Published October 1st 2011
Talking with some friends of mine about books, I came to understand that “Horror” is pretty much a pejorative word. On the other hand, “Terror” is always seen as a respectable word for “horror” (I still remember Boris Karloff preferring his work to be described as such…).
“Horror” as a genre is where SF and Fantasy are nowadays, ie, enclosed in tired bathos appealing to a conservative readership which wants more of the same and are hostile to any attempts to try something different ('that's not real Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror).
Are really the so-called "literary" and "genre" fiction been at odds with each other? Literary writers increasingly try do deploy imagery from genre, while genre writers have upped their game considerably in terms of complexity, with moral resonance and style.
But “Horror” – the third leg of "speculative fiction" – has had markedly less success. There’s a bunch of “new” writers out there worth reading. Some of them not so new, but I say they’re new, because they bring a “new” approach to Horror): Stephen Jones, Thomas Ligotti, Ronald Malfi, just to name the ones I think are making the difference nowadays.
With “Borealis”, we just have a glimpse of what Malfi can do. He’s a truly gifted storyteller, who can spin sentences and pace action like a true master of the form. As pieces get picked up it’s when Malfi goes into high gear; sometimes the endings of the storylines are left open, with possible destinies the reader can only begin to imagine.
I’ve read elsewhere that literary fiction is “driven by the ideas, themes, and concerns of the novelist, often producing a narrative that is at times controversial.” It’s a good thing that never happens in SF (smile).
Go and read Malfi, Ligotti, Stephen Jones. You won’t regret it, even you’re not particularly favourably disposed towards Horror (notice the use of the term “Horror” instead of “Terror”; they’re two different takes on this theme).
The Borealis might have stopped cruising, but the characters go on in your mind (I'd love to see this turned into a full-length novel).
SF = Speculative Fiction
Read from December 05 to 18, 2013 — I own a copy
4 Stars for this Bone-Freezing yet Heartwarming Book.
Nearly freeze my butt off reading this one. Felt like I have just gone through sub-zero in the North Pole. I was effectively transported to the Arctic experiencing blinding white snow and bone-deep chills. Besides that the reindeer rides almost ripped my poor acrophobic heart out. No amount of preparation could have calm my heart enough for such a rough ride. The World's Top Rollercoaster ride would simply be kiddie rides in comparison.
The story begun in year 1818, with an adventurous family of three trekking through the harsh Arctic environment with undying determination to reach the North Pole. It is a feat no one has yet succeeded. Unfortunately their plans was foiled when they were left for dead by their guides and a snow storm was raging. The Santa family was torn apart during that storm and Jessica and her teenage son Jon was left to fend for themselves when Nicholas disappeared in the storm while trying to locate their guides. Unbeknownst to the Santas, they were in for the biggest adventure of their lifetime when they were sucked into the scientifically advance world of the Nordic elven. Although it's a mathematical world with much scifi elements in it, I still find it magical and wondrous!
In Claus, we get to meet lots of fantastical creatures and legendary beings in the land of forever winter. Just to name a few, there is the famed 9 reindeers with Rudy being the biggest and strongest of the herd, the Abominable Snowmans, the round rolly-polly Nordic elven, cold and dangerous Jack Frost, and on goes the list. Only thing is... they all come with a twist, a scientific one of course since this is a scifi cum fantasy take on the legendary red robe fat man. Think genetic manipulation, energy field devices, holographic displays, space compressor and atom fragmenters, doesn't it all spells fun and adventures? So many wondrous things to keep us entertained. Asides from the fun and gripping adventure, the text was powerful enough to help cool down the temperature of my oven-like room. Snow and freezing water never left my mind throughout the story and what a treat it was for a tropical dweller like me. *bliss*
Cane the smallest and oddest elf is probably my favorite character although he is mute and was only a side character with a small role. For some reasons he is very endearing to me. It could be my motherly instinct taking hold of me. Hehehe. I felt that Cane is the character who has truly lost something most precious to him and my heart aches for him.
As for the rest of the characters they were well developed and round (no pun intended). They each have their own background and unique characteristic. They have their own hopes and dreams with strong will to back it up. In short, they are memorable characters. The author's magical pen has brought them to life vividly.
Romance was a constant here even in the midst of chaos caused by the elven war between two elven factions. The pure undying love between Nicholas and his wife Jessica was beautiful to behold. Along with the durable love between the kind hearted elven couple, Nog and Merry was just as inspiring. Then there was also the budding young love between young elven Tinsel and Jon.
Jack, the negative force in this story was just a misguided and misunderstood soul. He could have been as great as Claus if he was given the same opportunity to shine, to be accepted and acknowledged.
Unfortunately the elven has lost track of what is important especially in the upbringing of a child. Poor Jack was shut out by his own people, even his own twin brother and mother was essentially ignoring his existence just because he was different, a freak of nature, an unintended results of a genetic manipulations to create the perfect ruler. Hence he was the so-called unwanted extra, a defective child whereas his brother was the ideal their people sought after. Jack has my empathy as he is only a product of negligence and discrimination. Jack is a lonely soul not by own desire but of disregards and unfair treatments. All he ever seek for was acceptance and love. I could understand his self preservation ways through his tyrannic rulings over the elven.
I guess he who sows bad seeds, shall reap bitter fruits.
What didn't worked well for me was the ending. It was a little abrupt with some loose ends left whipping in the cold winter wind.
Seems like Santa just got up one day and decided to travel the world gifting children with toys just because of his sudden fancy. I know that he thinks it's time to announce and unite the elven with humans but why setting such a tradition of gift distribution? It's just that the idea was not properly introduced therefore it felt plastered on just for a jolly ending for the Christmas season.
Another peeve was with what had happened to Jon Santa after that unfortunate incident while escaping the six-leggers creatures.
Why on earth does he need to lose his memories just to become an elven? So that he could be with Tinsel? He could be an elven and love Tinsel and his new life even with his memories intact right? It was a cruel thing to do to a mother. Jessica doesn't need this test of love to prove her love for her only child. She does not deserve any further pain. To me it wasn't a necessary plot to steer the story and it felt more like a nuisance to irk me. *Takes deep calming breath* Sigh... perhaps it was a plot to separate Jon and his mother in order to develop Jon and Tinsel's budding love. And, to project the strong spirit and bravery of Jessica and Nog when they were both on the run together. Damnit! it pains me to see Nog leaving Merry behind on his quest to save and protect Jessica.
Lessons of the story...
Never play god.
Never ever try to cheat Mother Nature.
Balance is the way to keep the cycle of nature healthy.
Greed only leads to destruction.
Never forsake your child.
Never underestimate anyone.
Never judge a person by external appearance.
Discrimination is an act of cruelty, an assault on human rights.
Courage and determination leads you towards your goal.
Love prevails and kindness rules.
Tony Bertauski has certainly revamped the legend of Santa and making it hip and current. The story and its charming characters touched my heart and warmed my soul. It is a lovely book for those young at heart and great for the winter holiday season.
Title: Claus: Legend of the Fat Man
Author: Tony Bertauski
Publication Date: June 19th, 2012
Type: Novel, 73,300 words (approximate)
Genre: Fantasy, Holiday, Science Fiction, Young Adult, Adventure, Alternate Universe
Tags/Keywords: young adult, holidays, captive-captivity-confinement, restricted freedom, special abilities, legends, suspenseful, action-packed, adventure, romance, love, family, alternate universe, amazing worldbuilding, science fiction, santa claus, jack frost, elf, reindeer, snowman, winter, snow, arctic, north pole, northern lights, aurora borealis, war, hatred, discrimination
Some legends are forged in fire.
Others are born in snow.
In the early 1800s, Nicholas, Jessica and Jon Santa attempt the first human trek to the North Pole and stumble upon an ancient race of people left over from the Ice Age. They are short, fat and hairy. They slide across the ice on scaly soles and carve their homes in the ice that floats on the Arctic Ocean.
The elven are adapted to life in the extreme cold.
They are as wise as they are ancient. Their scientific advancements have yielded great inventions -- time-stopping devices and gravitational spheres that build living snowmen and genetically-modified reindeer that leap great distances. They’ve even unlocked the secrets to aging. For 40,000 years, they have lived in peace.
An elven known as The Cold One has divided his people. He’s tired of their seclusion and wants to conquer the world. Only one elven stands between The Cold One and total chaos. He’s white-bearded and red-coated. The Santa family will help him stop The Cold One.
They will come to the aid of a legendary elven known as… Claus.
Caved in and bought it from SMASHWORDS at its promo price, USD0.99. Another Christmas book to read for the holiday.
Comment on December 6th, 2013 @ 4pm:
Seriously considering dropping everything else to read this book first. I have a feeling this would help get me into Christmas mood.
It's on sale at a number of bookstores now. So why not?
The PREVIEW; was fantastic! It hooked me in instantly. And I am compelled to find out how the unfortunate Santa family could survive such calamity. I am worried for them now.
* Reviewed on December 18th, 2013
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