Lawrence Watt-Evans: The Final Folly of Captain Dancy and other Pseudo-Historical Fantasies

It’s a bit tricky to describe The Final Folly of Captain Dancy without sounding like I’m damning it with faint praise, so maybe I should say up front that I definitely enjoyed this enough to read more. Watt-Evan’s stories have a bit of an old-school vibe; it’s easy for me to imagine him as aContinue reading “Lawrence Watt-Evans: The Final Folly of Captain Dancy and other Pseudo-Historical Fantasies”

Orson Scott Card (ed.): Future on Ice

Future on Ice is a collection of short stories selected circa 1998 by Orson Scott Card representing his take on the best short science fiction of the eighties (it follows the earlier, similarly themed Future on Fire). It was a strange exercise in cognitive dissonance for me. Many of Card’s selections are terrific — theContinue reading “Orson Scott Card (ed.): Future on Ice”

Adam Rex: Fat Vampire

Adam Rex’s Fat Vampire is sly and slippery. Its title stakes a claim to the glamorous vampire backlash (along with Catherine Jinks’ The Reformed Vampire Support Group, perhaps). Doug expects becoming a vampire to make him happy, but it leaves him chubby, not well liked, and still tormented by unrequited crushes. Beyond that, Fat VampireContinue reading “Adam Rex: Fat Vampire”

Clifford Irving: Fake! The Story of Elmyr de Hory the Greatest Art Forger of Our Time

I’m not even trying to separate my reaction to this book from the backstory: Irving, a novelist (a fraudster, in other words, because a novel is a pack of lies upon the credibility of which its success depends), here offers a purportedly non-fictional book about art forger Elmyr de Hory (a profession which combines fraudContinue reading “Clifford Irving: Fake! The Story of Elmyr de Hory the Greatest Art Forger of Our Time”

E. E. “Doc” Smith: Triplanetary; First Lensman

Strange but true: I never read any E. E. “Doc” Smith before. (It was Michael Kaminski’s assertion in The Secret History of Star Wars that Smith’s Lensmen were a key influence on Lucas’s Jedi Knights that convinced me to take the plunge; mostly I hadn’t read the Lensmen books because I thought I knew exactlyContinue reading “E. E. “Doc” Smith: Triplanetary; First Lensman”

Carrie Ryan: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth is the weirdest zombie story I’ve ever read. And it’s not just because the book never once uses the word “zombie.” It’s not even because the novel is set generations after the zombie’s victory over humanity. The Forest of Hands and Teeth opens in a small village of humansContinue reading “Carrie Ryan: The Forest of Hands and Teeth”

Lauren Henderson: Freeze My Margarita

It may partly be “too many books in the same series back-to-back” syndrome, but Freeze My Margarita felt much more tired and formulaic than the previous book in the Sam Jones series, Black Rubber Dress, and several particulars bugged me: The opening scene is set in a D/s club. It seems to be set thereContinue reading “Lauren Henderson: Freeze My Margarita”

Karen Novak: Five Mile House

Karen Novak’s Five Mile House is unambiguously a ghost story, even a haunted house story — one of the narrative voices belongs to a ghost, and provides the novel with its arresting opening sentences: I am Eleanor, and I, like this house, am haunted. I died when I fell from this tower, that window. ItContinue reading “Karen Novak: Five Mile House”

Laurie J. Marks: Fire Logic

A curmudgeonly speculative-fiction fan I used to know had rules for avoiding crap books that went more or less like this: Nothing with swords or dragons in the title or the cover Nothing with a map of imaginary places at the front There are many counter-examples to prove the rules, and even more bad booksContinue reading “Laurie J. Marks: Fire Logic”

John MacLachlan Gray: The Fiend In Human

I think the first time my friend Marty and I had a conversation about books, he said something like “I read classic literature [which gave us substantial common ground] and thrillers about serial killers.” [which didn’t much increase it] and he expressed a distinct lack of fondness for modern “serious” fiction. We’ve spent plenty ofContinue reading “John MacLachlan Gray: The Fiend In Human”