Archive for monster

SANDMAN SLIM By Richard Kadrey – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2013 by stanleyriiks

I saw Devil Said Bang in Forbidden Planet before Christmas and knew I had to read it. OCD sufferer that I am, I can’t start a series with book number four, so this one (Sandman Slim) went on my Christmas list. Fortunately Santa listened and I unwrapped this along with another twenty-odd books (Santa’s good!). I thought I’d start with this one because it’s fairly short, and I wanted to start working my way towards that fourth book in the series, the one I really wanted to read.

Fortunately the first in the series is a rock-hard, ultra-violent, action-fest!

Jimmy Stark was sent down to hell eleven years ago by his magic circle. Since then he’s been trying to survive as the play-toy of demons, and has managed to become a monster fighter and assassin. But when his ex-girlfriend is brutally murdered by the very same man who put him in hell, Stark escapes, killing one of Lucifer’s generals in the process. Now he’s in LA, looking for revenge on the magic circle that sentenced him to hell and their leader who killed the only woman he ever loved.

What follows is a cross between David Gunn’s Death’s Head (the attitude, the action, the raw brutality, and the protagonist from hell [this time literally]), and Tim Waggoner’s Nekopolis (a city [this time LA] riven with hellish creatures and magic), although it’s all under the surface here.

Stark is the perfect host (first person narrator), a revenge-driven psychopath, willing to kill himself and whoever gets in his way. The first person he encounters he cuts of their head. He doesn’t get any friendlier as the novel goes on, and it’s great! Hard-bitten, filled with venom and pithy comments, Stark is a true urban anti-hero with a bad attitude.

Kadrey has produced a real character in Stark, a unique individual you can’t help but remember, and may be not for all the right reasons. He’s fantastically caustic, and all the better for it in the urban sprawl of LA. An LA filled with angels, demons and Kissee, along with magicians, G-men from Homeland Security, murderers, skinheads and all manner of human-pus.

Sandman Slim is a unique and terribly entertaining mix, an urban fantasy that is vile and brutal and brilliant because of that. Stark is a hero that demands your attention, he has mine, and I’ll be back for the second in the series, and the third and fourth. I can’t wait!

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THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES: SÉANCE FOR A VAMPIRE By Fred Saberhagen – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2012 by stanleyriiks

What could be better? The world’s greatest detective and vampires. In fact, better than just your average vampire, Dracula himself.

The story starts in 1765 at a pirate hanging, told to us by Prince Dracula himself, in the prologue.

The story proper starts with the irascible Dr Watson’s narration as he and the great detective are requested to attend a séance where a wealthy family’s eldest daughter has previously been conjured. Their daughter died weeks ago of drowning while out with her fiancé and sister.

So far so good.

Saberhagen has Watson’s style down pretty good, and the story rolls along in the traditional style. But somewhere towards the middle of the book things begin to go awry.

The book switches narrator between Watson and Dracula, which far from adding to the story, is jarring and confusing. There is some overlap between the stories being told, and there is the constant “I, Dracula take over the story” every time there is a change, which grates. At times both narrators use the third person to describe themselves, adding to the confusion.

Holmes is a facsimile, a mere name, without any of the characteristic genius, the clever detection, or humour of the original. Dracula, although an aristocrat, was never a gentleman. Beneath his suave exterior lies the rotting heart of monster. Even at his best he is a creepy and chilly individual. Not so here, Dracula rivals Watson for pompous Victorian etiquette.

Despite the ruinous use of two of my favourite characters, I persevered to the end, only to find one of the weakest climaxes in the history of the novel, and everything tied up so easily it hardly felt worth the effort, without any ingenuity or integrity.

Although I have savaged, quite comprehensively, this book, I still found myself enjoying some small parts of it. It is after all, Dracula and Holmes, even if they are poor copies.

This could have been such a brilliant book, perhaps my expectations were too high, or perhaps this book doesn’t deserve the name of Holmes associated with it. I might try another in the series to check, but this definitely does not live up to the originals.

THE SKINNER By Neal Asher – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 18, 2011 by stanleyriiks

Three strangers meet on the way to the planet’s surface. That planet, which has little serviceable surface, is Spatterjay, a mostly water-filled world. And the seas of Spatterjay are filled with all manner of creatures all ready and willing to eat you and anything else that invades their watery home: including the strange leeches, whose bite, if not fatal, will change your body chemistry until you are immortal, or near as damnit.

One of the party of three is Sable Keech, several hundreds of years old, and finally returning to Spatterjay to complete his mission: to find the remaining survivors of Jay Hoop’s crew and execute them. They were an ancient gang who sold cored-human slaves to the alien Prador’s during the war. Despite the war now being over a Prador adult and adolescent have arrived on the planet in secret with one of Hoop’s old crew, intent on causing problems.

Another of the three is Janer, part of a hive mind that may have secret plans to colonize the planet.

Throw into this mix semi-immortal pirates; a monster that skins people alive; the various fauna that occupies most of the planet and is intent on eating everything else; an AI overseer that acts as the planet’s police and army; and a War Drone; and you get a massive amount of story, huge back-stories, and a huge amount of information that fortunately doesn’t slow down the plot too much.

It takes a little while to get into the book because of the sheer volume of stuff you need to know, but it’s so full of great ideas that you can’t help but keep reading. The book builds nicely, we have enough action and enough ideas to not only keep you entertained but make you want to discover more. Fortunately Asher’s produced not only more Spatterjay novels, but also Polity novels (based on the more organised part of the universe that only make a brief appearance here). Asher’s universe is massively detailed and cleverly put together, and the novel is the same. What it lacks in pace to begin with is swiftly made up for in the later stages, and you can forgive this because of the amount of detail expounded.

Full of great ideas, with a good solid story and plenty of twists and turns, this first book of Spatterjay is the ideal entry into this virgin territory, and I have high hopes for the other books in the series, which I will most definitely be seeking out.