Book Sand Worm

Reading is my passion. I read many different genres and authors, and I'm always looking for something new.

Book Review: The Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons

The Rise of Endymion - Dan Simmons

The Basics

In this continuation of the previous story, we see Aenea’s adult life and how she became known as a messiah.

My Thoughts

I don’t really want to say more than that about the plot. If you’ve read the previous book, then you know that’s what was established from the outset, that Aenea’s story eventually leads to her being considered a savior of the known universe. Typical of Simmons, he means that in the religious sense, and Aenea does become a Christ figure. I didn’t really have a problem with this other than Simmons is typically very clever, and this was utterly transparent. There was nothing subtle about it. That doesn’t mean it was bad, just surprisingly straightforward for someone who loves his obscure references.

Compared to the other books in the series, which were all epic and covered so much ground, this one was slower. In particular when Aenea was giving her “sermons”. If you’re not fond of pages and pages of exposition, you won’t be fond of that. They weren’t just info dumps either, but these drawn out, philosophical debates concerning the inner-workings of the world Simmons has built, and I was checking my watch trying to get through that. It rankled a little, as well, that my favorite character for the past two books, De Soya, was having adventures that got glossed over while we listened to Aenea create a new religion. If I could’ve chosen, I would’ve been reading about De Soya.

That was the only low spot though. In fact, that is the only low point of the entire Hyperion Cantos, and I’m not exaggerating. This was a strong finish to an immense series. When I use that word, I don’t mean long. I know series exist that take twenty books to tell their story. I mean that it’s rare when you read about a world built as intricately and fascinatingly as this one was. If you like world building, you’ve come to the right place, especially if you have a taste for hard SF. But he didn’t stop there. He populated that world with characters that you couldn’t help being interested in and told their stories thoroughly.

This book carried some bitter-sweetness to it, and not just because I knew that if Aenea was going to play out her Christ role, it wasn’t going to be pretty. But because it’s officially become one of my favorite series I’ve ever read, and it was sad to end my journey with it. All I can do now is encourage everyone out there to pick these books up, because they are well worth your time.

Final Rating



Book Review: Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary - David Sedaris, Ian Falconer

The Basics

A series of human situations as lived by animals.

My Thoughts

I really don’t know who this was for. It’s written like a series of fables in a minimalist, almost young style, as if for children. The illustrations are whimsical with a dark twist. The stories are adult in nature, but they aren’t engaging or even guilty pleasures, just depressing. Depressing stories written as if for children but they’re clearly for adults. I guess Sedaris thought he was being cute and clever, but I had a very strong, negative reaction to it.

If I’m being honest, it wasn’t just the mix of disparate styles that bothered me. I know what juxtaposition is, and I do think it can work, but this felt like someone reaching for heights they weren’t capable of. These stories were dark and raw and focused on bleak moments and nasty characters. And there never seemed to be a point to it. I don’t know what Sedaris was trying to say, why he wanted to say it, or particularly why he wanted to say it with cute pictures of animals. Maybe it was supposed to be simply ironic or sarcastic, but if so, I find that lazy.

I’m all for bleak fiction, telling the stories that aren’t happy, but I was genuinely pissed at how he seemed to want it to be funny. It’s a shame this was my first Sedaris, because I’ve heard that he really does have a good sense of humor, but I’m not up for laughing at misfortune. I think that’s too easy and a more than a little cruel. It’s burned me to the point that I’m reluctant to read any of his other work.

Final Rating



Book Review: Othello by William Shakespeare

Othello - William Shakespeare

The Basics

Othello has just recently married the love of his life, Desdemona. He has also just recently made an enemy of Iago without even knowing it. He gave Cassio a promotion when Iago feels he was the more deserving man. Now Iago is plotting against Othello and Desdemona, seeking revenge.

My Thoughts

I feel completely incapable here of speaking on the topic of Shakespeare. I’m not a scholar, and I haven’t even read very much of his work. I went for this play because I have found that I love his tragedies, and this was one that I wasn’t entirely familiar with. I knew what you learn from pop culture osmosis, but I didn’t know details. Having read it, it was a rewarding experience.

There is a reputation Shakespeare has of being difficult, and I won’t pretend this was a cakewalk. Sometimes the meaning of a turn of phrase was lost on me, and I had to pause and do some Googling. But overall, there’s such a music to it that you get the gist as you read. Like most lyrical writing, once you’re there, you sink into it, and it proves easier than you thought it would be. It pays to attempt to be fearless about these things.

As for the themes, I think Shakespeare did an incredibly brave thing here, writing about race in a time when I’m sure most people either didn’t care or had very strong, negative opinions. I also think that by today’s standards, there are some problems. Yet even with its issues, I’m just so impressed that Shakespeare made a person of color a living, breathing character in a time when that was taboo.

I also think on the topic of Desdemona that it was important that she had a voice amidst what goes on. She suffers abuse and defamation of character, but she’s never silent. The tragedy is inherent in the time she and Othello lived in, meaning Desdemona has no means of escape. Unfortunate implications abound when considered under a modern light, and I could see how Desdemona’s fate could destroy any merit this play has for some readers. For me, I still see something that was ahead of its time in even caring how Desdemona might have felt, and again it impressed me.

The character that shines here is Iago. He’s an early example of a villain with philosophies and personal excuses for his awfulness. That doesn’t make him likeable, but he is fascinating. He argues at one point about people making their own misery while he makes misery for others, and it almost makes him seem like an agent of chaos rather than a man. He manages to act burned by Othello, but his plan is so elaborate and executed so coldly as to make him seem like a sociopath. I could see shades of so many villains who have come since in Iago, and I think the evolution of what we think of as an irredeemable antagonist might not even be the same without him.

Even with all this talk of character and theme, the bottom line is it was entertaining. High drama. I could easily imagine the first audience ever to see this play being shocked into gasps and shouts at the plot twists. I think at the end of the day, that’s the ruler we measure plays by: did it entertain? In this case, I can easily say yes.

Final Rating



Comic Book Review: Out From Boneville by Jeff Smith

Bone, Vol. 1: Out from Boneville - Jeff Smith

The Basics

Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone just got kicked out of Boneville. Wandering in the desert with nowhere to turn, they get separated, yet each finds their way into the fertile valley full of talking animals and fantastical creatures. And it’s looking more and more like they’re on the path to adventure, whether they’re ready or not.

My Thoughts

Have you ever been shocked by how much you enjoyed something? Like it just seemed as if it shouldn’t be your thing. But Jeff Smith’s Bone series immediately starts with such a strange and unique marrying of genres that I think I was destined to like this. Somehow he put together the ascetic and comedy of old, black-and-white cartoons with a fantasy setting, and it’s not awkward. In fact it’s funny, sweet, exciting, and very readable.

Something I have to say first and foremost about this is it’s surprisingly funny. There is a lot of humor, but it doesn’t feel choked with it, and none of it is insipid. In fact, it’s some of the most well-timed comedy I’ve ever seen in a comic book format. I was giggling all over the place at this. But it also clearly has a more serious end game that’s only beginning here. I have seen other readers say that it gets more epic as it goes along, and I can already see hints of that. Incredibly intriguing hints that make me eager to read more.

It’s not yet quite the fantasy epic I’ve heard it is, but I did find it really charming. If you’re looking for something very different, fun, and a bit experimental, try this out.

Final Rating



Bookish Resolutions: 2015

Before I get started, a slight recap of last years resolutions. I didn’t do well on my Dean Koontz challenge, again. I was supposed to read at least five of his books, and I believe I managed to read none. So. I think that means I’m done forcing myself to do that, since it isn’t working.


But as far as the amount of books I set myself up for, I wanted to read 50. I read 69 (heh). Not only is that pretty darn good, but it’s the most books I’ve ever read in a year. I’m not going to try to top that or anything, but I am proud of it.


Now onto the new goals!


  1. Read 50 books. Like I always attempt to do. I find having this as a goal keeps me motivated to read, so I like having it there as incentive.
  2. Finish the rest of Stephen King’s bibliography. As you can see me address here. This is one of those things where if I even get close, I’ll be pleased.
  3. Finish/continue more series. I did well last year with finishing series I had started, and I want to keep that up. Any of the series that hooked me in enough to want to read more, I am determined to do so.
  4. Catch up on reviews. I’m very behind. Very. But I don’t want to be, so I’m going to attempt to catch up. We shall see.
  5. Read more long books. Short books have an element of instant gratification to them. They make you feel accomplished quickly. Long books are a commitment, both to persevere even when you feel like you’re getting nowhere in your 50 book challenge AND to endure a book that you hope is good but may not be. And when a book is bad and long? It can seem so much worse simply from the page count. But I’m determined to get over that and pick up more long books. And what is long to me? At least 500+ pages. 500 still isn’t that long in my mind, but if I can surpass that as much as possible, I’ll feel better.


There you go. This isn’t anything I’m going to beat myself up over. These are just things I have on my mind, ways that I want my reading to grow. Wish me luck!

Top 14 Reads of 2014

It’s close enough now that I’m calling it. It’s time to make a list of my favorite reads of this year. Keep in mind that by “favorite”, I mean this list is very subjective. In looking back, these are the ones that I enjoyed the most even though I read a lot of very good books this year. They’re listed chronologically in the order I read them: 


  • The Passion of New Eve by Angela Carter
  • Slippage by Harlan Ellison
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
  • Mister Touch by Malcolm Bosse
  • The Green Mile by Stephen King
  • Black Hole by Charles Burns
  • Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie
  • Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
  • Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
  • Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer
  • The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander
  • Dark Dance by Tanith Lee
  • You by Caroline Kepnes
  • Deadeye Dick by Kurt Vonnegut

Stephen King 2015 Reading Resolution

This just occurred to me, and I’m running with it while it’s on my mind. I’m a big Stephen King fan, but there are still books by him that I haven’t read. Only a handful, but still. I want to have read them all. So 2015 is the year I do it. The following are what will be on the table:


  • Christine
  • Dolores Claiborne
  • Hearts in Atlantis
  • Insomnia
  • Storm of the Century
  • Finders Keepers (once it’s released)


And he’ll probably have a second book come out sometime in 2015, because his track record lately has been two books a year. But I mean, that’s it. That’s a really short list. I can do that, easy. I keep asking myself why I haven’t, and usually the answer is this weird fear of running out of King to read. But on the flip side of that, I’d rather feel the accomplishment of having gotten to all of them. So completion, here I come!

Book Review: Dr. Bloodmoney by Philip K. Dick

Dr. Bloodmoney - Philip K. Dick

The Basics

Through the course of this story, we follow the beginning of the end of the world, then the progress of those who manage to survive it. At the center of a post-apocalyptic community is Hoppy Harrington, a physically handicapped young man with psychic powers. In this new world, he sees his chance to hold what is left of humanity under his power.

My Thoughts

That summary really only covers a portion of the story, but it’s also the most solid center of it. There are other characters we follow, but Hoppy brings everything together with his megalomaniacal schemes. Typical of PKD’s characters in this vein, Hoppy ranges between being pitiful to earning your dislike.

The same goes for Dr. Bluthgeld, the man whose nickname brings us our title of Dr. Bloodmoney. He sees himself as being the cause of the end of the world. Yes, he may well be, but in his mind, it has nothing to do with the experiments he conducted in the past and everything to do with a power he holds to think disasters upon the world, bordering on an OCD level of belief in himself as a catalyst.

I’m going on about these two characters so much because they represent something that PKD does a lot. He creates characters with a very fragile psyche, presents their world and their thoughts as if they are reality, because it is real to them. I don’t think I can emphasize that enough. Bluthgeld doesn’t have powers, or at least it seems very unlikely, but to him that is reality. Hoppy could get along in the world just fine, but he insists on being godlike to these people. PKD was always writing about reality being subjective, and most times he did that with plot. Here, he does it with characters by manipulating their circumstances.

The plot itself can be a little confusing, though not nearly as confusing as he does sometimes get. He jumps back and forth through time, from the moment of the initial event and forward to the survivors and their community. There were times he didn’t make it totally clear he was doing that, but it’s not hard to catch up with him. The strength here is more in the characters and their development and journeys.

For my part, I am a sucker for post-apocalyptic stories, so this was wonderful for me. If you feel the same way, this is a great one to check out.

Final Rating



Book Review: The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

The Book of Three - Lloyd Alexander

The Basics

Taran takes care of the pig. Needless to say that’s not a very satisfying life for him, and really he longs for adventure. But when adventure finds him, will he be ready?

My Thoughts

I don’t usually do well with middle grade, but this book has shown me that it can be done well. It is possible for a book for children to speak to everyone. For that book to be well-written and smart, to have life lessons without hammering you over the head with them. To be exciting and engaging even to an adult.

I was swept up in this story, which has all the complications and depth of something Tolkien would approve of but accessible to a younger audience. The characters were all fun and interesting without being entirely made up of quirks and nothing else. They had layers, and I have a feeling those layers will be further explored in later volumes, which means I’m more than ready to read the others. For me, someone who only invests themselves when something feels worth the time, that’s saying a lot.

My one regret is that I didn’t read this when I was a kid. There is so much here that in retrospect I could see a younger me being absolutely obsessed with. Also, as I mentioned before, the moral of this story is sneaky, slipped in between action and magic. The main character is a bumbler, and he doesn’t save the day with ease. He still has a lot to learn, and that seems like such an important lesson for a child. That it’s okay to not be entirely finished when you’re ten, because all the years ahead will polish you and refine you. I really admired Alexander’s message.

Final Rating



Book Review: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Annihilation - Jeff VanderMeer

The Basics

Out of nowhere, Area X appeared. No one knows why or where from. In an effort to answer those questions, Southern Reach has sent out teams to research Area X. A different fate befalls each one, and now they’re up to group twelve, consisting of an all female team who have no idea what they’re getting into.

My Thoughts

What do I even say about a book that might easily be in my top five for this year? I adored this. It’s everything I love about science fiction combined with everything I love about horror. It does everything right. It was a mysterious and thrilling page-turner. It was compact, concise, and affecting. And it even managed to do things with characters that I’ve never seen done before in this genre.

For starters, it’s an all-female cast. All of them have what is considered predominantly male professions. You will not find hysteria and tears here when things get tough. There’s an emphasis on science and logic. Even our main narrator has flaws that are typically considered for male characters only, in that she’s emotionally unavailable, socially awkward, and logical to the point of seeming downright cold. The previous expedition was an entirely male team, and when we hear more details about that, they come off as way more unorganized and broken down than the female team. I can’t even express how much I appreciated that VanderMeer did this. That he broke those gender boundaries and rejected the stereotypes. This book is so feminist that I’m surprised more people haven’t latched onto it as an example of how gender-blind science fiction should be.

The biologist (all the characters are known only by their professions) can be seen as an unlikeable character, and I understand that thwarted a lot of people in reading it. They hated her. I admit that I don’t see it. We’re reading her journal, and while she does give some insight into her reasons for being there and her life before Area X, she still struggles to be open. I think in her writing style, what she clearly values, and how the most romantic she can be is in writing scientifically, VanderMeer created a very unique person. And he wrote her incredibly well. She was the perfect character to face a situation like the one she’d presented with and be perfectly transparent and fascinated but also not overly Maudlin. But then I’ve never struggled with needing to love a character to find them interesting and wanting more of their story. In a way, I did find things to love with the biologist. Mainly that she was so different than most of what I read regarding female characters.

The story itself raises questions, answers some, and leaves others for sequels as this was the first book in a trilogy. It’s made me absolutely ravenous for the next two books but not pissed about cliffhangers, so I’d say in that regard he struck a good balance. Enough to keep you reading, but not enough to feel frustrating as this book does have a loose conclusion to it.

I definitely intend to keep reading as I’m fully invested already, just from this slim volume. I think for fans of cosmic horror and any kind of weird fiction, this is for you. Do try to keep an open mind, as this doesn’t have the trope-y, sci-fi protagonists we’re all used to.

Final Rating



Comic Book Review: Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Through the Woods - Emily Carroll

The Basics

Five short stories about nasty things traversing through, entering into, or exiting from the woods.

My Thoughts

This is exactly the sort of unique direction I love seeing horror go into. Emily Carroll has such a different take on horror. It’s very folklorish with that flair of the dark fairy tale. It’s how we’ve all heard fairy tales were intended to be told before they were watered down for a more sensitive audience, and in that way even if this book doesn’t scare you outright, it’s unnerving. There’s a delicious sense of dread that permeates these tales, meaning that I actually did find there were some scary jabs that Carroll takes.

The stories are wonderful on their own, but this collection is truly made special by the artwork. The style seems simple enough, but Carroll does such complicated and intricate things with it that it comes out stunning. In particular, I want to point out “A Lady’s Hands Are Cold” for doing incredible things with color. Every time I flip through this book, and I do often, those are the pages that dazzle me most.

As for favorites in regards to storytelling, the top spot goes to “The Nesting Place”. Not only for the full page spread of a very shudder-inducing monster, but for that sense of paranoia it breeds. This could’ve easily been a classic Twilight Zone episode, and anything that sparks that sort of comparison in me is going to get praised heaped on it.

One great thing about this collection that I’d like to point out is that, while it is unnerving and has some scares, this is perfect for the more squeamish reader. If you’re trying to initiate someone into horror, start them here. It won’t be so bad that they can’t handle it, but it does give an idea of how fun being scared can be.

Final Rating



Comic Book Review: Preacher Volume 1 - Gone To Texas by Garth Ennis

Preacher, Book One - Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon

The Basics

Jesse has just recently found himself imbued with intense power that kills his entire congregation. This power is the result of being possessed by Genesis, a rogue half-demon, half-angel that is being hunted down by the Saint of Killers. With the help of Tulip (Jesse’s ex-girlfriend) and Cassidy (a vampire), Jesse goes on the run…

My Thoughts

You have no idea the amount of dread I feel right now. Or how long I’ve put off this review. This series is beloved, and the scope of the story, the weight of it, does make me see why. That is some praise I can readily heap onto this comic. It has a fantastic story. It’s different and irreverent. It’s dark, and I can already tell it’s going to go to some big places.

Then I start getting critical. The point of much of the comic is satire. I understand that. The idea of angels and demons and heaven is all handled in a very “blasphemous” way, and Ennis revels in it. These aren’t the parts that bother me, though I guess this is me also warning you that if you are offended by anyone taking religion and treating it this way, you should steer clear.

No, the bothersome part is the transparent, early 90s humor. The sort of humor that doesn’t hold up at all today. Pointing and laughing at the butch detective who turns out to be a gimp-mask-wearing homosexual. Making a joke out of the only character with a good heart because his face looks “like an arsehole.” Jesse trying desperately to turn Tulip’s “no, I will not sleep with you” into a “yes” simply by asking a thousand times. And lots of and lots of casual racism. You know. For laughs! It’s outdated. It’s disgusting in a way that isn’t fun. If it does anything, it reveals how awful and backwards we are that this passes for humor, and I’m officially side-eying everyone who suggested this book to me and called it “brilliant”.

I’m not even really sure the characters are worth it. Jesse is an antihero of the highest order, but in a way that seems contradictory. Preaching goodness one minute and then inciting violence over an insult the next. It made him hard to pin down, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about him. Cassidy is loads of fun. I can say that fairly easily. And Tulip… She is a strong woman as written by a man who seems to think “strong” is defined as being snotty and argumentative. He gave her a gun, and somehow that’s supposed to be enough for me. Surprisingly, it isn’t.

I’ve blasted this a lot. I am hoping the series somehow improves, but I’m aware of how Ennis operates, so I know to expect a lot more deeply offensive comedy. Yet he’s created a story here that I want to experience, even though I keep waffling about whether I feel like enduring more of his juvenile, sick humor.

Final Rating



Creatures of the Night Tag

I was tagged by A Reciprocal Love Affair With Books!

What are your favorite books about the following supernatural creatures and why?

  • Vampire - There are a lot of answers for this one that I could give. But I think I'm going to go for the one you might not see coming, not as much as what are considered the vampire classics. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist. I even love this more than the Swedish film adapted from it, and I love that film a lot, to give you an idea of just how much I love the book. It was what put Lindqvist on my radar, and he has to be one of the best horror novelists I've ever read. He has that thoughtful, character-driven aura around his writing that makes it especially bleak and frightening.
  • Werewolf - This is an easy one: Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King. I love everything about that book, including the amazing illustrations by Bernie Wrightson of Swamp Thing fame. I even love the adaptation, Silver Bullet, that most people... do not love. But then of all the creatures on this list, werewolves are my favorite. There is a depressing lack of fiction concerning them, even in films. If vampires and zombies have over-saturated the market, then werewolves are the exact opposite of that.
  • Zombie - I've watched many zombie films but haven't read any zombie books really. So I'm going with the easy standby: Cell by Stephen King. This novel has one of the most explosive openers. Everyone's phone rings. Everyone answers it. And they all go ballistic, tearing each other apart. While the one guy in the crowd without a cell phone watches in horror and runs for his life. If that doesn't sell you... cell you. Hehehe.
  • Ghost - I'm not one to find ghosts scary. It's just one of those things where ghosts often seem ridiculous to me, and I struggle to enjoy those stories. But I do have those books that I cannot deny were scary. Books that made the thing I shrug at actually frightening. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is a good example. The atmosphere, the wrongness in the air, permeates this whole book. There's a reason that so many horror authors, usually anyone who attempts a haunted house story, point to her as inspiration. She did it best.
  • Witch/Wizard - The Walking by Bentley Little. One of the most original witch stories out there, but that's typical of Little. He can never do anything the way anyone else would do it, and it's what always draws me to him. Especially well done in this book are the flashbacks to ye olde west times, wherein we see how all this started. And while the villain in this story is a witch, there are also good witches in this story, which I especially liked.
  • Fairy - The only thing I've read for this category is The Sandman by Neil Gaiman. But they aren't particularly scary, though I know fairies in other stories certainly can be. I own a couple of books where they appear to be more mischievous, but I haven't read those yet. So Sandman it is!
  • Demon - The book I'm currently reading has demons in it. It's actually called Demons by John Shirley. And I'm loving it. But then it's very satirical with some pitch black humor thrown in. Still can't deny that it's also bloody and violent and scary.
  • Angel - Wracking my brain here, and the best I can do is Weaveworld by Clive Barker. There's a supernatural creature who thinks he's an angel and calls himself Uriel. So... I'm counting it. Especially when he was kind of scary, so it fits with the "creatures of the night" theme. And hey, wait. How in the hell do angels count as creatures of the night?
  • Alien - I'm gonna go with one that never gets talked about: Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney. Was it a perfect book? No. But it was really enjoyable. And the idea of people you know being replaced, and you can tell in some vague way that they aren't right, but you can't put your finger on it, and no one believes you... That's a nightmare.
  • Super-powered Human - I read a lot of comics, so this is easy. I'm going with the easy answer of Watchmen by Alan Moore. Mainly because there is a sinister vibe to it. It's more realistic in its approach to the politics and personalities surrounding people who are vigilantes and, in the case of Dr. Manhattan, ridiculously super-powered.
  • Reaper - Can I cheat and say Sandman again? But then that version of Death isn't scary. That's sort of the point of her. Death isn't scary. Or shouldn't be.
  • Necromancer - I wouldn't have had an answer for this if A Reciprocal Love Affair With Books hadn't reminded me of Kill the Dead by Tanith Lee. Yes. That. Very good answer.
  • Serial Killer (Adding one because I can) - Now I get that serial killers are human, but can you think of someone who is a serial killer without the word "monster" lurking in the back of your mind? And for my own category, I am listing Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris. Jame Gumb specifically is who comes to mind. He is a pastiche of real life serial killers, like Ted Bundy and Ed Gein, with their most heinous parts mashed into one, terrifying and twisted person.

If you want to do this, consider yourself tagged.

I can't keep quiet about this...

So the Blackout. I think it's the total opposite of making a statement that will be heard. Do you know what authors who complain about bad reviews and even attack those reviewers want? Your silence. They want you to shut up unless you're going to tell them how good they are. So it seems to me like you're just giving in to exactly what they wanted in the first place.


There is a vocal group of authors who enjoy when you're afraid to give that much deserved one star review. And I have no doubt that they're smirking now because of the scrambling fear we all feel in light of recent events. I think the best thing we can do is refuse to show fear and write reviews like we always have. Days on end of dead air doesn't affect anyone but us, the community. And if it does something for them, it probably gives them joy. I don't know about you, but I don't want them getting a kick out of the fact that they managed to shut me up.


I realize the Blackout is a statement, but it's a weak statement. And I'm not saying we should attack authors now, though I do find the ones who insist on being snarky rather irritating and I'm not hiding that fact. But what we can do is boycott the work of people who offend us in this way and be honest, when we read their work, about the quality of it. And keep doing it and keep doing it.


And why does this rile me? Why am I actually starting to feel kind of venomous about the idea of being forced into a media blackout? Because reviewers who have a different opinion about how this whole matter should be handled are being attacked by other reviewers. How's that for banding together? Can you not even see that we're all on the same side and being self-righteous a) doesn't help your supposedly selfless cause and b) is not going to convince anyone to side with you?


I am mad. I'm mad that so many people overlooked just how inappropriate Hale was being. I do think attention needs to be paid. But I have a friend, a fellow blogger, who was tense about posting today because she was worried about being harassed by other bloggers. I want you to think about that and consider if this shit is actually helping at all.

Comic Book Review: Superman - Distant Fires by Howard Chaykin

Distant Fires - Howard Chaykin, Gil Kane, Kevin Nowlan, Matt Hollingsworth

The Basics

The world has ended, and Superman is the only one left alive in Metropolis. There are huge rodents, mutant humans, and Superman is surprised to discover many of his fellow heroes (and some villains) survived after all in a rebuilt colony. But peace can’t reign forever…

My Thoughts

Ugh, so many problems. Must organize thoughts. That cover is a lie, for starters. Utter lies. That wild cat is actually a giant house cat and, therefore, doesn’t look like that. Captain Marvel does a face-heel-turn, so he shouldn’t be behind Clark like that. He should be facing off against him. By that point in the story, Wonder Woman is dead. Am I spoiling you? Why do you care, really? It sucked. Don’t read this.

The concept was good. The end. Okay, there was more that was good than just that. Clark being confronted by the ghosts of people he lost (and it being up for debate if those were ghosts or his mind giving out on him) was really good. And instantly it went downhill. Then it had a surprisingly sweet ending that didn’t even come close to saving it.

When he finds the colony of superheroes and villains that are still alive, the Joker is there. He’s sane now. See, the twist is that everyone with superpowers has now lost them because of the apocalypse technobabble it doesn’t matter. The important part is that according to this writer, the Joker’s psychosis was a superpower. So he’s like your average Joe now, working to help the community. They do understand he’s human, right? Why are Lois Lane and Batman dead, but the Joker is alive? Also, there comes a point when their powers are returned, and conveniently the Joker is never shown again. Did his mental illness return? Did he side with the bad guys when that happened? Why even do that at all? I won’t get into how offensive the whole idea of mental illness being a “power” is. It’s offensive. That’s really all there is to say.

There’s a romance between Superman and Wonder Woman that goes so quickly you might as well just accept that it’s happening. Also, Captain Marvel is jealous. Because they were supposed to be together, and he sulks and turns evil. If you like Captain Marvel, you really don’t want to read this shitty, sulky, entitled version of him. And he appears to fall out of love quickly enough, because later in the story he kills her without remorse. Are you noting that character and motivation have no place in this mess? Oh, ahem, AND THEY FRIDGED WONDER WOMAN. They did that simply to motivate Superman to kill Captain Marvel. To quote the internet, I can’t even.

The climax comes on like a hurled turd. “Oh, also Metallo was around with the mutant humans.” Thanks for letting me know? “And remember how Aquaman was on the fence? He sided with Superman by default.” By default? What does that even mean? Because he was the lesser of the two evils? If you want me to explain any of that, I can’t. It was literally that abrupt. Really the whole story was incredibly rushed. Way too much happened in a very small space, so none of it had any kind of impact. It was more like reading a summary than reading a book.

I want to leave you with this: Superman uses a gun. We’re supposed accept that, because it’s the end of the world and he has no powers. Bruce would be proud of how quickly he threw that out the window, I’m sure.

Worst AU ever. Run for your lives.

Final Rating



Book Review: The Box by Richard Matheson

The Box: Uncanny Stories - Richard Matheson

The Basics

A collection of short fiction with a focus on horror and lots of twists and turns.

My Thoughts

Matheson was a Twilight Zone writer. Among a lot of other television credits to his name from that time and on, but Twilight Zone is of particular interest here. If you don’t know, that show was fond of twists. It’s a cookbook! That sort of thing. It’s pulpy and an easy way to make an audience ooh and ahh. While we consider ourselves more savvy than our parents or grandparents were back then, it’s probably only because The Twilight Zone exists and has made us all quite prepared for the sudden turn.

The stories here show just how adept Matheson was at writing the sort of thing that would make Rod Serling quite happy. These stories exist to get you quickly involved, make you think you know what’s happening, and then pull the rug out from under you somewhere down the line, in big or small ways. And it works. The pulp and the shock is what I live on with authors like Matheson, and he delivers here.

Admittedly some of the stories didn’t pop like others did, but that’s to be expected. I noticed Matheson was writing dialogue without setting a scene at times, and I imagine that’s because the story was meant to become a script, but it could be jarring. People would start talking, and I didn’t know where they were. A minimalist approach isn’t bad, but it didn’t always feel deliberate. It seemed that he was just plopping dialogue in and moving on for the sake of getting it done.

Otherwise it was a fun, fast read where the game became to figure out what the sudden jolt would be. Stories to seek out in this one would be “Pattern For Survival”, an apocalypse story with a haunting tone; “The Creeping Terror” for a laugh; and finally “Clothes Make The Man” for some unique horror.

Final Rating