Archive for fun

HIVE MONKEY By Gareth L. Powell – Reviewed

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

This review will likely start off like every review of Powell’s work I’ve written, saying how impressed I was with his first collection from the awesome and now hibernating/demised Elastic Press. It was filled to the brim with great stories and amazing ideas, and it was riveting. The books that followed sadly fell a little flat. That was until Powell hit his stride with his first monkey book, Ack-Ack Macaque. Although I don’t remember it in great detail, I remember it being an exciting steampunk thriller and I actually bought this second book in the series because it was so good. I rarely, if ever, buy books, as I get plenty for review, so that’s a pretty big recommendation.

This second book works perfectly well as a stand-alone novel, although it carries on from the first book and there is some history, it works well as backstory to in novel.

The skyliner that is home to the monkey who escaped from a game, and a brain-damaged captain and her holographic ex-husband, comes under threat when a man from a parallel universe is murdered. The investigation into the murder brings the skyliner crew into conflict with a hive-mind cult intent on take over the world. Can Ack-Ack, Victoria, Paul and K8 save the world again?

The plot doesn’t really capture the essence of the book, you miss out on the style and the characters that really raise this above your average SF steampunk thriller. Powell has created a really unique cigar-chomping spitfire pilot of a macaque who really brings the story to life, the other characters are mere background cast, this isn’t really an ensemble piece, despite Powell’s efforts.

And the world that Powell has created is filled with interesting ideas: a United Kingdom of France, Norway, UK and Northern Ireland; zeppelins; parallel universes; laser guns; Neanderthal assassins, and a whole lot more.

Great world, great character, great style, all put together with decent plot and some nice background characters. I will be back for more with the third book in the series soon, and recommend this for any fan of monkey fiction, and anyone who likes a bit of fun.

Great SF has never been so hairy.

Advertisements

DEATH’S HEAD: MAXIMUM OFFENCE By David Gunn – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2011 by stanleyriiks

Futuristic warfare is brutal. Just ask SvenTveskoeg, Lieutenant in the elite Death’s Head regiment of the Octovian Army, head of the go-to squad for General Jaxx, and seconded to the U/Free (superior alien race) to search for a missing ambassador on the artificial world of Hekati. Except nothing is ever as easy as it first appears for Sven, as his mission is a cover, and he doesn’t even know what his real mission is as it’s on a “need to know basis” and despite him being in charge of carrying out the mission, his superiors don’t believe he needs to know. Sven and his small team, the Aux, have to do their best to be diplomatic as they search for the missing U/Free on a world inhabited by bandits and gangs, all the while being chased by the Enlightened (humanity’s greatest enemy), and having to cope with a nineteen year old colonel who thinks he’s in charge.

But the Death’s Head series isn’t so much about plot as it is about action, here it’s delivered by the bucket-load. Fighting, battles, warfare, snipers, talking guns, spacecraft, treason and treachery, missing arms and all sort of action, excitement and adventure. There aren’t many books that could even keep pace with this face-stomping, arm twisting, rip-roaring riot of a novel. There’s little room here for developing characters (except for Sven who is our trusty narrator as well as our hero), clever plotting, or realistic futuristic worlds, all of these are secondary to the action-packed fun.

That’s not to say they’re missing, the second book in the series shows a slightly more complex structure than the first novel, there’s even a twist at the end. And the general narrative has a lot more depth, but this never takes away from the speed and excitement of the journey we’re on with the Death’s Head squad.

Only Andy Remic can hold a candle to the sheer blood-fuelled adrenaline shot that the Death’s Head books give you. There are few books as pacey or as exciting, and the second book leads so well into the third that you can’t help but leap up after finishing it, ready for more. Bring on the third book!

SERIAL KILLERS INCORPORATED By Andy Remic – Reviewed

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 9, 2011 by stanleyriiks

This review is printed with the permissions of Morpheus Tales Publishing. The review originally appears in the April issue of the Morpheus Tales Supplement.

It’s not often you finish a book sweating, panting and in need of a shower. Andy Remic writes such books, exhilarating thrill rides, the perfect combination of excitement and danger. Remic’s books are not read, they are experienced, and when you get out the other side you feel like you’ve just parachuted yourself out the back of a plane or ridden a motorbike at a hundred and twenty miles an hour down a motorway. It feels like you’ve just gone three five-minute rounds (MMA style) with a huge gorilla and you’re lucky to be alive. But in a good way!

Serial Killers Incorporated follows Callaghan, a hard drinking, hard smoking, hard fucking, hard living photo-journalist for a tabloid. When he and his partner get a tip-off of a hot story they don’t expect the skinned body of a woman with her legs cut off, but that’s what they find. And there is a note to Callaghan on the course. The police want to arrest them both and interrogate them despite the evidence proving their innocence, but then Callaghan has had some run-ins with the DI and they’re not exactly friends. Callaghan’s girlfriend is also proving a problem. Or rather her Romanian gun-runner husband is about to become a problem if he finds out Callaghan is fucking his wife. Then another tip-off sends them into a dark, desolate warehouse with another body awaiting them.

The first hundred or so pages set up the characters and the scenarios, but it’s once the action starts that this book really takes off. There’s plenty of action, including multiple murders, shootouts, fighting, and car-chases.

The warehouse scene is suitable frightening and will send chills down even the hardiest of spines. Even Callaghan becomes somewhat likeable, despite being a selfish bastard.

The climax is a bit… weird… But it works because Remic’s prose style punches you in the face until you submit. Here, unlike his Clockwork Vampire series, he seems even less inhibited and more in your face than normal, which is no bad thing, but does take some getting used to. There’s not the subtlety of the Clockwork Vampire series, this is stark and brutal, and works fine for a dark, noir crime-thriller.

There are a few niggling typos and a least one continuity issue, but with a book this size (400 plus pages) it’s hardly surprising, and all can be forgiven when a book is this much FUN!

Remic has produced another fine example of how to thrill a reader. This crime thriller is dark and nasty, and that’s what makes it so good. Remic is a no-holds-barred writer and Serial Killer Incorporated is a no-holds-barred novel; massively entertaining, scary, exciting, and brutally nasty. I defy you to read it and not have a grin on your face when you’re finished.

http://anarchy-books.com

ALARUMS By Richard Laymon – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2010 by stanleyriiks

Laymon’s plots are normally fairly linear, a group of girls are attacked whilst spending the night in an abandoned building, a family is attacked in the middle of the night and the daughter is the lone survivor and must run from the killers who will stop at nothing to track her down. All good stuff. All nice and simple.

But with this one we get something a little different. A little bit of mystery thrown in, but only a little bit.

Melanie Conway is at a recital when she collapses, having a fit which provides her a vision of her father or sister in a near-fatal accident. She grabs her boyfriend and heads back home from college, wondering who is hurt (visions are such pesky unreliable things!) and what’s happened, not being able to get either of them on the telephone.

Penny Conway receives a horrible message on her answer phone. A man, a pervert, calls three times, each time leaving a nasty, sick message for her. He says he’s coming to get her, to do the things he said he would.

When the Conway sisters and Melanie’s boyfriend meet up at the girls’ father home, they find his new wife might be sleeping with their dad’s partner. Not only that but the lovers may have actually committed the accident that had left their father in a coma.

This novel has much more mystery than most Laymon books. Unfortunately that doesn’t really make it better. Laymon is best when he’s driving us forward at break-neck speed, ploughing on with the action-fuelled plot. This book really only kicks into gear towards the end.

There nothing really wrong with the book, Laymon always writes readable books. But having read a few of his before, he writes fast food horror novels, exciting, fun and entertaining, but leaving nothing memorable behind.

Good fun, but nothing special and not even one of Laymon’s better books.

STILL LIFE By Joe Donnelly – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2009 by stanleyriiks

Ooh, this feels like a long book. It’s not really that long, but you kinda know what’s going to happen from quiet early on.

Martin Thorton is a reporter, an award winning reporter, who is following up his most famous story. A story about a nurse who was shot during a domestic dispute. A beautiful nurse who fell over the balcony where she was shot and landed awkwardly and broke her back. A nurse called Caitlin who is paralysed from the waist down, that is until she meets Sheila Garvie, the local herbalist.

Murders, secret rituals, poison, missing persons, disappearing bodies, and trees and plants that attack people.

Because we know what’s happening, it’s just a matter of waiting to see how long it will take our protagonist to work it out. And that takes a while, quite a long while.

But the story is entertaining, and Donnelly imbues his villains with a subtle evil that gradually comes out. How we get to the logical conclusion is actually the most important part of the book, and it serves its purpose, it’s entertaining enough, and Donnelly writes well enough to keep you reading.

It’s not as exciting as Donnelly’s other novels, and the story is a lot weaker. If you haven’t read any of his novels then The Shee is probably the best, and Stone is well worth reading. I don’t remember Bane, so I probably haven’t read it.

Fun, entertaining, and a rare treat of tree horror. But nothing really special, and not the best that Donnelly has to offer.

THE STEEL REMAINS By Richard Morgan – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2009 by stanleyriiks

THE STEEL REMAINS By Richard Morgan

Ringil is an aging hero, hiding out in the country years after his glorious victory at Gallows Gap which earned him a reputation that he’s living on, where he helped save the world from the scaled invasion of the lizardmen. He enjoys his life of drunkedness and having sex with boys. Your quintessential hero, sort of. But he’s given the task of finding his cousin, a job he can’t refuse as it’s his mother asking for the favour. So Ringil barges back into the city where his father rules, intent on making as much trouble as he can whilst visiting home, and goes in search of his cousin, slaughtering the slave peddlers as he goes (his cousin having been sold into slavery by a ruined husband).

There are a couple of others, a savage dragon-slayer whose brothers gang up with a shaman to depose him as clan leader, and a Kiraith, an ancient and alien race that fled from the world many years ago, leaving only Archeth the half-breed.

Ringil is really the hero here, although almost equal time is given to the other two. The story is fairly basic sword and sorcery, except that the sorcery is vaguely alien in nature and feels very SF in style.

Ringil is great fun, and he really should have taken a much larger part in the book. The other alien race, the dwenda, are strange and their world is weird, taking us away from the story to bring in a larger world invasion plot that is just an excuse for a big battle at the end. The dwenda don’t really fit, it feels like the SF elements are a bit forced.

This should have been an epic tale of brutality and debauchery, instead it’s finished fairly quickly, with the characters just about introduced. The sequel is already underway, and hopefully the second novel will see a lot more Ringil action.

DARKER By Simon Clark – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2009 by stanleyriiks

Richard Young, his wife and their four year old daughter Amy wave off Mark, their eldest child as he goes camping with friends. Little knowing that this week, while their son is away, they will be in a race for their lives across the UK, fighting to stay alive as they are chased round the country by a huge, invisible, crushing thing. They are joined in their plight by a multi-millionaire, Michael, who believes what he calls “the beast” can be controlled and he has a team of scientists trying to work out how to contain the ancient power.

This has a fairly slow start, not really much happening for the first sixty or seventy pages, as everyone is introduced and the happy family angle is played up. But when the action does kick it it’s full steam ahead, a frantic chase as the beast chases the family and their visitor Michael, who drip-feeds them information. All the while they are also chased by Rosemary Snow who is somehow linked to Amy, and knows just what a bad man Michael really is. He tried to kill her.

Mmm… While you’re reading this it’s actually quite good, typical thriller, full-on action which doesn’t give you a chance to think. You go along with the story because it keeps you entertained, you ignore the implausibility because it’s fun, you ignore the lack of good characters because the story sweeps you up. And it really does, despite its many errors and mistakes, and a complete disregard for the use of the comma, the story sweeps you up like a whirlwind, swings you round and won’t let you go till it’s finished with you and chucks you out the other end! Ok, so we don’t really care what happens to these people, the explanations are fairly implausible and at times ridiculous, as though the plot hasn’t really been thought out that much. But this is like a rollercoaster ride of a novel, you enjoy it while you’re enthralled in the action, despite the fact you’re left wondering “was that it?” at the end.

Clark is a much better writer than this book shows him to be. Fun, exciting, but lacking in substance.