Before I picked up Neverwhere, I’d never read any Neil Gaiman. I know. I couldn’t believe it either.
I went for Neverwhere because American Gods seemed like too much of a commitment (but I’ll get to it), and it intrigued me as an archetypal urban fantasy novel, a genre I’m trying to get more into.
Everyone seems to love Neverwhere. It seems to occupy a space of underground reverence (no, that’s not a pun). All of my friends on Goodreads have given it five stars, and nobody will dare utter a bad word about it.
So I will. I’m sorry to say I thought Neverwhere was just okay.
I’ll probably keep this much shorter than most reviews. Andy Weir’s follow-up to his mandatory-reading sci-fi novel The Martian is just okay. And you know what? That’s okay. It would be unrealistic to expect any human being to replicate the utter brilliance of a novel like The Martian. Its shadow is long, and its influence is broad. Not even Barry Bonds hit a home run every time he came to the plate, and he was on drugs.
There are many arguments to make for Artemis, and if we didn’t already know what Weir was capable of with The Martian, Artemis would be a standout novel in its own right. The world-building is utterly fascinating. The science is authentic but never exhausting. And Artemis still contains Weir’s nerdy, amazingly fun wit, not to mention the atmospheric charm that we’re reading something written by a guy who legitimately loves the playground he’s playing on.
Where Artemis falters is, perhaps, in something Weir took for granted with The Martian. The premise of The Martian is so immediately gut-wrenching: Astronaut Mark Watney is caught in a storm during an emergency evacuation, and his team, thinking he is dead, leaves him behind. But Mark is not dead. He is alive, and he must survive until his rescue.
In many ways, The Martian is an inferior story. It’s clearly a premise intended for Weir to play with survival scenarios on Mars. Those are fascinating in their own right, but they are not a narrative.
PULLING STRINGS is easily one of my favorite novels of 2017. Not only is it smart and meaningful, but it’s also fun as hell. It is a novel in that place where genre fiction and literary fiction blend, a novel you might see a literature professor and his or her student run into each other and discover they have something in common.
The synopsis goes something like this: Agent Colt has a psychic ability to fire kinetic mind bullets from her fingers. She’s a legend at the Department of Scientific Investigation (which doesn’t exist … but it could!), and she has led a storied career that the new recruits talk about in hushed tones. Now, however, she’s approaching retirement, working a cushy detail out of a field office in Middle America. It’s boring compared to her heyday. Then a new case comes in, and she thinks it could be her swan song. Little does she know the target she’s hunting is the most dangerous psychic she’s ever encountered.
This thing has been a long time coming. Through many rewrites and revisions, the throes of misfortune that is the publishing industry, and the existential crises, the one constant has been that this story was mine, and it lived only in my head. And now it doesn’t. Now, it’s ours, and I hope you consider venturing into the wilds of Lumen with me.
It’s far from perfect, but I’m proud of it and think it’s something special. I hope you do, too.
Last week, I revealed the cover for my upcoming sophomore novel, The Pillars of Dawn, and I mentioned more details would be forthcoming. The first question I usually get about this one is if it’s a sequel to my novel Carrier. No, it isn’t. Stellan and Daelen are going to stay on ice for now, and I understand if I’m the only one who thinks that joke is funny.
Other than publishing a few short stories, I’ve been quiet for a long time about what I’ve been working on, and the reasons are three-fold: 1). I’m a slow worker, 2). it was difficult to find a home for this novel, and 3). this story is a beast.
I’d rather not talk about 1 or 2, but I’m eager to talk about 3.
There’s really no other way to put it. The Pillars of Dawn is a fat child. All told, it comes in at about 160,000 words, which is enough for two average-length novels (or, technically, three short novels). Not only is it big, but it’s complex, following six main characters as they struggle to keep their home safe and unravel the mysteries of the unknown lands beyond their colony on an alien world.
The Pillars of Dawn is set on a colonial planet named “Lumen,” and it takes place far in the future after humanity has conquered the stars and begun colonizing worlds in systems beyond Sol.
I loved Autumn Moon. In a genre where there just aren’t that many good stories, it shines as an example of the werewolf tale’s potential. Autumn Moon demonstrates how to tell a deeply human werewolf story in a fascinating, alluring world rich with mythos and intrigue.
I Am The Night does something else entirely.
Rooted in the Autumn Moon framework, I Am The Night continues the narrative of Drake Burroughs, but like Drake, the novel’s nature has evolved. This one puts Drake in the spotlight and focuses on his struggles in the aftermath of the first book.
Drake has changed, and the core of Slade Grayson’s storytelling has changed, too.
I just wanted to drop by here for a few moments to observe the fact that Carrier will be in brick-and-mortar stores in a week. I could tell you about the new interior design and the higher printing quality. I could tell you how being in stores will hopefully expose the novel to a whole new audience. Instead, I think I’d rather reflect on the book itself.
I know. Blogs can be self-indulgent, and I’ve striven to not have one of those. But hey, it’s an occasion to observe, and you’re in my house right now. Pop a squat, or get out.
More than six years ago, when I was 27, I was in what some would call a rut. I imagine it’s a phase that affects many twenty-somethings. It is a part of our lives in which we accept adulthood and that we can never go back to the time when we can more often do as we choose not as we need. To a large extent, we have to cope with the fact that responsibility dictates our actions.
A couple weeks ago, in my summer update, I wrote about how 2016 hadn’t really panned out the way I’d hoped. It hasn’t been a bad year at all. In fact, production-wise, I feel like I’ve written some of the best fiction of my life. And while I haven’t had much to announce this year, some of that production is paying off.
I’m thrilled to announce Gamut, a new literary magazine, has accepted a short story of mine. I can’t stress the previous sentence’s verb enough.
An acceptance from any market is a great thing. It’s acknowledgement for hard work and dedication, not to mention passion for a piece. It says you did something right, but more than that, it says someone else believes in the story as much as you do. And now the story has an avenue to reach other readers.
But contributing to Gamut is a whole different accomplishment. Not only is Gamut an amazing project (and I’ll get to that in a moment) that is the brainchild of some people I hold in high regard, but it’s also a professional market.
I don’t know if this is the book you deserve, but it’s the book you need. (That’s clever, you see, because there are a lot of Batman references in this book… ahem, anyway.)
Blake Twenty-Three by Slade Grayson begins with a message the literary world needs to hear: “Just have fun.” We often forget reading and storytelling is supposed to be something we enjoy. Many of us get so stilted and wooden with our critical analysis and pushing our nerd glasses up on the bridges of our noses that we overlook an integral part of the reading experience: escape. If one-half of storytelling is information conveyance, the other half is signal quality. Maybe “integrity” is the right word there. I don’t know, but what it boils down to is a measure of enjoyment.