Campbellian science fiction, especially hard science fiction, gets a hard time in the quarters I run in. Epic fantasy is denigrated in favor of slim sword and sorcery paperbacks. I like a good pulpy adventure as much as the next guy, but I refuse to give up on my original love, epic fantasy, or my more recent discovery, hard science fiction. Detailed worldbuilding (for the former) and limits of the science (for the latter) can, in the hands of a skilled and careful storyteller, be a wonderful tool for creating and enhancing narrative tension. Heinlein does this masterfully with the space suit in Have Space Suit—Will Travel. Why do I mention this in a review about a zombie book? Because I’ve been saying for years that zombie fiction should focus more on the difficulty of survival itself, turning a zombie yarn into as much survival fiction as horror. That view is totally vindicated by A Place Outside the Wild, a zombie apocalypse book that uses such a focus to great effect.
The hero of our story is Miles, an IT guy working three jobs to get by when the zombie apocalypse hits. The setup is simple. What gets labeled the “Brazilian flu” sweeps the globe. Which means it passes like the flu. (Thank you! I’ve also been harping that without some sort of airborne virus, you might have zombies, but you won’t have an apocalypse.) About 10% of humanity is immune and about 10% die outright. The rest went into a coma after about 72 hours and woke up sometime later as zombies. And that was that. “Mankind went from zero to Mad Max in just shy of a freaking month.”
The smart move on Humphreys’ part is that, after that initial introduction, the story leaps forward eight years. And, for all that the zombies initially look very familiar, eight years down the line things start to get weird.
Humphreys released the sequel, A Place Called Hope, last month and I will post a review in a couple of weeks.
I stuck with The Tiger’s Daughter for either a short time or a long time, depending on how you look at it. On one hand, I only made it 20% through the book according to my Kindle. On the other hand, I spent over a month getting to that 20% according to Goodreads. If a book is that much of a slog, and I have a figurative stack of ARCs sitting on my bedside table I am excited about, why grit my teeth and push through?
I swear I am going to write a short review again one day. tl;dr version: Thor: Ragnarok is very funny at times but too uneven, sometimes veering into camp. The visuals are gorgeous and bonkers, at least as pictures—full Jack Kirby—but I’ve become somewhat numb to CGI spectacle. The cast performances are a mixed bag, but Hemsworth has become an actor who can carry an entire picture on his back. Overall, an enjoyable way to spend an evening, but Ragnarok won’t enter the top echelon of MCU movies; nor will it supplant the first Guardians of the Galaxy as science fantasy. It’s overrated, but that has less to do with the movie itself than an irrationally exuberant 93% fresh aggregate rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
I wanted to like this book. A lot. And I did like it! Just not a lot. A Plague of Giants has a great concept between the giants (underserved in fantasy!) and the seven kenning magic system. And Hearne is obviously a talented writer who has had a lot of success with his Iron Druid series. Being more of an epic than urban fantasy fan, and given my aforementioned views on the relative merits of giants, I was excited to pick up this book. But Hearne makes some narrative choices that seriously detract from the overall story.
State of the ARC is a meme hosted by Avalinah’s Books. The idea being to publicly shame ourselves as book bloggers for our paltry progress reading and reviewing all of the ARCs that accumulate. Ok, let’s start by going to NetGalley and seeing how many ARCs total I have listed as approved and not reviewed . . . ah, let’s just skip that. In a
rare common fit of madness, I requested (and received) a truly obscene number of ARCs scheduled for release between September and November. By my count, eleven books (twelve, if you count Some Dark Holler, released on August 28). I got a bunch of those months in advance, which means I could have started reading them in time to actually be ready to keep up with the releases came. Or at least a more responsible blogger could have. I was other occupied this summer.