Remake by Connie Willis (1995, Bantam)
Remake starts out a pretty energetic pop culture tribute (wank) to the movies, and while it makes some effort to examine tropes as imposed by movies on real people (or put another way: as absorbed by real people from movies), it never really gets past its status as a love letter to Fred Astaire. Unfortunately, I think Fred Astaire is boring, ditto the bright young dancer/actor/whofuckingever with a dream and a puritan work ethic storyline. Structurally well-put together, and a quick read, but never quite manages to leave tropeland itself.
Flavor quote: “That’s what I love about the movies. There’s always some minor character standing around to tell you the moral, just in case you’re too dumb to figure it out for yourself.
“‘You never get what you want,’ the oldate said.”
And that, my friends, is the flavor of themehammer, brought to you by Connie Willis.
Dreams of Shreds and Tatters by Amanda Downum (2015, Solaris)
Amanda Downum’s novel Dreams of Shreds and Tatters is dark and beautifully written, but not so dark and ornamental that it becomes some sort of goth cartoon. It comes dangerously close to tropes—magic as dangerous drug, living shadows, haunted artists, unexplained devils and angels, dreams of drowning—but without ever feeling standard. The feel of the magic and the atmosphere of the book are reminiscent of Charles de Lint, while the end feels distinctly Labyrinth (something Downum certainly noticed—several pages after I found myself thinking of Bowie the Goblin King a character quotes the movie). It is urban fantasy, beautifully written, with a large helping of darkness. This isn’t magic you’d want to have, and this isn’t a world where you’d want to live. But this just might be a book you want to read.
Rating: Three out of five German sorcerers.
PS Three is a rating I consider good, consider positive. Three is a solid book, worth reading. Just for the record. I’ve heard tell that some people consider a three negative, but not on this here broken scale, so. Now you know.
PPS I forgot to tell you that this book also centers around a female lead who is asexual. I have never once seen an author spotlight an asexual character before, and it made me happy to see asexuality represented as a normal thing. Yeah representation.
The Massive: Black Pacific by Brian Wood and Kristian Donaldson (2013, Dark Horse)
Throwing a comic in a review set with two novels feels a bit off, but hey, my reading list is chaos and so is my life, so this is what we’re working with this week. Last October we published a review by Kraken of Anarcho Geek Review of this same volume. But wow, did I have different feelings about it. They liked it. I hated it.
There was so much potential. Black Pacific is the first volume in a post-apocalyptic story about a group of environmental activists with a boat. Basically, I should have fucking loved this, except I was so fucking bored. Nothing happens. (Ok, they look for their missing sister ship. A lot. We are constantly reminded that they are looking for this ship. The missing ship is called The Massive. Oh! Now they are looking for another ship. Shoot me.) I was bored by the descriptions of the apocalypse and I was bored by the descriptions of the characters and I was bored by the endless searching. The art was ok I guess. It wasn’t whitewashed, which is a plus, but really should just be baseline acceptable.
Rating: Oh who fucking cares.