Tuesday, July 31, 2012

O'Brien, Cerulean Dreams (2011)

Dan O'Brien, Cerulean Dreams. CreateSpace, 2011. Pp. 345. ISBN 9781467971201.

Reviewed by Jo Rhett

Cerulian Dreams is a self-published dystopian/noir novel by prolific author and screenwriter Dan O'Brien. The book discusses a potential method for and the effects of population mind control. The story is told from the point of view of a retired detective who is trying to help a young girl escape the city and the obsessively controlling government. The story evolves as they discover deeper truths about the origin of Cerulean Dreams. A story with a lot of action and huge promise, perhaps leaving the reader a little too detached from the characters, but with powerful and futuristic social ideas that are well explored.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mill, Spell of Passion or Fear (2012)

T.C. Mill, A Spell of Passion or Fear. Dreamspinner Press, 2012. Pp. 162. ISBN 9781613723517. $4.99.

Reviewed by Djibril al-Ayad

A Spell of Passion or Fear, the first novel written under the byline of T.C. Mill, is a male/male romance in a pseudo-Ancient Greek setting released by Dreamspinner Press, prolific and sometimes controversial publishers of gay romance. This is a broadly steampunk novel, with machines and intelligent automata based on internal combustion engines in the setting of a Greek polis of indeterminate geographical location; as alternate history, this story imagines that Plato’s Καλλίπολις, as described in his Republic, was established and lasted at least several hundred years; this story takes place many generations after the philosopher’s time. Kalliopolis is a soviet-style orthodox dystopia, albeit not one presented as particularly grim or terrifying for its inhabitants. Rather than the politics, the story focuses on the illicit romance between a redundant human former Guardian, and a young Squire, a flirtation that begins as a somewhat by-the-numbers, semi-predatory encounter, but over the course of the book blossoms into a believable, tender and affecting love affair.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Edwards, Ferryman (2011)

Nigel Edwards, Ferryman. Greyhart Press, 2011. 5,000 words. ISBN 978-1-4580-9931-0.

Reviewed by Jo Rhett

Ferryman is a short story by British writer Nigel Edwards, published by small press e-book and novella publisher Greyhart Press, who have put out other short works by Edwards. The press market this as a "near-future science fiction short story"; the cover, showing a trilby-clad silhouette, could suggest a crime or horror setting. Ferryman is a glimpse into the life of a professional that doesn't exist in recognizable form today. It's a view into an unusual task for a very politicized and public role. I won't go into the details since a large amount of the story delivery is tied up with bringing the reader slowly face to face with the reality of the job, and honestly this is one of the things that this original and controversial story does best, weakened only by lack of emotional engagement for the reader.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Hughes, Coanda Effect (2010)

Rhys Hughes, The Coanda Effect. A Corto Maltese Adventure. Ex Occidente Press, 2010. Pp. 125. $55.00.

Reviewed by Jessica Nelson

The Coanda Effect is a novel by Welsh writer Rhys Hughes, author of numerous novellas, novels and short fiction works, including the Fanny Fables series and The Crystal Cosmos. This attractive limited edition hardcover novel, a homage to the Corto Maltese stories of Hugo Pratt, is a story about journalist Lloyd Griffiths and the man he comes to idolize, gentleman adventurer Corto Maltese. We first meet our protagonists when they first meet each other, at an air show in Italy. Corto Maltese has such a vast impact on Lloyd that the journo begins to change the patterns of his own life, on a quest for adventure. In time, the two meet again and set out on a joint venture to stop the evil plot of a madman set on taking advantage of the second Balkan War.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Ibura Salaam, Ancient Ancient (2012)

Kiini Ibura Salaam, Ancient, Ancient. Aqueduct Press, 2012. Pp. 253. ISBN 978-1-933500-96-6. $18.00.

Reviewed by Martha Hubbard

This new collection of arresting and beautiful stories by Kiini Ibura Salaam draws the reader immediately into a world of magic and struggle. The author describes herself as, “...a writer, painter, and traveler from New Orleans, Louisiana. The middle child of five, she grew up in a hardscrabble neighborhood with oak and fig trees, locusts and mosquitoes, cousins and neighbors.” Her fiction has been included in such publications as: Dark Matter, Mojo: Conjure Stories, Dark Eros, FEMSPEC, Ideomancer, infinitematrix.com and PodCastle.org. She works as an editor and copy-editor in New York. This collection of moving stories interleaves many themes, perhaps the most effective for me being the alienation of the foreigner.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Allen, The Speed of Winter (2012)

B. Morris Allen, The Speed of Winter. Metaphorosis Books, 2012. Pp.59. ISBN 978-1477428177. $2.99.

Reviewed by Kate Onyett

The speed of winter is the speed by which winter weather arrives, sweeping noticeably across steppe and plain. Winter is sometimes a metaphor for rest before rebirth; surely perfect for a spaceship of colonists, fired off towards a new world. But there is a cruel twist for these hopeful folks: there will be no change. No rebirth. There is only eternal winter.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Burrell, Red Leaves and the Living Token (2012)

Benjamin David Burrell, Red Leaves and the Living Token. Red Earth Press, 2012. Pp. 306. ISBN 978-0615618524. $9.99 paperback/$2.99 e-book.

Reviewed by Jessica Nelson

Red Leaves and the Living Token is a book about a young Zoen named Emret. Emret’s binding is failing, as is that of the world around him, and doctors have said he doesn’t have much longer to live. Emret’s Botann nurse, Moslin, has been reading to him from a book about the Reds, a divine species that once lived in their world. Emret’s father, Raj, has asked Moslin repeatedly not to read the stories of the Reds to Emret, but she persists. When Emret decides the only way to save his own life is to find a real, living Red, Moslin takes him to find one, and Raj must overcome obstacles to find and retrieve his son.