Posted tagged ‘James Morrow’

Review: Shambling Towards Hiroshima

August 28, 2009

Shambling Towards Hiroshima marks James Morrow’s welcome return to the novella, it’s also his most enjoyable book in years.  This is the story of Syms Thorley, the greatest monster performer of Hollywood’s golden age, and the military’s attempt to avoid using the bomb against Japan.  Thorley takes on the role of a lifetime as Gorgantis, a giant city destroying lizard in an army produced, James Whale directed nightmare in the hopes that it will scare the Japanese into surrender.

It’s a fun story that allows Morrow to finally indulge his passion for classic horror films (his stock convention speech uses Frankenstein vs. the Wolf-Man as a metaphor for the dawning of the enlightenment).  But on the other hand he also indulges his love for his own authorial voice.  Granted I think the protagonist is intended to come off as a bit of a blowhard, but then Morrow tends to write such characters a lot.  But at least in this case the story isn’t preaching to the converted in the way of many of his others.  In this instance he’s clearly having fun, and that makes a huge difference.

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Con Report: Boskone 46

February 16, 2009

I’m recovering from a long fun weekend at the moment, the cornerstone of which was a day at Boskone 46.  I only went for Saturday this year due to some other commitments, but had a great time while I was there.  

The con seemed a little smaller this year than in the past, probably as a side effect of the economy like everything else, but the guest list sure didn’t show it.  I had the chance to indulge my inner autograph hound and accost Karl Schroeder, Charles Stross and guests of honor Greg Bear and Jo Walton (whose novel Farthing I picked up at the con and started reading on the T to great satisfaction).

The art show was great as always, particularly the special exhibit that Tor’s legendary art director, Irene Gallo put together.  There were also some very nice works from Stephan Martiniere, Donato Giancola, and Bob Eggleton on display.

The panels weren’t on the greatest assortment of topics this time around, but with the right people on a panel anything can become fascinating.  I went to some great physics panels based around Geoffrey Landis, and the one on writing about despair (on Valentine’s Day no less) with Jo Walton, James Morrow, Suzy Charnas and Therese Nielsen Hayden pretty much made the entire con worthwhile for me.

Year In Review: Books

December 15, 2008

A Decent year for the YA market, an awful one for everything else.  I could barely come up with 10 for this list, and two of the books I haven’t actually finished yet (although both of those I strongly feel will prove to deserve their slots by the time I’m done with them).

1) Nation

A labor of love from Terry Pratchett, the world’s greatest commentator on human behavior.

2) Little Brother

Cory Doctorow takes on the Department of Homeland Security and the culture of fear created by the Bush administration.  If you want to don’t want to get off your ass and take action after reading this YA gem than you weren’t paying attention.

3) The Kingdom On the Waves

The brilliant M.T. Anderson finishes his tale of Octavian Nothing, traitor to the nation.  The classically educated escaped slave heads south to join the British as the Revolutionary War breaks out around him.  One of those books I haven’t finished as of yet (give me another week), by the time I’m finished this could actually move up to the top spot.

4) More Information Than You Require

John Hodgman’s second book of false knowledge, this time supplimented with commentary of his newfound life as a minor television personality (and Battlestar Galactica fan).  It’s a real shame reality can’t measure up to the surreal world Hodgman creates.

5) Vicious Circle

Mike Carey’s second outing in his Felix Castor series is a huge improvement over the first book.  It still feels a bit like a story he didn’t have time to write when he was on Hellblazer, but the end result is a nice creepy supernatural mystery.

6) Graveyard Book

Neil Gaiman tries his hand at the Jungle Book, pretty much exactly what you’d expect given the title.

7) The Baum Plan for Financial Independance

My favorite Indy publisher, Small Beer Press, collects many of the best short stories of John Kessel.  

8) The Dragons of Babel

It took forever, but Michael Swanwick has finally completed his sequel to the Iron Dragon’s Daughter, possibly the greatest dark fantasy ever written.  Sadly the sequel, much of which is a series of intertwined short stories, doesn’t nearly live up to its predecessor.

9) Pirate Sun

Karl Schroeder continues his amazing space opera.  The set pieces in the book are as great as always, but I’m starting to suspect that Schroeder doesn’t actually have an end in mind for the story.

10) Philosopher’s Apprentice

James Morrow, the biggest heretic in literature (and yes that’s a very good thing), takes on philosophy in a pseudo-tribute to the Island of Dr. Moreau.