Posts Tagged ‘review’

Shimmer Summer, 2006 review

Pam McNew just gave us a very lovely review on her website, My Love for You Is A Ruby, A Emerald, A Diamond In a Box

Shimmer, Summer 2006. This was my first reading of Shimmer, a small zine of beauty. Shiny front and back cover with beautiful, and I want to say photoworkshopped, art. So beautiful that I felt badly toting it around and about and marring it a bit from my crude habits and behavior. Nine pieces of fictions, very short pieces, smaller than flash in a couple of instances. Speculative or fantastical, of course. I’m thinking the publication tends a bit more towards literal writing than most zines, although there is a garden gnome story (not what you’d think) and an alien story (not what you’d think, but, yes, an Earth with aliens and local politics.) I should also note that there is an interview within the issue: Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta.

She goes on to say other nice things, which you should go read it.

Another Apex Digest #6 review

I spotted this review of Apex Digest #6 while waiting for my airplane. Yay!

Another strong piece is Cerbo en Vitra ujo, the story of Grete and her attempt to find her lost boyfriend, Kaj, whom she fears is lost to the body harvesters. Mary Robinette Kowal’s story is based on skilful world creation, with a complex social hierarchy that is seamlessly woven together to underpin this tale. The sinister harvesters take desirable body parts from the young and healthy, grafting them onto those who can afford to replenish or augment their fading bodies. The donors, however, are not necessarily willing participants in the process. We follow the young Grete’s amateur detective work, sharing in her growing fear at what may become of Kaj, towards an ending where horror meets sci-fi. Terrific.

HorrorScope: Review: APEX Volume 1: Issue #6

My story has been given a nice notice in this review. HorrorScope: Review: APEX Volume 1: Issue #6

Another surprising thing happened when I came to ‘Cerbo en Vitra ujo’ by Mary Robinette Kowal. What started out as an almost light-hearted piece that could’ve been ‘romance in space’ suddenly dovetailed into dark regions I know of all to well of from my personal writing endeavors. Grete’s boyfriend has recently left Banwith Station to attend school on a planet-based school. Then he goes missing. Suffice to say the conclusion is unprecedented and I cannot say more than this. Only readers with a strong stomach may apply.

It makes me very, very happy that the reviewer understood the underlying love story between Kaj and Grete.

While you can no longer purchase copies of this issue, Apex #7 has just arrived in my hot little hands. I have to say that Sandro Castelli’s cover is even more gorgeous in person.

Edtied to add: In the comments, Mr. Sizemore says that he has twenty copies of Apex #6 left.

Mini-review: The Planet Buyer by Cordwainer Smith

The Planet BuyerThis started well with exciting narrative style; it broke rules and I was really looking forward to seeing where it took me. The book opens with Theme and Prologue. Check this out.

Story, place and time–these are the essentials.


The story is simple. There was a boy who bought the planet Earth. We know that to our cost. It only happened once, and we have taken pains that it will never happen again. He came to Earth, got what he wanted, and got away alive, in a series of remarkable adventures. That’s the story.

He goes on with a summary and scene-setting in a way that shouldn’t work, but absolutely does. It’s exciting and vivid writing. He ends the Theme and Prologue like so.


What happens in the story?
     Read it.
     Who’s there?
     It starts with Rod McBan–who had the real name of Roderick Frederick Ronald Arnold William MacArthur McBan. But you can’t tell a story if you call the main person by a name as long as Roderick Frederick Ronald Arnold William MacArthur McBan. You have to do what his neighbors did–call him Rod McBan. The old ladies always said, “Rod McBan the hundred and fifty-first…” and then sighed. Flurp a squirt at them, firnds. We don’t need numbers. We know his family was distinguished. We know the poor kid was born to troubles.
     Why shouldn’t he have troubles?
     He was born to inherit the Station of Doom.
     He almost failed the Garden of Death.
     The Onseck was after him.
     His father had died out in the dirty part of space, where people never find nice clean deaths.
     When he got in trouble, he trusted his computer.
     The computer gambled, and it won the Earth.
     He went to Earth.
     That was history itself–that and C’mell beside him.
     At long, long last he got his rights and came home.
     That’s the story. Except for the details.
     They follow.

One interesting idea after another leapt onto the page. Giant sheep which, through a virus, produce an immortality drug; underpeople, which are humans mixed with animal dna (though before the notion of dna is around); the Garden of Death…

And then, it just meandered and eventually fizzled out. It completely failed to live up to the promises of the beginning.

I was sad.

Edited to add: Mr. Sadhead informs me that the publishers split this book in half and that I just read part one. Ah. That makes more sense. I will now have to track down a copy of Norstrilia, which combines both books and adds some bridging material.

Tangent Online – Twenty Epics edited by David Moles and Susan Marie Groppi

Another Twenty Epics review, this time at Tangent Online

My favorite story in this collection is “Bound Man” by Mary Robinette Kowal. Ripped from the past while playing with her two children in her courtyard, legendary “warrior-god” Li Reiko finds herself six-thousand years in the future where she has been summoned to slay the Troll King. Halldór the warrior-priest has invoked her presence to save his lord, Duke Lárus, after bandits attack. Halldór agrees to become her bound man if she will save Lárus’s life with her healing power. But once that’s accomplished and she awakens back at their village, she refuses to fulfill her destiny and slay the Troll King. That is, until the trolls attack and take the village women hostage.

There’s a lot more to this fine story than that brief synopsis, but I don’t want to spoil it. Written in lucid prose, this tale has the true feel of an epic. And while it has a most satisfactory conclusion, I felt like I was reading the first chapter of a fast-paced novel getting off to an excellent start. I don’t know if the author has any intention of becoming a novelist, but I have no doubt she could. Kowal is a talent to watch.

In fact, I have already begun plotting a novel set in this world, but it didn’t occur to me until after the story was written.

Strange Horizons Reviews: Twenty Epics

Twenty EpicsCheck out the Strange Horizons Review of Twenty Epics, edited by David Moles and Susan Marie Groppi.

“Most successful is “Bound Man,” Mary Robinette Kowal’s stark re-humanization of the hero archetype. When the soldier-priest Halldór, hard-pressed by foes, chants the spell to summon the legendary warrior Li Reiko, he has no idea that he is in fact bringing her out of the past, separating her from her children and the life she knows and setting in motion the chain of events that leads to the development of his own culture. As she struggles to adapt to her new reality, Reiko’s grief and anger stand in sharp contrast to the usual devil-may-care attitude of mythical heroes.”

–reviewed by Rose Fox, Strange Horizons

Michele Lee and the Road to Print reviews Apex Issue 6

I spotted this review on Michele Lee and the Road to Print.

I’m reluctant to say that Cerbo en Vitra ujo by Mary Robinette Kowal is my favorite story. I think perhaps to know for sure I’d had to read it again and I’m not planning to do that anytime soon. Cerbo sunk its scalpels into me and drug me along for a ride. I had a good idea close to the beginning where it was headed. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t take me there like a double mocha moolatte smothered in smooth chocolate. Oh yes, I slid right through Cerbo, landing at the end wrapped in goo and trepidation. And did I mention the author lives in Iceland?

It’s a funny world where one is pleased that a reader doesn’t want to read one’s story again.

Crystal Rain – mini review

The world in Crystal Rain manages to seamlessly blend steam-punk with fantasy and high-tech sf. It’s a pretty impressive feat. I kept having trouble sleeping because I was staying up waaaay too late to find out what happens next. Tobias S. Buckell has written a ripping page-turner, for sure.

Icelandic lesson 1

I’ve had my first Icelandic class. We are starting by reviewing the things covered in course 1. I seem to be about in the middle of the class, in terms of grasp of Icelandic which is perfect. My classmates are from Belgium, the Congo, Phillipines, Poland, Haiti and America. It’s a small class which is nice. It’s also close enough to bike to, which makes me very happy.

The weather cooperated today; it was windy but no precipitation.

Your Icelandic phrase for today is: Ég er bruðaleikari frá Bandarikjunum.
I am a puppeteer from America.

Just finished Iron Council and Agent to the Stars

Iron Council by China Mieville — mini-review

You know. I really wanted to like this and just didn’t. While it is undeniably well-written, I felt like I was slogging through it. It’s unremittingly bleak and yet, I didn’t care about any of the characters. They get killed off right and left and I never cared. The only character that effected me was Ori and yet, when he died I was neither surprised nor moved.

Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi — mini review

I really enjoyed this and read it in pretty much one sitting. It’s rollicking good fun and just plain silly, but also manages to touch on “issues.” I cried twice, which is pretty good for a comedy.

My only issue with it was a plot issue which will only bother a few people. There’s a plot point revolving around making a latex life-mask, but no one in the industry does this. Everyone uses alginate. Even though I had to manually engage that bit of willing suspension of disbelief, I still enjoyed this very much.

Dad, I think you’d like this one.

Restart the clock

As you might recall, last year I decided to stop writing Good Housekeeping during NaNoWriMo after two weeks and 25,000 words. I stopped because we were moving to Iceland and decided that it would make me crazy to get the wordcount done, plus pack, plus go to Woodthrush Woods for the holidays. At the time, I was planning on writing another 25,000 words in two weeks in January. I did not even crack the novel open.

Today, I am going to start again. Let this stand as a notice for my own mini-NaNoWri. I reviewed my chapter outline, story arc, and reread the pages that I’ve written.To finish the remaining 24,457 words of the NaNo challenge, I have until September 20. Wish me luck.

Tangent Online – Shimmer, Summer 2006, #4

On Tangent Online, Jason Sizemore just reviewed Shimmer, Summer 2006, #4

Shimmer Magazine is the type of publication that you’re proud of reading in front of your peers. It is journal-sized, with an attractive, simple front and back cover layout. The interior has a clean, professional design. The font is eye-grabbing and large enough for most eyes to read without hassle.

Go read the rest of the review