SpeculativeFiction


Incubus Dreams


Incubus Dreams is the latest Anita Blake book, and weighs in at a surprising 600+ pages; most of the prior books in the series have been 300-400 pages. The Anita Blake series has been having difficulty lately, with many of the fans hanging on desperately to the hope that the current trends -- that is, towards more sex and less of everything else -- will reverse themselves. Unfortunately for those with such hopes, the cover does little to suggest improvement; a woman in lingerie, blindfolded and bound to a chair.

A sample chapter is available from the publisher, and two more chapters from the short story collection Cravings.

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Sat Sep 25 21:09:07 CDT 2004 by Matthew. Comments

Bloody Bones

Who do you call when you have a mass grave that's two centuries old and you want to raise them all from the dead? Anita Blake, of course. No one else can do it. But it's never as simple as that.

Where The Lunatic Cafe served to broaden the Anitaverse to include lycanthropes, Bloody Bones reaches into a different sort of mythology: fairy tales. Specifically, the Faerie, cold iron and four-leaf clovers and bad nursery rhymes and all. But if you were expecting nice nature-loving creatures with pointed ears, this isn't your book.

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Thu Sep 23 22:31:07 CDT 2004 by Matthew. Comments

Legends

Legends is a collection of short stories by noted authors: Stephen King (The Dark Tower), Terry Pratchett (Discworld), Terry Goodkind (The Sword of Truth), Orson Scott Card (The Tales of Alvin Maker), Robert Silverberg (Majipoor), Ursula K. Le Guin (Earthsea), Tad Williams (Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn), George R.R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire), Anne McCaffrey (Pern), Raymond E. Feist (The Riftwar Saga), and Robert Jordan (The Wheel of Time). It is edited by Robert Silverberg.



The stories range from good to rather blah. With the exception of Ursula K. Le Guin (who wrote the stunning Earthsea trilogy and then, 17 years later, tried to continue it with the ill-received Tehanu), the works are about at the same level as each author's other works, at least for the ones I've read.

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Sat Sep 04 23:46:43 CDT 2004 by tsarren@infodancer.org. Comments

Kill Bill: Volume 1

Kill Bill: Volume 1 is the tale of an assassin who gets pregnant by her employer, then killed and left for dead by the same. Predictably, though, she awakens from her coma years later -- and hungry for revenge.

The movie puts an unusually heavy influence on the martial arts for Tarantino. All the major characters are masters of kung fu, and they prefer fighting with samurai swords to fighting with guns. The stunts are fairly well done, although the main character (known only as "The Bride") could have used a bit more training.

Stylistically, this movie borrows a lot from graphic novels; the shots are conceptualized in a way that would easily translate into that format and the plot is typical of that genre. The combination works surprisingly well. Don't expect subtlety; this is a blood-and-beheadings bowl of chopsocki.

Sat Sep 04 21:02:54 CDT 2004 by Matthew. Comments

A Game of Thrones

George RR Martin is a writer with a long, if less than best-selling, list of hits. His previous work includes science fiction like Tuf Voyaging, the tale of a solitary "eco-engineer" with the resources of an intersteller bioweapons facility at his command, or editing the Wild Cards collection, which featured short stories about the real problems faced by comic-book superheroes. He was established as publishable -- but there was absolutely no hint of what would come.

When he released A Game of Thrones, the first volume of his epic fantasy A Song of Ice and Fire, it took the world of fantasy by storm. The same field which Dianna Wynne Jones had lambasted for lack of originality, failure to characterize, and predictable plotting in A Tough Guide to Fantasylandhad suddenly produced something entirely different.

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Sat Sep 04 19:13:51 CDT 2004 by Matthew. Comments

Brilliance of the Moon

Brilliance of the Moon is the third book in the Tales of the Otori series. We pick up the story with Kaede and Takeo having married hastily in Terayama and determined to claim their inheritance -- an inheritance which, if they can make the claim stick, will grant them control of the vast majority of the Three Kingdoms. They are opposed by the Tribe, whose power is secret but vast; by Lord Arai, who is likely offended by their decision to marry without his consent; and by Fujiwara, who considered Kaede his betrothed.

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Sat Sep 04 19:13:51 CDT 2004 by Matthew. Comments

Grass for his Pillow


In his second novel of the Tales of the Otori, Lian Hearn takes the story that could have ended after Across the Nightingale Floor and begins to explore the ramifications of the character's choices. Lady Kaede, now free of the immediate prospect of marriage thanks to the death of Otori Shigeru, begins to grasp the reins of power for herself. Lord Otori Takeo, meanwhile, must fulfill his promise to the Tribe by entering their way of life and giving up his Otori inheritance.

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Sat Sep 04 19:13:51 CDT 2004 by Matthew. Comments

Across the Nightingale Floor

In his Tales of the Otori series, Lian Hearn presents a vision of Japan passed through a lens of subtle distortion. The main character, Tomasu/Takeo, has ties to three factions: the noble clan Otori, whose head rescued him from the destruction of his village; the persecuted religious cult of the Hidden, who believe in a deity that holds all men equal, and who raised him; and the Tribe, a faction of secretive assassins and magicians, from whom his father came. Takeo must struggle to direct his own destiny as each faction demands their piece of his soul.

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Sat Sep 04 19:13:51 CDT 2004 by Matthew. Comments

A Time of Exile

I'm re-reading Katherine Kerr's A Time of Exile for a somewhat unusual reason. I've read the whole series before once or twice, at least up to the most recently published book, but on my last reread someone else had my copy of this book. Since I had read it before, I skipped it and picked up with A Time of Omens. When my copy of Exile returned, I figured I might as well reread it, even though I had finished the original reread quite some time before.

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Sat Sep 04 19:13:51 CDT 2004 by Matthew. Comments

The Bourne Supremacy

Continuing my reread of Ludlum's Jason Bourne series, I went through The Bourne Supremacy over the course of a weekend. This novel steps away from the question of identity, and instead puts Bourne in the midst of a complex maze of interwoven plots. An imposter has taken the name and reputation of "Jason Bourne", deadly assassin for hire, and revived it for his own purposes. The assassin who was created to trap Carlos must now return to the land of his birth to trap himself.

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Sat Sep 04 19:13:51 CDT 2004 by Matthew. Comments

The Bourne Ultimatum

The Bourne Ultimatum is the third book in Ludlum's Jason Bourne series. It's five years after the events in Hong Kong, and 13 years after Paris. Bourne has aged (he's now 50) and settled into life with his wife and children. But when Carlos the Jackal uncovers his real identity, the final confrontation is upon them both.

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Sat Sep 04 19:13:51 CDT 2004 by Matthew. Comments

Enemies Foreign And Domestic


Written in the budding tradition of Unintended Consequences, Enemies Foreign and Domestic is a "gun novel". That is to say, it's protagonists are members of the "gun culture", independently-minded shooters, and the novel's antagonists are government agents of the BAFTE and legislators minded to ban firearms. As such, it's the sort of book that's likely to get you put on a government list -- but then, if you're reading it, you're probably already on that list.

The book opens with a "Stadium Massacre", where a single sniper kills thousands by firing long-range into a crowded stadium. The few people hit are far outweighed by the number of people who die in the panic, rushing for the exits and trampling each other. That one incident sparks a legislative ban on all semi-automatic rifles, while the protagonists are still trying to decipher the cryptic hints they have stumbled across -- hints that suggest the Stadium Massacre might have been a setup.

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Sat Sep 04 19:13:51 CDT 2004 by Matthew. Comments

The Bourne Identity

This is a reread, primarily because the sequel, The Bourne Supremacy has been given the movie treatment. I liked the movie adaptation of The Bourne Identity which did a remarkably good job without simplifying the story too much. I do confess to being a little bit concerned about the sequel, since the movie version removed what could be described as the central tension in the book and didn't exactly leave any of the loose ends that Ludlum used in his sequels.

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Sat Sep 04 19:13:51 CDT 2004 by Matthew. Comments

Kill Bill Volume 2

Short version: Not as good as the first one, but not actively bad. There was a lot less action. What action there was, was not done particularly well. Definitely more drama and style than action in this one. Unfortunately, like the first, this movie's action sequences (even when present) aren't particularly well done. In fact, they are the single glaring bad part of the movie (although not really, really bad; just the least good part of an interesting, but mediocre, film). .

What makes me sad about this movie is the fact that, had the actors and directors been halfway competent at filming martial arts fights, and with perhaps some judicious editing, it could have been really good. It has the style and the cool factor. It's just that the rest of the movie doesn't match.

Categories Quentin Tarantino

Sat Sep 04 19:13:51 CDT 2004 by Matthew. Comments

A Clash of Kings

A Clash of Kings is the second book in George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. The Seven Kingdoms are beset by four Kings, all seeking to rule. The Starks, wolf-lords of the North, are scattered: Arya and Sansa hostage, Robb at war, Bran and Rickon learning to govern Winterfell. The Lannister host led by Lord Tywin opposes Robb Stark, and Tyrion is set to govern King's Landing -- if he can survive Joffrey's whims and Cersei's cunning. Theon Greyjoy comes into his own. Renly and Stannis battle for the loyalty of the southern lords, and a new player is introduced into that conflict -- a player that bodes ill for the future. And through it all, the threat in the North grows stronger.

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Sat Sep 04 13:18:43 CDT 2004 by Matthew. Comments

A Storm of Swords

A Storm of Swords continues the groundbreaking series that began with A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings. It's a massive tome that weighs in at almost 1,000 pages and continues Martin's tradition of shaking up the characters and the world with momentous and surprising events.

Rob, King in the North, continues his fight against the Lannisters -- winning great victories on the battlefield, but conscious of his two sisters held as hostages. Sansa languishes in King's Landing in need of rescue, desperately trying to negotiate her way among the hostile Lannister nobility, while Arya continues her journey home incognito. Many of the southern lords come into play, and we learn much more about the politics of the south in this volume. Meanwhile, Jon on the Wall faces tough questions, and continues to mature as a warrior and a leader.

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Sat Sep 04 13:18:01 CDT 2004 by Matthew. Comments



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