Archive for collection

TWILIGHT OF THE DRAGONS By Andy Remic – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2017 by stanleyriiks

Book two of the Blood Dragon Empire series sees our band of heroes, now freed from the torturous clutches of the dwarves, heading deeper into the mountain, following Lilith the witch as she divines their path to the ancient city of dragons, Wyrmblood, hunted by dwarves intent on their murder.

Above ground the freed dragons are on a rampage, attacking everyone and everything they can find. The Iron Wolves, another crack team of warriors from Vagandrak, from Remic’s previous books The Iron Wolves and The White Towers, find themselves on the receiving on Kranesh, the dragon queen’s, wrath. The axe-warrior is intent on giving as good as he gets and involves his crew in an epic battle on the ramparts of the walled city…

Anyway who hasn’t read at least the first book in this series should turn back now. Can you get away with not reading the first book? Sure you can, but it’s like watching a film by starting in the middle, and a football match from the second half.

To get the most out of this book I would also recommend the connected Iron Wolves books too, which will give you a nice back history of half the characters involved.

Having read a lot of fantasy I can pretty well predict where the author is going to go. I have a good idea of the plot, and how the characters will act. Not so with Remic. He manages to surprise me, a lot. What he is willing to do to his characters is… well, it’s quite horrible sometimes. And yet brilliant. His plots continue to surprise as well, just as I think this will be a nice Empire Strikes Back-type second book in a trilogy, adding depth and dimension to the story and moving it forward towards the inevitable conclusion, he throws in battles you expect him to save for the third book, he kills characters you expected to the trilogy’s heroes, and he blows your mind.

Remic surprises and delights in equal measure. He does something few writers seem to be able to, he makes you feel.

Remic is a fantasy genius. Twilight of the Dragons slides nicely into my Remic collection, and if you don’t have your own Remic collection you’re not reading the right fantasy.

Advertisements

BROTHERS OF THE SNAKE By Dan Abnett – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2017 by stanleyriiks

This is a bit of a weird one, part circular short story collection, part novel, with the Iron Snakes of Ithaka as its heroes. The story starts with the primuls (dark Eldar) attacking the backward world of Baal Solock who can barely attempt to stave off the aliens and must call upon the Iron Snake Space Marines to aid them. The Iron Snakes send a young marine called Priad to deal with the problem. A few short stories later and Priad is now Brother Sergeant and back at Baal Solock to finish what he thought he’d finished all those years before. The stories in between may seem disconnected, but all of them are tales of the growth and development of the Iron Snakes.

Again, I’ll repeat, this is a bit of a weird one. Not really a novel, it doesn’t have the drive, energy or depth of a longer piece, although the novella at its end, which ties some of the stories together, makes up for some of that. The separate stories feel disjointed, despite sharing the Iron Snakes as a major theme they are often too dissimilar to feel like part of a single story.

Abnett creates some great set-piece battles, and his action sequences are top-notch, but here the structure of the book fails to draw the reader in enough.

Not quite a themed short story collection and not quite a novel, this book fails before it even begins.

Other novels by Abnett in the 40K universe are much worthier of your attention.

ACK-ACK MACAQUE By Gareth L. Powell – Reviewed

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2013 by stanleyriiks

Published with the kind permission of Morpheus Tales.

Powell’s first collection The Last Reef (available as an ebook from Anarchy Books (www.anarchy-books.com) was exceptional. A book filled with intelligent SF, bristling with ideas and clever stories. I was looking forward to reading Powell’s first novel The Recollection, a clever SF story based on some of the stories in that first collection. It wasn’t as good as I was expecting. Most of the brilliant ideas in the book came from the stories in The Last Reef. I’d expected more.

I wasn’t looking forward to reading this one. It sounded a bit… well, stupid. Also, I’d just finished reading the excellent Sandman Slim, a book filled with character, with attitude, with energy. Not something I would have expected from the “quiet” fiction of Powell.

Boy was I wrong!

Powell seems to be having a great deal of fun with this book, and fortunately the reader is right there alongside him all the way.

Britain and France merged in the 1950s. Nuclear powered airships travel around the world. Britain refuses to give back Hong Kong and is on the brink of war with China. The King is recovering from an assassination attempt. Victoria returns to London to deal with the murder of her husband, only to find the policeman who escorted her to the flat dead on the foot of the stairs and his murderer looking up at her, then heading straight for him, his knife poised to kill her too…

A Macaque is battling against Nazi forces during the Second World War…

This is powerful, action-packed stuff. The tension starts to rise from very early on, and as the twisted tale of treason, conspiracy and murder is revealed the tension continues to rise. The characters are unique, their voices clearly individual, and the monkey adding a level of attitude and humour that really jumps off the page. The one-eyed, pistol carrying, cigar chomping fighter pilot macaque is brilliantly refreshing in his no nonsense attitude, and animalistic simplicity amongst the complex plotting and treachery.

The tension rises throughout the book, creating an edge of the seat expectation that could only be satisfied with a powerful climax, so how about fighting and explosions, and crashing and… (I don’t want to give away too much!) but Powel delivers by the bucketload.

Powerful, intelligent, filled with ideas, clever touches and brilliant characters.

Powell has hit his stride, and produced a steampunk SF novel that delivers. I don’t know if Powell is planning a sequel, but when you have a character this good, he deserves another book. I can’t think of a story that could possibly live up to this one, but I hope Powell can!

Monkey magic.

www.solarisbooks.com

THE WORLD ACCORDING TO CLARKSON By Jeremy Clarkson – Reviewed

Posted in Life..., Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 5, 2012 by stanleyriiks

Jeremy Clarkson is probably most famous for being a car journalist on the BBC’s Top Gear. He is a forthright, opinionated, and slightly grumpy, man who is relatively intelligent, well travelled, and yet still an everyman. That’s what comes across most in the collection of his articles for The Sunday Times. The articles are over ten years ago, but are surprisingly relevant to modern Britain: decreasing house prices, recession, job losses, bankers pay, university cuts, riots…

If you’re looking for insight or funny quips that you’ll get a few of those, but for comedy head for a Ben Elton book, and for insights go straight for a Tony Parson’s novel. In isolation these are good articles, and I could imagine myself picking up the paper just to read them, but as a collection there is no added value here.

Clarkson is a sometimes witty, generally correct, columnist. There is some humour, there is some insight, and it was nice to read a book without any need of concentration or brain-interaction.

I’m a big fan of the “adventure/quest” type Top Gear programmes where the three presenters are stuck in the middle of hostile territory and have a series of tasks to complete, rather than the traditional review programme, and having read the book I appreciate more what Hammond and Captain Slow add to Jeremy’s sarcastic grumpiness. Perhaps his articles should be moderated by someone else too.

Good clean, slightly interesting fun, but a beach book or perfect for an airplane as it won’t take too long to read and it won’t tax the brain any. An easy read. Might pick up another more recent book to compare, but might not…

Morpheus Tales Apocalypse Special Issue – Open to Submissions!

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2012 by stanleyriiks

Ok, so I didn’t manage to submit anything to the Ripped Genes: Biopunk Special Issue, which closed to submissions yesterday. I hear it’s going to be pretty damn good though. Fortunately there’s another Special Issue from the people at Morpheus Tales, now this one really floats my boat…

Morpheus Tales Apocalypse Special Issue – Open to Submissions!

It’s 2012 – the year our world is supposed to end. Supposedly, on December 21st, we will cease to exist. But how is it going to happen? Fire? Flood? Earthquakes? Or something manmade, such as an unstoppable virus or a nuclear explosion?

You tell us. Morpheus Tales is looking for short stories of how the human race is going to die out. Use your imagination – it can be as realistic (fire, for instance) or as far-fetched (maybe zombies?) as you’d like. Is it quick and painless or slow and excruciating? Make us a little nervous that maybe, just maybe, your scenario is imminent.

We know zombies are the in thing right now – but we don’t want to dig through tons of zombie stories. Try to come up with something unique, something that will stand out in the crowd. We want to be freaked out and blown away by the methods you choose to wipe out the Earth.

What we DON’T want – vampires, werewolves, aliens, fantasy, sword and sorcery, biopunk. Otherwise, regular Morpheus Tales guidelines apply – no simultaneous submissions, standard manuscript format, only high quality character- or plot-driven stories of no more than 3,000 words. 

Please put Apocalypse  Special Issue Submission in the subject of your email and send to: morpheustales@blueyonder.co.uk

The Apocalypse Special Issue will be available as an ebook and via print-on-demand services. Contributor copies will be in ebook format.

Deadline 31st of December!

EXPEDITION TO EARTH By Arthur C. Clarke – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2012 by stanleyriiks

Clarke is one of SF’s foremost thinkers, so it’s not a surprise to find his first short story collection to be filled to the brim with ideas. Originally published in 1953 this collection of eleven short stories is remarkable not just for the plethora of ideas it contains, but the fact that almost sixty years after its publication hardly any of it has dated.

Having never read Clarke before, but having heard of his collaboration on 2001: A Space Odyssey with Kubrick, I was quite looking forward to reading this short book (only 180 pages).

The first story is the longest, and the collection ends with “The Sentinel”, which is one of the stories 2001 was based on. Full of great ideas, Clarke writes with a clean, crisp style most SF writers nowadays tend to adopt, which leaves characters as mere pieces to discover or be endangered by the idea that is the heart of the story.

The perfect introduction to a legendary writer, this collection made me want to read more, and I’ll likely pick up Rendezvous with Rama before too long.

SMOKE AND MIRRORS By Neil Gaiman – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2012 by stanleyriiks

This collection of short stories by master story teller Gaiman is even more like a collection of fairy tales than his long works. His novels may have depth and scope that the short form lacks, but you still get hints of that here, along with variety.

Gaiman’s style is incredible, he is able to conjures worlds and characters with his words that spring up in their mind’s-eye. For me “Babycakes” and the final story in the collection “Snow, Glass, Apples” stood out. The first a brutal and unforgiving look at humanity, powerful for a single page story, the second a retelling of Snow White with a twist.

Even in his early fiction Gaiman has the ability to draw you in.

A beautifully imaginative and diverse collection from one of the world’s finest story tellers.