Introduction to China Miéville – Railsea (2012), Kraken (2010)

China Miéville is a writer whose books I’ve noticed only recently. Author of Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law (true story!), on photos he tends to show off his earrings and his musculature. I was discouraged by both, for different reasons 😉 But one Audible credit has to be spent each month, and one month I’ve chosen his Railsea, favourably mentioned on some podcast I’ve listened to not so long before.

Well, I’m not the one to judge Miéville’s manly charms, and I don’t agree with him on politics, but I’ll happily acknowledge him as a damn good writer. One book could be a lucky shot, but Kraken was also tasty.

He represents the New Weird, an interesting and fresh (even if not so new any more, it started in the late 1990s) literary movement that takes inspiration from the Weird Fiction of early and mid XX cent., the likes of Lovecraft and Peake. Definitely not mainstream fantasy, new weird is, in my limited experience, an aesthetic that leads to unorthodox works in many subgenres, most often urban fantasy, horror or steampunk. In a way, I see it as an analogue of what grimdark did to epic fantasy. It plays with clichés, takes reader out of their comfort zones, and kills a larger percentage of protagonists that used to be the norm.

Continue reading

Scott Lynch, The Lies of Locke Lamora (2006)

Lynch_GB1The Lies of Locke Lamora is the first book in the Gentleman Bastard sequence. Not trilogy, not anymore – the plan is for seven books in the series, maybe even more. The book was published in 2006 by Gollancz, and followed a year later by Red Seas Under Red Skies. There was over six-years break between the second and the third installment, and The Republic of Thieves hit the shelves in October 2013, to be followed by The Thorn of Emberlain in 2016. It took some time, as Lynch puts it, to recover his abilities to push the story forward, but recover he did, and the books keep coming. His is one of the rare cases where rights to the first book were purchased when the book was not yet written – Lynch had only sixty pages of it.

But what is the sequence and, more importantly here, the first book about? The title says it all – an individual called Locke Lamora makes a living from cheating everyone and everything. He’s the ultimate Danny Ocean, for he doesn’t need Eleven, or Twelve, or Thirteen. He’s happy with five, and he could do perfectly well with two, himself included.

Continue reading

Kevin Hearne, The Iron Druid Chronicles (2011-?)

Sunday evening came and I have nothing. I wanted to review the Temeraire cycle, but I want to do the first three books at once and I got stuck halfway through (lack of time, the books are good). I love China Miéville’s Kraken, my commuting read, but I still have a couple of chapters to finish. So, as usual, I chose to do something quick and emotionally satisfying – write a short review of a book I hate ;). Or, this time, a whole series. The Iron Druid Chronicles from Kevin Hearne.

I’ve listened to… most of them, actually, but with decreasing amount of attention and fast forwarding most of the later ones. Technically there was nothing wrong, the narrator was doing a good job, but the books themselves…

They are very popular, all have been published in Poland, same/next year as in the US, while we only have 6 Dresden Files here! That means – more Hearne than Butcher. What’s wrong with our publishers? Beside guys like me buying all our books in English from Amazon ;)…

Continue reading

Astrid Lindgren (1907 – 2002)

ASTRID LINDGREN

Foto: Jacob Forsell COPYRIGHT PRESSENS BILD

Today’s post will be a short but heartfelt tribute occasioned by the recent birthday anniversary of Astrid Lindgren, falling on 14th November. Astrid Lindgren was – and still is – one of the most popular, prolific, and influential authors of children’s literature, one of the most translated, too, right on the top with the classics: Grimms and Andersen. And most empathetic, and humane, of them all ;).

But why do I write about her on a blog dedicated to fantasy and science fiction? I have my reasons, rest assured :).

Although she didn’t write many fantasy books, Astrid Lindgren was an exceptional fantasy writer, one of the greatest among all authors of books for children, and probably the best the whole Swedish literature has to offer. Period. And don’t tempt me, I could forever go on about Shakespeare, Goethe or Mickiewicz being great fantasy writers as well :D.

Continue reading

To be read, to be bought…

Ok, so here it is, and I will wait with the Temeraire review, maybe till I finish the first trilogy. It’s late, but recent Paris bombings occupied my mind most of the weekend. I’ve even spent lots of time arguing about politics on the internet, never a good idea and something I’ve tried to avoid for a long time. But I had an unusually emotional reaction and needed to rant a bit 😉

First – both my TBR (To Be Read) and TBB (To Be Both) lists measure in hundreds. I’d like to read everything and I’d love to have a hardback copy of most of the fantasy & s/f books ever published.

The End.

Continue reading

On lists or lack thereof

Making lists is one of the favorite pastimes around the web – and probably not only there. Lists of best books in any given year or month, lists of worst zombie movies ever, etc… It’s as if structuring and prioritizing one’s experience or even group preferences became the best source of available information. Show me your list and I’ll tell you who you really are.

We’ve been mentioning our own lists on the blog at least several times already – the TBR lists, mainly. The problem is, my personal lists are few and far between, and they are not even proper lists with any discernible hierarchy. I have rather sets of items, where each item holds more or less similar position to any other. And even of those I have only two worth mentioning: TBR and TBB.

Continue reading