Hellboy (Vol. 2): Wake the Devil: Hellboy must face his destiny

Hellboy (Vol. 2): Wake the Devil by Mike Mignola (writer and artist) and James Sinclair (artist)

In this second Hellboy volume, Wake the Devil, Mignola goes big by revealing more of Hellboy’s destiny. Hellboy confronts a ghostly but still powerful Rasputin (the key figure in volume one who brought Hellboy to Earth). Rasputin also confronts Abe Sapien, whose life is particularly at risk since he killed Rasputin in volume one. But before Rasputin makes his appearance to Hellboy and crew, they go on a hunt for a vampire thought to be killed by Hitler.

The vampire was a key figure for the Nazis before Hitler decided to do away with him at the end of the war. In fact, the vampire, Giurescu, was originally recruited in 1944 by Rasputin’s right-hand woman, Ilsa Haupstein. This was a part of what was to be called project Vampir Sturm.In the present, still angry over his r... Read More

Idoru: Slick and shiny, but also deep

Idoru by William Gibson

Idoru (1996) is billed as the middle novel in William Gibson’s BRIDGE trilogy (bookended by Virtual Light and All Tomorrow’s Parties) but, though it shares some history and characters with its companions, it can easily stand alone.

Idoru follows the stories of two people who live in Gibson’s post-industrial world. One is Colin Laney (of All Tomorrow’s Parties) who grew up in a Florida orphanage where he was given experimental drugs that changed his brain in such a way that he can now see patterns in huge amounts of data. Laney thinks of h... Read More

Virtual Light: Examines the intersection of technology and culture

Virtual Light by William Gibson

William Gibson’s SPRAWL, as seminal a trilogy of books if ever there were in modern science fiction, is a tough act to follow, let alone by the man who wrote the books. But if the series can be considered raw steel, then the follow up has to be considered the bare blade. Honing in on the present, Gibson shows no shortage of the futurological imagination and wordsmithing that made him famous. 1993’s Virtual Light, the first book in the BRIDGE series, is every bit as genius.

Virtual Light, and the BRIDGE series as a whole, has a lot in common with the SPRAWL series. Gibson continues to paint vignettes of the future and examine the intersection of technology and culture, society, religion, and politics. And the writing, as always, is kept drum tight. But the BRIDGE series is also a departure. Set merely years in the future rather than decades, the ... Read More

Gathering Blue: Lacks any resolution

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry is the loosely linked sequel to The Giver. Set in the same world, this story is set in another village that has survived post-apocalyptic collapse of larger society. Instead of the peaceful, well-ordered, cooperative world that characterized the first book, Gathering Blue is set in a dirty, hardscrabble village, where violence and betrayal are commonplace.

The story centers on Kira, a young woman with a deformed leg. Normally, she would have been left to die at birth because of the deformity, but her widowed mother fought for her, and so she was allowed to live. Now, with her mother dead from disease, and her cottage burned to prevent the spread of the illness, she is alone with no one to protect her or help her survive the harsh future she faces except for a little dirty boy from... Read More

The Honor of the Queen: It doesn’t have to be dull

The Honor of the Queen by David Weber

Though she’s a woman and not a diplomat, Honor Harrington, the highly competent and well-respected Manticoran Navy Captain, has been assigned a diplomatic mission to a planet run by a patriarchal religious cult. Why would the Manticorans send an aggressive woman with no diplomatic skills on this type of mission? There’s only one possible reason: to try to make The Honor of the Queen more interesting...

I wasn’t thrilled with On Basilisk Station, the first book in the Honor Harrington series, because there was too much exposition about military tactics and spaceship dynamics and Honor was too perfect and seemed cold and distant. I decided to read The Honor of the Queen because I already had purchased it in audio and I was hoping Honor would be more... Read More

Wolfsbane: Plot lacks thrills, but romance is sweet

Wolfsbane by Patricia Briggs

Wolfsbane, the sequel to Patricia Briggs’ debut novel Masques, was written later in her career and just published last month. It continues the story of the shapeshifters Aralorn and Wolf, whose relationship has developed significantly since the beginning of Masques. Aralorn has been called home after a ten-year absence because her father has died. When she and her “pet” Wolf arrive, they find some evil magic at work and a mystery to solve.

As you’d expect, Briggs’ writing is better this time. She has a smooth style that I find pleasant to read (or in this case, listen to, since I read this on audio, again read by Katherine Kellgren). I enjoyed spending more time with Aralorn and Wolf and agree with Ms. Briggs who, in the humble introduction to the book, said she wrote Wolfsbane Read More

The Waters Rising: Did Not Finish

The Waters Rising by Sheri S. Tepper

It pains me to DNF this book. Sheri Tepper is one of my favorite authors. Her novel The Family Tree is one of my all time favorite books. But I can’t make myself continue reading The Waters Rising. I have tried for over a month to read this book, and the same thing happens every time — I find my attention wandering after about five minutes. I think this can be attributed to three different things.

First, if you’re going to set a story on future Earth, you’re bounded by Earth’s physics and geography. The world in The Waters Rising is being submerged. Most of the world was left devastated during an incident called The Big Kill, a technologically-environmentally driven collapse of most of the world. Genetically engineered creatures now roam the wilderness with no natural predators to stop them, and technology h... Read More

The Ships of Merior: No excuse not to read it

The Ships of Merior by Janny Wurts

The Ships of Merior is the first part of Arc 2 of THE WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW, the incomparable epic fantasy series by Janny Wurts. The novel was originally released in 1994, and has most recently been re-released by HarperCollins Voyager in a lovely mass market paperback edition, featuring brand new artwork by the author herself. This is the first US paperback edition of the novel in at least 7 years. Further novels in the series will be re-released in late 2009 and throughout 2010, in anticipation of the next novel in the series, Initiate's Trial, in late 2010.

If it's been a while since you've read the first book in the series, you'll find the important events of that novel recapped early in the novel, not in the form of a summary but rather as an integral part of the story, usually seen from a different perspective ... Read More

The Death of the Necromancer: Intricate steam-and-sorcery mystery

The Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells

Nicholas Valiarde is a man obsessed. Expertly assisted by a coterie of talented yet honorable thieves, he's all but completed his master plan of revenge against Count Montesq, a corrupt nobleman who orchestrated the execution of Nicholas's foster father on the basis of a false charge of necromancy. Nicholas's plan is interrupted, however, by the appearance of the mysterious Dr. Octave, a professed medium who may or may not be a fraud, but who is somehow connected with the strange, magical spheres on which the false charge against Nicholas's foster father was based. And as Nicholas and his allies slowly unravel the dark cloak around Octave, their fingers touch the bones of an ancient and implacable evil lurking beneath the streets and sewers of their unsuspecting city ...

The Death of the Necromancer is a rich, complex, stand-alone novel set in the gaslit cit... Read More