Review: Fantastic Four: Season One

Fantastic Four: Season One
Fantastic Four: Season One

Fantastic Four: Season One
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (words) & David Marquez (art)
Marvel, 2012

There is a part of me that takes a look at something like Fantastic Four: Season One and wants rail in rage and frustration. Truth is, I don’t want to be that guy. It helps that the art and writing in FF: Season One is solid and actually does breath some new life into the characters. Reviewers have also been praising Jonathan Hickman’s run on FF, Hickman’s track record with science fiction comics is near flawless, and I have to wonder why he wasn’t given the reins on this original graphic novel. That isn’t to say that Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa does a bad job but the minor tweaks to the familiar origin story are slight and just enough to keep the FF relevant in a modern world. On the one hand this a good thing, it doesn’t have the radical newness of the more angsty Superman: Earth One or the New 52 titles that might alienate old fans but its strict adherence to the familiar story lends the story a peculiar flatness. I would love see what Hickman (or any good creative talent) said “Here’s the Fantastic Four origin story. Update it, go nuts.”

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Review: Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch
Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

Midnight Riot (US)/Rivers of London (UK)
Ben Aaronovitch
Orbit, 2011

Midnight Riot, more properly titled Rivers of London across the pond, is the first non-shared world novel of British author Ben Aaronovitch; his previous work was on original novels in both the Doctor Who and Blake’s 7 universes. I have a soft spot for urban fantasy. It is an inclination I fight more often then not and I’ve yet to hit upon all of the particular elements of urban fantasy that really get me excited. The one I’m most certain of is the sense of place. The characters of urban fantasy novels are as often a place as they are an actual person. Thankfully this is something that Ben Aaronovitch does exceedingly well.

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Review: The Coldest War by Ian Tregillis

The Coldest War by Ian Tregillis
The Coldest War by Ian Tregillis (audible.com)

The Coldest War (The Milkweed Triptych #2)
Ian Tregillis
Audible Frontiers, 2012 (Hardcover: Tor, July 2012)

Ian Tregillis’ Bitter Seeds was one of if not my absolute favorite debut of 2010. After several major missteps by the publisher (well documented on the author’s blog) the second novel of the Milkweed Triptych, The Coldest War, is set for release later this year. In a bizarre experiment the decision was made to release the audiobook first via the fine folks at Audible.com. For those needing a refresher Bitter Seeds was an alternate history novel that rewrites World War II pitting the products of a Nazi super-science program against warlocks of Great Britain. The warlocks don’t simply toss spells around though. They must negotiate with omnipresent and dangerous entities who grant power in exchange for blood sacrifice. As the title implies The Coldest Wartakes place during the Cold War in the sixties; twenty-two years after the end of World War II. The protagonists of the previous novel have since moved on, for better or for worse. Former spy Raybould Marsh’s marriage is crumbling, strained by his simpleton son. Whereas former-warlock Will has put asside trafficking with devils in order forward his older brother’s philanthropic ways. Unfortunately for both the precognitive Gretel is active and at large and she, along with her brother Klaus, will some draw both these men back into the cutthroat world of Milkweed.

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Review: The Myriad by R. M. Meluch

The Myriad by R. M. Meluch
The Myriad by R. M. Meluch

The Myriad
R. M. Meluch
DAW, 2005

If you enjoy solid, exciting and well-crafted military sci-fi do yourself a favor and check out R. M. Meluch’s The Myriad. Honestly stop reading this review and check it out. The novel makes an interesting discussion piece, more on that later, and is definitely one of the more engaging military sci-fi novel I’ve read. The Myriad takes an interesting premise with characters whose personality’s are ratcheted way up to 11 and really runs with it right up until the heartrending twist at the novel’s close.

The Myriad takes the idea that despite Rome’s fall the Roman Empire never really died just went into hiding amongst secret societies. On day the opportunity arises to abandon Earth for a new home: the planet Palantine and Rome jumps at it severing ties with Earth and starting the first Galactic Civil war. The Myriad opens just as the Palantine has surrendered to the League of Earth Nations due to the emergence of a new and merciless enemy known only as the Hive. Inhuman carnivores the Hive are attracted to the FTL communication employed by both sides. The Merrimack has been assigned the task of eliminating a finding the Hive home-world and are joined in this endeavor by a Roman Patterner Augustus; an experiment in posthuman engineering. It is on this mission that The Merrimack stumbles across the titular Myraid, a cluster of stars that houses an isolated civilization and other potentially more useful secrets.

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Review: In the Lion’s Mouth by Michael Flynn

In the Lion's Mouth by Michael Flynn
In the Lion's Mouth by Michael Flynn

In the Lion’s Mouth
Michael Flynn
Tor, 2012

While the tropes glimpsed in Michael Flynn’s most recent science fiction novel, In the Lion’s Mouth (following The January Dancer and Up Jim River) are familiar and the novel takes place within the distinct milieu of the space opera there is a style and grace to Flynn’s work that makes these styles stand out from others of the same genre. This unique style, evident in both the previous novel’s, is brought to the forefront here with a particular flair. In the Lion’s Mouth continues the story of Donovan while at the same time exploring a new, and underutilized area of the world that Flynn has created. Taking place almost immediately after the events of Up Jim River, In the Lion’s Mouth opens with Bridget ban and her daughter Mearana await the arrival of Donovan. Instead they are interrupted by Ravn Olafsdottr, a Shadow of the Names.

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Review: A Canticle for Leibowtiz by Walter M. Miller Jr.

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller Jr
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller Jr

A Canticle for Leibowitz
Walter M. Miller Jr
EOS, 2006 (orig. pub. 1959)

I read Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization when I was an undergrad minoring in history. In this fairly straightforward and easily accessible book Cahill outlines the efforts of Irish monks preserving texts after the fall of Rome. Definitely not the most scholarly of works but it was a volume that was called to mind while reading Walter Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz. Published in 1959 A Canticle for Leibowitz went on to win the Hugo in 1961 and widely recognized, even by non-genre readers, as a classic.

Much like the Irish monks in Europe during the years following the fall Rome the Albertian Order of Leibowtiz, founded by a Jewish electrical engineer who converted to Catholicism after the world has been all but destroyed by nuclear war, preserves and protects texts from the now distant past. The novel opens six centuries after the world has been destroyed and in that time much has been lost. While monks of Leibowitz have worked to preserve the past society has yet to return to a time and place where that preserved knowledge is of any use. Further complicating matters the fact that while knowledge has been preserved understanding of that knowledge has eroded over the centuries. Broken into three sections each taking place centuries apart the novel details humanity’s slow crawl out of the dark ages and the sad tragedy of our fall back into darkness.

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