reviews


I’ve been trying to do one thing at a time lately, since there’s been so much unpacking, the organizing of books being the largest chore – all my scores and music books, literary fiction, non-fiction, and then my SFF books (including 57 Tanith Lee books – I finally decided to count them – although I need at least 15 more or so to own them all …) and far too many anthologies.  I think I came home from Clarion with maybe fifteen books as well, although most of them are in my to-be-read pile.

We saw the movie “Crazy, Stupid Love” on Saturday, which was very cute. Sure, a few cliché moments (I laughed far more than John – it’s definitely a chick flick), but I was impressed with some of the more serious  moments, and how the movie managed to steer away from ridiculous writing unlike nearly every romantic comedy out there. Although it could have just been perfect timing for me – John and I coming up on our anniversary, and my thinking of Mom and Dad and how long they had been married and what it would be like to be without your spouse after so many years, etc.

When we came home, I tackled the books and John built me a beautiful new desk, which I love. And then I went over the rewrite of “Mimesis,” my third-week Clarion story and sent it off to my first non-Clarion reader (minus John, who liked it a lot).

So, a successful weekend, despite the grief involved – yesterday marked two years since Mom’s passing. And today marks 2 years since I married an amazing man, and every day I’m more happy to be with him.

It occurred to me this morning I may be ready to pick up on The Harvester book, again, and continue writing it. An exciting thought. I do need something new, given the 7 short story revisions/rewrites I’m looking at.

Next blog post – a normal Clarion day. With pictures.

DEADLINE

I finally finished DEADLINE by Mira Grant aka Seanan McGuire last night, after forcing myself to put it down multiple times so I could spread out the experience, especially since it’s a terrific book to read at the gym. And after the gym last night, book in hand, I walked out honestly afraid that the world had changed on me between that moment and the moment I’d gone inside; now it was full of Kellis-Amberlee victims, of which I’d be one any moment now, too.  I haven’t felt like that since I read my first Dean Koontz novel at my grandma’s house when I was seventeen years old and had to sleep the next three nights with my Bible.

What works in this book are several things that didn’t quite work for me in the first of the trilogy, FEED (as much as I enjoyed it regardless). The characters’ relationships evolve (not all, but enough to keep me happy; also, they’re not sexless! Hurray! I was thrilled by how those particular events unfolded). The logistics of getting from one place to another, of security details, have a point; they seamlessly tie into the drama. Best of all, that drama is sustained – not only sustained, but kicked in the head and thrown out the window. There were a few places where my eyes crossed a little when the repetition kicked in, but not much in comparison to its predecessor, and I can handle a few.

A few gripes: the reader is constantly being reminded that Shaun is crazy, which I not only disagreed with, as loss causes people to develop unusual coping methods, I got excruciatingly tired of hearing about it, repeatedly. Shaun’s voice is a little too similar to George’s. And coming up on the climax, Shaun and his gang made a decision to go somewhere that made me think, “really?” I believe Grant was trying to make the point that they had no other options, which is great, but what they were going to do when they got there wasn’t clear enough for me. But those are tiny nits compared to the larger scope of the work, which is tremendously effective, and not only a thrilling ride, but a lesson in how to abuse your main character: you throw every single curve ball at them there is, and the reader will love you forever.

It’s the scope of the work, too, that impressed me. Grant has organically written in each stage, and as one thing is uncovered, another crisis emerges; it’s masterfully handled, and I didn’t see the end coming (although a more intuitive person might; I’m a little slow when it comes to predicting things). And while I may not ever write a book like this one, in an action/thriller/horror/near future genre, this is a valuable lesson for me.

I can’t wait for BLACKOUT.

I’ve subscribed to Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, edited by Gordon Van Gelder, for some time now, and while I’ve flat out loved several issues in the past, lately the stories haven’t been per my tastes, which, in all fairness, has fluctuated greatly in the last few years. In attempting to hammer out the reasons why (and why that market is so hard to break into), I’ve come to the conclusion that I love misdirection. There’s nothing more compelling and memorable for me personally than a story that goes one way and then wham! hits you with all its got, in a completely new direction. Or, I’m great if the direction is predictable, but there’s an emotional bang for the buck. (Take, for instance, a story I commented on a few blogs back, in Strahan’s Best of SFF Volume 5, and originally, Subterranean: the Maureen McHugh. Not only was I shocked about halfway through at the main character’s actions, but I was horrified at the person he was, and that I’d “liked” him in the first half of the story. And then this..! Also, from Black Static issue 18, a story that I will likely never forget: Mercurio D. Rivera’s “Tu Sufrimento Shall Protect Us.” As this SF Signal review said, one of the best of the year.)

But those kinds of stories, with misdirection, don’t appear often in F&SF, and so I wasn’t sure what to expect with the new Van Gelder-edited anthology released by O/R Books, Welcome to the Greenhouse. Marketed as science fiction on climate change, two things I happen to be very interested in, I’ve now dog-eared and folded it up, and I consider it a boost to my anthology collection.

The stories cover a variety of positions regarding climate change: eminent change, change currently taking place, post-change, etc, and do an excellent job at avoiding any hitting on political views with hammers of authority. The result is a thought-provoking collection, although it leans to the grimmer side (which I found appropriate). The authors include many familiar to the SF world, such as Bruce Sterling, Alan Dean Foster, Mathew Hughes, and Paul Di Fillippo, and some I’ve never heard of, including Michael Alexander and Chris Lawson. Out of the sixteen stories, only three are by women – which is a shortcoming, I think, but not enough to avoid the book. What’s more important is that climate change is being discussed and written about, which will hopefully encourage the reader to consider both the facts and possibilities of this as an issue one day, or even today. It’s far too easy to stick one’s head in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist, and several of these stories even reflect upon that, too.

(This is also why the Fantasy and Science Fiction genres rock. We also have Atwood, Bacigalupi, Kim Stanley Robinson, and dozens of other books regarding this topic out there on the shelves.)

The stories. Most of them will appeal to those who subscribe and devour those regularly published in F&SF. To my delight, there were also some that appealed to people like me. Not so much with the misdirection, but with the emotional weight they carried, or that they threw me off from the beginning and I never quite regained my ground, resulting in a meaningful read.

My favorite three:

Gregory Benford’s “Eagle.”  Even though I read it a week ago, I still remember how I felt when I was finished the last sentence, sitting in my favorite chair at the coffee shop. Power is a funny thing; who has it, who doesn’t, and who should have it. And where’s the line, when it comes to the health of our world? I wasn’t certain what to think, or if I had even been rooting for the right person, which made me uncomfortable, and made the story memorable, perhaps for a long time to come.

“The Bridge,” by George Guthridge. It horrified me once I finally got into it, as the content isn’t for those that shy away from the ugly, and the unhappy, non-storybook endings. Not quite as brutal as Paul Haines’ novella “Wives,” from the X6 anthology of last year, but a distant cousin.

Paul di Filippo’s “FarmEarth.” I went into this story with certain expectations, as di Filippo’s writing isn’t for a reader like me. This story started off with unusual words and flippant narrative, yet I was so interested to find out what he wasn’t telling us that I was drawn in despite myself. Before I realized it, the story got bumped up to my top five of the collection. And even in the last few days, I’ve found myself thinking about what di Filippo was saying, and how quickly we as a culture are so quick to believe what anyone tells us, without thinking for ourselves.

All in all, it’s a varied and worthwhile read. Add it to your anthology collection!

« Previous Page