Thursday, December 31, 2009

No. 1 (for 2010), No. 57 (for 2009) - Midnight Tides

by Steven Erikson

Started: December 31, 2009
Finished: January 13, 2010

Notes: I've had this book for a while but been putting it off because it's so darn long, nearly a thousand words, but I like the author and am in the mood for some action fantasy.

Mini review: An excellent read. I was surprised how little actual combat there is in this book, at least until the very end. Most of it was sort of political intrigue with some religous and family elements tossed in. I was also quite surprised at the socio-political commentary put forth in the book, often leaning quite left (or, at least, anti-right), in my opinion. Not that I'm taking sides. Just found it interesting. The ending was a bit disappointing for me. Not that it was a bad ending, just that I felt it didn't quite live up to all that had come before. Still, I'll definitely be reading more in this series.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

No. 56 - Some of Your Blood

by Theodore Sturgeon

Started: December 26
Finished: December 30

Notes: I picked this one up back around Halloween after reading the back content, plus the fact Sturgeon is known classic writer of the Golden Age of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Here is supposedly a realistic tale about a man dealing with vampirism. I'll see how it goes.

Mini review: A tale eeiry enough to shake you up a little. Not graphic, but very disturbing, delving into the depths of a disturbed mind. Modern horror writers could learn a lot from this, instead just more gore, gore, gore.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Christmas horror flash story

Yes, it's that time of year ... for a very short horror story. I couldn't help myself. Sorry. I might be sick in the head.

But my holiday horror tale, all 500 words of it, titled "Milk and Cookies" is now available at Every Day Fiction.

You will never look at Santa Claus the same.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

No. 55 - Midnight Falcon

by David Gemmell

Started: December 20
Finished: December 26

Notes: I took a short break, but now I'm back into some action reading. Plus, I put aside a lot of fantasy reading this past year, so now is as good a time as any to get back into it. And why not turn to one of the best? The late, great David Gemmell.

Mini review: Probably my favorite Gemmell read so far. A fine story that entwines several characters while still having one main character who stands out. My only complaint would be one I've noticed with all the Gemmel books I've read (this one only being the third, so far), and that's the he doesn't wrap anything up. There's a climax, and then three pages late his novels just end. In a way, that's a nice change of pace from some novels who have an ending akin to the Lord of the Rings movies (endless), but it is also quite jarring to the reader. After you've got to care for the characters, you want to see how things are going to turn out for them.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

No. 54 - The Science of God

by Gerald L . Schroeder

Started: December 16
Finished: December 20

Notes: I wanted a little change of pace, a small break from fiction reading, so I turned to this book. It's by a biblical scholar who is also a physicist. The book's topic concerns the division of science and religion, and how they're really not as far apart as many would lead us to believe.

Mini review: One of the most interesting books I've read in a long time. Basically, the author has found several ways (through Biblical and scientific studies mostly) to merge the ideas begind creationism and evolution. For the most part, it seems to come together pretty well. I found a few things questionable, but only a few. But some of the science and mathmetics used were over my head. Still, much of what he wrote made sense. Most importantly, this book, more than any other I've read, opened my eyes to how different the Bible is in English than it is in its original Hebrew (or Greek, for the New Testament). It's almost as if, in some areas of the Old Testament, modern Christians have a whole bunch of stuff wrong, sometimes even basic beliefs. The subject matter is definitely worth further study.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Looking back on the year

2009 is almost over, and looking back, I realize I accomplished most of the goals I had set out to do.

I finished writing and editing my fantasy trilogy, and even though I didn't find a publisher (a couple of opportunities fell through, but that's life) I did go ahead and self-publish the series.

More imporantly, I finished my literary novel, though the title keeps changing. Originally it was "Looking for America." Then it became "The Last Newspaper." Currently it's titled "More than Kin," and it's been shipped out to a bunch of literary agents, a few of which are actually considering it. We'll see what happens.

I wrote few short stories this year, though I had a handful published in one venue or another. So that's not bad.

But what's next? I'm working on a fantasy short story now, and it has a specific targeted publisher, so we'll see how that one goes. After that, I'm actually kind of free. I've a few ideas for short stories, and a whole bunch of ideas for novels, so I'll have to see what I want to tackle next. I'm thinking a few short stories, at least, then on to another novel.

But overall, I'm feeling pretty good about the year. I got some things accomplished, nearly everything I had set out to.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

By This Axe, I Rule

In case you're not familiar with it, the title of this post is also the title of a Robert E. Howard short story about his character Kull the king of Valusia. Tragically, the story was never printed in Howard's lifetime, though he did rework it and this reworking became one of the first Conan stories, "The Phoenix and The Sword."

Why do I bring all this up? Well, I've read a fair amount of Howard. Not everything the man ever wrote, but a pretty good amount, especially of his Sword and Sorcery tales, such as those featuring Conan and Kull and others. And, after all these years of reading these tales, I've finally found my absolute favorite.

Yes, "By This Axe, I Rule" is my all-time favorite Robert E. Howard story. It is not his best writing, which I think came a few years later in his later Conan tales and some of his Western stories, and it's not even his best plotting. But the last five pages alone make this short story one of the greatest ever written, of any genre. The action is pretty intense, but it's truly the dialogue (from which the title is taken) and some of the philosophy behind those words that really make the story here.

So, if you're a fan of hardcore, action-oriented fantasy, you must read this story. Rush out and find it right now. It's probably available in a collection of Kull stories at a local book store, maybe even at the library.