Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling
Krisitn Cashore
Harcourt Children’s, 2008

Kristin Cashore’s Graceling is a novel that I’ve put off for years for no real reason. Bursting onto the scene in 2008 Graceling swept up a number of awards and nominations in Young Adult and Children’s categories including the Mythopoeic and was listed as one School Library Jounral’s Best Books of the Year. Graceling tells the story of Katsa who lives in a world where certain individuals are gifted with graces; extraordinary magical abilities that make those individuals well suited for a particular task. Katsa’s gift as a graceling is that of killing. Since a young age she has been trained and raised by her uncle to serve as his personal assassin and strongarm; eliminating rivals and threating his vassals should they step out of line. Along with some friends she has formed a group that looks to counterbalance her thuggish work. It is in the pursuit of this group’s aims that she finds herself drawn into the orbit of Prince Po, also graced with extraordinary combat skills, and sent on a journey of discovery that will unveil secrets of her own personality and will reveal the terrible truth behind a distant land.

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Review: Immobility by Brian Evenson

Immobility by Brian Evenson

Immobility
Brian Evenson
Tor, 2012

Some books have a distinct message. Some books are just out to have fun. Some books are just out to tell an interesting story. In my experience more often than not novels with a dystopian and frequently post-apocalyptic aspect tend to borrow heavily from that first goal. A Canticle for Leibowitz looks at the inevitability of mankind’s self destruction, Earth Abides looks at the removal of social barriers and shift of historical memory over time, Level 7 looks at the notion of mutually assured destruction, while books like Swan Song and The Stand take the apocalypse to look at classic battle of good versus evil. There are countless others many falling into the realm of cautionary tales. However, post-apocalyptic fiction can just as easily be used to tell pure adventure stories such as Zelazny’s Damnation Alley or the Mad Max films. Brian Evenson’s Immobility is a strange mix of several of these elements. Set in a post-apocalyptic society couched in the airs of a dystopia yet at the same time a novel of discovery and confusion.

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Review: Strange Flesh by Michael Olson

Strange Flesh by Michael Olson
Strange Flesh by Michael Olson

Strange Flesh
Michael Olson
Simon and Schuster, 2012

I remember joking once with a friend that the next logical step in the world of motion controls and haptic feedback was porn. In a world of Real Dolls and Japanese robots it becomes increasingly obvious, and likely disturbing to many people, the direction in which the sex toy industry will go. Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, along with films like Tron or The Matrix, touch upon the nature of artificial reality and its impact in society in a very straightforward manner. Rare is the mainstream novel that examines the more primal corners of these emergent technologies. Enter Michael Olsen’s debut novel Strange Flesh.

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Review: Hard Magic by Larry Correia

Hard Magic by Larry Correia
Hard Magic by Larry Correia

Hard Magic
Larry Correia
Baen, 2011 (Audible Inc., 2011)

I have probably noted Larry Correia’s name in passing multiple times each instance a vague contemplation of a Monster Hunter novel but it wasn’t until I saw a description Hard Magic that I decided to take the plunge. After serving the United States in war Jake Sullivan ended up serving time in prison. Not one to sit idle Sullivan has used his prison experience to hone and experiment with his magical gift to control gravity in a specific area. Jake’s unique skills as a “Heavy” bring him to the attention of J. Edger’s G-men and nets him a deal: his freedom in exchange for his assistance bringing down other magically powered criminals. In a way similar to Shadow Ops: Control Point, many people in the world of Hard Magic are gifted with specific magical abilities. Increased strength and durability, intangibility, teleportation, telekinesis, healing, and various other gifts exist alongside ritual magic to create a vast and fascinating web of possibility that make Hard Magic a constantly surprising and surprisingly complex read.

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