Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review: Truth and Bright Water, by Thomas King

Truth and Bright WaterTruth and Bright Water by Thomas King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thomas King is that rare writer capable of not only telling a compelling, interesting story, but of seamlessly marrying that to literary devices which, like a painter who understands the medium, is capable of allowing the transfer of light off and through opaque and transparent pigments, creating depth where before there was only two dimensions.

Truth and Bright Water is a story of restoration, reparation, relocation of both the body and the spirit. It follows the lives of a two young boys, and an artist who restores paintings. And it is so much more than that.

In weaving together the narratives of these people, King creates a remarkable, sustained metaphor wherein a church is restored by the artist, returning it to the land by painting it to blend into the landscape around it, yet the church's interior, like a Tardis, remains, in this case the habitation and, if you will, the spirit of the artist who has taken an edifice of misery to the First Nations and made it part of his own self. It is a brilliant bit of writing.

Highly recommended.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Review: The Queen Mother: The Untold Story of Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, Who Became Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, by Lady Colin Campbell

The Queen Mother: The Untold Story of Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, Who Became Queen Elizabeth The Queen MotherThe Queen Mother: The Untold Story of Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, Who Became Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother by Lady Colin Campbell
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Campbell has penned a prurient, verbose, self-aggrandizing pseudo-biography worthy of the British scandal sheets. To call this tittle-tattle a biography is to shame every journalist of integrity, for journalism this is not.

This reader, having been subjected to egregious gossip throughout this interminable book, came away no more enlightened as to any of Elizabeth Bowes Lyon's accomplishments or history. Instead, Campbell has delved into her own personal speculation, snobbery and even racism of the worst sort, putting forth arguments of a medical, political and societal nature on which she is unqualified to write, and plainly is too cavalier to bother to research. Why research when we can have tea with Lady Such-and-So and gossip away the afternoon?

It is ridiculous in the extreme to put forth the argument the Queen Mother was a harridan exceeding her ancestor, Lady Macbeth; that Edward VIII would have single-handedly kept together the British Empire; that Wallis Simpson would have made a far better queen by virtue of her fashion elan.

What is plain is Campbell's obsession with superficial beauty, starvation-mode thinness, the need to associate within accepted, rarefied circles, and a compulsion to the nasty degradation of anyone Campbell feels unacceptable. In short, Campbell has penned a gossip sheet right out of discussions in her own parlour whisperings.

Not once does Campbell make even slight mention of the Queen Mother's extensive charitable work, the extraordinary strides to which she and George V went to bolster British spirit and capability during WWII. Instead we are given to believe the Queen Mother was an old soak who lay abed gorging on chocolates and manipulating every person within her sphere of control, and avoiding any sexual congress whatever with her husband. She even goes so far to assert all of the Queen Mother's children were the result of artificial insemination, so allegedly adverse was the Queen Mother to intercourse.

George V is portrayed as a booby. Edward VIII as the mistreated exiled king. Which does not even touch upon the the fictional creations she has made of Charles, Margaret, Phillip and even Elizabeth Regis.

Truly, if you want to read a decent biography of the Queen Mother, choose some other author, nay any other author than what this ridiculous dabbler has created in this trumped up bit of tripe.

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Review: Moving Pictures, by Terry Pratchett

Moving Pictures (Discworld, #10)Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Classic Terry Pratchett. A fun, witty spoof on Hollywood. What more is there to say?

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Making use of recovery

I'm now into my third week of convalescence. Chaffing a bit. Feeling bored with baby steps and caution and sensibility. Needs must behave, allow myself to heal and fully recovery before leaping off into the great beyond.

So it is I find myself confined to the first and second floors of The Old Stone House, the loft which is my office banned for now. That means the majority of my day to day work routine is verboten, not just because of inability to access the space, but also to pace myself.

I've decided to take advantage of this forced confinement and finish the first draft of The Rose Guardian. Truthfully I'm almost there. All that's required is about another 30,000 words, which is the linking sections to tie together the three narratives of this story. Given I have another three to five weeks in my convalescence, I think it not unreasonable to be able to finish. Then off to Robert for first reading and editing.

We'll see how that plan plays out.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Review: The Pearl that Broke Its Shell, by Nadia Hashimi

The Pearl that Broke Its ShellThe Pearl that Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nadia Hashimi's The Pearl that Broke Its Shell is a devastating lens on the horrors of being a woman in Afghanistan, plain and simple. Not the sort of novel one picks up for a light afternoon read, Hashimi, while retaining literary integrity, reveals the myriad daily, devastating details of the absolute subjugation, ownership and commodification of the female sex within this patriarchal, warlord society which is governed by a bastardization of Islam. The novel is relentless.

Hashimi employs a simple narrative style, without embellishment, allowing actions to carry her message. Her characterization is very strong. Her environmental detail is seamless, weaving into the narrative without arresting pauses.

Altogether a novel you should read if for no other reason than to expand your understanding of a culture alien and frightening to Western thinking.

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Monday, June 8, 2015

Review: The Golem and the Jinni, by Helen Wecker

The Golem and the JinniThe Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Helene Wecker creates a fascinating tale across cultures, mythologies and time in The Golem and the Jinni. The first of these cultural explorations occurs through the introduction of a kabalistic golem, created as a wife for a immigrant to New York. Instructed not to awaken the golem until he arrives in the new world, the husband ignores the rogue rabbi's caveat, and in the moment of his joy he dies, leaving the golem adrift and frightened without a master to serve.

Concurrent with this, a Syrian tinsmith is brought an olive oil decanter for repair, and in his work removes some of the ancient inscriptions for later reintroduction. The result is the appearance of an arrogant, reckless youth who ends up becoming his apprentice and an artisan in his own right, a youth who is, in fact, a jinni.

As is to be expected, the golem meets the jinni. A tenuous friendship blooms. Their lives intertwine, collide, separate and explode, drawing with them the cultural communities with which they have become involved.

The writing is competent, although there are a few moments of point of view shift; the plot albeit somewhat predictable is entertaining.

Not high literature, but certainly an entertaining read. Not your average urban fantasy, and an interesting melange of cultures which have historically been at odds with one another.

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Friday, May 8, 2015

Occupational Hazards appears in Neo-opsis Issue 25

My short story, Occupational Hazards, appears in Issue 25 of Neo-opsis magazine. It's a great little publication, worthy of your time. And you get to read my story to boot!

Neo-opsis Science Fiction Magazine - Issue 25
The twenty-fifth issue of Neo-opsis Science Fiction Magazine is 8” by 5 ½”, 80 pages. Not yet in print (at the printers).
The cover of issue 25 is a collaboration by Karl and Stephanie Johanson, Sun-Dragons.
Karl’s editorial is a brief commentary on the notion that the pen is mightier than the sword.
Letters to the Magazine this issue are from: Al Harlow, Catherine Luttinger, Jennifer Fisher, Alycia Mitchell, Maria Isabel Bances, Eric Seaton, Adrian Peterson, Vaughan Stanger, Guy Immega, and Catherine Girczyc.
Karl Johanson’s A Walk Through the Periodic Chart is about the element Bismuth this issue. There are two brief asides about Sodium and Tritium. Illustration by Stephanie Ann Johanson.
The first story in issue twenty-five is Panda-Mensional by Mary E. Lowd. Mary is a science-fiction and furry writer in the Pacific Northwest. She’s had more than forty short stories published, as well as two novels — Otters In Space and Otters In Space 2: Jupiter, Deadly. Her fiction has been nominated thirteen times for the Ursa Major Awards and won a C├│yotl Award. She’s a member of SFWA, the Furry Writers’ Guild, a judge for the Cat Writers’ Association, and co-chair of the Wordos. She lives with her husband, daughter, son, four cats, and three dogs. For more information, visit www.marylowd.com.
The second story is Space Tagger by Daniel P. SwensonDaniel lives in Chino Hills, California with his wife, two children and two furry aliens with claws and whiskers. He has also been published in Lore. He does most of his writing on the train or in other in-between moments.
The third story is New Kid by Guy L. Pace. Guy is a retired information security professional who is now working on novels for young adults, short stories in science fiction and other projects. Guy’s science fiction projects generally center on a universe concept he calls The Expansion. In this concept, humanity leap-frogs out from the solar system to habitable planets circling nearby stars, then further out.
The fourth story is Landing Day by Holly Schofield. Holly has been published in Tesseracts 17AE: The Canadian Science Fiction ReviewPerihelionThe Future Embodied, and Crossed Genre’s Oomph. She has work forthcoming in several publications, including Lightspeed Magazine. She travels through time at the rate of one second per second, oscillating between the alternate realities of a prairie farmhouse and her writing cabin on the west coast.
The fifth story is License to Live by Nick Aires. Nick is the author of Arrow: Heroes and Villains and the interactive novel app Diabolical. His short stories have appeared in various places, most recently JukePop Serials and Voices of Imagination 2. Nick lives and writes near beautiful Vancouver, BC, and at this moment he is probably thinking about aliens or dragons...or alien dragons flying spaceships through magical portals. Illustration by Stephanie Ann Johanson.
The Sixth story is RestFitTM by Ewan C. Corbes. Ewan lives and writes in Aberdeen, Scotland. His work has previously appeared in Daily Science FictionSand Journal (as Ewan Forbes), and in Digital Science Fiction’s Visions Imprint (as E. C. Forbes).
The Seventh Story is When Every Song Reminds You of a Dead Universe, by Karl Johanson. You’ve seen his non-fiction throughout 25 issues of Neo-opsis, now’s a good chance to check out his fiction. Originally published in Perihelion Science Fiction.
The final story is Occupational Hazards by Lorina StephensLorina has worked as editor, freelance journalist for national and regional print media, is author of seven books both fiction and non-fiction, been a festival organizer, publicist, lectures on many topics from historical textiles and domestic technologies, to publishing and writing, teaches, and continues to work as a writer, artist, and publisher at Five Rivers Publishing. She has had several short fiction pieces published in Canada’s acclaimed On Spec magazine, Postscripts to Darkness, and Marion Zimmer Bradley’s fantasy anthology Sword & Sorceress X.
Reviews this issue are of the book Modern Sci-Fi Films FAQ by Tom Demichael, the movie Interstellar, the computer game GemCraft Labrynth by gameinabottle.com, the movie Jupiter Ascending by Warner Brothers, and the 1988 movie They Live by Universal Pictures.
Awards news includes listings for the Sunburst Awards, the Hugo Awards, the Nebula Awards and the Aurora Awards. There is a collection of photos from the Aurora Awards ceremony on October 4, in Vancouver BC, as part of CanVention and VCon.
There’s a write up on the 2014 VCon in Vancouver, BC.
Additional news is about science fiction and some recent space discoveries.
The Last Nine Pages is an article about Disturbing Episodes of Star Trek. This includes examples from Classic Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek Deep Space Nine, Star Trek Voyager, Enterprise, as well as from the Rebooted Star Trek movies.