THE STORY OF NOICHI THE BLIND By Chet Williamson – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2017 by stanleyriiks

Bit of a weird one this. It’s presented as an old Japanese Fairy Tale of sorts, possibly written by a writer at the turn of the century, and found by Williamson’s son in a box of papers in an antique shop.

The story is set in medieval Japanese, where Noichi is a wood cutter, and one day is finds a young woman, hiding after accidentally killing a samurai. He takes her home and looks after her and they eventually marry. Then she gets sick and dies. But Noichi doesn’t realise she is dead, and the animals of the forest, who he has made friends with, inhabit his wife’s body, making it as live as possible, crawling inside it to remove the rotting flesh, and wriggled inside to make it feel alive. Noichi continues to feed his wife and make love to her. Then she gives birth to a Tengu, mountain demon, who eats all the creatures of the forest, but lies to Noichi, who believes everything his child tells him.

At the end is an essay saying it’s unlikely the work of the turn of the century writer.

The actual story is pretty weird and fairy-tale like, and pleasant, or rather unpleasant, enough. But the non-sense surrounding the authenticity of the story seems a bit contrived. A brief paragraph would have been suffice, it feels like unnecessary padding.

Definitely a strange tale.

Taboo Special Issue

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2016 by stanleyriiks

I’m delighted to announce that my story “The Tape” has been published in the Morpheus Tales Taboo Special issue, edited by the multi-talented Sheri White.

To give you some idea of the content of that very special issue, my story about a young Hitler and his mother was rejected. “The Tape” is a more subtle tale about a couple of teenage boys finding a VHS tape in one of their parent’s bedrooms. I bet you can imagine what’s on that secret tape… You perves! 😉

Nope, that’s not it. It’s something much more disturbing…

The free preview of the magazine is available here:

Try not to be too disappointed but there’s no preview of my story as it’s pretty short and it would give too much away. You’ll have to buy a copy to get your hands on my bit…


The ebook in various formats is available here:

The ebook is available on amazon for the kindle.

The printed digest size edition is available here:

The printed perfect-bound edition is available here:

WAR DOGS By Greg Bear – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2016 by stanleyriiks

The Earth has been invaded, but the aliens (Gurus) are friendly and offer technological assistance and warnings of an impeding invasion by evil aliens (the Antags), who start the war against humanity on Mars.

The desolate planet is a battle-ground into which Master Sergeant Michael Venn is ejected, but the drop with his fellow marines and their supplies and weaponry goes wrong. Venn finds himself on the planet with little air or supplies, and just a few rag-tag remnants of his platoon.

Up until this point it’s kind of like a more military version of The Martian, it’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s desperate and kind of scary. But about half way through the novel Bear seems to lose the plot a bit, adds in more politics as some officers turn up, and a local human Martian who takes them to a shelter, where they are soon the target of the infamous Antags.

Then the book goes completely off the rails, adding in more politics, conspiracies and things that complicate the book no ends and serve only to distract from what could have been an excellent military adventure on the desperate wind-swept planet of Mars.

This is not the novel you are look for, if, like me, you wanted some action adventure military SF. Starts well, ends badly.

WEED SPECIES By Jack Ketchum – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2016 by stanleyriiks

I don’t know how Ketchum does it, but he does it every time. He has a way of saying stuff that just makes it feel really really wrong. And although the stuff would be wrong anyway, it feels really wrong when Ketchum says it in his raw, open-wound kind of style.

Here we follow the sordid adventures of Sherry, who starts off by drugging her teenage sister so that her husband can rape her. You see Sherry has been helping her husband rape for a few years, and they’ve also been murdering these girls, and now that young Talia is of a certain age, and Sherry is getting older, she’s just not doing it for her husband anymore and is going to help him rape her little sister. Except that things swiftly go wrong and the girl ends up dead.

This short book chronicles the further adventures of Sherry and the consequences of their sordid escapades.

This is pretty nasty stuff, and Ketchum shows us the true horror of the world, despicable humans. Horror has never been quite so nasty as when Ketchum writes it. The man is a devil, he is truly terrifying, by showing us the capacity of humanity to do wrong. A nasty little book, such great fun!

THE BIG SLEEP BY Raymond Chandler – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2016 by stanleyriiks

Chandler’s classic novel introduced us to Philip Marlow, a no nonsense ex-soldier turner Private Investigator, who is called to the home of the Sternwoods, a rich family living the highlife in LA.

Although the mission Marlow is given by the ailing old patriarch is to resolve a case of blackmail, he rapidly becomes involved in a series of murders, and must wade through the seedy underbelly of the city to find out what he needs to know.

This all seems very familiar, probably because it’s been copied to death, and has influenced pretty much every crime novel and movie ever since it was published.

Marlowe is the quintessential gum-shoe. What more can you say about a novel that inspired a genre?

Well, how about the Sternwoods are about as lifelike as the Kardashians, rich cardboard cut-outs, the dying old wheelchair-bound man is the most life-like and likeable, his daughters are a pair of spoilt rich sluts, alternatively using their money or their bodies to get what they want.

Marlowe, our hero (of a sort), doesn’t fare much better, although I suppose we have to give Chandler the credit for creating the stereotype. I guess I expected more, a bit of attitude, a bit of flair, a down at heel, hard on his luck James Bond type (you can clearly see where Marlowe inspired Bond). What you get is a man following his nose into trouble, with little wit, energy or intelligence.

And the plot hobbles along, following the barest morsel of investigation to a weak and ultimately unsatisfying ending.

It seems Chandler’s novel hasn’t fared as well as the pulp heroes before it, or the superheroes and Bond-villains who followed. May be the realism of Marlowe is what made him great and has made him age just as badly.

Chandler’s unique style isn’t noticeable present here either.

Perhaps the film version is better?

Disappointingly pedestrian.

CONAN AND THE TREASURE OF PYTHON By John Maddox Roberts – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2016 by stanleyriiks

Maddox Roberts has a lot to answer for. When I was fourteen years old I walked home from school past the local WH Smiths, and had a look at some of their books. I picked out Conan the Valorous because I liked the cover. I bought it and went home, started reading and nine pages in I put the book down, went back to WH Smiths and bought a couple more.

Since then there has rarely been a time when I’m not reading a book. And although I’ve come to realise that the newer Conan novels aren’t really a patch on Howard’s originals, they are still great sword and sorcery.

Conan is bored having a drink at an inn when he takes on the job of escorting a beautiful woman, her brother-in-law and their scholarly friend, deep into the mysterious Coast of Bones to help find her husband.

It rapidly becomes clear that Conan has been lied to about the purpose of their journey; they are in fact in search of treasure, as well as the missing husband/brother. With a gang of cut-throat pirates to try to keep control of the Cimmerian must also travel through strange forests, cannibal-infested lands, and jungles, all the while followed by murderous Stygians.

The Conan books offer adventure, exploration, and excitement. There is fighting, sorcery, beautiful women, and evil. They are simple, enjoyable, entertainment.

Roberts does it again, another exciting fantasy adventure. More Conan please!

THE TECHNICIAN By Neal Asher – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2015 by stanleyriiks

This is the book that got me reading Asher’s books. Jon Sullivan’s cover of the titular beast is incredible, and his other covers for Asher’s other books are pretty damn good too. Can you pick a book by its cover?

Although this book is set in Asher’s familiar Polity world it is a stand-alone novel and can be read independently. But, if you have read some of his other novels this will inform the backstory of some familiar characters.

Masada is home to the hooders, a set of deadly creatures, the Theocracy (a strictly religious group who have enslaved some of the populous), the gaggleducks, and the Technician, a near mythical creature who not only attacks humans but turns their bodies into works of art.

When the Technician allows one of its victims to live, Jeremiah Tombs, a member of the Theocracy, it changes him in ways that even the advanced technology of the Polity cannot determine.

Twenty years later the Theocracy is no more, Tombs escapes his Polity captors and goes in search of the truth, a band of rebels called the Tidy Squad are out to kill him, and the Technicians is still out hunting…

Apart from that there are war drones, a dragon and his ancestors, a modified human studying the Technician, and alien races that have destroyed themselves to muddy the waters further.

There’s a lot going on here, as there is with most of Asher’s novels. His intricate plots draw you gradually deeper into his worlds. The characters are barely memorable, but it is the story, the plot and the incredibly well crafted world that really drive this novel.

Asher writes proper SF, intelligent, insightful, and passionate. The world he has created in this novel and the other Polity books (and the Scatteray series) are incredibly complex and detailed and yet don’t overwhelm the intense and sometimes complicated plots. The story drives along swiftly, there are multiple layers, and everything comes together in a riveting but mildly disappointing climax. Can any ending really live up to the rest of the novel?

Asher is the master of intelligent SF. The Technician is a great novel to start your Polity education: jump straight in, the water is thrilling.