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August 2010
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A Game of Relevance

The most recent volume of George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire was published in 2005.

Since then, Joe Abercrombie has given readers his entire First Law trilogy... as well as two other excellent, epic fantasies. Starting two years after Martin began his series, KJ Parker has published three fantasy trilogies, two stand-alones and a novella. For that matter, all three of China Mieville's Bas-Lag books came in the gap between the third and fourth books in Martin's series. 

Also worth noting? David Eddings, Robert Jordan and Stephen Donaldson have all published new fantasy books more recently than 2005, and I'm pretty sure at least one of them is dead.

I'm blatantly cherry-picking the best facts. Of course there have been a lot of prolific, shitty authors since 2005, as well as great writers that aren't exactly rushing to market. I'm not kvetching about the delay of Dance of Dragons, I'm realizing that I no longer care.

New Releases: Engines of the Apocalypse by Mike Wild

Engines of the Apocalypse Mike Wild is the William Gibson of fantasy. Not for the ground-breaking thematic content (no offense, Mr. Wild), but for the absolutely brilliant titles. 

The Clockwork King of Orl, Crucible of the Dragon God and, now, Engines of the Apocalypse. Catchy, fun, swashbuckling - these are the sort of goofy, quasi-Howard names that make me want to pick up books. And, in the case of this series, I'm very glad I did.

Engines of the Apocalypse is the third in Wild's particular pillar of the Twilight of Kerberos fantasy series from Abaddon. Wild's protagonist, the "adventure archeologist" Kali Hooper, is a robust specimen. She scampers about in the traditionally-skimpy bodysuit, but also trades blows, quips and mind games with the best of them. Impressively, with the occasional leering look from a villain or adolescent jibe from her adventuring companions, Wild resists the urge to turn her into a sex object. 

Kali Hooper's like Lara Croft, except, you know, if Lara Croft was actually who she was supposed to be, and not just digital masturbation fuel.

Continue reading "New Releases: Engines of the Apocalypse by Mike Wild" »

"I write in a genre that was not defined by me. The examples were not set out by me. They were set out 2,000 years ago by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. They were called the Greek tragedies. A thriller is supposed to thrill. A horror novel is supposed to scare you. A mystery is supposed to keep you turning the pages, guessing 'whodunit?'  A romance novel is supposed to make you escape into a fantasy of romance. What is the purpose of what I do? These are love stories. They went from (Greek tragedies), to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, then Jane Austen did it, put a new human twist on it. Hemingway did it with A Farewell to Arms.... A Farewell to Arms, by Hemingway. Good stuff. That's what I write. That's what I write." -- The Thomas Kincaid of the written word totally does not write romance novels, y'all. 

Underground Reading: The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper by John D. MacDonald

The Girl in the Plain Brown WrapperThe Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper (1968), the tenth Travis McGee adventure, starts with a now-familiar hook. Or, more impressively, a combination of familiar hooks. Travis gets an appeal from an old friend... who happens to be an ex-girlfriend... who happens to be dead. 

Any one of the above would have been enough to drag Travis out of his "retirement" and into battle, but the combination of the three? Well, she had him at hello.

This time, Travis is summoned from his Florida den to sort out a crazy girl. 

(From the Liber McGeetorum: Draw three circles in the ground, fill them with gin, strip to your underwear and recite three times that your marriage is failing - Travis will appear in a puff of sweat-scented smoke.

The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper is another good mystery - if slightly marred by some pseudoscientific mummery. 

Continue reading "Underground Reading: The Girl in the Plain Brown Wrapper by John D. MacDonald" »

The audience for The Cold Commands is the same audience it’s been for every other book I’ve ever written – Me.

Previously I was writing the noir-inflected SF I wanted to read; right now I’m writing the noir-inflected Sword and Sorcery I want to read; Market Forces was the fuel-injected near-future dystopian satire I wanted to read, Black Widow was the feminist comic-book taking-to-task of cardboard superhero patriarchy that I wanted to read…

You’ll begin to see the pattern, right?

-- Richard Morgan

Underground Reading: Pale Gray for Guilt by John D. MacDonald

Pale Gray for Guilt 1968. 

Riots at the Democratic Convention.
Jackie Kennedy remarries.
Green Bay wins the Superbowl. 

Down in Florida, things are no calmer. 

In the ninth installment of John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series, Travis gets involved in some spectacularly complicated financial chicanery. In an effort to out-con the con-men, Pale Gray for Guilt sees Travis' friend Meyer take the driver's seat.

The set-up is familiar to readers (especially those trying to do all 21 in a row). Travis has a friend who is falling to pieces - an old football buddy named Tush Bannon. By the time Travis can help, Tush is dead. Dead in mysterious circumstances. 

(Actually, not that mysterious - unless he was able to drop an engine block on his own head. Three times.)

Continue reading "Underground Reading: Pale Gray for Guilt by John D. MacDonald" »

"Vulgarity can be many things," he said. "It can be having a good time while en route to where the daughter of an old friend died. Dead young women are a pitiful waste." 
We had finished a late dinner. "Tequila shouldn't make you morose," I told him.
"Without it, I would probably be crying," he said.
  - John D. MacDonald (reminding us why he's awesome), Dress Her in Indigo