Saturday, 5 June 2010

Some book thoughts

Much as I have been a lifelong sf fan and the majority of my past reading being sf I have always had a soft spot for decent horror. And of late with the fact most of my writing seems aimed at horror zines I've read more horror than not (unless you can call a history of English cricket horror in which case it's been exclusively horror).

And I have to say I've been thoroughly enjoying doing so. I've read a number of damn fine novels of late and just wanted to let you know some thoughts on them and on just how many sf themes are running through these stories (okay if you read any of my reviews some of this might be familair but hey...

Nate Kenyon's Sparrow Rock is the first I'll mention. At it's core it has a classic 1950s sf theme - nuclear war - and the action takes place in or around a nuclear bunker. Okay a lot of the actual action and detail is horror flavoured but the concept of an atomic explosion leading to mutated creatures is pure old school sf.

But for it's retro subject the book is anything but. Kenyon has taken a half century old idea and given it an update for our modern iPod-, download-, facebook-, twitter-centric world. I'm not saying Kenyon's reaching the heights of a King or a Koontz (or years gone by, not so much of late) but he's building a damn fine body of work. He's definitely an author I'm going to keep my eye on.

L.H. Maynard's and M.P.N. Sims's Night Souls is the fourth in their Department 18 series. now Department 18 is a secret British government group who investigate the paranormal. It's kind of like the X-Files with a nice cup of tea and a bowler . Yeah, I'm British. I'm allowed to play up the stereotype - especially as I don't like tea and never wear hats.

The difference between Mulder and Scully and the D18 crew (apart from geography) is that M+S weren't . Here the story revolves around vampires, or at least a version of them, who hide their need for feeding on people in amongst the huge numbers of people who disappear in human trafficking rings. D18 are tasked with finding the vamps and stopping their "EVIL WAYS".

It's a great fun series. High on action and excitement - especially given the fact that the authors seem more than happy to kill of the team members during the investigations. It kind of adds to the suspense when you truly don't know if they are all going to survive.

Tim Waggoner's Dead Streets is a wonderful follow up to last year's Nekropolis. Matt Richter, zombie PI in a hell dimension, finds himself framed for a crime he didn't commit and exiled to Tenebrus (hell's version of hell you might say), and there's plenty of folk there all too eager to re-acquiant themselves with him.

Great fun book - reads like a horror Pratchett novel. All your expected evil doers and nightwalkers are there, all given a touch of silliness. But, and like Pratchett, Waggoner doesn't let the desire to poke fun at demons and devils get in the way of telling a decent story. This is great stuff.

Continuing the horror/comedy vibe I read A. Lee Martinez's Monster. Now last year I read this author's superb book The Automatic Detective and so seeing this on a bookstore shelf it was a no-brainer. I had to buy it.

I'm glad I did because this is better. Essentially it follows a couple of demon hunters who operate in a world where ordinary people, you and me basically, have an inbuilt brain deficiency that means we can't process magic. We can recognise it, deal with it in the instance but we will forget it ever happened as soon as it's out of brimstone-scented earshot.

Fabulous, fabulous read. This is an author I've added to my must have list. And the good news is there are still four earlier books for my to locate and read. I like discovering new authors.

Anyway, next on the pile is John Skipp's and Craig Spector's The Bridge. Fingers crossed it'll maintain the recent high standards.

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