Dispatches From Smaragdine: December 2006
a column by Jeff VanderMeer
In this month's column from Smaragdine, Jeff attends one of the November Awards ceremonies,
provides both a video and digital interview on France and the Interstitial Movement with
Sebastien Guillot, Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman and, in his spare time, gives us
fiction reviews of books by Jay Lake and Matthew Hughes.
American Morons by Glen Hirshberg
reviewed by Victoria Strauss
Glen Hirshberg's strengths as a writer are his skill in creating a tangible atmosphere of dread -- in part by alienizing the
everyday, revealing the horror that lurks behind even the most familiar things -- and his ability to make his stories seem larger
than they are. More than many writers, he succeeds in creating characters who you believe have lives and histories that extend
beyond the boundaries of the particular incident he has chosen to relate.
The Small Picture
TV reviews by David Liss
With Lost on break until February, it seems like a good time to take a step back and take stock of where the show
is and where it may be going. And ABC is filling the space with the 13-episode series Day Break which attempts to combine the sense
of mystery of its time-slot-mate with the compelling action of 24.
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks
reviewed by Steven H Silver
Using the format of an oral history, it tells the story of the most disastrous world-spanning war the world has ever
known. From its beginnings in the remote village of New Dachang, China, the books's characters chronicle the spread of a strange disease
that turns humans into zombies. The only way to stop one is to destroy its brain. The disease, and the threat to humanity, expands
exponentially and no place on earth is safe.
Star Wars: Darth Bane: Path of Destruction by Drew Karpyshyn
reviewed by David Maddox
Amidst the turmoil and ongoing war with the Old Republic and the Jedi, an angry, lone miner on the planet Apatros named Dessel finds his
destiny. Son to an abusive father, trapped in never-ending debt to a faceless corporation, Des has become hard, mean and vicious to
survive in the Outer Rim. Although he has always had precognitive senses, a violent turn of events with a Republic ensign puts
him on the run.
Phantom by Terry Goodkind
reviewed by Lise Murphy
This book picks up where Chainfire left off. Kahlan Amnell is forgotten by all of humanity except Richard, her beloved
husband. But others, randomly chosen, can also see and remember Kahlan. Richard has finally convinced Zed, Cara, Nicci, Ann and
Nathan that the woman to whom he is intensely devoted actually exists. During a mission to find out what is happening with the
world, Richard also begins the final battle as the prophesy foretold.
Farthing by Jo Walton
reviewed by Sherwood Smith
Jo Walton's novels are all quite different from one another. If any observation can be made about her work, it is that she has a gift
for taking a familiar storyline and crossing it with an unexpected trope to present something not just new, but that informs and thus
transcends the elements she draws upon.
Stranger than Fiction
The Patron Saint of Plagues by Barth Anderson
a movie review by Rick Norwood
Stranger than Fiction could be based on a Theodore Sturgeon story from Unknown or it could be based on
a Charlie Kaufman screenplay, but actually it is an original script by Zach Helm, who prior to this film has written one TV
movie Rick never heard of, acted in one TV episode Rick didn't see, and directed one film that won't be out until next year.
a movie review by Rick Norwood
The Fountain is not fantasy or science fiction. It is the story of a doctor whose wife is dying, and who foolishly tries
to save her life instead of enjoying their last days together. That's it. So, why is it being reviewed for a science fiction web
site? Why, to save you seven dollars and fifty cents, of course. Rick is always thinking of you.
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
Rick offers his thoughts on the recent story lines of Heroes and Lost
and how that of Witchblade applies.
He also gives us a list of what to watch on TV in December.
reviewed by Nathan Brazil
Set 55 years from today, it's part medical thriller, part speculative fiction, and part apocalyptic prophecy. The plot concerns a new virus, agricultural
ruin and invasive biotech, complicated by radically altered religious and political divisions. The latter occur between a
buoyant Mexico and a US where the economy has all but collapsed. The reason for this fall has to do with the farming
methods used by American producers, which have left their crops vulnerable. When blight strikes, American agriculture
is dealt a near fatal blow, reducing the nation to almost third-world standards.
Macrolife by George Zebrowski
reviewed by David Hebblethwaite
Living on planets is a precarious business. You never know when some quirk of geology or a stray rock falling from the sky will put paid
to your species; not forgetting evolutionary pressures pushing you who-knows-where, and sundry other ravages. So it's pretty much inevitable
that a civilization wishing to survive in the long term must become space-faring. But what then?