Less Than Human

Humanity Is The DevilHumanity Is The Devil by Jordan Krall

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One sitting. I don’t often read things cover-to-cover, especially when I start them after midnight, but I was compelled to keep thumbing the kindle once I began. One of my rules of thumb is that you lose me immediately if you cite devils, demons, Xtian objects in general, but I’ve read a few of the author’s things and was willing to compromise.
Often it is said that the evil people harbor within them is worse than any number of movie monsters, and that’s the principle this book operates on. JG Ballard-influence is clear, and there’s a poetic sort of repetition going on, symbolizing the mc’s obsessiveness, though there’s some Ellison-Deathbird flavor to the proceedings as well.
Not SF though, not “weird”. Has more in common thematically with Jim Thompson than anything else, as do True-crime newsstand periodicals in general.
Devilishly clever. Well-executed.
Review not available on Amazon because the author has a problem with the publisher of that version. I agree and will not promote their product.

View all my reviews

Famous Armenians for 1000, Alex.

I Am Providence: A NovelI Am Providence: A Novel by Nick Mamatas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very much enjoyed. I remember my old English teachers telling me that you couldn’t tell a story from the pov of a corpse. They were wrong. I proved it in third grade. Mamatas proves it here.
Even though I’ve never been to a “weird” convention, I am acquainted with enough people in the field that I can guess who most of the Tuckerized characters in this untidy murder mystery are, or are based on. I guessed the wrong person as the killer (actually I guessed Rhan-Tegoth). But the signs aren’t very obvious, so I forgive myself.
Laughed out loud in several places. Read the book in two sittings, at night, and then the next morning. Good summer-type read. Has some depth of character but fairly slight compared to the bulk of the things I’m reading currently, one of which is the “other” version of this title by ST Joshi, who is likely skewered in this novel.

Fun. I’m sure people will be upset. Nick Mamatas is a bit of a provocateur, and knows it, and Panossian is probably a reasonably accurate portrait. Maybe a little exaggerated – I don’t think there’s quite that much antipathy…but then I haven’t been to a Necronomicon yet. The Futurians, these people aren’t.

Yossarian and Karabekian would probably have enjoyed this novel. I dunno about Mordiggian. It has an effective graveside manner and enough easter eggs to keep one amused for a while.

View all my reviews

Accepting Authority

The final two pieces of the “Area X Trilogy”: I’d have to recommend reading the series at least once, but I’m not happy with the level of resolution.

Authority (Southern Reach, #2)Authority by Jeff VanderMeer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don’t like the main character’s nickname. It’s as bad as Hiero Protagonist. “Control” is cutesy. It’s a shorthand way of imputing that the mc is the normal one, the one that doesn’t get the drugs or the treatment or whatever, and misleading in that regard.
A good part of this book seems based on department infighting and the other half goes a little Rogue Moon if Algis Budrys had written the Manchurian Candidate into the story.
It’s odd, and there’s enough conflict on various levels to be effective, and yes, weird stuff happens and characters undergo mindbending changes…but it’s a bit numbing to me because I didn’t really like any of the characters. They all seem to operate at a remove, and the narrative works at arm’s-length too.
And there’s little exposition in a narrative that seems to call for it. I’m gonna go with Aliens did it.

View all my reviews

Acceptance (Southern Reach, #3)Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had a lot of trouble getting through this book, the second time. I found it unsatisfying, ultimately. The reason why Area X exists is never explained. What Area X actually is remains mysterious. Some of the character arcs are completed, and there are hints of resolution, but they’re only hints.
The tone continues to be the same scientist-as-hero that gives this series its Golden Age echoes. Events unfold, to a point, but one gets the idea that the author is holding back a lot of information, and also setting up for more stories in this milieu.
It’s effective enough, but I was left wanting.

View all my reviews

annihilation nation

I couldn’t sleep. Strange things happen when I’m sleepless, which happens entirely too often. I am very bad at sleeping and have periods where I might sleep two hours at a time for weeks, or stay up three or four days.
It’s been that way since I was very young. I missed about two weeks of third grade because I wasn’t sleeping well enough to move around safely on my own.
Reading has always been my fallback. If I can’t sleep, I read, first. I like a little noise when I read, but just a little, and it has to be familiar, comfortable. Old sitcoms or crime shows will do. I need the rhythms. Talking-head shows work too.
annihilation_by_jeff_vandermeerI’ve been re-reading the Area X trilogy, these last few days. I have the kindle versions, so I can turn out all of the lights except the tv and greedily drink the words. Jeff VanderMeer is one of those practitioners of the “weird” that comes from sf, like I do, and I very much enjoy, in fact prefer, that approach. Jeffrey Thomas, too, has those echoes, the clanking rhythms of cyberpunk informing his harrowing parables. VanderMeer is the co-editor of the Big Book of SF, about which more will be said, in another post. His stuff has more New Wave in it…the world of the Southern Reach being a fine example. Annihilation, the first book of the trilogy, is not the first of the author’s books that I’ve read, but so far, it’s the best. I put it on my ballot for the Hugo nomination. We all know what happened there, and I’m not going to get into it…anyway, I thought it the best work of the year.
I loathe using comps to make my points, but I’m going to have to either resort to that or do out-and-out spoilers, which I hate worse. So comparisons it is….Michael Bishop’s anthropological pieces, especially Death and Designation Among the Asadi, his 197- award-winner, have this same sort of straight-up Scientist-As-Hero, performing-a-survey trope going, and deploy a similar air of strangeness, of menace, just offscreen, or in so strange a form that it goes unrecognized. I am  minded, also, of Kate Wilhelm’s The Clewiston Test, and Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, which had similar main characters.
Of course the mc is also exploring the interior landscape at the same time. It goes with the territory. Even though the biologist is working with others, at least initially, she’s always alone, remote.
It turns out that some of this anti-teamwork is the result of hidden persuaders, in a nicely-Dischian. way. Good. Very subtle. The second read reveals the process of hints and allegations that lead to that conclusion, but on the first encounter, it’s almost subliminal.
It takes a practiced hand to do that. Reader manipulation on that level isn’t done often.
Outstanding book. Really good. The main character is interesting enough to listen to, the story has psychological depth, strange detail, interior travelogue, and an inevitable if slightly maddening conclusion. Five stars.
Another tomorrow.


I got a little bit exercised today by this article, about the “8 Tribes of Sci Fi.”
Rubbish, absolute rubbish. An ill-considered word salad.

To start with, it considers “sci-fi” which I consider to be the z-movie mentality that pervades tv and pop movies. And it calls the wrong things “sci-fi”. The article might fare better if it were said to be talking about “fantasy”, the umbrella term for science fiction and other related imaginative fields, or about “speculative fiction”, a higher-brow way of saying the same thing.

Read the thing for yourself. Feel free to regale me with your version. Or not. Continue reading


Though I conduct my fictional affairs with a good bit of handwavium and a helping of deus ex machina, because that’s the nature of the beast, still, I’ve railed against such use in the past. And I was probably right, then.


Heh. Yeah, right, you say, and rightly so.

But boundaries, fuck ’em. I was wrong, plus it’s addictive…to be unleashed, to not worry about what hard-sf fans are gonna say, or what plot twist came straight out of tvtropes. To just tell the story as it occurs to you. Er, me. Because pov.

That’s a fun plaything, too. Perspective.

Just tell the damn story. I was good at that when I was young. I would just write until I was done. Wrote a 67,000 word novel in one day, on notebook paper, in pencil(s), longhand. It was awful. Only three people have even read part of it. They’re all on Facebook. *ducks* Continue reading

More power to me.

sgo-w640I’ve been fighting the system, the powers-that-be that govern the issuance of devices like the one to the left, for four years.

Yesterday, I was victorious, and the device was delivered to my home. It comes with one rechargeable battery, an adapter to charge via home electric current, and an adapter to charge via dashboard cigarette lighter.

In order to accomplish all of the tasks that make such a device necessary, I need at least one, and preferably two, additional battery(ies). The insurance company won’t spring for them. It would cost $258.00 apiece to rent them from the agency, or $450.00 to buy them from Amazon.
The latter seems preferable.batteries

So I’ve enacted a GoFundMe campaign to finance the acquisition of two batteries, so that I may go back to school, attend/vend through weird fiction conventions, hold book-signings, and travel more freely in general.

There are several levels of rewards, including such things as free ebooks, custom dedications, and even an opportunity to be written into a novel or short story. Words don’t suffice to express my gratitude to anyone who would contribute to the cause, but words are what I have.

The ultimate goal is to attend the Necronomicon, in 2017, and to take a vendor’s table at the convention, stocked (at least) with the six books that are already planned. This is but a step, albeit a giant one, on the way to that goal.

Thanks for reading, and many thanks for contributing.