Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Back from hiatus . . .

Really, it was just a bad cold and a crippling spell of winter lazies. I secretly long to be a bear. Anyway, I've been reading up a storm in hibernation, and want to post some short comments before I try to tackle a full-length review for any of these books. So, a short note about what I've been up to for two months.

Commitment-phobe that I am, I've been on something of a short-story bender this winter. I tried some classic weird fiction with Robert Aickman's The Wine-Dark Sea (short review here ), and rediscovered some old favorites I hadn't kept up with. I said in my review of The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2012 that I wasn't writing about the Elizabeth Hand or Tim Powers stories, because I planned to write about their respective books, Errantry: Strange Stories, nominated for the 2012 Bram Stoker Award for best collection, and The Bible Repairman and Other Stories, which won Powers the 2012 World Fantasy Award for best collection. Both were pretty uniformly fantastic (pun applicable and completely intended) and reignited my interest in these authors, neither of whom I had read since the early 90's. (Why? Why did I forget them in the first place? I have so much catching up to do.) Expect full reviews of both collections someday.

Obsessive as I also am, I then immediately read Hand's debut novel, sci-fi/fantasy classic Winterlong -- which I may or may not review, since I'd rather write about her newer work -- and Powers' recent loose sequel to 1989's The Stress of Her Regard (an all-time favorite and desert-island contender), Hide Me Among the Graves. The Bible Repairman also contains a novella-length story set in that world, called "A Time to Cast Away Stones." I hope to get those reviews up soon, but for now I have one caution: do not read Hide Me Among the Graves or expect to understand "A Time to Cast Away Stones" if you have not read The Stress of Her Regard. As fabulous as both the newer pieces are, the world will not make a lick of sense unless you've been there before. I think it's worth the effort.

I also fell completely in love with The Drowning Girl, by Caitlín R. Kiernan. A Stoker and Nebula nominee for 2012, this might just be the most beautiful book about mental illness (and mermaids) ever written. Hyperbole much? Maybe. But it's just that good. It certainly transcends standard (not that there's anything wrong with it) genre fiction categorization. And it beats the hell out of The Bell Jar. This will likely be the next review to go up, as it's half-written already. I kind of want to start this book over again right now. (Full review is now up here.)

Some other things I got into:

God Attacks!, by J.R. Kiefer -- a ridiculous, blasphemous amount of fun. Short review here.

Ganymede, by one of my favorite steampunk authors, Cherie Priest. Since this is number four in "The Clockwork Century" series -- which just keeps getting better -- I am unlikely to review it here. I can, however, recommend it -- but start with Boneshaker. And hurry -- the series has been picked up for the big screen. (Also? An appearance by Marie Laveau is always welcome.)

Also, more Kealan Patrick Burke, whom I have raved about before here and here. Loved the novel Currency of Souls, which began as a story called "Saturday Night at Eddie's" in The Number 121 to Pennsylvania; liked Ravenous Ghosts; thought Theater Macabre seemed a little green . . . possibly it's earlier work, though I can't swear to it. Short review here.

Whew. That's it for now, but expect more frequent entries now that spring is upon us.

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