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Friday, February 11, 2011

Recently read: "Dread Island" by Joe R. Lansdale

Dread Island by Joe R. Lansdale

Dread Island: A Classics Mutilated Tale (Convention Edition)

One of the stories in "Classics Multiated", which is a collection of stories that mash together literary classics with supernatural elements.  I read the special signed edition of Lansdale's story from Subterranean Press.  The story uses Twain's characters (Huck and Jim mainly, though Tom Sawyer and Becky make appearances) and throws in Lovecraft and Uncle Remus, with a island that appears in the middle of the Mississippi river at certain times.

In many ways it's typical Lansdale, but he does capture Twain's voice fairly well I think.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Recently read: "Ghost Country" by Patrick Lee

"Ghost Country" by Patrick Lee

Ghost Country

Second novel by Lee about "The Breach",  the tunnel (wormhole?) buried under ground that spits out fantastic artifact from the future (many of which are useless).  In this second book, Travis Chase, after walking away from Tanget (the secret organization overseeing the Breach) and his lover Paige Campbell, is living alone under a new identity when Bethany Stewart, Paige's colleague, arrives on his doorstep asking for help finding Campbell.  Campbell had just shown the President a new artifact, and after the meeting Cambell's motorcade was attacked, with everyone killed but her.

Stewart has the twin of the object, a cylinder that she and Chase discover will open a portal to approximately 70 years into the future.  The future they  find is one where apparently civilization has fallen, with humanity dead.  Thus begins a race to fist rescue Campbell, and then discover what happens in the next few month that kills off humanity.

Given that Lee had already introduced the Breach in his first novel, the big SF idea here is one involving ELF (extremely low frequency) radio waves, and their possible effect on human health and emotion.  This, along with the portal to the future, and the conspiracy that involves a lot of the movers and shakers in the US (along with the President) is a lot to juggle, but Lee handles it pretty well.  I think he's very adept at handling action scenes, and one of the highlight is a major action scene in abandoned Yuma, AZ, among a sea of parked cars that have been sitting for 70 years.

A nice read, and it certainly leaves the door open if he wants to continue writing in this universe.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Recently read: "All-Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder" by Frank Miller and Jim Lee

"All-Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder, Vol 1" by Frank Miller and Jim Lee

First complilation of issues of Miller and Lee's new Batman title.  Is it safe to save that Miller is borderline crazy now?  Or is he making an attempt to say something about superheroes? 

Here Batman, early in his career, is a borderline psychotic, who has been watching Dick Grayson, tageting the boy as a possible  Batman's sidekick.  When Grayson's parents are murdered during the circus show, Bruce Wayne becomes Batman and grabs Grayson and escapes in the Batamobile.

We get over the top violence, and sex ,with the women (Vickie Vale, Black Canary) all drawn and protrayed as sex symbols.  This is a mean, nasty Batman, and the art work by Jim Lee is shallow, though at times pretty to look at.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Recently read: "Jack: Secret Vengeance" by F. Paul Wilson

"Jack: Secret Vengeance" by F. Paul Wilson

The third book about the boy hood of Wilson's "Repairman Jack" character.  Here, Jack's friend "Wheezy" tells him that Carson Toliver (football hero, high school heartthrob, loved by all) attacked her while on a date.  Dubbed "Easy Weezy" after Toliver spreads stories about her, she refuses to go to school, and Jack decides to teach Toliver a lesson. 

Here we see Jack developing the skills he'll need for his later career.  Picking locks, planning his mission out, and taking revenge for someone.  We get more weirdness from the Pin Barrens, and Jack gets help from a "Piney" who is interesting in how Jack does some of the things he does.

There's some nice fleshing in of Jack's history here, and seeing how Jack deals with Toliver is fun.  Certainly worth reading if you're a fan of the Repariman Jack books.

Recently read: "A Drink Before the War" by Dennis Lehane

"A Drink Before the War" by Dennis Lehane

First novel that Lehane wrote, and the first book about Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, who are two young Boston PI's.  They are hired by three local politicans to find documents that a cleaning woman is suspected of stealing.  They quickly track Jenna Angeline down, and find she has no documents but does have a husband and son who are head of rival gangs.  She also has a photo of one of the politican with her husband in a hotel room, with promise of more photos hidden somewhere.

Jenna is gunned down on the street, while delivering the first photo to Patrick, and his picture is on the front page as the hero who shot the killer.  A gang war breaks out, as the two detectives try to survive with both gangs after them.

We get a lot of gunfire, but we also get a lot of background on Patrick's abusive father, who was a hero fireman.  We also get Gennaro finally deciding she can't take her abusive husband any longer.  The crucial finale plays out under an overpass, as the two have to face the husband, and the decision they make will ripple into the future books.  There's also a final face off with the politicans that is somewhat satisfying.

Recently read: "Gone, Baby, Gone" by Dennis Lehane

"Gone, Baby, Gone" by Dennis Lehane

I've read a couple of Lehane's books ("Mystic River" after I saw the movie and "Shutter Island" before the movie) so I decided to grab a Kindle copy of "Gone, Baby, Gone" and see how it read.

This is actually the fourth book  Lehnae wrote about private detectives Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro.  Here we have Amanda McCready, a four year old girl, left alone in her house in Dorchester as her mother drinks next door, who disappears.  Knowing that time is critical in such cases, the two take the case after being begged by the girl's aunt.  They join with two Boston cops, Poole and Broussard, and find a tangled case with a drug lord ("Cheese" Olamon, who sits in jail), missing money and a trio of sexual predators.

I was surprised that the violence in the book, with numerous shoot outs (many involving automatic weapons), but the strength of the book is about the violence against children, and it's effect on both the children and the adults.  There are choices made by the two detectives, now lovers after a long partnership, that are heart breaking, but right for both of them.

I enjoyed the book enough that I went ahead and ordered the first novel about the two before I finished this one.

Recently read: "Star Trek: Crucible: McCoy: Provenance of Shadows" by David R. George III

"Star Trek: Provenance of Shadows" by David George III

I decided to try this Star Trek novel based upon some of the Amazon reviews.  The first of a loose trilogy, the Cruible of the title is the death of Edith Keeler in "City on the Edge of Forever".  In this book, we basically see McCoy's life from that point, told in two parallel stories (one where Keeler dies, the other where she lives).  Much of the second story is therefore a historical novel, as McCoy struggles to survive in depression era Earth, eventually moving south and settling in a small town.  This portion of the story is the more interesting one, since the other story is basically an overview of major points of McCoy's life in the 23rd century (much of which we know).

I thought it was an ok read, though a bit long.  Only for relatively hard core Star Trek fans I think.