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review 2019-02-04 02:11
"Death will die"
The Reality Dysfunction - Peter F. Hamilton

A vast, all-you-can-eat, SF buffet. Probably off-puttingly long for those trying to cram in 250 books in a year and whether or not the story actually needs an entire chapter on the evolution of the Ly-cilph is open for debate but for those of us happy to sud ourselves in a highly readable SF saga this is a deep, warm, bath. ‘Reality’ certainly is a shelf-breaker but Hamilton can write and he can keep the pages turning too. And how.


This is arguably the SF version of ‘The Stand’ with the crazy page count, the multiple characters and the dead acting as the insidious virus that takes down humanity. Hamilton has the human race doing…well, alright actually; spreading across the stars via sentient biotek ships, colonising multiple planets (the ‘Capitalists In Space’ angle doesn’t escape criticism), divvying up into two main augmented factions – Adamists and Edenists – with their fancy neural nanonics or affinity links and out-lawing any use of anti-matter after various catastrophes. Other than a deliciously mysterious ring of exploded space stations (the ‘Ruin Ring’) left behind by an extinct race and, um, an escaped maniac inside a tree who wants to live forever all seems to be going tickety-boo. So by the half-way point Hamilton is well placed to systematically take a blow-torch to the entire roadshow. The setting up of and then shocking, awe-inspiring, collapse of an entire space-faring civilisation put me in mind of Dan Simmons’ ‘Hyperion’. Hamilton has the writing chops for the small moments but you can sense him really seizing the SF canvas here and his glee is almost palpable.      


The Big Bad in ‘Reality’ is our old friends the recently deceased who make an inconvenient return appearance from the Void Beyond with lightning coming out of their fingers, the ability to shapeshift and crash any nearby tech. The key moment in the novel – the test for the hard-SF reader and the moment Hamilton outs himself as a mainstream populist – is when a set of fangs appears. There is also a Yeti. Oh and naked ladies try to entice you into their arms which regrettably only ever happens in fiction and rarely ends well. The dead’s weird ability to warp reality allows Hamilton to leverage supernatural and historical imagery – hence the books reputation for involving everything and the kitchen sink – but he also has fine fun doing military SF, laser-tastic space battles and has the nerve to actually depict the void beyond death and the armies of disembodied personalities clamouring to return to corporeality. It’s the sort of audaciousness literary critics have orgasms over when your name is Philip Pullman and you’re ripping off Milton and Blake. Here, Hamilton has gruff cosmonik Warlow quietly discussing Catholicism with a sentient space-station amid the rings of Murora before he sets off a nuke.


The encounter between the living and the dead of Hamilton’s Confederation Universe actually goes swimmingly well and everyone goes home happy. Only joking. Humanity gets its arse spectacularly kicked in orbit about Lalonde and only the heroics of blatant – but thoroughly enjoyable – ‘Gary Sue’ Joshua Calvert results in a statistically negligible win. ‘Reality’ is, of course, merely part 1 of a trilogy you puny humans and by the finale dangling threads abound. Whither Dr Alkad Mzu? Last seen nipping off in a voidhawk with thoughts of “the Alchemist” on her mind. What was with that structure the Tyrathca were building and their talk of “the Sleeping God”? Have we seen the last of Laton? Above all, how the hell is Hamilton going to land all this? I have absolutely no idea but I do know it’s a hell of a writer who can have you gagging for more after a thousand pages: “Whatever it was they came up against is something that one day we are also going to encounter.”

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review 2018-01-16 16:08
Dysfunction by Morgan (AO3)
Dysfunction - Morgan (AO3) Dysfunction - Morgan (AO3)
An excellent fanfic detailing Dean and Sam's dysfunctional childhood told from Dean's pov.
Source: archiveofourown.org/works/667517
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review 2016-10-22 21:38
Ashes - Steven Manchester

Title: Ashes
Author: Steven Manchester
Publisher: Story Plant
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: Five

"Ashes" by Steven Manchester

My Thoughts...

'Ashes' was quite some story about two brother Tom and Jason Prendergast. These two brothers
hadn't been together for many years [15]mainly due to their hateful abusive father and now he was dead and had requested them to make a drive together to Seattle in order to take and spread his ashes. Now, they had to do this in order to get the 'contents of a sealed envelope their father had lift with his lawyer.' At this point I wondered why it was so important to get this envelope especially since the way their father had mistreated them so horribly while growing up. What in the world would this man be leaving them that was worth this trip? What turns out to be a trip from hell also turns out to be so much more as these two brothers travel together to Seattle. What these two brothers find out during this trip will truly have you shaking your head and saying how more crueler could this father have been! Wow! I don't want to spoil it for you the reader other than saying this is one well written story to pick up and read. I enjoyed how this author was able to give the reader a little humor and even some tears in the midst of what all was going on in this read. In the end will these two brothers be able to get over the abuse they both suffered during their dysfunctional childhood and now they were both parents how has this affected their present life? I liked how this author puts the storyline together with answering all the questions....to how will this trip end? Along the trip who all did they come in contact with? Was this trip with getting that 'envelope' left from their father? What happens in Tom and Jason's 'brotherly relationship' after this trip? All of these questions and so much more will be answered fully in this excellent read.

So, be ready for a very tensed, emotional journey, sentimental, a travel across country, little mystery and even some humor as "Ashes" will bring it all to you front and center all the way to the very end. Would I recommend? YES!


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review 2016-03-29 06:44
these books people, they're quite excellent
The Story of a New Name - Elena Ferrante

I'm feeling way too lazy to write a review, and this convo pretty much sums it up for me. Special thanks to Lenore for being my review muse.

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review 2015-10-24 20:08
my favorite Tom Mendicino to date
# 2 - Tom Mendicino
Tom Mendicino really has me dialed in. This is one of those American-experience family stories that I just love. It starts out with a very ominous prologue but quickly meanders into a coming-of-age journey where you meet brothers Frankie and Michael growing up with a Italian immigrant father, a true Italian godfather, and a long string of stepmothers. 

The author is quite the master of settings and subplots. It features the city of Philadelphia and the suburbs which really become emblematic of the old and the new and how the old becomes new again, the cycle of life. A good chunk of the story takes place in 2008 during that endless primary season when Hillary and Obama were duking it out for the Democratic presidential nomination. This may sound a bit boring, but it makes me sorry that I don't live in a battleground state. And for those of you are keeping score, this book does feature a little bit of baseball. 

Back to our brothers Frankie and Michael. Frankie is gay, and that plays prominently in the story line, however it's not about him being gay. Michael is the star athlete and scholar, and as an adult, becomes a crime fighter as a deputy district attorney. While each of their story's are interesting, it's their story together that makes the book. At times, the book borders on being a black comedy and there are some very funny parts. But humor is only one component that builds the bond that brothers share. As you are moving along, watching Frankie's and Michael's lives play out, you almost forget about what happens in the prologue. Never fear, it comes back and things get tense and when you see a grown ass man calling his brother Boo because he is stressed out, you know you have something special.
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