December 2012



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The year just turned in Tokyo. Despite some illness this year my life is generally pretty good and I’m happy with it. I hope you are with yours, or at least that 2013 gets better for you.

Current Mood: (happy) happy
Current Music: None

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Yet another Harry Dresden installment. Having recovered from being dead (hey, this is a fantasy novel after all) Harry is plunged into his role as the Winter Knight withhout much in the way or mercy (well, what did you expect from the Winter Court). He’s also thrust into a wider world of magic in which a bunch of the previous threads going all the way back to Book 1 are either explained, or even have their apparent original explanations yanked away and a deeper truth revealed. It’s pretty skillfully done, though, so I think quite a lot of the stuff here was in Butcher’s mind from way back (not necessarily all the gory details but the general thrust of things at least). There’s some nice twists in this tale and a brilliant sense of impending doom, only slightly averted by the denouement here. Lots of excretory intersections with air moving devices still to come from this and doubtless further threads to be explored. IMHO Butcher is doing a pretty good job with the levelling up issue and isn’t shying away from the character implications for both his hero and the supporting characters.

Current Mood: (accomplished) accomplished
Current Music: None

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A collection of the various shorter pieces Jim Butcher has written in his urban fantasy series. These are quite a varied set of stories, a couple of which I’ve read before, but most of which were new to me. There are two stories written from the points of view of other characters (Thomas and Murphy) which is somewhat interesting, though I’m not sure they work as well as the Harry-viewpoint ones, probably because Butcher hasn’t had time to really develop their “voices” are narrators. There’s definitely more than a hint of unreliable narrator in the Thomas story.  It’s nice to see the background story that’s mentioned in one of the novels (what Maeve did to Billy and Georgia’s wedding). It’s also interesting to see his first story written about Harry, though as he acknowledges his writing skills at that point were much more limited. Some of these are clearly written (as he more or less admits in the introduction to them) on specific commission and not springing from his own imagination directly, so something of a mixed bag. Worthwhile for fans of the series, though. Better value than the standalone publication of Backup (the Thomas story) that was well overpriced.

Current Mood: (accomplished) accomplished
Current Music: None

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The umpteenth Harry Dresden novel by Jim Butcher follows up on the previous one titled “Changes” by exploring that changes made in the universe in the last installment. Harry’s back, but after being assassinated he’s back as a ghost, with the task of solving his own murder as well as helping his friends with the fallout from his previous apocalypse. Things have got darker in Chicago in his absence, and his friends are not faring so well in this not-so-brave new world. Meanwhile, most of them can’t see Harry and even if and when they can, they don’t all believe in his identity and/or good intentions. I’ve seen some criticism of this from people who feel the series has jumped the shark but I think he’s dealing well with the inevitable levelling up that Harry’s been going through n the previous books, setting new challenges, all tied in to earlier plot threads that he’s dropped along the way.

Current Mood: (accomplished) accomplished
Current Music: None

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A one-off collaboration between Steven Brust and Megan Lindholm. A mixture of police procedural in Lakota, Ohio and Gypsy/Celtic mythology. Written well before the modern trend for urban fantasy, though after De Lint’s Jack the Giant Killer and Drink Down the Moon. An interesting set of authorial voices (a both Burst and Linholm tend to create) combine with a deep twisting of European folklore in a lovely little tale of murder, good, evil, temptation and redemption.

This is one of those books that’s sat on my shelf unread for many years and I’m glad I finally got round to it.

Current Mood: (accomplished) accomplished
Current Music: None

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A recent (very) occasional strip published in 2000AD comic, the two so far are collected in this somewhat overpriced Graphic Novel (GBP12 for around forty pages). The title of the volume is that of the first of the two stories. This is a Cthulhu-mythos-inspired tale of an upper class gentleman and his servant (a bit of Lord Peter Whimsey and a bit of Bertie Wooster) who go around investigating and fighting incursions into our reality by elder things. There’s a shadowy government conspiracy lurking in the background but no real details on that given in these two tales, just its introduction. A fun little read if you like the Mythos, reasonably well-done and the characterisations aren’t derivative per se, though it’s difficult in such a short selection to really distinguish them from so many other 20s/30s pairings of post-war upper and lower-class former soldiers. Decently drawn to reflect the settings and action.

Current Mood: (calm) calm
Current Music: Doctor Who Season Four OST

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Another Simon R. Green romp, this time the latest in his Bond-ish (in title at least) urban fantasy about the Droods,  the secret agents with sufficiently advanced technology (strange matter) help that they look like magical creatures. The titles are drawn from Bond but are sometimes little really to do with the actual subject matter. This latest one sees Eddie Drood recoving from being dead (hmm, shades of Butcher’s Ghost Story, there – pun intended) and taking on a cthulhish cult. More excellent modern urban pulp fantasy churned out by the bucketload by Green who hit his stride with Something from the Nightside and has been running along nicely since.

Current Mood: (refreshed) refreshed
Current Music: None

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Simon R. Green channels P. J. Hammond in this third installment of adventures with the ghostfinders of the Carnacki Institute. This is a fun little romp of a Sapphire and Steel plot but with Green’s wisecracking reference-filled style laid on top. There’s some good progress on the ongoing plot arc of the series together with a neat little closed-world plot that chunters along steadily, with chills and spills along the way. Modern pulp urban fantasy at its best.

Current Mood: (refreshed) refreshed
Current Music: None

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The front cover has a quote from “The Denver Post” (that well-known literary reviewing journal) that this “succeds on making cyberpunk fun again.” I wasn’t aware that it had stopped being fun when it was well done. Unfortunately, for me at least, this one isn’t well done. It read very much like a first novel, althoughit’s the author’s sixth published novel. There’s a decent plotline underlying it with an interesting idea, though i’m not sure it’s really cyberpunk. It seems to teeter on the edge of being parody/humour without reaching into being funny, but with the bizarre edge ruining thenormal suspension of disbelief. For me, humour like Surfing Samurai Robots or Aprin’s Phule series (review to come soon, I read them this year but haven’t reviewed them yet) allows for a greater suspension of disbelief since things are meant to be absurd. When you approach this line without being funny, the absurdity breaks the disbelief.

It isn’t the main plot that’s the problem for me, but the characters. They all seem like they’re out of central casting, with their requisite background of craziness. ex-cop, former mental patient, spritualist, antiques thief with Asperger’s Syndrome, abusive criminal boyfriend, conspiracy theorist waiter and on and on. The constant sexual undertones of the main character’s interactions with the females in the book would be spot on in a hard bioled detective parody, but this isn’t such a pardoy, or if it is, it doesn’t parody hard enough.

Current Mood: (cynical) cynical
Current Music: Battlestar Galactica (2003) Season Four Soundtrack

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The HP Lovecraft Historical Society seems to have missed this one, so I’ve filled it in for them.

Great Cthulhu’s Coming to Town (lyrics)

You better watch out
You better keep an eye
Better not doubt
I’m telling you why
Great Cthulhu’s coming to town
Great Cthulhu’s is coming to town
Great Cthulhu’s coming to town

He’s making no list
I’ve checked this out twice;
Gonna find out Who’s tasty and nice
Great Cthulhu’s coming to town
Great Cthulhu’s coming to town
Great Cthulhu’s coming to town

He sees you in your safe place
He knows if you’re alive
He doesn’t care if you’ve been bad or good
Just to stay sane you must strive!
O! You better watch out
You better keep an eye
Better not doubt
I’m telling you why
Great Cthulhu’s coming to town
Great Cthulhu’s coming to town
Great Cthulhu’s coming to town

Creative Commons Licence
Great Cthulhu’s Coming to Town (Lyrics) by Andrew Alexander Adams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://blog.a-cubed.info/?p=637.

Current Mood: (amused) amused
Current Music: Star Wars Episode III OST

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