The Joe Pitt Casebooks (final 3)

I’ve already spoken about Charlie Huston’s Joe Pitt Case Books but I finally got my hands on the final three audiobook editions of the series: Half the Blood of Brooklyn, Every Last Drop, and My Dead Body. Like Already Dead and No Dominion before them these volumes are narrated by Scott Brick.  As I tweeted a week or so ago: “Charlie Huston is awesome and Joe Pitt is the best vampire ever. If you haven’t read any of the Joe Pitt novels do so now.”  That sentiment still stands.  In an publishing phase when the vampire has been nigh on “defanged” by a certain teen-centric series there has been a corresponding resurgence of harder edged and frequently atypical vampire stories as well.  Let Me In by John Adjive Lindquist (both the book and film), Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s Strain series (The Strain and The Fall should be available now), and Chang-wook Park’s film Thirst stand alongside Huston’s Joe Pitt novels as shining gems amidst the dross of YA-centric vampire fiction that has seemingly been flooding the market.  All of the aforementioned titles are worth a look, particularly if your a fan of vampire fiction, but it is the Joe Pitt Casebooks that in my eyes stand at the top of a, comparatively small, heap.

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Some thoughts on Uncharted

So I’ve owned a PS3 for a couple years now and I’ve finally made the time to play through both Uncharted and Uncharted 2.   For those not in the know these games, by the folks at Naughty Dog, are the sort of like Indiana Jones set in current times with only slightly less charismatic lead, witty dialogue, huge set-pieces, and tons of gunplay.  The first games sees Nathan Drake, a supposed descendant of Sir Francis Drake, seemingly pulling up the last remains of his ancestor alongside journalist Elena Fisher.  Soon enough things go to hell and Drake and Elena find themselves on the trail of Francis Drake and an ancient treasure.

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Tor is Evil

I mentioned earlier this week that the Prologue for The Towers of Midnight is available for purchase (bn, amazon).  There is also a later chapter, a product of the recent Great Hunt game, over on Sanderson’s website. Also, the pretty awesome book trailer (see below).  But what does all of this mean?  That the wait for the next month before the book is actually out is going to be agonizing!

Yes I bought and read the Prologue.  This was a probably a mistake since I don’t really need to be more excited but I did and I am.  Sure, Perrin’s brooding grates some but I’m hoping (expecting?) we’ll finally get some resolution in the regard over the course of this novel.  But the rest of the prologue…man…that was just mean Tor…..downright mean.  Sure you guys can’t push up that pub date about 30 days or so?  Come on.  You know you want to.

Review: Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes

Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes
Tome of the Undergates by Sam Sykes

Tome of the Undergates
Sam Sykes (Twitter)
Gollancz (UK)/Pyr (US), 2010

Sam Sykes plays or has played D&D.  I don’t know if this is true but I’m going to believe it anyway.  While your average roleplayer might hope that their party of adventurers  is something like the companions from Dragonlance, or Drizzt and his coterie, what they end up with is something more like the adventurers of Tome of the Undergates; a group whose only commonalities seems to be their contempt for one another and a willingness to kill just about anyone or anything.   At least that is the case in any game I’ve played in or ran; which, if I think about it too hard, might say something more about me and my friends.

As Lenk, the nominal leader of the group in Tome of the Undergates, writes in the opening of the novel being an adventurer boils down to being the lowest of the low.  Skyes casts adventuring as something one does when all other options are exhausted; a task undertaken by people who typically lack the moral fortitude for other work and whose personalities exist at the borderline of psychotic and beyond.  There is a slight tongue-in-cheek quality to that portrayal, or at least a deadpan sell of the idea, that what the reader thinks they know about adventurers is completely and horribly wrong.  Skyes takes that idea and runs with it.  There is no-one in this novel that I would ever really want to know and their banter, near constant, oscillates between amusing and grating.

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Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins
Scholastic Press, 2010

Mockingjay is the final volume of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games, you can see my thoughts on both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire here.  When reviewing a final volume in a series it isn’t worth noting that I can’t really avoid spoilers from either of the first two book and if you’re surprised they’re here I’d have to wonder as to why you’re reading a review of a book which is the end of a story you haven’t even started yet.  That being said at the end of Catching Fire, Katniss Everdeen was “rescued” by the rebels of District 13 while Peeta was left behind in the capital.  Mockinjay picks up shortly after the end of Catching Fire with Katniss recovering from the physical and psychological damage from her participation in the Quarter Quell Hunger Games.  She has been offered the opportunity to become the Mockinjay, the symbol of the rebellion but is loathe to accept the responsibility or be drawn into what she knows is only an extension of the games she has escaped.

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Percy Jackson and the Olympians

Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief
The Sea of Monsters
The Titan’s Curse
The Battle of the Labyrinth
The Last Olympian

I have a confession to make.  I’ve never been a fan of classical mythology.  The Greek and Roman deities never sat well with me.  In all my reading of what few works of classical literature I’ve actually read the Gods have always felt petty, cruel, and vain.  I know that isn’t the complete answer but I’ve never been able to to put my finger on precisely why Greek mythology has continually left a sour taste in my mouth.  In hindsight it perhaps has a lot to do with Yeats’ “Leda and the Swan” which casts Zeus’ “seduction” of Leda as a rape and my own exposure to that poem making me readily willing to accept the more modern interpretation of Medusa as a rape victim rather than a willing amorous consort of Poseidon.   It has been a long long time since I’ve looked at classical mythological tales with anything more than extreme distaste.  Thus it is no small surprise that when I picked up the audio version of The Lightning Thief (Book 1 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians) it was with some trepidation.  As a book and series directed primarily towards children on the verge of teenage years it was with great difficulty that I attempted to put aside my adult perceptions of Greek mythology and attempted to view Rick Riordan’s work through the eyes of youth.

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Serendipitous Find: Aurorama

Aurorarama by Jean-Christophe Valtat
Aurorarama by Jean-Christophe Valtat

Despite being a member of sff blogging community, spending more time then I probably should flipping around goodreads and (less frequently) librarything, the fact that I work in (and buy books for) a library, and that I occasionally moonlight on the sales floor of a major bookstore I still somehow manage to miss interesting titles before they hit the shelves.  Such is the case when, browinsing the new sff titles at the bookstore while on my 15 minute break at the bookstore I stumbled across Jean-Cristophe Valtat’s Aurorama tucked away out-of-sight on the bottom shelf.  Take a look at the blurb:

1908: New Venice—”the pearl of the Arctic”—a place of ice palaces and pneumatic tubes, of beautifully ornate carriage-sleds and elegant victorian garb, of long nights and vistas of ice.

But as the city prepares for spring, it feels more like qaartsiluni, “the time when something is about to explode in the dark.” Local “poletics” are wracked by tensions with the Eskimos circling the city, with suffragette riots led by an underground music star, with drug round-ups by the secret police force known as the Gentlemen of the Night. An ominous black airship hovers over the city, and the Gentlemen are hunting for the author of a radical pamphlet calling for revolt.

Their lead suspect is Brentford Orsini, one of the city’s most prominent figures. But as the Gentlemen of the Night tighten the net around him, Orsini receives a mysterious message from a long-lost love that compels him to act.

What transpires is a literary adventure novel unlike anything you’ve ever read before. Brilliant in its conception, masterful in its prose, thrilling in its plot twists, and laced with humor, suspense, and intelligence, it marks the beginning of a great new series of books set in New Venice-and the launch of an astonishing new writer.

Sounds neat right? Melville House did a pretty nifty job with the jacket design with some gorgeous cover (and a nice map, you’ve  gotta love maps).  Of course, there is no buzz whatsoever on the internet at the moment; at least so far as I can find.  Even LocusMag pointed towards only a single review over in The National.  This was a definite impulse by, though I ended up with the nook version rather than the print version.  I don’t know when I’ll get around to reading it but I’m certainly looking forward to doing so.  If it sounds like something you might be interested in go ahead and give it a try.

Note: Going along with the steampunk theme there will be a launch party at the Clover Club in Brooklyn on Sept. 24.

Review: Farlander by Col Buchanan

Farlander by Col Buchanan
Farlander by Col Buchanan

Col Buchanan
Tor UK, 2010

Farlander by Col Buchanan is yet another one of those titles.  I’ve bitched about the publishing of fantasy in the US vs. UK frequently in the past and I’ll note again that Farlander is another title with a surplus of several months of lead time in the overseas market (March 2010 for the UK versus January 2011 from the US).  That out of the way it should also be noted that the advent of Book Depository makes this less of an issue and the world is entirely a better place thanks to their presence in the book e-tailor field.

Farlander is Col Buchanan’s debut novel and is a interesting take on the fantasy genre; though one that didn’t completely come together for me.  In a place called The Heart of the World the Empire of Mann, who preach a religion founded on and steeped in the natural state moral ambiguity, are making a final push on the last Free Cities left standing.   Elsewhere the order of assassins called the Roshun protect their charges through the threat of vendetta.  Ash, an older and respected member of the order, has taken on an apprentice named Nico.  When the son of the Empress of Mann kills a young woman protected by the Roshun it falls to Ash and Nico to follow through with the vendetta.

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Review: Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny

Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny
Damnation Alley by Roger Zelazny

Damnation Alley
Roger Zelazny
Gollancz, 2003 (reprint, orig. 1969)

I am an unabashed fan of Zelazny’s Amber books, yes I even love the second series starring Merlin, but other than Amber I am far too under-read when it comes to Zelany’s  body of work.  Last year, when tracking down post-apocalyptic novels to read I came across Zelazny’s Damnation Alley, purchased a used copy, then promptly forgot about it on a bookshelf.  I noticed the bright yellow spine of the Gollancz SF paperback and decided finally give it a go.

Damnation Alley is a post-apocalyptic action novel where convicted Hell’s Angel member Hell Tanner is offered a pardon in return for running the titular Damnation Alley.  Loaded up in an armed and armored car Hell has to head from L.A. to Boston to deliver a cargo of antiserum.  Crossing the entire country while skirting radioactive craters and dealing with horridly mutated monstrosities that populate the former United States.

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