Dispatches From Smaragdine: August 2007
a column by Jeff VanderMeer
Jeff is back after a little ruckus involving a weasel, an iguana, a golf cart along with some Smaragdine soldiers, a debtors' prison
and a chicken farm. Things have calmed somewhat so he has had time to interview David Anthony Durham, author of
Acacia which has received a lot of well-deserved praise for being "literary quality" heroic fantasy.
Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks
reviewed by Charlene Brusso
Seven-year-old Cadel Piggott is a genius without direction. Cadel LOVES systems: studying them, analyzing them, and -- best of
all -- breaking them. His adoptive parents don't know what to do with him, and neither do his teachers. The local police just have
one suggestion: find something to keep the boy occupied or he'll end up
in jail. A referral leads Cadel's desperate parents to Dr. Thaddeus Roth, a somewhat unorthodox, reputedly
brilliant, psychologist. Cadel has been to so many shrinks, one more doesn't make much difference -- but Roth is different.
Titans of Chaos by John C. Wright
reviewed by David Soyka
This book concludes (sort of) a trilogy about five teenaged orphans attending a secluded British boarding school
who discover that they are not human, but are in fact the offspring of Greek gods.
We rejoin our heroes following their break out and their adventures of the Queen Elizabeth II cruise ship
en route across the Atlantic to the land of freedom and consumer excess, the good old USA. The compatriots do eventually
arrive in the city of sin, Los Angeles, but it is only a short stay over, as they must outwit the forces bent on their destruction.
In A Town Called Mundomuerto by Randall Silvis
reviewed by Sandy Auden
The author tells two intertwining stories -- one about the grandfather and the boy, set in a
present; and the other, more substantial story, about the tragic events in the grandfather's youth, when a beautiful maiden
was seduced by the mysterious dolphin-man.
Masters of Science Fiction #3: Jerry Was a Man
a TV review by Steven H Silver
When the Van Vogels (Anne Heche and Russell Porter) visit Controlled Genetics, they are met by Tibor Cargrew (Malcolm McDowell). After
being one-upped at their exclusive club by a member with a six-legged dachshund, the Van Vogels have decided they need a
pegasus. While on a tour of the laboratory, Cargrew convinces them to instead take a miniature elephant who can write.
Masters of Science Fiction #4: The Discarded
a TV review by Steven H Silver
The final episode of Masters of Science Fiction, airing on Saturday evenings in August on ABC, is "The Discarded,"
based on Harlan Ellison's short story "The Abnormals." Perhaps because the adaptation of the story for the screen was performed
by Ellison (along with Josh Olson), "The Discarded" is clearly the strongest of the quartet of episodes aired during the show's run.
Bone Song by John Meaney
reviewed by Jakob Schmidt
When Lieutenant Donal Riordan is assigned to protect opera diva Maria da Livnova, he already knows that the plot to assassinate her
is probably part of a conspiracy that involves the highest circles of the city of Tristopolis. What he doesn't know is that he is a
pawn in the game. The conspirators seem to be after the corpses of artists
because in Tristopolis, death is power. The city runs on necroflux, an energy derived from the ground bones of the
dead, in which all the memories of their owners's life are inscribed...
Mistral's Kiss by Laurel K. Hamilton
reviewed by Nathan Brazil
When you've got a cash cow, milk it. That would seem to be the ethos behind this series. The books are getting significantly
shorter with each iteration, and the plot more ephemeral. Mistral's Kiss once again sees Meredith Gentry -- Princess
of the Unseelie Court -- attempting to screw her way to the top. For only by becoming pregnant with one of her many Sidhe lovers,
can she be named heir to the Unseelie throne, presently occupied by her aunt Andais, Queen of Air and Darkness.
This time around, the man who literally makes the earth move is Mistral, a sadistically inclined fey.
Overlooked or Over-hyped?
a column by Neil Walsh
Usually Neil chooses two completely unrelated works and discuss them in a frequently vain attempt to find some vague connection between the two.
But he doesn't want to become too predictable, so this time he deliberately picked a couple of books that are most definitely related.
This time out he takes a look at The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag (1942) by Robert A. Heinlein and
The Insipid Profession of Jonathan Hornebom (1995) by Jonathan Lethem.
The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate by Ted Chiang
Star Trek, The Animated Series: Logs Nine and Ten by Alan Dean Foster
reviewed by Steven H Silver
This is an Arabian Nights style story with the merchant, Fuwaad ibn Abbas, relating
four interconnected tales to the Caliph in Baghdad. The framing mechanism is that Fuwaad was approached by an alchemist, Bashaarat,
who claimed to have a magic door which would permit Fuwaad to visit Baghdad twenty years in the future. Before Bashaarat would
allow Fuwaad to make use of the gate, he told the merchant three stories, which Fuwaad also relates to the Caliph.
The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman
reviewed by Michael M Jones
What would you do if you had a time machine? Admittedly, it's somewhat limited: it only goes forward, and every time it's used, it
leaps forward at an exponential rate. At first it leaps forward by seconds. Then minutes. Use it too many times, and you'll leap
forward by centuries, even millennia. What would you do?
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
Rick offers his thoughts on the first episode of the new Flash Gordon series
as well as the new direct to DVD of two new Babylon 5 episodes.
a movie review by Rick Norwood
Rick is happy to report that the movie Stardust is much better than expected. The previews made it look sketchy
and perfunctory compared with other fantasy movies crowding the screens, but Stardust turned out to be quite delightful.
It uses the book, as movies will, and leaves out a lot and puts in a lot, as movies will, but the mix works more often than not.
reviewed by Steve Lazarowitz
This, the last volume of the series, contains two stories.
The first offering, "BEM," deals with an not very nice BEM (bug-eyed monster for those of you who didn't attend SF school
or were born in the 90s). This particular BEM is a Pandronian, a condescending, arrogant, annoying creature, who will remind
you of someone you don't like, or perhaps several people. Thus, it
makes the plight of the Enterprise officers who have to deal diplomatically with the creature far more interesting.
Tolkien and Shakespeare: Essays on Shared Themes and Language edited by Janet Brennan Croft
reviewed by Alma A. Hromic
If you hated something like The Silmarillion, this is not the book
for you. This is essentially an academic book on the Faerie, however incongruous that might sound, and it discusses enchantment
in terms that many might find dry, and boring, and superfluous to requirements -- if your interest in the Faerie is merely
entertainment, then steer clear of this book.
But if you loved The Silmarillion...