Wrestling with Genre: Robert V. S. Redick on Master Assassins

Friday, May 25th, 2018 | Posted by C.S.E. Cooney

The Red Wolf Conspiracy-small

AN INTRODUCTION

I think I stumbled on my first Robert V. S. Redick book in the Westerly Public Library. Oh, those Halcyon days where I wandered at whim through the SFF stacks, idly selecting titles and reading first pages. If they happened to catch my interest, well then! Together we went to the Self-Checkout, and thence for home — and blissful, blissful book-chomping time.

Is this how Red Wolf Conspiracy came to my hand? I seem to remember thinking, for whatever reason: “Probably not for me!”… and then, like two seconds later, it’s dawn of the third day, and my eyeballs are twitching, and I’ve just finished it.

At which point, knowing me, I probably friended him on Facebook.

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Birthday Reviews: Vera Nazarian’s “Salmon in the Drain Pipe”

Friday, May 25th, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Vera Nazarian After the Sundial-small

Vera Nazarian was born on May 25, 1966.

Nazarian was nominated for a WSFA Small Press Award for her short story “Port Custodial Blues” in 2007. The following year she received a nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Short Story for “The Story of Love.” She also received a Nebula nomination in 2009 for her novella The Duke in His Castle. In addition to writing, Nazarian has worked as the editor and publisher of Norilana Books since the company’s founding in 2006.

“Salmon in the Drain Pipe” was published as an original story in Nazarian’s collection After the Sundial, in 2010. The story has not been reprinted.

Nazarian’s “Salmon in the Drain Pipe” is a relatively short piece that has her protagonist looking at the wonders of nature in an unspecified future. As he looks more closely, however, he discovers that rather than being flora or fauna, what he is really seeing is the detritus of civilization filling lakes and grasslands. Fish moving through algae have been replaced by collections of bottlecaps.

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Goth Chick News: Just When You Think There Is No Originality Left in Hollywood…

Thursday, May 24th, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

The Happytime Murders poster-small

This may be the greatest movie news I have had so far this year.

I’m a tad embarrassed to admit this one completely snuck up on me but I recently got a link to the red band trailer (aka: too naughty for the average viewer) for the movie The Happytime Murders. Thinking this might be some sort of serial killer bloodbath, I skeptically had a look only to discover the greatest thing ever.

Per its logline, The Happytime Murders is a “filthy comedy set in the underbelly of Los Angeles where puppets and humans coexist.”

Directed by Brian Henson, puppeteer, son of Muppets creator and master puppeteer Jim Henson and current chair of The Jim Henson Company, The Happytime Murders tells the story of two detectives with a shared secret. The human detective, played by Melissa McCarthy and her puppet colleague are forced to work together to solve the brutal murders of the former cast of a beloved classic puppet television show.

So, two things before you watch this.

First, I warn you this trailer is “red band” for a reason. Don’t watch this at work without a screen protector and headphones. Second, in spite of the fact the level of humor here is so gutter that I feel I now need a hot shower, I laughed hard enough to cause the people in the upstairs offices to think there was something wrong with me.

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io9 on 28 New Sci-fi and Fantasy Books to Add to Your Shelves in May

Thursday, May 24th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Glory of the Empress-small Compulsory Games-small Wrath of Empire-small

Cheryl Eddy at io9 has a gift for you folks who’ve run out of things to read already this month (Seriously, how does that happen?? Whatever, we don’t judge.) A tidy list of 28 New Sci-fi and Fantasy Books to Add to Your Shelves.

28! How does she do that, and with astonishingly little overlap with John DeNardo’s list of the Best Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror in May? I have no idea, but perhaps dark magics were involved, and maybe we shouldn’t question it. Let’s just dive into the list, and see what grabs us.

The Glory of the Empress by Sean Danker (Ace, 352 pages, $4.99 digital, May 1, 2018)

Amid a raging interstellar war, a group of soldiers develops a new weapon they hope will turn the tide in their side’s favor — not realizing their test runs in a far-off pocket of the galaxy will have unexpectedly towering consequences.

The Glory of the Empress is the third book in the series that began with Admiral (2016), which was selected by Amazon as one of the Best Books of 2016, and continued with Free Space (2017). While the first two were published in print and digital formats, this one is only available digitally.

Eeep! Is that a thing now? Hope that doesn’t frustrate too many old school readers… I’m frustrated, and I haven’t even read the first one yet.

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Vintage Treasures: Razored Saddles, edited by Joe R. Lansdale and Pat LoBrutto

Thursday, May 24th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Razored Saddles-small Razored Saddles-back-small

Razored Saddles is the first Weird Western anthology I can recall. It was published as a limited edition hardcover from Dark Harvest in September 1989; I don’t usually buy limited edition hardcovers, but for this I made an exception.

I wasn’t even aware there was a paperback edition until I came across a copy five years ago at the Windy City Pulp and Paper Show. I loved the spooky new Avon cover by Lee MacLeod, but that copy was priced at $25 — more than I paid for the hardcover! I’m pretty good at tracking down paperbacks though, and now that I knew it existed, I figured I could find one at a reasonable price. And sure enough, I did, although it took longer than I expected. With the help of an eBay Saved Search, I finally found the unread copy above in March… priced at $7, less than a brand new paperback.

Razored Saddles had two co-editors. Joe R. Lansdale needs no introduction; these days he’s best known as the author of the Hap and Leonard series, crime novels made into the highly regarded series on SundanceTV. But he’s also the author of over 50 novels and 26 collections, including The Nightrunners (1987), By Bizarre Hands (1989), and The Bottoms (2000). He has won ten Bram Stoker Awards. Pat LoBrutto began working with a summer job in the mailroom of Ace Books, and soon graduated to editing the US editions of Perry Rhodan with Forrest J. Ackerman in 1974. He won the World Fantasy Award for editing in 1986, and co-edited Full Spectrum 2 (1989). He is currently an acquiring editor for Tor Books.

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Birthday Reviews: Irving E. Cox, Jr.’s “Too Many Worlds”

Thursday, May 24th, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Walter Popp

Cover by Walter Popp

Irving E. Cox, Jr. was born on May 24, 1917 and died on February 13, 2001.

Cox began publishing in 1951 with “Hell’s Pavement,” which appeared in Astounding Science Fiction. He published most of his work during that decade, and only his final two stories, “Impact” and “Way Station,” appeared during the 1960s. During that time, however, his stories appeared in several different magazines as well as in original anthologies.

“Too Many Worlds” was originally purchased by Howard Browne for Amazing Stories, where it appeared in the November 1952 issue. It was reprinted in May of the following year in the British edition of the magazine. In 1973, the story appeared in the May issue of Science Fiction Adventures. More recently it appeared in Science Fiction Gems, Volume Twelve, edited by Gregory Luce.

Science fiction authors have long had their characters travel from one version of the world to another, which is how Cox begins “Too Many Worlds.” He dumps Albert Hammond into a world that resembles his own. In the new world, however, Hammond’s shipping company is much more successful than the one he knows. Where Cox tries something different is by making Hammond very aware of who he is, but unable to respond to things the way he wants to. Instead, no matter how hard he tries, the words and tone that come out of his mouth belong to the new world’s Albert Hammond, who is a much harder man.

A psychiatrist, naturally, tells Hammond that the world he sees is the way the world is ,and his view of himself as less rigid, having a smaller company, and two children who don’t exist is a delusion he has built up for some reason. The new world’s Hammond indulges in business practices that the original Hammond feels are poor choices and bad for business, yet invariably turn out to work to his benefit.

His situation takes a turn for the worse, although more interesting for the reader, when in addition to his memories of his reasonably successful life, he begins to experience a life in which he didn’t even achieve the level of success he had in his original life. The constants in the different versions of his reality are the company he works for, his wife, and, he comes to realize, an old high school friend, Willie Tuttle. Once Tuttle comes into the picture, the cause of the different worlds becomes obvious, but Hammond must still try to figure out how to break the cycle.

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When Long-Sheathed Knives are Drawn Again: The Waking Land by Callie Bates

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Waking Land-small The Memory of Fire-small

When Callie Bates’ fantasy novel The Waking Land appeared last June, it was called “A wonderfully stunning debut” by RT Book Reviews, and Terry Brooks said “She is clearly a writer of real talent.” I remember being very intrigued when I picked it up in the bookstore. Here’s the description.

Lady Elanna is fiercely devoted to the king who raised her like a daughter. But when he dies under mysterious circumstances, Elanna is accused of his murder — and must flee for her life.

Returning to the homeland of magical legends she has forsaken, Elanna is forced to reckon with her despised, estranged father, branded a traitor long ago. Feeling a strange, deep connection to the natural world, she also must face the truth about the forces she has always denied or disdained as superstition — powers that suddenly stir within her.

But an all-too-human threat is drawing near, determined to exact vengeance. Now Elanna has no choice but to lead a rebellion against the kingdom to which she once gave her allegiance. Trapped between divided loyalties, she must summon the courage to confront a destiny that could tear her apart.

I was pleased to see the sequel, The Memory of Fire, will be published early next month. Del Rey reprinted the first volume in trade paperback in January, so there’s plenty of time to grab a copy before the second volume arrives. Here’s all the details, and links to tasty sample chapters.

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A Pair of Gonzo Mysteries from a Fantasy Master: Rich Horton on Pink Vodka Blues and Skinny Annie Blues by Neal Barrett, Jr.

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Pink Vodka Blues-small Skinny Annie Blues-small

Neal Barrett, Jr. received a Hugo and Nebula Award nomination for his 1988 story “Ginny Sweethips’ Flying Circus,” and in 2010 he was named Author Emeritus by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. A discussion of his four Aldair novels — which Fletcher Vredenburgh called “a blast of strangeness and adventure” — broke out in the comments section of my 2013 post about Mark Frost’s The List of 7. And in his 2014 review of The Prophecy Machine, Fletcher wrote:

The late Neal Barrett Jr. wrote around thirty novels and seventy short stories. I’ve only read a little bit from his works, which include sci-fi and fantasy as well as crime fiction and magic realism. He seems to have slipped under the radar of most genre readers. On the other hand, everything I’ve read about the man marks him as one of those special authors held in high esteem by other writers.

As usual, Fletcher is bang on in his assessment. I haven’t read any of Barrett’s crime fiction either, and I’ve always been very curious about it.

But that’s why we have Rich Horton. Over at his website Strange at Ecbatan Rich reviews two of Barrett’s mid-90s mystery novels, Pink Vodka Blues (1992) and Skinny Annie Blues (1996), calling them ‘funny’ and ‘wild.’ That qualifies them for a closer look in my book.

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Birthday Reviews: Joe Patrouch’s “The Attenuated Man”

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Barclay Shaw

Cover by Barclay Shaw

Joseph F. Patrouch, Jr. was born on May 23, 1935.

Patrouch was a teacher in Ohio who had a brief career writing science fiction. In the early 1970s, he wrote several essays about Asimov’s fiction and published his first short story, “One Little Room an Everywhere” in the February 1974 issue of Vertex. Most of his fiction has never been reprinted, with the exceptions “The Man Who Murdered Television” and “Legal Rights for Germs.” He also published The Science Fiction of Isaac Asimov in 1974.

“The Attenuated Man” was published by Edward L. Ferman in the March 1979 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. It has never been reprinted.

Ken Hamilton sneaks into his father’s company to use the Transmat machine to become the first man on Mars, in an attempt to prove to his father than he isn’t completely worthless. Unfortunately, things go wrong for him almost immediately as he starts bleeding from his eyes, ears, and mouth. Back on Earth, Ken’s excursion has been discovered and his father’s staff is trying to figure out how to get him back, especially once they realize something has gone wrong and they can’t send someone after him without the same problems occurring.

Patrouch has an interesting look at some of the dangers of teleportation, although the impact seems to be different when transmatting people to different places, a discrepancy which he discusses in the story. Furthermore, although he indicates that Hamilton has a very low opinion of his son’s intelligence and abilities, the son figures out part of the solution that will allow him to return to Earth safely, and understands what has happened to him.

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Future Treasures: The Freeze-Frame Revolution by Peter Watts

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Freeze-Frame Revolution-smallPeter Watts is the author of the Rifters Trilogy, which Matthew David Surridge reviewed for us here, the Hugo and Locus Award-nominated Blindsight (2006), which Rich Horton called “Brilliant,” and the collection Beyond the Rift (2013).

His short fiction Sunflower Cycle kicked off in 2009 with the Hugo Award-winning “The Island.” There have been three tales in the series so far; you can read them all at Watts’ website. The fourth, the long novella The Freeze-Frame Revolution, arrives from Tachyon early next month.

“The Island” (The New Space Opera 2, July 2009) — Hugo Award Winner, Best Novelette
“Giants” (Extreme Planets, December 2013)
“Hotshot” (Reach for Infinity, May 2014)
The Freeze-Frame Revolution (Tachyon Publications, June 2018)

Publisher’s Weekly raved about the book, saying:

In this short, tight novel that contains vast science-fictional speculation, the human crew of the construction ship Eriophora spends 66 million years building interstellar wormhole gates, so they have lots of time to ponder issues of purpose. Sunday Ahzmundin, on a quest to find a missing crewmate, has to deal with another coworker, Lian, who is traumatized after the ship is damaged by one of the “occasional demons” that pop out of newly opened gates. Dropping in and out of suspended animation as scheduled by the Chimp, the AI that runs the ship, Sunday begins to uncover the secrets behind Lian’s subsequent death and the disappearances of other crew members, learning what hides beneath the ship’s closed and rigidly structured society… SF fans will love this tale of bizarre future employment and genuine wonder.

Here’s the description.

She believed in the mission with all her heart. But that was sixty million years ago. How do you stage a mutiny when you’re only awake one day in a million? How do you conspire when your tiny handful of potential allies changes with each shift? How do you engage an enemy that never sleeps, that sees through your eyes and hears through your ears and relentlessly, honestly, only wants what’s best for you? Sunday Ahzmundin is about to find out.

The Freeze-Frame Revolution will be published by Tachyon Publications on June 12, 2018. It is 192 pages, priced at $14.95 in trade paperback and $7.99 for the digital edition. Order copies directly from the Taychon website.


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