Previous month:
January 2016
Next month:
March 2016

Friday Five: 5 Stories by Jeff Lemire


Jamie's back with more recommendations! 

Canadian writer/artist Jeff Lemire is a comics creator whose work is bound together by a strong thematic consistency. Lemire really proves – as if there was still doubt – that comics are a serious literary medium, but he doesn’t forget the power this medium has to engage with our emotions.

Continue reading "Friday Five: 5 Stories by Jeff Lemire" »

The Thing is... Swamp Thing #1

Swamp Thing

Yes, we know it's February, but we still say Happy 2016 at the start of this, the first One Comic episode of the year.

We take a look at the return of Swamp Thing's original writer in issue one of the new Swamp Thing limited series. Given the wealth of different takes that have come along since Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson first created the Thing in the Swamp, what's it like having Wein back now?

And given the unquestionable impact of Alan Moore's retcon of Swampy's origin, Jon takes a swing at a 3&1 of "Retconned Origins". If you know his favourite ranting subjects at all, you'll probably know what's his Worst One Ever.

Weirdness Rodeo: Goodreads Does Polls!

It occurs to me that the Goodreads polls are probably a really good source of data. I will occasionally, lazily screenshot one, but I've really paid close attention to the numbers. But, holy cow.

  • Goodreads-add-to-wants
  • Goodreads-contact
  • Goodreads-share-the-news
  • Goodreads-when

Goodreads readers still aren't "average" readers - by definition, we're talking about those folks that are passionate enough about reading that they feel the need to track and share their progress on a specialised social network. But they're still further down the pyramid from, say, I dunno... blogs like this one. And, especially with the volume of results, we're a lot closer to getting insight into a "typical" reader than I dunno, a poll at a convention, or 95% of the crappy surveys commissioned by trade bodies. 

Continue reading "Weirdness Rodeo: Goodreads Does Polls!" »

Daniel Polansky and Howard Hardiman's The Builders

Barley by Howard Hardiman

[via Jurassic London]

 The special edition of The Builders, written by Daniel Polansky and illustrated by Howard Hardiman, is now available for pre-order. 

This hardcover edition is limited to 75 copies, signed by both author and artist. It comes complete with coloured endpapers, ribbon bookmark and 14 original black and white illustrations. 

 You can order your copy here.

More details here.

The 2015 Kitschies Shortlists


Congratulations to all the finalists for The Kitschies - the most tentacular of all literary prizes. 

The award for novels containing "elements of the speculative and fantastic" has revealed their picks for the most "progressive, intelligent and entertaining" titles of 2015. As always, The Kitschies' broad remit has attracted a ton of books - with the judges reviewing 176 submissions from over 40 different publishers.

Continue reading "The 2015 Kitschies Shortlists" »

What is Sword & Sorcery?

Flashing_SwordsFrom the introduction to Flashing Swords! (1973) an anthology of original Swords & Sorcery novelettes, edited by Carter:

We call a story Sword & Sorcery when it is an action tale, derived from the traditions of the pulp magazine adventure story, set in a land, age or world of the author's invention - a milieu in which magic actually works and the gods are real - a story, moreover, which pits a stalwart warrior in direct conflict with the forces of supernatural evil.

Carter goes on to say that, although the term was coined by Fritz Leiber, Robert E. Howard should get credit for founding the genre.

As with all genre generalisations, it is easier to think of exceptions than rules. But given this is from Carter, one of the editors/authors/canonisers at the heart of the movement, it is fair to take this at face value. This is the 'institutional' definition. That is, for what 'Sword & Sorcery' meant at the time. My challenge would be - does this still apply? And, even looking back, can we still apply this definition now to stories written then?

Continue reading "What is Sword & Sorcery?" »

Pierce Brown - Morning Star UK Tour

Red Rising

The puppy-curling, ice-bucketing, Goodreads winning (and winning) book-writin' sensation that is Pierce Brown is coming to the UK for the first time.

The author of Red Rising, Golden Son and Morning Star will be at:

If you've not read the (recently-concluded) series, they're like rolling The Hunger Games and Starship Troopers into a big ball, dousing the whole thing in cocaine and then setting it on fire while launching it from a cannon. That is to say, "good clean fun".

Weirdness Rodeo: Tube Posters, Monsters and Smell


Books are getting longer. According to the study [from VerveResearch], which looked at 2,500 books from The New York Times best seller list and Google’s annual surveys, average book length has increased by 25%. In 1999 books were 320 pages. In 2014, they averaged 400.

There are a couple of conclusions to jump to from here. The author goes for audience immersion - people want 'deep and meaningful'. I'm personally thinking the reverse - people want more 'bang for their buck' and the feeling that the appearance of size matters for print books - especially given the growth in ebook sales over that 15 year period.

Continue reading "Weirdness Rodeo: Tube Posters, Monsters and Smell" »

Review Round-up: Detectives, Aliens and a Succubus

The Yellow PhantomDid you know the goodie bag at the Oscars is worth something like $200,000?!

This goodie bag of belated reviews isn't. But it does feature detective stories by Margaret Sutton and Elliott Hall, as well as Richelle Mead's Georgina Kincaid and Raymond Jones' The Alien. So that's something!

* * *

Margaret Sutton's The Yellow Phantom (1932)

Sutton's Judy Bolton was a 'girl detective' with the misfortune to be published at the same time as Nancy Drew. That said, Bolton's adventures ran for 38 volumes and have accumulated a certain fandom of their own. One critical difference is a sense of growth (and canonicity, I suppose). Unlike the freewheeling but ageless Drew, Bolton grows up, falls in love, gets married and tackles more of 'life'. 

Still, The Yellow Phantom is still - well - very much an artefact of its time. Judy and her friends travel to New York City where they meet a mysterious and handsome writer of handsome and mysterious books.

Continue reading "Review Round-up: Detectives, Aliens and a Succubus" »