Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Shadow Unit: Season Two News

There’s been some happenings going on over at Shadow Unit lately. Besides the now twice weekly mini story updates covering the time between seasons, there have been a couple of announcements.

First, Leah Bobet and Holly Black have been added to the writing staff. Bobet gets episode two, Black gets the season finale. Those are some big shoes Holly Black needs to fill given just how outstanding a job Bull and Bear did with Refining Fire.

Second, we have an episode list.
  • 2.1: "Lucky Day", written by Emma Bull and Elizabeth Bear
  • 2.2: "Sugar", written by Leah Bobet
  • 2.3: "The Sin Eater", written by Emma Bull
  • 2.4: "Getaway", written by Emma Bull
  • 2.5: "Wind-Up Boogeyman", written by Elizabeth Bear
  • 2.6: "Cuckoo", written by Will Shetterly and Emma Bull
  • 2.7: "Smoke & Mirrors", written by Elizabeth Bear
  • 2.8: "Not Alone", written by Holly Black
Can’t wait!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Specials, by Scott Westerfeld

Scott Westerfeld opens Specials just a couple of month after the conclusion to Pretties. When Pretties ended, Tally Youngblood was forced to become one of the Specials, a heavily modified version of a Pretty, except with a purpose. Pretties are essentially exaggerated versions of today’s vapid celebrities, with the world at their feet, no responsibility except to have fun, and unable to think critically about anything beyond their next party. Specials take the surgical modifications that turned Uglies into Pretties to another level. The brain lesions which have restricted the Pretties’ ability to think have been removed. Specials are warriors, the elite guard of Pretty society. They intervene when something is deemed a “special circumstance”, like Tally’s attempt to bring down Pretty society with the help of the Smokey’s (a group of Uglies who have rejected the concept of Pretty). When captured by her former friend Shay at the end of Pretties, Tally was modified against her will to become Special, and because of the surgery, her former life was gone as were her former desires. Now she was Special, part of an elite group with Shay, and on a mission to eliminate the threat posted to New Prettytown by the Smokey’s.

At this point I realized that Scott Westerfeld is working with a bit of a formula. Tally begins Uglies / Pretties / Specials as a member of whatever group is the title of the book. She is fully a member of that group with no real desire to be anything more than that group. By the end of the novel Tally ends up in the group she opposed throughout most of the book. The next book opens with Tally in that group. In Uglies she initially wanted to be Pretty but learned over the course of the novel about the brain damage. By the end she agreed to become Pretty in order to subvert the system from within. But, when Pretties opened Tally was fully Pretty without a thought in her head. The opening chapters explored Tally’s Prettiness. The same with the opening to Specials. When this first happened at the end of Uglies the change was shocking. Even at the end of Pretties it was a huge surprise to see Tally taken by Shay and turned Special against her will. But when we look at the series as a whole, a pattern emerges and now it seems inevitable that all this would happen. It is part of the formula used by Westerfeld.

On one hand this has allowed Westerfeld to explore various aspects of this society he has created in a natural way and keep a consistent but evolving storyline. On the other hand, once the formula becomes obvious the story begins to suffer because the element of discovery has been lost. Certain events have to happen because of how Westerfeld has structured the novels.

With this complaint about formula and expectation one shouldn’t lose track of the fact that the Uglies series is infectious reading. Once you start and get hooked, you’re in and can’t stop until the book is done. Westerfeld has done a masterful job in actually telling the story. Specials may not be quite as good as Uglies (perhaps because of the missing sense of discovery), but it’s still a high quality piece of YA fiction. Let me amend that. Specials is a high quality piece of fiction that just happens to be targeted at a younger demographic but can still be enjoyed and appreciated by all ages. I may have made this next point about other YA works, but the best YA is that which appeals to a variety of age groups and not just the age group the publisher has decided is the target audience. When the appeal is broad we know that work is a cut above. Scott Westerfeld is several cuts above.

Specials is not the strongest entry in the Uglies series (at this point it was a trilogy, but there is now a fourth volume, Extras), but it is good. Filled with action and everything we’ve come to expect from this series. Specials,along with the rest of the series, is well worth reading. There is a small sense of let-down from Pretties and Uglies, but give the series a shot.

Monday, July 28, 2008

"Big Man: A Fable", by Joe Lansdale

I have to say, Joe Lansdale is nuts. Seriously. In a good way, but nuts.

How do I know this? Go read “Big Man: A Fable” over at Subterranean.

The First Paragraph:
Tim Burke was the only one to take the experimental pill. Nothing as complex as this pill had ever been invented, but since he was five foot one, his penis was small, he was balding, had flat feet and one leg shorter than the other, and an oversized mole on his nose that made that part of his face looked like an odd-shaped potato, he thought, what the hell?
The pill is supposed to make Tim beautiful, better and stronger. There would not be much of a story if everything went well for Tim. At first, it does, but the goodness only lasts a couple of paragraphs. Then it gets worse. He keeps growing. He doesn’t stop.

“Big Man” becomes absurd and grotesque, comic as only Lansdale does comic, sad, and hilarious. “Big Man” isn’t exactly a comedy, but there is some stuff so out there that it can only be comedy:

He grabbed up cars and people and chunked them high and far, tore the roof off of his own house and dropped it on them.
There is a better line about a woman with a child, but it’s worth waiting for.

With each paragraph and each page (only 2700 words to the story), “Big Man” becomes weirder and weirder. Tim Burke just keeps on growing and rampaging, like King Kong writ larger than ever.

“Big Man” is a grotesque and absurd delight.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Blood Follows, by Steven Erikson

This review is a bit of an experiment. I first read and reviewed Blood Follows back in November 2005 and I haven't looked at the review since. Haven't thought about it.

I would not have brought it up, except that Night Shade sent me a review copy of Blood Follows. This led to the opportunity to double dip on a review of a shorter work and see what two and a half years has done to my impression of the novella.

Blood Follows is a novella set in the Malazan Universe, though it does not tie directly into any primary (or secondary, or tertiary) storyline. Blood Follows is set in the "lamentable city of Moll" and tells a couple different stories which ultimately tie together. First, there are a series of gruesome murders in Moll and Sergeant Guld is investigating, trying to find some way to capture the killer before the city unravels into a riot of fear. The other storyline has to do with a man named Emancipor Reece. Reece was a driver for various masters but each of his masters died / were killed. Reece hires on with two strangers to town, Bauchelain and Korbal Broach as their manservant. Little is known about these two "men", but there is something essentially sinister about them.

I wrote back in 2005 that Blood Follows "doesn't have the depth of satisfaction or richness as the Malazan books" and I'm not sure that I agree anymore. I know why I wrote it at the time. I had only read the first two Malazan novels and even through Book 4 I was impressed with how deep this world was and how many stories were able to be told. I was impressed by how good the novels were. The subsequent novels, however, have disappointed me. Blood Follows stands up quite well on a second read through.

Blood Follows is just as satisfying as a Malazan novel (only with less fluff), tells a complete story, introduces a dark and fascinating world, and is one of the better entries into the Malazan Universe. I want more novellas, not less. Where the later Malazan begin to get bogged down into too many storylines and introducing too many things at once which, at the moment, barely connect to anything else, Blood Follows is a far tighter story. It needs to be as a novella, but it works. It works very well.

Reading copy provided courtesy of Night Shade Books.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Seeds of Change, edited by John Joseph Adams

Seeds of Change
John Joseph Adams (editor)
Prime Books: 2008

“Imagine the moment when the present ends, and the future begins–when the world we knew is no more and a brave new world is thrust upon us. Gathering stories by nine of today's most incisive minds, Seeds of Change confronts the pivotal issues facing our society today: racism, global warming, peak oil, technological advancement, and political revolution. Many serve as a call to action. How will you change with the future?”
This text is from the back cover of Seeds of Change and it gives a good overview of what the anthology is about and what it is intended to be. The stories are about what could be considered “trigger” issues and the writers here tackle the issues in a variety of ways with varying levels of success.

“N-Words” by Ted Kosmatka is the story I both feared and looked forward to. From the title it is easy to guess that “N-Words” is the “racism” story, only rather than being about black and white, the titular N-Word is Neanderthal. Yeah, I didn’t see that coming, either. Cloning technology in the near future will improve to such that human cloning is possible, though of course done in North Korea and not America. The racism seen by the Neanderthals mirrors, in part some of the racism seen today, but extends it because of the “unnatural” nature of the Neanderthals. It is worth pointing out that in Kosmatka’s story, the Neanderthals are nothing like the stereotype. “N-Words” is a bit in-your-face and obvious with the racism and discrimination much of society inflicts upon the Neanderthals. This is perhaps the point, but it does make the story a bit less effective whenever it feels overly didactic. Yet, despite the obviousness of “N-Words”, it’s not a bad story. It’s an entertaining read and of course it is intended to cause the reader to think about the stupidity of our own racism, but it’s an okay read.

I haven’t read the Robert Sawyer Neanderthals trilogy (starts with Hominids), but I wonder how he handled something of a similar subject.

Jay Lake takes on a slightly less heated subject in his story “The Future by Degrees”. At this point I should apologize for the pun, but I just could not resist it. “The Future by Degrees” is a story of technology and deceit. The technology in question can more efficiently transfer heat, thermal superconductivity. I could probably spend more words than are in the story to attempt to describe it. Suffice it to say that it has to do with heat and the existence of such a device would be incredible. What Jay Lake does so well in “The Future by Degrees” is that there is an actual story here rather that set pieces built specifically around the topic. Jay Lake gets at the idea that there are people / companies driven solely by profit (perhaps lots of people / companies) who would seek to suppress a technology which could benefit society / humanity, but would cut into their profits. That’s what the story is about, only it is for a technology that does not currently exist (though hopefully someday. It’s a really good story and a great way to start setting up the rest of the anthology.

K. D. Wentworth's "Drinking Problem" is something of a fun story. Fun for the readers, but not at all for the characters within the story. See, this is (among other things) the recycling story where beer can only be sold in non-recyclable Smart Bottles, but without the Smart Bottle, no drinking. Wentworth shows the insanity which can result from that and what technology can do (and probably will someday). Wentworth states in her story introduction that the story is about the unintended consequences of technology. Smart Bottles are supposed to be for recycling, but the consequences are vastly different than anticipated. "Drinking Problem" is probably the best story in the anthology.

"Endosymbiont" by Blake Charlton deals with the future of healthcare and technology and in the case of this story about how technology can serve patients. In this case, a cancer patient. As the story progresses we learn more about the patient and the technology and "Endosymbiont" gets a bit meta and makes the reader think about how this all fits together. Interesting story.

"A Dance Called Armageddon" by Ken MacLeod works around the end of the world and a potential nuclear war. I don't have much to say about this story, except that everything goes on behind the scenes and the story itself doesn't have much visible meat. The story is not as strong as some of the other stories in this anthology.

“Arties Aren't Stupid” is perhaps my least favorite story in the anthology and one that simply did not work on any level for me as a reader. The story by Jeremiah Tolbert and it has some odd environmental art and a weird class / caste system in place where “arties” (those who do nothing but create art in public) get some help by the braniacs (those who gain knowledge). I’m not really sure how to describe “Arties Aren’t Stupid”, but from the first page I had to force myself to continue and had this not been a review copy, I’d have not finished this story.

I did enjoy, however, the Mark Budz story “Faceless in Gethsemane”. This is a story of people trying so hard to avoid visual prejudice that they would submit to a surgery so they can no longer recognize color or distinguishing facial features. This way they can only judge a person by his or her actions, but they lose out on that aspect of humanity which can see beauty and allows them to be whole. Rather than taking the story on a macro level, however, Budz tells the story on a micro level with Trevor’s sister getting the surgery and coming to visit, which upsets Trevor’s wife. There are glimpses of the sort of prejudice which “N-Words” deals with, only in a lower key (and yet somehow more hateful) manner. The Budz story is sort of like a stronger version of “N-Words”, though the prejudice is not against anything visual.

Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu takes the reader to Africa with "Spider the Artist" and writes about oil, kind of. This is a theme of the best of the stories in this anthology (of which "Spider the Artist" belongs), the stories deal with a topic, but they aren't really *about* that topic. Africa (in this story, perhaps in reality) has oil pipelines running through it and despite the proximity to oil, the people and nations are poor. With small spills and pipeline eruptions the oil companies go to great lengths to protect the oil from the people of Africa. "Spider the Artist" is a story of friendship between a woman and one of the machines set to guard the pipeline, is about spousal abuse, about Africa, about oil rights, and is about other things I haven't picked up on yet. What it is an excellent story.

“Resistance” by Tobias S. Buckell shows us how America (or any society) built around democracy could give away its democracy when it isn’t paying attention. Except, this is done in the Ragamuffin universe and Buckell uses the character of Pepper to tell the story of “Resistance”. Perhaps because of my familiarity with Pepper and the Ragamuffin universe, “Resistance” was one my favorite stories in this anthology. It works with the theme of the anthology, though in a different way perhaps than the reader might expect having come through stories set in the near-future, but the story works. Outside of giving up Democracy for fear, “Resistance” offers another way that a fully democratic society might give up its franchise: technology. Thinking about convenience, something of a singularity (how I hate this term) could occur and not with a bang democracy has gone. The question of whether the citizens of this story would be better off without democracy is up for debate, but “Resistance” is a fascinating story which just happens to include Pepper.

On my first read-through of Seeds of Change I looked at the stories individually and thought, well, some of the stories are quite good, others are quite not, and the stories as whole are a bit of a mixed bag. This is what one is likely to get with an anthology, especially an anthology of original stories. Reprint anthologies succeed by grabbing stories already acknowledged as great. Original anthologies succeed by the strength of the submission pool. Outside of a couple of stories here that hew too strongly to the theme and pay less attention to the fact that the story needs to be a story, Seeds of Change is a strong original anthology.

Had I written this review two weeks ago when I first finished Seeds of Change, my closing marks may not have been as positive. At the time I was not fully blown away because I wanted every story to be "Spider the Artist", "Drinking Problem", and "Faceless in Gethsemene", and there were some weak links here. Then, as the weeks progressed and I still could not figure out exactly what I wanted to say about Seeds of Change, I began to feel more impressed with the overall quality of the anthology. Out of the nine stories there were far more here which I enjoyed than not. The disappointment of "Arties Aren't Stupid" and the didactic nature of "N-Words" were not enough to diminish my appreciation of the anthology. John Joseph Adams' first reprint anthology (Wastelands) may been stronger, but Seeds of Change is more than worth the read and it is an anthology which sticks with the reader and improves upon further reflection, especially when we have the chance to step back and forget for a moment that "Spider the Artist" is the "oil" story and "Resistance" is the "visual prejudice" story.

Good stuff.

Reading copy provided courtesy of John Joseph Adams and Prime Books.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sweet Silver Blues, by Glen Cook

Finally, I have conclusive proof that I might actually be a fan of Glen Cook and not just of his Black Company novels. I’ve tried a standalone novel (Sung in Blood), I’ve read the first Dread Empire Omnibus (A Cruel Wind) neither were at all impressive. A Cruel Wind at least had glimpses of the goodness to be later found in The Black Company, but Sung in Blood was rough.

A couple of months ago my wife had an eye exam and I had some time to kill at Barnes and Nobles. I grabbed a copy of Sweet Silver Blues and before I knew it was 40 or so pages in and was completely caught up in the story.

Sweet Silver Blues is the first of twelve Garret P.I. books. Garret is a grizzled former soldier turned investigator, world-weary but intent on doing his job for pay, almost no matter what the job. Here he is contracted to track down the woman his former friend left a fortune to. A fortune that until the will was read, nobody in the family knew existed and nobody in the family was bequeathed. They contracted Garret to journey to the Cantard, a dangerous almost lawless region on the border of military conflict.

The novel is laced with bleak detective humor, violence, action, some fantasy elements (elves, dwarves, trolls, witches, magic, evil unicorns, vampires, etc), but mostly with a solid story to tell with well drawn characters.

I don’t know much about the tradition of detective novels set in a high-fantasy world, but The Garret P.I. novels fit the bill, give the fantasy reader a bit of a different flavor to chew on, and Glen Cook is near the top of his game here. Cook spun a great tale and Sweet Silver Blues stands up next to the Black Company and holds its own. That’s impressive. The novel may be 20 + years old, but it stands the test of time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Who I Am, What I Do, Why I Do It

This is not a mission statement.

I’ve been doing this for a while and just figured it was time to introduce myself.

Who I Am
My name is humpty, it rhymes with an umpty.

Oh, wait. That’s someone else. My name is Joe. I live and work in Minnesota. I’ve been married since October 2001 and we have a (so far) three year old cocker spaniel named Balou. My mother tells me I learned to read at age 3 and I really haven’t stopped since. For years I mostly read The Hardy Boys and The Three Investigators, but I discovered Fantasy after I moved (or was moved) from New York to Minnesota before 8th Grade. Just before I moved I heard kids talking about Xanth and how exciting and “adult” it was. After I discovered the joy of the local library I read A Spell for Chameleon and I was hooked. I rolled through Piers Anthony, moved on to David Eddings (formative fantasy reading in my youth), and found Terry Brooks, Anne McCaffrey, and Raymond Feist.

Now I’m 29 and my tastes have changed somewhat. I find some of the beloved authors of my youth to be nearly unreadable now and those that I do still try to read haven’t entirely held up. I’ve found new SFF friends: Elizabeth Bear’s Promethean Age novels, Glen Cook’s Black Company, John Scalzi, Tobias Buckell, Octavia Butler, Cherie Priest, George R. R. Martin, Kage Baker, Justina Robson, Stephen King, Mary Robinette Kowal, Lucius Shepard, Joe Lansdale, Emma Bull, Matthew Stover, Carrie Vaughn, David Anthony Durham, Scott Lynch, Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, Karen Traviss. Many others.

I still have a deep fondness for the writers of my youth. They formed part of how I understand the genre and were perfect gateway drugs to the rest of the field. I don’t get to George Martin without David Eddings. I don’t get to David Anthony Durham without Raymond Feist. I don’t get to Cherie Priest without Piers Anthony. And so on. I don’t understand the genre as I do (right or wrong) without starting where I did. So, I’m grateful to those writers. I loved their work once. I remember it fondly.

If you’d like to contact me, to ask a question or to complain about something or just to say something nice and pleasant, I can be reached at j sherry AT gmail DOT com (remove the spaces and do what you need to do to make it look like an e-mail address). I’d like to hear from you, be it readers or writers.

What I Do

As a fan of the genre I want to write about, in some capacity, what I’m reading. So, in one sense, that’s what Adventures in Reading is about: What I’m reading and what I think about it. Call it a review, call it a blurb, call it babbling. Call it whatever. I’m not so link heavy as other blogs, though I try to link what I find to be especially interesting to me. If I think about it. Otherwise, this is mostly a review blog. I read, I review. I don’t review everything I read because sometimes I just don’t have much to say. For example, I’m reading Troy Denning’s Dark Nest trilogy in the Star Wars Universe. I’m midway through Book Two and it just sucks horribly. I’m not writing about it. I just don’t have a thing to say about it that is worth saying.

I will go negative review, though, (Sung in Blood, A Cruel Wind) if the book merits it and I have something to say. I try to be fair though still express why, exactly, I think the book is not very good. I’ll post if I give up on a book midway through.

And then I’ll praise to high heaven (however high that is) a book or author that I love (Whiskey and Water).

From time to time I do receive books from publishers to review. If it is a book I requested, what this guarantees is that I will review the book fairly and in a reasonable amount of time. It doesn’t guarantee I will like it (again, see Sung in Blood and A Cruel Wind). If my review is to mean anything, assuming it does, it is only because I am honest in what I think is good and not good. However, if the book simply shows up in my mailbox, I am more likely to review the book, but I do not feel there is necessarily an agreement to review.

Some publishers who have been goodly enough to send me review copies include: Night Shade Books, Subterranean Press, Pyr, Golden Gryphon, Prime Books, Tachyon Publications, and Paper Golem. These publishers (and others, in a lesser capacity) have given me the opportunity to read and discover books and authors I may not otherwise have discovered. In turn, the review itself is a form of publicity for the publisher. This is why I try to include a disclaimer at the bottom of a review when I have received a review copy so that this can be taken into consideration. Given that I have reviewed several review copies unfavorably, I would like to feel that I do not simply give a positive review just to keep getting more books in the mail (as delightful as that is).

Why I Do It

The short answer is because I enjoy writing about books. I may not think as deeply as some other online writers do, but I enjoy what I do and I’d like to do more of it. I’d like my reviews to get better, to get deeper into the works. I have started to submit reviews to venues like Strange Horizons and am looking at other avenues to sell my reviews / online writing. It’s not really about the money. It can’t be. Strange Horizons pays $20 per review and obviously money hasn’t been a concern over the last three years. Not that I would turn down a wheelbarrow full of money, but the bottom line is I’m doing something that I like in a genre that I like. Period. I prefer reading SFF and the majority of the time, that’s what I’m going to write about.

I’m not at all naïve about the fleeting nature of internet fame (of which I have none) or what the visibility I have means (very little). In the long run, and likely the short run, it means nothing. But, this site is for me, and for any reader who finds what I have to say interesting or valuable in some sense. That’s why I do it.

I would love to continue this site while having opportunities to work on other things within the SFF field, whether it is selling the occasional review to Strange Horizons or being a staff reviewer for some other publication or writing articles of some sort for another. If nothing comes of the attempts to sell some work, that’s okay. I do this because I want to. That’s enough.

Now, if someone has a spare wheelbarrow full of money they don’t need...

Monday, July 21, 2008

The New Tor website, plus a slapfight

As you may have heard, the new website is up and running. I had the chance to demo the site for the last week and there were (and are) some bugs that should still be worked out, but the site is improving. There is a decent round up of blogs on various topics: John Scalzi is doing a science blog, John Klima has a short fiction blog (this is my favorite, btw), and others including folks like Patrick Nielsen Hayden (senior editor at Tor) and Irene Gallo (art director at Tor). It’s pretty cool with something for most people.

Besides Klima’s blog, the best part of the new site (not crazy about the social aspect of the site, though we'll see how that goes) are the free stories.

Right now there are stories from both John Scalzi and Charles Stross.

Scalzi’s story “After the Coup” is an Old Man’s War story. The Stross, “Down on the Farm”, is a Laundry story (which may be the only reason I have any interest in the story).

I don’t think the site will be the best thing since sliced bread (I kind of think that would be tires, electricity, the cotton gin, the Gutenberg press, or Tupperware – depending on when exactly sliced bread came about), but there is some goodness to be found. And free fiction from name authors!

Then! It gets better! Jonathan McCalmont posted his thoughts about the site and wasn't impressed for several reasons. John Scalzi responds in the comments of the post and, seriously, it's good reading.

(thanks to Neth for pointing out the comments in the McCalmont. I saw the post, but never saw the rest of the fun)

Oh, and my comment about free fiction from name authors? I think that's what Scalzi is talking about (in part) in the comments of the McCalmont entry. Scalzi's name gets me in the door (Stross's doesn't), and besides coming back for the blogs I like there, I'll probably find new stories from authors I haven't read before, and hopefully enjoy it enough to go seek out their other fiction (if they write novels).

Blog content that is forthcoming here:
A review of Seeds of Change
A review of Specials
A review of Extras (Scott Westerfeld anyone?)
A review (of sorts) of Sweet Silver Blues
A review of Blood Follows and The Healthy Dead

And then we'll see. I actually have to write these reviews, and the Seeds of Change review should really come first here since JJA was kind enough to get me a copy of the book.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sly Mongoose, by Tobias Buckell

Sly Mongoose
Tobias Buckell

Zombies in space!

Got your attention, did I? I don’t know why neither Tobias Buckell nor Tor has put forth a major marketing push for Sly Mongoose based around Zombies in Space! I think it’s a great idea. Of course, part of the reason is likely that only a small section of Sly Mongoose actually features Zombies in Space!, which is a shame. The fact, however, that Sly Mongoose does feature Zombies in Space! is inherently cool.

Pepper returns in the first chapter with an exciting freefall through the toxic atmosphere of Chilo, the planet where the refugees of the Azteca of New Anagada settled after the events of Crystal Rain. Pepper flees the zombies in space, the tale of which we will get in a later chapter, and brings warning to Chilo of the impending invasion. This is no mere freefall of a ship, no, this is Pepper in a Pepper-sized bubble essentially crashing through atmosphere to make a landing only Pepper can survive. It is crazy and, to use a reviewing cliché, a “rip-roarin” and exciting way to open Sly Mongoose.

Buckell settles down into the meat of the story after that opening chapter, instead focusing on a Chilo youth, Timas. Pepper is only a bit player in the novel, as he should be. The sort of story which would require hyper-capable Pepper in full health would be a much different story than Buckell is telling with Sly Mongoose (or Crystal Rain and Ragamuffin, for that matter).

Timas believes he saw an alien on the corrosive surface of Chilo, but his parents and his city refuses to listen to him, let alone believe. Pepper believes, however, (eventually) because he knows about the Swarm. The above mentioned "Zombies from Space!".

With a bit of adventure across Chilo (if across is the right word), Buckell shows us the refusal of nations to change and how hard that change is when it is forced upon them, a bit of a zombie apocalypse, though not nearly as apocalypsy as I might like, and overall tells a decently good story. Well, that's not entirely accurate as the story itself is good, but after Ragamuffin's expansion into interstellar conflict, Sly Mongoose feels like a quiet step back. It is clear there are big and bad things occurring beyond the world of Chilo. Buckell has already expanded his universe and the brief contraction is disappointing.

This is not to say that Sly Mongoose is a poorly written novel or that there is not excitement to be had or sharp writing to be found, because it isn't and there is. Crystal Rain was an impressive debut. Ragamuffin was a significant improvement over a good novel. Sly Mongoose? Well, Sly Mongoose is a bit closer to Crystal Rain. It's good, and a worthy edition to the oeuvre of Tobias Buckell, but that step back into a smaller scale doesn't quite work nearly as well as when Buckell expanded the universe. The aspects of Sly Mongoose which work best, at least in my mind, are not necessarily the parts with Pepper but rather the parts where Buckell expands the novel back out again and shows the reader what else is going on in the universe.

I still look forward to the next Buckell novel, whether it is a continuation of this story or something else (not necessarily counting the Halo novel). Sly Mongoose lives up to the promise of Buckell's early novels and he is still sharp and impressively creative, but on the other hand, Ragamuffin set the part a bit high and Sly Mongoose doesn't quite pull its chin over the bar.

Reading copy provided courtesy of Tobias Buckell.

Previous Reviews
Crystal Rain

Monday, July 14, 2008

Thoughts on Scardown

Sometimes when you read a book is just as important as the book that you read.

Scardown is an example of this. I enjoyed, but did not love, Elizabeth Bear’s debut novel Hammered. Scardown is the sequel and second book in the Jenny Casey trilogy. I started Scardown in May, made it a good 60 pages, and sent the book back to the library. I struggled through those opening 60 pages. It was work, and I already have a job. I knew I’d come back to Scardown, but I was not sure when.

When I checked the book out from the library this past week and started over at page 60 on Friday, I expected more of the same. I didn’t get it. Instead, I was hooked. I’m not sure if it was because after those 60 pages the novel is lighter on the Razorface character and deals more with Jenny, Gabe, the girls, and the Montreal, or what, but suddenly I was flying through Scardown, swept away by the storytelling, fully engaged with the story Bear was spinning.

It worked.

Now, I question whether it was just that the first 60 pages don’t work, or if it was that whenever I started the book back in May I wasn’t where I needed to be to fully engage with Scardown. I can’t say.

This time around, Scardown worked for me, thrilled me, chilled me, and made me wanting more. Good thing there is another book: Worldwired.

This may be the Summer of Bear. After Scardown I’ll read both Undertow and Ink and Steel. I went to two stores this weekend looking for Ink and Steel and neither had it, so I ordered it from Amazon and should have the book by the end of the week. I’ll read Dust this summer / fall, and will certainly buy Hell and Earth in August. I don’t buy too many books since I have a good library and not too much money, but I want to own the Promethean Age novels and have them on my shelf. I also want to help support Bear with these books so that her publishers will buy more of the planned Promethean Age novels. She’s got a bunch more planned and I’d love to get the chance to read them. I may or may not get to Worldwired by then, or A Companion to Wolves. I assume I’ll get to All the Windwracked Stars by December. No promises on that.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Best Reads of 2008: January - June

For lack of real content, below are the best books the first half of 2008. Excellent stuff here, every one of them.

I've linked to the reviews.

Dreamsongs: Volume II - George R. R. Martin
Wastelands - John Joseph Adams (editor)
Blade of Tyshalle - Matthew Stover
Wings to the Kingdom - Cherie Priest
Kitty and the Silver Bullet - Carrie Vaughn
Under My Roof - Nick Mamatas
The Blade Itself - Joe Abercrombie
Shooting War - Anthony Lappe and Dan Goldman
The Armageddon Rag - George R. R. Martin
The Best of Lucius Shepard - Lucius Shepard
Not Flesh Nor Feathers - Cherie Priest
Before They Are Hanged - Joe Abercrombie
Uglies - Scott Westerfeld
Pretties - Scott Westerfeld
Little Brother - Cory Doctorow

Previous Best Ofs
The Nine Best Reads of 2007
Best Reads of 2006

Friday, July 11, 2008

9Tail Fox, by Jon Courtenay Grimwood

9Tail Fox
Jon Courtenay Grimwood

“A Dead Cop Must Solve His Own Murder!”

Hooked yet? That’s from the front cover of the Night Shade edition of 9Tail Fox by Jon Courtenay Grimwood. It was enough to sell me on the novel. Great tag line.

Bobby Zha is a mixed race Chinese detective in a near future San Francisco Chinatown. He is not a very popular cop, but he is good at his job and has a bit of a legend behind him for being shot on duty while protecting an older officer. Early on in the novel we get the sense that Zha is “other”, that he doesn’t quite belong in the precinct or in his own house with his wife and daughter. Several chapters later, in the midst of an investigation, Zha is shot and killed. Given the tag line on the front cover, this is hardly a spoiler, though from time to time in the first couple of chapters I wondered if Zha was already a ghost. Rather than his soul / spirit / consciousness going wherever it is that dead people go, Bobby’s mind (for lack of a better word) wakes up in another body on the other side of the world. He has full memories of his life as Bobby Zha and while he recognizes that he can never BE Bobby Zha again, he still has a responsibility back in San Francisco. Perhaps the responsibility is to find his killer, as well as solve that last case he was working on when killed.

“A Dead Cop Must Solve His Own Murder!”

Sounds good, huh? The whole reincarnation aspect of the story provides a nice twist and rather than Grimwood telling a new version of Ghost, we get Zha working two identities: the man he was and the man he now is who has resources but no inherent connections to the world of law enforcement. It’s an interesting dynamic to watch as Zha attempts to insert himself back into a semblance of a life back in San Francisco while knowing he likely only has a short time left in this new body.

9Tail Fox pretty much has just one science fiction element, that being Zha’s being dead and in a new body. It’s a police detective novel in a near future San Francisco and there is a bit of an edge to the story (as one would hope for in a SF police novel). 9Tail Fox is not bogged down by minute procedural detail, though it feels like Grimwood got his research right.

“A Dead Cop Must Solve His Own Murder!”

Jon Courtenay Grimwood’s 9Tail Fox has flow. The chapters build and build the dramatic tension as Zha gets deeper and deeper into figuring out what happened. 9Tail Fox is flat out exciting to read.

259 pages in trade paperback, 9Tail Fox is lean but packs a whole lot into those 259 pages while keeping the story moving. No wasted words and the detail and feeling of place does not overwhelm the most important part: The story. It's really good.

"A Dead Cop Must Solve His Own Murder!"

What more do you really need to know?

Reading copy provided courtesy of Night Shade Books.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Own Kind of Freedom

This is a first. As a general rule, I don’t read fanfiction. I don’t have anything against it, per se, but I’m generally just not very interested in it. I’ve never read Steven Brust before, though after Fourth Street Fantasy I very much want to.

So, what should be my entry point into the fiction of Steven Brust? Jhereg perhaps?

How about My Own Kind of Freedom? It’s Firefly fanfiction and a short, but full length novel.

My Own Kind of Freedom made me sad. Not because it is a sad story, but because it reminded me that Firefly (and Serenity) are done and they’re not coming back and Mr. Brust just gave me a beautiful last journey with Mal Reynolds, Zoe, Wash, Kaylee, River (especially River), Simon, and Jayne (Inara and Book were off the ship at this point).

The novel is set between Firefly and Serenity and is quite good.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Free Eoes E-Book: City of Pearl

I don’t normally post about publishers posting free electronic copies of their books. Other people do so and reach a wider audience than I do, but...

EOS books has just released City of Pearl by Karen Traviss.

City of Pearl is quite a good book and I highly recommend it. This is a great introduction to Karen Traviss and is the first book (of six) in her Wess’har Wars series.

Traviss may be best known for her contributions to the Star Wars Expanded Universe (4 Republic Commando novels and 3 Legacy of the Force books), and those are among the best Star Wars novels written, but please do check out her original fiction. It’s well worth reading.

Jennifer Pelland Interview

There's an interview with Jennifer Pelland (author of the Nebula nominated story "Captive Girl") over at the new Nebula Awards website.

I thought "Captive Girl" was awesome and hope Pelland gets a good deal more attention, so just wanted to point it out.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

June 2008 Reading

June was not a big month for finishing books considering that What Now? was all of 60 pages, the Buffy is a graphic novel and there were two YA books.

As always, links are to my reviews.

1. What Now? - Ann Patchett
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: No Future for You - Brian Vaughan
3. The Unifying Force - James Luceno
4. Pretties - Scott Westerfeld
5. Little Brother - Cory Doctorow
6. Dogs - Nancy Kress
7. Cujo - Stephen King
8. The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Two - Jonathan Strahan (ed)

I never did get around to reviewing Little Brother, but it's outstanding.

Previous 2008 Reads

The Stross Formula

Jonathan McCalmont originally attempted to write a review of the new Charles Stross novel Saturn’s Children, but he quickly realized that the review (and the novel) would be better served instead by an article on the formulaic nature of Stross’s writing and why it is ultimately a bad thing.

McCalmont writes:
As a writer of spy stories, Stross is just as heretical as Le Carre in that both steadfastly refuse to write textbook thrillers. Le Carre’s heresy lies in his prioritisation of character not only as a motor for the plot but as the entire basis for the book. Stross, by contrast uses characters and plots as information firewalls, their points of view and pacing serving to dictate what idea the audience is introduced to at a given time. For example, when Freya from Saturn’s Children is upgraded from sexbot to assassin, it is simply a means for Stross to shift from conveying basic information about his world to conveying the kind of secret political information that only a trained assassin and political operative might have access to. In other words, Stross’ books are built around his speculation.

I want to quote larger and large chunks of McCalmont’s essay, but instead I’ll just say to read the essay.

Here is one more, though:
However, as more and more books have been produced it has become increasingly clear that Stross’ fondness for infodumping is not a flaw in his writing style, it is the result of a deliberate decision to convey certain kinds of information in certain kinds of ways. In short, Stross has a style of his own, he is not bad at plot or characterisation, he simply has no interest in either of them.

This, I think, is my basic problem with more than half of Stross’s fiction: The friggin information overwhelms “story”. While McCalmont recognizes that for Stross information = story, it’s a pain in my ass as a reader and something I don’t think I want to read very often. It’s why I’ve been pulling away from more and more of Stross’s work, except for the Laundry novels and the Merchant Princes. There is still a sense of character and plot, and perhaps a sense of whimsy or action. There is stuff going on that I’m still interested in reading about. Not so with something like Halting State or, damn me, Accelerando.

When reading a synopsis of a Stross novel there is a sense of an exciting story about technology and some sort of action. It sounds exciting. And then I start reading the book and I’m weighed down with information and the prose.

If you don’t want to read the whole article, go skip down to the last paragraph (not reproduced here) and if that’s not enough to make you want to go back and read from the start, I don’t know what is.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Down with Discworld

It took 14.25 books to fully realize this, but I don’t like the Discworld novels. Sure, the Death books aren’t bad, but as a whole, Discworld bores the hell out of me. Pratchett is really popular and has legions of fans. Legion. Like, the demons from the Bible.

I don’t mind so much the lack of chapters or the rambling nature of how Pratchett presents the story, but as a whole, his storytelling doesn’t work for me. I kept reading, wanting to “get” it, wanting to figure out the humor and really be involved in the whole Discworld thing.

Reading Men at Arms I finally realized it just is not going to happen. 14.25 books in the novels all start to sound like each other with the same basic patterns of dialogue and narration. Sure, most authors will fall into their own patterns of “voice”, and I don’t fault Pratchett for doing so, but when the voice didn’t work for me from the start (those first two Discworld books with Rincewind just aren’t good).

I had to put down Men at Arms. Like most Discworld novels, the book was just barely mildly amusing and I just didn’t care what happened to any of the characters, to the world, or to anyone other than the reappearance of Gaspode the Wonder Dog (from Moving Pictures). See, there are aspects of the series I like, and seeing favorite characters slide in and out of books is fun, sort of, but it isn’t enough.

So, what this post is really about is the fact that I think I’m done with Discworld. I had set myself a goal to read 10 Discworld books this year and then I put off the first of the ten until July. I read 100 pages and I’m done with the series. 14 finished books and 100 pages into Men at Arms should be enough.

Best American Fantasy 2008: Table of Contents

Figures I'd miss this, but thanks to Torque Control for pointing this out. From the Best American Fantasy blog on June 21, here is the TOC:

"Bufo Rex" by Erik Amundsen (Weird Tales)
"The Ruby Incomparable" by Kage Baker (Wizards)
"The Last and Only" by Peter S. Beagle (Eclipse 1)
"Mario's Three Lives" by Matt Bell (Barrelhouse)
"Interval" by Aimee Bender (Conjunctions)
"Minus, His Heart" by Jedediah Berry (Chicago Review)
"Abroad" by Judy Budnitz (Tin House)
"Chainsaw on Hand" by Deborah Coates (Asimov's)
"The Drowned Life" by Jeffrey Ford (Eclipse 1)
"The Naming of the Islands" by David Hollander (McSweeney's)
"Light" by Kelly Link (Tin House)
"The Revisionist" by Miranda Mellis (Harper's)
"In the Middle of the Woods" by Christian Moody (Cincinnati Review)
"Story with Advice II: Back from the Dead" by Rick Moody (Mississippi Review)
"Ave Maria" by Micaela Morissette (Conjunctions)
"Logorrhea" by Michele Richmond (Logorrhea)
"Memoir of a Deer Woman" by M. Rickert (Fantasy & Science Fiction)
"The Seven Deadly Hotels" by Bruce Holland Rogers (
"How the World Became Quiet: A Post-Human Creation Myth" by Rachel Swirsky (Electric Velocipede)

I've read a couple of stories from that list and they're really good, so I'm quite excited to read the rest of them.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Secret Project: Metatropolis

The last time Elizabeth Bear had a secret project, it turned out to be Shadow Unit.

Now Elizabeth Bear (and John Scalzi) have announced the next secret project: Metatropolis

This is a shared world series of novellas, with a twist. This is an audio project with no planned print publication.

I'm less excited about the audio aspect of this, but given the colllective talents of John Scalzi, Tobias Buckell, Elizabeth Bear, Jay Lake, and Karl Schroeder, this is something that I have to check out.

Personally, I'd rather read the stories in print or online, but given that this is was conceived as a project to be listened to, I'll give it a shot. With the storytellers involved, how can I not?

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Two, edited by Jonathan Strahan

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Two
Jonathan Strahan (editor)
Night Shade Books: 2008

Does the world really need another Year's Best anthology of SFF short stories? There may not necessarily be nearly as many such anthologies as it feels, but how many different people do we need to tell us what the best stories of the year are? Isn't that what Gardner Dozois is for?


Perhaps not. While flooding the market with umpteen (an actual number) "best of" anthologies could be considered overkill, the cream would still rise to the top. Talented, discerning editors with an eye for good stories will always and should always have a place at the table. While most editors will agree on something like Ted Chiang's "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate" (Strahan and Dozois do), there may be disagreement on exactly which story written by Elizabeth Bear merits inclusion. Dozois likes "Tideline" and Strahan prefers "Orm the Beautiful". Strahan is right, of course, but it is the difference in opinion that makes a variety of "Best Of" anthologies valuable. Out of the twenty five stories in this anthology, only 6 overlap with Dozois's yearly science fiction anthology (which contains 32 stories). The SFF short fiction market is strong and heavy laden with good stories. Since, in most cases, there will not be a consensus on which stories are the "best" of a given year (Ted Chiang not withstanding), there is definitely room for multiple anthologies reprinting the "Best" stories of the year.

With that said, I had the chance to read and review Jonathan Strahan's "Best of" anthology for 2007 fiction: The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Two. Strahan opens the anthology with the quite excellent and already award-laden "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate", a well put together story seemingly set in a historic Middle East, but which features time travel. It is a clever tale and rightfully has received its share of praise.

Most of the stories in this anthology are quite excellent, from Peter S. Beagle's "The Last and Only, or Mr. Moskowitz Bocomes French" to Elizabeth Bear's sad and haunting "Orm the Beautiful", a story which gets better with each reading. There are outstanding stories here, from Daniel Abraham's "The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairy Tale of Economics" to M. Rickert's "Holiday". In most cases, Jonathan Strahan has a great eye for picking a good story.

In some cases, though, Strahan's eye fails him. This is not necessarily his fault, because other people have found some of these next stories I mention to be a cut above the rest. They're wrong, of course, but some of those disappointing stories have found their way into this anthology. Bruce Sterling's "Kiosk" is one such story. Sure, Cory Doctorow loved it, but this story of fabrikators and social upheavals is a turgid bit of story, overlong and overdone. Yes, I'm saying the story is swollen. "Kiosk" compares very unfavorably to Nancy Kress's similar and far superior "Nano Comes to Clifford Falls" (not in this anthology). Another story which is just as unsuccessful is Charles Stross's "Trunk and Disorderly" (audio here). The story is intended to be funny, working as a comedy of social settings in the mold of P.G. Wodehouse, and maaaaaybe it works on that level, but honestly, the story isn't funny. Perhaps it comes across better in audio format, but it doesn't read well. Better is Greg Egan's "Glory", but this story of math and space opera won't appeal to all readers.

I've pointed out five stories which are simply outstanding and three which were true disappointments. What else is in the anthology?

More good stuff. Ken MacLeod's "Jesus Christ, Reanimator" is a quiet and sad tale of the second coming of Jesus which may honestly end the only way it could, but it still ends as a bit of a surprise, as if I expected MacLeod to do something other than what he did, but what he did was tell a good story. "Last Contact" from Stephen Baxter is a beautiful story about the end of the world.

Attention should be paid to Daryl Gregory's "Dead Horse Point", a story really about love and responsibility, but with a character who can essentially disappear into herself and work out complex theories of mathematics. The story is about the brother and friend left behind when Julia "disappears" and is one that deserves to be read slowly (not because it requires extra work to figure out, but just because it's a beautiful story that should be savored). "The Prophet of Flores" by Ted Kosmaktka features a world which has disproved Darwin and believes in a very narrow view of creation. In such a world the discovery of the little "hobbit" like humans on the island of Flores has the potential to completely upset the status quo and question the underlying and intertwined scientific and religious beliefs of an alternate Earth.

The last story I want to mention is "Wizard's Six" by Alex Irvine. This is an action / adventure fantasy story with an assassin following a rogue wizard who is intent on collecting the six apprentices required to become truly dangerous (the wizard, not the assassin). For the majority of the story Irvine keeps the focus tight on Paulus, only broadening it at the end when we get the confrontation the story requires. Irvine has quite a different take on the concept of wizards and a fantasy world and while I'd like to see more in this particular setting, "Wizard's Six" is a reasonably tight story that is worth checking out to see what else fantasists are doing.

Tastes differ greatly between readers and what I found to be the exceptional stories of this anthology, another reader may find to be the disappointment and will likewise be thrilled by what I couldn't abide. Such is the strength of the genre, to encompass a variety of viewpoints and preferences.

While I have not read many other "Best of" anthologies, I have to believe that The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Two is among the "best" of the best. Jonathan Strahan has put together a more than solid anthology here and it is a damn fine one. Readers of just about any stripe will be able to find something they want to read and should very well be delighted by stories and writers they had not otherwise experienced.

This is an anthology to pick up and add to the collection.

Reading copy provided courtesy of Night Shade Books.

Friday, July 04, 2008

New Lansdale: Leather Maiden

Joe R. Lansdale has a new thriller coming out in August: Leather Maiden

From the Random House website:
After a scandalous affair costs him his job in Houston, Cason Statler—Gulf War veteran and Pulitzer Prize–nominated journalist—returns home to the small east Texas town of Camp Rapture. Cason is a wreck. He drinks too much, he’s stalking his ex-girlfriend, and he’s wallowing in envy of his successful older brother. To get back on his feet, he takes a job at the local paper, and when he stumbles across his predecessor’s notes on a cold case murder file, he thinks he’s found the thing that’ll keep him out of trouble. No such luck. The further he digs into the case, the more certain he is that the unsolved crime is connected to a series of eerie, inexplicable events that have recently occurred in town. And he knows his suspicions are right on when he finds himself dragged into a deadly game of blackmail and murder that clearly has evil as its only goal.

Leather Maiden is a brash amalgam of suspense, raw humor, and mystery that unfolds in the vividly rendered shadowy lowlands of eastern Texas. It’s country noir as only Joe Lansdale can do it.
Lansdale is one of my brutal favorites, so I'll definitely look for this one.

Fourth Street Fantasy: Not Quite Final Thoughts

Here’s a random patter of thoughts about Fourth Street. It's not my final thoughts on the Con, but I think it will be the last time I post about it.

Emma Bull is full of awesome. This cannot be disputed. I will not hear of it.

Most every panelist was interesting enough (in different ways) that I just got a much larger reading list than I anticipated. I’ve been a bit down on wanting to read Monette’s novels, but I’ll give them a shot now. Ellen Klages, Steven Brust, and Will Shetterly just got a new reader here (I was going to read Bull anyway, but now I really am). I’ll find the short fiction of Marissa Lingen, Jennifer Evans, Reesa Brown, and Kit O’Connell as available.

There are some really smart people out there who know a lot of about subjects I’ve scarcely considered.

The people at Fourth Street were great, from the fans to the writers to the organizers. Well done and well participated.

Jim Frenkel still seems like a bit of a grump, but that made for good panel.

Cory Doctorow is Guest of Honor in 2009? I’m so there!

Special thanks go to txanne, karenthology, and cloudscudding for making the non-panel part of the con such a great experience for me.

The one thing I do regret is that on Saturday I saw a young woman just kind of wandering around, in and out of consuite, and mostly by herself. She seemed a bit shy and a bit lost. I really wish that on Saturday or Sunday (I noticed it again on Sunday lunch) that I asked her to sit with the group conversing on the couch in consuite so she could be included. Hopefully she had a good time and didn’t feel isolated. I really hate that feeling and being a bit on the shy side around new people myself, I feel like I could have done something about it. I tried to speak with her before the Writer’s Lies panel, and I did see her with seabream a few times over the weekend. This is just something I’m aware of and I’m disappointed in myself for not really reaching out. Anyway, whoever you are (first name Sally), I hope you had a good time and give Fourth Street another chance next year. is a buncha links from other people about this year’s Fourth Street.

A link to a page with audio of most of the panels.

Me: Day One, Two, and Three

Thoughts From:
Mary Dell
Jennifer Evans
Abra Wiebe
Marissa Lingen
Michael Merriam
Karenthology (with some pictures midway down)

Panel Notes
Grinding Buttons and Pushing Axes
From Cool Idea to Story (another view)
Writer's Lies

Now, I'm quite sure that I am missing more than a few links, but these are the ones I was able to find without doing an obsessive amount of searching.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Leslie Claire Walker has a new story up at Chiaroscuro. I liked her last Chizine story "Snow for Flowers" so I'm very much looking forward to "Outcast".

This reminds me that I do like Chizine as a market and really need to go back and read the last couple of issues I've missed.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Mind Meld: Is There Gender Imbalance in Genre Publishing?

SF Signal invited me to take part in this week's Mind Meld. Tackling the question of whether there is a gender imbalance in SFF publishing are notables such as: Hal Duncan, Andrew Wheeler, Elizabeth Bear, Lou Anders, Cat Rambo, Angry Black Woman (99% positive I know who it is, but if she wants this post under that banner, so be it), Jeff Vandermeer, Abigail Nussbaum, Niall Harrison, and....


Well, I have an opinion and a GI Joe reference handy, so...go check it out. Lots of smart people (and me) weighing in.

Beauty Stolen from Another World

Ooh! My library has a listing for what looks like a short story collection from Louise Erdrich: Beauty Stolen From Another World: Selected and New Stories.

I am SO reading this.

This reminds me that I still need to read The Plague of Doves.

Erdrich's bookstore (Birchbark Books) also has a blog.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Mothers and Other Monsters

I’m about halfway through Maureen McHugh’s short story collection Mothers and Other Monsters and it is pretty good. The entire collection is available to download here.

Several of the stories are also available elsewhere.

Ancestor Money
Eight Legged Story
The Beast
Frankenstein’s Daughter

Maureen McHugh's blog.