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SPFBO2: The First 24 Reviews!

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I've finished my first pass for the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off!

I've read 3 chapters and/or 20% (whichever comes last) of 30 self-published books. I've picked six of those books for further reading and proper reviews. One of those will then go on to the FINAL ROUND in the BLOGGERDOME. It'll be awesome.

Below, you'll find a quick introduction, a not-so-quick spiel about reviewing self-published books and 24 short reviews.

Caution - this post is loooong.

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Will Eisner and Three Visions of New York

Eisner new yorkNew York, New York.

Is there any city that has featured in as many stories, songs and films? Ok, maybe Paris, but ignoring that - definitely New York. The representations of New York are as varied as its famously melting-pot population, but there are threads and themes that connect them.

Will Eisner’s New York; Life In The Big City is a classic collection of vignettes and short pieces about New York, published between 1981 and 2000. It is perhaps the most famous graphic text dealing with the city itself. It collects four of Eisner's works: 'The Building’, ‘City People’, ‘Notebook’ and ‘Invisible People’ - all drawing on Eisner’s lifetime of observing the people of New York and the changes it has undergone over the years.

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The Young Elites by Marie Lu

The Young ElitesAfter years of chewing over it and thousands of words of inconclusive blog posts, I still have very little idea where the division is between 'YA' fantasy and 'epic' fantasy (interesting -  heated - discussion on this very point over at r/fantasy).

I mean, physically, it is generally around 15-20 feet - depending on the size of the bookstore. But as overarching, sub-genre distinctive themes? I got nothing. 

Marie Lu's The Young Elites (2014) further muddies these opaque waters. The Young Elites is also a unique sort of muddle, as it contains both very-much-YA and very-much-epic-fantasy tropes within the same book. Rather than blurring the two together, it happily plucks from both extremes.

Adelina is a malfetto, one of the scarred survivors of a great plague that swept through the land. Although generally despised as 'cursed', some malfettos also exhibit magical powers - these are called 'Young Elites'. (Why one term is cod-Italian and the other cod-Ralph-Lauren-catalogue, I have no idea.) These Young Elites are sought after by both the Inquisition (who wish to kill them) and the Dagger Society (who wish to recruit them). Adelina, as you might expect, turns out to be a rather powerful Young Elite - one that's greatly desired, in every sense, by both sides. 

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Review Round-up: Narabedla, Cold Silver and A Colder Sun

Three fantasy titles of all shapes and sizes - Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Falcons of Narabedla, Greg James' Under A Colder Sun and Alex Marshall's A Crown for Cold Silver

200px-Falcons_of_narabedlaMarion Zimmer Bradley's The Falcons of Narabedla (1957)

Mike does radio things in a Government Lab. Electricity happens, and, ker-wham, he's mind-ported to Narabedla, Last of the Rainbow Cities. Mike's consciousness rests in the body of Adric, one of Naradebla's arrogant ruling class. Adric's mind isn't totally gone, but sort of repressed, helping Mike/Adric get dressed and occasionally resurfacing in a plot-pushing kind of way.

M'Adric is thrown in at the deep end. Fortunately, there are a lot of people around who are happy to elaborate on Narabedla's history, culture and current events. M'Adric learns that the rulers of Narabedla all have a captive Dreamer under their thrall - a powerful, wish-granting psychic - more djinn than mortal. Adric, in his pre-Mike days, seems to have done something naughty and loosed one of the Dreamers. Now the entire system is under threat. Will there be a revolution? Should there be a revolution? Plots within plots, betrayals within betrayals - including Mike and Adric scheming against one another. From within the same body!

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Radio Drama: "Aunt Emmy" (1955)

Radio Drama

"Aunt Emmy", first aired November 15, 1955, from the series The Clock.

Thoughts Before Listening

It has sometimes been my wont to believe like the dickens that something is going to be good simply because I think the title is rad. This rarely works out because why would it. I have chosen to listen to Aunt Emmy for exactly this reason. I am stupid.

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One Comic and Civil War #1

RiprDud

It's Captain America: Civil War week (here in the UK), so Bex, Jared and Jon are marking the occasion with a One Comic Civil War show.

The first issue of Civil War from 2006 marked the start of the series that saw hero vs hero in an ideological battle; should heroes be registered and licensed by the government, or should they operate freely? If the government defines who is a villain, what's to stop them basing their decision on political grounds? But without regulation, who holds the heroes accountable when things go wrong? This promises not to be a typical all guns blazing super-heroic clash.

As Civil War was written by Mark Millar, Jared rounds out the show with a 3&1 on Millar comics. In a long career covering multiple publishers, multiple genres and no small amount of controversy, what makes Jared's top three, and what's his worst one ever?


The Bus: Journey into the Strange

The Bus img 1Have you ever had that feeling where you’re going about your business just like any other day, and all of a sudden everything seems strange to you? Nothing’s changed, nothing’s wrong, but you look at totally ordinary people or things and they just don’t make any sense. You start asking yourself questions like: why are they doing that? Aren’t clothes weird? Who ever thought buildings were a good idea? It’s this feeling of dislocation, of finding the surreal in the absolutely banal, that Paul Kirchner taps into in ‘The Bus’.

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Stark Reviews: Day of the Outlaw (1959)

Day of the Outlaw

Stark says: “You won't find much mercy anywhere in Wyoming.

Seen The Revenant, yet? No? Well, if you’re pushed for time but harbouring a hankering for a hardscrabble, snow-choked Western, then go for Day of the Outlaw instead. If nothing else, it’ll save you an hour and a half, which you can spend doing… other things. Like smoking meat or practising macramé.

I will admit, there’s less grunting than there is in The Revenant, and less bear. Directed by Hungarian-born Andre de Toth – of House of Wax fame – what’s on offer here is a psychological, powder-keg of a Western that feels less like a yee-haw-thankee-ma’am-cowboy-movie and more like a taut, 1930s noir thriller.

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Taher Shah's "Angel"

 

In a conservative country no stranger to the Taliban and ISIS and all sorts of extremist behaviour, a country not known for its great liberal, progressive, humanist ways, a country where homosexuality is very much illegal, where anything outside of heteronormative cliches is considered a ‘deviancy’ and isn't really tolerated by most of the population, where transpeople are treated terribly and where being subversive or transgressive in even the smallest of ways can be an act of major rebellion... here is a man who is throwing this all out of the window. Taherstory_647_041216012218

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