1984.10


Beneath London: Langdon St. Ives meets vampiric mushrooms

Beneath London by James P. Blaylock

James P. Blaylock’s stories are an acquired taste, I think. Or maybe it’s just that the reader needs exactly the right combination of quirks and proclivities to truly appreciate them. I am that reader. Not all the time, but regularly enough to recognize when my mood would benefit from opening one of Blaylock’s books. When this happens, I usually choose a LANGDON ST. IVES story. Each of these steampunk stories is set in an alternate Victorian London and each can stand alone.

Langdon St. Ives is a retired professor who spends his time pursuing eccentric scientific hobbies. Recently he’d been building an airship in the barn on the country property that he and his wife Alice (who loves to fish) recently moved to after they left London. The airship was destroyed in his last adventure (s... Read More

White Wolf: Not Gemmell’s best…

White Wolf by David Gemmell

At its best, Heroic Fantasy can inspire and enliven. By nature, the subgenre is less concerned with realism than it is with depicting nobility, honor, and genuine integrity. In so doing, it shows us a world that reflects the better portions of our own, the world as it should be rather than as it is. At its worst, however, Heroic Fantasy is notorious for shallow characterization, mindless violence, and sententious, often hypocritical, pontificating to justify all that mindless violence so our valiant warriors can get back to massacring villages with rumps firmly planted on high horses. White Wolf is a bit better than the latter, but it’s a good way from the former. It evens out more or less for David Gemmell, but it’s far from the proudest moment of his career.

The novel opens on a guilt-ridden warrior called Skilgannon the Damned, tragically burdened with a... Read More