Red Right Hand by Chris Holms

Twitter Summary: Combines sparse grittiness of Chandler with thrills and intrigue of Clancy or Thor.

Affiliate Links: Red Right Hand; The Killing Kind; Dead Harvest (Collector Book 1)

First Line: The man staggered into the lobby of the Albuquerque field office shortly after three a.m.

Chris Holms loves his noir. Whether he’s writing an urban fantasy about demons, or a crime thriller, he infuses it with the sensibility of noir. There’s no purple prose here, no waxing melodic, just short sharp strokes of description. Water, tinged red, pooled beneath him.

It’s a short novel, made shorter by the speed and intensity in the plot line. It’s a sequel, though there are enough callbacks that it’s not necessary to have read the first. They never reach the level of info dump, organically fitting in throughout the story.

The first book painted  Hendricks, the protagonist as an anti-hero, a hitman who kills other hitmen, but he’s given a much less ambiguous morality in this  outing, and that’s one place where reading the previous novel helps out with this one. Without the Killing Kind’s characterization, Hendricks comes off as more of an altruist than someone in it for revenge.

I finished in less than 12 hours, and as short as it was, it felt the right length. I highly recommend this bullet train of a read, and I will definitely be reading anything else Holm releases.

Final Verdict: Highly Recommended. I will preorder the third one without hesitation.

Other recommendations:

Thrillers: Kill Switch by Jonathan Maberry and the rest of the Joe Ledger novels, Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh,

Red Right Hand by Chris Holms

Predictions vs. Reality: Hugo 2016

Predictions vs. Reality: Hugos 2016

Best Novel:  Success. Fifth Season won. (read it, loved it, good lord. Reading sequel now)
Best Novella: Success. Binti won.
Best Novellette: Failed. Folding Beijing won. I’m just as happy with the results.
Best Short Story: Success. As I predicted when slated work dropped out, Cat Pictures won, then No Award, then Chuck Tingle.
Best Related Work: Success. No Award.
Best Graphic Story: Success. Sandman won.
Best DP, Long: Failed, it went to Martian.
Best DP, Short: Success. Jessica Jones won.
Best Editor, Short: Failed. Datlow won and I’m super happy for her.
Best Editor, Long: 1/2 success. Though I picked Gorinsky, I thought it’d be her or Gilbert, and Gilbert won.
Best Pro Artist: Failed. Abigail Larson won.
Best Semiprozine: Success. Uncanny took it, hell yeah.
Best Fanzine: Success. As suspected File 770 took it, and Lady Business got second.
Best Fancast: Success. No Award.
Best Fan Writer: Success. Mike Glyer
Best Fan Artist: 1/2 success.  My edit had Steve Stiles picked to win and he did.
Campbell: Failed. Weir won. Wong came in second.

11 out of 16 correct. Not bad, but not so good either.

On the plus side, Theodore Beale’s promise that any category No Awarded last year, will remain No Awarded in perpetuity has been proven false. That guy lies a lot.

 

Hugo Predictions

Predictions vs. Reality: Hugo 2016

Hamilton

Today is Lin-Manuel Miranda, Phillipa Soo, and Leslie Odom Jr’s last day as regular cast members of Hamilton. At the time of writing, it’s about half an hour before their last show. Miranda has talked (tweeted) repeatedly that it’s not his last time in the role, stating that “you’re gonna be so sick of me playing Hamilton one day.” (The Tweet)

Last weekend (2JUL16) I was lucky enough to score a ticket to the Saturday matinee of Hamilton. It probably wasn’t the most fiscally sound decision I’ve ever made.

It was TOTALLY worth it.

This isn’t really a review. How do you objectively review something that has had such an incredible sociological impact? How do you review something that you quote so often that your wife throws things at you?

I really only have two criticisms, and only one of those is of the show. For whatever reason, Lin-Manuel didn’t seem to be mic-ed properly, meaning sometimes his words got drowned out by the orchestra. The other is that I wasn’t able to share it with my wife. It just wasn’t feasible, but it’s the only regret I have. I’m sad that we won’t be able to share the original cast, but I’m very excited to see it with her in January. I think the replacements that they hired are really going to bring a pretty cool take to the show.

As to the show… oh lord. She told me to notice everything and report back. It was a magickal experience, from when King George told us to silence our cellphones, to walking back out of the theatre and into the sun, knowing that I’d just seen something that’ll replay in my head for the rest of my life.

So I did. I paid attention to the different costume changes, and how it reflected the scenes going around. During the second act, while Hamilton is playing the cad, and double dealing in back rooms, he gets black tights, and Burr is in white as he is trying to figure out how to get into the room where it happens. Lafayette has gold tassels and other fripperies, but the coat is military through and through, whereas Thomas Jefferson is in crushed velvet.

Staying with Daveed Diggs, it seems it’s impossible to keep him bottled up, but where Lafayette was purposeful movement, and measured action, Jefferson was very hammy, dancing around with jazz hands in his first number. Which became an interesting callback in the rap battle, as Miranda did it as well to mock him.

Miranda… Miranda was a trip. HIs facial expressions and motions throughout the entire thing are a joy to watch. Coming down the stops off the “boat”, he’s got this wide-eyed wonder thing happening, his mouth hanging open. When he’s talking about punching the bursar he pantomimes it hesitantly.

I loved watching the different styles of rap hands throughout the process, and seeing the choreography was pretty awesome. Surprised to learn that Eliza beatboxes during Phillip’s first song, and the vignette that’s not in the cast album was a tear jerker.

It was a hell of an experience. It really comes down to that. Worth every penny, passionately smashed every expectation.

Hamilton

The Cupid Reconciliation by Mike Underwood

Disclaimer: I received an eARC from the Author. In addition, I have backed the Genrenauts Kickstarter.

Twitter Summary: Twice as Much RomCom, just as much Multiverse SF!

Affiliate Links: The Cupid Reconciliation , The Absconded Ambassador ,The Shootout Solution

First Line: Leah Tang hustled into the Genrenauts HQ at nine-o-eight AM and snuck her way to the ready room, exhaling in relief at having escaped King’s anal-retentive time-cop powers.

Review: It is no secret that I’m a fan of Mike Underwood’s work in general , and his Genrenauts series in particular. My previous reviews of the books are Shootout Solution by Mike Underwood and The Absconded Ambassador by Mike Underwood .

One of the features of most of Mike’s stuff is taking genre and it’s trappings (geekery, fandom, tropes) and examining them from a different angle. He has a gift for writing genre that revels in genre. Much like a child taking apart the DVD player to see how it works, Mike likes to get down to the elements that make up genre and twist them around.

In the Cupid Reconciliation, Mike manages to write about a group of people who are investigating and dealing with a RomCom  story line, while simultaneously being part of their own RomCom story line. I don’t know how he story boarded that, but the idea of figuring all that out gives me a headache.

Really, my only criticism of the story, mainly that the antagonist seems a little paint by the numbers/cardboard cutout is really just another extension of the genre that Mike is lampshading.

Mike has a breezy conversational way of writing that lends itself well to quips, wordgames, and great characterization. He’s able to pack in a lot of quirks and personalities into each of his characters, to really make them separate entities.

Final Verdict: Thoroughly enjoyed, very much recommend supporting the Genrenauts Kickstarter.

It’s already funded, and is working towards audio stretch goals.

The Cupid Reconciliation by Mike Underwood

Outriders by Jay Posey

Twitter Summary: Small Unit Special Ops in SPAAAAAAAAAAACE! MilSF at a tactical level.

Affiliate Links: Outriders , War Stories ed. by Jaym Gates & Andrew Liptak , The Red: First Light by Linda Nagata

First Line: Captain Lincoln Suh had three minutes to live.

Let’s start with the gorgeous Larry Rostant cover

Outriders_144dpi

That’s a book cover I want a print of to put on my wall. It would pair well with a couple of Larry Rostant’s other book covers: Myke Cole’s Gemini Cell and Linda Nagata’s The Red (no review yet, but the whole trilogy is HIGHLY recommended). Interestingly enough, the cover artist isn’t the only thing Gemini Cell and Outriders have in common.

In both books, the main character dies within the first couple chapters. And THEN the fun begins.

Whereas Gemini Cell is about the power of love, Outriders seems to reach back and touch on some of the themes of Myke’s first book, Control Point, and ask questions about what it means to lead, and what it means to belong to a group that sometimes has to make tough decisions.

And the lead character, Captain Lincoln Suh, isn’t the only one making tough decisions. While the story is primarily told through Suh’s viewpoint, Posey switches between a few other viewpoints as well. A reoccurring theme of “What is right vs. what is my duty?” pops up even in the ancillary story lines. It’s not a very deep line of questioning, and it mostly serves to add gravitas to the plot. I would love to see the author delve deeper into those themes in a sequel.

This isn’t actually my first hop into the the extraplanetary setting of The Process. I was first exposed to it in the anthology War Stories, which contains quite a few amazing MilSF stories.

I thought that the author handled the action scenes well, in a sparse, kinetic fashion. I never felt bogged down by them, and felt there was a good balance of action vs. non-action scenes. This book tapped into my love of bureaucracy porn as a good chunk involves Suh going through red tape and getting to know and bond with his teammates. I’m a sucker for stories where the author invokes the more human elements of serving.

I’m a huge fan of the quality military SF that’s been coming out recently. From indie authors like Jay Allan, to the amazing works by Linda Nagata, Marko Kloos, Ann Leckie, and others… my TBR pile just keeps getting bigger.

Final Verdict: Highly recommended, and if they announce a sequel, I’m pre-ordering it.

Outriders by Jay Posey

Hugo Predictions

First things first, I managed to pick a total of 11 of the nominees. Whooo *twirls fingers*

As most people anticipated, Theodore Beale’s slate got a long of nominations. Not all of them, but a lot. The following are my predictions for the Hugos.

Best Novel: I think Butcher will go over as good as he did last year, and I haven’t seen a lot of positive reviews of Seveneyes. Not even Beale liked it, and he nominated the thing. I haven’t read any of them, but am looking forward to reading 5th season and Uprooted. Haven’t read the first two Ancilliary  novels, and it’s a third novel, so I think it’s between Jemisin and Novik. I’m going to go with Nemisin, though I may revise after reading them.

Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

Best Novella: I loved the Builders, but Binti got on by beating the slate.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Best Novellete: Only non puppy is the Bo Bolander.

“And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander

Best Short Story: No Award
EDIT 5/31/16: One of the slated works dropped out, and “Cat Pictures Please” was added. I’m pretty sure that will lead to it getting the rocket. As much fun as Chuck Tingle’s countertrolling of Teddy and his ilk has been, I don’t think that it’ll put him above No Award.

Best Related Work: No Award

Best Graphic Story: I’ve heard good things about the Invisible Republic, but it’s a puppy nominee. So is Sandman, but it’s also Neil Gaiman, and a lot of people (including me) nominated it before Beale did so…

The Sandman: Overture

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long: Sure a lot of it has puppy spore, but this category is really way bigger than the puppies. You don’t get points for throwing a coin in the air and yelling “Heads or tails!”  Haven’t seen Ex Machina or the Martian, and Age of Ultron wasn’t as good as Winter Soldier or the first Avengers. I think it comes down to Star Wars or Mad Max. Lots of people though Star Wars was derivative so let’s go with the other.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Best DP, Short: I think that MLP will end up under No Award and wouldn’t be surprised if Supernatural did as well. I don’t think the twincest fans are going to be coming out for the Hugos. I want Jessica Jones to win, but you can never count out Dr. Who. It will be interesting to see how the noms would have shaken out if Beale’s videogames hadn’t gotten DQed.

Jessica Jones: “AKA Smile”

Best Editor, Short: Jerry Pournelle might get no awarded. Other than that it’s a toss up. I’m rooting for JJA but would be happy if Clarke, Datlow, or Williams won.

John Joseph Adams.

Best Editor, Long: Beale, Minz, and Weisskop will get No Awarded. Again. Between Gilbert or Gorinsky, I have no real favorite, and am stoked that the two of them broke through the slate. Gorinsky was the first one I saw Mike Underwood congratulate, so I’ll go with her.

Liz Gorinsky

Best Pro Artist: All puppy picks. I expect it to be No Awarded, but I nominated Rostant, and I’m going to vote for him too. I want him to be there, selling prints.

Larry Rostant

Best Semiprozine: Uncanny Magazine broke through the slate. I think it’ll take it

Uncanny Magazine

Best Fanzine: I think that Black Gate will Recuse, Castalia will go under No Award. EDIT 5/31/16: Black Gate did recuse, and Lady Business was added to the ballot. I think it’ll garner a fair amount of votes, but I don’t see File 770 losing.

File 770

Best Fancast: No Award

Best Fan Writer: Mike Glyer broke through the slate, and I think he’ll pick up the second of his two Hugos this year.

Mike Glyer

Best Fan Artist: No Award. Kukuruyo at the bottom. EDIT 5/31/16: I think if anyone does beat NA, it’ll be Steve Stiles who is a perennial contender.

Campbell: Alyssa Wong broke through the slate.

Alyssa Wong.

Hugo Predictions

Kill Switch by Jonathan Maberry

Disclaimer: I received an eARC from NetGalley. In addition, I have previously participated in fundraisers by the author that resulted in me getting some cool books and swag.

Twitter Summary: Pulse-pounding, weird science popcorn thriller.

Affiliate Links: Kill Switch

First line: Where were you when the lights went out?

The Joe Ledger series is a study in what would happen if you took beat cop Steven Seagal and put him in a world where he has to deal with weird science cryptid versions of such staples as ape men, vampires, and aliens. I don’t really like vampire or zombie novels. This (and Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles) is my largest exception.

This is owed in a large part to the author’s penchant for, to put it bluntly, beating the crap out of both the protagonist and the world he lives in. By this point, eight books in, the world Joe Ledger inhabits is far different than our own. Ledger’s world has a LOT less infrastructure remaining.

Having covered zombies, vampires, beastmen, aliens, and other such staples, this time the author delves into the Lovecraft mythos, using that as a baseline for putting the world and Joe Ledger through some more heinous crap. My favorite setpiece is a NASCAR race.

Trust me, you do not want to be at a Jonathan Maberry NASCAR race.

The first line of the book, immediately informs the reader that there isn’t going to be much downtime in this book. The pace of the story isn’t just fast but breakneck, hurling towards the end. This isn’t slap dash “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” though. Maberry skillfully builds the tension, throwing in a couple of false climaxes and a few twists, while maximizing the payoff. In true action movie fashion, there’s not much rest for the wicked afterwards, either.

Final Verdict: Highly Recommended. I have preordered each since the 3rd, and I see no reason to stop.

Other recommendations:

Supernatural thriller novels: Gemini Cell by Myke Cole and Seal Team 666 by Weston Ochse

Kill Switch by Jonathan Maberry