Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Roots of the Genre...

If no other knowledge deserves to be called useful but that which helps to enlarge our possessions or to raise our station in society, then Mythology has no claim to the appellation. But if that which tends to make us happier and better can be called useful, then we claim that epithet for our subject. For Mythology is the handmaid of literature; and literature is one of the best allies of virtue and promoters of happiness.
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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Review: Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders

Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders
Romulus Buckle & the City of the Founders by Richard Ellis Preston Jr.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Usually I don't go for steampunk, but having been on something of a pulp rush the last few weeks, I figured what the heck...

Steampunk is a big thing at the moment, it seems that wherever you go there is another novel set in a pseudo-Victorian world with parasols, goggles and broken valves. A post-apocalyptic steampunk adventure adds a new variation on he trope, and to his credit Richard Ellis Prestons pulls it off, though not without some issues along the way.

The place: California, several centuries into the future, after an alien invasion has turned the world into a poisonous wasteland overrun by strange alien creatures. Civilization has regressed back to the age of steam, with zeppelins being the primary mode of transport. The story doesn't go into a whole lot of detail about how this happened, but the setting itself is fully realized enough that the reader doesn't really care. It's a bit of a hoot as well, seeing Los Angeles, perhaps the most superficial place in the world, regarded in this tale as a place of legends, with the Hollywood sign as a remnant of the old world. If you familiar with the geography of Southern California, it gives the story a bit of of an extra kick. Romulus Buckle is a zeppelin captain in this world, on a mission to rescue...well, that bit doesn't really matter, since its all really an excuse to swashbuckle and so on.

The story does have a major drawback though the way it is organized. Most oft e chapters are really short and bounce around between a number of different characters, slowing the story and making it difficult to follow, as well as identify with the characters themselves. It can make for a complicated and frustrating read. All in all though, a solid effort, in need of some polish.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Too damn depressing

One of the reasons I stopped watching Game of Thrones.

To me, fantasy is about wonderment, fantasy should be fantastical. But GoT, and the books it is based on do away with both. That's the problem I have with those kinds of deconstructions (never mind the political BS that motivates most if it...) By deconstructing something down to it basic components in order to address whatever part if it is deemed objectionable, all too often one ends up destroying the very things that made it work in the first place. What's left is a dark and angst-sodden piece that is not very wonderful and has little in the way of the fantastical, and is just depressing to watch or read.

Good rule of thumb: when something is lauded by the critics as being a "brilliant subversion of" of its subject matter, avoid it as the post-modernist POS it likely is.