The Best of Michael Swanwick

18 01 2009

The Best of Michael Swanwick

ISBN 978-1596061781 (Suberranean Press)
Hardback, 2008

In the last few months of AUS$/US$ (almost) parity in 2008, I discovered Subterranean Press. They are specialty publishers, putting out limited editions in the horror, suspense, dark mystery, fantasy, science fiction, etc genres. Prices start at US$35-40 for limited edition hard covers that are mostly over subscribed on release.

I have obtained a few short story collections;
– The Best of Michael Swanwick
– Woods & Waters Wild (Charles de Lint)
Worlds of Weber
Summer Morning, Summer Night (Ray Bradbury)
– The Best of Lucius Shepard

Michael Swanwick and Lucius Shepard are 2 authors that I’d not heard of before, and they have been around for ages. I can’t seem to find their works in local book stores.

The Review:
Bypassing the last quarter century of his career, I have been introduced to Michael Swanwick’s writing through this short story collection. It is a chronological journey through 21 stories written between 1980 and 2007, including 5 Hugo Award winners.

The genres range from pure science fiction to pure fantasy – Janis Joplin worshiped as a god, teenagers climb down the edge of the world, zombies, journey across the surface of a planet sized grasshopper, dinosaurs, lunar cities, a train bound for hell, wars across time, etc.

My favourite story was “Triceratops Summer” (dinosaurs invade Vermont) – the writing, in this story, reminded me of Ray Bradbury’s Green Town stories.

All the stories were good – a recommended read

Last Words:
“When I was young, I ran off with the elves to become a writer. And I’ve never looked back.” – MS (home page) (blog)

IE8 Blocker

10 01 2009

Microsoft will be distributing Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) via automatic updates, like they did with IE7.  They say it helps make browsing the web faster, easier, safer and more reliable.

If you want to delay the introduction of the new browser you can install their “IE8 Blocker Toolkit”. For more information, goto ie8-blocker-toolkit-available-today 

Note: If you are opted into Automatic updates, IE8 will not get automatically installed, as the installer requires user interaction. The Welcome screen will appear and the installation won’t proceed until the user agrees to install IE8.

IE8 is still in Beta, but the final version may be coming in a few months time.

The Henson Case

6 01 2009

David Marr - The Henson CaseBy David Marr
ISBN 978-1921520037  (Text)
Paperback, 2008

On Thursday 22 May 2008, Bill Henson, was preparing his new Sydney exhibition. It featured photographs of naked adolescent models. That afternoon, triggered by a newspaper column and outrage of talkback radio, a controversy exploded in response to these images.

The exhibition opening was cancelled. Police raided the gallery, seized photographs and indicated that charges were imminent. On national television the Prime Minister described censored versions of the works as ‘revolting’. Public galleries began to remove Henson photographs from their walls.

Were these pictures art or pornography? While the artist remained silent, a national debate raged about paedophilia, censorship and the internet, about the police, the media and the morality of art. David Marr, one of Australia’s leading journalists, tells the story of this dramatic public trial. The book features eight photographs from the Sydney show.

My Take:
I thought the story was told well. At the time I read/watched little of the news related to the controversy, so David’s chronicle of events was helpful. The pictures don’t do anything for me, but seeing the originals (hanging in a gallery) might give a new perspective.

Last words (from the book):

Whether we enjoy such pictures has always been a matter of taste. Disputes over taste are not trivial. They involve complex contests of values, moral as well as aesthetic. But tastes differ. There are no final conclusions in this territory, no absolutes.

No pictures have been destroyed. They’re hanging everywhere. Public galleries are still buying them.

The Love We Share Without Knowing

1 01 2009

Barzak - The Love We ShareBy Christopher Barzak

ISBN 978-0553385649 (Bantam)
Trade paperback, Nov. 2008

Ten tales of life in Japan – mainly centered around American and Japanese English language teachers. There is an undercurrent of loneliness, despair, death, and occasional supernatural themes. All the stories link to one-another in some fashion.

realer than you– starts off the collection with a ghost helping a lost American child. the suicide club – a window into why a small group of strangers would participate in group suicide …just a sample of the content.

I liked the smatterings of Japanese speech, that remind you where the stories are set.

Overall, I found his writing style lacking in depth/richness compared to my usual reading (SciFi/Fantasy). Despite that, I liked it. It is his second novel, following the award winning “One for Sorrow” – which I may read later.

Blog –

Other Reviews:
SCI FI Weekly –

The Night Angel Trilogy

1 01 2009

Brent Weeks - Night Angelby Brent Weeks

1) The Way of Shadows
2) Shadow’s Edge
3) Beyond the Shadows

ISBN 978-1841497402, 1841497419 & 1841497426 (Orbit)
Paperbacks, 2008

The perfect killer has
– no friends, only targets
– no identity, but many faces
– no conscience, just objectives

There is something different about this series.
– a strong cast of lead characters
– a strong cast of supporting characters
– ancient objects of power
– mages and gods
– a blurring between good ‘n’ evil
Brent weaves a rich tapestry of the lives of “kings to be”, and the down-trodden rising to be honoured heroes.

Kylar, the wetboy (assassin), friend & lover, ties it all together. He’s not quite the perfect killer. And, it’s not just his story… 

Terry Brooks (from the back cover):
“I was mesmerized from start to finish. Unforgettable characters, a plot that kept me guessing, non-stop action and the kind of in-depth storytelling that makes me admire a writer’s work”

What more can be said, except… a recommended read

Last words:
It’s really a love story in disguise – get out the tissues for an emotional ending.