In the Unnatural Quarter, golems slave away in sweatshops, necromancers sell black-market trinkets to tourists, and the dead rise up — to work the night shift. But zombie detective Dan Shamble is no ordinary working stiff. When a local senator and his goons picket a ghostly production of Shakespeare in the Dark — condemning the troupe’s “unnatural” lifestyles — Dan smells something rotten. And if something smells rotten to a zombie, you’re in serious trouble… Before his way of life, er, death, is destroyed, Dan wants answers. Along the way he needs to provide security for a mummified madame, defend a mixed-race couple (he’s a vampire, she’s a werewolf) from housing discrimination, and save his favorite watering hole, the Goblin Tavern, from drying up. Throw in a hairy hitman, a necro-maniac, and a bank robber who walks through walls, and Dan Shamble’s plate is full. Maybe this time, the zombie detective has bitten off more than he can chew.
This is book 2 of Kevin J. Anderson’s Zombie P.I. series. If you listened to the first book, you pretty much know what to expect from the second book. If you haven’t read the first book, this book is a hard-boiled detective novel with a silly, monster slant on it. The problems being investigated are unique to the “unnaturals” and tend to have some amount of humor involved in a Terry Pratchett/Douglas Adams kind of way. You can easily start with this book but if you care about spoilers, I would definitely recommend starting with the first book since the conclusion of that book is apparent in book 2.
If you like awkward or silly situations dealing with the paranormal, this is your book. If you like groan-worthy puns dealing with the paranormal and sex, this is definitely your book (I’m not kidding when I say I inadvertently groaned at some of them). If those kinds of things can get on your nerves, this may not be your kind of book. That said, the book keeps up a good pace and wraps up to a good conclusion at the end. There are quite a few threads in this book but they weren’t too difficult to follow (Reading the first book helped in knowing a decent number of the characters already). Most of the main characters are likable caricatures of what you’d expect in a typical hard-boiled detective story so they’re easy to relate to and understand.
The book has some themes related to current events within the past couple of years. Issues with the definition of marriage and picketing of events are portrayed in monster fashion here. If you’re tired of hearing about that stuff in the news, this may not be for you although Anderson puts a lighthearted spin on those issues.
All in all, I have to admit I liked this book better than the first one. It wasn’t as predictable and I think I’ve had some time to get over the fact that the main character was made a zombie by being shot in the head (I thought you shot people in the head to prevent them becoming a zombie?).
As for the audiobook performance, Phil Gigante did a fantastic job. He has several different types of voices (main character, nervous guy, werewolf, sultry female, etc) that are completely unique. I particularly like his werewolf voice! He was easy to understand and added a bit of a performance to the book. I would definitely listen to books read by him again.
Posted by Tom Schreck
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals
Talked about on today’s show:
Oz Reimagined, Orson Scott Card, John Joseph Adams, Marissa Vu, The Mad Scientist’s Guide To World Domination, Daniel H. Wilson, Alan Dean Foster, Seanan McGuire, Scott loves lists!!, Microcosmic God by Theodore Sturgeon, the cruel god, about Science Fiction, mad scientists, steampunk, urban fantasy, superheroes, supervillians, Lex Luthor, Infinivox, Steampunk Specs, Cherie Preist, Cat Rambo, Margaret Ronald, Sean McMullen, do stage actors make the best narrators?, themed anthologies, Extinction Point (Book 1) by Paul Anthony Jones, Emily Beresford, Chuck Wendig, Mockingbird, Blackbird, post-apocalyptic novels, Swan Song by Robert McCammon, Six Heirs (The Secret of Ji) by Pierre Grimbert, “Les editions Mnemos”, Bolinda Audio, the distorting effect of podcasts, are audiobooks taking over reading?, Luke Burrage, busy lifestyles, Gone Girl, Beautiful Ruins, archaeologist werewolf vampire oracles, “being a librarian is awesome”, is being a paramedic fun? Or is it full of paperwork?, Bones, forensic anthropology, Kathy Reichs, sorry no time traveling, high fantasy (aka epic fantasy), The Hobbit, The Lord Of The Rings, The Worm Ouroboros, Neil Gaiman, the Neverwhere BBC audio drama, the TV show, the audiobook, Neverwhere as an allegory of homelessness, urban fantasy, Neil Gaiman can do no wrong, “I accept that”, Harry Potter is not high fantasy, Tolkienesque, George R.R. Martin, Harlan Ellison, Deadhouse Gates (A Tale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen) by Steven Erikson, Malazan is hot on GoodReads, Terpkristin, Mongoliad Book 3, Neal Stephenson, Greg Bear, Mark Teppo, Nicole Galland, Erik Bear, Joseph Brassey, Copper Moo, comic crossovers, The Beast of Calatrava (A Foreworld SideQuest, Mongoliad) by Mark Teppo, Area 51: The Truth by Bob Mayer, Casey, Zero Dark Thirty, torturefest, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Among Others by Jo Walton, Between Two Thorns (The Split Worlds #1) by Emma Newman, Cornish accents please, Jumper by Steven Gould, Jumper vs. Looper, Reflex by Steven Gould, The Stars My Destination, teleportation, Impulse by Steven Gould, snowboarding, Sarah vs. Bryce, Angelopolis (Angelology #2) by Danielle Trussoni, Penguin Audio, Fabergé eggs, The Da Vinci Code, nightmare car trips, nightmare cruises, Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, stolkholm syndrome, Seth Grahame-Smith, zombies, Redemption Alley (Jill Kismet Series) by Lilith Saintcrow, The Free Lunch by Spider Robinson, Spider Robinson is the humane hippie Heinleinian, theme park fantasy, the Callahan’s series, fascistic junky pro-war movies are ameliorated by reading Robinson, Heinlein and the sexual revolution, Michael Flynn, Falling Stars (Firestar Saga #4) by Michael Flynn, Footfall, the Russian meteor, what would have happened if it had happened over Ohio, instead of Siberia, Dan Carlin, Neil deGrasse Tyson, suspension of habeas corpus, an external vs an autoimmune threat, Farside by Ben Bova, Stefan Rudnicki, soap opera or space opera?, archaic characters, vintage SF, Jack Williamson, Omni magazine, Aftermath (Supernova Alpha Series #1) by Charles Sheffield, Black Feathers (The Black Dawn #1) by Joseph D’Lacey, Simon Vance, futuristic fantasy?, apocalyptic fantasy?, History Vikings, Jenny is 1/4 viking, Steen Hansen, the quasi historical saga dude, The Tudors, The Borgias, The Thrall’s Tale by Judith Lindbergh, Ireland, Triggers by Robert J. Sawyer, “real science fiction”, technothriller, Red Mars Blues, Morlock Night by K.W. Jeter, Connie Willis, steampunk, Tim Powers, The Age Atomic (sequel to Empire State) by Adam Christopher, Phil Gigante, Seven Wonders, superhero noir, intricately beautiful, The Stainless Steel Rat, Phil Gigante is the new narrator of Galactic Pot-Healer, Julie Davis, Robert Sheckley, suicidal characters, a comedic version of Neuromancer with the Wintermute role being played by Cthulhu, Tor, Imager’s Battalion by L.E. Modesitt, Jr., A Natural History Of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan, Naomi Novik, Trinity Rising by Elspeth Cooper, The Fractal Prince by Hannu Rajaniemi, Finland, Tam books vs. Jenny books, The Hermetic Millennia by John C. Wright, The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman, 500 Essential Cult Books: The Ultimate Guide by Gina McKinnon, 500 Essential Cult Movies: The Ultimate Guide by Jennifer Eiss, Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson, Dreamscape Media, Toronto, conjoined twins, Brown Girl In The Ring, Midnight Robber, mojo vs. voodoo, Karen Lord, Cat Valente style fantasy, The White Woman On The Green Bicycle, Inherit The Stars by James P. Hogan, “a shimmering arpeggio”, Downpour’s new pricing is $12.99 per month, DRM FREE audiobooks are awesome, Identity Theft by Robert J. Sawyer, LibriVox, Gutenberg.org, Robert E. Howard’s Conan, The Devil In Iron by Robert E. Howard, The Hour Of The Dragon by Robert E. Howard, Mark Nelson, Bill Hollweg, what would a Robert J. Sawyer Conan story look like?
Posted by Jesse Willis
Themes: / witchcraft / mongoliad /
A severed head and a cry of “Witchcraft!” start a frenzied witch hunt in a sleepy German village. When Konrad von Marburg, a Church inquisitor, arrives on the scene, innocent and guilty alike find themselves subject to the inquisitor’s violent form of purification. Two knights of the Ordo Militum Vindicis Intactae, Andreas and Raphael, soon arrive in the village. Though each journeys on a separate path, they quickly band together to confront the inquisitor as he whips the townspeople into a righteous bloodlust. When her dead husband’s severed head appears on her doorstep, a local woman is charged with practicing heretical rituals. It is up to the knights to discover the truth behind the brutal murder before the torches are lit and the woman is burned at the stake. Their task proves daunting, though, as the townspeople have their own long-buried secrets and sins that they want to keep hidden — even if it means allowing the sacrifice of an innocent woman. With Sinner: A Prequel to the Mongoliad, Mark Teppo forges the first link in a chain that leads to the world-shattering events of the Mongoliad series.
I got this book as a part of my copy of the audiobook of The Mongoliad: Book One. I haven’t yet read The Mongoliad: Book One; I decided that I wanted to read the prequel first. I have one or two other prequel stories, which I think I’ll wait to read until after I’ve read The Mongoliad: Book One and The Mongoliad: Book Two and possibly The Mongoliad: Book Three. The reason I read this one before the others was that I happened to have it on my iPhone in that order. I don’t think anything was lost by reading it before the main books…I just want to see what the main books offer before going into the shorter-story prequels.
The story itself introduced two characters who I believe play a role in The Mongoliad: Book One, Raphael and Andreas, two knights who meet by happenstance in a small town at a time when the town has suffered a tragedy. Otto, the husband of Goetta, was murdered, and Goetta stands accused for the crime. To make matters worse, an Inquisitor of the Roman Catholic Church is also passing through the town and he decides to personally adjudicate the matter. Raphael is an older knight, mostly wiser, and has a history with this Inquisitor. Andreas is younger, brasher, quicker to jump in…and that’s where I’ll leave the description, without spoiling anything.
The story was light and I’m guessing sets the stage for events in The Mongoliad: Book One. I suspect readers will learn more about the Inquisitor (named Conrad) in that book, and of course about Raphael and Andreas. One hopes that Raphael will be able to teach young Andreas a bit of his worldly wisdom. And I expect that Andreas will be able to help Raphael recover…or possibly seek revenge, from issues in his past. The story here really set up these characters, wrapped around an otherwise predictable plot.
There’s nothing wrong with predictability, especially when interesting and intriguing characters are introduced. It’s even better when the story isn’t drawn out; it didn’t need to be any longer. This story whet my appetite for the main tome and now I’d like to see what else is in store for these guys.
Luke Daniels is a prolific audiobook narrator, with good reason. His narration for this story, as with so many of the stories he’s done, is spot-on. He adds life to the characters without distracting from the story. If I had one minor complaint, it’s that it was sometimes hard to understand what he was saying when he was using Raphael’s voice. He played the character with a heavy accent, which was sometimes hard to hear while driving down the road. The best way to listen to this type of book is to lay back and relax, put the earbuds in, and just listen. Daniels will take you to another place entirely…in this case, 13th century Europe. I’m looking forward to my next trip there with him in The Mongoliad: Book One.
Review by terpkristin.
By Robert Heinlein; Read by MacLeod Andrews
6 CDs – 7 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: July 2012
Themes: / space / genetic engineering / genetic modification / aging / death / interstellar travel / aliens /
After the fall of the American Ayatollahs as foretold in Stranger in a Strange Land and chronicled in Revolt in 2100, the United States of America at last fulfills the promise inherent in its first Revolution: for the first time in human history there is a nation with Liberty and Justice for All.
No one may seize or harm the person or property of another, or invade his privacy, or force him to do his bidding. Americans are fiercely proud of their re-won liberties and the blood it cost them; nothing could make them forswear those truths they hold self-evident. Nothing except the promise of immortality….
This 1941 novel by Robert Heinlein is a short but epic space adventure about the Howard Families, a population of people who can live very long lives thanks to a history of selective breeding. Over the centuries, they took on different identities to hide their long-life nature from “short-lifers,” but eventually some of them decided to share their scientific achievement with the public.
However, instead of celebrating the Howard Families’ scientific achievement, the short-lifers suspect them of concealing the true secret to long life. This is where the story starts: when the government and the public begin to persecute the Howard Families, Lazarus Long (the kilt-wearing leader of the group who is more than 200 years old and who always has a knife strapped to his thigh) hijacks a city-sized starship so the families can flee Earth and go in search of a new home.
Despite its short size, this book covers a long length of time, is packed with ideas, and manages to explore deep themes such as aging, death, human genetic modification, and individualism, among others. There’s bound to be something in here for everyone, although personally I struggled with the first half because of the lengthy democratic meetings and the seemingly endless strategizing about what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. I also thought the discussions about the technicalities of interstellar travel or alien biology were a little tedious, but I’m sure hard-SF fans will love every moment.
I really got into the story later, when the families started arriving on other planets and things got weird. The alien cultures, worlds and philosophies were brilliant and often eerie. How can you not love aliens who say things like, “My people will like to see you and smell your skin.”
The human characters, on the other hand, were less lovable for me. They lacked depth and tended to speak literally and directly, without subtext. The narration on the audiobook didn’t help warm the dialog up either, because in the reading the characters sometimes sounded like they were barking lines at each other, and at other times odd words in the dialog were emphasized that I don’t think should have been.
The narrator McLeod Andrews did give a very clear reading though, and once I got used to his style the odd emphases were less noticeable. He did an awesome job of embodying the voice of grumpy but optimistic Lazarus Long, who was the most developed and interesting character.
Ultimately, even though not everything might be to your taste, there are just so many great ideas and themes squished into this book that you’re bound to find a ton to enjoy, despite its short length.
Review by Marissa VU
Watch Jenny unbox the steampunkiest audiobook ever:
Posted by Jenny Colvin
By Philip K. Dick; Performed by Phil Gigante
1 CD – Approx. 1 Hour [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Themes: / Science Fiction / Mars / telepathy / memory /
Philip K. Dick’s classic short story tells the story of Douglas Quail, an unfulfilled bureaucrat who dreams of visiting Mars, but can’t afford the trip. Luckily, there is Rekal Incorporated, a company that lets everyday stiffs believe they’ve been on incredible adventures. The only problem is that when technicians attempt a memory implant of a spy mission to Mars, they find that real memories of just such a trip are already in Quail’s brain. Suddenly, Quail is running for his life from government agents, but his memories might make him more of a liability than he is worth.
The first appearance of Philip K. Dick’s “Total Recall” was under the title “ We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” originally published in 1966 for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction as well as numerous short fiction anthologies. The current title owes the name to the movie adaptations (similar to 1982’s “Blade Runner”) which have help catapult the author from obscurity into a virtual household name. 2012 featured a new film version of “Total Recall,” and Brilliance Audio has also released among many other previously unavailable Philip K. Dick audiobooks a newly recorded version of the short story under the more familiar title.
The 26-page story is narrated by Audie Award winning narrator Phil Gigante and clocks in on one disc at just shy of one hour. Even though a short story, the narration is superbly done and I especially liked the attention given to little things for an example the telepathic voices heard in protagonist Douglas Quail’s head. For those not familiar with the story, the plot centers around the business REKAL which offers for a discounted fee false memories of adventures planted in their customers brains, often superior to the memories that of an actual excursion. The price includes token memorabilia and the wiping out of any knowledge that the trip was in fact a purchased and pre-packaged false memory. (So much so, that if customers suspect that their trip was in fact purchased at REKAL, they can return for a full discount of their fee.)
For those familiar from the plot of the original movie, only about the first half of the short story is used as a basis to launch the film into a detailed Martian secret agent thriller. The plot of Philip K. Dick’s story actually never leaves Earth, although the Martian journey is referred to as a key element. Instead, the story focuses on continued interaction with REKAL and a surprising further development that will be new to those who are only familiar to the story from the movie versions. (I’ve not seen the latest movie adaptation but it appears to follow the original movie closely more so and deviate even further from the short story.) Whether already a fan of the movies and story or not, the new audiobook offers a fresh and worthwhile take on one of Philip K Dick’s classic tales of science fiction.
Review by Dan VK