crimes, weird archeology, or whatever. I probably have dozens of works on the subject, many of which I've read several times. Unfortunately, much of what I've read seems to be written by overly credulous morons who'll believe anything they hear. Don't get me wrong, they're still good stories, I just have a hard time swallowing some of this stuff when there are no references to the sources or anything.

Mr. Schneck is different. His stories are well researched, and he provides lots of endnotes listing sources and other references. Not only that, but he doesn't get into the same bad habit other writers share of endlessly recycling the same tired, old stories; of the eight stories in the book, the only one that I was even remotely familiar with was the story of Pedro the mummy, and that one all I'd heard was the story of the mummy's discovery.

Of the eight stories, the one I liked best was "The Bridge to Body Island," which was the personal account of a friend of the author. The Bye-Bye Man, and his dog-thing called Gloom Singer, are genuinely terrifying, and would probably make a pretty damn good horror movie. Though, I must admit, Bye-Bye Man reminds me somewhat of The Corinthian from the Sandman comics. Still, under the circumstances, perhaps that's not too surprising.

My least favorite of the stories was the title one, "The President's Vampire." Mainly because it wasn't particularly mysterious. The original version of the story sounded strange, but once the author began researching it, the strangeness evaporated. The vampire wasn't a vampire, just a murderer. I actually found it pretty boring.

Still, the book itself was excellent, and I heartily recommend it. I give it 4.5 yo-yos., and I'd give it more if I didn't dislike the title story so much. Up next, I'm going to read Charles DeLint's Mulengro.