Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Sunday Review

Beasts of Tabat
My book this week was Beasts of Tabat by Cat Rambo.

This book was recommended in the comment sections on File 770 and in Renay's Hugo Spreadsheet of Doom.

Again, I came to this book completely cold... like I have all the books I've reviewed from the Spreadsheet of Doom. Sadly, this time I would call a strike instead of a homerun. It's ok, but this book has a fatal flaw that I did not know about when I started it: It's the first book of a planned series of four. Oops.

First up: the completely non-spoiler review. I found myself enjoying the main characters, but both of them are somewhat one-dimensional if looked at too closely. I also liked the narrative structure that told Bella's story from a first-person perspective while Teo's tale is omnipresent third person. It was always easy to figure out which character was the focus at any given time. What I didn't like was the confusion in the way time passes. It sometimes seemed like months had passed - only to find out it couldn't have been more than a week. I also didn't like the ending, which was abrupt and cliffhangery.

Ok, Spoilers ahead (use rot13 to read). Gur obbx sbphfrf ba gjb punenpgref: Grb, n lbhat zna sebz n fznyy ivyyntr uvqvat qnex frpergf gung pbhyq trg uvz xvyyrq naq Oryyn, n tynqvngbe va gur ovt pvgl jub vf shyy bs pbasvqrapr va urefrys naq zntvp. Gur gjb ner frg ba n pbyyvfvba pbhefr, naq riraghnyyl zrrg jura Grb pbzrf gb gur pvgl ohg ehaf njnl sebz uvf sngr.

V yvxrq Grb ng svefg. Ur'f pbzcrgrag naq gubhtugshy, ohg fgvyy erfcbafvoyr. Ohg ur fgnlf cerggl zhpu gur fnzr srneshy punenpgre sebz fgneg hagvy gur raq bs gur obbx. V'z abg ernyyl fher ubj zhpu gvzr jnf fhccbfrq gb unir cnffrq orgjrra jura ur neevirq naq jura gur svany puncgre uvgf, ohg V sryg yvxr ur bhtug gb unir tebja hc n ovg zber guna ur qvq. Gung fnvq, uvf zntvpny nggevohgrf ner snfpvangvat, naq V jnf ybbxvat sbejneq gb yrneavat zber nobhg gurz... ohg gura gur obbx raqrq ba n pyvssunatre. Netu.

Oryyn jnf veevgngvat sebz gur fgneg, ohg V guvax fur jnf zrnag gb or gung jnl. Ure vagreany qvnybthr znxrf vg pyrne gung fur'f svtugvat gb or funyybj, juvpu vfa'g tbbq sbe ure, ohg snfpvangvat sbe gur ernqre. Gur ceboyrz vf gung fur arire znxrf gur arprffnel pbaarpgvba jvgu ure qrrcre fvqr va guvf obbx, naq fb vg whfg pbagvahrf gb veevgngr vafgrnq bs gheavat vagb n fngvfslvat zbzrag bs eriryngvba. V shyyl rkcrpgrq ure gb npghnyyl ybbx ng gur obbx ng fbzr cbvag naq V rkcrpgrq gung gb or gur zbzrag. Ohg fur arire qvq.

V'z abg ragveryl fher ubj ovt gur pvgl vf fhccbfrq gb or, ohg Grb fher qbrf frrz gb eha vagb gur fnzr crbcyr n ybg gurer. Abg gb zragvba gur pbvapvqrapr bs orvat urycrq ol Oryyn (gubhtu gur snpg gung ur'f orra fgnyxvat ure znxrf gung rnfvre gb ohl). Oryyn'f ynaqynql vf creuncf zl snibevgr bs gur obbx, naq jura gur svg fgnegrq gb uvg gur funa ng gur raq, V shyyl rkcrpgrq ure gb qvr. Tynq fur znqr vg.

Fcrnxvat bs svg uvggvat funaf, Oryyn jnf erznexnoyl hazbirq ol ure svtug naq gur qrngu bs ure fghqrag. Lrf, fur unq zbzragf bs tevrs, ohg vg qvqa'g frrz va gur fyvtugrfg ovg erny gb zr. Vg nyy frrzrq yvxr fur jnf tbvat guebhtu gur zbgvbaf. Juvyr V jnf fgvyy guvaxvat guvf jnf n fvatyr abiry naq abg gur svefg dhnegre bs n ovttre obbx, V rkcrpgrq gur fghqrag gb qrsrng Oryyn naq rirelbar gb yvir unccvyl rire nsgre, be fbzr inevnag gurerbs. Fb gur qrngu jnf n fubpx gb zr, ohg zl fubpx jnf haqrezvarq ol Oryyn'f ynpx.

All told, I was annoyed to get to the end of this and find out it was a "to be continued..." instead of wrapping up. I'm not sure if I'll seek out the remaining bits, although I'm not going to blame the author for my ignorance. It was well written and compelling... but it will not be on my Hugo list.

I've also read short stories:
  • "The Sixth Day" by Sylvia Anna HivĂ©n is a post-apocalyptic tale of a magic and the perils of seeing the future. It gave me chills when I finished it. I can't say I liked it in the sense that it didn't make me feel good or give me hope or anyt of that. It was well-written and made sense, but it was painful. It's a good story, but I'll have to think long and hard about whether or not to nominate it.

  • "The Walking Thing" by Marlee Jane Ward is a story of how one teenaged girl deals with the apocalypse. Nita is unaffected by a disease that wipes out her town, and the story is about how she handles people dying around her, and how she comes to terms with her own life. It's grim and more than a little depressing, but I also found some hope in there. It might make my nomination list.

  • "The Universe, Sung in Stars" by Kat Howard is a strange little poem of a tale about people who give support to pocket universes. I'm honestly not sure what to think of it. It might stick with me for a bit because of the language and the ideas, but I didn't really like it much as a story. I think it won't be on my nomination list.

For my current list of Hugo 2016 readings, check out my Hugo 2016 Posts page.

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Jul 15th
  • Justice League #42 - Aquaman's only appearance in this is on the Teen Titans Go variant cover. Not hide nor hair of him elsewhere. He was barely in the previous issue. This is mostly Darkseid and that sort of nonsense. Not my cuppa. I'm ready for a new storyline.
  • Green Lantern: The Lost Army #2 - This book may be relying too much on the readers' knowledge of Green Lantern history. I don't know. I find it to be slightly frustrating and annoying, and maybe even a bit over the top. People lost in a strange universe isn't bad... but why bring one of the most boring and irritating recent bad guys into it?
  • Astro City #25 - Wow. Another great issue of the best superhero comic book around. A fascinating origin story of a character who seems very different from most. I love this book, and I'm looking forward to the next issue, featuring Samaritan again.
  • Fiction #2 - I'm not really sure what is happening here. I mean, they've entered the Narnia/Oz/Fantasyland to look for the lost friend, but there's a generational thing and ... Yeah, I'm intrigued enough to keep reading. I'm just a bit confused still.
  • Rivers of London #1 - Very interesting start... for me, obviously, I'm curious about the daughter of the river goddess. The set-up is good, and the mini-comic and articles in the back added to the package. I'm interested. Definitely.
  • Usagi Yojimbo #147 - Kitsune is a crack-up, but she really was in over her head in this adventure. Good thing she had somebody to protect her. Mostly.

Fortean Times #328
Fortean Times #328 (June 2015). The cover shows a transparent person with a thumb out on a dark road, looking for a lift from a car approaching with its headlights on. The cover story links to reports of a phantom hitchhiker in a general area, including at least six first-hand reports (these are usually friend-of-a-friend reports). There's some interesting stuff in these, and an interesting analysis of the possible causes. Who knows what's causing all this, but it's fascinating to see the research done on it.

Moving on Strangedays covers the possible recovery of Captain Kidd's treasure, a giant human figure in volcanic ash, a kid who recognized himself as a minor Hollywood celebrity, a story about possession, worms falling from the sky, medical oddities, ghostly boots, and unusual survival stories. The Conspirasphere has a story I find depressing about some idiot who thinks the Challenger explosion was faked and claims to have found the astronauts alive and, get this, living under the same names 30 years later. *headdesk*

Science tackles new puzzles scientists are finding as we get more and more pictures and data from Mars. Frankly, pretty cool stuff, and what science is made for. Archaeology visits a lost city in Honduras, another hoard of coins found in Britain, very old beer, and evidence of what people ate 8,000 years ago (wheat?). Classical Corner looks at early attempts to prevent pregnancy.

Ghostwatch tells of an exorcism of a roadway in a larger story about haunted roads. Alien Zoo points out a photo of a dead bigfoot is an altered photo of a dead bear. Fairies, Folklore and Forteana notes a late of fairies in Kent. The UFO files finishes its examination of the Godfrey UFO sighting with information about the possible causes of what people saw. The Illustrated Police News introduces people to a giantess who topped seven feet at age 12. The Fortean Traveller visits Lycia, Turkey. Phenomenomix is the second part on Dion Fortune.

There's a main article about Malcolm Lowry, who wrote Under the Volcano, which is said to be a very Fortean book. It's actually a depressing story in many ways due to the sadness of his life, but it's also fascinating.

Another article chronicles the fate of certain famous corpses, including those of Mussolini and Eva Peron. Another piece looks at "Strange Statemen" and visits Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, whose more than a little looney from the reports.

The Forum has an interesting tale of smashes pottery and how the tradition seems to go back to Neolithic times. Another article looks at the death of T.E. Lawrence and concludes it really was most likely an accident and not an assassination.

The Reviews are great, as usual, and there's a couple of books that might make it onto my ever-growing "to read" list. Nothing in the movies is must-see. The letters were lovely. Always lovely. There's even a reference to "Pyramids of Mars" from Doctor Who, as people are looking for references of pyramids connected with Mars thanks to a request by Paul Cornell. Fun stuff.

As usual, lots of good stories and fun information. As always, read at your own risk with an open mind but healthy dose of skepticism.