Archive for assasin

PYGMY By Chuck Palahniuk – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2011 by stanleyriiks

Pygmy is a diminutive teenager from an unnamed totalitarian state, who arrives in the United States, with several of his comrades, to infiltrate and destroy the corrupt nation of America. Having been fully trained and brainwashed from a young age, Pygmy is an assassin and terrorist, who one family of Americans takes into their home.

Not really material for a comedy you may say, not exactly something that sounds like a social satire. But that’s exactly what this is. When Chuck isn’t poking fun at the totalitarians, he’s poking fun at the Americans. There’s also some teenage angst and hi-jinks involved.

Not only does Chuck provide a few laughs, but some brutality (made all the more disturbing by the humour), and some poignancy. This isn’t comedy or horror or sf, although it could claim to be any of those. This is literature, a marvellous mix of all of them, told stunningly well.

Despite the initial difficulty in getting into the first person prose (in broken English by Agent Number 67, otherwise known at Pygmy), you find yourself involved and urging him on, or not, as the case may be.

There has probably never been a funnier terrorist novel, and as Chuck goes where few writers have gone before – a Walmart toilet anyone? – he does it with style, substance and a light touch that makes it all worth while.

IMAJICA By Clive Barker – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2010 by stanleyriiks

Wow, this is a big epic. I mean huge. 1136 densely packed pages. It’s a marathon of a novel. It feels long. It took me six solid weeks of reading to finish it, and by the time I had I was exhausted and numb.

I understand that Barker and his publishers want to give the readers value for money, but this would have worked so well as two novels. The first would chart the plots and conspiracies surrounding Gentle, his former girlfriend Judith, her husband, the assassin he’s employed to kill her, and the mysterious world of the other four dominions. It would follow the story of their travelling through the wondrous worlds of the other dominions, as they attempt to discover what the Reconciliation is and their part in it. Would have been a good book at about 500 pages.

Book two would have seen the return to the Fifth Dominion, Earth, by those involved, and their attempts and machinations to Reconcile all of the Dominions, struggling to stay alive and one step ahead of the mysterious and dangerous Maestro of Yzordderrex, and discovering how the equally dangerous and mysterious Goddesses fit into things.

Instead we get two books for the price or one, and who can argue with that? Well, I can. (Some later editions were split in two!)

Reading any novel should be fun. It should be exciting, entertaining, and with an epic it should be even more so. More involving, more moving, more of everything.

Except here it’s not. Don’t get me wrong, I love epics. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Peter Hamilton’s Night’s Dawn trilogy, the Dune Saga… I like to read collections and trilogies in one go, so the depth of this novel doesn’t terrify me at all, I was actually looking forward to it. But it felt like a marathon, and one I wasn’t prepared for. It took longer than expected, it felt longer than it was, it was damn hard work, and I was already prepared for a lengthy read.

The book is not unenjoyable, it’s just that it’s inability to keep you entertained at a sufficient level means that half way through you feel as though you have finished and should be rewarded with a nice ending. And that’s what you get, the book clearly ends and loses energy before getting its second wind and then the book continues and the second half just feels like a very long, drawn out epilogue that never ends.

So is it rubbish? No, the characters, particularly for an epic of this length, are barely more than cardboard cut-outs, and the plot is simple enough, but its the telling of the story, the complexity and depth of the five dominions that really keep you reading, (ok, the only thing that keep you reading). Just about entertaining enough, or perhaps that’s just stubborn determination that kept me reading till the end despite it feeling like a chore.

If you haven’t read Weaveworld try that one instead, the same depth but for a third of the time and effort.

Probably the weakest Barker novel I’ve read so far. A hard slog, and unfortunately not really worth it.