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    Very cool! I was just researching his works recently. Been in the mood for some good fantasy literature.


      The MartianAndy Weir

      “I am smiling a great smile. The smile of a man who fucked with his car and didn’t break it.”

      The six person landing team on Mars encounters an unexpected sandstorm and witnesses one of the their crew impaled on a radio antennae go spinning out of sight as the other 5 members desperately escape the storm. His blood pressure? Zero. Heart rate? Zero. The rest of the crew successfully makes it off the planet’s surface and the mission is scrubbed as the surviving crew returns home mourning their fallen brother.

      But Mark Watney, the mission’s botanist and an engineer, survived the accident and now faces down the rest of his life, alone on Mars, as long as he can cobble together ways to survive.

      A logistical nightmare, The Martian heaps disaster on top of accident on top of disaster as the impenetrable Laws of Murphy have their way. This one has numerous similarities to the story of Apollo 13, the book of which I’ve not read (Lost Moon), in that the vast majority of its bulk is attempts to fit square pegs into round holes, with or without NASA’s help, forcing equipment to function in ways it wasn’t designed to.

      The science here is heavy, as is the math, but I’d hesitate to call this ‘hard’ science fiction as I’ve seen it described. It seems quite accurate in terms of science, so it would qualify, but this is much more of a fast-paced thriller than an attempt to define physics; we’re never given a chance to get bored. With the science and math as strong as it is and thriller-like disaster pacing it’s easy to think of this as a slam-dunk, but something held it back a little. The plot is tense, and the main character darkly funny, but I never felt that heart-hammering connection I get with a favorite character in extreme peril. And the peril is extreme. Not to say I didn’t follow Watney’s every move, willing him to find a way and even holding my breath a couple of times, but his victories weren’t necessarily my victories, and neither were his defeats.

      Even if the main character was not as compelling as I’d prefer, the situations certainly were, which means this book is extremely difficult to put down. Not a single dull moment exists within this story, so as with Watney, there’s no time for anything but to keep moving forward. This is a lightning read.

      “Beers for everyone if I get back to Earth.”

      3+ stars

      *Tough time with the rating here. Started as 3+, a day later moved up a notch, and now I'm moving it back to the original. Sorry for waffling.
      Last edited by bugen; 07-02-2015, 12:49 AM.
      “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
      -John Barth


        I think I'm finally out of my slump; one recent review published and lots more being worked on.


          Dug your review, marduk, thank you. I've only read his Fight Club but had taken a look at a couple others of his. Had not yet considered this one.
          “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
          -John Barth


            SEAL Team 666Weston Ochse

            “Screams are just pain leaving the body.”

            Jack Walker, SEAL in training, is pulled weeks before graduation and given assignment to a small, unknown group. Initially resenting the move, and lamenting his chance to lead a ‘normal’ SEAL life, he soon realizes that not only are these soldiers the finest in the world, culled from one of the most elite fighting forces in the world, they’re fighting enemies not even from the world.

            The opening sequence in the prologue is a down-and-dirty fight with one of these creatures, and it’s nice to see it takes a bit more than a well-placed bullet or a swinging amulet to stop a demon. It takes tons of ordinance, unloaded in key areas of effect to even slow one down, and you won’t find many one-liner jokes when trying to do so because wasting that kind of time in this type of fight is fatal.

            As Walker slowly learns what he’s gotten himself into, the team begins learning of Walker. A full-blown demonic possession Walker suffered as a child has left him sensitive to the supernatural in that close proximity causes him to lose consciousness. Not exactly the ultimate weapon, but Walker’s ability does give them additional info when needed, which is right now as a magic practitioner has sewn a suit of human flesh and is using it to control a powerful demon to restore its reign on Earth.

            This all sounds really cool, and it is, but after completion I’ve got the wish that there would have been more action in the novel. Don’t get me wrong, there are a number of ops and a high body count, but it never fully reached that toe-to-toe Demons vs. SEALs video game I was half expecting.

            The writing is good and the action even better, even if I would have liked a bit more. An ex-military man himself, Mr. Ochse has a comprehensive command of the weapons and equipment used in the field, as well as extensive battle-field tactics and the skill to help us picture militaristic events as they unfold. Plus, his interactions between team members have the ring of truth, all adding up to solid action/horror.

            Holme’s mask was black with a white slash across it.

            Ruiz’s mask was a deep blood red.
            Fratty wore a solid white mask.
            Laws wore a mask with a green camouflage pattern.
            And Walker, probably thanks to the tried-and-true tradition of fucking with the new guy, wore a mask so pink that it was fuchsia.

            3+ stars
            Last edited by bugen; 06-30-2015, 06:09 AM.
            “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
            -John Barth



              Children of the Black SabbathAnne Hébert

              “But then you shouldn't have provoked God. His silence is sometimes preferable to His word.”

              Non-linear storytelling is one thing, but when written in the style of nightmare, hallucination and madness, some stories can become entirely different monsters. Published in 1977 and written in French, the book reads as if it’s 100 years older, and that’s not a bad thing for the subject material.

              Sister Julie of the Ladies of the Precious Blood begins having horrible visions of the man Adélard and the woman Philoméne, and the violent sexual and physical depravity they visit upon each other and their two children. These visions, along with marks mysteriously appearing on her body, serve to isolate and alienate her from her superiors in the nunnery.

              The visions, however, may be more if Julie is actually the young girl and Joseph her brother in torment. Adélard, quite possibly Satan himself, and his wife have monstrous magical abilities that help to enslave the town(s) around them to their homemade liquor and bloody rituals. But as Philoméne is seducing her son at a ceremony, he denies her and the age-old tradition of the most powerful demons being born of a mother and her son is broken. Sister Julie, back in the present day and locked inside a room where she should be causing no further disturbances, embraces her grotesque power and begins taking revenge upon the sisters that treated her poorly. With the entire building under her sway the air itself is considered poisoned as despair threatens to take over.

              This book is absolutely not for everyone, and some may consider it slow based on its dreamlike quality. Incest and rape are all over the place and we’re dealing with a physical manifestation of the Devil not on Earth briefly to steal a soul, but living here for hundreds of years. And all that that implies. It’s also filled with magic, and not the kind that creates rainbows, but no one’s throwing fireballs either. This is an earthy, decaying, disturbingly real form of magic born of sex and blood that is written well enough you can almost taste the filth through the visions. You may want to keep some Calvin and Hobbes around if attempting this one because it’s so dark and threatens madness as you follow along.

              That said, there’s a lot to like here and much of it is because of the disturbing way the tale unfolds, never giving you much assurance as to what ground you’re on. Did she imagine that? Did they imagine she did that? Did I even read that right? The book unfolds like a nightmare which kept me fascinated and forging ahead.

              “Woe unto us, for Satan has descended upon us with great fury.”

              4- stars







              *The upcoming Centipede edition will be better than my copy
              Last edited by bugen; 05-18-2016, 07:07 AM.
              “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
              -John Barth



                FengriffenDavid Case

                “But, as yet, we are less than mice in a maze, and the mind is the greatest of all mazes.”

                , a novel of magic and madness, tells the tale of a husband deeply concerned over his wife’s sudden loathing of him, who hires a doctor in the emerging field of psychology to ascertain the cause. Doctor Pope, respected in the new field, arrives, tours the house and interviews Mr. Fengriffen and his wife, Catherine. He soon discovers Catherine believes herself to be under a curse and visited by demons, and the doctor must prove to Catherine and Fengriffen that this is all in her mind. Matters are complicated by Fengriffon’s deceased grandfather, who was involved in some nasty business that resulted in the curse being leveled at the family two generations passed.

                Based on this story I’d guess Mr. Case is a very smart man, evidenced partially through extensive vocabulary but also through an effortless sense of heavy, dangerous atmosphere where light only falls in areas that accentuate the dark, as if progress isn't progress at all. In Fengriffen there is the sense that not only is all not well, but it never has been and can never be. A bit like Lovecraft, without the dry texture, in the vein of mankind being learned, practical and scientific, but befuddled and helpless in the face of occurrences that can’t be easily explained away. His use of language is evocative, but also free-form, allowing for associations we may not expect:

                “The mind is the descendant of the thumb and the vocal chord, and a malformed child it has always been; a mistake of evolution with the unique ability to bring its own extinction.”

                Yet another story that’s difficult to put down, this one’s worth looking into. It’s an excellent, somewhat hard to find read.

                4+ stars

                *from the upcoming Centipede release

                **my humble copy
                “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                -John Barth



                  Nothing wrong with your "humble copy", bugen. I have the same one, though mine is missing the dust jacket. The whole collection was pretty satisfying if I remember correctly. I do know that I thoroughly enjoyed Lucius Shepard ' s "How the Wind Spoke at Madaket". Best fifty cents I ever spent at a library book sale!

                  I've also been debating over the Centipede edition. It's a rather large chunk of change, but I keep having this feeling that if I don't pick up a copy I'm going to regret it. And Centipede Press books are rarely found on the cheap in the secondary market.
                  Last edited by Sock Monkey; 07-04-2015, 03:13 AM.


                    Here's one for "I, Ripper" by Stephen Hunter:

                    Jack the Ripper is the fiend who will not die. Numerous authors claim to have discovered Jack’s true identity but after more than a hundred and twenty years and an equally high number of theories it seems many people prefer the mystery to the facts – as if we want to know but at the same time we don’t want to have the mystery taken away.

                    Stephen Hunter’s “I, Ripper” is a thoroughly researched and imaginative tale told on two fronts: on one side we have Jack and his diary entries, and on the other a memoir of the situation as seen through the eyes of music critic-cum-crime writer “Jeb” (a pseudonym for a well-known real-life person whose identity is presented later in the novel).

                    Each chapter is devoted to an entry in either Jack’s diary or Jeb’s memoir. This back and forth leads to some repetition and advances come only sporadically, but keep calm and carry on, as they say – your attention will be richly rewarded.

                    The story itself is rather straight-forward and familiar: a killer is stalking prostitutes on the streets of London in the late 1888 while the police and newsmen try their best to track him down.

                    Jack’s use of language in his diary indicates not a man crawling through the gutters but rather one who is educated and even refined, able to present a daily persona that would be above suspicion. This is not, however, a tale for the squeamish as his descriptions of the murders are fairly gruesome.

                    Jeb works for the Star, a rising London paper. Used to writing musical reviews he nonetheless agrees to fill in for an absent crime writer after the first Whitechapel murder occurs. He admits “I had no idea what I was doing,” but with help from his coworkers he falls easily into the role of investigator.

                    At one point Jeb’s boss Thomas O’Connor suggests writing and publishing a phony letter from the as-yet unnamed killer, which mirrors a real-life theory that Jack never did write letters and those that existed were fabricated by journalists to draw out the killer. After some brainstorming Jeb comes up with the name“Jack the Ripper” and thus is born a legend.

                    The Ripper’s exploits become the focal point of the city, with everyone proposing theories. At a party one evening Jeb meets Professor Thomas Dare, who is something of a “renegade intellectual” with an abiding interest in languages. Dare has been following the case and offers his considerable intellectual prowess to the efforts to track the Ripper down.

                    Dare and Jeb spend much time together in a relationship reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. They test theories, create criminal profiles, and begin to make some headway.

                    They eventually settle upon a likely suspect and begin to track him, but to put it mildly the situation does not turn out the way Jeb expects it to, and eventually he finds himself face-to-face with the Ripper.

                    After the fifth and most gruesome murder (of Mary Jane Kelley), “Jack the Ripper” seemed to disappear into the London fog. Hunter’s story does have a definite ending, however.

                    “I, Ripper” is a work of fiction that utilizes many real-world theories as building blocks, and Hunter includes an extensive bibliography of sources.

                    In the Acknowledgments section of the book, Hunter addresses a question that he anticipates many readers would ask, because it is that question: after all of his research does he know who Jack the Ripper really was?

                    His response?

                    “Of course I do. Watch for it. It’s going to be fun.”


                      Consumed - David Cronenberg

                      David Cronenberg has over forty years of experience in filmmaking and is responsible for such unique films as The Dead Zone, The Fly, and Crash. He now turns his particular talents to the written word in the form of Consumed, his debut novel.

                      Nathan Math and Naomi Sebring are a “hard-core nerd couple,” both working as freelancing, globe-trotting photo-journalists. They spend a lot of time apart but stay connected via phone calls, texts, and the internet.

                      When “Consumed” begins, Naomi is in Paris looking into a possible murder. Armistide Arosteguy is suspected (by some) to have murdered his wife, and some say that murder included ingestion of body parts.

                      The Arosteguys were something of a celebrated academic couple, both specializing in and teaching philosophy. They were also notorious for their "anything goes" approach to interpersonal relationships, which also extended to some of their students.

                      Naomi discovers that Aristide traveled to Asia three days before his wife’s body was found and he is now extremely hard to contact. Why is he there? If he’s innocent, why does he just not return home?

                      Nathan, meanwhile, arrives in Budapest to meet Zoltan Molnar, a renegade doctor once accused of organ trafficking. Molnar’s practice these days can be considered experimental at best and extremely exclusive.

                      Nathan is there to document an operation on a breast cancer victim. After spending some time with the patient, Nathan has a fling and contracts Roiphe’s disease, which for all intents and purposes was eradicated in the 1960’s.

                      He learns that Dr. Barry Roiphe, the man credited with the discovery of the disease, lives in Toronto. Nathan travels there to question him and what he finds is a doctor now obsessed with studying his own daughter, Chase.

                      Chase Roiphe sometimes goes into a trance-like state in which she uses a pair of nail clippers to snip off little bits of her own skin, which she then eats. During these episodes it almost seems as if she’s reenacting a particular scene or situation, but from where do the roots spring?

                      Naomi travels to Tokyo to meet Aristide Arosteguy and in a short amount of time she finds herself under his spell. She still continues to dig for the truth but with a somewhat compromised objectivity.

                      In Toronto Nathan learns more about Chase and a startling connection is discovered with people and events across the globe, including the Arosteguys.

                      Initially pursuing very different stories, Naomi and Nathan discover that the world is indeed a very small – and bizarre – place. As they dig deeper to find the truths of the particular angles they are working and how they interact, the story tumbles into a maze of disinformation, confusion, and just plain weirdness.

                      “Consumed” is a left-of-center novel with a concept that Chuck Palahniuk would be comfortable with, but the filmmaker’s eye for detail often puts a strain on story progression.

                      Add to that the stiffness and formality of speech of many of the characters and the novel can sometimes feel like watching a movie with the sound turned off – you’re seeing what’s happening but you feel somewhat removed from it. Still, if you can stomach the more arid prose of this novel, you’ll walk away satisfied.


                        The Dark Side of the Road - Simon R. Green

                        Simon R. Green is a prolific and accomplished juggler of genres. He has put his adventurous stamp on urban fantasy (Nightside), traditional fantasy (Hawk and Fisher), science fiction (DeathStalker), spy thrillers (The Secret Histories), and the supernatural (Ghost Finders). Now, with “The Dark Side of The Road” and new character Ishmael Jones, he turns his pen to a more traditional English Mystery, albeit with his own unique flair.

                        Ishmael Jones is a strange character who may or may not be an extraterrestrial, but even he can’t say for sure. Are his memories real or are they simply stories he’s told himself, the ramblings of an unstable man?

                        One thing is certain: he hasn’t aged since 1963. Why is not exactly clear in his memory, but as a result he lives a solitary and nomadic life. If he lingers too long in one place people may start to notice.

                        He makes his living as a contractor “employed to search out secrets, investigate mysteries and shine a light in dark places.” He takes his orders from someone he knows only as the Colonel, who himself speaks on behalf of a secretive Organization.

                        As the story begins, Jones is surprised to receive an invitation to spend the Christmas holiday at the Colonel’s ancestral home. Like Jones, the Colonel is not a man who likes to get personal, so Jones can only surmise that the Colonel expects some sort of trouble.

                        Jones hops into a rental car and drives for hours through a massive snowstorm to get to Belcourt Manor. He makes it despite the tough going, but the weather is so harsh that nobody will be leaving the secluded grounds anytime soon.

                        He meets some of the Belcourt family and friends: the Colonel’s father Walter, mother Diana, stepmother Melanie, and sister Penelope, along with a business partner of Walter’s, a love-crushed young man moping around after Penelope, and Walter’s butler/bodyguard – all in all a well-rounded collection of characters who would be right at home in an Agatha Christie mystery.

                        One person does not greet Jones upon his arrival – the Colonel himself, known to his family as James Belcourt. The Colonel arrived late the previous night and everyone assumed he was still sleeping – until they cannot find him at all. Now Jones definitely knows that all is not well at Belcourt Manor.

                        He and Penelope eventually take it upon themselves to walk the grounds; there are quite a few buildings where the Colonel may be holed up or hiding for some reason. After trudging around in the snow and not discovering anything, they are about to head back inside when Jones notices a poorly made snowman in the yard.

                        A closer inspection uncovers the body of James Belcourt, cross-legged and frozen. His head has been chopped from his body and replaced on top of his torso, and there is no blood underneath or around him.

                        The stage is now set and the murder mystery kicks into high gear, but with Simon R. Green at the helm be prepared for some strange, atypical revelations. This isn’t your mother’s English Cozy.


                          Dagon - Fred Chappell

                          “Suffering is simply one means of carving a design upon an area of time.”

                          Peter and his wife Sheila move to an inherited farmhouse and soon meet a neighbor, evidently a squatter on their new property whose family has lived there for generations. Their neighbor Morgan, at his bare dwelling, introduces Peter to Mina, who could just “eat him all up,” and Peter is uncomfortable with everything about these two. He chooses to ignore them and go about his business, and eventually discovers odd letters in the house using unknown language much of the time and speaking nonsensically at others. Time passes and Peter and Sheila begin arguing over trivial matters and their relationship starts to suffer.

                          Right here any mention of plot needs to stop to avoid spoilers. We’re about 1/3 in, the set is dressed and the players are ready.

                          I’m going to touch on a few of the key plot points in R’lyehian to maintain secrecy:

                          Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn. Ehye y-hafh'drn uln nw gotha, y-ya R'lyeh Cthulhu ya ph'throd k'yarnak Tsathoggua h'uaaah phlegeth ngR'lyeh, hrii R'lyeh uln Shub-Niggurath nnnTsathoggua kn'a hrii naflsgn'wahl shagg. K'yarnak h'vulgtm li'hee sgn'wahl ooboshu f''bthnk f'mg phlegeth, shogg stell'bsnaoth vulgtlagln ngluiagl hlirgh vulgtm h's'uhn, R'lyehoth cep wgah'n 'bthnk ch' ngfhtagn.

                          That being said, this isn’t a long book, but it will likely drain you anyway. It isn’t the primal emotions of fear or hate that take their toll like so much horror, it’s the pervading sense of resignation to fate, a Lovecraftian favorite. And here it’s about as brutal as I’ve ever seen it.

                          is a bleak, addictive masterpiece of dark, hopeless fiction. Lovecraft would have been proud, though the language use here is much warmer than his own. This book is highly recommended, but make sure you have a support system around you so you can always tell at a glance everything is alright. If you're alone in the dark be careful.


                          *image of the Centipede release. Will replace with actual photo when my copy arrives.
                          Last edited by bugen; 07-07-2015, 04:07 AM.
                          “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                          -John Barth



                            Nothing wrong with your "humble copy", bugen. I have the same one, though mine is missing the dust jacket. The whole collection was pretty satisfying if I remember correctly. I do know that I thoroughly enjoyed Lucius Shepard ' s "How the Wind Spoke at Madaket". Best fifty cents I ever spent at a library book sale!
                            Haven't read the Lucius Shepard yet but you just notched it way up. Looked around and didn't find "Madaket" in his Best of or another collection so I think this is the only copy I've got. I've just read "The Monkey" and now "Fengriffen", but also needed "Nadelman's God" for some reason and haven't read it yet. This book is actually kind of a little gold mine. Mine's a vintage book club edition, $5.
                            “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                            -John Barth



                              Originally posted by bugen View Post
                              Haven't read the Lucius Shepard yet but you just notched it way up. Looked around and didn't find "Madaket" in his Best of or another collection so I think this is the only copy I've got. I've just read "The Monkey" and now "Fengriffen", but also needed "Nadelman's God" for some reason and haven't read it yet. This book is actually kind of a little gold mine. Mine's a vintage book club edition, $5.
                              I don't know if "Madaket" is Shepard's best, but I found it to be the most "fun" story out of the book. I'd rank "Nadelman's God" way up there as well. Klein is one of my favorites and "Nadelman" is one heck of a story. It's a shame that Klein doesn't produce more fiction as I've quite enjoyed everything I've read of his. I know that PS is putting out an anniversary edition of The Ceremonies that I plan on snatching up in a heartbeat once offered. Now, if only CD would do an limited of Dark Gods...


                                Got my eye on P.S.'s The Ceremonies. Read "The Events at Poroth Farm" a few weeks back in anticipation, but with the pacing of that story I'm curious how a much longer, expanded version of the story is going to function.

                                I'll second the call for Dark Gods.
                                “Reality is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there.”
                                -John Barth