I’m not one to typically read short story collections or anthologies but the theme behind the latest John Joseph Adams’ edited Operation Arcana was sufficiently intriguing to pique my interest. The focus of Operation Arcana is on military fantasy and includes a wonderful list of contributors. The stories in Operation Arcana run the gamut from high action, to more subtle medications of war and combat. By and large Operation Arcana is full of tight, entertaining fiction. I’m not going to go through every story in the anthology but there were really a handful of stories that absolutely blew me away.
I’m late to the party checking out Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon which given my love for the work of Howard Andrew Jones’ Chronicles of Sword and Sand is even more egregious an error than you might expect. However, unlike Jones’ work Adhmed takes several big steps away from the historical choosing instead to center his story a bit more loosely. The Crescent Moon Kingdoms of Ahmed’s novel are familiar but not explicitly defined as part of our world and borrowing just enough from history to lend the story an air of credibility and tangibility. The story of Throne of the Crescent Moon centers on ghul hunter Doctor Adoulla Makhslood and features a strong cast of supporting characters including the dervish Raseed, the shapeshifting Zamia, the mage Dawoud, and the alchemist Litaz. A series of seemingly unrelated events see the Doctor uncovering the fact that recent murders in the city of Dhamsawaat may be more than they appear and that something ancient, evil, and dark is stirring beneath the sands.
The internet, in all it’s messy democratic glory, has opened up the door for not only the exploration of new formats of storytelling but also to once explore formats of old. The notion of the “serial” is nothing new from Dickens,to radio, to television, to comics it is a long lived means of telling a story. In the 21st century the proliferation of the internet, and particularly its mobility, have opened the floodgates for the serial’s return. Sean Platt and David W. Wright are the founders of Collective Inkwell where they have focused on telling serialized stories. Recently, the duo signed a deal with Amazon’s 47North which is how I came to stumble upon the audiobook version of Yesterday’s Gone: Season 1.
Benjamin Percy’s Red Moon is an interesting book with a fascinating and engaging premise that unfortunately never quite lives up to its promise. In Red Moon, humanity lives side-by-side with werewolves (this is a scientific form of lycanthropy; one produced by prions). The werewolves of Red Moon’s America are monitored and regulated via a change suppressing drug. The U.S. is in the midst of occupying a sovereign werewolf nation in order to maintain Uranium mining operations. There is a subset of werewolves who don’t like this blatant if socially accepted oppression and who wish to free themselves from the yoke of human oppression by any means necessary.
You should know who Joe Hill is. Seriously. Hill is one half of the team that brought us Locke and Key (my bid for the horror comic of the century, seriously difficult to top), he brought us the delightfully twisted Heart-Shaped Box, and the exquisitely crafted collection of chilling tales 20th Century Ghosts. He is the son of horror legend Stephen King. Hill’s latest novel NOS4A2 is both a homage to his father’s legacy of chills and definitive statement that Hill is more than capable of standing not in father’s shadow but shoulder to shoulder.
The World More Full of Weeping
Robert J Wiersema
ChiZine Publications, 2009
The World More Full of Weeping, its title unabashedly ripped from the W. B. Yeats poem, “The Stolen Child” is a new novella (almost a short story) by author Robert J. Wiersema. ChiZine Publications is a relative newcomer to the publisher scene but as the print arm of the Chiarscuro ‘zine brings with it a wealth of experience and talent. Wiersema’s debut novel Before I Wake achieved quite a bit of buzz on its release but slipped beneath my radar but, having read the chilling tale that is The World More Full of Weeping I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out on whatever Wiersema plans in the future.
Here’s ChiZine’s description of the novel:
Eleven-year-old Brian Page spends every waking moment in the forest behind the house where he lives with his father. But forests are always deeper than anyone can know. Secrets are hidden in the eternal twilight of the trees. Those secrets emerge into light when Brian disappears in the forest, as his father did three decades before. His father, however, came home with no memory of the events in the depths of the forest. What has drawn Brian away? Will he emerge, shuddering and broken, as his father did, or will the forests close around him, as they have done so often before?