Burning holes in the pockets they wished they had

Sometimes, you can, in fact, judge a book by its cover.  I offer up Day Keene’s Home is the Sailor as today’s exhibit: See that gorgeous cover by R. B. Farrell and Gregory Manchess? That’s what you get. The book delivers exactly what that image and those words promise.  If that sort of hard-boiled, film […]

It ruthlessly steals your essential things

I’m not sure where I first heard of Jonathan Carroll, but I’d guess that he was mentioned by some other author I respected (probably Neil Gaiman). I picked up The Land of Laughs and was thrilled by my first encounter with his unique brand of magical realism (or is it magical surrealism?) and his deeply […]

A bleeding metaphor with all its bones broken

I’ve always been more of a fantasy reader than a science fiction reader.  However, in recent years, I’ve found myself drawn to the over-the-top contemporary space opera by the likes of Iain M. Banks, Alastair Reynolds, and M. John Harrison’s Kefahuchi Tract books.  But head of the pack is Peter Watts. I’ve described his novel […]

“Step into the gap, soldier.”

Steven Erikson is a genius. His Malazan Books of the Fallen are the only books I’ve read that rival–possibly exceed–Tolkein for the sheer weight of imagined history. But Erikson eschews Tolkein’s formality. His characters live and fight and die in the muck and dirt. Generals and soldiers, gods and monsters, ancient races and undead warriors, […]

That sensation which tells you this is something you’ve always known

A group of us got together recently to watch Jupiter Ascending, the recent effort from the Wachowskis. We were less than impressed. The weak characters with unclear, shifting motivations and a non-sensical plot could not be saved by the gonzo world and over-the-top visuals. But the stunning imagery and story revolving around warring family members in a […]

The services of a first-rate mind

I was at my in-laws’ recently, looking for some light vacation reading, and my mother-in-law loaned me A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley.  It’s a classic cozy English village mystery crossed with a Nancy Drew young investigator mystery by way of its heroine, the chemistry-obsessed tween Flavia de Luce. Red Herring is the third […]