Richard Chizmar's Chasing the Boogeyman is very well-written, but doesn't quite live up to the hype. The fictive pretense of it being a true crime means the author can cheat on things that would have made it a more interesting novel. However, the chilling parts are suitably chilling.
Hugh A.D. Spencer's Hard Side of the Moon certainly makes for an original read, a satiric, somewhat Vonnegutian tale of a small-town 70s college DJ, slacker, and artist who gets imprisoned on a forced-labor lunar colony run by a corrupt corporation with access to alien tech.
Reread China Mieville's The City & the City because I was leading a discussion of it. It's one of the most mind-bending SF/Fantasy reads of this century. The premise of two cities occupying the same location and "un-seeing" each other still resonates.
Currently reading W. Scott Poole's biographical account, Vampira: Dark Goddess of Horror. Her story is interesting. Poole's analysis is astute, but not so astute that it bears repeating every single chapter.
I should say, of Chizmar's book, it has much to recommend it. He creates an excellent sense of a town rocked by an unknown killer. Several stories on the side-- an account by a Vietnam veteran with whom he once worked-- add to the sense of terror lingering below the surface of life. His own close encounters with the darkness work very well on their own, and the book proves a page turner. I had to read to the end..... where I felt a little disappointed.
THE CON by JD DeLuzio: I have been meaning to read this book for some time but I kept neglecting to order a copy. Then, when JD announced his second book would be coming out next March, I placed an Amazon order and received my copy of his first earlier this week. The story is set against the backdrop of a three-day sci-fi/fantasy convention at which Jane Austen cosplayers are as likely as Klingons (and everything in between, including an actual alien) to be seen in attendance. I own a Klingon dictionary and I have read Pride & Prejudice, so I considered myself well prepared to read this book.
On the other hand, for the last two big conventions that came around here, Tracy went with friends and I stayed home. This book added several words to my vocabulary and a new drink to my repertoire. Nevertheless, I could relate to about 95% of it. (Let's be honest: 90%.) The story is non-linear, character driven and told in mostly short, punchy chapters from multiple points of view. The characters are likeable and relatable, and JD's writing style is light and breezy.
The "central" character (if such a book can be said to have one), is Telfryn Tyde; in any case, he is the one I related to the most. But as I read on, I think my favorite character became Mistie Matthews, a.k.a. Lady Susan Vernon, one of the "Janeites", named for the main character of one of Austen's lesser known novels. She is probably the most humorous character in the book, not because the chapters she narrates are laugh-out-loud funny, but because she stays so relentlessly in character throughout.
The TV show The Big Bang Theory presents a skewed view of geek culture, I think, because not all nerds are Nobel Prize winners or neuroscientists or engineers. The Con depicts are group of friends and acquaintances who, while certainly intelligent, are just ordinary people. I wish I had paid closer attention early on when the characters (and there are a lot of them!) were being introduced, because I found myself having to go back and re-read multiple sections I had glossed over.
The Con reminds me of equal parts Preternatural by Margaret Wander Bonano (which I'm sure some here are familiar with) and Vox Populi: A Novel of Everyday Life by Clay Reynolds (which I am sure no one is). The main story is supplemented by two additional stories featuring some of the same characters and set in the same region as the first. The second of those has a surprise (to me!) ending. In his acknowledgements section, JD alludes to an anachronism in chapter seven which I did not catch, an "entertaining puzzle for the curious reader," the solution of which I will save for a future date.
He also mentions "others who still inhabit ancient online places from a time before social networking sites," some of whom I like to fancy I might know. BOTTOM LINE: I would recommend The Con to anyone who frequents this site.
Thank you for the positive review and recommendation!
This particular tale does feature a lot of characters, perhaps too many. I wanted to capture the chaotic energy of a convention, and multiple characters increase the likelihood that the reader will relate to one of them. There's a local girl writing a grade 11 essay on The Con (she contacted me awhile back), and she connected more with Chelsea and Kate, which I found quite gratifying. And, obviously, I don't mind if people reread. Telfryn's narration features some obscure puns, allusions, and so forth, and you never know when you might catch one that you missed and actually find worth the effort. I make no promises on that last point, however. You might just as likely complain of ocular strain from the resulting eye-rolling.
I own a Klingon dictionary and I have read Pride & Prejudice,
That makes two of us!
I'd never heard of Preternatural by Margaret Wander Bonanno, but I looked it up, and it's on my "to-read" list. Ditto the Clay Reynolds book.
In all seriousness, I really appreciate the response, which I find especially meaningful, coming as it does from one of those people who inhabit ancient online places. Salt of the web, they are.
"Telfryn's narration features some obscure puns, allusions, and so forth"
Some of those references are explained in context, others are not. I think I caught most of them, but there is one I'm sure I missed. (I neglected to make a note of it, however, and now I can't find it.) I told Tracy that The Con is for people familiar with conventions as well as the "con-curious."
"I'd never heard of Preternatural by Margaret Wander Bonanno, but I looked it up, and it's on my 'to-read' list."
Be aware that Preternatural has two sequels, Preternatural Too: Gyre and Preternatural3 (as in "cubed"). I found the first one to be much more dense in comparison to the sequels, but worth the effort. When you get around to reading it, I look forward to reading your thoughts here. Ditto Vox Populi.
The Chalice of Death by Robert Silverberg. I'm a sucker for mid-20th century space opera stories. Some are awful which you can usually determine within the first few chapters but most are entertaining. Typically the novels run less than 200 pages making for a quick read. Oftentimes I am reminded of early Star Trek - I have to think Gene Roddenberry must have read a lot of this material prior to conceiving Trek.
ALL OF THE MARVELS: I really enjoyed Douglas Wolk's 2007 book, Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean; read it twice. When I saw All the Marvels on the "new releases" shelf I knew I had to read it right away, especially after I flipped through it and saw what was inside. Basically, Wolk has read all 27,000 or so Marvel Comics from 1961 through present and has tried to make sense of them all. this book is copiously annotated, cross-referenced and footnoted. I'd estimate there are footnotes on 50% of the pages. One of the pages had six footnotes, one section of footnotes took up more than half the page, and some were continued on the next page.
The first three chapters set up his approach. He didn't try to read them all in chronological order, nor did he read all issues of a single title at a time. He skipped around and read the ones wherever his fancy took him, but he did read them all. This is not a list of the "best of" Marvel Comics, and he discourages the curious and unfamiliar from reading such a list. He also recommends steering clear of first issues, at least at first. For example, he starts with Fantastic Four #51, and doesn't get to "The Coming of Galactus" until the middle of chapter twenty, in the midst of dealing with Squirrel Girl.
Chapters 4-20 deal largely with individual titles (interspersed with "interludes") in the same manner as described above, then he presents his conclusions in chapter twenty-one. What appealed to me about this method is that he goes into some detail about the body of work published after I had largely lost interest in Marvel Comics. I now understand Marvel Comics of the last 20 years. I still don't necessarily like them, but I do now get what Marvel as a 15company was trying to accomplish.
The final section of of the book is an appendix which breaks down the history of Marvel Comics into six distinct phases, which are defined as much by the stories within as real world events. Personally, I have lost interest in defining the Golden, Silver and Bronze Ages. For several years now I have been discussing comics in terms of decades, and only use the term "Golden Age" when discussing comics released in the 1940s, and the term "Silver Age" when discussing comics from the 1960s. (Few people debate those distinctions.) Wolk's "phases" apply to Marvel Comics only, and conform pretty much to my own personal opinion. The phases are as follows. (For the record, it was right around 2005 that Marvel stopped, for the most part, making comics I cared to read.)
I'm not certain who Wolk's audience truly is intended to be. It purports to be for newcomers, but I can't imagine casual fans with a case of mild curiosity being interested in this much detail. Some of the folks on this board, however, maybe. I myself found it fascinating.
Currently reading Nine Nasty Words - Englis in the Gutter: Then, Now, and Forever, by John McWhorter.
I'm on the first chapter now, which discusses how "hell" and "damn" slid from being part of actual, serious curses ("May God Damn you to Hell for your crimes!") to losing most of their meaning and barely qualifying as "bad language" anymore. For example, iif you say "Hell, I don't know!" or "I forgot to lock the damn door!", in neither case are you invoking God's judgement or diabolic intervention. It's the kind of thing that really fascinates me.
Well, hell, Baron! That sounds like one damn fine book.
Jeff of Earth-J said:
Is number 2 supposed to be 1968-1980?
Oh, shoot. Yes. Typo.
"Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde and Kidnapped" by Robert Lewis Stevenson, published by the Hotel Taft, New York.