Tag Archives: book reviews

Sexy Cthulhu!

Sex and the Cthulhu MythosSex and the Cthulhu Mythos by Bobby Derie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If nothing else is said about it, I’ll say that this book is exhaustively researched. It doesn’t seem that a stone is unturned or an avenue unwalked in this exploration of Howard Philips Lovecraft’s love and sex life and how they may have affected his fiction, and by extension, that of many others who have followed in his footsteps.
The tone is dry, scholarly. It can be offputting if you’re used to the jauntiness of professional fiction. It took me a while to get used to it, and to dig deeply into the book. That’s not a knock-it is what it is.
This is a sober discussion of the subject(s) at hand, and the tone is the right tone.
Citations and quotations from members of the “Lovecraft Circle” and others who knew him well jostle for space with opinions from people outside the circle but in the know, and information from other professionals fleshes put the lot.
The book starts out exploring Lovecraft himself and then moves on to his fiction, that of others, and the influence of both on the “current state of weird fiction”, if there is such a thing.
If you’re into juicy, there’s enough information there to choke a Gug. Definitely worth the read if you’re interested in the world behind the Cthulhu Mythos, and interesting as a research subject even if not.
Four stars. Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos

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Sea of Ash

The Sea of Ash
The Sea of Ash
The Sea of Ash by Scott Thomas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Zounds! I’ve had this slim novel for quite some time (referring to the Kindle edition). It has languished in my to-read queue for an unconscionable period…but at long last I’ve given it a couple of reads, two weeks apart, and have survived to tell the story.
Reading, I was minded so much of Wells that I hd to keep checking the authorship. The Crystal Egg and the Time Machine came repeatedly to mind-the former because of the style and the latter because of a quaintly Victorian device that figures in the narrative. But Wells didn’t go in so much for the supernatural.
MR James, Walter de la Mare, those would be perhaps more suitable names to conjure with, trying to encapsulate or compare the style and subject matter of this most singular work.
Not that comparison comes anywhere close to capturing the essence of the piece, but I feel compelled to try.
There is that of the ghostly(Fractured Harry himself and several other apparitions appear), and that of the steampunk (the general Victorian air and appurtenances), and that of the strictly naturalistic, all bundled together loosely and interdependent upon one another to form the whole of the structure, like one of Clive Barker’s Cities in the Hills, or a Wicker Man.
The work deserves every accolade that comes to it. I’ve seldom beheld such a work of the imagination in a long career of reading fantastical fiction.
I just bought a copy of the Sea of Flesh and the Sea of Ash, to have the original work(s) together.
Five stars plus.

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Reviews Confuse, Amuse.

At last count, I have thirty or forty volumes in my to-read or just-read queue, all of which clamor for at least a capsule review. It looks like the “June” portion of my summer vacation is accounted for. I jut don’t think I’m going to have a lot of concentrated reading/writing time until then.

That is to say, I’m busy. I’m apparently trying to become a somebody. I say apparently because it isn’t entirely intentional, and the intentional part isn’t going according to plan.

Ok by me though.

Progress is progress. Continue reading

In the mighty mighty water

before Crazytown

My book before Crazytownbefore Crazytown has gone live on Amazon, to  no great fanfare. I have an author page now. Not much danger of it going to my head.

But still a necessary step in the journey. The first big one–many more to come. The first POD book will be coming in a few weeks (the novel Fear and Loathing in Innsmouth), and the Crazytown collection not long after that.

Letters from Outside will be going live starting tomorrow. I’ll start copying and pasting the material, in reverse alphabetical order, as soon as I am physically able to do so. Dunno how many stories I’ll put up. Depends on how the day goes–there are several possible scenarios where I may not get much done, depending on the results of phone calls. But it’ll get started, only a couple days after I predicted. Continue reading

The Thirty Best Sf Novels of all time, according to me

Inspired by this not-so good list.

I could load a heap of pretty pictures and make everything all linky but you know what to do if you want one of these books. Please feel free to exchange lists, excoriate me, sneer derisively, or high-five, depending on your preference and orientation.

These are not necessarily in order. I’m allowing only one book per author.

1. Stand On Zanzibar-John Brunner (edges out The Sheep Look Up)

2. The Mote in God’s Eye-Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

3. War With The Newts-Karel Capek

4. A Clockwork Orange-Anthony Burgess

5. Dune-Frank Herbert

6. Neuromancer-William Gibson

7. Man Plus-Frederik Pohl

8. Dying Inside-Robert Silverberg

9. The Forever War-Joe Haldeman

10. Lord of Light-Roger Zelazny

11. The Gods Themselves-Isaac Asimov

12. Norstrilia-Cordwainer Smith

13. The Witches of Karres-James H. Schmitz

14. The Great Explosion-Eric Frank Russell (edges out WASP)

13. Light of Other Days-Bob Shaw (edges out Orbitsville)

14. The Man Who Sold The Moon-Robert A. Heinlein

15. Fire Time-Poul Anderson (edges out Brain Wave)

16. When HARLIE Was One-David Gerrold

17. Flowers for Algernon-Daniel Keyes

18. Hothouse-Brian Aldiss

19. The Crystal World-JG Ballard

20. More Than Human-Theodore Sturgeon

21. Childhood’s End-Arthur C Clarke

22. Blood Music-Greg Bear

23. Frankenstein, or the modern Prometheus-Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

24. Journey to the Center of the Earth-Jules Verne

25. War of the Worlds-HG Wells

26. Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang-Kate Wilhelm

27. Rogue Moon-Algis Budrys

28. Breakfast of Champions-Kurt Vonnegut

29. The Female Man-Joanna Russ

30. The Left Hand of Darkness-Ursula K. LeGuin





Money from Outside

GoFundMe campaign for Letters from Outside:

Moody Blue Tuesday

Ross Lockhart noticed my review of “Chick Bassist” and was kind enough to put up a shoutout on Facebook. Good guy, Ross. Fine writer. I have the two Books of Cthulhu that he edited and am going to embark on that adventure soon. But first I need to finish the books ahead in the queue…

Yesterday, while waiting for cabs, I read through Dennis Etchison’s Bradbury/Matheson. I had this to say initially:
Bradbury/MathesonBradbury/Matheson by Dennis Etchison

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

EXCELLENT pair of interviews with titans of weird fiction. The Matheson portion is much longer and deeper but both are illustrative of the men’s personalities and approaches.
The interviewer wisely chooses to interject little of his own personality into the proceedings, instead letting his subjects speak for themselves.
A good deal of the content concerns both authors relationships with Hollywood. Very interesting indeed.

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That’s it in a nutshell. Ray bitched through most of the thing, though not without a sense of humor. Matheson got nostalgic, after a fashion. He spent much more time in Tinseltown than Bradbury, and knows the lay of the land better.

Before I left for my appointment with catheter doom, I had a small epiphany and tied together the parts of an epic I’ve had knocking around for a couple of years, entitled Cassilda and the King (<click to listen-a new tab will open). The King, of course, in this case, is the infamous Chambers-created KIY, the veritable wearer of the pallid mask his ownself. Continue reading

apres le Deluge

Dropped a load of capsule reviews on Amazon and Goodreads yesterday, uploaded two new tracks. Working on one more tune and the cover for Fear and Loathing in Innsmouth, which I’m trying to get out by Xmas. The tune is a long prog/classical piece ostensibly about the King and Cassilda, whose story I’ve been reading recently.
The new tunes are milf, a fusion-y piece with beautiful clean guitars, and Tansy, named after the heroine of Fritz Leiber’s Conjure Wife. Continue reading


TransfigurationsTransfigurations by Michael Bishop
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The novel is based on an excellent novella, Death and Designation among the Asadi, a runner-up for the 1973 Hugo Award, narrowly beaten out by Gene Wolfe’s The Death of Doctor Island. It’s anthropological sf, a strange sort of sub-niche. The mc goes on a journey to an alien planet and lives among the inhabitants in an effort to understand them and identifies a little too closely with them (they are humanoid but definitely alien). The novel resolves some of the unanswered questions left by the novella, however the overall quality isn’t up to the same level-the novel was completed some time after the original story and some of the impetus may have been lost.

I admit to having been completely captivated by the original novella, back when I first read it (in the 1974 Annual World’s Best SF, which was a superior volume with standout stories). The only story I liked better in the book was R.A. Lafferty’s Parthen, about which I’ll write someday, but not now. I just thought it was so extremely different from what I was used to, and sought out other Bishop work in hopes that it reached the same level or was written in the same style (it never did, either way). I like Bishop’s work okay. He’s done some very readable tales, is a competent wordsmith in all respects, but there was just something about that novella that was superior in my opinion.

Because I went on a reading hiatus during the period when Transfigurations was published (1979, my first year in college), I didn’t even know it was out there. Otherwise I’d have read it long ago. Might’ve liked it better, though I doubt I’d have been as effusive in my praise as Theodore Sturgeon or John Clute. The second half of the book just really doesn’t work for me. It’s obvious that it was written later, and the style and sense of it are subtly different.

Still, it’s a very good-to-excellent read, a tad dry if you’re not into science, by a not-quite-big-name sf author.

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Recently finished:
The Beautiful Thing That Awaits All-by Laird Barron

Punktown-by Jeffrey Thomas

Blood Will Have Its Season-by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr.