Debbie Millman: Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits

Brand Thinking offers 22 short interviews with an astounding array of heavy hitters in branding, identity design, and related disciplines. It’s a fascinating and invigorating read. Millman coaxes the likes of Tom Peters and Karim Rashid into moments of almost shocking candor; Dori Tunstall and Alex Bogusky unflinchingly address issues of social and environmental responsibility;Continue reading “Debbie Millman: Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits”

George Mann: The Immorality Engine

I read The Immorality Engine even though I didn’t think much of the first two novels in Mann’s “Newbury and Hobbes Investigations” series, of which this is the third. Somewhat to my surprise, I liked it better than the other two. I still found the prose a bit repetitive and the plot low on surprises,Continue reading “George Mann: The Immorality Engine”

Paul Maliszewski: Prayer and Parable

The strongest stories in Maliszewski’s Prayer and Parable were terrific: precise and incisive. They reminded me a bit of David Foster Wallace in their exacting detail and preoccupation with the limitations of communication. Maliszewksi’s characters are frequently aware that something they just said came out wrong, or that there’s a “right” thing to say, whichContinue reading “Paul Maliszewski: Prayer and Parable”

Chris Moriarty: The Inquisitor’s Apprentice

The Inquisitor’s Apprentice is set in a vividly rendered alternate late-19th-century New York city. Magic exists in this world, but — officially, at least — it is controlled by wealthy industrialists like “J. P. Morgaunt,” a character inspired by J. P. Morgan (some more sympathetically rendered historical figures appear under their real names) . ThirteenContinue reading “Chris Moriarty: The Inquisitor’s Apprentice”

George Mann : The Osiris Ritual

The second of Mann’s “Newbury and Hobbes” steampunk/mystery/adventures (following The Affinity Bridge) struck me as stronger overall than its predecessor, with a bit more depth of character. I found the tone a little inconsistent — there are a few moments that veer into excessively broad parody of pulp/adventure conventions and require a greater level ofContinue reading “George Mann : The Osiris Ritual”

Tim Wakefield, Tony Massarotti : Knuckler, My Life with Baseball’s Most Confounding Pitch

I love the knuckleball. I don’t know how any nerd could not love the knuckleball, or, as I prefer to call it, the “chaos pitch.” It’s thrown — at the velocity of a cheetah, mind you — with almost no rotation. Its path to, and hopefully over, the plate is determined, as much as anythingContinue reading “Tim Wakefield, Tony Massarotti : Knuckler, My Life with Baseball’s Most Confounding Pitch”

Courtney Milan : Proof by Seduction

I was a little slow to warm to Proof by Seduction, mostly because of a familiar complaint with historical fiction: the characters seemed more like 21st-century people than 19th-century people. They pay lip service to the strictures of class and breeding, but they’re fundamentally not as beholden to them as Georgette Heyer’s characters, let aloneContinue reading “Courtney Milan : Proof by Seduction”

M. J. Locke : Up Against It

In Up Against It a 25th-century asteroid-based community is beset by a confluence of disasters: a critical resource hemorrhaging accident, a takeover threat by the Martian mob, a rogue artificial intelligence in the asteroid’s systems — the list goes on. It explores both the fragility of human life in a hostile environment, and life’s pluckContinue reading “M. J. Locke : Up Against It”

Beard, Donihe, Duza, et al: The Bizarro Starter Kit (Orange)

I hoped The Bizarro Starter Kit would help me figure out if I’d like bizarro fiction, a genre self-defined by a loose collective of writers with a shared love of cult/trash cinema. It didn’t. The Bizarro Starter Kit makes the case that there’s too much going on for me to dismiss it, and too muchContinue reading “Beard, Donihe, Duza, et al: The Bizarro Starter Kit (Orange)”

Lauren McLaughlin: (Re)cycler

(Re)cyler is definitely not the book I expected it to be. Cycler ended so abruptly and with so little resolution that I expected (Re)cycler to be basically the second half of a novel too long for one volume. I thought it was going to include an “origin story” for Jill (who turns, physically, into herContinue reading “Lauren McLaughlin: (Re)cycler”