Monday, January 04, 2010
SF Crowsnest on Book of Secrets
This transformation of 'Book Of Secrets' from mainstream thriller to religious conspiracy story may have echoes of 'The Da Vinci Code'. However, the present book is much better written and takes itself far less seriously. 'Book Of Secrets' has good pace, believable characters and a fascinating plot. The interleaved short stories are brilliantly done. They are authentically written in the right style for each period and are entertaining reads in their own right. The novel's denouement, as Finch tries to stop the bad guys getting their hands on the 'Book Of Secrets', is both exciting and unexpected.
Friday, October 16, 2009
HorrorScope on Book of Secrets
This is a very ambitious book, comprising both Spencer’s current day narrative and an assortment of the stories that he was given, their genres ranging from pulp short stories to a medieval ballad. Each style is captured perfectly, reflecting Roberson’s clear talent.
The obvious comparisons to books such as the Da Vinci Code will be drawn by many readers. While there is a similarity to some of the themes, Book of Secrets is, overall, much better written. There is a feeling that some depth of character has been sacrificed in favour of plot and intrigue. Spencer himself comes across as not being fully realized much of the time, and many of the secondary characters are little more than sketches. As this is a book more about ideas than characters, however, it’s not a huge drawback to the enjoyment of the story.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Jvstin on Three Unbroken
Roberson writes precisely the kind of SF that I want to spend my recreational time reading.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
The Specusphere on Book of Secrets
On the whole, though, I really enjoyed this novel. If you’re a fan of pulp fiction, or classic adventures, or superheroes, or pretty much anything, you may very well have a lot of fun with this book.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
SF Reviews.Net on End of the Century
More fantasy writers should have the guts to take the risks Chris Roberson takes in End of the Century. But then, more of them would need talent they don't have. Could you imagine most of today's buzz-bin "urban fantasy" superstars pulling something like this off? Not in this lifetime. Travel to the End of the Century for a glimpse of what a fearless imagination at work really looks like.Thanks, sir! (I quite like the thought that I have an "Escheresque head," too...)
Monday, August 17, 2009
Red Rook Review on Book of Secrets
Roberson is just a damn fine writer. He writes a good sentence; the novel is structured like a Swiss watch and paced like a Tennessee walker.Hit the link to read the full review, but beware. Spoilers lurk within...
Sunday, August 09, 2009
My Favourite Books on Book of Secrets
Part noir part pulp fiction part unlike anything I've read before, Book of Secrets has enough twists and turns to make the Edelweis Road in Austria look like a Roman road. I am hesitant to try and describe the storyline even more for fear of putting in spoilers. What I am quite happy to expose though is that the author has created an immensely enjoyable and readable story which will entertain you to the very last page. Especially fun if you think you've figured it all out .... only to have it all turn out that uhm, hey, you were wrong!
I'd like to add that if you've been a long time reader of this blog, you would know I am passionate about many things, but mainly that I love thrillers and action adventure novels and quest novels and I dislike people messing around with the genre for the heck of it, or if they start doing parodies of them or if they think they can quickly write one to cash in on the coolest thing going that's not about vampires. I was therefore very hesitant about Book of Secrets and thought that it was going to be a bit samey and I had my expectations bundled up and shoved in my face. Very firmly. The book is - wow. I will however say that you have to keep an open mind and read it for its sheer readability because it is more-ish.
Friday, August 07, 2009
Total Sci-Fi on Book of Secrets
Originally self-published in 2001 under the title Voices of Thunder, Chris Roberson’s fantasy has been rechristened ‘Book of Secrets’ for 2009 – three words which promise a lot. For those who missed it the first time around (as most did), it is, like Roberson’s other work, a conspiracy-ridden head-scratcher that only the boldest mind will succeed in unravelling before the final pages.
As intrepid reporter Finch struggles to work on his ever-deteriorating story, his lonesome existence becomes complicated by cat burglars, comic books and Men With Black Hands. Book of Secrets then takes something of a Da Vinci Code-esque turn, offering a fantastic view of the evolution of man and the creation of Earth - all wrapped up in a multi-dimensional robbery!
Monday, August 03, 2009
Falcata Times on Book of Secrets (and me)
What is on offer in Chris Roberson’s book is a tale that investigates not only the emotional aspect of the principle protagonist but also manages to create a deep routed family history pulling the character more into line with the real world. Its cleverly done and with various different writing styles that whilst many would argue about the clashing aspect of them, does give a bone fide reference to which the character can relate. In my opinion, its incredibly well done and is a book that has to be applauded for its bravery in this new style of creation. Definitely a book that can spawn a series and one that I hope will continue to expand with each future release. Great stuff.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Not Free SF Reader on Book of Secrets
The Book of Secrets starts out with a journalist deciding to pursue a story about a wealthy recluse, and gets progressively odder from there, to the point where you have pretty much ended up in something Simon R. Green might have come up with, Nightside style. Thanks to the title object, that is. Being a vaguely hardboiled journo, he likes the booze, of course.
His grandfather has also died, and left him a box of papers - which includes multiple adventures of a hero called The Black Hand - from the era of The Shadow, the Lone Ranger, pirates, highwaymen and more. Always a Black Hand, though, even if not as consistent as The Phantom down through the ages. Excerpts of these different styles of adventurers and stories are actually presented in the novel, which is fun.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Luke Reviews on Book of Secrets
Roberson mixes the elements of an action-thriller with pastiches of pulp-era crime and western stories, and succeeds incredibly. His short stories contained within this novel are fun and wonderful. The story of Finch moves along at a very nice pace as well, with plot elements popping up left and right. As the book flew along, leading to a bigger and bigger puzzle, I couldn’t be happier with how this book was going along. It was lots of fun.
Thursday, July 02, 2009
Death Ray on Book of Secrets
"We're on more familiar narrative ground with Chris Roberson's Book of Secrets. Originally self-published as Voices of Thunder in 2001, this mash-up of 1930s pulp fiction with dreams of a secret heritage accessible only to the chosen is far more self-aware and entertaining than The Da Vinci Code. Born of Roberson's deep affection for radio serials, comic strips and writers like Michael Moorcock and Gray Morrow, this affectionate look at finding oneself and finally coming to terms with one's roots is accessible, entertaining and made two hours whip past almost unnoticed. In line with the conventions of the genre, girls are accessories here, but it would be churlish to take offence when the story is so entertaining. THREE & A HALF STARS"
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Alisdair Stuart on Book of Secrets
Chris Roberson’s Book of Secrets heads up the second pair of releases, scheduled for the 6th of August. Spencer Finch is a reporter searching for a book that everyone from cat burglars to mnks seems to want. It’s a difficult case, a rabbit hole that he finds himself running headlong down and that appears to have something to do with a chest of golden age pulp magazines left to him by his grandfather. Something terrible is bound up in the book of secrets, and whether he likes it or not, Spencer’s life is intimately connected with it.Stuart has also reviewed the other three initial Angry Robot titles in the link, so check it out.
Expanded from Voices of Thunder, one of Roberson’s earliest novels, Book of Secrets incorporates many of the author’s favourite tropes. The love for golden age pulp is here as is the idea that books hold power, that ideas have weight and shape and form. It’s a fascinating book, paced at breakneck speed with a hard nosed first person narrative and some great offhand jokes. A lost Greek play is referred to as ‘No Mr Nice God’, armies of masked vigilantes parade across the page and the true history of mankind is revealed. Which isn’t bad going for a journalist who just wants to file a story.
The real star here is Roberson’s easy going prose, that carries some big ideas along with elegance and grace and places the story in a unique hinterland somewhere between steampunk and action thriller, weaving Spencer’s life into ancient Greek literature and the pulp stories written by his grandfather. It’s arguably the most commercial of the four books but that isn’t to say that it’s the least. This is a smart, literate thriller written by an author whose love for the form is clear.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Ray Gun Revival on Dragon's Nine Sons
Roberson has an excellent prose style, delightfully transparent to the story he tells. The adventure is engaging. I would not say I was surprised by anything that happened in the story, but I consider it a pageturner. And I do want to read more of Roberson’s Celestial Empire stories.
Lovers of military SF and a good action-adventure story will definitely want to check out The Dragon’s Nine Sons.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Book of Secrets review
I’m a huge Dan Brown fan and, like Brown’s fast-paced books, this is a cleverly written journey that occurs over a week. It’s quick, witty, and spell-binding. I couldn’t put this down, and considering I generally abhor first-person narrative, that says a lot. I really enjoyed Spencer’s view of the world and we get a really nice glimpse with snippets of a past in which he is raised by his grandfather after the death of his parents. We truly see how this man has been molded by his loss and his upbringing.Next week I'll be able to post a review from the upcoming issue of Death Ray, btw, which is quoted in the electronic sample I mentioned earlier this morning.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Falcata Times on Three Unbroken
In this offering, Chris Robertson presents the reader with a future where the Chinese are in control of mankind and tells the tale from three different points of view, that adds a greater depth as well as flavour of the world through the principle protagonists point of views. Its cracking and whilst the battles are quite sparse it is a tale that will keep you occupied and gripped to the last page to understand how the world will function in a believable offering of a bleak future. Well written and lovingly crafted this will be a book that you’ll either love or hate for its departure from the norm within the genre. Definitely an author to watch for future tales.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
SF Signal on End of the Century
Young Galaad follows his visions on a quest with King Artor in 498 AD, Detective Sandford Blank and his companion Roxanne Bonaventure investigate a series of bizarre and grisly murders on the eve of Queen Victoria's jubilee and in 2000 AD, Alice Fell runs away to London based on her visions she sees during epileptic fits. In End of the Century, Chris Roberson deftly weaves these three story lines together to tell the 'real story' of the King Arthur myths.
Roberson knows a good thing when he sees it, especially if he's written it. His series of novels starring the Bonaventure-Carmody clan (Here, There and Everywhere, Paragea and Set the Seas on Fire) are uniformly excellent, covering quite a bit of science fictional ground. And much like Philip Jose Farmer's Wold Newton books, Roberson's series can expand to encompass just about anything, in this case King Arthur.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
San Francisco Chronicle on End of the Century
Texas writer, editor and publisher Chris Roberson pays home to at least three British masters of fantasy and science fiction in End of the Century (Pyr; 486 pages; $15; trade paperback). Set in a trio of timelines, this epic saga mixes Arthurian legend, Victorian sleuthing and the misadventures of an epileptic young woman in turn-of-the-millennium London.
In sixth century Britain, young Galaad comes to the court of King Artor with tales of a tower of glass and a woman in white who pleads for rescue. The other knights are dubious, but Artor, bored with the mundane details of administering a kingdom, agrees to set off on a quest. In the 1890s, as England prepares for Queen Victoria's Jubilee, consulting detective Sandford Bank and his lovely companion Roxanne Bonaventure investigate a series of gruesome murders in which the victims have been dismembered with an impossibly sharp blade. And in London of 2000, 18-year-old Alice Fell searches for the truth behind her visions of ravens, a glowing jewel and a stranger with ice-chip blue eyes.
Roberson, author of "Here, There & Everywhere" and "Paragaea: A Planetary Romance," coordinates the multiple plots with panache, keeping each interesting in itself while seeding them with clues that pay off up and down the timelines. The book is dedicated to Michael Moorcock, Alan Moore and Kim Newman, and it's not hard to discern their influences on the secret societies, mystical lore and pulpy derring-do featured in "End of the Century."
Roberson has his own unique strengths as a writer, however, and he is developing a literary cosmology well worth further exploration. If he sometimes resorts to bald explication of the scientific/philosophical underpinnings that govern his multiverse, its a forgivable lapse in the face of so much invention and clever storytelling.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Starlog on End of the Century
A Sixth Century knight... A Victorian Age pair of professional adventurers... A runaway American girl in 1999... In END OF THE CENTURY, three apparently disparate elements are linked in a series of exploits involving a search for the Holy Grail. Their destinies weave in and out of different London eras as each of them are, in turn, threatened by an enemy that seems far more than human.
Roberson does a nice job of tap dancing here, deftly moving the narrative throughout various time periods without allowing any of them to become stale. And the three sets of "heroes" are well balanced: the classic knight Galaad, the cosmopolitan team of Blank and Bonaventure and the resourceful teenager Alice Fell. Rather than stereotypes, the author offers up archetypes. Roberson understands that a genuine villain calls for genuine heroes to meet in combat, and in END OF THE CENTURY, he gives readers a memorable cast of characters.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
SFFWorld on End of the Century
An important element that comes across in End of the Century is the sense of adventure and larger things at play. I got the sense that Roberson had a lot of fun writing this novel. While it is a rollicking tale (or trio of them), things like the power of memory and story, and a cosmology we only see hints of are both hinted at and embedded like Easter Eggs within the novel. In other words, he adds these details as great parts of the story but these details also work as a wink to readers who are familiar with Roberson’s writing.Thanks, Rob!
All told, Roberson manages to interlink the three story strands in a satisfying manner and kept me hooked until the very end of the novel. Another terrific novel from Roberson and the fine folks at Pyr.
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Red Rook Review on Set the Seas on Fire
Monday, March 30, 2009
Total Sci-Fi on End of the Century
With strong supporting characters and a brilliantly constructed conspiracy, the clues, twists and gruesome action ensure that there’s little brain rest between the covers. To tell too much about the plot would ruin its considerable surprises, but suffice to say that if this is your first experience of Roberson, I guarantee it won’t be the last.
Challenging the stability of the often-thin line between fantasy and sci-fi, End of the Century is a unique experience that latches on from the first page and doesn’t let go.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Bookgasm on End of the Century
Roberson’s imagination is in full force, and the results are magical, although a tad too epic. He deserves praise for being able to keep each section true to its genre without having the novel feel schizophrenic. He tells three separate stories so winningly that you won’t care — for the most part, at least — that they have yet to merge.As usual, I feel like END OF THE CENTURY veers toward seeming endless as the third act progresses, but that’s a problem with many books (and movies, and it should be noted that I’d love to see one made from this). Roberson is an underrated name in the field of fantasy and science fiction; this effort was no easy undertaking, but it’s ingenious and spirited, and he pulls through with his head held high.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Bookspot Central on End of the Century
I also appreciated very much that Roberson obviously did a lot of research for each of the plot lines. He writes about each era as if he’d lived in them, and references many places, people, locations, and - at least with “Jubilee” and “Millenium” - street names, parks, museums, plays, and clubs, giving the plot lines a great degree of realism, despite the fantastic nature of the plots. Roberson, unlike other scifi authors, with End of the Century doesn’t create a world or universe out of whole cloth; but, he goes to incredible lengths and detail to make this particular Earth we all live on seem very real and a place where his characters fit in and participate in very well.
Sometimes, as I’ve hinted at, one of the story lines might be more interesting than the others. They’re all good, but a novel that attempts to tackle so many different things, as this one does, has its ups and its downs. Still, the novel, as a whole, while also being long - at over 480 pages - is one I’d recommend to anyone who likes their science fiction to involve time travel, action, numerous bloody casualties, and a Dr. Who type of ambience. It’s worth checking out for the cool references, alone, though who (no pun intended) can go wrong getting three books (figuratively speaking) for the price of one?
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
SF Signal on Three Unbroken
Chris Roberson's Celestial Empire series continues to be a rich setting for telling enjoyable stories. In addition to numerous short fiction pieces (some of which are reviewed here), Roberson has written a few novels that highlight an important milestone of this intriguing alternate future history -- a future in which Imperial China has become a superpower and wages war with their frequent enemy, the Mexic Dominion.
The latest book, Three Unbroken, details the fight to reclaim the planet Fire Star (Mars) as seen through the eyes of a trio of fighters for the Dragon Throne's cause: Arati Amonkar, whose dream to fly drives her to become a pilot for the Interplanetary Fleet; Micah Carter, whose failure to pass the Imperial bureaucracy entrance exams leads him to serve in the Green Standard Army; and Niohuru, a privileged youth who eschews the repetitive boredom of everyday life for the glory of battle as part of the elite group of Imperial Bannermen.
In telling the story, Roberson's approach employs several levels of logic. The book is subdivided into 64 short chapters (or Hexagrams) and for each subtitle utilizes some combination of Air, Water, Mountain, Earth, etc. - each one with an accompanying pearl of wisdom (many of which escaped my meager mental facilities). The story itself is structured by evenly alternating viewpoints of the three principle characters, whose paths only rarely cross. In the early parts of the book (training and the first operation), each character gets one chapter before the viewpoint changes. In the middle part of the book (the second operation), two consecutive chapters are used to convey a character's viewpoint. Throughout the entire novel, each chapter progresses the individual story of the character and the overall story of the war. With all of this logical structure, one gets the impression that the author had this story completely mapped out from the start - prep work that gives the story a distinct beginning, middle and end.
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Locus on End of the Century
Nor was I surprised to find among Roberson's inspirations various multiversal adventures of Michael Moorcock and the Yggsdrasillian family tree of Philip José Farmer's Wold Newton cycle. Those inspirations--dark Moorcock and manic-inventive Famer--locate the pleasures of this busy, complicated, symbolically and thematically fully packed book pretty accurately.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Best SF on We Think, Therefore We Are
In Roberson's 'Celestial Empire' setting, he also provides a neat alternative to Asimovs Three Laws, as the spaceship AI which has got stuck in an infinite loop has to work within the confines of The Three Governing Virtues of Machine Intelligence.Yep, it's another Celestial Empire story. I just keep writing the damned things, don't I?
Summoned from slumber, the Chief Operator finds not only the AI not working, the ship thus in imminent danger, but the death of a crewmate. He has to work out what is wrong with the AI, which is simply spouting historical texts, and work out whether the death was an accident as thought.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Fantasy Book Critic on End of the Century
Good writers don´t necessarily try to “make it new”, as Ezra Pound used to say. Pound, alas, is dead, and so is Modernism, for that matter. What good writers do, though, is tell a compelling story mixing and remixing old tropes and experimenting with clichés so they can still bring the reader some joy and surprise, suspending disbelief, even when he or she is pretty much sure that all the important, interesting things were already said and done (another assumption which should be very dead by now, by the way).Thanks, Fábio!
That´s what Chris Roberson does in his new novel, “End of The Century”—he mixes very different storylines and characters in a 21st century approach to a more than revisited plot premise: the Quest for the Holy Grail.
Roberson interweaves the three timelines very deftly, making the narrative an integrated, non-stop piece. The Galaad tale is told almost in an epic style. Dialogues are realistic, but the situations they come to face are indeed of an epic scale, reminiscent of Gene Wolfe in stories as “The Knight”. The Blank/Bonaventure narrative reads like a Sherlockian mystery, with a fair share of action scenes as well. The Alice Fell story is a high-paced espionage thriller, complete with secret hideouts (the entrance by a toilet stall is definitelyAvengers-like) and bizarre futuristic weapons. Her newfound friend seems to be a more tranquil, cool version of Moorcock´s famed Jerry Cornelius.
The coincidence is that I was reading Sideways in Crime at the same time I started reading “End of The Century”, so I read Roberson´s short story “Death on the Crosstime Express” and learned about his concept of the Myriad. Well, I not only love Michael Moorcock´s Multiverse, but Alan Moore and Kim Newman (to whom Chris dedicates the book, along with Moorcock) are among my favorite writers. So I figured “End of the Century” would make a good reading.
I was wrong. “End of the Century” is EXCELLENT reading.
One of the most important things the reader should keep in mind about “End of the Century” is that it stands all by itself. You may have never read anything by Chris Roberson before, and you will understand every bit of the story—or the stories, since there are three of them alternating with each other almost until the end, when they merge in a very coherent way, tying all (or almost all) the loose ends.
“End of The Century” is one of the best 2009 books I´ve read in 2008. Roberson raised the bar of my expectations.
Friday, January 23, 2009
SCI FI Wire on End of the Century
Chris Roberson's latest novel proves that he's the Secret History go-to guy for the 21st century.
In End of the Century (Pyr, $15), he reveals the connections we never imagined between King Arthur and Alice in Wonderland, David Bowie and Jack the Ripper, swords and physics. To these elements, Roberson adds time travel, gaslight detection, Moorcockian extended families and temporal adventuresses, occult government research, cutting-edge scientific speculation and a sinister conspiracy that reaches to the end of time—and he braids everything together in three clever converging plots.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
IRoSF on "Mirror of Fiery Brightness"
Has the Celestial Empire really become "one of the most extensive alternate histories ever"? I do keeping writing the damned things, don't I...?
An alternate history spy thriller in Roberson's Celestial Empire series. Saito Ren is a covert agent of the Celestial Empire in the South American Republic of Fusang, allied with the Mexican enemies of the Chinese. When agents of the Mexica suddenly assassinate all his agents, Saito is forced to flee, but as he escapes, he becomes increasingly aware that this Mexican move is related to some project called "Tlatlauhquitezcatl," the Mirror of Fiery Brightness, and he is determined to discover what it means.
Roberson's Celestial Empire series has by now become one of the most extensive alternate histories ever. I have read quite a number of the stories set in this rich ongoing milieu and found them uneven; the best are quite good indeed, focusing on individuals caught up in the movement of history and the clash of empires. This novella, however, suffers severely from Seriesitis, as the author has overloaded it with way too much backstory–
the backstory of the Celestial Empire, the backstory of the various South American polities, the backstory of the Nipponese in Fusang, and the personal backstory of Saito Ren and the ignoble deed that has haunted him all his life. Buried under all this information, Saito fails to come fully alive as a character, and his immediate problems with people trying to kill him seem almost an afterthought to the history. The author has also overused coincidence and improbability as plot devices to push Saito through his paces in the pursuit of the Fiery Mirror.
Elsewhere, Roberson has stated that this installment in the series is meant to present the Mexica from more of a neutral perspective as opposed to the villains that they appear from the Celestial point of view. It is in the person of the most unlikely possible character, the assassin priest of the Flayed God, that he succeeds, making the very end of the story the most interesting part–
and without any intrusive backstory at all.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
San Antonio Current on End of the Century
Roberson successfully repurposes the techniques of A. Conan Doyle and other 19th-century wordsmiths to accurately portray the world of the Bland-Bonaventure narrative. His three stated literary antecedents relied on similar tropes to great effect in their own works, most effectively in Moorcock’s Metatemporal Detective stories, Newman’s novel Anno Dracula, and Moore’s graphic novel series League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
The latest novel in the author’s Bonaventure-Carmody Sequence, End of the Century requires no previous experience with any of his other books, though as events unfold, prior knowledge of Roxanne Bonaventure and her extended family grant the experienced reader additional insights. A World Fantasy Award finalist and winner of the Sidewise Award for Best Alternate History Short Form, Roberson ultimately delivers a superior multi-linear novel worthy of the authors to whom he dedicated End of the Century.
Monday, January 05, 2009
Booklist on End of the Century
Roberson conjures up a triple-threaded tale: (1) Driven by visions of a lady in white, Galaad gets Artur and his knights to help him find a glass tower. Breaching a wall of mist to the Summerlands, they are beset by terrible foes. (2) On the eve of Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, Sandford Blank and Roxanne Bonaventure investigate brutal murders eerily like the earlier Torso Murders that defeated Sandford. They find links to Arthurian enthusiasts and an archaeological expedition to Glastonbury Tor. (3) As the twentieth century ends, visions of a glass tower drive Alice Fell to run away from home. Saved from spectral hounds by a retired spy (he says), she embarks on a wild hunt for the key to her visions. Behind everything is the far-future organization Omega, whose agents try to decipher the past. Roberson bedecks all three strands with a spectacular collection of secrets, murky underworld organizations, and everything from time travel to magical swords. In the dizzying conclusion, time lines converge in a satisfying reimagining of a very old story.
— Regina Schroeder
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Geek Monthly on End of the Century
“What do a soldier from the 6th century, a sleuth from the 19th century and an American teenager in 1999 all have in common? They are all characters in Chris Roberson’s ambitious quest for the Holy Grail that intermingles all three ages to truly entertaining effect.”Geek Monthly appears to do relatively few book reviews, so I'm really jazzed they covered the book. And considering that in this issue there are only reviews for new comics by Jaime Hernandez, Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell, and Tom Neely, and novels by Jonathan Carroll and little old me, I'm delighted to be included in such a lineup of heavyhitters.
Update: Allison insists I'm a dope for not sharing a scan of the review, so here it is.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Less spoilerish than the Booklist review, which I'll quote in January when the review is published, but at the same time not entirely accurate. Still, a fairly positive review, I think. So thanks, reviewer at Library Journal!
In sixth-century Londinium, young knight Galaad follows his visions to the castle of King Artor and the search for the Holy Grail. Victorian London houses consulting detective Sandford Blank and his assistant, Roxanne Bonaventure, who hunt for a serial killer whose motive is the location of the grail. In 20th-century London, American teenager Alice Fell is on the run, pursuing strange visions that lead her as well to the sacred cup of the grail. Inevitably, the barriers between time and place deteriorate, bringing a group of seekers together in a cosmic confrontation between good and evil. The author of Here, There & Everywhere and The Voyage of Night Shining White blends high fantasy, Victorian mystery, and urban fantasy into one mesmerizing story that refreshes the Arthurian legend. For most fantasy collections.
Monday, October 20, 2008
The Celestial Empire is an alternate world where Imperial China did not retreat within its borders in the 15th century but expanded until a thousand years later it had colonized and begun terraforming Mars. Iron Jaw and Hummingbird tells the tale of two young people who find themselves in a position to bring the corruption of the government to light and improve the fates the inhabitants of Fire Star.And in what I believe is the first review of the book, Publishers Weekly takes a (slightly spoilerish) look at End of the Century:
As a work of young adult fiction I was delighted to see that the characters were given agency. They had opportunity to make the moral choices that drove their actions and they were not saved from the outcomes of bad choices. In what I think was the best part of the book they were even able to think about their actions and change their minds.
This ambitious fantasy combines three very British stories: an Arthurian fable, a Victorian murder mystery and a modern-day YA adventure tale. A strange visitation sends young father Galaad to Caer Llundain in the year 498. American teenager Alice Fell, who gets holy visions during epileptic seizures, makes a similar pilgrimage to London in 2000. In 1897, as Queen Victoria celebrates her jubilee, consulting detective Sandford Blank and his sidekick, Roxanne Bonaventure, investigate a series of brutal murders. The hinted interconnections between the three tales are complex and fascinating, but as the stories come together, the novel disintegrates into a confusing mélange of ancient computers from the future, overlapping characters and objects moving through time and space. Though it jumps the tracks at the end, Roberson (Paragaea) still makes this a rollicking ride.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Iron Jaw and Hummingbird reviews
First up is Kirkus, whose review is in the September 15th issue (and online, apparently):
Taken from the streets and educated by a wealthy aristocrat for years as part of a cruel game, orphan Gamine finds herself back on her own at 13. She falls in with a conman and, later, an itinerant preacher. Meanwhile, an 18-year-old reluctant soldier named Huang becomes an even more reluctant bandit when his division is bested by renegades. The two are thrown together, and the movement they lead reshapes the political landscape of a China-controlled 26th-century Mars. Roberson’s detached and contemplative narrative spends far too much time setting up only to lead readers to a disappointingly anticlimactic denouement. The milieu is nicely constructed, which stands to reason, as Roberson has written adult novels and stories in this alternate-history future. Patterned on, but not paralleling, the Boxer Rebellion, this would probably work best for lovers of historical fiction who wish to take a small step toward more fantastic material, but SF and martial-arts fans should look elsewhere. An attempted rape and intimations of a sexual relationship between the leads push the age-range up.Also weighing in on the book is Angela from SciFiChick.com:
In an alternate reality, the Chinese control Mars and its inhabitants. Gamine was rescued from the streets as a small child, where she was raised and schooled by the upper class. But after serving her purpose, she was abandoned on the street yet again where she takes up with a con artist. Soon after young Huang Fei joins the army, his ship is attacked by bandits. But Huang quickly moves from the bandit leader’s pet to trusted advisor. When Gamine (Iron Jaw) and Huang (Hummingbird) meet, they team up to overthrow the current regime.
Geared towards teens and older, this science fiction story has the feel of a fantasy, as Roberson’s other books Set the Seas on Fire and Paragaea also do. But this story is completely unique as it is based solely on an alternate reality Mars. Granted the planet itself has little bearing on the story, which revolves around the two central characters Gamine and Huang. Both go through tremendous ordeals and hardships which eventually lead the two together, aiming for a common goal. Both Gamine and Huang also have to go through a range of emotions that eventually force them to deal with the thoughts of revenge in their hearts.
Gamine and Huang’s stories began as completely different situations. Gamine, as a child from the streets, who eventually grows from a thief and con artist to a respected leader. And her ideals slowly change over time as well. And Huang, as a spoiled rich boy, bored with army life, who eventually evolves from a slave of a group of bandits to their leader. But meanwhile, he discovers the bandits are more than just thieving monsters, they have a past and a purpose.
Iron Jaw and Hummingbird is a fascinating story of two very different young people and their journey to finding themselves and a fight against a corrupt authority.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Star Trek: Myriad Universes: Echoes and Refractions
The site TrekMovie (which also features an interview with me on the story, Star Trek, and sf in general), has given my contribution a fairly glowing review:
In quite possibly the most though provoking of the six Myriad Universes tales, Chris Roberson explores the practical and philosophical implications of the proliferation of both mechanical life forms (in the wake of Dr. Noonien Soong’s wildly successful android program) and the ability to migrate the consciousness from the organic to the positronic mind of an android.Another Trek site, TrekWeb, has also weighed in with the following review:
Roberson makes effective use if the work of TNG’s pioneers of artificial life (Soong and Dr. Ira Graves) to create a storyline replete with plenty of action and an unparalleled depth of thought that brings the volume to an effective conclusion. Throughout the story we meet many new and interesting android characters, each of them playing a role in exploring the questions of existence on their own terms.
Brave New World presents many ideas that are somewhat foreign to the various Star Trek television series. While Trek is often used as a lens to examine the human condition, Roberson attempts to drill down to the essence of sentience, and where it is to be found. When the examination is complete, nothing is ever the same again.
While the story itself is fast paced, interesting, and surprisingly humorous for the subject matter, the real payoff of Roberson’s work is the epilogue, which ends the tale in a manner that can only be called pure science fiction at its best.
Chris Roberson proves he should be writing more Trek stories with Brave New World. Doctor Soong was successful in his experiments and now cybernetics is common throughout the Federation. Several years before, Data mysteriously disappeared and the crew of the Enterprise has always wondered why he left. When Picard receives a mysterious message from him asking the Enterprise to come into the Neutral Zone, he must decide if he can trust his former officer. And, is it really Data? The epilogue is unnecessary, but the rest of the story provides excellent character arcs and surprises.And a fan blog, Musings of a fandom geek, has done an overview of the omnibus, and seems to have enjoyed my story as well:
Closing out this second volume, newcomer Chris Roberson weaves a tale of a more personal nature than the others that have gone before, which takes its place as my favourite story from the book. Here, Noonien Soong’s research proceeds ahead of schedule, leading to his creating Data long before the Crystalline Entity arrives to interrupt his work. The Soong-type android is unveiled to the Federation, and more are soon created. The story picks up in 2378, with androids now recognised as sentient beings, although with some limitations on their rights. The technique used by Ira Graves in the TNG episode “The Schizoid Man” has been developed here, too, and people have been permitted to transfer their minds to android bodies in the event of bodily deterioration.Has anyone here had a chance to check out the book yet? I'm curious to hear the reactions of readers with a prior familiarity with my work, as well.
The questions of morality, spirituality, and science raised are extremely thought-provoking, as is the spotlight thrown on the role and impact of technology, which forms the heart of the story.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
SF Signal's Review of the Celestial Empire
How's that for a mouthful?
In the post, as a kind of follow-up to his review of The Dragon's Nine Sons, John reviews a whole mess of Celestial Empire stories. To which I can only say, Thanks, John!
Friday, May 23, 2008
Parageaa is a step ahead of most modern fantasies. It's not a blatant setup for a 17-part trilogy. Roberson isn't so in love with Paragaea that he spends pages of real estate describing the flora or the history. It's a backdrop for his characters to move through, and that's plenty.
Best of all, it's fun. It plays in the backyard of Philip Jose Farmer, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Michael Moorcock.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
The Dragon’s Nine Sons is a fast-paced story, set in future of a world similar to our own. The characters are well-crafted and in such a relatively short story, Roberson effectively fills in the right amount of details for the characters as well as the other elements of the story. The rich history of the world is only hinted at and Roberson provides a timeline of the Middle Kingdom as an appendix which illustrates the depth of divergent history in the Celestial Empire universe. Though this novel has some distinct differences from Paragaea, Roberson retains the same storytelling sensibilities and qualities. Part heist, part redemption story, part adventure The Dragon’s Nine Sons is a solid and entertaining novel.
Sunday, May 04, 2008
His knowledge and grasp of Qing dynasty Chinese and Meso-american history is apparent in the way he is able to take known 18th century Chinese and 16th century Aztec/Mayan institutions and attitudes and extend it into the future, something many authors who attempt this usually fail to do convincingly.
He manages to stay away from rehashing stereotypical views of imperial China and therefore manages to do an impressively convincing job of putting together a world where a completely different set of rules, values, institutions and societal norms comes to fore, allowing the reader to envision a completely different historical timeline. This alternate history he opens up shows the reader a world far more diverse and interesting if these other world cultures had not been stymied and been allowed to develop into the modern world.
He takes the reader into the unknown by opening up the reader's mind and not only shows the possibilities of how other traditional civilizations could have progressed and modernized but that it is possible for them to progress and modernize. We will DEFINITELY be watching this author.
Friday, May 02, 2008
A unique use of setting, history, sub-genre, packed into a strong space adventure. Either Chris Roberson has created a super niche where only someone who is an alternate history reader and who also like space adventure will enjoy this, or, and I suspect this is more likely, anyone who likes near future SF, or space adventure, or alternate history will enjoy this.
Monday, April 14, 2008
I like the character of Hieronymus Bonaventure very much. I like the feeling of “This is only the beginning”. He seems to be at the beginning of a heroic journey. The Author’s Notes at the end, which Roberson included because he likes to provide just a little more, bear that out. He writes a lot of alternate history fiction at this point. The basic underlying history and flavor in the story seemed very real to me. I enjoyed that very much, as I waited to see exactly where that history and ordered universe was going to take a very sharp turn. Roberson definitely seems to not be so obsessed with writing a story of a ship’s crew encountering unimaginable horror that he glosses over the historical flavor part of it to get there.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Roberson keeps the action moving, and the pages fly by. It has a really cinematic feel which is funny because Hollywood would never touch something like this. The characters area dynamic mix of good and bad you would expect from this story. The best testament I can give this novel was as they reached the objective of the suicide Mission I found myself wishing the characters to get out of danger, you see I wanted them back for sequels.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
All in all, Volume 2 is a welcome addition to the ever-growing list of original anthologies. And a pleasure to read. Mann, who is already planning a third installment in what may well be a yearly series, hopes this apparent trend has come to stay. So do I.He had this to say about my contribution to the proceedings.
Chris Roberson’s novelette, “The Line of Dichotomy,” is a no-nonsense, military approach to the question of peace in the middle of a war on another planet. Set in the universe of The Dragon’s Nine Sons, this is the story of the war between the Chinese and the Aztecs on the red planet of the solar system, Fire Star. “The Line of Dichotomy” shows us the POV of a group of Chinese scientists and military people trapped with a Mexican soldier, and the slow, painful recognition of the futility of war. However, it’s not a manifesto of any ideology; the story’s title was well chosen. The ending is not surprising but is quite convincing.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Chris Roberson's finest work tends to fall within his alternate history of the Celestial Empire... A certain discipline and plausibility is imposed by this timeline--a need to respect the correctness of Chinese address and nomenclature, a need to reflect the earnestness of so great an Imperial enterprise. The pulpish waywardness of much of the author's other work is thus curtailed. And The Dragon's Nine Sons, the first Celestial Empire novel, benefits from this restraint. It is a tight space-opera thriller, full of claustrophobic tension and under-pressure characterization, a sort of Dirty Dozen of allohistory.I quite like the term "pulpish waywardness." I may have to start using that, myself!
So this book is a sobering piece of military SF, skillfully handled and morally acute. It is easily Chris Roberson's best book to date.
Monday, March 03, 2008
There's also a touch of dystopia here, since both empires seem rather repressive, and our heroes aren't necessarily very heroic. It took a few chapters before I felt at ease in the story, but once I was there you couldn't have pried me out before the ending. Roberson seems to get better with each new book.
In a refreshingly different take on the future, Roberson posits the Celestial Empire in which the Chinese successfully continued their expansionist policies of the 14th century. By 2052 they are opposed only by the Aztec-like Mexic Dominion. The war has escalated into space and the novel opens with nine disgraced soldiers being offered the choice of execution or a place on a mission to destroy an enemy base within an asteroid. The group reach the asteroid only to discover fellow Chinese prisoners facing ritual Mexic sacrifice: what was a suicide mission becomes a rescue attempt in which each soldier confronts the demons of their past and possible redemption. Despite an occasional tendency to over-explain, Roberson has created a gripping action adventure interleaved with insightful character studies.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
New Blog Review
In addition, Roberson does a great job showing the natures of our protagonists, both in their personalities and in their backstories. The gambler/thief, the prankster, the murderers (although we come to understand why they killed), the pacifist...yes, they are clearly archetypes that you have seen before, but they are well drawn, with a good amount of tension between such very different characters. And these character traits pay off throughout the novel. Roberson understands Chekhov's Law very well.To address Paul's challenge about a novel from the Mexica point of view, I've actually been toying with a plot that would be entitled The House of Darkness, that I might set up in a forthcoming novella, "The Embroidered Guard." One thing I didn't get across as well as I'd intended with D9S is that we're only seeing the Aztecs here from the Chinese perspective, and that there are all sorts of things about Mexic culture that the soldiers aren't noticing or understanding. (Aside from the whole blood-sacrifice-of-innocents thing, in fact, there's actually a lot to like about the Mexica.) I'll try harder next time!
Overall, I am quite happy with the read and enjoyed it. There are a number of other stories set in the Celestial Empire (one or two of which I have read already). Given my taste for Alternate History, I intend to seek the others out and read them, too.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
But within this straitjacket of plot, Roberson inserts as many telling and spicy details of his alternate history as he can, and he delivers a good measure of military suspense. You won't regret accompanying the Nine Sons on their one-way mission.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
"The plot’s Dirty Dozen aspects gives Roberson a hook on which to hang his unfamiliar world. The alternate universe is convincing and well thought out. Although the story is told from the viewpoint of Chinese Celestial Empire characters, it’s actually the Mexic Dominion that comes across as more interesting, because it’s almost as much a mystery to the viewpoint characters. As a result, the audience convincingly shares their apprehension and surprise. It’s clear that Roberson has done his historical and cultural research as well as his astrophysics... All the science is well handled and very detailed; this is proper military SF... The pace is just right—not too slow, not breakneck—and the story flows very nicely, never short of dramatic developments of interesting surprises... Highly recommended.”
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Chris Roberson's novel is a good page-turning read that feels shorter than it actually is, despite needing a bit more editing in a couple of places: I don't need reminding about decisions and events from two chapters ago - I haven't forgotten!
That notwithstanding, the challenges faced by the prisoners as they struggle to complete their mission are engaging and involving. Captain Zhuan and Bannerman Yao, the two main protagonists, are reasonably complex characters and their mission is as much about redemption for past (in)actions as it is about completing the mission for their Emperor.
The action on board Xolotl at times needs a bit of polishing, but the description of the Mexica – the first time most of the characters have come face-to-face with the culture - is excellent. Seen entirely from the Chinese' point of view, the Mexica civilization is barbaric, based on human sacrifice, with haemoglobin sensors built needlessly into important equipment.
All-in-all, it's well worth a read.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
First, there was Nick Gevers on my contribution to Interzone's December 2007 issue:
"Interzone has a good December issue led by the latest of Chris Roberson's Celestial Empire stories, "Metal Dragon Year." The setting is, again, an alternate Earth where Imperial China, buoyed by the great voyages of Zheng He, has become the dominant technological power, its only rival the Aztec kingdom. As the Chinese begin to develop their space programme, testing rockets under the direction of a gifted chief engineer who is also a devout Muslim, mysterious patterns of sabotage emerge, and someone has clearly been leaking information to the wrong people. Roberson quite movingly depicts his dutiful hero's struggles of vision and faith."Then in the book reviews there was Russell Letson on The Dragon's Nine Sons, who after a fairly detailed summary of the plot summarizes thusly:
"The narrative voice and emotional stance of this book remind me strongly of L. Sprague de Camp--discursive, explanatory, and rather cool, even in the face of considerable unpleasantness (the Mexic weapons of choice are the liquid-magnesium-spitting "fire lance" and the obsidian-studded club, so close combat is anything but pretty). This removes much of the edginess of the dirty-dozen template, replacing it with the ironies of the ways in which the crewmembers' flaws contribute to their heroism. Here, as in The Voyage of Night Shining White, character, character relationships, and cultural background are at least as compelling as the melodramatic action in the foreground. In fact, those are the qualities that would have me return to this charming and oddly-retro-feeling alternate future."And in his overview of The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, Volume Two, Rich Horton lists my "The Line of Dichotomy," noting in a fairly value-neutral way that is is one of "the longest stories" in the anthology.
Finally, in his piece on Philip José Farmer, Gary K. Wolfe was kind enough to list me in the number of "writers who now cheerfully acknowledge their debt to Farmer", alongside Neil Gaiman, Allen Steel, Garth Nix, Mike Resnick, Joe R. Lansdale, and other such luminaries. Fine company to be in!
And if that wasn't enough, Gardner Dozois cited Sean Williams's Cenotaxis as one of the notable novellas of the year in his "2007 in Review" column, and Gevers also reviewed Kim Newman's Secret Files of the Diogenes Club, summing up by saying:
The Secret Files of the Diogenes Club is a strong collection, illuminating many fascinating corners of just one of Newman's several timelines. Densely spun, knowingly and knowledgeably narrated, its stories are among the better secret histories of recent years.Both Cenotaxis and Secret Files of the Diogenes Club, likewise, end up in the New & Notable listings (as does Philip José Farmer and Danny Adams's The City Beyond Play, to which I supplied an introduction).
Add to that my goofy mug leering drunkenly out from the sidebar on the table of contents, and the half-page ad for Dragon's Nine Sons and Three Unbroken on page fourteen, and I am quite literally all over this issue.
How shallow does it make me, then, that I searched in vain for mentions of my writing in the "2007 Recommended Reading" essays? It's not enough that a story of mine is included in the list, but I have to be namechecked in someone's column, as well? Yeesh. You think I'd learn to be satisfied, once in a while...
Monday, February 04, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
"...the fact that Mr. Roberson explores how such ancient cultures as the Aztecs and Imperial China would function in a futuristic time period was pure genius and really gave the book a distinctive flavor... I was impressed with the author’s fluent prose and his ability to tell a story with a skillful blend of style, passion, and ingenuity."
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Hold on to your hats! When you open this book you are in for a rip-roaring, old fashion adventure in the tradition of Edgar Rice Burrough’s planet stories.
Their quest is a lively action filled romp that I enjoyed to the max and was sorry to reach the end all too quickly. It does end with several unresolved plots that I hope will be handled in forthcoming sequels. Heironymous, Leena and Balam are three of the best adventure heroes ever created and I’m so happy to have made their acquaintance. It’s an experience I’d like to repeat and soon. So will you.
Wow. That's a fine way to start off a weekend...
Thursday, January 03, 2008
New(ish) Blog Review
All I can say is that if you like Horatio Hornblower, H.P. Lovecraft, science fiction, or the Napoleonic Wars; this is a book that you might want to take a look at! It also has a gorgeous cover!
Friday, December 07, 2007
The Dragon’s Nine Sons: A Novel of the Celestial EmpireStill, if the book has to get negative reviews (and I think it's a rule that all books must), I hope that they're all even half as complimentary as this one is.
Chris Roberson. Solaris (www.solarisbooks.com), $7.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-84416-524-7
Roberson’s latest (after Set the Seas on Fire) takes a standard Dirty Dozen plot that contrasts awkwardly with its ornate Chinese vs. Aztec interplanetary milieu. Two of the Dragon Empire’s dissident officers, space captain Zhuan Jie and troop commander (or “bannerman”) Yao Guanzhong, are tapped to infiltrate and destroy an enemy asteroid base. But before they can blow up the rock, they must first master their squadron of outcasts and improvise the rescue of dozens of prisoners marked for blood sacrifice. Cogently choreographed action and vividly drawn opposing cultures are intriguing (for instance, Mexica spacecraft are hardwired to work only when primed with human blood) but Roberson’s subtly distant tone, heavy-handed foreshadowing and narrow focus leave readers struggling to properly grasp the larger conflict. Tight, fully resolved character arcs leave few direct openings for the epic series the book supposedly begins. There’s potential here, but little polish and less context. (Feb.)
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
PROS: Interesting setting; consistently high level of drama; believable action; well-crafted, layered storytelling; absolutely no padding.
CONS: None that I can think of.
BOTTOM LINE: Believable, lean-and-mean, military sf that offers dramatic tension every chance it gets.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Paragaea is a wonderful story with the feel of a fantasy, but the heart of a science fiction novel. Though it isn’t necessary to read Set the Seas on Fire, I found it helpful to already have a background on the character of Hero. I found myself loving Paragaea , the story and world, even more. With more swash-buckling action and stronger characters, Roberson is a truly gifted storyteller.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
The realistic detail in setting and character makes it all the easier to suspend disbelief once the supernatural elements start showing up; you really care what happens to these people, which is quite a feat. So if you like fast-paced adventure stories that don't sacrifice characters on the altar of plot, then you really should be reading Chris Roberson.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
This is an old fashioned, lost world adventure story, deliberately paced, and it even has a volcano in it. It's a form I've always loved, but it's hard to find new ones nowadays. The cover blurbs compare it to Lovecraft but it felt much more like William Hope Hodgson to me. And that's definitely a compliment.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
A solid read that shifts between Bonaventure's past and present so the reader can see what made the man that lives the adventure. This is a book that fans of the high seas and the occult can enjoy. Hieronymus is a member of the Bonaventure clan that has been the focal point of several previous works by Roberson. I have not read the earlier works but was able to follow this story fairly easily. At some point I may read the earlier tales to see if it changes my perspective on this book.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
An updated version of a previously published chapbook, Set the Seas on Fire is a virtuoso performance that combines the sea-faring story with fantasy set in the Napoleonic era. Roberson quickly sets the scenes with two intertwining stories.
First we are introduced to the young Hieronymous Bonventure, who is ostensibly being taught how to fence – but in the developing acquaintanceship with his tutor, he learns the deeper reasons for his tuition. The main narrative is set in 1808, with the HMS Fortitude (on which Bonaventure is Lieutenant) in desperate need of repair after a skirmish with a Spanish galleon. Coming across survivors from the galleon, they hear of an island of terror where the ship is beached. Once ashore, the crew meet the inhabitants, and embark on individual adventures – with Bonaventure getting more out of falling in love than he could ever hope for – before finally descending into Hell.
Roberson combines a sense of period with the strong sense of wonder and fear. Whilst the setting is Napoleonic, the reader is never left with a sense that the period is a backdrop. It oozes onto the page, not just in the warfare and hierarchy, but in the mannerisms and etiquette. At one level he harks back to the ‘Fantasy of Manners’ school – but at another, the action takes hold and really makes the story special.
Untypically for fantasy, his characters encounter the Other and are overwhelmed by it. The sheer alienness of Pacific native culture to Western minds (long the preoccupation of anthropology) is developed so well that, ultimately, it is both familiar and different. Roberson does not try to understand the stories, but he uses them brilliantly to demonstrate the strengths and shortcomings of the main protagonists.
Set the Seas on Fire is a thoughtful but rip-roaring adventure, combining Hornblower and Lovecraft with a subtlety certainly not seen in the ‘New Weird’ or other naval stories. The other writing of Roberson’s that I have read has left me astounded at his control of silences and muted responses amidst terrifying situations, and Set the Seas on Fire is certainly in that class. I cannot recommend this book too highly as an intelligent, readable novel.
Monday, September 24, 2007
New Blog Review
"The Voyage of Night Shining White" is stronger emotionally than Baker’s story, and does not have the logical flaws of Reed’s (although, not being a scientist, I might easily have missed such flaws). Its ending is strong and fitting, and the twin philosophies of Confucianism and Daoism serve the story well. This is the second story in Roberson’s Celestial Empire series that I have read, and I have liked them both a lot. I plan to seek out some of his novels in the series as well.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
The book is well-paced, but I felt that the encounter with the islanders was dwelt upon for a little too long in comparison to Hero and his crew discovering what fate befell the crew of the Spanish Galleon: this could have been expanded upon as it turns out to be an intriguing conclusion to a mystery that is set when Hero encounters the two crewmembers of the Spanish galleon adrift at sea. However, the tale is given authenticity by the small details considered by the author - for example, language barriers, social hierarchies within the natives and conflicts between the ship's crew. It's touches like that which make the book an engaging read and one that must surely fall into the sub-genre of 'so old it is new'.
You do not need to have read Paragaraea before reading this book, but it would be advantageous to do so in order to have an insight into the character of Hieronymus Bonaventure and the encounters he has along the way. This book is likely to appeal to anyone wanting a good old-fashioned yarn, or historical fiction and the dash of fantasy along the way adds an appealing twist.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
The story jumps back and forth between Hieronymus as a young boy, just beginning to learn swordplay, and as an officer aboard the Fortitude. From his early years, we learn about his excitement for adventure and what has shaped him into the man he is to become. Following Hieronymus’ adventures as a man, we’re treated to a swashbuckling good time. With action and suspense a plenty, Set the Seas on Fire is a wonderful adventure on the high seas. I didn’t even miss the absence of pirates.
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Michael Moorcock recommends this author, and Revolution SF describes this[snip]
book as “Horatio Hornblower meets H.P. Lovecraft.” The Lovecraftian elements of
madness, monsters, and horrible death only come out of the rocks near the very
end, and the source is actually Polynesian legend; but either way, the climax is
effective. This novel is an extended and revised version of a print-on-demand
publication by the same title. Now it is seeing the light of day in large paperback
format, and this is good news for all readers who enjoy blood and thunder naval literature in the tradition of Master and Commander.
I loved the sheer literary quality of this book: ah, King’s English! It is a complete stand alone novel, but it turns out, upon reading the Afterward, that Roberson has written a number of books about the Bonaventure clan. Titles include End of the Century; Paragaea: A Planetary Romance; and Here, There, and Everywhere, and the Dulac family crosses the Bonaventure family more than once in these volumes. So if you enjoy this book, be of good cheer! There is more in the same vein to read.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Marcel Buelles has reviewed Set the Seas on Fire for the good folks at Phantastik-Couch, which as near as I can tell means, um, Fantastic Couch. The review is in German, so I'm relying on the agency of Google's translation function to tell me what it's all about.
Um, they liked it, I think?
Roberson succeeds a pleasant blending to that of category and with a nice triangle relationship in the luggage develops it sufficient tension, in order to advance the reading speed properly. Which was saved in the summary from space reasons, the prehistory Bonaventures, which covers its youth, is in which he from a mysteriösen master to an excellent sword fighter is trained. It provides the background history for the narration, on whose basis the Protagonist behaves and develops and which not least a further mysterious level adds, which positively strikes to beech.I know it's childish, but I am endlessly amused by clunky software translation.
Sent Roberson connects Bonaventures adventures in the south Pacific, its hopes as a young man and his experiences also by time jumps as a stood soldier of its majesty. At the end of the book Roberson keeps even still another small, but fine surprise ready, which does not fit the continuous tenor so at all historically/fantastisch, so that one should quite gönnen oneself the book. Robersons reader is Bonaventure naturally a term, because already in its novel „“one could meet Paragaea him. The American Fantasy and Science Fiction author, who contributed among other things also a novel to the X-Men, did not have to reach into this case also at all deeply into the trick box: it extended already a 2001 published manuscript, in order to give to Bonaventure a further chance. Readably!
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
When the HMS Fortitude suffers damage after attacking a Spanish galleon in the South Pacific, the Captain elects to head south into uncharted waters in search of habitable land. They come across paradise in the form of an island inhabited by hospitable natives, but not before locating the survivors of the Spanish galleon who tell a horrific tale of another island further south inhabited by monsters. First Lieutenant Heironymus Bonaventure has always sought a life of adventure, and his dreams and nightmares are fulfilled in the south seas. He falls in love with a native woman, and then faces the demons of the southern island as the Fortitude leaves in search of the Spanish gold hidden there. Bonaventure, wry and humorous, is an engaging character, torn between his love for the islander and his duty to the flag. The novel is an informed discourse on navy life circa 1800, swordsmanship and the relative qualities of Christianity and island deism. For much of its length it's a slow-burning historical novel, with dark undertones, which towards the end suddenly bursts into understated though effective horror.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Taking to the high seas for a Napoleonic naval romp is a bit of a departure for Chris Roberson. best known for his SF works and the Shark Boy and Lava Girl adventure series. And there's definitely some boyhood fantasy fulfilling going on here as Robinson [sic] spins the tale of Lieutenant Hieronymus Bonaventure (angsty, yet manly, master-swordsman, who also appeared in Robinson's [sic] novel Paragaea) and the crew of the HMS Fortitude
After a battle with a Spanish galleon is interrupted by a storm. Bonaventure and Co. are forced to sail into the "mare incognita" (the unknown sea) to find suitable land for repairs. Thankfully, they wash-up on an island where the natives are friendly, lithe of limb and flower-bedecked and not inclined to have them upside down in a big pot before they can say "weevil biscuit?"
When two members of the Spanish galleon's crew turn up claiming to have escaped from an island where their shipmates have gone mad, the novel kicks up the pace, steering away from its Horatio Hornblower beginnings and moving into more Lovecraftian territory.
Although it's a neat way of side-stepping the usual naval-novel fare, the marriage of these two genres isn't completely harmonious; neither nautical enough for naval fans, nor truly horrible enough for horror buffs. We never properly get to know any other characters outside of Bonaventure, so it's difficult to care what happens to them as they set foot on the island known as the "first volcano." That said, Robinson's [sic] prose is very readable and the story has a fair amount of Boy’s Own-style charm.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Chris Roberson gives us another story in his Celestial Empire sequence with "The Sky Is Large and the Earth Is Small." Cao Wen must interrogate a prisoner about Mexica (this is an alternate reality where China rose to world power) and instead learns more about himself and the world. The setting is strong and the character work is good, especially in the form of the prisoner, Ling Xuan. Good stuff.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Part of the author's 'Celestial Empire' sequence, an alternate history which has a globally dominant China. Cao Wen, a junior civil servant, has the difficult task of extricating from a very stubborn elderly political prisoner some details which it is believe will help the State.
The young man learns a lot from the elder, but whilst not that which he seeks for his job, it is a lot more than he had anticipated. Roberson handles the nuances of the relationship well, and paces the story well as it builds up to an ending, whilst not a climactic one, a subtly big one.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Honestly, I’m not that big on period pieces and in particular, stories of the nautical variety, so I wasn’t expecting to enjoy “Set the Seas On Fire” that much even with the promise of mystical happenings. Surprisingly, I had a really good time reading the book and I think a lot of it had to do with the author Chris Roberson. Since I’ve never read anything by Mr. Roberson, I didn’t know what to expect, but the writing turned out to be quite accomplished, and even though the novel deals with a lot of familiar story elements, the skillful prose, scholastic knowledge of the historical material, and a ripe imagination, really elevated the book to another level. Of course, having a main character like Hieronymus Bonaventure really helps too – he’s easy to relate to, somewhat flawed as every person is in real life, and well developed by the author. Thankfully, Hieronymus also shows up in “Paragea: A Planetary Romance”, which I wouldn’t mind reading, and I hope to see further adventures with Hieronymus Bonaventure.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Set The Seas On Fire does not engage the reader in the same way that Paragea did – it is a far more evenly paced work and consequently lacks the unpredictable element of its sequel (not necessarily a criticism, this). That said it admirably provides the very story elements one desires in this kind of novel – not least an exotic tropical island setting that, underneath a veneer of verdant flora and beautiful naked native women, harbours threatening and unfathomable dark spirits that will crush and corrupt the sceptical white man. Bonaventure himself – a paean of empire and empiricism is sorely challenged during his time on the island, his British reserve shattered by experiences both physical and spiritual, but takes a good while for Roberson to throw his fantastical elements into the story – dark and strange things are hinted at obliquely, but we must wait to experience them. This notwithstanding, Set The Seas on Fire adds another very competent and confident story to Roberson's ever-growing, increasingly impressive interconnected cannon – one can expect more from the characters one has met in this novel, and not necessarily in the same kind of setting.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Roberson shows the making of a special kind of person, a leader of men, a lover, an adventurer, a nineteenth-century Odysseus and the first half of his Odyssey. Through flashbacks we periodically visit the childhood and early manhood of Hieronymus, son of a scholar, dreaming of adventure, seeking and receiving the tutelage of an accomplished swordsman, who has lived his own life of adventure. Young Hieronymus contrasts with his older self, Lt. Bonaventure, having experienced some of that adventure in the service of duty for King and Country, yet somehow managing to not live life in the spirit of adventure he craved as a child. His excitement and education at the discovery of an island and its people are tempered as the implications are fully realized. He learns of love, cultural shock, and consequences – he glimpses his future from a shaman and doesn’t have the courage to stop the mistake he knows his captain will make.The review is overall fairly positive, though with a few reservations.
As I’ve said above, Set the Seas on Fire is a highly enjoyable novel, good story, and great view of an interesting character. But, through it all, I’m left with the sense of missing something important. And that is precisely the case because while it stands well on its own, Set the Seas on Fire is a prequel, and it appears that the meat of the story, the second (and more interesting) half of the Odyssey, occurs in Paragaea, which I haven’t had the opportunity to read. So, while I can recommend Set the Seas on Fire as a fun nineteenth-century adventure, I think that it just might need Paragaea to truly complete it.Actually, as much as I try to make each of these books as standalone as possible, the complete story of Hieronymus has yet to be told. Paragaea is more properly the middle of Hero's story, and not the end. Lord willing and the creek don't rise I'll get to tell the rest of his story, one of these days. (Just in case anyone's curious, this as yet unwritten and unsold novel is about what happens when Hero comes back to Earth, and who and what comes back with him...)
And anyone's who is interested in finding out the full story behind Hieronymus's fencing instructor Giles Dulac is recommended to check out End of the Century when it's published by Pyr late next year.
Monday, June 18, 2007
New Reviews - Set the Seas on Fire
"Roberson adds a pulpy twist to Napoleonic-era naval adventure as the crew of a damaged English frigate finds both paradise and hell on a pair of uncharted Pacific islands. First Lt. Hieronymus Bonaventure, last seen in Paragaea (2006), serves gamely aboard the HMS Fortitude, but longs for something more exciting than harrying galleons across the South Pacific for an aging captain dreaming of padding his retirement stash. When the Fortitude is badly damaged and blown into 'mare incognita,' the 'unknown sea,' the crew manages to reach a tropical island where the natives are friendly and the ship can be repaired. An attack by bat-winged creatures foreshadows the danger awaiting on the forbidden island of 'first volcano,' where Bonaventure leads his men when his native lover, Pelani, is kidnapped. Roberson delivers a fairly standard but well-crafted adventure story for most of the book before delving into the supernatural. The novel is a good bet for adventure fans who want more than your average Horatio Hornblower clone."Meanwhile, the UK magazine Sci Fi Now has also reviewed the book.
Chris Roberson is best known for his Here, There And Everywhere, and his Shark Boy And Lava Girl Adventures series, although his short stories have been finalist for World Fantasy and Sidewise awards for a good reason. He possesses a unique talent and his tales boast a refreshing originality.
Set The Seas On Fire occurs during the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800s. The crew are sailing uncharted waters aboard the HMS Fortitude, with the brave and interestingly named Lieutenant Hieronymus Bonaventure. Or hero does a grand job of bravely salvaging the incompetent crew from a variety of dangers, his boredom only abating while he is saving the day and the grateful crew from the relentless attacks. When they hole up on an island uninvited, the natives are a little displeased...
There is plenty of timber-shivering and manly shouts of ‘all hands on deck’ in this sea-faring romp, but despite its fast-paced action, it does start slowly, and Roberson takes his time to deliver the exciting finale. The sailor jargon does grow tiresome, but generally, Set The Seas On Fire is a well written deviation from the genre, with satisfying finish and battles aplenty to keep you gripped. Be patient, and adjust to your sea-legs you will...
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Locus Review - "The Sky is Large and the Earth is Small"
"In a timeline where Imperial China is assuming global control, a move away from the country's insularityty and cultural conservatism is essential, and an aged prisoner provides that impetus via his recollections of Aztec Mexico and of a scholar's deductions regarding the magnitude of the heavens. Paradigms shift, a process Roberson's mastery of exoticism redners as bizarre as it is inevitable."Wow. "Mastery of exoticism"? Cool...
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
"The Sky Is Large and the Earth Is Small" is an intriguing tale from Chris Roberson's alternate world, in which dynastic China, instead of Western Europe, rose to world domination. Cao Wen, a low-level scholar in the Ministry of War, seeks a "guest" held by the emperor's secret police, the Embroidered Guard. It appears that this prisoner, Ling Xuan, traveled across the sea to the Mexica years before and may have information for Cao Wen's report to the Minister of War, a report that could make or break Cao's career. Expecting to quickly extract the necessary information from an old and broken prisoner, Cao instead finds a man who is at once a canny bargainer and a philosopher who has more to offer than Cao expects.And the review blog Yatterings carries a new review of The Voyage of Night Shining White, which approaches the story from an interesting perspective.
In Ling Xuan, Roberson presents a fascinating character—enigmatic and frustrating, but human and empathetic. The setting, too, is rich and invites exploration. I will be seeking out more of Roberson's work.
Despite its slight appearance, it is a book of extraordinary grace and poise.Both of these are Celestial Empire stories. I just finished another CE, Iron Jaw and Hummingbird, and am now starting on yet another, The Dragon's Nine Sons, and chances are as soon as that one's done I'll be starting on Three Unbroken, another... you guessed it... Celestial Empire novel. As my editor at Solaris was quick to point out, by the end of this year I'm likely to be very weary of the Celestial Empire, and ready to write about something else for a little while...
I do wonder whether this is a space opera of manners. In Fantasy of Manners, the action is judged on how well something is said and done, not the action itself which is almost a necessary byproduct. This is certainly the case in this novella in which the motion is generated by the crew members talking to each other and revealing their histories. The captain relates how he became a eunuch and plays out the political background on Earth whilst the other members reveal something of themselves. Each person becomes human and not just a rivet in the skin.
Friday, February 09, 2007
New Review: The Voyage of Night Shining White
Chris Roberson's novella The Voyage of Night Shining White is a curious combination: an alternate-world hard-SF space exploration story in which the first expedition to the Fire Star (Mars) is mounted by a world-dominating Chinese empire. Against a backdrop of implied but undeveloped exoticism we get a charmingly old-fashioned tale of the pressures of command and the dangers of space travel.Letson goes on to summarize the plot for a bit, and then concludes:
Much of the story's charm resides in its adaptation of ancient and familiar SF tropes into alternate-world-Chinese terms. The literal terms, of course, defamiliarize the familiar: the Ministry of Celestial Excursion; Fire Star; "Bridge of Heaven" for the orbital elevator; and, in Minister Bao's pre-launch invocation, the praise for the "guardian spirits of the reactor" ("the lord of fission, the strongman who cleaves the isotope in two, the spirit soldiers who drive the free neutrons in their courses"). Some of the details of Chinese spacefaring are not just translations of pulp conventions, as suggested by Navigator Liu's abacus; or the cargo of the com¬panion vessel Jade Maiden ("stalls full of shitting, grunting beasts - goats, cattle, and pigs"); or the crew's meals of fish-head soup. And 1 have to say that the Dragon Throne's technology and systems design seem to be less robust than one would expect of a civilization able to build a space elevator and establish a moon colony, but examination of those details would give away the nature and outcome of the crisis that provides the final test of Zhang's leadership and the qualities of his crew. And finally it was those characters that charmed me the most: uncertain, wistful Zheng; perceptive, sympathetic Xiang; solid, sensible Hong; even stiff and conventional Bao. There are heroes here, but no villains, and that's more than charming.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
New Paragaea Review
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
New(ish) Paragaea Review
Monday, September 25, 2006
Locus Reviews Paragaea and The Man from the Diogenes Club
Chris Roberson is another new generation writer with a keen grasp of the essentials of grand adventure narrative. His second novel from Pyr, Paragaea, proclaims itself a planetary romance, and this it resoundingly is, in the old-fashioned swashbuckling sense of Burroughs and Bracket and Farmer, landing a mismatched heroic trio on a strange world and requiring that they fight their way through its jungles, prisons, wildernesses, labyrinths, and lost cities. Leena Chirikov is an early-'60s Soviet cosmonaut who passes through an interdimensional gate while orbiting the Earth; from this Stephen Baxterish beginning, she crashlands on Paragaea, a habitable planet with enigmatic connections to our own. She is rescued from a hunting party of jaguar men (Paragaea abounds with hybrid species) by a fellow Terrestrial, Captain Hieronymus Bonaventure, an 18th-century British naval veteran related to the protagonist of Roberson's previous book, Here, There & Everywhere, and by his comrade, the exiled jaguar man prince, Balam. The trio of course need a quest, and Leena's ambition, to find another gate and return to the blessed old USSR, leads them from city to city, sage to sage, temple to temple, a progress interspersed with breathless combat sequences against sky pirates, religious zealots, crocodile men, and many others. Further companions, including a remarkable Romanesque amazon warrior, join and then leave the party again; a wise android provides a stream of well-intended if ultimately frustrating counsel; and the citadel of Atla, where all secrets are revealed, is penetrated at long last. It's a pleasurable journey, its very unlikelihood a teasing game by the author, a faithful replication of the cliff-hanging defiance of probability in classic pulp serials.One minor note. "The Man who got off the Ghost Train" is in fact original to The Man from the Diogenes Club. For those who haven't read it, it serves as a sort of "secret origin" of Richard Jeperson.
Still, although Roberson plays such games skillfully, embedding countless pop-lit and televisual allusions in his text and if anything outdoing the narrative energy of his models, I can't help feeling that more substance, more depth, is required. Roberson consciously emulates Michael Moorcock, but Moorcock at his lightest and most throwaway; he needs - as he already does in his excellent series of alternate history stories about a spacefaring Imperial China - to invest the Bonaventure tales with symbolic weight and moral gravity. Paragaea is enormously readable, but no more than that.
Kim Newman has always traded very profitably on his encyclopedic knowledge of popular culture; most of his stories are amusingly intertextual, so that Baron Von Richtofen shoots Snoopy dead in The Bloody Red Baron, and Kipling's Sergeant Daniel Dravot guards foreign invaders of England in Anno Dracula.
This commonality of interest and method with Chris Roberson is reflected in the publication of Newman's latest collection, The Man from the Diogenes Club, by Chris Roberson's MonkeyBrain Books; possessing some of the profundity that Paragaea lacks, The Man from the Diogenes Club is a paean to the fresh Swinging '70s Britain now irretrievably lost under successive waves of Thatcherism and Blairism, and its experimentation with naive TV scripting formulas is laden with sorrow, regret for the very garish innocence it lampoons. Newman writes postmodernism with feeling.
The eight stories in The Man from the Diogenes Club, several novella-length, first appeared on Sci Fiction or in sundry horror anthologies. All deal with the investigations of a team of supernatural sleuths employed by the same Diogenes Club founded by Mycroft Holmes; the two sensitives, the outlandishly attired Richard Jeperson and the "model-beautiful" Vanessa, are backed up by Fred Regent, a capable cop seconded from the London Metropolitan Police. Obviously echoing such period TV heroes as The Avengers and similar characters from paperback horror novels of the time, the three perform complex exorcisms, dispatching persistent ghosts and ectoplasmic infestations in seaside resorts, brainwashing parlors, futurist settlements, Victorian Orientalist cemeteries, Soho sex shops, a studio filming (very knowing, this) TV soap operas, a Scottish luxury train (though only a much younger Jeperson takes part there), and a remote North Sea island where a madman's power fantasies assume literal flesh. Knowledgeably detailed and textured, tautly plotted, abundantly witty, these tales celebrate an age both hopeful and lurid, castigating old Tory dreams of a return to a less permissive era while satirizing the coming new Tory managerial paradise of Margaret Thatcher, which will dissolve the Diogenes Club and all romantic optimism with it. All the fun, the Swinging London exuberance and excess Newman captures so perfectly, has a dying fall. This is a resonant, affecting book.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
New Paragaea Review
You like sense of wonder? This book's got sense of wonder. By the bucketful. There might not be any Great Toonoolian Marshes on Paragaea, but there might as well be; Paragaea is this generation's A Princess of Mars. Read it with your mind's eye wide open, so you can take it all in.Awesome.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
New Paragaea Review
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Another Blog Review
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Saturday, August 19, 2006
New(ish) Paragaea Review
In other news, all four plot-threads of X-Men: The Return are rapidly approaching their respective climaxes, and in my office the desk, side table, and floor can hardly be seen for the piles of comic books and Essential collections stacked everywhere. In less that four days I'll be catching a flight to Anaheim, and installing myself in the Anaheim Hilton bar for five days or so, with brief forays out to panels, meals, parties, and award ceremonies. Before I leave, I plan to type "the end" on this X-Men caper and email it off to my editor at Pocket, so I can drink with a clear conscience. I've got three "safety" days on the schedule after I get back, in case that proves overly optimistic, but if I can maintain the pace I've hit since Monday, I should be able to make it with time to spare (well, on the order of a couple of hours to spare, but still spare time, for all of that...).
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
New Paragaea Review
Thursday, July 13, 2006
New Paragaea Review
Not only does it hearken back to a more innocent time in SF, Paragaea also embodies everything lovely and wondrous about the genre before it was, while applying a glossy new coat of modernism.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
New Paragaea Review
Sunday, June 18, 2006
New Paragaea Review
Friday, June 16, 2006
New Paragaea Review
This new novel is old again. That is, it's quite explicitly, indeed exuberantly, in the mold of planetary romances such as Edgar Rice Burroughs's Mars books, Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon serials, and Leigh Brackett's work. And, as the author reminds us, the television series Land of the Lost. Chris Roberson also includes buried references to many other SF books, and he grounds his story in at least vaguely (if not very) plausible speculative science. The end result is quite a lot of fun.
Monday, May 22, 2006
New Paragaea Review
"Roberson's book is subtitled "a planetary romance" and seems part of a recent mini-surge of such revitalized retro-fictions, notably by such writers as Al Sarrontonio and R. Garcia y Robertson. Prior to this new generation of writers seeking to mine the musty but potent tropes of the pre-Campbell era, old hands like Michael Moorcock and Philip Jose Farmer were the prime upholders and perpetrators of such romps. Roberson has certainly learned a lot from his literary ancestors, and he manages to hit all the high notes perfectly."Just a couple of weeks ago, I pointed out Paul's review of Joe Lansdale's Flaming London, and mentioned that it was interesting that he'd name-checked the four authors who've had the biggest influence on my development as a writer: Philip Jose Farmer, Michael Moorcock, Alan Moore, and Kim Newman (though I later that week realized that Grant Morrison should really be added to that list, citing four out of five is still no mean feat). That Paul has mentioned two of that list in connection with a book of mine, to say nothing of Jack Williamson, Jack Vance, and Leigh Brackett, is pretty damned flattering. Yikes!
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
New Paragaea Review
"Paragaea is an old tale told to a modern audience. It's a classic John Carter of Mars type tale set on a strange alien planet, with strange new creatures both hostile and friendly. It's got heroes and monsters, swords and guns, high technology and low. At the core is a small plucky cosmonaut desperate to fulfill her mission and report back to her superiors after her ship is plucked out of orbit and deposited on the not-quite Earth named Paragaea."
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
New Paragaea Review
If you're going to write a book with a hero not only actually nicknamed "Hero", but whose full name is Heironymous Bonaventure, and do so with a straight face, then by golly, that book had better be a completely guileless, wide-eyed love letter to pulp adventure fiction of yore, chock full of monsters, lost cities, swordfights, high seas action, hairs-breadth escapes from certain doom, really big scorpions, and chicks who kick ass.Actually, Swords of Paragaea isn't a half bad title...
By a happy coincidence, this is precisely the sort of book Chris Roberson has delivered in Paragaea. Had this novel been released 30 years ago, it would've been published by DAW, had a Frank Kelly Freas or George Barr cover, and spawned 38 sequels with titles like Swords of Paragaea. Had it come out 30 years before that, it would've been serialized in one of the old magazines, and you'd have had to hide it from your mom and read it under the covers at night with a flashlight.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
New Paragaea Review