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Hyperion, by Dan Simmons May 31, 2013

Posted by stuffilikenet in Books, Brilliant words.
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Hyperion by Dan Simmons is the winner of the 1990 Hugo award, and for damned good reasons.  Six of them; each is a story within the framework of a religious pilgrimage.  Being a sci-fi fantasy, there isn’t a religion but unexplained phenomenon (same difference) which is said to kill all pilgrims except the one it grants a wish to.  And the number of pilgrims must be a prime number.

Well, the stories themselves are each a little jewel of their own and full of strangeness and charm (and other quark properties)  and horror.  The audiobook version has both a male and a female narrator, for the male and female voices, but the woman’s voice does a very strange and interesting noir detective bit in her story which works well, if uncomfortably, with role reversal (she defends an exquisitely beautiful man from a conspiracy. Bogart would be proud).

There’s lots of blood and guts and sex and drinkin’ and cussin’, so this must be for the adolescent crowd who probably won’t really appreciate the foul-mouthed poet’s tale as much as I did.  Usually when science fiction writers drop poetry into a work it makes me uncomfortable, as if the writer is trying to live up to some literary pretension (genre fiction writers get no respect from the Ivy League patches-on-elbows crowd;  give it up, fellas.  They aren’t capable of acknowledging that science fiction is where all the creative energy of the last two generations has gone).  This poet just quotes others, mostly, so he’s a great foil for that sort of thing.

Part of at least a trilogy, I haven’t gotten yet to the next book in the series (and actually haven’t finished this one, but I have enjoyed the rhythm and pace of these stories so much I wanted to write about it while still excited), but I expect I will enjoy is as much. The mp3 CD is $14 on Amazon Prime, and the nearly free to download Audible version is $22.  Brilliant marketing, guys.

Coyote Blue, by Christopher Moore May 13, 2013

Posted by stuffilikenet in Books.
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Coyote Blue, by Christopher Moore is, though not one of his best-known works, among my favorites.  The story of a Crow who runs from the reservation fearing that he has killed a policeman, Coyote Blue incorporates native American story-telling style (and perhaps substance—I don’t know enough Crow legends to judge) and Moore’s signature wry humor over fantastic characters (in this case, gods and their avatars/servants/victims) involved in petty human and god interactions).  And the characters are memorable, although the heroine is a bit of a Mary Sue, Samson Hunts Alone is pretty darned memorable, from his boyish beginnings through his murder of a policeman to his murder of a bloodthirsty biker.  Sam hides from justice, then gets so good at hiding that only Coyote will play hide-and-seek with him, for reasons only Coyote knows.

I listened to the Audible recording of this, and found the reader quite helpful in making the girl a less whiny Mary Sue and making the wise old uncle more crotchety (as befits wisdom.  Have you noticed how many wise people are thoroughly pissed off?—but I digress).  Coyote Blue is on Amazon (of course) and at sfpl.org, including the audio.

The Shadowed Sun, by N. K. Jemisin May 5, 2013

Posted by stuffilikenet in Books.
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The Shadowed Sun, by N. K. Jemisin is another perfect novel from the author of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms which I reviewed earlier (glowingly, flatteringly and with much enthusiasm).  It is the conclusion of the story told in the previous work The Killing Moon of a mad prince’s desire to make himself immortal at a terrible cost to all around him.

N.K. Jemisin’s world, very loosely based upon ancient Egypt, features a priesthood devoted to Hananja, the goddess of peace, and of dreams.  The priests themselves are kind of like Shaolin monks in that they are badass killing machines with saintly intentions (ruthlessly killing for peace), but are actually devoted mostly to making sure people are healed in their sleep, or die peacefully therein.  They are hugely influential in making Gujaareh the city of peace, and one of the few civilized places in this world.

I was utterly charmed by their religion (eat your heart out, L. Ron Hubbard) and by the struggles each character has to keep and foster peace in extremely unpeaceful circumstances (see badass killing machines, above). 

The Prince tries to make himself immortal using very un-peaceful means; stealing the magic of dreams and enslaving one of the priests.

Both are worth a read, both have audiobook versions, and both are also available on Amazon.com and at sfpl.org

Fantasy Mashup May 4, 2013

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Webcomics.
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Today’s selection is from@gregent, who asked for a Mary Poppins/Borg mashup. Side note: I love Mary Poppins. It’s not only a fantastic movie (I’m sure the books are even better) but Julie Andrews has never been better than she was as Mary. I find her and Dick Van Dyke to be one of my favorite screen couples: very silly and surprisingly sexy.
In the most recent League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comics, Mary Poppins is either God, or an aspect of God. That should tell you all you need to know about how much writers and artists respect her.If you’ve got an idea for me, tweet @kellytindall (#warmupsketch) and if I like it you could see it here.

From http://kellytindall.tumblr.com, who makes the most fabulous warm-up sketches for his new webcomic Strangebeard.  He is convinced that Mary Poppins is an aspect of God (which, frankly, explains a great deal about her Her).