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review 2018-01-01 15:52
Cemetery Dance Select: Michael Marshall Smith
Cemetery Dance Select: Michael Marshall Smith - Michael Marshall Smith

 

The Cemetery Dance Select series is a line of Limited Edition Hardcovers that will be available later in 2018. There are a number of authors involved and how it works is as follows: The author chooses which of their short works they consider to be their best or that had the most impact on their careers, or neglected favorites they feel deserve a second look. This volume, as stated above, features Michael Marshall Smith, (MMS). 

 

Even though I own several of Smith's books, I haven't read them yet, so this was a good way to familiarize myself with his writing. I loved it! This slim volume contains 4 short stories, all of which were excellent. Since they are short, it's hard to say much without spoiling anything, but I'll try.

 

THE MAN WHO DREW CATS is the first tale and my favorite in this collection. Vividly told and extremely compelling, MMS knows how to draw complete characters even in a such a short story as this. At times it was heartbreaking and at others, uplifting. (It was not surprising to discover in the afterword that this tale won The British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story.)

 

LATER-I don't want to say anything about this tale, because...spoilers. However, this is another example of how MMS can make you care for characters in only a few pages. 

 

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU WAKE UP IN THE NIGHT In addition to short stories that pack a punch at the end, my other favorite type of short tale is the one that just IS. No explanations, it just is. (The first tale I think of as an example is Joe Hill's POP ART.) This is one of those and it's also among the finest examples of that type of narrative I've ever read. If THE MAN WHO DREW CATS wasn't so damn poignant, THIS would be my favorite.

 

THE WOODCUTTER A tale of magic and of going home. This was a very different type of tale as compared to the others, but I loved it. I especially liked the fact that I had no idea where the story was going until quite close to the end. And what a end it was!

 

I have a few more Cemetery Dance Select books to read, and I'm very much looking forward to them.  If this, and Kevin Lucia's MYSTERY ROAD are an example of the quality contained within these slim titles, any lover of dark fiction cannot go wrong!

 

Highly recommended!

 

*A HUGE thank you to Cemetery Dance for providing a paper ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-09-20 02:16
Blood of Angels (Straw Men #3)
Blood of Angels - Michael Marshall Smith

This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes. blogspot.wordpress.com by  Bookstooge's Exalted Permission.

Title: Blood of Angels

Series: Straw Men

Author: Michael Marshall

Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars

Genre: Thriller

Pages: 422

Format: Kindle digital edition

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

 

Nina and Ward are dragged back into an investigation, of a potential female serial killer. At the same time Paul, with the help of the Straw Men, escapes from custody and begins to put into place a horrific plan. A former Straw Men is dragged back into service and a young man of Straw Man parentage is roped into Paul's plan.

 

Nina is kidnapped and Ward and Zandt are distracted from thwarting Paul's plan. And it is revealed that the Straw Men have been around destroying Civilization since Atlantis and now they intend to begin again.

 

 

My Thoughts:

 

I was kind of going along for the ride until the author stated that Jesus was just a man who faked his death and secretly lived out the rest of his life in Europe. I don't have a problem with conspiracy theories about the Church or saints or what not, but when you baldly deny Jesus' claim of Divinity, then you've moved into Blasphemous territory. I take that rather seriously.

 

My other issue is with the series as a whole. The Straw Men themselves, in fact. They are presented as this group of evil people bent on murder and mayhem but with the tight control of a genius. They have persisted for untold time and continue strong. I just don't buy it. Evil, by its very nature, is destructive and eventually self-destructive. You might have individuals who can control themselves while allowing evil full reign in their life, but never groups of people and even those individuals must at some point succumb themselves. A group dedicated to evil will rise, prosper and then decay and fall, usually to another group.

 

Other than those 2 things, this was an ok read. I'm not a big fan of Conspiracies and Grand Paranoia, so some of the appeal of this series just wasn't aimed at me.

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review 2016-07-06 22:51
The Lonely Dead (Straw Men #2)
The Lonely Dead - Michael Marshall Smith

This review is written with a GPL 3.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at Bookstooge.booklikes.blogspot. wordpress.com & Bookstooge's Reviews on the Road Facebook Group by Bookstooge's Exalted Permission.

Title: The Lonely Dead

Series: Straw Men

Author: Michael Marshall

Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars

Genre: Thriller

Pages: 339

Format: Kindle digital edition

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

 

Ward and the other people from the previous book return. Trying to hunt down Ward's twin, Paul, they are getting nowhere. Until the Straw Men decide that Paul is too out of control for even their tastes. Then they allow the 3 just enough clues to hopefully put Paul down but with enough leeway that Paul can return the favor to the trio.

Paul's gone off the rails, convinced that bigfoot is really magical Neanderthals and that if he can kill one, he can propitiate whatever imaginary dark gods exist for the Straw Men.

 

My Thoughts:

 

In the previous book, we were let into the mind of a killer. This time around we just watch the author clown around. Telepathic neanderthals that can twist your mind into seeing magical elves or unicorns or bigfoot. Come on.

 

I like fantasy. But I didn't realize that this was fantasy. The hopeless existential nothingness was still there but the ridiculousness of the overall idea just kept me from feeling it. Which is good, I guess? Probably not the author's intent though.

 

I've got the final book available to me and I'll be reading it. But it wouldn't surprise me at all if Paul the insane serial killer who makes even the Straw Men afraid, turns out to be Lucky the Leprechaun, complete with a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2014-06-27 00:00
New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird
New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird - Michael Marshall Smith,Don Webb,John Shirley,Charles Stross,Caitlín R. Kiernan,Holly Phillips,Norman Partridge,Laird Barron,China Miéville,Cody Goodfellow,Paul J. McAuley,Sarah Monette,Tim Pratt,Nathan Ballingrud,Marc Laidlaw,Dale Bailey,Elizabeth Bear,Wi
★ Pickman's Other Model, Tsathoggua, A Colder War

★★ Mr. Gaunt, The Fungal Stain, Take Me To The River, Cold Water Survival,

★★★ Fair Exchange, The Vicar Of R'lyeh, The Crevasse, Bad Sushi, Old Virginia, The Dude Who Collected Lovecraft, The Oram County Whoosit, Buried In The Sky, Bringing Helena Back, The Essayist In The Wilderness, Shoggoths In Bloom, Lesser Demons, Another Fish Story

★★★★ A Study In Emerald, The Disciple, The Great White Bed, Grinding Rock, Details, Head Music, Mongoose
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review 2013-09-16 00:00
Clones: Crónicas de un futuro imperfecto
Clones: Crónicas de un futuro imperfecto - Michael Marshall Smith,María Vidal

Reseña de Fantasía Mágica


Leí Clones hace 11 años y tenía pendiente releerlo. Me imaginaba que lo iba a entender/disfrutar más ahora, y efectivamente así fue.
Por si no queda claro con el nombre del libro, es una distopía de ciencia ficción, y por momentos, una de las más crudas que he que he leído hasta ahora (ríanse de Los Juegos del Hambre).
Mientras lo leía pensaba que si uno hiciera una línea de tiempo de los hechos, lo que ocurre en "tiempo presente" es la mitad de la historia o menos. Hay una enorme cantidad de flashbacks a lo largo del libro que nos ayudan a entender mejor muchas cosas, incluidos ciertos hábitos del protagonista.

Como dice la sinopsis, Jack Randall vuelve a Nueva Richmond -una monstruosidad mecánica que nadie parece molestarse en hacer funcionar- con un grupo de clones humanos que liberó de su horroroso destino como repuestos para sus originales. Y ahora huyen. Es por eso que recurre a viejos conocidos y amigos para que lo ayuden a ocultarlos... a pesar de que haya una (no demasiado alta) recompensa sobre su cabeza.
Pero cuando todos los clones -menos uno- son secuestrados, la historia se complica considerablemente.

Jack es un ex-policía con una gran adicción a una extraña droga conocida como rapto, en apariencia controlada gracias a Ratchett, un androide (que asumo que tiene aspecto humano, o al menos yo lo imaginé como a Michael Fassbender en Prometheus) que lo ayudó. Él trabajaba como guardia en un lugar llamado la Granja, cuya función era tener a los clones -llamados despectivamente 'recambios'- almacenados en unas habitaciones como cuevas, con el único propósito de esperar a que llegaran los médicos para quitarles partes y volver a arrojarlos donde los encontraron.
Jack nos narra en primera persona y gracias a su acidez y sarcasmo el libro no carece en absoluto de humor. Es un personaje muy defectuoso, lleno de fallas y remordimientos, pero que por alguna razón se hace querer igual. Quizás se deba precisamente al constante arrepentimiento que siente, o porque nos enteramos de lo que hizo una vez que ya se le tomó cariño.
También tendrá sus momentos de reflexión intercalados con la historia, y esos a me parecieron muy buenos e interesantes. Es la visión desde adentro de una sociedad podrida y sin esperanza, vista a través los ojos de un personaje por demás imperfecto.

Es una historia extremadamente cruda cuando se trata de los clones, el concepto de gente desmembrada y desnuda que no tiene verdadera consciencia de nada ni capacidad de nada, es aterrador. Además de la forma en que son tratados por los celadores y médicos, como si fueran menos que objetos.
El futuro creado por Michael Marshall Smith en esta novela es sinceramente terrorífico. Está excelentemente bien logrado como transmite el horror y la aberración de lo que les hacen, así como la forma en que la mente de Jack barrunta, muta y se decide a ayudarlos. Randall se encariña y se vuelve como un padre protector para aquellos que tienen mas consciencia de lo que les ocurre. Más adelante nos enteraremos de lo que lo mueve a hacerlo, a pesar de que no se diga abiertamente.

Pero no es sólo esto el argumento de Clones. De hecho, la historia de los 'recambios' es la menor (si bien la principal), porque el protagonista deberá además sumergirse en la investigación de una ola de extraños asesinatos que están sucediendo en Nueva Richmond, y que todos parecen apuntar a una misma persona de su pasado.
Hacia la mitad del libro conoceremos y entenderemos mejor una buena parte de la psicología del protagonista, adentrándonos en un lugar extraño y bizarro donde el terror es el único sentimiento que experimentarán los personajes. Excelente.

Es una novela extremadamente dinámica, con unas escenas de acción que se devoran y una gran cantidad de historias y sub-historias que se ven en los ya mencionados flashbacks. Cuando crean que todo está tranquilo, habrá caos.
Además, si vamos a la ciencia ficción en sí, el autor tiene una imaginación enorme y ha sido muy detallista y creativo. Respecto a las dimensiones de Nueva Richmond, realmente no tomé conciencia de la monstruosa enormidad que es esa nave hasta que Jack comienza a recorrerla y hablarnos de los estratos sociales que se dividen entre los más de 100 pisos que la componen.

Probablemente la historia les recuerde en algo a cierta película con Ewan McGregor, y es porque se inspiraron muy libremente en este libro para hacerla.
No quiero decir 'plagio' pero...

No dejen de leerla si les gusta la ciencia ficción, y recuerden que fue escrita en la década del '90 así que encontrarán como vigentes ciertas cosas que ya no lo son (como los diskettes), pero si toman esos detalles con humor, encontrarán una distopía escalofriante, muy bien creada... y que no suena completamente imposible.

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