Monday, 19 June 2017

The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe

(June 2017)



It was only when I was about two-thirds of the way through this beautifully written novella that I learned it’s based on a H.P. Lovecraft story—The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. (Related note: I must at some point actually read some Lovecraft.) By that point it’s pretty clear that we’re deep into that kind of territory, what with shifting skies, uncaring gods, and caverns full of ghouls and nightmare tentacle beasts. Johnson’s use of language is glorious, and it’s here wedded to a well-done but traditional quest narrative, which I suppose is fair enough, given the title. Even without a detailed knowledge of this book’s progenitor, it’s a couple of hours of joy. Recommended.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Red Girls

Kazuki Sakuraba, 2006 [Jocelyne Allen, 2015]
(June 2017)



Red Girls is a family saga, spanning sixty years in the town of Benimidori. It’s a company town, built around steelworks owned by the titular Akakuchibas, and we follow the family’s rise and, if not decline, then stagnation, as three generations of its women (and the town itself) exemplify the experiences of post-war Japan as a whole. This fictional community, it’s probably worth mentioning, is located on the very real, very provincial San’in coast of Chugoku, which is not so very far from where I live now.

Friday, 9 June 2017

The Glorious Angels

(June 2017)



Justina Robson is a novelist whose scope of imagination frequently leaves me in awe, but whose plotting just as frequently leaves me scratching my head trying to work out exactly what’s going on. In this regard Glorious Angels, somewhat counterintuitively, seems to do slightly better than those of her other books I’ve read.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Speak Gigantular

(May 2017)



This is an intriguing if slightly uneven short story collection set largely (but not exclusively) in London, but with enough fantastical elements that I was tempted to pitch a review to Strange Horizons. Ultimately, however, I’m not sure I’m capable of crafting a suitably insightful path through these stories, so you’ll just have to settle for some disjointed observations here instead. You’ll live.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Food of the Gods

(May 2017)



Before we get into details about this book there are a couple of larger points I should make. The first is that it’s a compendium edition, collecting Khaw’s two previous Rupert Wong novellas (Rupert Wong: Cannibal Chef, [2015] and Rupert Wong and the Ends of the Earth [2017]), which is something I wish I knew before preordering it then also buying those novellas separately in order to get up to speed. This is how those nefarious publishers get you: Make blurbs so spoilery and disruptive of the reading experience that you give up reading them entirely, then use your carefully encouraged ignorance to get you to buy more stuff.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Human Acts

(May 2017)
  


Despite the facts that South Korea is just across the water from the island I currently call home, and that aspects of its history loom (disproportionately?) large in the realm of Japan’s diplomatic efforts, I understand its recent past in only the broadest of strokes.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Full Fathom Five / Last First Snow

Max Gladstone, 2014/2015
(April 2017)
  


OK, so I’m aware that there’s a sixth installment of the Craft Sequence coming out later this year, but I think I’m going to hold off on the rest for the immediate future. I think Gladstone is better at ending books than beginning them.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Gone to the Forest

(April 2017)
  


Bouncing into this straight off The North Water is not something I’d necessarily advise to anyone else, as both are short but well crafted stories about unpleasant people in unpleasant places doing unpleasant things. I’m also not entirely sure what either book was trying to say.