Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Book review: Skin Game- Jim Butcher

The fifteenth book in the Harry Dresden series, Skin Game picks up some time after the events in Cold Days. Mab, whom Harry serves now as the Winter Knight and does so in completely dickish fashion to annoy her every chance he gets, sends Harry on a task for her, a heist of literally mythic proportions. The problem being that the person whom Harry will be working for and is Nicodemus who harbors a serious grudge against Harry, a grudge so serious that Harry has right to think that Mab wants him killed off. The story actually gets a hell of a lot more complicated in terms of what everyone's motivations actually are. In the end, you have a cross between Oceans 11 and the Avengers movie if everyone on the team was a varying degree of asshole.

This is a very different book from Cold Days, which primarily set the stage for the new plot lines in the series. Skin Game really doesn't play as heavily into the character development as its predecessor did. This is not to say they don't occur (Fans of the interpersonal relationship fires that get stoked in the series, you're going to like this one. Oh, and then there's B...oh, that'd be telling. ), but they do take a back seat to the amount of action that occurs in this one. From the point that Harry and Co. sit down to discuss the heist onwards, someone is constantly being chased, fought with, or close to shedding the fleshly coil in one way or another. All throughout the book I kept thinking "This would make a fun movie."

Beyond the overall great storytelling in Skin Game, what really stood out for me is how Butcher fleshed out Nicodemus. Nicodemus is a centuries old, demon possessed, atrocity committing jerkface of the highest caliber, but his course of actions that occur in the book and how he responds to their consequences don't make him a sympathetic character by any stretch of the imagination, but they make him a bit more real. Butcher pulls a depth out of Nicodemus that puts him beyond the cookie cutter "I'll wear a coat made of live puppies" villainy that has become too common nowandays. It's disturbing, it's uncomfortable, and it's wonderful reading.

All in all, five out of five stars. Also: PARKOUR!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Book review: Equoid- Charles Stross

Equoid is a short story in Charles Stross's Laundry series, an fun horror-espionage series that seethes with the horrors of Otherworldy evils threatening humanity's existence and British bureaucratic process in equal quantities. This story revolves around suspicious deaths in very,very rural England and the true nature of Unicorns...they're not happy, bouncy things you'd want your daughter playing with, not by a long shot. The plotline does get muddy at a couple points insofar as who is doing what and why, but overall Stross does and excellent job of weaving a tale filled with mystery, horror, and no little bit of humor that culminates in a disturbing, action-filled ending. I give extra kudos for the innovative Lovecraftian tie-in and the Cold Comfort Farm (one of my favorite movies) references. The story is a good stand-alone if you've never read anything in the Laundry series before, otherwise I recommend picking up the first book in the series The Atrocity Archives.  Three out of five stars.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

State of the Aaron Address

It's not that I don't like blogs, I love 'em. I love having different fonts of information and news from people who as passionate about the subject. I just hate writing them. Going to try to work on that.

So here's what's been going on:

*Back in April was the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival, an annual event centered around the celebration of films inspired, or not-so-inspired-just-really-weird, by old Howie Lovecraft. This year they held a microfiction contest where ten lucky submitters of a story 500 words or less could have theirs included in a chapbook made especially for the festival. Yours truly made the cut with the story "The Altar of Sixty and Five Hundred Years". I might publish it again one day. In the meantime, check with the contact email at the HPL Film Festival website about the possibility of acquiring a copy.

*My story "Temping" was published in the anthology We Are Dust and Shadow from JWK Publications, an excellent collection of stories involving the afterworld ranging from disturbing to downright horrible. It can be bought on Amazon in hard copy or Kindle format.

*One of my older stories "The Gloaming Sisters" is included in The Terror Train anthology, also from JWK Publications in Kindle format currently with a hard copy version coming up shortly.. "The Gloaming Sisters" is a story I wrote years ago as part inspired madness, part writing exercise, part exploratory literary surgery. It was part of a collection of pieces I wrote around a central reference point that would make the most erudite hipster blush at the obscure reference. I was originally going to publish the collection as an anthology, but now I'm seeing if I can fulfill the challenge of getting all the stories published in different publications. It's so mad that it just might work. 1 down, 22 to go.

That's it for now, soon to be followed by a slew of book reviews. Watch this space.