Mystery

I saw the title of Benjamin Percy's new book Dead Lands and I immediately thought, Oh, another zombie book. I read the synopsis — super-flu, nuclear bombs, a post-apocalyptic re-telling of the Lewis and Clark story — and I thought, yeah, but there's gotta be zombies in it, right?

I'm a romance advocate, and one reason I love romance novels is because they're full of strong, smart, resilient women. But, like many romance fans, I read eclectically – which brings me to another strong, smart woman: Maisie Dobbs, the World War I nurse-turned-sleuth created by Jacqueline Winspear.

As his dedicated readers know, multiple versions of Stephen King, Author, exist. There is the King of classic horror, like Cujo, Children of the Corn, and Christine. There is the King of feminist uprising, from Carrie to Dolores Claiborne to Bag of Bones. There is the King of strong series work, like The Dark Tower and The Green Mile.

Paddy Buckley, the charming, roguish and thoroughly eff'd up main character of Jeremy Massey's debut novel The Last Four Days Of Paddy Buckley, can talk to dogs, control flies and leave his body at will in a kind of practiced self-hypnosis. This, oddly, is not the focus of the novel. It's a minor (but vital) character detail. But I'm mentioning it here because it's also the worst, weakest, most stompy-foot-of-magical-whateverishness part of what is otherwise a really great book.

One of science fiction's toughest challenges is making nonhuman characters feel human. Robots are particularly hard: SF authors have spent decades putting every conceivable spin on the concept of manmade automatons, and the results have just as often been laughable as profound. Ian Tregillis tackles this prickly puzzle — and many more — with great skill in The Mechanical.

Creepy, Brilliant 'Touch' Will Possess You

Feb 19, 2015

There are at least two reasons why I should hate this book.

One: I have a horror of impersonation narratives. The idea of someone looking like me but running around being a jerk to my friends and family is so profoundly unsettling that I still haven't watched more than the pilot of Orphan Black.

Two: I hate stories about memory loss.

"They are a perfect, golden couple," Rachel Watson thinks, regarding handsome Jason and his striking wife, Jess. "He is dark-haired and well built, strong, protective, kind. He has a great laugh. She is one of those tiny bird-women, a beauty, pale-skinned with blond hair cropped short." Rachel, the main narrator of Paula Hawkins' novel The Girl on the Train, is obsessed with the pair; they represent to her the perfect relationship that she once had, or seemed to, before it imploded spectacularly.

The premise of Descent may sound pretty straight-forward: One summer morning while vacationing with her family in the foothills of the Rockies, a young girl, a high-school athlete in her senior year, goes out for a run in the higher altitudes — and disappears.

And Moby-Dick's about the whaling industry.

J.G. Ballard didn't exactly predict California's current drought in his 1964 novel The Burning World (later renamed The Drought). But like so many of his books, it does carry eerie hints about humanity's accelerating race to stay ahead of nature.

The Burning World is part of a series of dystopian science-fiction novels that Ballard wrote in the 1960s before he became famous for works like Crash and Empire of the Sun.

'Beautiful You' Makes Sex And Death Boring

Oct 25, 2014

At first, I wanted to write this review of Chuck Palahniuk's new book, Beautiful You, as a letter. A lament, really, from a former fan and dedicated Palahniuk loyalist to the author who brought Fight Club to the page like he was writing in fire. Because I am a man, and because I was once a younger man, I loved Fight Club for its apocalyptic depiction of the wasteland of modern masculinity and its viciously smart skewering of consumer and service culture. I read Choke and liked it. Less than Fight Club, but still. Read Lullaby, too.

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