The Darkness That Comes After

Believe in me and I will give you eternal Salvation, said the Lord. “Can I have Might or Kings instead?” asked the tank.

Archive for March, 2007

More Awesomeness

Posted by senseichow on March 30, 2007

My first ever books for advance review have arrived!

Solaris have very kindly sent me a copy of Brian Lumley’s Necroscope: The Touch as well as Emily Gee’s Thief With No Shadow to…. er…. dissect in detail with my keen literary mind.

Or something like that anyway.

I’ve never heard of Gee but the blurb on the cover sounds good, and I’ve been a big fan of Lumley’s Necroscope series since the original days of Harry Keogh, so I’m really looking forward to reading both.

Watch this space for the reviews.

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Too Awesome For Words

Posted by senseichow on March 29, 2007

Check out Peter Watts’ comments on Blindsight getting a 2007 Hugo nomination here.

Its pretty funny, and also cool to see that the guy managed to go his own way and still make it as an author.

You can also see the full list of Hugo nominees here.

Shameless self promotion warning: Check out the post below to see Watts briefly mention this blog (link in the bottom paragraph).

Very, very briefly :)

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Transformers Movie Update

Posted by senseichow on March 29, 2007

Badass pictures of Optimus Prime and Megatron. Check them out.

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Review – Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett

Posted by senseichow on March 29, 2007

The bottom line – decent ‘young adult’ fantasy, but doesn’t quite reach the old glory days of the Discworld.

Tiffany Aching is not a lucky girl. She’s caught the eyes, and heart, of the Wintersmith, the spirit of Winter himself. And now, he gives her roses and icebergs, says it with avalanches and showers her with snowflakes, at least according to the blurb on the front cover of the book.

WintersmithA part of Tiffany thinks its kinda cool. Another part of Tiffany is horrified at all the people who are dying as a result of the Wintersmith’s attentions. And a third part is just plain struggling with her training to become a witch.

Whilst set in the Discworld, and featuring some well known favourites from Pratchett’s previous novels, the Tiffany Aching books are strictly supposed to be young adult fantasy. He’s done it before; there are two other books in the Tiffany Aching sequence, and he’s also written a stand-alone novel (nothing to do with Tiffany, but also set in the Discworld) called The Amazing Maurice And His Educated Rodents, which deservedly won the 2001 Carnegie Medal.

While the Tiffany books were a bit of a change for Pratchett after thirty odd full fledged Discworld novels, he seems to be running out of ideas with this last one. The plot meanders all over the place, before Tiffany finally deals with the Wintersmith in quite an annoying deus ex machina. It doesn’t help that Tiffany just comes across as a young Granny Weatherwax, and although she’s likeable enough its difficult to empathise with her.

As anyone who’s a fan of Pratchett will tell you, his writing style’s evolved over the years. Gone is the outright slapstick of The Colour Of Magic or The Light Fantastic. His later books have tended to become far more serious in tone, with the humor taking a back seat to the sometimes stealth social commentary and human insight. Wintersmith is no exception – there is the occasional bit of comic relief in the form of the Nac Mac Feegle, and Nanny Ogg’s always good for a laugh or two, but you get the overall feeling that this is serious stuff.

Its the same feeling that makes me doubt whether this book will have much of an appeal to young children. The setting is alien and the characters don’t quite build up the rapport of a Harry Potter or a Hermione Granger. On the other hand, if you’re a Pratchett fan its worth picking just to see a bit more of the Discworld in action.

And as for me, I’m gonna go reminisce about the times when Pratchett was churning out stuff like Small Gods and Reaper Man without even pausing to take a breath.

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Patrick Rothfuss Interviewed On The Fantasy Hotlist

Posted by senseichow on March 27, 2007

The excellent Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist has posted an interview with Patrick Rothfuss, author of The Name Of The Wind. Check it out.

On a related note, Amazon just sent me an e-mail saying my copy of it’s been delayed. :(

The Amazon website says the book is ‘usually dispatched within one to three weeks‘. Don’t like the sound of that. Not one bit.

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Do They Have The Guts?

Posted by senseichow on March 25, 2007

Ah man, I really want to keep this blog politics free……. but clips like this are too damn funny to pass up.

Stephen Colbert, sticking it to the man……..

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Jack Thompson Knows

Posted by senseichow on March 25, 2007

This one deserves a good old ROFL.

Penny Arcade’s response to the latest nonsense from poor excuse for a lawyer Jack Thompson.

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Currently Reading….

Posted by senseichow on March 24, 2007

The Hickory Staff, Book 1 of the Eldarn Sequence by Robert Scott and Jay Gordon.

Supposed to be ‘classic portal fantasy’ according to the Guardian, and since I haven’t read any portal fantasy lately, I thought I’d give it a try.

My only hesitation is the blurb on the Amazon page, ” The natural successors to Terry Goodkind: a stunning first novel that will leave readers gasping for more!”

Oh dear.

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Review – Blindsight by Peter Watts

Posted by senseichow on March 24, 2007

The bottom line – great high concept sci-fi with touches of horror thrown in. Highly recommended.

Although I’m equal parts sci-fi and fantasy geek (parts which combine to make one big super geek….. that’s right ladies….. oh yeah…..) my choice of reading material usually leans towards fantasy. No particular reason for it, its just always been that way. Having reviewed a bunch of fantasy books lately, I thought I’d better throw in a sci-fi review or too, and as luck would have it, along came Blindsight.

Now you may have realised that link above doesn’t take you to the usual Amazon page, but instead to the author’s website where you can download the novel for free (the rest of the site is also extremely cool and worth checking out). As I’ve said before on this blog, its available online under a Creative Commons license, and even if you don’t read another single word of this review, you should still go and download that book. It really is that good.

The plot takes place in the late 21st century. Human society, paradoxically stagnating in the midst of technological advancement, makes First Contact with an alien intelligence, the Fireflies. Desperate to find out more about this potential threat, they send a starship populated with the best and brightest crew Earth has to offer to the edges of the solar system.

And what a crew it is. A vampire who, under Watts’ writing, becomes far more terrifying than anything ever imagined by Bram Stoker; a biologist who, ironically enough, is more machine than human; a synthesist (think cross between empath and interpreter) with half his brain cut out; an augmented soldier; and a linguist suffering from the worst case of multiple personality disorder I’ve ever seen in print.

You may be forgiven for thinking that vampires sound a little out of place in high concept sci-fi but believe me, Watts explains their existence beautifully. The stuff about the Crucifix glitch (vampires have seizures when they see right angles – but this can be fixed by giving them ‘anti-Euclideans’) is a little tongue-in-cheek, but it doesn’t detract from the experience one bit.

Now, to give you honest readers out there fair warning- this book’s jam-packed with science, with a bit of stealth philosophy thrown in for good measure. If hard sci-fi’s not your thing, then stay away from this book. Head back to your Star Wars and Doctor Who novels.

If, on the other hand, you enjoy great reads that can amaze and scare you in turn, and leave you feeling just that little bit smarter for having read them, then dive right in.

Posted in books, reviews, Sci-Fi | 3 Comments »

Review – Night of Knives by Ian Cameron Esslemont

Posted by senseichow on March 23, 2007

The story goes something like this. Back in 1982 some guy called Steven Erikson co-created a fantasy world with some other guy called Ian Cameron Esslemont. They agree to share the rights to the world. Steven Erikson then wrote a little book called Gardens Of The Moon – and that worked out pretty well for him.

In the meantime Esslemont’s been writing his own stuff too. Night of Knives is his first published work, a short story concerning one of the most pivotal moments in the history of the Malazan Empire; the death of the Emperor Kellanved and his partner in crime, the assassin Dancer.

The story takes place over the course of one single day and night on Malaz Island – as forces from within and without the Empire converge upon the Island for reasons of their own. Esslemont makes plenty of references to characters already mentioned in the Malazan Book of the Fallen, but the stars of the show are those of his own making.

The story is told mainly through the eyes of two of those stars. Temper, a grizzled veteran (as they all seem to be in the Empire) who once served in Dassem Ultor’s First Sword, and Kiska, a local would be spy/informant/assassin. We follow them as they investigate the events of the Shadow Moon, and try to survive various encounters with other characters both new and old. Kellanved and Dancer put in an appearance, as does Surly, or the Empress Laseen as she comes to be called. Tayschrenn, the Imperial High Mage, also plays a surprising role in things.

Throughout the novel there are tantalizing references to things that Steven Erikson has only hinted at in the Malazan Book of the Fallen. We learn a little more about the enigmatic Crimson Guard; we find out what really happened to Dassem Ultor; how the Emperor finally achieved his quest for power; and more details about the Empire’s original conquest of Seven Cities.

The whole thing is well written, with likeable characters (although they all seem to have mysterious pasts better left uncovered) and plenty of good old fashioned action in the style of Erikson. In fact that might be a problem for some people, as Esslemont’s style so closely matches Erikson’s that anyone who read a proof copy without seeing the author’s name might think it was another novella from Erikson himself.

Its a minor point though, and anyone who’s already a big fan of the Malazan Empire isn’t likely to be deterred by the thought of more of the same. Anyone who’s not a fan might feel a little lost at all the references to characters and places far, far away – but again, this is nothing new. The Malazan books have a reputation for throwing the reader in at the deep end and letting them figure things out – and so far it seemed to have worked in their favour.

So in summary, a worthy addition to the series. Esslemont is currently working on another tale in the world of the Empire, called Return Of The Crimson Guard (no prizes for getting what its about). I’m not sure about release dates (Amazon doesn’t even seem to have a link for the book, so it must be a fair way off) but I’ll definitely be picking up a copy when its released.

Posted in books, fantasy, Malazan Empire, reviews | Leave a Comment »

 
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