Monday, June 29, 2009

New and Upcoming Releases: June/July

One of my favorite things to do is browse the shelves of the bookstore looking for new books. One of my second favorite things to do is to browse online for new titles. Here is a list of brand new and upcoming scifi/fantasy releases-- many of which I am very excited about-- in no particular order. Age of Misrule: Darkest Hour by Mark Chadbourn, Pyr, June 23, 2009 The eternal conflict between the Light and Dark once again blackens the skies and blights the land. On one side stand the Tuatha de Danaan, golden-skinned and beautiful, filled with all the might of angels. On the other are the Fomorii, monstrous devils hell-bent on destroying all human existence. And in the middle are the Brothers and Sisters of Dragons, determined to use the strange power that binds them to the land in a last, desperate attempt to save the human race. Church, Ruth, Ryan, Laura and Shavi have joined forces with Tom, a hero from the mists of time, to wage a guerrilla war against the iron rule of the gods. But they didn't count on things going from bad to worse ...this is the stunning continuation of a powerful fantasy saga by one of Britain's most acclaimed young writers. Age of Misrule: Always Forever by Mark Chadbourn, Pyr, July 28, 2009 The eternal conflict between the Light and Dark once again blackens the skies and blights the land. On one side stand the Tuatha de Danaan, golden-skinned and beautiful, filled with all the might of angels. On the other are the Fomorii, monstrous devils hell-bent on destroying all human existence. And in the middle are the Brothers and Sisters of Dragons, determined to use the strange power that binds them to the land in a last, desperate attempt to save the human race. Church, Ruth, Ryan, Laura and Shavi have joined forces with Tom, a hero from the mists of time, to wage a guerrilla war against the iron rule of the gods. This is the stunning conclusion of a powerful fantasy saga by one of Britain's most acclaimed young writers. Desolation Road by Ian McDonald and Stephan Martiniere, Pyr, July 28, 2009 It all began thirty years ago on Mars, with a greenperson. But by the time it all finished, the town of Desolation Road had experienced every conceivable abnormality from Adam Black's Wonderful Travelling Chautauqua and Educational ‘Stravaganza (complete with its very own captive angel) to the Gallacelli brothers, identical triplets who fell in love with—and married—the same woman. This early novel by Ian McDonald was nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey, Eos, July 21, 2009 Supernatural fantasy has a new antihero. Life sucks, and then you die. Or, if you're James Stark, you spend eleven years in Hell as a hitman before finally escaping, only to land back in the hell-on-earth that is Los Angeles. Now Stark's back, and ready for revenge. And absolution, and maybe even love. But when his first stop saddles him with an abusive talking head, Stark discovers that the road to absolution and revenge is much longer than you'd expect, and both Heaven and Hell have their own ideas for his future. Resurrection sucks. Saving the world is worse. Darkly twisted, irreverent, and completely hilarious, Sandman Slim is the breakthrough novel by an acclaimed author. City of Souls by Vicki Pettersson, Eos, June 30, 2009 In Sin City, a little girl suffers from a strange and terrible malady. If she dies, the Light will die along with her. Warrior, avenger, Joanna Archer has survived countless otherworldly terrors—and has found her rightful place among the agents battling the all-pervasive evil of Shadow . . . even as she struggles against the darkness within herself. A war is raging for Las Vegas—a city without a heart—one that catapults Joanna into a new world hidden from mortal sight. In this lethally seductive alternate dimension the lines blur between good and evil, love and hate, and here lies the last hope for the Light. But Joanna's price of admission is a piece of her own soul—and the odds of her escaping are slim . . . to none. Strange Brew, Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, St. Martin's Griffin, July 7, 2009 Today’s hottest urban fantasy authors come together in this delicious brew that crackles and boils over with tales of powerful witches and dark magic! In Charlaine Harris’ “Bacon,” a beautiful vampire joins forces with a witch from an ancient line to find out who killed her beloved husband. In “Seeing Eye” by Patricia Briggs, a blind witch helps sexy werewolf Tom Franklin find his missing brother—and helps him in more ways than either of them ever suspected. And in Jim Butcher’s “Last Call,” wizard Harry Dresden takes on the darkest of dark powers—the ones who dare to mess with this favorite beer. For anyone who’s ever wondered what lies beyond the limits of reality, who’s imagined the secret spaces where witches wield fearsome magic, come and drink deep. Let yourself fall under the spell of this bewitching collection! The House of Lost Souls by F. G. Cottam, Thomas Dunne, July 7, 2009 Just weeks after four students cross the threshold of the derelict Fischer House, one of them has committed suicide and the other three are descending into madness. Nick Mason’s sister is one of them. To save her, Nick must join ranks with Paul Seaton—the only person to have visited the house and survive. But Paul is a troubled man, haunted by otherworldly visions that even now threaten his sanity. Desperate, Nick forces Paul to go back into the past, to the secret journal of beautiful photographer Pandora Gibson-Hoare and a debauched gathering in the 1920s, and to the dark legacy of Klaus Fischer—master of the unspeakable crime and demonic proceedings that have haunted the mansion for decades. Because now, the Fischer House is beckoning, and some old friends have gathered to welcome Paul back. . . . Huntress by Christine Warren, Majorie M. Liu, Caitlin Kittredge, Jenna Maclain, St. Martin's Press, June 30, 2009 It takes a real man to satisfy the powers and passions of the HUNTRESS Christine Warren “Devil’s Bargain” Supernatural bounty hunter Lilli Corbin made a pact with the Prince of Hell: She agreed to recover a book of prophecies. When she learns it could trigger the apocalypse, Lilli is forced to make the ultimate choice: save her soul, or the man she loves? Marjorie M. Liu “The Robber Bride” Welcome to a post-apocalyptic world where women are fed on for their life forces. Now it’s up to Maggie, one of the last female survivors, to hunt down and destroy an army of darkness… Caitlin Kittredge “Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go” Ava is a demon slayer who needs help from mage Jack Winter to reach the demon underworld—a place of dark seduction…and, maybe, one of no return. Jenna Maclaine “Sin Slayer” London 1889. Jack the Ripper is killing off the city’s vampire population, and now it’s up to Cin Craven to hunt him down—and save the infected Michael, the love of her undead life. Dying Bites: The Bloodhound Files by D. D. Barants, St. Martin's Press, June 30, 2009 Her job description is the “tracking and apprehension of mentally-fractured killers.” What this really means in FBI profiler Jace Valchek’s brave new world—one in which only one percent of the population is human—is that a woman’s work is never done. And real is getting stranger every day. Jace has been ripped from her reality by David Cassius, the vampire head of the NSA. He knows that she’s the best there in the business, and David needs her help in solving a series of gruesome murders of vampires and werewolves. David’s world—one that also includes lycanthropes and golems—is one with little knowledge of mental illness. An insane serial killer is a threat the NSA has no experience with. But Jace does. Stranded in a reality where Bela Lugosi is a bigger box office draw than Bruce Willis and every full moon is Mardi Gras, Jace must now hunt down a fellow human before he brings the entire planet to the brink of madness. Or she may never see her own world again. Speak of the Devil by Jenna Black, Dell, July 28, 2009 Morgan Kingsley, America’s most successful exorcist, is paying the price for an exorcism gone wrong. The victim’s family is suing the daylights out of her, the Exorcism Board has suspended her, and now she’s living on a diet of ramen noodles and bad coffee. But Morgan has a few good men at her side. One is her current boyfriend, nice-guy legal eagle Brian, who’s suddenly starting to reveal his inner bad boy. The other is Philly cop Adam White, who’s trying to help Morgan find out who sent her a little present—a severed human hand—and why someone seems determined to destroy her. As her stalker turns more violent, leaving dead bodies in his wake, Morgan turns to the dark side of her life: a group of demons steeped in secrets, sinful eroticism, and otherworldly family feuds, including one sexy beast who shares Morgan’s body—and some X-rated fantasies. Soon Morgan must choose between her friends, her enemies, and her libido: to escape a mad demon determined to destroy her completely. The Calling by David Mack, Pocket Books, July 21, 2009 No one would guess by looking at Tom Nash that he's extraordinary, and that's just fine with him. A tall, broad-shouldered jack-of-all-trades from Sawyer, Pennsylvania, Tom has a knack for fixing things. He also hides a secret talent: he hears people's prayers. Stranger still, he answers them. Maybe it's because he's a handyman, but Tom feels compelled to fix people's problems. Which is all well and good -- until the soul-shattering plea of a terrified girl sends him on the darkest journey of his life. Heeding the call and leaving his home for New York City, Tom discovers a secret world beyond the range of mortal perception -- a world of angels and demons and those who serve them. With the guidance of a knowing stranger named Erin, Tom learns that he himself is one of The Called, born with a divine purpose and a daunting task: to help the powers of Heaven in the war against the agents of Hell, an army of fallen angels known as the Scorned. Thrust into an epic battle of the sacred and the profane, Tom Nash must find the girl who prayed for his help -- because her fate will determine whether humanity deserves to be saved, or damned for all eternity.... Wildfire by Sarah Micklem, Scribner, July 7, 2009 Sire Galan has forbidden his servant and lover Firethorn to follow him to war, but she disobeys. When the army of Corymb sets sail for Incus, she is aboard a ship of the fleet, gambling on Galan's welcome. But the gods are as apt to meddle with the schemes of a lowborn mudwoman as the best-laid plans of her betters. The searing touch of Wildfire leaves Firethorn shattered, haunted, estranged from herself, and set apart from others. She feels cursed, but others see her as blessed. Whores come to her for healing, and soldiers search her every utterance for hidden prophecies. Is she a charlatan or a true seer? Even Firethorn cannot answer that question. And Galan is wary of what Wildfire has made of her. Sarah Micklem brings lush prose and rich imagination to the highly anticipated second book in the trilogy that began with her acclaimed debut, Firethorn. The enthralling combination of the mythic, the historical, and the deeply human confirms Micklem's place among the great storytellers of imaginative fiction. Dragonseed by James Maxey, Solaris, June 30, 2009 After the death ok King Albekizan, Shandrazel and his allies struggle to keep the kingdom intact as the radical human prophet, Ragnar gathers forces to launch a full scale rebellion against the dragons. When all out war erupts, legendary dragon hunter, Bitterwood, must face his own personal demons and choose where his loyalty really lies. Vicious Circle by Linda Robertson, Pocket Books, June 30, 2009 Being a witch doesn't pay the bills, but Persephone Alcmedi gets by between reading Tarot cards, writing her syndicated newspaper column, and kenneling werewolves in the basement when the moon is full -- even if witches aren't supposed to mingle with wolves. She really reaches the end of her leash, though, when her grandmother gets kicked out of the nursing home and Seph finds herself in the doghouse about some things she's written. Then her werewolf friend Lorrie is murdered...and the high priestess of an important coven offers Seph big money to destroy the killer, a powerful vampire named Goliath Kline. Seph is a tough girl, but this time she bites off more than she can chew. She needs a little help from her friends -- werewolf friends. One of those friends, Johnny, the motorcycle-riding lead singer for the techno-metal-Goth band Lycanthropia, has a crush on her. And while Seph has always been on edge around this 6'2" leather-clad hunk, she's starting to realize that although their attraction may be dangerous, nothing could be as lethal as the showdown that awaits them. The Light of Burning Shadows by Chris Evans, Pocket Books, July 28, 2009 Musket and cannon, bow and arrow, and magic and diplomacy vie for supremacy once again in this second epic fantasy adventure from acclaimed author Chris Evans. As the human-dominated Calahrian Empire struggles to maintain its hold on power in the face of armed rebellion from within, the Iron Elves' perilous quest to defeat the power-hungry elf witch, the Shadow Monarch, takes on greater urgency. The Iron Elves, shunned by their own people for bearing the mark of the Shadow Monarch, and desperately wanting to forever erase this shame, became legendary for their prowess on the battlefield as the Calahrian Imperial Army's elite shock troops. But when their commanding officer, Konowa Swift Dragon, murdered the Viceroy of Elfkyna, he was exiled, and these brave elves were banished to a remote desert outpost, doomed and leaderless, their honor in tatters. Recalled to duty to reform his regiment from the dregs of the Imperial Army, Konowa thwarted the plans of the Shadow Monarch at the Battle of Luuguth Jor -- ensuring that the fabled Red Star, a source of great natural energy, did not fall into Her hands. Now Konowa must cross storm-tossed seas to seek out the lost elves and the prophesied return of another Star somewhere in a desert wasteland roiling with mysterious power, infernos of swirling magic, and legends brought back to life in new and terrible ways. And the fate of every living creature will come to depend on a small band of ragged and desperate soldiers, whose very loyalty to the Empire they have sworn to serve is no longer certain. When death is but a temporary condition, a terrifying question arises: who is the true ally -- and fearsome enemy -- in a growing conflict that threatens all? Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie, Orbit, July 29, 2009 Springtime in Styria. And that means war. There have been nineteen years of blood. The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white. Armies march, heads roll and cities burn, while behind the scenes bankers, priests and older, darker powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king. War may be hell but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso's employ, it's a damn good way of making money too. Her victories have made her popular - a shade too popular for her employer's taste. Betrayed and left for dead, Murcatto's reward is a broken body and a burning hunger for vengeance. Whatever the cost, seven men must die. Her allies include Styria's least reliable drunkard, Styria's most treacherous poisoner, a mass-murderer obsessed with numbers and a Northman who just wants to do the right thing. Her enemies number the better half of the nation. And that's all before the most dangerous man in the world is dispatched to hunt her down and finish the job Duke Orso started... Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge. BEST SERVED COLD is the new standalone novel set in the world of Joe Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy. Against a Dark Background by Iain M. Banks, Orbit, July 1, 2009 Sharrow was once the leader of a personality-attuned combat team in one of the sporadic little commercial wars in the civilization based around the planet Golter. Now she is hunted by the Huhsz, a religious cult which believes that she is the last obstacle before the faith's apotheosis, and her only hope of escape is to find the last of the apocalyptically powerful Lazy Guns before the Huhsz find her. Her journey through the exotic Golterian system is a destructive and savage odyssey into her past, and that of her family and of the system itself. Necroscope: Harry and the Pirates by Brian Lumley, Tor, July 21, 2009 Harry Keogh, the first Necroscope, is arguably Brian Lumley’s greatest creation. In the Necroscope series, readers saw Harry learn to use his powers to talk with the dead and travel instantaneously to any point in space and time. They saw him take arms against the evil, twisted, metamorphic alien vampires who sought to feed off humans and enslave mankind. They saw him suffer a great personal loss and then recover his family, and later his humanity, through a new love. And they saw Harry wage the grimmest battle of his life—against the vampire he himself was becoming! Even after Harry’s story was done, Brian Lumley continued to write books about Harry’s legacy—the other Necroscopes who inherited his weird talents. But Harry himself would not go quietly into that darkness that lies beyond an author’s imagination . . . and now Brian Lumley has written three new novellas about Harry and his supernatural adventures, which are published for the first time in the United States in Harry and the Pirates. Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd Century America by Robert Charles Wilson, Tor, June 23, 2009 In the reign of President Deklan Comstock, a reborn United States is struggling back to prosperity. Over a century after the Efflorescence of Oil, after the Fall of the Cities, after the Plague of Infertility, after the False Tribulation, after the days of the Pious Presidents, the sixty stars and thirteen stripes wave from the plains of Athabaska to the national capital in New York City. In Colorado Springs, the Dominion sees to the nation’s spiritual needs. In Labrador, the Army wages war on the Dutch. America, unified, is rising once again. Then out of Labrador come tales of a new Ajax—Captain Commongold, the Youthful Hero of the Saguenay. The ordinary people follow his adventures in the popular press. The Army adores him. The President is…troubled. Especially when the dashing Captain turns out to be his nephew Julian, son of the falsely accused and executed Bryce. Treachery and intrigue dog Julian’s footsteps. Hairsbreadth escapes and daring rescues fill his days. Stern resolve and tender sentiment dice for Julian’s soul, while his admiration for the works of the Secular Ancients, and his adherence to the evolutionary doctrines of the heretical Darwin, set him at fatal odds with the hierarchy of the Dominion. Plague and fire swirl around the Presidential palace when at last he arrives with the acclamation of the mob. As told by Julian’s best friend and faithful companion, a rustic yet observant lad from the west, this tale of the 22nd Century asks— and answers—the age-old question: “Do you want to tell the truth, or do you want to tell a story?” Wireless by Charles Stross, Ace, July 7, 2009 The Hugo Award-winning author of such groundbreaking and innovative novels as Accelerando, Halting State, and Saturn's Children delivers a rich selection of speculative fiction— including a novella original to this volume— brought together for the first time in one collection, showcasing the limitless imagination of one of the twenty-first century's most daring visionaries. Rift in the Sky by Julie Czerneda, Daw, July 7, 2009 Third in the prequel series to the Locus bestselling Trade Pact Universe novels. Despite all good intentions, the lure of the Talent to move through space using the M’hir dimension is too much for the Om’ray of Cersi to resist. As the awareness of this talent spreads, all those Om’ray who are capable converge on the settlement at Sona. To prevent the disruption of the Agreement and the destruction that it would unleash, the M’hiray, as they now call themselves, agree to leave Cersi forever and try to establish their own haven within the Trade Pact worlds—only to learn that not everybody wants peace. Winter Duty by E. E. Knight, Roc, July 7, 2009 The tense eighth installment of Knight's Vampire Earth series (a welcome improvement over 2008's Fall with Honor) continues David Valentine's adventures in 2076 as the invading Kurian Order decides to exterminate rebellious Earthlings. The Southern Command authorizes Valentine to wage a guerrilla war with the goal of creating a Kentucky freehold. His ragtag battalion (including some controversial Quisling and alien Grog recruits) must deal first with a power plant outage that blacks out Evansville and Owensboro and then a blizzard and the Kurians' plot to unleash a ravies epidemic on the human herd. Knight keeps the conflict interesting but says too little about the inscrutable Kurians, who are like magicians, always diverting attention from the operating hand. Even readers familiar with the series would welcome a glossary and more background on the various alien races. Skinwalker by Faith Hunter, Roc, July 7, 2009 First in a brand new series from the author of the rogue mage novels. Jane Yellowrock is the last of her kind—a skinwalker of Cherokee descent who can turn into any creature she desires and hunts vampires for a living. But now she’s been hired by Katherine Fontaneau, one of the oldest vampires in New Orleans and the madam of Katie’s Ladies, to hunt a powerful rogue vampire who’s killing other vamps... Gamer Fantastic Edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes, Daw, July 7, 2009 Let the games begin! These thirteen original stories by veterans of the fantasy realms take role-playing games and universes to a whole new level. From a teenager who finds a better future in virtual reality; to a private investigator hired to find a dying man’s grandson in the midst of a virtual reality theme park; from a person gifted with the power to pull things out of books into the real world; to a psychologist using fantasy role-playing to heal his patients; from a gaming convention where the real winners may not be who they seem to be; to a multi-layered role-playing game that leads participants from reality to reality and games within games—these imaginative and fascinating new tales will captivate both lovers of original fantasy and anyone who has ever fallen under the spell of role-playing games. Marsbound by Joe Haldeman, Ace, August 5, 2009 Hugo and Nebula–winner Haldeman infuses this yarn with his teen narrator's intelligent curiosity. Carmen Dula, part of the first human colony on Mars, looks like a typical young adult heroine: distanced from her parents, irritated by her bratty younger sibling and beset by tyrannical colony administrator Dargo Solingen. Then she accidentally discovers real Martians living in an underground city and has to convince Solingen that her story is true. When the Martians reveal a terrible threat to life on Earth, it's up to Carmen and her friends to save the day. Recalling Robert A. Heinlein's Red Planet and Podkayne of Mars, Haldeman updates the Martian setting while keeping faith in his characters' ability to respond to unexpected challenges. Conqueror by Stephen Baxter, Ace, July 28, 2009 When William of Normandy, whom history will call the Conqueror, rises to power, the fate of the land rests on actions inspired by the words found in an ancient scroll. It is known as The Prophecy, and it reveals secrets about the future. Skin Deep by Mark Del Franco, Ace, July 28, 2009 She’ll need to keep up appearances—if she wants to stay alive... Being an undercover agent has its occupational hazards, but Laura Blackstone makes it look easy. As a spy for a fey intelligence agency, she uses her magical abilities to create disguises that are skin deepglamours that must never be compromised. But when Laura’s worlds collide she’ll have more to worry about than retiring an identity; she may just lose her life. Good Ghouls Do by Julie Kenner, Ace Young Adult, July 28, 2009 As the vampire population at Waterloo High continues to grow, Beth Frasier realizes that she’s on the frontline of saving not only the school, but her hometown. And only one thing is for sure: She’s got to find the head vampire and kill him...quickly! Her only problem? With her classmates quickly turning over to the dark side, Beth doesn’t know who to trust—or kill.

"Evil Ways" by Justin Gustainis

Posted by Harry Markov

Title: "Evil Ways" Author: Justin Gustainis Series: Quincey Morris Investigation Series, Book2 Genre: Urban Fantasy Pages: 336 Publisher: Solaris Blurb:

Quincey Morris and Libby Chastain investigate a series of murders where white witches are being hunted down and killed—and Libby may be next on the list. Meanwhile, the FBI is stymied by a series of child murders around the country, in which the victims' organs are being removed for use in occult rituals. Quincey and Libby don't want to get involved, but they may have no choice. From Iraq to Idaho, the trail of clues leads straight to Walter Grobius, a crazed billionaire who plans the biggest black magic ritual of all time. If he isn't stopped, all Hell will break loose—for real.
Verdict: It took me quite awhile to get to this novel and considering how many positive reviews it gathered, I think I ended up reading the novel wrong, because at large “Evil Ways” didn’t exactly work for me. Perhaps I am on a different vibe right about now or perhaps my tastes have changed in the stretch of a year, but after reading and loving “Black Magic Woman” I waited for something bigger and better as the perfect scenario for a series should be. Plot-wise I got everything I needed. Compared to the first book in the series “Evil Ways” excels in dynamics and stretches through the better part of the USA and even offers some scenes of heist action in Baghdad. The use of magic is extensive and ranges from summoning to blood sacrifices, wards and astral projection. The variety and degree of explanation behind each act is satisfying for me as a fan of the occult and creates a solid believability. Satan also makes a very gruesome cameo appearance, which always acts as a plus and sex just lounges in between the pages. Gustainis also gives the readers every man’s dream: a woman wielding big guns with the intention of using them. So what was the problem, if everything so far is all I could ever dream of? Gustainis has wonderful ideas and has woven them into a believable enough plot, but what doesn’t work for me in this installment is the actual writing. Spreading the story through different points of view is great and we can see what happens on both sides of the whole apocalypse-in-the-making, but the stark in-your-face approach to representing the impending doom fails to build tension. In “Black Magic Woman” I loved, when the author didn’t beat around the bush and slapped the reader with the facts as they were with no poetic detours and you felt like a part of a much messed up episode of CSI. However now that the supernatural elements have been pumped up “Evil Ways” should have, at least to me, dripped dread and the book didn’t. The famous bat scene was awesome yes, but it didn’t make me fear that the characters wouldn’t get out. Same goes for the grand summoning of Satan. As the final ceremony transpired I didn’t feel any immediate danger for the character or for the world at that. This being said, the second thing that didn’t work for me happened to be dialogue. I enjoy wise cracking as much as the next guy, but I couldn’t buy the idea that two people no matter how comfortable with each other would mock bicker, wise crack and throw punch lines and funny expressions, when Libby is being chased by enemies unknown and the apocalypse on the rise. Comic relief via dialogue is a powerful tool and the final use at the very end of the novel is just perfect, but in almost every conversation, it becomes tiring and destroys the reader’s belief in the credibility of the story. Negative aspects aside, there are quite a few good things to complement Mister Gustainis upon, such as his bravery regarding sex. Few ever dared to throw in orgies that have demons in and incorporate bestiality moments, a scene that stunned me as a matter of fact and was one of the few moments that created a very sinister atmosphere of decadence and dread in the novel. Also the scene, where Colleen had to play it cheap hooker in order to get the info she needed for the case to move on underlines how dire the situation is, even though it’s very un-FBI thing to do. I am also very pleased with the world building angle. Gustainis has done some very heavy research to get down the principles of magic right and authentic as much as the complex system allows such a task to be performed. You won’t notice any deviation from the previous installment in the series, just a sort of expanding what has already been established in rules and possibilities. As much as I am a fan of the Japanese “I have a nuclear power plant rivaling load of energy” I find it refreshing to see that magic through most of the novel is very hard to get going and produce immediate effects, which usually takes up a lot of work that once interrupted can result into a catastrophe of some degree. As a whole, “Evil Ways” is a good concept with an execution that didn’t manage to stir much of a reaction out of me. I am not sure I am in the capacity to recommend or warn off people as the experience as a whole was bittersweet and confusing. I still can’t make up my kind about “Evil Ways”, but there are enough reviews to show you a different perspective. Different Opinions: Darque Reviews SciFiGuy.ca Graeme's Fantasy Reviews Monsters and Critics Fatally Yours Love Vampires

Sunday, June 28, 2009

War of the Words Contest Goes Global

Those of you who read Pat's Fantasy Hotlist will be aware of the Tor UK/SciFi Now contest for aspiring writers. Originally the contest was U.K. only entries-- but now it's worldwide. Everyone who has a book they'd like to get published-- get your submissions ready! SciFiNow has teamed up with Tor UK and brought Play.com on board to bring an unparalleled competition to the world of science fiction and fantasy literature – War Of The Words - the opportunity to get your debut SF novel released by a known and respected publisher, and due to intense popular demand we’ve now opened it up to anyone, anywhere in the world. Do you consider yourself to be tomorrow’s Heinlein? This decade’s Asimov? The Bester of the 21st century? Then all you have to do is submit three chapters and a synopsis of your original novel to warofthewords@imagine-publishing.co.uk by 20 August to be in with a chance. The submission will be reviewed by SciFiNow and Tor UK, and if it stands out enough, will be placed on a shortlist that the winner will eventually be chosen from. There are a few minor stipulations however – in order to be eligible, you can’t have had a novel published before and it must be written in English. For a full list of terms and conditions, please visit this page. Good luck to everyone who enters! I hope to see someone I know win!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Guest Review: "Death's Daughter" by Amber Benson

Reviewed by Drey Calliope Reaper-Jones is hiding from her family. You would, too, if you wanted to live a normal life... Especially when your family runs a huge corporation, and your dad is Death. So she puts herself under a Forgetting Charm, and lives a rather lack-luster life in NYC. However, before she knows it, Callie is dragged from her "dream-world" and dumped into a competition for dad's job--because he's been kidnapped. Not only does she not want the job (except for the saving-her-dad thing), the competition comes in the form of Daniel, who's also the Devil's protege... Callie has to complete 3 tasks before she's deemed worthy of stepping into dad's shoes, all while being hounded by Daniel and Detective Davenport (who's investigating dad's disappearance). Death's Daughter has a myriad of characters from various mythologies. LOVED Cerberus' pup (Callie called her Runt. Really.), and thought Kali was hilarious, if a bit overdone. It's quite the rollicking adventure, and definitely entertaining. However, Callie got on my nerves. Quite a bit. She's feisty, alright, but she's also whiny. And bratty. And clueless. And yet she manages (by the itty bitty tips of her fingernails) to cling on to her mission, and survive. All while figuring out whodunit. If it weren't for the supporting cast and humor, I'd probably have put this book down. Thank you to Theresa from Fantasy & Sci-Fi Lovin' News & Reviews for my copy! Title: Death's Daughter Author: Amber Benson ISBN-10: 0441016944 ISBN-13: 978-0441016945 Paperback: 359 pages Publisher: Ace, 2009

Last Airbender Trailer & Hello Wars

M. Night Shyamalan? I can't decide if this could okay (since Shyamalan didn't write it) or if it's going to be ridiculous. Not many clues from the trailer.. I also had to mention this site, (hat tip to SF Signal), that features stickers that are a combo of Star Wars and Hello Kitty characters. Doesn't Chewy look cute in a bow? The site is currently down for maintenance, but I hear you can buy individual stickers for $1 and packs for $10.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Winners!

I've randomly picked the winners of the first "Warbreaker" (by Brandon Sanderson) giveaway (signed edition) and the "Carpe Corpus" (by Rachel Caine) giveaway. The winner of the "Warbreaker" giveaway is -- Sarah Hale (via email) Congrats! And the winners of the "Carpe Corpus" giveaway are-- Fantasy Dreamer Lindsay (Frugal and Fabulous) Joyce (My Life in Summary) and Karen Oland (via email) Congratulations to all the winners!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Guest Review: "Fortune and Fate" by Sharon Shinn

Fortune and Fate by Sharon Shinn – guest review by Jim Haley In her Twelve Houses series, Sharon Shinn has done something that I personally haven’t seen often in the (admittedly little) fantasy I’ve read. The ‘epic battle’ has taken a complete backseat to the characters and their personal stories. In fact, I’d say the fantasy is a backdrop, a setting, that while in and of itself is certainly interesting and fascinating in its own right, is nothing really compared to the ever expanding cast of characters the author has introduced. Fortune and Fate is the fifth book in this series, and though it is helpful to have read the other books in the series, it is not necessary. In part due to Shinn’s focus on the characters; each book in the series highlights the point of view of one character - and a minor character in one book is often the main character in the next, constantly shifting the overall story to a different perspective in each subsequent book. In the first four books we’re slowly introduced to a rising rebellion in this land, where people who are endowed with the ability to use magic are being persecuted against. By the fourth book, this rebellion has been quashed, and everyone lived happily ever after. Everyone except Wen; a minor character from most of the previous four books. She is a Rider, the elite guards of the King or Queen, and she failed in her duty to keep the King alive in the heat of the final battle in book 4. Because she did not wind up giving her life trying to defend her King, she finds herself living with survivor’s guilt. She cannot serve the King’s daughter, her new Queen, but instead is living a sort of non-existence roaming the countryside, trying to right wrongs and get in over her head in the hopes she’ll be taken out in a blaze of glory. But when she saves a kidnap victim, her whole world is turned around. This teenager is the daughter and inheritor of the lands of one of the men who fought against her and were responsible for the death of the King. Wen wants to hate Karryn, and wants nothing to do with her, but at the same time she starts to bond with her and feel responsible. Upon returning her to her uncle, Jaspar the acting Regent for the land, it’s obvious he is out of his depth with regards to providing protection for his niece. Wen takes on the job of training a cadre of guards, but always on a month by month basis, because she refuses to be tied down if she gets the urge to run. And yet slowly, she and Jaspar bond. He introduces her to the joys of reading; she shows him the fun that can be had in learning strategy through a board game. They continue to meet each night, growing closer as they come together to fight off various threats to Karryn. But what will happen when her former comrades among the Riders come looking for her and what will become of her feelings for Jaspar? I can highly recommend the entire Twelve Houses series, and as mentioned earlier, it is not necessary to have read the previous volumes to enjoy Fortune and Fate. This book is probably my second favorite, just after Dark Moon Defender, and I only hope that Sharon Shinn has plans to continue this series even beyond book 5 (she already has a short story set in this world coming out in the book Quatrain later this year). But if you enjoy character driven stories in a fantasy setting, you could do far worse than the fully fleshed out work that Shinn gives in Fortune and Fate. Guest reviewer Jim Haley is a regular contributor to the Star Wars fan site www.njoe.com. His regular weekly column is featured each Friday, featuring news and reviews of non-Star Wars books by Star Wars authors, as well as other media tie-in fiction. His latest column, a review of Alan Dean Foster’s Transformers: The Veiled Threat can be found HERE.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

First Peek at Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland"

Images are starting to be released for Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, due to be released March 5th 2010. "Alice in Wonderland" is strange to begin with-- but let Tim Burton get his hands on it, and... well, take a look and see for yourself. Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter Anne Hathaway as the White Queen The Mad Hatter Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen

Non-Scifi Giveaway Alert

You all know that I love Ree over at Confessions of a Pioneer Woman. She does giveaways on BIG scale. Right now she has a contest for a Kitchen Aid stand mixer-- in a lovely shade of yellow. Anyone who loves to cook will know that this is a very nice thing to have, and they're very expensive. Which is why I pass on these particular contests. I don't know about you, but I rarely have $250 (or more) lying around for kitchen appliances. Anyway. Get your entry in by 11:00 tonight (pacific time) for a chance to win.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Don't---Let the Blogwars Begin

Thanks to everyone who commented on the post I put up this morning. I do appreciate the feedback-- though I fear I may have fallen victim to a faux-controversy. I asked you all about giveaways honestly. I wanted to know if what I have going on is too much of a good thing. Most of you said no-problem, keep 'em coming. And a few hinted that maybe a weekly post listing the giveaways would be a good way to go (I think that's a good idea as well). I asked you the question in response to a post by another blogger who used the phrase "when do you ever stop whoring yourself out?" in his post title and mentions (not by name) blogs that do giveaways in the body of the post. I, being the naive little thing that I am, defended the practice and received some snide remarks in response (as I quoted in my other post) which is why I looked to the readers of this blog to tell me what they think about giveaways-- good or bad. Silly me, I thought that would be the end of it. But there's something I didn't know about the other blogger-- he's a bit of an instigator. He has a new post up now, mentioning me by name and commenting on the "tribalism" going on over here. Apparently, if you comment in support of me, you are part of a "mob" rushing to defend a member of your tribe. Okaaaay. I started to write a response to the new post, but I deleted it. I figure, why give him the satisfaction? I read a comment on another blog that said that this kind of thing is something this blogger does on purpose-- to generate controversy and discussion on his blog. I guess you could say it's his own version of whoring himself out. So, I'm going to ask you all a favor. I'm not mentioning him by name or blog here because I don't want to encourage the tactics of going after other bloggers to gain attention to oneself. And I'm going to request that anyone who reads this, who knows the blogger in question, that you refrain from commenting on his blog or defending me. Lets not give him what he wants and maybe he'll learn to have a little class in the future.

Question About Giveaways

Can I ask you something? Do you like the giveaways or do they overwhelm the site? I was scrolling through my reader yesterday and came across a post that basically said that people who giveaway books on their site, like myself, are sellouts. When I defended my position, saying that I didn't see the harm in passing on books that I didn't have time to review, I received this comment.. SQT - Write the blog you want to write. I just think that distributing free copies has more to do with boosting hit-rates and sucking on the publisher's tit than it does community service. I admit, I think the person who wrote that is..well..a jerk. I found most of his comments to be hypercritical and self-serving. There seemed to be that attitude of looking down ones nose and trying to elevate his own methods over mine while giving himself credibility as a reviewer while diminishing me. I try not to be too sensitive to comments like this. My motives in giving away books are sincere, that guy's opinion notwithstanding. I don't have time to read everything I get and not everything that comes through my door appeals to me. So why not pass them on to people who will appreciate them? The guy who made the comments said that I should donate the books to a charity shop rather than clutter up my blog with giveaways. I don't understand that logic. What's your opinion on the matter?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Book Review: "The Strain" by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

When I first heard about The Strain, the first book in a new trilogy by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, I was very excited to read this book. I have become a big fan of Guillermo Del Toro thanks to Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth. I had never read a book written by someone known for making movies so I was very interested to see if the imagery I had grown to love on screen would translate into book form. "The Strain" begins as a Boeing 777 lands at JFK airport and immediately shuts down, losing all communication with the control tower. When the first responders arrive on the scene they find the plane completely dark with all the shades down and the emergency exits shut too tight to open. Just as the rescuers get ready to cut into the plane, they notice one of the exits has just opened... Once the plane is boarded it's discovered that all but four passengers on the plane are dead under very mysterious circumstances. Dr. Ephraim (Eph) Goodweather is called in as a member of the CDC (Center for Disease Control) to investigate the deaths. It soon becomes clear that the bodies on the plane are like nothing Eph has ever seen before and in the course of his investigation he finds an unlikely source of information in an elderly pawnbroker who warns Eph that the victims on the plane are the prey of the Master; a vampire the old man, Abraham Setrakian, has been hunting for most of his life. Setrakian also tells Eph that the dead will rise and spread a strain of vampirism that will threaten the existence of the entire human race. "The Strain" is a good, old-fashioned horror novel. It doesn't try to turn vampires into some kind of empathetic pseudo monster. But an odd thing happened when Del Toro created his vampires-- he turned them into zombies. I'll try to explain without too many spoilers. In my mind vampires are monsters, but self-aware. The vampires in "The Strain" are very zombie-like in their need to feed. They have a limited awareness in that they will return to their homes to feed off of the people they loved in life. That part of the narrative definitely adds to the horror of the story and sets up some of the most suspenseful scenes. But there's no personality in these vampires-- thus far. The book does say that in the initial stages the feeing urge takes over everything so perhaps that means we will see more independent thought come through in the later books in the series. But I still maintain the monsters in this book have more in common with zombies than vampires. In addition to the mindless hunger, the vampires from Del Toro's book pass on the virus of vampirism very easily. It's not like the vampire myths I'm familiar with in which the blood of the victim is drained and replaced with vampire blood. All it takes in this case is a bite. So "The Strain" ends up feeling very much like a combination of "Resident Evil" and "Blade." The book is exceptionally well written, so any shortcomings I have noted may be the result of the expectations I had beforehand. I had high hopes for "The Strain." I was looking for unusual imagery, like I had seen in "Pan's Labyrinth," so the straight-forward nature of the story seemed pedestrian in the face of that. But if this book had been written by anyone else, I would definitely have fewer complaints. The story is well plotted, though it does have a slow build-up. The characters are intriguing-- especially that of Abraham Setrakian, and I am interested to see where the story goes from here. Yet... My overall impression is that "The Strain" is fairly derivative of some of Del Toro's other work. My first thought was that the vampires borrowed heavily from "Blade II" --and I didn't know until I looked up Del Toro's biography that he had directed that film. He also flashes back to a storyline that occurs in Nazi Germany; and while it adds a very poignant and interesting history to Setrakian's character, it's also reminiscent of the war-time backdrops he uses in "Hellboy" and "Pan's Labyrinth." Basically, I read this book with far too many expectations. Don't get me wrong. "The Strain" is a good book. It's suspenseful, interesting, fast-paced and compelling. But it is not particularly imaginative for a man of Del Toro's range. I will be in the minority in offering criticisms of this book as it's been very well received so I would recommend going to the Amazon page to read some other reviews as well as the first chapter excerpt available on the page. It's a good horror story and one that may appeal to Del Toro fans-- my preconceived notions notwithstanding.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

Winners! "The Wolverine Files" by Mike W. Barr

I used the old random number generator (random.org) to pick 5 winners to receive a copy of "The Wolverine Files" by Mike W. Barr and the winners are! Carlene Brooke Reviews Silverhartgirl Leland Eaves (via email) and Shana L. Rosenfeld (via email) Congratulations everyone! Just make sure I get your snail mail addresses and I'll forward them to publisher right away so you can get your books! Thanks to everyone who entered.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Extra "Extras" Giveaway!

A curious thing happened today, I got an extra copy of Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson. What's interesting is that I already have a giveaway up for the book here, but it's limited to U.S. entries since it's sponsored by Tor Books. So, guess what this extra copy means? That's right, it means I can open this contest up worldwide. However, it should be noted that this copy is not signed by the author. Anyway... If you haven't entered the contest yet (or you'd like an extra chance to win) and/or you're outside the U.S., here's your chance. Either leave a comment here or email me at sqt1969@(nospam)gmail.com (just remove the 'nospam' insert) under the header "Warbreaker 2" (so I know these particular entries aren't for the "U.S. only" contest) to enter and I will randomly pick a winner by Friday July 3rd. Please make sure I can reach you easily. If I cannot reach a winner within 48 hours I will pass the book onto another entrant. Multiple entries will be disqualified (though entries into this and the other "Warbreaker" contest are completely legit-- two chances to win!) Open everywhere. Good luck! My review can be read HERE.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Second That Sentiment

I just saw a story over at SF Signal about the making of another Indiana Jones movie. SF Signal titled their post It's Time for Indy to Hang Up His Hat, For Good and all I can say is I emphatically agree! From the article referenced by SF Signal... While on the rounds for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Shia LaBeouf spoke to the BBC about his future films, and he mentioned that Indiana Jones 5 now has a story lined out courtesy of Steven Spielberg. “Steven [Spielberg] just said that he cracked the story on it before I left and I think they’re gearing that up” Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull made a huge $786.6 million worldwide, so there is definitely people out there who would be up for another crack of the whip. At the end of Crystal Skull there was a scene which hinted that the torch could be handed over to Shia, however Ford picked up the hat at the last minute which suggested he hasn’t quite finished yet. Oh hell no. Can't Mr. Spielberg understand that we want to remember Indiana Jones in a good way? I never reviewed "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and I think that's because it was so disappointing. It wasn't that Harrison Ford had gotten older, though he has. It wasn't even the ridiculous plot. It's that they picked Shia LeBeouf to replace Indy. I mean..I just... I can't... Nothing against LeBeouf, but come on, he's no Indy. Not even close. I'm not trying to just take shots at LeBeouf, but he's all wrong for the role and I don't know if he can be made right for it. Sometimes things are best just left alone. George Lucas took something away from the "Star Wars" universe when he did his latest trilogy (and subjected us to Jar Jar Binks) so I'm throwing out my plea to Steven Spielberg, just as SF Signal did, please, stop now. While we have a chance to remember Indy the way he is supposed to be. No more older Indy, and seriously, no more LeBeouf.

Extras Giveaway! #1 Conpsirator by C. J. Cherryh

A curious things has happened...I have gotten a few extra copies of books lately, mostly doubling up on ARC's (Advance Review Copies) and the final proof. Though in one case, I have two ARC's. So, since I don't need two copies of these wonderful books, I'd like to pass some of them on to you. My first extra is Conspirator by C.J. Cherryh. Product Description First in a brand-new Foreigner trilogy from Hugo Award winning author C. J. Cherryh. Cajeiri is the young son of the powerful leader of the Western Association—and he has become a target for forces bent on destroying his father’s rule. For Cajeiri is the first ateva youth to have lived in a human environment. And after hundreds of years of fragile atevi-human coexistence, he may very well be the first of his people to ever truly understand the so similar—yet so dangerously different—aliens who share his home planet and threaten the hidebound customs of his race. To enter, the rules are the same as always. Either leave a comment here or email me at sqt1969@(nospam)gmail.com (just remove the 'nospam' insert) under the header "Conspirator" and I will randomly pick a winner by Thursday July 2nd. Make sure I can reach you easily. If I cannot reach a winner within 48 hours I will pass the prize onto another entrant. Multiple entries will be disqualified. Open everywhere. Good luck! (More "extras" to come soon!)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Guest Review: "The Lost Fleet: Valiant" by Jack Campbell

The Lost Fleet: Valiant by Jack Campbell - guest review by Jim Haley It’s a little difficult to review the fourth book in a series for potential new readers. To start, I’ll give a little introduction to the series in general and one line summary of the books leading up to Valiant. First, this series is like (the new) Battlestar Galactica crossed with the movie Master and Commander. If those two ideas merged together sounds like your cup of tea, this series is for you. Dauntless, book one of the series, starts in a place I always enjoy; the final battle. The Alliance Fleet of starships has used an enemy (aka Syndic) hypernet key to access their homeworld for a final strike to end a hundred years of war. But the Syndics have set a trap, and the Alliance fleet is defeated. To negotiate their own surrender, the Alliance command staff goes aboard the Syndic command vessel, only to be killed before the eyes of the watching Alliance fleet. Captain John Geary, recently found by the Alliance fleet after being in cryogenic sleep for a hundred years, is called upon to try and lead this fleet back out of Syndic space to the safety of the Alliance. He must also learn to live with the larger than life persona that has been created by the Alliance about him during his years in stasis, because ‘Black Jack’ Geary was there at the first battle in this war, defending his ship ‘to the death’ while his crew escaped. In the second book, Fearless, John Geary is faced with a mutiny, as a well liked Alliance commander is picked up from a Syndic POW camp. Geary, who didn’t really want to command this fleet, for the first time must choose to continue to do so. He knows that the ways the Alliance has fought over the past century has cost the fleet dearly, and this new commander will only revert to those ways. In addition to knowing that the lives of all the people in the fleet are at stake, he is also becoming aware that the safety of the Alliance itself is at stake, as there is an alien threat lurking behind the scenes. In Courageous, the third book, Geary must face his first defeat at the hands of the Syndics. His fleet is overwhelmed, deep in enemy territory, using lesser known Hyperspace routes between stars, to avoid using the Syndic Hyperspace network. Ultimately, he retreats from the large battle in Courageous, only to turn around at the very end of the novel and head back to the site of his defeat, determined to surprise the an enemy that’s not expecting his return. Obviously, I’ve read and loved each of these novels, and can highly recommend reading all of them, and in fact would not really recommend reading book four, Valiant, without having read the other three first. That said, it's hard for me to say 'book 4 is better than book 2 or 3' with this series, as they all flow so well together and really feel like they're written in a consistent voice by the author. There's a reason for that which I'll come back to, but I will go on record as saying that I think Valiant is my second favorite book in the series after Dauntless - but if I was rating these books they'd only be separated by tenths of a point; the whole series is excellent. Valiant makes some great strides in moving some important plots forward. The conspirators within the fleet start to make more overt moves against John Geary. John's first 'love interest' (lust interest?) Rione, the only politician left in the fleet, moves on as she senses he's actually in love with Tanya, the captain of the Battle Cruiser Dauntless. But this is bittersweet as they both realize their feelings for each other, but neither one of them can do anything about it due to his being her commanding officer. We also get the fleet back to the Lakota star system (where in part 3 they were nearly destroyed) where this time they kick ass and take names. The reader is also finally given a look at some of the Syndics themselves. The Syndics are humans under another government whom the Alliance (Earth) humans (the Lost Fleet) are fighting against. From some Syndic corporate settlers left behind whom the Alliance choose to save from their fate, Geary learns a number of things. First, are the lengths the Syndics will go to in the war against the Alliance (i.e. sacrificing an entire world and its population). But he also learns which Syndic leaders are sympathetic to the Alliance and may be willing to work with the Alliance to end the war, should Geary be able to get his fleet home (and thus discredit the current leaders of the Syndics, who have told the Alliance leadership that the Alliance Fleet led by Geary was long ago destroyed). All this happens, plus the confirmation of some non-human aliens putting pressure on the Syndics - though we are still left in the dark as to their motivation. If there are any failings in this series, and I'd call them only minor quibbles, they'd be these. First, there's only one point of view in these books. This story is only told from the point of view of John Geary, captain of this 'Lost Fleet'. It is a 3rd person narrative (meaning the story does not use the perspective of 'I' in each sentence) but in some ways it's limiting. I actually want to see what's going on the minds of some of the other characters. But then, it would also ruin some of the surprises we've had, and ones that I suspect are yet to come. Second, there is a tendency by the author to provide too much attention to some details in the battles. Are you a battle junkie? Do you like to know every move each starship makes? The description of maneuvers found in The Lost Fleet (i.e. “Echo Delta squadron move port 13 degrees, 12 percent thrust on mark one-five”) is just way too much for me to follow. However, in a book that's 300 pages long, if I were to add up the amount of sentences where the above takes place it might fill 4 pages. I usually just skip those paragraphs in battle - I was trying at first to follow it, but I just can't. I do get the gist though, and that’s enough for me. And credit where credit’s due; Jack Campbell uses real science, light speed and relativistic laws, when plotting out these battles. There are no sounds of explosions in space or hard right turns in zero gravity to be found here. And these are minor issues. In fact, I can't wait to see how this series ends - though I'll also say, I can't imagine how the author is going to wrap up all these plot lines in another two books. But then perhaps only the Syndic war will wrap up at the end of 'The Lost Fleet' series and another series will grow out of it to deal with the 'alien threat'. But if you enjoy space opera, military science fiction, realistic space battles, a desperate quest, alien intrigue, conspiracy – heck, a good story, do yourself a favor and pick up any of The Lost Fleet books by Jack Campbell. You’ll be glad you did. Guest reviewer Jim Haley is a regular contributor to the Star Wars fan site Beyond the New Jedi Order, His regular weekly column is featured each Friday, featuring news and reviews of non-Star Wars books by Star Wars authors, as well as other media tie-in fiction. His latest column, a review of Kevin Anderson’s The Edge of the World can be found HERE.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Vampirism is so Overrated

You'd have to live under a rock not to know that vampires are all the rage these days. So prevalent are the bloodsuckers that we no longer think of them as something you see on occasion in an Anne Rice book, we have whole aisles in the bookstores now (at least where I live) that carry nothing but paranormal fiction-- with vampires in the starring role. And vampires have changed since Dracula's day. They are no longer the creepy guy outside your window, they're the hot guy at school ("Twilight") or the hot private detective (Moonlight, The Vampire Files). And vampires are not just for adults. "Twilight" made them the hottest thing among teenagers since V.C. Andrews, and just in time to capitalize on the phenomenon, the CW has just announced a just-for-TV vampire series. So why all the hype? I would blame Anne Rice for the vampire craze since she was probably among the first, and the most popular, writers who romanticized the vampire myth. But the current trends look more like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" than "Interview With a Vampire. Nowadays you can expect your vampire story to be full of sarcasm, romance and moody semi-dangerous vamps (they're called vamps now too). They may or may not be able to tolerate sunlight. They may or may not drink human blood. And they're very likely to become instantly fascinated with a sweet, shy ordinary girl and become helplessly devoted to her. What happened to the monstrous bloodsuckers I know and love? Just for fun, I'd like to take this a step further-- though on a bit of an off-the-wall tangent. If any one of us were to become a vampire, do we really think it would be as great as so many authors portray it? Seriously. If you read Stephanie Meyer-- or any other paranormal romance author, you'd think becoming a vampire was the best thing ever. You get to be fabulously good looking, wealthy and immortal. What a bargain! And all you have to do is drink a little blood now and then. How bad could that be? Personally, I think it would suck (no pun intended) and here's why. Vampires Cannot Tolerate Sunlight I don't care what Stephanie Meyer says, vampires cannot tolerate the sun. They do not shimmer, they burn and they die. Period. That's a real vampire. Being unable to go out in the sunlight really screws up your schedule. You can't work during the day (which would make it really hard to be a vampire P.I. IMHO) unless you're in a very sheltered environment (and how many bosses are going to accommodate that?) So you're stuck working nights, which makes sense since you're going to have to sleep days, and that's gotta limit your options. If you're the evil variety of vampire, this may not be a problem. You can likely keep a few humans in thrall and live off of them. But if you're the tortured, trying-to-retain-your-humanity variety of vampire, this could be a real problem. Sunlight kills, so traveling is limited to nighttime. You house also has to be sunlight free, which can really screw up a design plan. You're kind of stuck with something fairly Gothic, the heavy drapes and all, unless you're super rich (back to the job issue) and can afford darkened windows. You Gotta Drink Blood So, you need blood to live. A lot of books assume drinking animal blood is an option, but what if it's not? As far as I know we can't use animal blood as a substitute for human blood in medical transfusions (and wouldn't PETA have a fit if we tried?) What do you do? Do you keep a harem and feed off of them? Or do you bribe an employee of the local blood bank? And how does one go about actually bribing someone at a blood bank? Is that even possible? Do you feed off of anyone willing? Or do you turn into a vigilante vampire and stalk bad people and feed off of them? And if you choose the drink-from-bad-people option, how do find your victims? This would be a real dilemma. Immortality It sounds great at first. Live forever! Or at least until you get staked or beheaded. But never mind that. Here's the thing... First, you get to see all your family and friends die off. Okay, we know that. What I wonder is this-- am I going to look exactly the way I do right now for eternity? There might be hope for those of us who are a little overweight. I'm sure a blood-only diet will be good for the waistline. But am I going to look good? Or am I going to look like an old lady who's really into the heroin chic look? And going back to the job thing... remember, you have to find a way to financially support yourself--FOREVER. Socializing Once you settle into your vampire lifestyle you'll probably still want some companionship. Do you hang out with human beings or vampires? Imagine going out to dinner with your human friends, it's not like you can order off the menu. And if you really enjoyed food and wine in your previous life, it could be a real bummer to sit and watch other people enjoy the stuff you could no longer have. There'd also be the danger that if you really got bored, you might start looking at your friends as food rather than company, and that never ends well. Alright. I'm kidding. But you knew that. Truthfully though, I think I may have put more thought into the issue than a lot of writers of vampire fiction these days. Vampires have been turned into the romantic lead and the monster has disappeared-- which is essentially what I'm mocking here. I'm frankly tired of the vampire as the devoted, and semi-scary boyfriend. Yes, I love Charlaine Harris, but I'm making no more exceptions! No more cutsie vampire-lite fiction--please! Sigh. All this vampire overload is making me cranky.