I started my writing career as a staffer on SFX magazine. I don’t do much journalistic work any more, but I still review books, games and films for SFX pretty much every month. These are provided for me for free, and that can outweigh the modest (but still very welcome) fee I get for writing the actual piece. Sometimes, I get a freebie bonanza.
In September, I was lucky enough to receive for review both Mantic’s Mars Attacks Miniatures Game – based on the Topps trading cards – and Golem Arcana by HBS, which has its own original, proprietory background. I won’t reveal what I thought here, because otherwise what is SFX paying me for? You’ll have to read SFX #254 and SFX #255. But I thought I’d bring them to your attention. Go and check them out by clicking on their names above.
Both were funded through Kickstarter, and that’s very interesting. I see a lot of games drumming up support through that site. Some succeed, some fail. Some get made and aren’t all that great, but at least they all get a chance. We’re living in a golden age of model gaming, and Kickstarter is part of the reason why.
I reviewed these two books in one piece. Sometimes we do that in magazines, it’s interesting to draw parallels between similar items, and it saves space, honestly. I mean, you would not believe how hard it is to try to cover all the SF, Fantasy and Horror that comes out in one month, alright?
My authorial chum Adam Roberts liked The Forest of Hands and Teeth rather more than I did. I’ll leave that as a reminder that reviews spring only from personal opinion, rather than some kind of objective vision of creative truth.
From Death Ray #20. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 30, 2014 in Uncategorized
Last week my Champion of Mars giveaway concluded. I have posted the books today, so they should soon be with the winners. I’m afraid they’ve gone at the most basic postal rate, not being super rich or anything, and as I had three winners in mainland Europe and two in Canada, it may take a little time. But they will get there.
Posted: September 30, 2014 in Archive posts, Journalism, Reviews
Kill Her Again by Robert Gregory Browne
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Like a so-so episode of the X-Files, Browne’s book brings pulp style and a whole heap of coincidences to a fairly unlikely plot where a sinister gypsy appears to be bumping off incarnations of the same woman over and over again. To say more of it will spoil what surprises there are. Which is not to say there are many of them, the plot is pretty well signposted throughout, but the enjoyment in these crime thrillers is to be had almost exclusively from watching them click along their pre-ordained paths, not from trying to figure out who the killer is a la Agatha Christie. Bloody these plots may be, but this type of low-rent genre fiction offers a kind of comfort. This is particularly in the case of Kill Her Again, with its overtones of fate and arrow-straight seam of true love.
It’s easy to see the book as a mid-range Hollywood effort, and it is exactly as imaginative as that makes it sound. In the end it’s a massive case of sibling rivalry. The police procedural aspect of the story is a long way from Thomas Harris’ quality, while the supernatural goings on are at best serviceable. If you want the definitive scary American gypsy story, read Stephen King’s Thinner. This is pulpy trash; diverting for two hours, but one to toss in the airport trash when done.
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Posted: September 29, 2014 in Archive posts, Journalism, Reviews
Tags: Apartheid, Christopher Johnson, District 9, Neill Blomkamp, SF allegory, Sharlto Copley, South Africa, Wikus van de Merwe
This review appeared originally in Death Ray #21. That was the last issue we published. I’m getting close to finishing archiving all the articles and reviews I wrote for that magazine on this site now. What will I do then?
Below I talk briefly about South African SF. If there’s more of it visible to English eyes than there used to be, District 9 had a hand in that.
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Writer: Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, Nathalie Boltt, Sylvaine Strike
Space aliens in Johannesburg add to the city’s troubled racial mix in this action flick/ mockumentary hybrid. (“Hybrid” is the appropriate word here, by the way). Like mechs? You’ll love this.
We’d be hard pressed to come up with a list of South African science fiction, but if we could scrape one together (if you can, by the way, send it in, only the tedious Charlie Jade immediately leaps to mind) District 9 would come top of the list. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 26, 2014 in Uncategorized
I made 2 litres of damson gin. The damsons are from mum’s garden. I had to climb like a monkey to get them, but it’s worth it. It’ll be ready in time for Christmas.