Monday, January 30, 2012

recent read: Empire State

Empire State by Adam Christopher

Oddly enough, the first quote I thought of when pondering a review of this novel was from Ralph Nader's running mate a few elections past, Winona LaDuke.  There was some commentary between her and a reporter, and the reporter said, "But isn't this America?  The Melting Pot?" to which she replied, "Yes, but do you want a bland puree of everything, or a nice chunky stew with all the individual elements clearly defined and contributing to the whole?"  (I am paraphrasing, but that was the gist of what she said.)

Empire State is definitely a pulp stew.  From noir-ish tinges of Chandler & Hammett, to wild contraptions of stories of The Spider, with rocketeering super-heroes and racketeers along for the ride.  Although even the author refers to the work as science fiction - the scifi only plays into the setting and background of the creation of the Empire State.  All else feels, smells and tastes like pulp - and that is fine with me.

There is nothing bland or pureed about it.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A little book shopping

I spent the week waiting on an Amazon book order to finish its tour of the East Coast.  No biggie, really, but the package passed by the town next door and went on the Maine on a shipping error, and came back through NJ before finally reaching me.  I received Glen Cook's final novel of the Dread Empire - recently rewritten after being lost/stolen - now out in hardback, A Path to Coldness of Heart.

I also threw in To The Stars - and Beyond (The Second Borgo Press Book of Science Fiction Stories), mainly because Charles Gramlich has a tale in it, and I loved the cover.

Today the wife gave me a hall pass and I went shopping.  In addition to shoes, music and comics, I picked up some books, too.  Arturo Perez-Reverte's latest (perhaps last) tale of Captain Alatriste, Pirates of the Levant.  The Ramsey Campbell novelization of the Solomon Kane movie (which I still haven't seen!)  Finally, I bought the Baen anthology, Mountain Magic.  I have Drake's Old Nathan collection (included,) but the book includes a set of Henry Kuttner tales, too.  I would have gone the e'route on that one, sometime, but for this little tidbit on the Baen E'books site;


Unfortunately the Kuttner estate does not allow publication of electronic versions of his works. So we had to remove all of the Kuttner stories from the WebScriptions version. In their place we've added Manly Wade Wellman's John the Balladeer stories. Certainly they fit the books theme of Mountain Magic.

I guess that isn't a total surprise.  I noted Saberhagen's estate seem to be handling his e'books, outside of any given publisher.  Also, not surprising some Silver John tales were substituted, as I think Drake is in charge of the Wellman publishing estate, so it wouldn't be a tough sell.

(I've run into something similar with some of my vinyl blues LPs having different content on CD - not just augmented, but different...)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Recently read: Southern Gods

From the NightShade blurb page;

"Recent World War II veteran Bull Ingram is working as muscle when a Memphis DJ hires him to find Ramblin' John Hastur. The mysterious blues man's dark, driving music--broadcast at ever-shifting frequencies by a phantom radio station--is said to make living men insane and dead men rise.

Disturbed and enraged by the bootleg recording the DJ plays for him, Ingram follows Hastur's trail into the strange, uncivilized backwoods of Arkansas..."

With a hook like that, I had to read this one.  I am a blues fan, a deep blues fan, and combining the ol' "bluesman sold his soul to the Devil" with Cthulhuian touches put this novel at the top of my to-be-read list for this year.

The story is not only about Bull Ingram, but also Sarah (Rheinhart) Williams.  Jacobs craftily puts down two separate sub-plots until they meet and entwine at the climax, just as they should.  Bull is on the hunt for a missing man, but also decides something needs to be done about Hastur.  Meanwhile, Sarah - with child in tow, fleeing an abusive husband - returns to her old Southern homestead to re-establish relationships with her mother and a childhood friend.  But, despite her newfound happiness there is a growing darkness around the Rheinhart plantation.

There are some great scenes along the way.  The first time Bull hears a recording of Hastur, the rage and murderous impulses.  Finding a dead DJ with a Hastur record still spinning on the turntable.  The live performance of Hastur that drives an entire crowd mad and murderous, turning a dive bar into a horrific orgy of death and carnage.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Masterworks

I'd been searching for a comprehensive list of all the titles that fall into these series.  The lists on Wikipedia are fine, but I was wondering about the covers. (Fantasy, SciFi)

Someone has already done the footwork.  Here are the Fantasy Masterworks and the SciFi Masterworks.
(though, they seem to be missing the hardcover-only SF editions, such as A Canticle for Leibowitz)

These are British editions.  I don't plan on collecting them all, that book monkey on my back is already the size of a Mighty Joe Young, but I have some of these and would like to cherry-pick some more.

With the ISBN numbers, I was able to find a bookdealer on AbeBooks who got me these books even cheaper than ordering (and shipping) from, so I might try that again.  Need to be sure though, with the ISBN, so I don't end up with a different imprint.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Zombies of Antiquity

I guess most of you who check-in here also follow historical author, Scott Oden.  But if anyone missed it, he's thinking about pulling together an anthology of zombie tales with ancient historical settings.

Personally, I'm not huge on the zombie thing, but much to my surprise, I had an idea come to me quickly. So, I'll be drafting up a tale.

Scott has plenty of Romans, apparently, so if you want to find some other niche in the given date range, I'm sure he'd be interested.

Details here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012, here we are

I squeezed in a read of Strange Worlds before 2011 ended.  That was a great way to end the year.  Yes, we authors didn't get to preview each others' tales until the book was out.

I'll refrain from a review because I'm one of the writers, but Charles Gramlich has a good review with thumbnail sketches of the tales. (and, a copy of the book to give away!)

I will say that I believe we're in good company and if you want to read a great and varied anthology of new sword-&-planet tales with great illustrations, please check it out.  I really dug the variety of the stories.  There are echoes and homages to the past with plenty of original things going on, too.

I started reading Southern Gods by John Hornor Jacobs (from Nightshade Books) and it is a doozy of a start.