Archive for imaginative

GUN MACHINE By Warren Ellis – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2013 by stanleyriiks

Ellis writes comics normally, and not your average superhero fair, but intelligent and thought-provoking action driven comics. Like Red, that the Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren film was based upon. This is Ellis’ second novel, the first being a really weird, sex-fuelled road-book across the US.

This novel has its own share of weird too, but this time the plot is a little (really little!) more traditional. Detective Tallow watches as his partner is shot by a crazy man with a shotgun and shoots the man dead. In the apartment across the hall there is a hole in the wall caused by the shooting. On further investigating Tallow finds the mother-load of weaponry, an entire apartment decorated in guns of every kind. When he enlists the help of two CSIs to help test and record the guns they find that each of the hundreds and possible thousands of weapons have been involved in a murder. Tallow has just fallen into investigating one of the worst ever serial killers New York City has ever seen…

And that’s just the start of it: native American Indian history, conspiracies and corruption, this book contains a riveting mystery and a mass of detail that draws you in.

The first few pages of this book are quite shocking brilliant, as Ellis shows off his imaginative turn of phrase and pours on the style, which drifts into an intricate plot. Tallow is the down at heel cop who needs the brutal murder of his partner to bring him back to life, and his slightly depressive, possibly suicidal tendencies manifest in a compulsion to catch the killer at any cost, including his own life, and make the dramatic chase all the more exciting.

This is not your standard crime thriller, this is a whacked out, dope-fuelled hurricane of a crime thriller, a strange and compelling mystery. Ellis writes like a demon possessed and I can’t wait to read his next novel, bring it on.

Morpheus Tales Biopunk Special Issue – 31st July Deadline for Submissions

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2012 by stanleyriiks

Oh bugger me! Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fu… well, when you’re busy. It also flies when you have a deadline approaching, it seems much more quickly than when there’s no deadline. I really wanted to submit to this Biopunk Special.

With just a week to go until the issue closes I’m not sure if I have enough time to get something written, edited and submitted. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been published (fiction-wise) by Morpheus Tales a couple of times, by different editors.

When the issue was first announced earlier this year I was flooded with ideas, now, a week before the deadline, and having written no fiction yet this year, I am bereft. No idea, no time, no story.

Three thousand words can seem like a daunting challenge, but with the right story and the imaginative flow going, it’s difficulty to contain it within that amount of words.  But staring at a blank screen, nothing is coming to me.

One week. That’s all I have left. Will I even manage to submit something? I know the issue is almost complete, I’ve even had a sneaky peak, but didn’t get a chance to read any of the stories. It’s being edited by proof-reader extraordinaire Samuel Diamond, who is one of those responsible for polishing the Morpheus Tales Supplement until it shines.

Ok, enough with this procrastination. I haven’t got time for it. One week. To write a story, edit and submit. I can do it. Or can I? Well, I should at least try. Otherwise I’ve already failed, haven’t I. Bring it on!

Guidelines can be found here:

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.

KELL’S LEGEND By Andy Remic – Reviewed

Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2010 by stanleyriiks

How do you create a possible successor to one of the greatest fantasy characters to ever live? I’m obviously talking about sword and sorcery legend Conan. The Cimmerian Barbarian has entertained readers for eighty years, and film goers for thirty. There hasn’t been a new Conan novel for a long time, but if you read any of the Tor novels you’ll find them remarkably similar – a plot on rails with very little imagination.

Conan is a prototypical fantasy barbarian, with well-known characteristics that many have tried to emulate.

Kell’s departure from these characteristics is what makes this story work so well. He’s a grumpy old man, a warrior past his prime and discarded by society, hiding away in a small northern town where he makes soup and is visited by his granddaughter, Nienna. After one such visit, the ears of the old warrior prickle as he hears screams. His door is kicked in by albino warriors who bleed white blood when he kills them using his trusted blood-bond axe, Ilanna, and the fight is on to save Nienna. It soon becomes clear that the albino soldiers are part of an invading army, and Kell is joined in his cause by a seducer and popinjay Saark, who’s more interested in saving his own skin and bedding Nienna or her friend Kat.

The invasion is led by General Graal, a leader of the Vachine, a race part vampire part machine. Graal is a cruel and twisted warrior who will stop at nothing to capture the entire human race, so that he and his people may feed.

Kell is a hero for the modern era, complete with idiosyncrasies, a deep and troubled history, and dealing with his own set of problems whilst struggling desperately to survive. The other characters in the novel are also very well drawn, and as the world gradually expands on their voyage, so too does the world become more detailed.

This book isn’t read as much as it is experienced. It draws you in deeply in the first hundred pages and then, as more and more dangers are thrown at our band, you feel you are surviving with them. Remic isn’t afraid to kill off a great character or throw in another challenge to spice things up and ramp up the tension. You can’t help feeling like you have to hold on tight just to stay on for the ride. It’s that tension and excitement that make the book stand out. There is real danger here. In most fantasies you know that the main characters are always safe because they have to appear in the next book, but although this is Book I of the Clockwork Vampire Chronicles, it’s not the Tales of Kell chronicles and you really do believe that at any moment another character could be killed. There’s an evil and twisted streak to Remic, which not only gives us added danger (and a little torture), but also provides the grim humour that is sadly lacking for many modern fantasy novels.

Okay, so it’s not perfect. For a start, you have to wait for the second instalment. (Grr! I have no patience.) There are far more typos than you would expect from a major publishing house and this can be bothersome, but not overly so. Also, the start of the story is a little slow, but only for the first couple of chapters and then it’s full speed ahead!

Kell’s Legend is a rare book. It’s one of those reads that makes you sit up and slaver with excitement. It has the page-turning quality of a thriller, the depth of an epic, the kind of protagonist that comes round one in a lifetime, and a story that twists and turns like a snake. It’s imaginative, brilliant, exciting, amazing, and truly inspiring. Yeah, I really did fucking love this book!

The cliffhanger ending will leave you on the edge of your seat begging for the next instalment. This series has the potential to be truly legendary and I really can’t wait for the next chapter.

This review appeared in Morpheus Tales 8 Reviews Supplement:

Free Books

Posted in Life..., Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2009 by stanleyriiks

The main reason I got into reviewing in the first place was to get free books. It worked a treat! In the mid- to late-nineties I was getting about three books a week. Most I managed to read, but some are still on my bookshelves now.

I love books. And I love getting free books. I love getting books in the post, it’s like a mini-christmas every time one arrives. What could possibly be better? Ok, may be Lego!

In the past two weeks four books have arrived for me to review. Which is a shame because I’ve been having a rest from the power-reading I’ve been doing lately and I took a time-out to read Four Past Midnight By Stephen King (short review coming soon!).

I did enjoy my brief period of restful reading, I watched more TV than I have done in a while and I’ve even had time to get a little bored (which is the sign of an active mind according to some expert).

When I used to get free books in the old days it was mostly the big publishers who sent them. Always through a magazine of one form or another, I never approached the publishers directly. I wrote reviews for Black Tears Magazine, the British Science Fiction Association Newsletter, Comics International, and a load more I can’t even remember.

Now I’m the Reviews Editor for Morpheus Tales Magazine, and from the next issue we’ll be producing a Reviews Supplement, so plenty of space for me to share my opinions!

But now it seems to be the small-press publishers who send the books, Elastic Press, Swimming Kangaroo Books, Comet Press… If you get the chance check them out, they all offer stuff that puts the big guys to shame, inventive, well-written and imaginative. The small-press is the cutting edge of genre fiction.

So, the marathon that was the King collection is over and the power reading is back in action! Bring on the books!

First up, the Blood Red Sphere By Lawrence Barker.