Thursday, June 28, 2007

"Bubbly" video

Debuting today, here is the video for Colbie Caillat's "Bubbly":

I'll be seeing her in concert towards the end of July and am sooper excited. She's very chill and soulful and earnest. Don't compare her to Jewel. I will punch you in the neck if you do. Anyways, it's a catchy song and I'm assuming she's only going to get bigger and bigger as time goes on. Listen now and be in the know!

I'm in the business of misery

Lately, I've been listening to Paramore's new album, Riot!, and I'm disappointed. This is the band's follow-up to their wonderfully underappreciated debut All We Know is Falling and, as described by someone else, they now just sound like a female version of Fall Out Boy. Ugh. That's no good. The single "Misery Business" aside, the album's tracks never peak harder than a well-formed pop rock song. Gone are the screams, the dark distortion, and building momentum of such deep hitters like "My Heart" and "Conspiracy." Instead we get songs like clap-tastic "Fences" and overly trite "For a Pessimist, I'm Pretty Optimistic." Hayley Williams' voice is both raw and captivating, and I only wished it was put to better use on the album. Nothing seems to challenge her. Let's hope their next recording strays away from radio-friendly singles to what they claim to be about: energy, emotions, and fun.

I do, however, enjoy the video for "Misery Business" very much:

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I'm a bird in your hand

No writing tonight. My brain is mush, and I'm extra sleepy. In truth, I'm not exactly sure what I'm doing with "After Effects." It's really just a distraction from another project I'm not quite ready to talk about yet.

There's this cool storm brewing outside. I'm basically just sitting here listening to it growl and crack in the distance. I love it. Rain, soon. I feel like an old geezer with a bad hip acting up, but it's coming. I can feel it. I only wish the storm actually made things cooler here. It's been hot and humid and oh-so-sticky all day long that I just want to pass out and leave it all behind.

I'm trying to save up for an iPod. My sister got me the iPod Shuffle when I graduated college and it's been my BFF ever since. Unfortunately, I think it's time to upgrade. I want more space, and I want more songs. The video iPod (80GB) looks really cool though it's the most pricey of the bunch. I wouldn't be upset with a (30GB), but if I'm gonna pick that one I might as well go for the gold. Anyone got some suggestions? Are the Nanos no longer cool? Also, I'm sticking with Apple as I do like using iTunes so don't tell me about some generic brand like uMusic or whatever. I won't hear of it. I won't!

Ragamuffin - Review

Ragamuffin by Tobias S. Buckell

A quick summary stolen from back cover: In Ragamuffin, Tobias S. Buckell returns to the fascinating universe he introduced in his spectacular first novel, Crystal Rain...and changes it forever.

How I'd sum it up to another reader: Well, it's a mixed bag of things. There's spaceships and aliens, but later on there's gods and a teeny uprising. Explosions, too. And a superb battle in space that jumps from ship to ship to ship. Technology runs wild in the galaxy. Aliens are out to control humans and use them as pets or puppets. An aggressive woman named Nashara hired to do a dirty job is looking for a way out of it all, and she won't stop at anything. Certainly not killing alien slime.

Back on the Caribbean-flavored planet Nanagada, the battle between the humans, the Azteca, and the Teotl is still going on. It is only when the threat of the Satraps hangs overheads that the bad guys and good guys must team up despite their differences. Still, nothing ever works out as easy as planned.

The cover sez and shows: A trio of gun-toting peeps dropping down a long axis shaft. A rope swings this way and that, but it doesn't matter. No one is reaching for it. This is zero-g, folks. They're dropping in style, an ocean of blue light all around. Eye-grabbing, for sure, and just about a 180-spin from the lush, metal-free Crystal Rain cover.

Number of dragons, wizards, and reluctant farmer boys: Unfortunately, none at all. Boo.

Hardest name to pronounce in my head: Xippilli.

Best part: Etsudo and his ship of mind-wiped criminals. Every time a scene came up with him I couldn't help but read a bit slower. Where Pepper stole most of the scenes in Crystal Rain, I found Etsudo to be the star here. And I'm pretty sure he's not supposed to be. He's a character you hate, you learn to hate, you see clearly why you shouldn't like him, and yet, still, I felt something for him. Maybe it's just me and that I find underdogs to be more interesting than action heroes.

I also enjoyed Buckell's invention of lamina, a sort of informational plane that exists on the fringes of people's vision. It reminded me a bit of the coding in The Matrix, but in Buckell's world people thrive on lamina, they need it to get by. And some, such as Nashara, can manipulate it to their advantage.

Worst part: For those looking to dive right back into the same world experienced in Crytal Rain, it doesn't happen right away. The book opens into unfamiliar territory, and maybe for some it might be a bit daunting. The numerous alien races confused me at times, and I looked to the characters to help clear things up but many of them had no clue what was what either. A couple scenes involving a young sister/brother combo were kind of uninteresting in the scheme of things.

But now I see that these books aren't meant to be direct sequels, but something more akin to Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. A bunch of books in the same world with a few connecting threads. But does that make Pepper a raunchy Sam Vimes? Maybe.

I had problems reading the spaceship name Toucan Too. It kept coming out wrong in my head. All I could picture was that stupid cereal-lovin' parrot. Ugh.

Random thoughts and theories: This, to me, is actually a complicated book. The different aliens and their order of rank amongst one another is a bit confusing, but I still found them all to be genuinely creepy. Especially the Hongguo. Buckell never overexplains anything though and keeps the pace of the book going forward at a strong stride. In the beginning, I was a little unclear of how the system of habitats worked but that soon faded and before I knew it we were shooting up some Satraps. But it is clear that the world (worlds?) within are deeply structured with their own laws and civilized manners, and that Buckell knows what he's doing with them all. I'm going to expect that the third book, Sly Mongoose, is going to offer even more innovative locales.

If said book were a ride at a Disney theme park: Half of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and half of Space Mountain.

If in school its grade would be: A

Come on, write us a haiku:
Aliens galore
Nothing can stop a lady
With a machine-gun

Overall, y'all: Well, Ragamuffin is fun, and with Buckell being a master of the short chapters it's a fairly fast read. I definitely suggest those that enjoy action-stuffed science fiction with a whole lot of cool to it to pick up this book right now. Postmodern space opera has never been so good. It's got a rich balance of characters, apt dialogue, and enough life-or-death moments to keep readers flipping pages.

Books I might or might not compare to: The Crooked Letter by Sean Williams, Old Man's War by John Scalzi, Horizons by Mary Rosenblum, Crossover by Joel Shepherd

Some linkage: Tobias Buckell's web site and order a copy of Ragamuffin from Amazon.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Progress notes for June 26, 2007

"After Effects"

New Words: 697
Total Words: 1,334
Pages: 3 and a half
Deadline: None
Reason for stopping: End of scene. I already know that so far, despite a lot of what's happening, the story is too light. It has enough sci-fi to it to please me, but it's going to get a lot darker as I get further into it.
Stimulants: Vanilla yogurt...that tasted nothing like vanilla
Songs played loudly: "American Dream" by Switchfoot
Exercise: Does grocery shopping count?
Mail: Nomail
Darling du Jour: Outside my room the hospital staff scuttled around, slamming things down on med-desks and stretchers.
Every noise was a gunshot to me, an arm or face exploding off a body. I shut my eyes, but it didn't help. I wondered what would...
Other writing-related work: Nuffin'
The Internet is full of Things: Weezer is coming back for a sixth album! I'm very excited about this. Woo-hoo I look just like Buddy Holly...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Progress notes for June 25, 2007

Started a new short story today to distract myself from other work...

"After Effects"

New Words: 637
Total Words: 637
Pages: 1 and a half
Deadline: None
Reason for stopping: Need to figure out the benefits of welding metal to someone's skin
Stimulants: Two cups of coffee
Songs played loudly: "Feel Fine" by Augustana
Exercise: Walk outside
Mail: Nomail
Darling du Jour: A man in a white suit entered with a clipboard at his side and a digital camera protruding from his breast pocket. He had one of those squiggly mustaches, the sort with tentacle arms reaching up for a scratch. Dad grew one once, and the memory made me forget everything that had happened yesterday for a blip.
Other writing-related work: Some scribbling on a forthcoming review
The Internet is full of Things: An interesting survey on why people buy books. Check it out and participate if you can!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Another movie roundup

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Well, after seeing this one I now firmly believe that this shouldn't have been a series at all. The first movie, that Black Pearl one, that one was good and solid and had just enough humor and fun to it. Yes, Captain Jack Sparrow is a great character to watch, but that doesn't mean two more movies had to follow. Anyways, I digress. At World's End is a slow, slow, slow film that makes up things as it goes along. Pirate lords? Calypso can do this but can't do that? There's lots of explosions and "a-ha!" moments, but really it's kind of pointless. And I'm pretty sure that monkey should be d-e-a-d.

Kung Fu Hustle. Directed by Stephen Chow, this is a stylish and amusing film. It's basically a parody of the martial arts genre, brimming with over-the-top characters and a dancing gang called the Axes. The plot is humorous and engaging, and the masters in the film don't look like they should be a master of anything, but that's what makes it great. Lots of references to other films and a killer soundtrack make this a must-see for anyone looking for an enjoyable time.

Hostel: Part II. Gore porn. Essentially the same movie done over with hapless girls instead of horny guys. Disturbing and unrelentless. People with weak stomachs are warned to stay away. But that crazy twist ending? Uh, that wasn't a twist ending. It was just an ending. Stupid PR people. I can't really recommend it because there are a dozen of better horror films out there to see.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Outback Stars - Review

The Outback Stars by Sandra McDonald

A quick summary stolen from back cover: Um, none to steal. Just lots of blurbage.

How I’d sum it up to another reader: Well, you see…there’s this woman named Jodenny who was the only survivor of a horrible spaceship crash. Despite the tragedy, she’s itching to get back into space and lands a job in the Underway Stores department on the Aral Sea. Not the most ideal, but that’s the military for yah. There, she meets a young man with a dark past. Ooooh, cue sinuous music. No really, cue it. Anyways, soon a romance rises between the two even though fraternizing with different ranks is a no-no and a sure-fire way to ruin one’s career. As their unrequited love deepens, the two of them stumble upon an ancient piece of alien technology and an undermining plot aboard their own ship. Betrayal, sex, inventory reports galore…the book certainly isn’t your typical battlefield amongst the stars, but it sure is a whole lot of fun.

The cover sez and shows: A woman armed to the teeth in +15 Gold/-5 Mobility space armor floating in a portal of rainbow swirls. Below, tickling at her toes, are alien talons. And squiggling tentacles. I think…they could be roads. An expression of muted concentration shows who is and who isn’t ticklish these days.

Number of dragons, wizards, and reluctant farmer boys: Zero dragons, zero wizards, but a farm does show up later on planetside. There is, however, a bonus: one gecko.

Hardest name to pronounce in my head: Ishikawa.

Best part: The heroes of The Outback Stars aren’t high-powered pilots or trained alien-fighting marines. They deal with paperwork, relationships, and keeping a tidy uniform. Many of them like playing games on their gibs, both off- and on-duty, and the politics that intertwine with everyday relationships made for absorbing drama. I also enjoyed the book’s pace, which never hit a dull stride.

Worst part: I had some problems with the ending, and was hoping for some more closure on a couple of subplots. Obviously, not everything is over as a sequel is soon to follow (and I hope we learn just what happened to a certain someone that betrayed another certain someone in a certain time of need). Also, at times the romance between hard-headed Myell and no-crap Jodenny felt a little forced.

Random thoughts and theories: The alien technology? It’s neat stuff and I wished there was more of it in the book. In truth, the book isn’t all about that. It’s about people and the choices they make despite what is happening around them. Some science tricks factor into the plot, but for the most part, it’s left untouched.

If said book were a ride at a Disney theme park: It would most certainly be Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, or as it’s called in my family—the Runaway Railroad. Like the ride, The Outback Stars bursts out of its holding zone. It does some quick drops and turns before slowing down, clanking this way and that, building, building, and climbing higher and higher until it reaches its climax and takes the reader for one last fast-paced whirl around the track.

If in school its grade would be: A-

Come on, write us a haiku:
On Australian ships
Love floats in zero-g, yes
The gecko is cool

Overall, y’all: It’s an entertaining read that never forgets to be serious at the right times. Though the on/off love affair between Jodenny and Myell isn’t exactly my cup of tea, but others might be all about the romance. By the third half of the book I was speeding through it. There are a lot of little plots surrounding the whopper, and with a huge assortment of crew members there’s always something going on that’s worth speculating. Most compelling of The Outback Stars is the system of seniority and command on the spaceships—much like as in Battlestar Galactica—and with McDonald’s history one can see the how and why of its sincerity. Definitely pick this one up.

Books I might or might not compare to: Redliners by David Drake, With the Lightnings by David Drake, Diplomatic Immunity by Lois McMaster Bujold, and Field of Dishonor by David Weber

Some linkage: Check out Sandra McDonald's web page and The Outback Stars web page (where you can find some comics done by moi).

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Yet another (sort of) review

Lois Tilton of IROSF reviewed Apex Digest, #9 (must be logged in to see) and said this of my piece of flash "Sonorous":

Someone digs up an old flute, but it was never meant for human ears. A vignette that seems to have vaguely mythical overtones. Or maybe not.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Doo doo dah

Allow me to direct you to Paul Jessup's blog where he is working on a novel and posting it as it happens. There's progress notes and rough drafts and musing. It's fantasy, with an interesting set of characters and magic. I'm enjoying it so far, and think it's a very neat way to go about showing off his work. Anyways, check it out. The novel's called Dust.

One day, I might do something like this. One day though. Not today or tomorrow. Sometime down the line.

Oh, and I got this in the mail today:


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

New acquisitions

Got some new books recently. Most of them are for my ever-growing collection of Le Guin books, which pleases me to no end.

Planet of Exile by Ursula K. Le Guin (1966)
The Compass Rose by Ursula K. Le Guin (1982)
Orsinian Tales by Ursula K. Le Guin (1975)
The Wind's Twelve Quarters by Ursula K. Le Guin (1975)
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams (1987)
Sword and Sorceress XIII edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley (1996)
Sword and Sorceress XVIII edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley (2001)

Le Guin is one of my favorite short story writers, and to have snatched up copies of The Compass Rose, Orsinian Tales, and The Wind's Twelve Quarters for less than $3.00 each is a sign of a damned good haul. For Adams' work, I've only read the first book in the Hitchhiker's Guide series and the second book in his Dirk Gently novels. I did, however, enjoy his hapless detective a bit more than the reluctant hero traipsing through space. And, deep down, I do enjoy a good sword-and-sorcery tale now and again.

At the moment, the only book I know I eventually need to buy is George R.R. Martin's A Feast for Crows. But that one can wait.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Just For Now vid

Imogen Heap is one of my favorite musicians, and one day I will do a very long post on why I love her and think she's absolutely brilliant. For now, I'll share with you my favorite live performance of her song "Just For Now." I watch it at least once a day, and refuse to go to bed without hearing it. Ignore Zach Braff in the audience. Listen, watch, and enjoy.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Sporty sale!

Nine-day sale of a dark fantasy horse racing piece, "The Sport of Kings," to Sporty Spec: Games of the Fantastic. The planned paperback anthology will be published in late 2007. You can see others that are going to be included here.

And here's an excerpt:

Wesley took a chance, betting on Autumn Spirit, and all his friends hooted and howled. The warstallions and hyperpulse c-steeds zipped forward at the sound of the gunshot, leaving the slow-trotting horse and rider half a mile back in a dusty haze.

"Come on!" Wesley stood from his seat and shook a fist at the track.

"You could've just given me the hundred chips, you know," one of his friends said, slapping him on the shoulder. "Or, you know, bet on something built for speed."

He shook his friend's hand away. "I don't care about enhancements and cyber-widgets--"

"Or money, for that matter!"


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Top 5 Videogame Intros

Over at Games Radar there's a list of what that team deems to be the Top 7 Rockin' Intros. Meh, I only enjoyed a couple. responded with what they thought were three better videogame intros. I liked their list better, mostly because I have played all three games and remember watching those things a bunch of time. But for you, my adoring fans, I give you my Top 5 Videogame Intros...

5. Resident Evil

I knew it was bad when I watched it all those years ago, but that didn't matter. This game freaked me out and I refused to play it alone. Now it's so cheesy and far from being frightening. It's like a botched episode of Ghost Hunters on the Sci-Fi Channel. And did I just hear an elephant in the background? But I have wonderful memories from it and that's why it's on the list.

4. Jumping Flash! 2

Just watch it and absorb the awesomeness...

3. Tekken 3

This was one of my favorite fighting games. I pretty much mastered just about every character, and come on, that techno music is horribly catchy. I still never understood why all these people needed to fight, and despite the intro's attempt to clear that up, it's just more fun to not think and watch all the fun stunts.

2. Suikoden

While GamesRadar picked Suikoden III and went with Suikoden II, I prefer the original. Just hearing the game's music brings me back in time...truly, a classic.

1. Final Fantasy 7

This game took over my life. And the intro FMV flick literally brings you right into the action. I still have my copy somewhere around here, and one day I'll replay it. That is, of course, when I have another 70+ hours to spare. Sure, the graphics don't look as great as they, ten years ago...but still, it's all about atmosphere and setting the scene. My favorite.

And there you have it. Yes, I know they're all Playstation games...that's my BFF. Well, got me through high school at least.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Got in the mail yesterday from the Writers of the Future contest: "Your entry has received an Honorable Mention for the 2nd quarter 2007 Contest (January 1 to March 31, 2007). Achieving the level of Honorable Mention means that your story was in the top 10 - 15% of all entries received for the quarter and deserves special recognition as such."

Not a winner, but I've been told this is still very good. Oh well, already sent them a new story.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Prime Codex - Review

Personally, I like reprint anthologies. I don't subscribe to too many print zines (currently just Fantasy, Apex Digest, and Analog), which makes it hard to read everything that's out there. Luckily, Paper Golem's debut book Prime Codex brings together a plethora of stories by "neo-pros" that have appeared in both small press and the Big Three (er, Four, if you count Realms of Fantasy in there).

An introduction by Luc Reid explains what exactly Codex is and is about, and offers some insight into writing groups. Considering that writing is 9.9 times out of 10 a solitary act, it's interesting to read about why such critique groups exist and what they're specifically good at doing.

James Maxey's "To the East, a Bright Star," which first appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction, opens Prime Codex with an unequivocal bang. More specifically, the end of the world via a string of scientifically predicted and unstoppable comets. For Tony, this is something he's been preparing for since it became public knowledge, and with only so much time remaining, he means to go out on his terms. That is until, while climbing the stairs of the old and abandoned Dixie Hotel, he finds a girl crying. Their interaction, while sparse, is fascinatingly captivating, so much so that just as Tony forgets about some of the things he'd been wanting to do during his last minutes alive, I too forgot where I truly was, and afterwards I glanced up at the sky, a little more curious about what I might've done in such a situation. A marvelous opening, Maxey's exploration of the choices of two people knowing just how finite life really is will certainly resonate with the reader for quite some time.

Time and time again, I find myself drawn to robot stories. Generally, I'm always pleased by what I've read, and "Ticktock Girl" by Cat Rambo is both creepy and enjoyable. It's told from a collection of memories from the titular protagonist, Athena, and through these we learn the how and why of her existence. Soon, very soon, we see what she can do as the hands of a self-proclaimed do-gooder. Sometimes it's hard to sympathize with robots, which is what secondary characters are for. Here, Athena's creatrix, Lady Sybil, is mainly an oppressive background voice, which makes it hard to relate to anyone in the story at all. Still, for its brevity and pace, the story works well and is even worth a second read right after to pick up on those little things missed the first time 'round.

Next up is a pristine piece of alternative history, originally found in an issue of Talebones. "The Man with Great Despair Behind his Eyes" by Ken Scholes follows Meriwether Lewis on a trek to explore the territories of the Louisiana Purchase after a piece of monetary paper from the future is placed in his hand. He soon discovers the Man-from-the-River who will take Lewis on a surreal and drug-laden trip (no pun intended) through the future. It's a touching tale, offering insight into Lewis and even the Man-from-the-River, who the reader learns is more than he says he is. Scholes has crafted a memorable twist here, one that neither offers up easy answers nor allows the characters to change their outcomes.

I enjoyed "Wizards' Encore" by Geoffrey Girard for the same reason that I liked The Prestige by Christopher Priest—the relentless and sometimes over-the-top rivalry that seems to exist between magicians. The Frenchman Jean Robert-Houdin has just conquered Kabir's father's kingdom, but Kabir means to show him a thing or two about true magic. There's some lovely imagery here, especially when the showmanship of Robert-Houdin takes full form. Plus, you know, bugs are pretty creepy in general but Girard takes them to a whole new level. Very engaging, and definitely one worth checking out.

"The Disenchantment of Kivron Ox-master" by Elaine Isaak is a fun story. Sometimes it feels very lighthearted, and towards the end more heavyhearted. Kivron is an Enchanter of sorts; he can makes animals more human, so much that his ox sings him songs and his camel complains to no end. He's on his way to the Conjerum to maybe find his place in the world. Unfortunately, a much more difficult task awaits him there, one that will never allow his name to die. There's a lot to like about Isaak's story, mostly having to do with the skeletal dragon. If anything, the story could've benefited from being longer, maybe to add more credibility to the rather subdued plot surprise there at the end. Still, the worldbuilding is intriguing, and Kivron and company make for enjoyable adventuring.

I originally read "Sister of the Hedge" by Jim C. Hines in Realms of Fantasy. Talia seeks safety at the Church of the Iron Cross, a haven surrounded by the Accursed Hedge. In the hedge, strewn up and pierced by a sea of thorns and vines, are the princes. It falls onto Talia's shoulders to decide if the Accursed Hedge is really just that, a sour gift from the Devil, a work of true and pernicious evil. I was pleasantly surprised by the story on its second read, and recommend it to those that like their fantasy a wee bit darker than their coffee. Wait, that doesn't really make any sense. Scratch that—just read it, and I'd like to assume that this is a glimpse of what's to come from Hines in his forthcoming novel The Stepsister Scheme from DAW Books, but I'm probably wrong. Personally, I'd like to see more of his sullen work than that of the light-natured.

A short piece that is positively sure to get you to mutter "a-ha!" at its cruelly twisted reveal, "Rampion" by Mary Robinette Kowal is the sort of story that is most enjoyable on its first read. Read it without distractions, and enjoy.

"Salt of Judas" by Eric James Stone tells the story of a painter, his obsession with an unobtainable woman, and that ol' finger-wagging warning of being careful of what one wishes for. A new apothecary has taken up residence and offers landscape-connoisseur Osbert the chance to bring his art to life. On the side, Osbert has been churning out portraits of "her," and is more than eager to hear her speak to him. Though it's a bit slow in the beginning—and a tad irking when Osbert and the apothecary carry out a rather exposition-heavy bit of dialogue early on—Stone makes it all worth it. The ending didn't actually happen like I'd suspected it might, and it's clear he writes very well. The prose itself was like a painting, swirling with color and texture, even some soul-paint as it came to life as Obsert began to realize his errors.

If there's a story in Prime Codex that just did nothing for me, unfortunately, this is it. "Button by Button" by E. Catherine Tobler is tale of companionship. Alice spies a mysterious man in her garden, and quickly learns that he is different for a most certain reason. Still, she finds herself drawn to him and his obscure ways. This piece felt very slow, and while the reveal of Edward O'Brien's true identity definitely grabbed my attention, everything still felt underdeveloped. Or maybe I just didn't really care about the characters, making their actions and emotions flat in my eyes. Others might see it in a different light though.

Jeremy Aldrich is taking on the case of proving suspected killer Sable innocent in "Black Boxes" by Matthew S. Rotundo. Unfortunately for him, the evidence against his client is far from dismissible. Memory-storing boxes in people's heads allow for picture-perfect playbacks of events, yet Sable mutilated the bodies of his victims, stealing away their black boxes, leading many to believe the acts were both cruel and pre-meditated. Aldrich can't point his finger on it, but something about the way his client's muttering tells him this case isn't so simply put. Having a plot akin to that of Primal Fear, "Black Boxes" plays out a bit too predictable for my tastes. I did, however, like a lot of the futurizing (Paolo Bacigalupi's word, not mine) though I can't confidently say I understood the ending; maybe it moved too fast to reach its resolution, or maybe I don't necessarily understand how a court system works. Yeah, it's probably the latter.

"Tides" by Tobias S. Buckell takes us to a tall-village where Siana's sister Miasia, long thought to be dead, has returned from the Coastal War. At first, Siana is skeptical, seeing just how much older Miasia is than her (and her mother!), but when she loses the bedroom that was promised to her she does what any little girl angry at the world might. She leaves, dangerous as it might be with the tides of the Roranraka sea forever changing. Miasia goes after her, forcing Siana into a situation where she sees the true meaning of being unselfish. The worldbuilding is phenomenal here, and despite the terrors of battle looming in the background it never becomes a preachy war story. "Tides" is a moving coming-of-age tale full of magic and emotion, and certainly a standout in Prime Codex.

The Old Woman in a Shoe is trying to be evicted by many sinuous governmental types in "Urban Renewal" by Tom Pendergrass. Told through my least favorite of narrative devices—a series of letters—we learn of the plans put into action and how much they fall apart when up against the resilient geriatric. I actually enjoyed this short piece much more than I'd expected to, and each letter's style is different enough that they can stand as characters themselves. It's fun, but not overly deep.

In "As the Stars of the Sky" by Mike Shultz, Dave must learn to communicate effectively with a living ship in order to survive. It's a game of questions and answers, and though at first it might seem as Dave's figured out a way to have the ship, called Panel, bring him water and food, that is not it at all. In fact, the ship most certainly has other ideas in store. Told in first person, it's easy to understand Dave's frustration with Panel. It reminded me briefly of "Painwise" by James Tiptree, Jr. The story hints at many things, such as an alien species called the Trill, but mostly stays focused on the stressful relationship of Dave and Panel. It's well-written, clever, and engrossing.

"Rainmakers" by Ruth Nestvold takes place on the planet Chepanek, where colonization hasn't been going perfectly. An axial tilt forces the planet's inhabitants to constantly migrate from one hemisphere to the other. This is done based on the decision of "rainmakers," but when a technologically-advanced colonization force begins using its tools to allow for permanent settlement, an ultimatum is given. Rekaya, an agent for the Foreign Worlds Service, is sent in to negotiate. I really enjoyed this story; it's smart, beautifully written, and brimming with difficult yet grabbing subjects. First, there's colonization and how when it's forced upon a people it can be far more bad than good. Second is Rekaya and her sexuality, a clear no-no to the people of Chepanek, which already puts her at a disadvantage. And third, the difficulty in understanding a foreign culture firsthand. It ends somewhat abruptly, but with just enough resolved. The story originally ran in Asimov's Science Fiction.

There's a talking otter in "Radical Acceptance" by David W. Goldman, which is more than enough reason for me to give it two thumbs up. Well, not an otter per say, but a six-legged otter-like species from outer space. They've come to Earth to study humans, but as Jack Karolev is invited to a private meeting with one of them in a bubbling hot tub he stumbles upon the truth of their arrival. The otter is a silly thing, and while it tries to be deep and philosophical I couldn't help but be put off a bit by some of its subject matters. Sci-fi television shows, DVDs, classic novels. It all seemed a bit too fannish, mostly things that maybe Goldman liked and wanted to talk about without seeming like a big floating head of opinions. Still, the lengthy discussion between Jack and the otter has its moments, and while the otter's fascination with angels mystified me I couldn't help not reading from start to finish. If anything, it ends Prime Codex on a whimsical note.

This anthology contains a strong selection of stories by names that are positively to remain staples in the field for years to come. Prime Codex has a bit of everything as well: from crisp offerings of science fiction to haunting tales of pure, magical fantasy, everything within is worthwhile. An excellent debut from Paper Golem, with smart choices from Lawrence M. Schoen and Michael Livingston. Come on, order your copy.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Another review

There's a new review of Apex Digest, #9 over at Tangent Online by Scott Sandridge, and he says this of my story "Sonorous":
“Sonorous” by Paul Abbamondi is about attracting the beast with music, but not in the way you’d want to. I often grit my teeth when reading a story in second person present, but it does seem to be an effective device with flash fiction pieces like Abbamondi’s tale. A short and sweet read. Well, sweet in a sick and twisted kind of way.
Thanks, Scott! I'll take "sick and twisted" any day.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Please forgive me

Please forgive me, blessed blog, but it's been nearly two months since my last confession to-do-list. I guess, for a while there, I was keeping it all in my head. I don't know how I did it, I really don't. I mean, seventy-five percent of the reason of having a blog is to list shtuff that needs to get done (the remaining twenty-five percent is spent on cat macros and misdirected hate). And with that said...

  • Review Gradisil by Adam Roberts (I finished reading it last week)
  • Review Prime Codex edited by Lawrence M. Schoen and Michael Livingston (only a few stories left to read)
  • Review Ragamuffin by Tobias S. Buckell (very much looking forward to starting this one)

Hmm, thought I had more to do than that. Well, of course write more stories and draw more comics, but I no longer add those to the lists since they've become so routine.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Quick movie roundup

Casino Royale. I really liked this. Daniel Craig makes for a strong if rash-minded Bond, and here we get to see him just at the beginning of his career. It's nice to see Bond make mistakes, and the opening action scene of him running through and up a construction site is really something that needs to be seen. Took me some time to figure out the actual plot of the thing, but there was always something happening to keep my attention. Definitely worth checking out.

The Host. Crazy, unexplainable fun. Bad science, awesome monster, and some neat filming tricks make this Japanese horror flick five steps above a semi-bad SciFi Channel bomb. Did you follow that? No? Well, if you like straightforward monster movies, this is your sirloin steak.

Clerks 2. Had some funny parts, brought back funny characters that just weren't as funny as they used to be, and was sort of funny but definitely forgettable. Where the original was winsome and poignant despite its crude humor, it felt like Randal and company here were just trying to be as disgustingly offensive as possible. Didn't complete work for me, and I was a bit letdown overall. Oh well, can't ever take Mallrats away from me.

The Zodiac. So, about forty-five minutes into the film I began wondering where the hell Jake Gyllenhaal was. Turned out I'm an idiot-and-a-half and was watching THE Zodiac, a less-than-impressive film about the unknown serial killer that was released in 2005. Zodiac (without the effing THE) came out in 2007, and was the one I wanted to see but the world is just one cruel, spinning sphere of irony. I mean, it was a decent film and some of the shooting scenes played out interestingly, but overall I wanted the newer, shinier version.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

To blame!

I blame the lack of substantial updates on the fact that I've gotten back into the habit of heavily playing Final Fantasy XII. I'm at the point where my next destination is the big and final battle, which means I'm trying to complete as much of the sidequests as I can before I head into the unknown. Hmm...I have about 20 or so hunts left to do, seven Espers still to find, fight, and conquer, and a small number of random quests for those extra hard-to-find weapons. I really do love this game.

Anyways, actual content forthcoming.