Pastiche, parody, homage and self-indulgence are all easy countries to visit but difficult countries to leave. Done wrong, what plays to you as a witty, elegant celebration of a story type you happen to like can seem like an endless waltz to someone else’s music. Where you see knowing, affectionate nods they see smug jokes they don’t get. Where you see gentle parody of elements that are difficult to accept, they see a stolid, conservative celebration of irrelevancy. It’s tough, and many authors have tried and failed to do it successfully. Brian Keene isn’t one of them. The Lost Level wobbles in its opening chapters but as the book goes on it becomes clear that Keene has not only been here before but, unlike his lead, he knows the way out.
Just a short one this week. I am inordinately fond of the Mission: Impossible movies, especially 3. I’m delighted to see Rogue Nation, the new one, seems to be maintaining the increasingly mischievous bent of the series too. This sequence, from the opening of Ghost Protocol, is probably the best example of that. Silent comedy, close quarters punching, Simon Pegg being magnificent and, of course, Dean Martin in a Russian prison. Oh and a beautiful, offhand justification for the fuse motif. Glorious stuff and your Sunday Moment of Zen.
Scott Tyler is a Shifter, a teenager born with the ability to undo choices and alter reality. Scott’s been through hell, struggling to control and accept his abilities while fighting off the organizations who want to use Shifters as weapons. After all, a trained soldier is dangerous. A trained soldier who can keep repeating battles until they find a way to win is terrifying.
Scott’s last Shift was to save a life. But the world he’s inadvertently shaped is one where London is a ruin and the Shifters are at war. Desperate to get home, Scott must work out not only who he is in this reality, but how to end the war, uncover the traitor in his team’s midst and find a way to keep the love of his life alive. The odds are stacked against him and, this time, even a Shifter may not be able to beat them…
Scott Sigler is one of the reasons I have a job. I Should Be Writing, Variant Frequencies and Scott’s Ancestor are the three podcasts that got me into the industry. Scott’s brand of foot on the accelerator, heavy metal SF remains one of the most fun games in town and it’s a pleasure to see him make ten years in the game. It’s even more of a pleasure because for one day only he’s giving away free stuff to celebrate.
A sneak peek PDF of the first fifty pages of the rewritten EARTHCORE
That’s the five books of the GFL series plus various novellas set in that universe (Featuring Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace too no less) and the excellent Bones and Blood horror anthologies. Oh and the first fifty pages of EarthCore which, along with Ancestor, remains tied for my all time favorite book of his.
The kicker is that link is only good until 11.59pm on Monday March 23rd. That being today.
It’s an interesting time to be a comic reader. There are some brilliant, shining examples of the medium being published at the moment and I could spend ages listing the fantastic books you need to be reading. Likewise, I could go into detail about the various scandals and outrages, some small, some not large enough, that have rocked the industry in the last couple of years.
But other writers have written better pieces than I could about that. And, one one case, drawn them.
Ronald Wimberly’s piece Lighten Up, was published at The Nib this week. It’s an elegant, polite and horrifying look at racism in modern comics. It’s beautifully drawn, beautifully written and punches way above its deceptively light touch would have you expect. It’s also this week’s Sunday Moment of Zen. Lighten Up
San Francisco is magic. I09 highlighted how Toby Harriman, using time lapse and some very smart soundtrack choices, proves that. He turns a city defined by its size and space, by the bay that it wraps around and the bridges that connect it into a still beautiful but darker place. The sort of place that gets the hero it deserves rather than the hero it needs. This is San Francisco as Gotham City and this is your Sunday Moment of Zen.
Jen Williams is one of a small, elite group of authors who’ve turned me round on fantasy fiction. Along with compatriots like Andrew Reid and Den Patrick she writes stories about refreshingly normal, flawed people faced with impossible situations. All three authors have a tremendous ear for a good bit of profanity, all three have excellent comic timing and all three have unique perspectives on the genre. I’ll be talking about Andrew and Den’s stuff later in the year, but Jen’s up first thanks to having two stories out in 2015. One, Sorrow’s Isle, is a prequel to The Copper Promise, her 2014 novel. The other, The Iron Ghost, is the sequel.
RedEye has set itself a difficult task; produce horror that’s YA suitable but remains true to the needs of the genre. Lou Morgan’s Sleeplessdid an excellent job of showing how this could be done picking apart of teenage expectation and pressure with the twin scalpels of horror and insomnia. It’s a Hell of a book and, in Simon Cheshire’s Flesh and Blood, it’s got good company.