Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The Man Who Was Thursday: A NightmareThe Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare by G.K. Chesterton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's really not that hard to describe this novel, but it's hard to really capture the real flavor of something, from 1908, really belongs in a melting pot that includes the Keystone Cops, Kafka, Peter Sellars, and a hefty dose of LSD comedy. If that isn't enough absurdity for you, then please take a BIG helping of Christian Allegory.

*Wait. Did he just say what I think he said?*

Yes, I just lumped Christian Allegory in with all that. Bite me.

Seriously, though, reading this was often a wild and funny ride. We got to play with militant poets and zany upper-crust anarchists and a dire thriller for all those cops trying to put a final stop to the perceived plague of lawlessness and vile bombers.

Of course, I perceived early on that this "thriller" was much more like a satire than a gripping police drama, and this was exactly what it was.

Honestly, at one point, I even expected the last villain to tear off his mask and say, "And I would have gotten away with it, if it weren't for you darn kids!" (But twisted to Chesterton's unique message, of course.) (And no, I'm not spoiling that bit. It's worth enjoying for yourself.)

Oddly enough, I swear SO much of this is used as a template for the best zany cop dramas of today's films, by way of the zany cop films of 50 years ago. One really ought to tip one's hat to this particular novel for paving this particularly goofy way.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us AllThe Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All by Laird Barron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just when I was wondering if I would ever come across some true, genuine, scary-ass cosmic (or otherwise) fiction in my gullet before Halloween, I finally come across something beautiful. It was awaiting me all this time... within my gullet.

It crawled out, said a few pithy lines, and then proceeded to claw my eyes out.

What did I do?

I thanked it, of course. What else could I do? *It had my eyes*

My favorite stories were:
Hand of Glory - totally immersive Noir that got dark and stayed there the entire time.
Vastation - I'm a sucker for grand gestures.
More Dark - It felt almost autobiographical, full of great in-jokes, and it was just far-out enough to be REAL.

The rest were all pretty much perfect, too. Not a bad one in the bunch.
Ones that almost made my top list:
The Redfield Girls - truly delightful ghost story within a story
Jaws of Saturn - more noir!

The rest were top-notch writing. If you like horror, I'm certain you'll get a kick out of everything Barron does. He seems to have been around the block a few times. :)

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Hide Me Among the GravesHide Me Among the Graves by Tim Powers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For those of you in the know, all I really need to say is TIM POWERS. You'll get it.

For everyone else, we've got here a VERY period tale that has done an immense measure of research into the lives and times of Christina Rossetti and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, featuring these siblings as main characters in an all-out VAMPIRE novel. And it never feels contrived.

Excuse me, lol. We have a modern audience here. Dante Gabriel Rossetti was a famous poet and painter in the 19th century. Christina Rossetti is the author of Goblin Market.

It almost behooves me to read Christina's work and apply it whole-heartedly to Tim Power's tale, because the events within London, her family, and the strange collection of characters seem to explain an AWFUL lot.

Because it's not just about vampires. It's about mortal sin, carnality, dead babies haunting you for the rest of your life (literally), and ghosts. Not to mention that this novel spans from high society to the dregs of the underworld, in full adventure mode.

Certain things are not talked about. This is the London of THAT time. And these vampires are not the kind of hokey vampires we see today. They're nuanced and the system of magic that Powers enables them to come to life is as nuanced as the characters. And strange, too! Powers has an uncanny ability to bring in disparate features of ... ANYTHING ... and pulls them off in style. No spoilers, but this one was a treat.

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Monday, October 26, 2020

Ballistic Kiss (Sandman Slim, #11)Ballistic Kiss by Richard Kadrey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Stark's new life -- which happens to be quite similar to his old-new life shortly after coming back from his stint in hell, is finally slowing down. He can spend a little time freaking out about doing normal things. Maybe inviting that cute doughnut girl out for a movie night with all his friends.

It's sweet.

Of course, knowing this universe, it is SO not going to last.

Even so, we do get an oddly normal noir mystery with a splash of ghosts, human sacrifices, and murderous thrill-seeking that eventually brings things back to our bloody center-line.

It's weird tho. Stark isn't CAUSING most of the hell, this time. Fortunately, he will end it.

Highly amusing. I truly love how it can still incorporate the WILD number of changes from the rest of the series and still pull off a hint of home. :)

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Sunday, October 25, 2020

Hollywood Dead (Sandman Slim, #10)Hollywood Dead by Richard Kadrey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So, the big question is this: how many times can a man come back from Hell and still remain as fresh as a daisy?

Okay, that's a disingenuous question. And unfair.

Stark has NEVER been as fresh as a daisy and after having gone and come back from Hell THIS MANY TIMES, you might assume he smells like a swine's bunghole after a piggie has the motherload of a tummy-ache.

It doesn't help that he's dead. Mostly. I mean, walking around dead, but still dead and NOT SO FRESH.

But since this is still a classic supernatural Noir-type tale, we've got a carrot and a stick scenario, and IF ONLY HE DOES THIS ONE THING... the necromancers might give him an eau de toilette.

If only they were trustworthy.

I swear. These books devour me.

I mean, I'm literally devouring THEM, but by the same token, they're devouring me. I can't call them popcorn fiction because even I get tired of popcorn sometimes. I'm NOT getting tired of these.

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The Kill Society (Sandman Slim, #9)The Kill Society by Richard Kadrey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We've got some big changes... again. I'm afraid to actually come right out and say it for fear of spoilers, but let's just say a hellish caravan full of refugees and crusaders are in the cards.

This shouldn't be much of a surprise if we look at the book's cover.

What is rather surprising is how much over-plot progression goes on here. The BIG story is BIG. And Stark has had better days. In fact, he's pretty damn powerless at this point. You know, other than some hellion hoodoo and some usual fighting skills. But he's as surprised as I am.

Think post-apocalyptic hellscape in an actual, you know, HELL, friendless, and getting dragged along for the ride.

The fun part is in figuring what the hell is actually going on. The war in heaven is escalating, after all.

Very fun stuff here. Bloody fun. I'm on a roll and enjoying it all.

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Saturday, October 24, 2020

The Perdition Score (Sandman Slim, #8)The Perdition Score by Richard Kadrey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Stark is having a bad time. He's abusing himself because he can't kill things, demons, angels, or ANYONE.

You know how it is. PTSD takes so many different forms. Some ppl withdraw, and others attack. He's one of the latter. He's going nuts without it. Of course, what is he supposed to expect after having helped Death kill a new Death, instigate a war in heaven, open up the gates of hell, and getting fired from every paid gig he's ever had because he's just *a tad* too violent?

Ah, well, OTT problems like this, including a number of seasonal trips back downtown (and I mean HELL) seems to be the name of the game.

So when angels seem to be having a drug problem and it's making the second civil war in heaven much, much worse, Stark is quite meh about it until it hits home. And then, well...

The ending is a pure muahahahahaha moment.

We have certain standards to uphold here. And eating s**t really isn't on the menu, boys.

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