Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Train I Ride

Mur Lafferty “The Ghost Train to New Orleans” (Orbit, 2014)

Have you read The Shambling Guide to New York City?  If not, stop reading & go read that one.  Not only will I be dropping spoilers for that book, but it’s essential for understanding what is going on in this sequel.

One of the strengths of this series is that it is so not the typical urban fantasy series.  The protagonist, Zoe Norris, is not solving mysteries while in love with a mummy or whatever.  She’s just a (sort of) normal woman trying to publish travel guides.  Only she finds out that she’s a citytalker and the travel guides are for supernatural beings.

In this second volume of the series, Zoe & crew go to New Orleans to work on the second book in their series of travel guides.  Of course things don’t exactly go as planned & Zoe finds herself mixed up in some serious trouble.  Along the way Lafferty is able to do more of her unique world building as well as the light hearted adventure that was so entertaining in the first volume.

If you enjoyed The Shambling Guide to New York City you will enjoy this as much or more.  Unfortunately this volume doesn’t really hold up as a standalone book, so if you are interested go back & start with the first volume.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Embrace Your Inner Nerd, Luke!

James SA Corey “Honor Among Thieves” (LucasBooks, 2014)
In the past I’ve not been a big fan of tie-in fiction, but when I saw this I was very excited.   I’m a big fan of the Expanse series (Corey’s space opera series) & thought that their aesthetic could do very good things in the Star Wars universe.  So what’s the deal and how did it work out?

The setup is simple and fairly small for a galaxy spanning universe.  It’s after the destruction of the Death Star, but before the Rebels have created much infrastructure of their own.  Han is sent on a mission to smuggle a rebel spy from an Empire world.  One thing leads to another and it’s a battle for technology that makes the Death Star look like a pop gun.

How does Corey do?  I was blown away.  The characters from the movies seemed to be spot on in their depictions.  The new creations were fitting to what we know of the SW universe.  The plotting was tight and action packed.  I flew through this novel.

I’m not a hard core SW fan.  So if you are then YMMV.  But for the casual fan, Honor Among Thieves is a blast.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

More than just a Chain Mail Bikini

Gail Simone & Walter Geovanni “Red Sonja Volume 1: Queen of Plagues” (Dynamite, 2014)
Sometimes your expectations mislead you.  They keep you from appreciating what something is because you’re caught up in what it isn’t.  Other times your expectations are on the spot.  Thankfully, that’s what happens with this first volume of Dynamite’s Red Sonja reboot.

I’ve known about Red Sonja since I was a kid.  Red haired beauty wearing a chain mail bikini (was this the original?).  A big sword and a bad attitude.  In many ways she was the template for a host of punk rock sex idols.  

Gail Simone is known for writing strong female characters.  She can handle sexy without exploitation.

Giving Simone a chance to head up the effort to reboot Sonja was a fantastic idea.  This is one of the examples where everything plays out exactly how it should.  Simone gives us a fiery sexy barbarian who is more than a pinup girl.  She’s a badass.  Yeah, she wears that crazy bikini, but that’s how they rolled back in the pulp days.

This first volume shows Sonja helping a king who rescued her earlier.  It emphasizes her code of ethics just as much as her fighting skills or determination.

If you are a fan of the rebooted pulps that Dynamite has been putting out this is right up your alley.  If you dig strong female characters give this one a shot.