Friday, 30 September 2016

Book Review - Cabal by Clive Barker

I'm a huge Clive Barker fan, so much so that he's one of my favourite contemporary horror authors. That's down to two factors: imagination and writing style. In all of his books there is a flash of imagination, of bringing a new angle to an established genre. His style of writing is fantastic, and does often make me despair that I'll never be able to match his talent for prose.

Cabal is almost a more traditional horror story compared to his other novels, it lacks the grand scale of Weaveworld for example. Naturally there are some new angles to it, but they're not as impactful as some of his other creations. The concept of 'monster' is the heart of the book, whether that be human, or otherwise. And that tone is carried well, you see brutality in many different guises here. This works mainly through the existence of strong and well written characters.

My main complaint is that while the characters are well realised, and the setting appropriate, it only touches on the surface of this strange world. I would have loved to learn more about the nightbreed, and to be honest that of the mask as well. There were histories there that needed to be realised to bring it into the light.

As always though, no matter if the story has its flaws, his writing carries it superbly. It's not often I read a book just for the joy of the words, and while this isn't the strongest of his form (I'd probably pick the Hellbound Heart for that), it is evident as you read it. There's a real eloquence to be admired here. A decent horror read, but not his best.

For more than two decades, Clive Barker has twisted the worlds of horrific and surrealistic fiction into a terrifying, transcendent genre all his own. With skillful prose, he enthralls even as he horrifies; with uncanny insight, he disturbs as profoundly as he reveals. Evoking revulsion and admiration, anticipation and dread, Barker's works explore the darkest contradictions of the human condition: our fear of life and our dreams of death.

Click here to buy Cabal from Amazon

Currently Reading - Proxima by Stephen Baxter

The very far future: The galaxy is a drifting wreck of black holes, neutron stars, and chill white dwarfs. The age of star formation is long past. Yet there is life here, feeding off the energies of the stellar remnants, and there is mind, a tremendous galaxy-spanning intelligence each of whose thoughts lasts a hundred thousand years. And this mind cradles memories of a long-gone age when a more compact universe was full of light... The 27th century: Proxima Centauri, an undistinguished red dwarf star, is the nearest star to our sun. How would it be to live on such a world?

Click here to buy Proxima from Amazon

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Book Review - Horus Rising by Dan Abnett

I used to be very into my Warhammer 40K with my Space Marine army, and back then the Horus Heresy was a footnote in history. I've always been a fan of the setting, and while I don't play the games anymore, I do still enjoy reading stories. This is the first book in the long running 'Horus Heresy' series, and details the events of 10,000 years before the game.

While the book is set far in history from the games' point of view, as these are the precursors to the famous space marines it didn't take long to familiarise myself with the setting. If you're new to the universe then this probably isn't the best book to start with, as there's little introduction to the mythos.

The book's setting before the more formal marine chapters known later allow a greater flexibility with the marine characters as they conduct their great crusade to stamp the Imperium's seal across the galaxy. They're still superhuman killing machines, but there are nuances to their cha=racters which help offset the bleakness of the world they inhabit. Of particular interest if Horus, his fate is known to those familiar with the mythos, and its interesting to see the seeds of his future, and see him before his fall.

That grim future is one of the aspects that attracts me to the 40K universe. It's very over the top, with enemies on all sides, and within if you're not careful. The basic premise is that humanity had once spread across the stars, but contact had been lost, and Earth was now reclaiming the lost colonies. Naturally many resisted, and that's were the book starts with the subjugation of one such world.

As is often the case with these books the action soon involves aliens, and while they're not the most imaginative foes, they are sufficient to provide for some good action. The writer's style works well for the story, it has a sombre formality which matches the nature of the Imperium, but also well paced action for the fighting.

My only real complaint was that the ending feels a bit rushed. I would also have liked to have learned more about the second set of aliens. Overall though, I enjoyed reading it. It portrays the world in a detailed fashion, yet at a steady pace. It also has a few philosophical moments with so solid insights. A good read.

After thousands of years of expansion and conquest, the imperium of man is at its height. His dream for humanity nearly accomplished, the emperor hands over the reins of power to his warmaster, Horus, and heads back to Terra. But is Horus strong enough to control his fellow commanders and continue the emperor's grand design?

Click here to buy Horus Rising from Amazon

Currently Reading - The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen's Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok's street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history's lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko...

Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. One of the New People, Emiko is not human; instead, she is an engineered being, creche-grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in a chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe.

What Happens when calories become currency? What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits, when said bio-terrorism's genetic drift forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution? Award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi delivers one of the most highly acclaimed science fiction novels of the twenty-first century.

Click here to buy The Windup Girl from Amazon

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Old Ones Productions - Dark Eyes Print and T-shirt

She has a hunger that can never be satisfied in this chilling print of a Luciana Nedelea painting.

Available for only £10 plus shipping from the Old Ones Productions store:

This image is also available on a t-shirt here:

My Books on Goodreads