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review 2018-02-21 18:21
The Bloody Chamber (Story No. 1)
The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories: 75th-Anniversary Edition (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) - Kelly Link,Angela Carter

The Bloody Chamber is a retelling of the french folklore tale "Bluebeard". It´s dark and twisted and beautifully written, even though I felt slightly disturbed most of the time and some passages made me feel downright icky:

 

I saw him watching me in the gilded mirrors with the assessing eye of a connoisseur inspecting horseflesh, or even of a housewife in the market, inspecting cuts on the slab. I´d never seen, or else had never aknowledged, that regard of his before, the sheer carnal avarice of it; and it was strangely magnified by the monocle lodged in the left eye.

 

I don´t know what is worse, the monocle or having the feeling of being compared to horseflesh or a slab of meat. I bet by now she regrets having married him.

 

Overall a great short story.

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review 2018-02-21 05:53
Review: Changing Planes, by Ursula K. Le Guin
Changing Planes - Eric Beddows,Ursula K. Le Guin

Changing Planes is a delightful book.  It delights me.

This anthropological tour through some of the stranger societies in the multiverse begins by explaining its basic premise: Airports are not only portals to other terrestrial cities, but also to other dimensions.  Interplanar travel requires no machine or vehicle, no magical incantations or special knowledge.  The remarkably simple method was developed by one Sita Dulip, who discovered it when her flight out of Chicago was delayed several times and finally canceled.  Trapped, exhausted, uncomfortable, and bored, she realized that:

By a mere kind of twist and a slipping bend, easier to do than to describe, she could go anywhere - be anywhere - because she was already between planes.



(Normally, I would have no truck with any book whose premise was based on such a ridiculous pun - but over the years I have made a few grudging exceptions to this policy.)

The rest of the book is divided into fifteen short stories - or really, ethnographies - about life on the different planes.  Some of them are moral allegories, some are social satires, some portray strange and unsettling alien philosophies.  None of the chapters have much plot to speak of, but they are all fascinating vignettes.  The formula is essentially: "Let me tell you a few things about the people of _____."

Despite this common approach, the stories are fairly diverse in style and theme.  Four of the standouts highlight some of the different tacks Le Guin takes:

Seasons of the Ansarac is an ethnographic description of the migratory people of Ansar.  On a plane where each season lasts for six of our years, the people spend spring and summer raising children in idyllic northern homesteads before heading south to the vibrant cities every fall and winter.  Le Guin's detailed description of Ansarac folkways is fascinating, but the story takes a darker turn when visitors from another plane (one similar to ours) arrive, convince the Ansarac that they are primitive, backward, and hormone-driven, and offer to help them adopt a modern lifestyle.

Great Joy satirizes the American obsession with meaningless holiday kitsch, describing a privately-owned plane where one island is always Christmas, one the 4th of July, one New Year's Eve, and so on.  This plane's sickly-sweet candy coating covers a horrifying system of slavery and exploitation - not that Christmas-loving midwestern Cousin Sulie and her fellow patrons give much of a shit about that.  "I just get right into the spirit just thinking about Christmas Island! Oh, it is just such a happy place!"

Wake Island is a cautionary dystopia about science gone awry.  Based on their theory that sleep is a vestigial trait that keeps most humans from accessing their latent genius, a group of scientists genetically design babies who need no sleep.  This is essentially the same premise as Nancy Kress's Beggars in Spain, but Le Guin's aftermath is much more disturbing.

The Island of the Immortals is in many ways a horror story, cloaked in the guise of classic science fiction.  It reminds me quite a bit of the better works of H.G. Wells, where a lone traveler encounters a society he at first cannot understand - and then later wishes he never tried.  In this story, the narrator has heard of an island on the Yendian plane which is populated by immortals.  Curious to learn the secret of their longevity, she visits - only to find the locals quiet, standoffish, and oddly somber.  There are immortals among them, yes, but they are not what the narrator expects.  This is the story that has remained in my mind most vividly since I first read this book almost a decade ago.  It is, in my opinion, one of Le Guin's most powerful and thoughtful pieces.

~

Ursula K. Le Guin died last month; I reread this book in part as a memorial (and in part because I just love it so much).  Given her recent passing, this excerpt in particular struck me:

When I was twelve or thirteen, I used to plan what I'd wish for if they gave me three wishes. I thought I'd wish, 'I wish that having lived well to the age of eighty-five and having written some very good books, I may die quietly, knowing that all the people I love are happy and in good health.'



She was 88 when she died, and she wrote a great number of incredible books.  I hope that the rest of her wish came true as well.

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review 2018-02-21 01:55
Not Bad
Spells, Swords, and Storms: Short Stories - Nicole J. Sainsbury

Disclaimer: The author sent me a copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review.  We are GR friends, though I didn't realize she had published until the offer.

 

                Spells, Swords, and Storms is a three-story collection, one story for each word in the title.  The first story, “Spellbound” is a pretty story about a love spell.  Sainsbury plays with the idea of what happens after the love spell works and love is gained.   It’s a delicate balancing job to write a story like this, especially when a reader factors in the questions of will.  It is to Sainsbury’s credit that she handles the balancing act just fine.  The sense of guilt, love, and shame that Jenna feels are palatable.

 

                “Aislinn’s Raven” is the second story, and draws on the knights surrounding King Arthur.  In fact, this story has been on my TBR shelf.  While it is a good story, it is the weakest of the three.  The story centers around Gareth, filling in his backstory, in particular where he would learn such skill at arms if his mother kept him tied to her skirts (as the story goes).  While the central protagonists are well drawn (Gareth and his teachers), their opposites are not, at least not in the same way.  The theme of a class of culture and powers is interesting and the description of time and setting is well done.  However, one villain’s behavior doesn’t fully make sense.   Perhaps this is all to do with bullies being “piss and wind”, but something more is hinted at, making the ending a bit too open ended.  The reader wants a sequel and a bit more answers.

 

                The best story is the last, “Winter Flood” which isn’t so much a fantasy, as a study of growing up and grief.  Rachel, a college student, suffers a break up with her long-term boyfriend, and meets someone who is strangely familiar.  While not, technically, the fantasy that the other stories are, it contains, at its heart, a quiet and beautiful magic.  In some ways, it reminded me of Jim C Hines’ Goldfish Dreams – a more quiet, real story that is fantastic in tone and deals with real life and serious real-life problems directly.

 

                All three stories deal with the theme of friendship, loyalty, and love.  All feature strong women, though strong in different ways.   Each story also focuses on questions of love and loyalty.  They are not overly sentimental and quite magical.

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review 2018-02-16 21:49
Not Like Any Wrestling You Know – Wrestle Maniacs Anthology @Adam_G_Howe
Wrestle Maniacs - Duncan P. Bradshaw,Jeff Strand,Werner Leins,Eryk Pruitt,Jason Parent,Gabino Iglesias,Adam Howe,David James Keaton,James R. Newman,Katherine Kurtz

Some of the authors for the Wrestle Maniacs anthology are familiar to me and you may recognize some of them yourself.

 

Amazon  /  Goodreads

 

MY REVIEW

 

If you are a fan of wrestling or like twisted, convoluted tales that will tax your imagination, Wrestle Maniacs is for you. Some of the stories are sad, some are hilarious, and some are down right frightening. Twisted. Horrific. Every punishment you can imagine in the ring and many you never would have dreamt of, are contained herein.

 

Gabino Iglesias had me gagging and trying not to upchuck as I read his brutal, bloody story, El Neubo Sant’s Last Fight.

 

Adam Howe had me laughing my ass off, as Reggie, a shit magnet, finds himself in some of the most hilariously funny, yet dangerous situations in the book, in Rassle Hassle.

 

Gory, gross, disgusting and some seemingly normal stories, along with some horror, scifi, mystery, thrills and chills. Off the wall!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of Wrestle Maniacs by Adam Howe & Company.

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos  5 Stars

 

GOODREADS BLURB

 

A dozen dark fiction masters bring their twisted vision to the world of professional wrestling. Twelve original stories of crime, horror, humor, and taboo. Ohhh, yeahhh! This ain’t no kayfabe, baby. This is hard-hitting wrestling fiction that grips like a Camel Clutch, and pins the reader to the page for the count of one, two…THREE!

 

Includes a confrontational foreword by ring legend ‘Pulverizing’ Pat McCrunch (as told to Jeff Strand)… An all-new story starring Nick ‘The Widowmaker’ Bullman from James Newman’s wrestling noir, “Ugly as Sin”… And ex-boxer turned strip club bouncer Reggie Levine (“Tijuana Donkey Showdown,” “Damn Dirty Apes”) returns for another action-packed misadventure.

 

Original fiction by:
Jeff Strand
Tom Leins
James Newman
Eryk Pruitt
Adam Howe
Ed Kurtz
Hector Acosta
Joseph Hirsch
Duncan P. Bradshaw
David James Keaton
Gabino Iglesias
Patrick Lacey
and Jason Parent

Wooooo!!!

 

MY ADAM HOWE REVIEWS

 

 

MY JASON PARENT REVIEWS

 

 

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Source: www.fundinmental.com/not-like-wrestling-know-wrestle-maniacs-anthology-adam_g_howe
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review 2018-02-16 19:46
Douglas F. Warrick: Plow the Bones
Plow the Bones - Douglas F. Warrick

The "F" in Douglas F. Warrick tells you a lot about how this book is going to read. It was clearly written by someone who goes by Douglas, not Doug, and who would correct you if your forgot to include their middle initial in their name.

 

The prose is arch, affected, and in love with itself. It's impossible to separate reading these stories from feeling like Warwick is reading over one's shoulder with you, excited for you to get to his favourite turns of phrase. I knew I wasn't going to finish this book when I came across this particularly precious paragraph in "Funeral Song for a Ventriloquist":

A confession. This story began with a lie. This story wanted very much to end here. And so it spun a fabrication within its very second sentence. But this is not the end of this story, as ashamed as it may be to admit it. This is the rest of this story, told into the void as all stories are. Until their end. Whether they like it or not.

Godawful. I get that this is a young author, and I hope his style improves in his future work. I liked some of the ideas, especially in "Zen and the Art of Gordon Dratch's Damnation" (OMG that title though). I would bet that as he matures, Warrick will gain some confidence and step away from the wrought prose and let his stories stand on their ideas. I hope.

 

To quote from an Amazon reviewer named August, "The writing is very good. But I personally hated it." Not recommended.

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