Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Weaver, Black Hole Bar

Dave Weaver, The Black Hole Bar. Elsewhen Press, 2014. Pp. 241. ISBN 978-1-908168-49-8. £9.99/$17.99.

Reviewed by Andy Sawyer

The Black Hole Bar is an interesting combination—depending upon how you look at it—of mediocre-to-quite entertaining short stories and unusually-structured novel and actually successful novel, which gradually exposes the nature of the world in which it is set. The back-cover blurb references Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and Boccaccio’s Decameron to rather startling effect. Any reader who knows these works (especially anyone who notices that “Boccaccio” is actually misspelled here) is going to be ironic at the expense of the author, because to the most cursory or charitable reading The Black Hole Bar is not as good a story-cycle as the works of Chaucer and Boccaccio, nor do the stories offer as sharp a satire on their tellers and times. That said—and I’d be surprised if I had been lead to any other conclusion—Weaver hasn’t disgraced himself, and deserves better.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Hall, Prosperity (2014)

Alexis Hall, Prosperity. Riptide Publishing, 2014. Pp. 226. ISBN 978-1-62649-176-2. $4.99.

Reviewed by Ashley O’Brien

Prosperity, written by Alexis Hall and published by Riptide Publishing, is a delightful, wacky novel that challenges every existing genre. Readers follow the protagonist and narrator, a young petty criminal with a heart of gold, as he battles clockwork exes and flies across the universe, fleeing monsters. Piccadilly, as he named himself, doesn’t mean anyone any particular harm but has more fun getting into trouble than anything else. He leaves a dingy, hopeless underground ghetto known as Gaslight, and travels to Prosperity, a lawless skytown somewhere over England kept in place miraculously through skyhooks. Strength and force are the only rules in this lawless region, which attracts people from every unsavory walk of life, including our protagonist Piccadilly. Though lovable, Piccadilly would be any other card sharp/thief/prostitute, if he hadn’t ripped off the wrong man and triggered a set of events sending him off on marvelous adventures with the absurd, ragtag crew aboard the beautiful and impossible aethership, Shadowless.