This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

30 January, 2013


   I was going to write about something completely different today, but I can't in good conscience keep silence about this.

   You may have heard about Ed Kramer, one of the founders of Dragon*Con, and his recent arrest. If not, there's a couple of articles that will get you up to date. This has a good overview, and this has the recent developments.

   To sum up, Kramer has been avoiding going to court on child molestation charges since 2000. Claiming his health doesn't allow him to sit in a courtroom. At the same time he's been healthy enough to travel across the US, and ended up being arrested in a hotel room where he was alone with a 14 year old boy.

   The official word from Dragon*Con is that he has nothing to do with them, and hasn't had anything to do with them since his 2000 arrest. -Now it has emerged that he still gets money from Dragon*Con, since he owns a reported 34% of the for-profit convention.
   This has led to this article. Please read it, and especially this comment, that seems to give evidence that Kramer was wanted as a guest at Dragon*Con as late as 2008.

   I had heard about Kramer before, and as I understand it his name surfaces from time to time. But from what I gather, it was news to everyone that Kramer still gets a lot of money from Dragon*Con. I heard about it two days ago, and has been following things since then.
   I'm not surprised that Kramer's defenders have jumped in to attack those that brought this to light. We saw the same thing with the Readercon "incident" last year. But what does surprise me is the lack of comment from some corners of the US SFF community. (Although to be fair quite a few people have written about this.)

   Where are all the people who at once jumped up and called for a boycott of Readercon until the case was "solved" to their satisfaction? (Something I stand behind by the way.) Where are the high-profile people who since then has written plenty of articles on "Con-creepers"? (Also something I support.) Aren't these people concerned that money from a major SFF Con is used to keep a person who is accused of multiple accounts of child molestation out of jail? Isn't child molestation worse than creeping out grown women?
   The silence is starting to become telling...

   Well, to be honest I'm really not that surprised at the silence. When it was made public that Mel Gibson had "ranted" at, and threatened, his ex on the phone (, he said some pretty horrible stuff,) my Twitter stream was filled for almost a week with people who talked about how horrible he was. (And Hollywood would have nothing to do with him.)
   The same week Roman Polanski was fighting extradition from Switzerland, extradition to go back and serve his sentence for drugging and having sex with an underage girl. My Twitter stream was silent. (And Hollywood took out ads in support of Polanski, demanding he was allowed to "make movies in peace".)
   From the outside it seems that in the US creeping on a woman, or yelling at her over the phone, is worse than molesting children...

   From the information about Dragon*Con I have available to me, this is a no-brainer. I'd avoid it like the plague. -I know a boycott would hurt innocents (, vendors, local business, etc), but for me that is secondary to the fact that supporting it in any way helps a child molester stay out of jail.
   So I want to call on everyone who has been vocal about sexism, racism, and other social issues, in the SFF community to speak out. This isn't something that you can keep silent about if you have a shred of integrity.
   Personally I think that if you keep silent about this you have lost your right to speak up about other issues (, -I know I won't be listening to you if you do).
   And if you really want to show that all your talk about social issues isn't just grandstanding to get "Brownie-points", you'll make an announcement that you will have nothing to do with Dragon*Con until they make sure that Kramer gets no money.
   If letting Dragon*Con "die" is the only way to stop giving Kramer money, I think the SFF community should stand back and let that happen. (And maybe start up a replacement Con, so the only one suffering is Kramer.)

ETA: Stephen R. Bisette has posted more about this today. (Including a screenshot showing Kramer was to appear as Guest of Honour in 2008.)

29 January, 2013


Cover design by keenan
(NOTE: The cover I have has white background, not pink, but I couldn't find an image online that was not pink.)


ISBN: 978-0-340-95268-9
Pages: 595
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
First published: 30 August 1979
This edition published: 2007

On the cover:

Meet Johnny Smith. A young man whose streak of luck ends dramatically in a major car crash. Followed by blackness. A long, long time in cold limbo.

When he wakes up life has been turned upside down. His fiancĂ©e has met someone else. And Johnny is cursed with the power to perceive evil in men's souls. He's had these hunches since he had an ice-skating accident as a child. Now he has an ability to see into the future. An ability which will bring him into a terrifying confrontation with a charismatic, power-hungry and dangerous man . . . 

   It's a daring move to start your novel with putting the main character in a coma. And in the case of this novel, it is a warning of what is to come.
   Usually with King's novels, you get really close to the characters, and it is this closeness that sets him apart from other writers of similar fiction. But here I never felt that. Sure, you do learn quite a bit of how Johnny Smith thinks, and functions, but we don't really see him actively taking part in events for most of the novel. This makes it hard to feel a connection to him related to what is actually happening. He is rarely close to events, and is not a proactive character.
    On top of that, I didn't feel like Johnny Smith was someone I'd like to hang out with. He's rather boring, and most of his interactions with others are on a superficial level.

   The novel suffers quite a bit because of its structure. We get to know quite a bit about characters who have no real impact on the story itself, and their place in Johnny's life is often more of a "could have been" than anything else. And it feels like a bit of a waste that so much space is used to get us to know these characters.
   King also introduces a whole serial-killer subplot that doesn't really go anywhere, even though Johnny is the one who solves the crime. We do get to see some scenes from the killers POV, but he is never a part of the book before he's caught. There's no real point/value to this subplot except to show Johnny's abilities, and the reader is already well aware of those. The reactions of the public to Johnny's involvement in solving the crime is not really explored deeply enough that I feel it warrants the inclusion of the subplot.
   Overall the plot feels a bit unstructured, set-ups don't pay off and pay-offs come when they have no previous set-up. It's all a bit too rambling for me.

   Not everything is wrong with this book, there's plenty of scenes that show how good King really is, and the premise is very interesting. The next to last chapter is also very good, and gives the novel an ending that is perhaps better than it deserves.
   This is a novel that is above average for its type, and if it had been written by any other author I would have rated it higher. But this is a Stephen King novel, and as such it falls short of what I have come to expect of him.
   For me this feels more like an experimental novel from King, it is one of his earlier ones, but it is an experiment that doesn't really work as well as it perhaps should. It doesn't really feel like a "proper" King novel should, and it totally lacks any Horror element.

   So far, this is the weakest King novel I have read. But although I have been quite critical of The Dead Zone, that shouldn't dissuade other readers. I have seen several people place it in their "top Stephen King novels of all time". So if you are a King fan who hasn't read it, you should perhaps seek out other opinions on this. Just because it didn't work for me doesn't mean it won't work for you, and I have absolutely no regrets that I read it.


28 January, 2013


Cover art by Cliff Nielsen
Cover design by Jamie Stafford-Hill


ISBN: 978-0-7653-2947-9
Pages: 366
Publisher: Tor
Published: 13 November 2012

On the cover:

Rector "wreck'em" Sherman was one of many kids orphaned by the Blight of 1863, but one of very few who made it to his eighteenth birthday. As a reward, he's being cast out of the orphanage he grew up in. But Wreck's problems don't stop there. He's been braking the cardinal rule of any good drug dealer and dipping into his own sap supply. He also thinks he's being haunted by the ghost of a kid he used to know - Zeke Wilkes, who died six months ago, after Wreck helped him get into the walled city of Seattle.
   Maybe the haunting is only guilty conscience, but Wreck can't take it anymore, so he sneaks over the wall. Once there, he finds that Zeke isn't as dead as he thought...but the wasteland of Seattle is as bad as he'd heard: chock-full of hungry undead and smothered by the poisonous, inescapable yellow gas. And then there are the newcomers: not at all human, but not rotters, either. Arms too long, eyes all wild, murderously violent, and known to the locals simply as "The Inexplicables".
   Seattle's de facto leader, Yaozu, gives Rector his first real job: track down these creatures before they do any more harm. In the process, Rector finds another set of dangerous intruders, lured there by greed. Something valuable lurks within the city wall, and the newcomers will kill to take it...which means that Rector needs to find out where his loyalties lie. Fast.

   In this volume of her A Clockwork Century series, Priest takes us back to Seattle, the setting of the first book in the series, Boneshaker. It's a welcome return, both to the setting, and to the characters from the first book. As an added bonus for those who enjoy this series, there's also mention of the events of  Dreadnought and Ganymede. And we get to see how Dreadnought's main character Mercy Lynch has settled into the walled city of Seattle.
   There's always the danger when an author revisits previous settings through new POV eyes that they tell too much of the setting for those that are familiar with it, and too little for those that are jumping in to a series. Priest manages to follow the narrow path of satisfying readers both old and new here. For me as a return reader, I didn't feel bogged down with information I already knew, but welcomed the reminders of what has gone before. And I can't say I can see a problem for a new reader to the series in following what is going on if they start with this book.

   The story itself can be divided into three parts, Rector's journey, the mysterious creature, and the human intruders. But this is much more than three stories that are loosely connected, the three parts both feed off each other and add to each other, and creates a larger whole than the sum of the parts it consists of.
   That the three strands of the story are quite different in nature, will mean that not everyone will have the same reaction to each one. For me the journey of Rector stood a little bit above the others, but I still very much enjoyed the other two story strands, and without them Rector's journey would have been much less than it ended up as.

   As with the previous volumes, Priest is very adept at creating a tense atmosphere. The location, the walled city of Seattle, is described in such a way that it feels claustrophobic at times. Priest is very good at conveying the feeling that anything can happen, and it never feels like you have figured out exactly were you will be led by the novel. Even though I personally figured one element out very quickly, I was never sure I was right about it before much later, and it didn't hamper my enjoyment of the story.

   There is some action in the novel, but this isn't Steampunk-Action as much as it is Steampunk-Alternate History. -I must add, Steampunk-Alternate History with some very good worldbuilding.
   Being a fan of Alternate History, I have enjoyed that element in the A Clockwork Century a lot, and this element doesn't disappoint here either. With each volume in the series Priest manages to subtly add to her alternate worlds texture, making it a little bit more solid, or real if you want, at the end of the novel than it was before you started it.

   All in all I found this very much to my liking. It's an excellent follow-up to what has gone before, and as I mentioned above, it is possible to read it without having read any of the previous A Clockwork Century books.
   Priest continues to be one of the great authors in the Steampunk subgenre of SFF. And as well as being a must for fans of Steampunk, this book deserves to be read by anyone who is a fan of well written SFF.

Reviews: Boneshaker  Dreadnought  Ganymede

Links: Cherie Priest  Tor/Forge  Tor/Forge Blog

27 January, 2013


   Yes, that's right, this blog is not dead. -OK, it has seemed dead, there's no doubt about that. I haven't posted since September 2012, and there has been no word from me on Twitter or Facebook about the status of the blog.
   I actually didn't plan on taking a break from blogging. I was feeling pretty good about it when last I posted, and I felt like I could continue blogging regularly for the foreseeable future. Yes, I was very positive and upbeat about my blogging future...then life happened...

   I will not go into much detail, I prefer to talk face to face about things like this. And even though I do share some things with people online, it's not something I think I'll ever get really comfortable with.
   The gist of it is that I've had to move, been without internet for nearly two months, and have had a lot of things I have been forced to spend a lot of time thinking about. (No health issues by the way, so you don't have to worry about me.) The way my brain works, means I've really been distracted, and haven't even been able to concentrate on reading, much less blogging.

   I'm an optimist though, so in my mind I was always going to get back to blogging "next week", so I didn't really feel the need to blog about my unplanned hiatus. -Yeah, not really good at getting things done at once instead of procrastinating.
   Anyway, I'm now back to reading, and feel ready to start blogging again. How much blogging I'll get done I don't know, but I will probably post several times a week. I have three reviews and an article/opinion piece planned for the coming week.

   A side effect of not being able to read much is that I am really behind on my reading. If you have sent me an ARC I will get to it, and review it. And I'm sorry for not giving you a heads-up about why everything has been delayed.
   I also am way behind on e-mails. I subscribe to a lot of newsletters, and get on average over 100 e-mails a day. I'm not going to be able to catch up with any e-mail people have sent me while I've been away anytime soon, so if you have tried to contact me, please try again.

   So there you have it. The short version of why the blog has been on hiatus. It's back now, and I hope you'll follow my future adventures in blogging.

-Ole aka Weirdmage