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For the firefly fans August 15, 2008

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Check out this online Dark Horse comic by Jim Krueger and Will Conrad called Serenity: the other half. Also in the news, Shepherd Book gets a comic explaining his back story.

…what I’m reading at the moment August 14, 2008

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1. Space by Stephen Baxter (Thanks, David!)

2. Astropolis by Sean Williams (Book 2 of Saturn Returns)

3. Affluenza by Oliver James (An interesting psychological study of need to consume. He conducted interviews around the world)

What I hope to be reading soon:

Victory of Eagles, Naomi Novik, released 7 Aug!

Gypsy Morph (Genesis of Shannara Book 3), Sept 4.

Nation, Terry Pratchett, Sep 11. Does this guy pump out novels or what? This one is a children’s novel and I don’t think it is set in Discworld.

The Riven Kingdom, Karen Miller, Jan 2009.

George RR’s long awaited Dance of Dragons. [Sigh] The new release date is April 2009.

Traitor’s Gate (Crossroads Book 3), Kate Elliot, May 2008.

feathers – the new scooby snack August 7, 2008

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Jeff Noon, Vurt. Published 1994

Noon has created a fascinating world ruled by feathers – a heady drug that takes users into another dimension. Most of the people in this crazy new Manchester are searching for their next vurt feather like it’s heroin, they’re always on the run for their next, bigger, headier hit.

Scribble frenetically pushes the plot along constantly searching for his lost lover. She was lost in a yellow vurt and in exchange they got an alien, who strangely they could eat or sell if they wanted to. The thing communicates only in coos and wants only feathers. Scribble and his beatnik, scooby gang race around Manchester seeking the elusive vurt and a lot of bad shit happens along the way. Like they’re on a really nasty acid trip. Disturbingly we realise that Scribble’s lover is also his sister, and it ain’t gonna be that easy to find that vurt or get her back out.

Vurt creates a world, where for starters his own name is synonymous with the drug of choice. Humans have transcended, they have melded with dogs and shadows to create all sorts of weird new creatures. But the desire to be immersed in the vurt is everywhere.

It’s lyrical, mad and surreal. This was a fantastic random discovery of mine and I was surprised to see it was written in 1994. (It also won the 1994 Arthur C. Clarke, so take their word for it).

There are some classic scenes and quotes, the cheshire-like Game Cat is awesome.

“My mind was alike a stranger, a cold-hearted stranger with a gun in his hands”

“A glass of Fetish. Clean drugs. Good Friends. A hot partner”

“Sometimes it feels like the whole world is smeared with Vaz”

This is a book with a slap of mystery, a dollop of violence, sex, drugs and dj-ing and a dash of urban poverty. Highly recommended.

Thanks to northern green pixie for the cover image.

a satisfying urban fantasy and romance August 7, 2008

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NB: When I picked up this book I had no idea who Stephenie Meyer was or what other books she had written. Obviously in the last week she has been all over the press and news with the launch of her latest book. I read and reviewed “The Host” in blissful ignorance.

The Host, Stephanie Meyer. Published 2008.

Sometimes you find a book that fits right in with where you are, emotionally, physically, etc. There is something fantastic about finding a nice thick book and having a couple of days of freedom to dive right in. And this book is thick. Brick sized. One of my favourite things about reading is getting lost in a world, believing in the characters and their plight. I’m feeling a bit of unrequited love at the moment, so the romance was just fine with me.

Be warned, The Host is 60% romance, 20% urban fantasy and 20% survival . It’s a fast paced read, pushing you through the short chapters.

Melanie is one of the last real humans on earth. She has been surviving, barely, with her younger brother until she runs into another survivor and falls madly in love. Souls, spidery parasite like aliens, have taken over Earth, humans’ bodies and their lives. They have colonised over 9 planets but have found earth the most difficult, the most emotional. Some humans even manage to resist the Souls implantation and wrest back their bodies.

Meyer’s story starts with one of these Souls, “Wanderer”, waking up in Melanie’s body. Melanie’s mind is resisting her host and Wanderer can’t seem to forget her motherly love for Jamie and romantic love for Jared. She finds herself, illogically, searching for them…

There are some great ingredients in this story:

  • the duplicitous invasion of Earth
  • how the human rebels live
  • Meyer’s descriptions of the other colonised worlds
  • the continuing debate on what exactly makes us human
  • the love and romance

I like the men in this story, they mostly compassionate, honourable and genuine. What the book lacks is any real evil or bad characters, everyone is conveniently won over. I was surprised when I found out this was supposed to be an adult novel. I thought it was young adult. It is surprisingly chaste, the love and passions that drive the characters rarely get beyond a kiss. “Partners in the truest sense” now sounds unbelievably cheesy, but I bought it when I read it.

If you’ve got a bit of spare time, like a bit of romance mixed in with your spec fic then, suspend your disbelief and give “The Host” a whirl.