Archive for creatures

DEAD STREETS By Tim Waggoner – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2011 by stanleyriiks

You might have thought that our hero and narrator, Matt Richter, Private Investigator, having his head cut off would be the end of the story. But this is Nekropolis, and Matt’s a zombie, so having his head cut off is just the start of his problems. He then finds out that his body has been stolen.

This is, literally, the beginning of a series of events that drive us towards the obvious conclusion, deftly swerved by Waggoner.

To give you any more of the details would be a disservice, and it’s the richness of the exploration of the mystery, as well as the brilliance of Nekropolis, that keeps you coming back for more.

This second book in the Nekropolis series focuses more on plot, whereas the first book with a mystery wrapped inside a guide book to everybody’s favourite strange city of the dead, the strange, the alien.

For anyone who has never read Nekropolis, the first book in the series, the mystery of a stolen artefact offers our zombie detective Richter the opportunity to explore the magically twisted city of Nekropolis, and gives us a back history of this underworld and our hero/narrator. Not the greatest novel ever written, it’s the city of Nekropolis that makes the book. It’s difficult to describe, but a dark adult version of Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas might be the closest you could get. It’s inhabited by wizards, vampires, ghosts, werefolk, zombies and all manner of dark and mysterious creatures.

The second book moves on with the relationships and the world first explored in Nekropolis and moves it all forward. The plotting is better here, but there is still a distinct lack of tension, probably because Matt is already dead and that struggle for life is over. The mystery isn’t so much of a mystery, until the end, but it’s the getting there rather than the result which is the important part.

This is a fun book, it’s enjoyable for the very idea of the city, further explored here to great effect. But with a decent plot and some added tension, this would have been an amazing novel. There’s still the third book to hope for, but I’m not even sure Waggoner of capable of blowing us away.

DEATH’S HEAD By David Gunn – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2011 by stanleyriiks

Amazon suggested this book to me because of a previous purchase of one of Andy Remic’s books. Andy Remic writes the kind of fast-paced, action-packed SF and fantasy stories that thrill and entertain in equal measure, so I was looking forward to this one.

For once amazon got it pretty much spot on.

Sven is an ex-sergeant Legionnaire who is about to be lashed to death for insubordination, until a group of Ferox (unfriendly Wookie-type creatures) attack the out-post he’s stationed at, killing everyone but him. One of the massive alien beasts talks to Sven using telepathy and Sven is taken back to their camp where he lives with them as a kind of pet.

This is the beginning of Sven’s adventures.

When the cave system the Ferox live in is attacked and Sven is saved, he becomes a tool of the General, given mission where the army needs deniability. Sven’s unique abilities and his tougher than shit attitude not only get him into trouble, but also out of it, as he tackles prison, treason, war and command.

Ok, so Sven’s adventures feel very much organic, the plotting for the novel seems to have happened during the writing process and each episode doesn’t connect too much with what follows or what came before other than occasional details, but that doesn’t matter.

The haphazard plotting makes it feel like a real adventure, and you can’t help but enjoy Sven’s “fuck you” attitude. This guys got huge balls and isn’t afraid to display them for all to see. You want Sven to win, whatever it is he’s doing. He’s one of those grumpy bastards, like Kell, Conan and Druss, that we’re used to seeing in fantasy fiction, but a lot less so in SF. Here we have a true hero, who knows the difference between right and wrong, but does things he own ways, whether it gets him into trouble or not.

So the aliens involved in the final battle all become a bit confused, and you’re not sure quite who’s fighting who, but who cares!

Sven is what carries the story on, and Gunn gives us a great helping of action to keep things speeding along nicely so we don’t get too worried about the details. Great fun, the kind of book that puts a grin on your face. A boy’s own adventure in space.

VAMPYRRHIC By Simon Clark – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2010 by stanleyriiks

I quite enjoyed this. It’s not normally my kind of thing, it’s a gentle, old-skool horror novel.

The premise is excellent, Thor (from Norse mythology) made a pact with a family a thousand years ago and gave them a vampire army to destroy all of Christendom. Unfortunately the family didn’t stick to the plan, and now, a thousand years later, David Leppington has returned to the family home to find that he is the last of the line, and expected to take control of the vampire army on its unending march to domination of the Christian world.

That would have been a great book. Unfortunately what we get is this great idea as the back-story. The main plot concerns David Leppington returning to his hometown, the town of Leppington, named after his family, and discovering the legend of Thor’s vampire army from his uncle, and then attempting to destroy the army before they begin their attack.

The first two thirds of the book set up the story as we are gradually given more information about the legend and the town. The story slowly and gently unravels, the vampires begin to escape and attack the human population of Leppington, but it isn’t until the uncle blows a hole in the bars imprisoning the creatures that the action kicks up a notch and David and his new-found friends, must fight for their lives.

Clark is a writer of such potential, as shown by the premise. But here he’s missed a massive opportunity. The book we’re given is in no way as exciting, entertaining or as passionate as it could have been. It seems this is a much more traditional, staid, and middle-of-the-road novel, playing safe rather than provoking any kind of emotion.

The writing isn’t Clark at his best either, his characters are all weak, limp-wristed, wet-wipes. Nothing there to incite any feeling.

Still, being the wrong book, a massive missed opportunity, a complete failure in potential, this still isn’t such a bad book. It certainly doesn’t have much going for it; but it’s a good little standard horror novel, similar to what Richard Laymon used to churn out endlessly.

Typical low-impact horror.