The Dragon’s Path – Daniel Abraham

DragonsPath1The Dragon’s Path is the first book in Daniel Abraham’s series The Dagger and the Coin. On the face of it, the series promises a rich dish of the epic fantasy cuisine. The story takes place in a secondary world whose description is bound to raise pretty high the expectations of many readers. This world is a vast one, as it behooves a specimen of the genre; its history reaches thousands of years backward, when it was ruled by the ruthless dragons, who later destroyed each other in an internecine war. The dragons modified extensively – through magic or science, who knows – the genetic make-up of the Firstblood humans to spin from them twelve more races, better adapted to serve their masters’ hungry needs. Continue reading

Creatures of Light and Darkness – Roger Zelazny

creatures1This text is a translation from Bulgarian. The original can be found here.

Putting Creatures of Light and Darkness into categories is a difficult task. From the point of view of genre, form, style, anyhow. Its text is seemingly messy (and remains messy under careful scrutiny), as if under the influence of light drugs. The text itself – if I can be allowed this heavy-handed personification – and not the author who produced it, as underground fan legends sometimes have it.

Creatures of Light and Darkness strikes me as a science-fictional poem. I initially attempted to bolster this argument with the kind of discursive and formally elaborate writing associated with academic literature. Then I decided against it. The reader just needs to read the first chapter – in the House of the Dead – to see the poetry, shining through, crisp and clear.

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Boy’s Life – Robert McCammon

Boy's LifeBoy’s Life starts off with the promise of a great novel about to unfold. I mean, just take a look at the opening passage:

“CORY? WAKE UP, SON. IT’S TIME.”

I let him pull me up from the dark cavern of sleep, and I opened my eyes and looked up at him. He was already dressed, in his dark brown uniform with his name – Tom – written in white letters across his breast pocket. I smelled bacon and eggs, and the radio was playing softly in the kitchen. A pan rattled and glasses clinked; Mom was at work in her element as surely as a trout rides a current. “It’s time,” my father said, and he switched on the lamp beside my bed and left me squinting with the last images of a dream fading in my brain.” Continue reading

Fortunately, the Milk – Neil Gaiman

fortunatelythemilk1The Ocean at the End of the Lane (click for my review) is about the child’s mind telling a story to that of the adult. It reaches back through memory and speaks in a language that children know much better, and many adults have forgotten. Fortunately, the Milk does the exact opposite of that. Cory Doctorow sums it up neatly in his review over at Boing Boing: “a magnificent tribute to the fatherly art of trolling kids with straightfaced, outlandish tales”.

Doctorow’s review does a great job of presenting the book, which is short enough that you could read it in less than an hour, anyway. Unless you are reading it to your kid, which will inevitably get you entangled, I imagine, in serious existential discussions, thus prodding you to contribute to the perpetuation of the art of kid-trolling. Continue reading

Moon Palace – Paul Auster

MoonPalace2I read Moon Palace about four months ago. I really wanted to write something about it, even though its trace is no longer as fresh in my mind as it was then. This text is not a review. The book is wonderful, possibly the best Auster novel out of the three I’ve read (the others being The New York Trilogy and Timbuktu), and I’d recommend it heartily to anybody. This text isn’t an attempt at an exhaustive analysis either – I’m too far detached from my reading experience at this point. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but a degree of immediate entanglement with the text is essential to such a project. I’d like to think of it rather as a key or sorts; one that would allow me some day, when I revisit the story, to open more of its doors. It does contain some spoilers, and though I’ve tried not to reveal that much, it’s probably better to read it after the novel itself. Continue reading

Doctor Who: Harvest of Time – Alastair Reynolds

doctor-who-harvest-of-timeDoctor Who: Harvest of Time is a novel about the third Doctor, played by Jon Pertwee between 1970 and 1974. Now, I’ll admit it from the get-go – I’m not a dedicated fan of the TV show. I like it quite a lot, but I haven’t seen a single episode of the old series and I have watched less than two seasons of the new. Some episodes I loved as a child loves, others bored me senseless. OK, it’s out there, whew. Harvest of Time is also a novel by Alastair Reynolds. I love Alastair Reynolds novels. So my thinking was as follows: if I absolutely love the best parts of the show, then a writer whose work has not let me down has a damn good chance of hitting just the right notes with this one. Continue reading

Quicksilver – Neal Stephenson

quicksilver2Quicksilver is a book that defies with ease any attempts at writing a pithy and flashy review. Swatting-a-lame-old-fly is the kind of ease I’m going for here. Read the blurbs if you are looking for that, a review of this type just wouldn’t really be a review, but rather an extended blurb.

Quicksilver, the first part of the Baroque Cycle trilogy, is vast and winding. It spans decades and continents, its subject matter is difficult to pin down, its method is an even more elusive beast. Perhaps the most apt definition I have arrived at comes from the novel itself:

“It seemed that Jack, here, had blundered into the fourth or fifth act of a drama – neither a comedy nor a tragedy, but a history.”

And although the sentence refers to somebody else’s historical drama, it self-consciously echoes the structure of the novel. Which, like history, maintains only the illusion of such a structure. As some proponents of New Historicism would have it, historians and document-makers are part of the historical process they are untangling and seeking to document and explain. They are just as much embroiled in the material practices and texts of their time, as are the agents of their narratives. Continue reading