Archive for December, 2007

Now this – this! – was fun. Since I finished “The Book of Joby” only yesterday (see the review), I had all but resigned myself with the fact that 2007 wasn’t going out on a high note. That was until I decided to finally give “Already Dead” by Charlie Huston a chance.

This book falls into the “urban fantasy” category due to the fact that it’s set in a “Sin Cityesque” New York and has a vampire named Joe Pitt as its main character. But most of all it’s really a hard boiled crime story filled with action, zombies and gritty characters. What can I say; I loved every second of it, and I think you would too.

Joe Pitt is your average, not too smart, flawed, middle-aged vampire who’ll do anything it takes to survive. If that involves knocking you out and draining you dry, then so be it. New York is a tough neighborhood and especially for a Rogue like Joe with only loose connections to the mob-like vampire clans that rule the streets. Joe takes on the odd job for the Clans to keep everyone happy, but sooner or later shit is going to start raining down, and he’ll be the one holding the bucket. But that’s no sweat; Joe’s been in deep shit before and he knows he can handle it. So when the Coalition, the biggest Clan in town, hires him to kill of some shamblers downtown, he doesn’t think much of it, but he’ll soon wish that brain-eating teenagers were the least of his problems…

The story is told with a first person narrative that works very well for Huston’s purposes. His main character, Joe Pitt, isn’t anything new or original in this genre, nor is the book for that matter, but it’s been a long time since I read such an engaging, action-packed and gritty vampire tale that I’m willing to turn an almost blind eye to such worthless nit-picking. The book is only 277 pages long i paperback and I wasn’t bored a single time during this roller coaster, so the book definitely accomplishes what it sets out to do.

However, aside from Joe Pitt, none of the supporting cast are especially good characters, which is understandable when you know how little screen time they get. I have high hopes for Pitts’ love interest, Evie, though – if Huston manages to evolve that relationship, these books will be very solid indeed.

So all in all I’ll heartily recommend this book to anyone looking for a fast, fun read that offers a nice take on vampires. I certainly enjoyed it immensely and have already laid down an order for “No Dominion”, the next book in series. I can’t wait for it to arrive and see whether or not Huston manages to write something as kick-ass twice in a row. I have every faith he will.

8.0 /10 (weak)


In a desperate attempt to read the most acclaimed new SFF books of the year, I decided to finally cave in and give “The Book of Joby” a chance. I had all but decided to not do that with this one, because I had sneaky feeling that it wasn’t my thing (whatever that is…). In the end it turns out that I probably should lend more trust to own brain – it would have served me well in this instance.

“The Book of Joby” is a retelling of what poor old Job went through in the bible. Only this time the story doesn’t take place such a long way back in the past. God and Lucifer decides that a new wager is warranted, and six year old “Joby” gets to play the role of the persecuted candidate. The wager is thus that Lucifer is allowed to do anything short of killing Joby to “turn him to the dark side” until the time that the candidate reaches the age of 40. God may under no circumstance do anything to help Joby in his trial, and his minions are commanded not to help Joby unless he specifically asks them to.

But what did God and the devil bet on? Well, if Joby failed, Lucifer would get end all creation and start things anew in his own picture of perfection, meaning that every stinking ape-descendant like ourselves gets to say bye-bye. So yeah, no pressure for poor unknowing Joby, really….

“The Book of Joby” is 639 pages long in hardcover and has the rare selling argument of being a “one volume epic fantasy story”. It’s been getting all sorts of rave reviews on the web, and I can certainly see why so many liked this book. It’s at times funny, always warm and it carries with it an inherent message that we all can approve of. However, no matter how much I wanted to like this book, it was too flawed an experience for me really enjoy.

The thing I’d value more than anything in such a book would undoubtedly be the characterization. But to my dismay I couldn’t find a single real character in the entire book! The closest thing would naturally be Joby himself, due to the fact that he gets the most screentime, but even he suffers terribly from the black/white, evil/good contrast that popped up when your entire cast is either servants of God or Lucifer. It was like reading a fairy tale, and not even an especially good one at that, because sometimes in fairy tales even the bad, bad troll has a good heart. In this book you couldn’t find a single flawed character on either sides (Ok, I guess that evil characters are nothing but flawed, but you get my point), and it really bugged the living daylights out of me. When you get to write a characters like “Lucifer” and “God”, who probably have the most potential for mind-numbing awesomeness in the world, and all you get is two generic, quite boring stereotypes, you pretty much fail at being a writer.

And I think you can really tell that this is Mark J. Ferrari’s first effort as an author. The plotting was transparent and anybody paying attention will have no problem guessing at his “little twirls of brilliance” towards the end. He had a really cool idea, albeit not an original one, and he managed to write something fairly decent of it, yet I couldn’t help but wonder what this book would be like if Scott Lynch or Neil Gaiman could have had a go at it. That book, my dear readers, would have been nothing short of an instant classic.

To be fair though, Mark J. Ferrari writes nice dialog and prose, so I wasn’t every really bored. I’ve read far worse books this year, and if the characterization had been existent I would have no problem recommending this book. I did feel for Joby through all his misery and joy, but even those became to one-sided downcast or cheery for my taste.

I imagine that younger readers than myself, who don’t care much for the problems I’ve described above, would probably adore this book, especially since it’s quite reminiscent of the Harry Potter series. But this one wasn’t for me. Not recommended.

6.5 /10 (weak)

This time around, I thought I’d start off with some thoughts regarding stories and why they’re told. The answer to that question is fairly simple and all-important for both the man telling the tale and his audience who take the time out of their day to listen. Stories exists because they’re worth hearing. They possess some kind of value that translates into entertainment or education, or better yet; both.

With “The Long Price: Shadow and Betrayal” you get to bear witness to a tale that is at times funny, heartbreaking and epic. But you don’t get to do it from your normal seat. Daniel Abraham manages to weave something has both the taste and appearance of a full blown epic, yet he doesn’t take you hunting along with waring princes and clashing armies. No, this author aims to pull your heart-strings from a more human perspective. Whether or not he manages it… is an entirely different question.

“The Long Price: Shadow and Betrayal” is an omnibus edition published by Orbit of the two first books in a four piece long epic fantasy series called “The Long Price Quartet”. Daniel Abraham has steadily grown a solid reputation among fantasy fans, and being groomed by George R. R. Marting certainly does help when you’re trying to make it as a writer. In addition to “A Shadow in Summer” and “A Betrayal in Winter”, Abraham has managed to co-author the much acclaimed “Hunter’s Run” with GRRM and Gardner Dozois, and he’s also a part of the upcoming “Wild Cards” novel, “Inside Straight” which is edited by GRRM himself. So yeah, Daniel Abraham is without doubt a man to keep an eye on and I liked a lot of what I saw in this little book of his.

“A Shadow in Summer” is only about 305 pages long in this edition, and “A Betrayal in Winter” is some pages shorter, making the entire thing 594 pages long in all. The prologue of the book introduces us to Otah Machi – the youngest son of the Khai Machi, who is proverbial king of the great city of Machi and the one who commands the poet and his andat. Since Otah is the youngest of his siblings, he gets sent away to a school where the Khaiem and the utkhaiem are safe from the ancient tradition where the brothers of the family kill each other until only one stands left to lead the family. In this school they either fail the tests and acquire the brand that keeps them safe from their brothers, or they go on to become poets – the true leaders of the world.

The poets are named thus because of binding that takes place between them and an andat. An “Andat” is an abstract thought like “Time” or “Rain” that has to be described in the fullest and held withing the poet’s mind forever. If the poet is able to do such a thing, he becomes the slave master of the andat; things so powerful that they are like small gods. Otah Machi is chosen to become a poet in the prologue (at which point you can imagine in perfect detail how things are about to unfold; he goes to school, learns how to control a really powerful andat, takes over the world etc etc), but instead of taking the opportunity, he does something no one has ever done before; he refuses the proposition and leaves the school. I thanked the sky above when he did so.

Because in stead of getting your normal fantasy-epic with all the trappings of the genre, you get to read something that’s very fresh and, at times, exciting. The first chapter takes us some time into the future after Otah left the school. “A Shadow in Summer” is for the most set in the city of Saraykeht – a blooming southern city, rich from its cotton trade that is helped by the poet Heshai and his andat, Removing-The-Thing-That-Continues, or “Seedless”, as he’s most often called. Enemies of the Khaiem have set a plan into motion which will rid Saraykeht of its poet and andat, and thus removing their advantage in the cotton trade. But things aren’t going to go as smoothly as the Galts are planning…

The story-telling technique and setting of these two books are what sets them apart from the pack. Where most authors would have chosen to spin the tales using a more mysterious, “who did it?”, angle, Abraham shows us that this isn’t his point at all. What’s important isn’t what is happening, or even why. The gist of the tale is the persons who’re involved, and suddenly you’ll find yourself reading a tale that is built on some rather hopeful pillars. The story stands and falls on whether he manages to make you care about the characters. I’m sad to say that this wasn’t always the case.

Abraham writes overall good characters filled with inner turmoil, but none of them are especially interesting. If I had to choose, I’d say that Otah Machi was definitely my favourite, and the andat Seedless was also quite good, but aside from those I didn’t find myself caring much about any of them. Which is too bad, cos I really wanted to.

What I did like, however, was the setting of the story. I can’t recall ever having read any epic fantasy stories set in an Asian-inspired world. It made both books seem fresh and I very much hope more authors will turn away from the medieval European setting in the future.

The pacing of the books were pretty similar. They start off quite briskly when they’re with setting things up, and then they dwindle out like a balloon that’s slowly loosing air towards the middle and end. It was probably what bugged me the most about these books; you knew where things were going and there weren’t any surprises along the way. Not my kind of stories at all, but I appreciate what Abraham was trying to do.

Thankfully his prose was always easy to follow and nicely done, so I never really grew bored. But all in all I doubt I’ll be picking up the last two books in the series, but I may very well try a different series by Abraham in the future; these books are quite good, but they’re just not my kind of poison. And I like my special kind of poison – it’s what keeps me up at night, sweating and turning while I wonder what’s going to happen next.

I’d recommend these books to anyone looking for an epic fantasy series with a slightly different focus and feel than what we usually find. This isn’t a masterpiece my any means, but it holds promise for things to come, and I’m glad I gave Abraham a chance. He may well earn it before long.

7 /10 (strong)

A merry Christmas Eve to one and all! All my sisters and my brother in law have come home for Christmas and everything is generally very nice around here at the moment. Later today we’re gonna devour the better part of a heavy-set pig and flush it down with extravagant gifts and alcohol. Yep, everything is as it should be in my little world.

Since I don’t actually have any real presents to give to you today (I forgot all about you guys! Forgive me!), I thought I could present you with my a little text I wrote for my term exams in Norwegian. It got a good grade (the best one you can get, actually), but so if you don’t like it, it’s simply because you have no taste whatsoever and/or don’t understand Norwegian.

The actual title of this entry is “God literatur: En søken for mening”, which is just as puffed up and cheesy as the translated version above. Look behind the cut if you want to find out for yourself whether or not I have the sick article skillzorz or not. It’s quite long and a lot of it is fictional (like, I didn’t actually interview a literature professor; all the available ones where taken…).

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Prison Break, Season 1

To tell the truth, I’m not impressed.

Normally I tend to watch a little bit more obscure shows like “Battlestar Galactica”, “Dexter” or “Entourage”. These are all big shows in other countries, but in little Norway they don’t get the attention they deserve from the masses. Teenagers like myself most often favor such shows as “Lost”, “24” or “Prison Break”, and I’ve tried both of the former options and found them wanting. “Prison Break”, however, has never gotten its chance to shine, so when I had the opportunity to watch the two first seasons of it, I thought, “What the hell – if everyone likes it, why shouldn’t I?”.

And I did like it to a certain extent. “Prison Break” is an exciting show that excites when you watch it, keeping you excited while you watch – excitedly so – exciting things unfold in exciting ways. So, yeah; the best thing about this show is that it’s exciting – an important quality that every show should posses. But for a show to be really good, it needs a couple of more strings to fiddle on. It needs good characters played by good actors, it needs variation in form, setting and tone and it also needs to not be riddled with logical errors.

I’m sorry to say that “Prison Break” falls disappointingly short on many of these criterias. The premise of the show is that the a man, Lincoln Burrows, has been wrongfully sentenced to death and is sitting around in Fox River while the paperwork’s being processed. Burrows’ brother, Michael Scofield, is convinced of his brother’s innocence and comes up with a plan to break him out of death row. The entire season spends it time building up to that climax, each episode bringing us bit by bit closer to an escape.

It does have a few good characters. Peter Stormare is quite awesome in the role of the mobster, “John Abruzzi”, and the pedophile murderer, Theodore “T. Bag” Bagwell is pleasingly creepy. Aside from these two though, you don’t find a lot of good characters. I especially didn’t like the main character, played by Wentworth Miller, who obviously was chosen based on his reportedly good looks rather than his acting chops. Talk about a stone faced man! He wasn’t able to believingly convey a single genuine human emotion – the only thing he could do was give you the good ol’ “Don’t fuck with me; I have a plan” stare. The guy who played Lincoln Burrows wasn’t much to jump up and about for either.

Aside from the generally mediocre acting going on in this show, what pissed me off the most was all the obvious logical errors that kept popping up. I nearly didn’t continue watching the rest of the season when a new inmate, “Haywire”, turned up who had a special condition that rendered him unable to sleep. At all. No sickness can do that to you, because if you don’t get your R.E.M. sleep your brain starts dying after a week or so. And there were of course a lot of other inconsistencies that bugged me, but these are mostly connected to the exciting plot, so I won’t go into further detail about ’em.

So all in all I found “Prison Break” season 1 to be surprisingly mediocre in every sense of the word. If it weren’t for the fact that I didn’t have anything else to watch at the moment, I doubt I’d continue onwards with season 2, even though it’s supposed to be better. I like exciting shows, but I crave more than just that, and “Prison Break” has yet to deliver.

6,5 /10

School was officially over earlier today and since I’ve planned to read at least a couple of books during this holiday break, I decided to finish off Graham Joyce’s relatively short novel, “The Tooth Fairy”.

I had only read some fifty odd intriguing pages before I sat down with it. Time did what it usually does – it kept ticking away – and before I knew it I was done and finished with the entire thing. Let me tell you something right here and now: Books like this are the exact things that makes me love reading to the degree I do. A book that totally envelops all your thoughts and keeps you turning those pages into the wee hours of the night are exactly my kind of heroine, and “the Tooth Fairy” is what I’d describe as a near-perfect fix.

I’ve been meaning to read something by Joyce for a long time now, what with him being one of the most heavily recommended authors out there, and since I was feeling a bit merry the other day, I figured that a sweet and cozy story about tooth fairies would be just what I needed. Well, I was right about the fact that this book was at times quite sweet and cozy, but more often than not it was unfathomably eerie and sinister.

Reading this book is like looking at one of those glossy family pictures where everything is real nice and idyllic from one angle, but when you shift your gaze you suddenly discover that your mother is holding a knife at your father’s throat and the sisters are all revving their bloodspurting chainsaws and laughing manically, but their doing it in a sweet and cozy way. Not that you’ll find any wives with knives (btw, is that a great name for a rockband or what?), bloodspurting chainsaws or maniacal laughter in this book, but you don’t need to read more than the first chapter to figure out that there’s some crazy shit going on.

The story is told in a third person narrative with special insight into one particular character named Sam. We get to follow Sam and his friends as they grow up in the small English town of Redstone. One day, when Sam is just small kid, he loses his first tooth to in a fisticuff, Terry, one of his friends, tells him to put it underneath his pillow so that the Tooth Fairy can give him a six pence for it. Clive, being the smartest boy in the gang, naturally objects to something like the Tooth Fairy even exists; everyone knows that it’s actually your parents who takes the tooth and leaves the six pence. Sam therefore decides to find out for himself if the Tooth Fairy exists by not telling his parents about the tooth. Have a guess at who it is that wakes Sam up at night? Yep, it’s the Tooth Fairy all right, and she isn’t of the Disney variety.

All this happens very early in the book, and you get a very interesting ride along with Sam whose life is haunted and blessed by the at times frightening beautiful and breathtakingly evil Tooth Fairy. But in truth, “the Tooth Fairy” is really a splendidly written coming of age tale that really captures the insanity of childhood and pains of growing up. However, this is far from a child’s book; the Tooth Fairy takes care of that fact…

This book isn’t more than 319 pages long, yet it managed to tell its story in a highly believable manner. You can really tell that Joyce is a master at his craft; the metaphors, characters, dialog and prose are all superb. My favourite character of them all was “Skelton”, Sam’s psychiatrist, who always managed to make me laugh. I have to admit though that the Tooth Fairy really grew on me and she was without doubt the most original member of the cast. This book even had a great ending which tied everything up in a brilliant manner!

All in all I can’t find single thing to criticize. This was simply one of the best books I’ve read in my entire life, and you should really go out of your way to grab yourself a copy of it. Anything else would be an outrage against not only yourself, but every person you’ve ever met. You wouldn’t want that hanging over your head now, would you?

9,5 /10

I spotted this over at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist. It’s a little thing that lets you know how much your blog is worth in terms of dollars based on links and what-nots. My blog is worth the net sum of $7,903.56.


My blog is worth $7,903.56.
How much is your blog worth?

That’s pretty neat, right? It ain’t much compared to “real” blogs done by people who actually know their shit, or are at least a little bit better than I at pretending they do (the Fantasy Hotlist is worth some odd $94,000). “A Slight Apocalypse” is actually the most valuable blog in the entire NatseCorma blogspace, even beating out Brækar’s popular blog. Yay for me!

(And if you perchance are in the market for a blog, I’m willing to let this one go for a lot less than what it’s worth. A brother gotta eat, right?)

Peter Jackson will be making “The Hobbit” and its sequel! This was confirmed today via a press release from New Line that reads as follows:

Los Angeles, CA (Tuesday, December 18, 2007) Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson; Harry Sloan, Chairman and CEO, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM); Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs of New Line Cinema have jointly announced today that they have entered into the following series of agreements:

* MGM and New Line will co-finance and co-distribute two films, “The Hobbit” and a sequel to “The Hobbit.” New Line will distribute in North America and MGM will distribute internationally.

* Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh will serve as Executive Producers of two films based on “The Hobbit.” New Line will manage the production of the films, which will be shot simultaneously.

* Peter Jackson and New Line have settled all litigation relating to the “Lord of the Rings” (LOTR) Trilogy.

If I didn’t have a sprained ankle, I’d be jumping up and down in pure glee. They’re saying that we’ll maybe see “The Hobbit” as early as 2010 and the sequel the year after. It doesn’t really matter when they’re out to me; all I give a shit about is that this doesn’t turn into some stale rehash. But I don’t that will be the case since PJ and FW is onboard.

What I’ll really be looking forward to finding out what the sequel is about…

Book vs. Blogger: Who Wins?

I have been trying for a couple of years now to read at least one book by the biggest guns the industry. So far I’ve managed to line up and knock down authors such as Iain M. Banks, Gene Wolfe and Tim Powers, just to mention a few, and I have books by Peter F. Hamilton and Alistair Reynolds waiting patiently on the Stack. Charles Stross is a highly critically acclaimed SF author who’s been on the Hugo ballot for four (!) consecutive years with books such as “Accelerando” and “Glasshouse”. He’s known for writing pretty hard SF, and after having read “Halting State”, I can vouch for that statement. This book is practically brimming over with hard core techno-babble that’s obviously not intended for a seventeen years old Norwegian n00b with no computer skillz whatsoever. In the end I felt like it became a battle of wits between me and “Halting State”. Who would cave and admit defeat?

Since this is a review of “Halting State”, you can safely assume that it was indeed I who managed to swim through the acronyms and bring the cup home. It was a hard fight, but in the end I’m glad I persevered. This is a good book with a lot of strengths, and easily the book with the most original plot, narrative and ideas I’ve read this year.

This is a newly released book that hasn’t gotten its European release yet. The only reason why I managed to set get this beautiful hardcover was because I happened to stumble onto it when I was trolling a SFF stores in Oslo when I was visiting family a couple of weeks ago. I remembered having read a really interesting plot taster by John Scalzi around the time this was released. Since I most likely won’t be able to be more eloquent than Scalzi, I think I’ll rather just quote what he said in his book pimpin’ Ficlets blog post:

“Halting State by Charles Stross is just your typical black comedy heist caper taking place in a massively multiplayer online role playing game kind of story. Wait, what? You’re telling me that there’s no typical black comedy heist caper in a MMPORG, because there’s no other story of this sort? Well, fine. It’s the Platonic ideal of that newly-emerging subgenre, then. Get it while it’s hot. “

Of course, the story is much more challenging than that, but I think it gives you a fair idea of what to expect from this 351 pages long book. Because in addition to the strangeness described above, it’s written in a second person narrative. Yes, that’s right, not first person, not third person, but second person narrative – a style I’ve never tried before. It gives the book a very special feel and, to my amazement, I have admit that I thought it worked really well. You got the best of both worlds, which is the ability to jump between different characters (three, in this case) all the while you still feel like the text retains some of the intimacy you gain from the first person angle. Not that I don’t think “Halting State” could have worked equally good in third person, but as an experiment I thought I was fairly successful and interesting.

It took some time before this book really grabbed me. It wasn’t until I passed the first hundred pages that things started getting really interesting, and even then it wasn’t unusual for me to zone out every ten pages or so because of a techno-babble overdose. I really struggled with understanding what the characters were talking about at times, and that took a lot of the enjoyment out of the experience and often left me a bit disoriented. It did get better as I continued onwards, but I really think that you need be an extra-sized computer geek to really get what the hell was going on at times.

So when all this is taken into consideration, I’m at a toss up in whether or not I should recommend this book. It’s got a lot of strengths and really fascinating ideas, but the characters aren’t super, nor did I feel like Stross did the best out of what he’d created. I guess you’ll just have to decide if you’re up for a challenge or if you’d rather spend your time with more… understandable fiction. All I can say is that I don’t regret reading this book and I wouldn’t be loathe to pick up the next book by this author. At least I’d know what cutting edge sci-fi looked like.

7 /10


This was a deserved win if I ever saw one, and unbelievably important as well. I think we probably deserved to win by more than one goal, cos Adebayor’s goal should never have been annulled in my opinion (which is heavily biased but ever so right in this case).

I didn’t think that we’d have much of a chance this year, but it seems like we’re gonna be in the race to the bitter end. We’re playing some really good football at the moment and if we can keep Cesc, van Persie, Hleb and our centre backs relatively healthy I don’t see any reason why we can’t compete with Man U, who’re probably our toughest competitor.

But this is a great day. We’re top of the league and we managed to best the twats from Chelsea. It’s all good.