Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Iain Banks’ first Culture Novel Satisfies

Having read and enjoyed book eight of the Culture Novels, Matter, I have returned to book one and am smug with self satisfaction for having started reading the books of Iain Banks.  The man delivers the groceries, and they are indeed exotic goods.  Consider Phlebas ((1987, 2008) we are so fortunate to have the series re-released and in the US) is just a wisp of what is to come, but the story is fully engrossing, amusing and thoroughly thought provoking.  The protagonist is not a Culture man, and, is in fact at war with them, and in league with the Idirans. The Iridans are an insectile alien race, growth economy driven, and at heart a bunch of jihadist religious zealots out to subjugate, and maybe do a little business with, everybody and everything they encounter.  You might want to walk quickly by any mirrors and not look too closely at yourself or your culture while reading this author, he does not wear colored glasses. Banks is brilliant at painting the human condition, writ large, on a false background.  Science Fiction, at its very best.
Music to stir your gray matter.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I Just Read The Meanest, The Nastiest, The Grittiest, The Most Irreverent, Page Blitzing, Exciting, Mind Boggling, Did I Say Irreverent, Book I’ve Read In Decades!

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey is something totally unexpected.  Think of Jim Butcher writing under the influence of some really bad drugs with someone behind him poking him with a hot branding iron.  James Stark, aka Sandman Slim, is mad as Hell and he should know, he just spent the last eleven years of his life in Lucifer’s domain.  The world has changed in his absence, chaos is running rampant in L.A..  The woman he left behind and loved with all of his heart and all his of soul has been murdered.  The six fellow magicians responsible for sending him to Hell and the two of them responsible for the murder of Alice are on his hit list and nothing, absolutely nothing can stop him; Not Homeland Security, Not a U.S. Marshall, Not even one of God’s own angels can stop Sandman Slim from doing what must be done.  Whew!  Richard Kadrey is literate, this is a very literate slough through Hell on Earth with a good dose of literary and cinematic hilarity. This guy knows the turf he writes about.  I suspect he know something of hell on earth as well. Kadrey seem quit cheery in his online video spits, and quite entertaining.  I like the guy.  He has been "their", he's back and he's writing stories. His photo art is for adults only, as is Sandman Slim.  I look forward to Kill the Dead, book 2 of the Sandman Slim Series.

Music I've mentioned before but a must mention with this author.
Sympathy for the Devil (track one) Beggars Banquet by The Rolling Stones.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Real Science Fiction With Bang, Great Straight Fiction And Some New Opera

Running on reviews, comments and male intuition (yes a bit of an oxymoron) I ordered the complete Culture Novel Series by Iain M. Banks. I jut read the first to arrive, book eight, Matter, and I'm smiling like the cat that ate the mouse after a delightful little play time.  I am now reading book one, Consider Phlebas, and am running in "complete immersion mode" with Culture.  Reading this series will have you remembering your first encounter with books like Dune by Frank Herbert and Foundation by Isaac Asimov.  This is science fiction, the real deal, and it makes you happy to be reading.

I had my turn with John Sandford's latest Virgil Flowers novel, Bad Blood, the other day.  Grittiest, meanest, nastiest bunch of bad people he's had to tackle yet.  Don't start this one without a chunk of time set aside, you will not be wanting to set the book aside.  This may not be Sci-Fi but it is very eerie.  If you are not familiar with John Sandford, it is your loss.  He has never let me down (only author I say this about).  You might complain about him not writing fast enough but he is a craftsman and does not release flawed stories.  No wonder he (real name, John Roswell Camp)  won a Pulitzer as a journalist in 1986.

Mark L. Van Name had the beginnings of his Jon & Lobo Series re-released as a collection and what a pleasant surprise it was to read.  I enjoy stories of men with machines that think for themselves (both man and machine).  Jon, a vet and ex mercenary; Lobo, a space ship weapons combo, with attitude. Very enjoyable characters and casting Jon as the moral upstanding stall worth guy and Lobo as O so ready to do what he does best, kill.

Watched a movie on the computer while
the girls were in the other room this weekend.
Harry Brown starring Michael Caine,
directing debut by Daniel Barber.
Whew!  Have not seen such a realistic look inside
a bad neighborhood's drug culture in recent memory.
This is not a movie for the feint at heart.
Michael Caine is a genius
and knows his craft so very, very well.

Music to go with the mayhem.
Vicious and Walk on the Wild Side
"Doo do doo do doo do do doo"
Tracks 1 and 5 of Transformer by Lou Reed


Monday, December 6, 2010

Kathy Reichs Swings Into YA Series With A Grand Slam Home Run

Virals by Kathy Reichs author of the Temperance Brennan forensic anthropologists series (starting with Déjà Dead) with the offspring of the Bones Television Series, has moved into the Young Adult genera with a screaming, bases loaded,  home run.  Her young fem protagonist Tory Brennan, named after her famous aunt Temperance, loses her mother and is suddenly sent to live with the father she has never met. Her father “Kit” is a marine-biologist working for a University in Charleston, SC on a nearby, but difficult to reach, island. Reichs introduces and develops her geeky, brainy characters well and the pages begin to blur with readers chomping to know more. All stops are pull out when this cadre of bright boys and girl get infected with a mutant strain of canine parvovirus and find themselves capable of things they should not be capable of Where some adult authors move to YA in a pretty contrived way, Kathy Reichs is a perfect fit with a story that will genuinely capture the audience.  The science is not contrived; the author has a PhD, and is one of eighty-two forensic anthropologists certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology(Wiki). She is the real deal and the story shines (I find all of her work more entertaining than the more famous fem forensic mystery author (Ouch! Didn't I say I'd only be rambling about books I like earlier?)).  This, sure to be a series, starts with a bang. While many of us older gents have tripped the light fantastic to the YA collection to read John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice Series this one should also send you ladies in search of a good story.

Music? Something old, mysterious, curious and very wonderful.
Something a forensic anthropologists might dig up.
The Basement Tapes by Bob Dylan and The Band