Review of Geomancer by Ian Irvine

February 19, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

GeomancerGeomancer (Well of Echoes #1)
By Ian Irvine; Read by Grant Cartwright
Publisher: Bolinda Audio via Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: July 2013
[UNABRIDGED] – 23 hours, 47 minutes

Themes: / fantasy / magic / crystals / visions / aliens /

Publisher summary:

Two hundred years after the Forbidding was broken, Santhenar is locked in war with the lyrinx – intelligent, winged predators who will do anything to gain their own world. Despite the development of battle clankers and mastery of the crystals that power them, humanity is losing. Tiaan, a lonely crystal worker in a clanker manufactory, is experimenting with an entirely new kind of crystal when she begins to have extraordinary visions.

The crystal has woken her latent talent for geomancy, the most powerful of all the Secret Arts – and the most perilous. Falsely accused of sabotage by her rival, Irisis, Tiaan flees for her life. Struggling to control her talent and hunted by the lyrinx, Tiaan follows her visions all the way to Tirthrax, greatest peak on all the Three Worlds, where a nightmare awaits her.

The start of this book was promising, but things went off the rails. Then, just as they seemed to be recovering, I found the end to be awful. I think my main problem this book is the characters and their dialogue. In part one of the book Mr. Irvine introduces us to several characters that I despised almost immediately. In part two he seems to be trying to elicit sympathy from the reader via self-pity from internal monologue and sympathetic back story. It might work for some readers, but not for me. At best instead of coming around to like the characters as complex and flawed, I find myself mostly indifferent about what might happen to them.

The main character is mostly likable, although some of her thoughts rubbed me the wrong way. I assume this is another attempt to give her depth through flaws instead of being a hero trope. Maybe my dislike of almost all the characters is just an inability for me to understand their society, but I doubt it. The most likable characters are minor ones who don’t seem to stick around very long. It’s really hard for me to enjoy a book when I don’t like the people I’m reading about.

The main story is interesting. The world is at war with much more powerful alien creatures. Humanity have built machines called clankers in order to be able to fight back, but they are still mostly outmatched. At first this seems more like sci-fi than fantasy, but the clankers are powered by crystals and there a mostly unexplained magical system based on them and their connection to power nodes around the world. So really it’s some sort of mix that has more of a fantasy feel than science fiction.

There are a lot of political and social issues that play into things. With so many young men dying in a seemingly endless war, everyone is expected to produce children to essentially provide the next generation of fodder. Anyone accused of a crime is sent to one of two places depending on their gender. Males are sent to the front lines where they will likely die in short order. Women are sent to “breeding factories” which are exactly what they sound like. Entirely too much time was spent on the breeding factories, and the notion of a society so desperate to survive they force women to sleep numerous partners in the hopes of producing the most helpful offspring as frequently as possible is downright horrifying to me.

This is apparently the second series of Mr. Irvine’s Three Worlds sequence. Having never read the first (The Mirror Quartet), I’m sure I’m missing some references to things from that series. My understanding is this is set hundreds of years later, and possibly on a different world. I never felt lost but it’s possible I would understand more about the crystals and their powers if I had read that series first.

Overall it wasn’t a very good book and it was not as well executed as I would have liked. I found myself cringing at some of the writing in places, especially the dialogue. The ending of the book really was really off-putting – it felt like a bad soap opera on television.

Grant Cartwright, the narrator, is the only bright spot of the book, and a large part of me being able to get through the worst parts. I’m not sure if he exclusively reads books targeted at an Australian audience, but if so that’s a shame. He does a good amount of voices for the various characters and his normal reading voice is clear and easy to understand. Some of his voices are grating, but I think that’s fitting for the characters he is portraying. Maybe this partnership between Bolinda and Random House will bring more of his work to North America. I’d like to see what he does with a better book.

Review by Rob Zak.

The SFFaudio Podcast #205 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

March 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #205 – Jesse, Tamahome, and Jenny talk about NEW RELEASES and 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?

A Natural History Of Dragons by Marie Brennan

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #159 – NEW RELEASES/RECENT ARRIVALS

May 7, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: New Releases, Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #159 – Scott, Jesse, Tamahome, and Charles Tan talk about recently arrived audiobooks, new releases and more.

Talked about on today’s show:
Charles sent to World Fantasy, John Scalzi’s Fuzzy Nation is a reworking, Is WWW: Wonder by Robert J. Sawyer YA?, three from Angry Robot, Giant Thief by David Tallerman, Empire State by Adam Christopher is superhero noir, free comic book day, The Shadow comic by Garth Ennis, listening speeds, Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm, Bolinda Audio from Australia, Dreamquake by Elizabeth Knox, YA is big, Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, “scare the crap out of little kids”, The Novice by Trudi Canavan, cozy fantasy, Dark Is The Moon by Ian Irvine, Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy, being developed for Netflix, polarizing, Angels Of Vengence by John Birmingham, futuristic Clancy?, White Horse by Alex Adams, Into The Black: Odyssey One by Evan Currie, ebook first, “I’m getting refreshed”, Jenny would like Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente, not Genevieve Valentine, Welcome To Bordertown edited by Ellen Kushner (Sfsignal interview) and Holly Black is all-new, “these stories are too wet”, A Handful Of Stars by Dana Stabenow is an older book, “Alaskans in space”, The Outcast Blade by John Courtenay has vampires, “well that’s disappointing”, how about steampunk?, the splitting of Warriors by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, Legends by Robert Silverberg, Scott thinks Far Horizons should be an audiobook, Agatha H. And The Clockwork Princess by Phil and Kaja Foglio, Girl Genius comics online, Dante Valentine series by Lilith Saintcrow, Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti, “clockpunk”, Nightfall by Stephen Leather, soul legalities, “God is the ultimate scammer”, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Infamous, paper books, Comedia Della Morte by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, usefulness of blurbs, The Company Of The Dead by David J. Kowalski, end of Scott’s stack, I didn’t know 8 Million Ways To Die by Lawrence Block was a book, lots from Audible Frontiers, Gregory Benford’s Galactic Center series with multiple narrators, Planet Of The Apes by Pierre Boulle, think of the movie inverted, “take your damn dirty hands off me”, Terry Bisson’s They’re Made Out Of Meat, Charles is reading the Shirley Jackson award nominees (horror and dark fantasy) to prepare for interviews, Peter Staub’s Mr. Clubb and Mr. Cuff, “it scared the pants off me”, where’s the John Joseph Adams anthology audiobooks?, Kim Stanley Robinson audio short story at Lightspeed Magazine, 2312 stays in the solar system, Mars trilogy if you like science, tons of new Robert Silverberg on Audible, The World Inside will be an HBO series, Scott liked Book Of Skulls, a bunch of Connie Willis, what’s on the horizon?, Existence by David Brin, Red Mars was a marathon, A Short, Sharp Shock by Kim Stanley Robinson, what kind of fantasy does he write?, John Scalzi’s Redshirts, bye Charles

The Shadow cover

 

Posted by Tamahome

The SFFaudio Podcast #096

February 21, 2011 by · 8 Comments
Filed under: Podcasts, Recent Arrivals 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #096 – Scott and Jesse talk about recently arrived audiobooks as well as Y: The Last Man, James Tiptree Jr., Isaac Asimov, what author estates want and more!

Talked about on today’s show:
Kage Baker, Subterranean Press, Blackstone Audio, In The Garden Of Iden by Kage Baker, Captive Market by Philip K. Dick, Janan Raouf, Time For The Stars by Robert A. Heinlein, Barret Whitener, telepathy, Starman’s Quest by Robert Silverberg, For Us The Living: A Comedy Of Customs by Robert A. Heinlein, Malcolm Hillgartner, Heinlein’s first and last novel, Spider Robinson, Variable Star by Robert A. Heinlein and Spider Robinson, Job: A Comedy Of Justice, Macmillan Audio, Death Cloud: Sherlock Holmes The Legend Begins by Andrew Lane, Dan Wyman, “endorsed by the Conan Doyle estate” = who cares, Poul Anderson on Sherlock Holmes, Laird of Muck, disabled protagonists, The Lighthouse Land by Adrian McKinty, The Lighthouse War, MG (middle grade) vs. YA, Gerard Doyle, Christopher Paolini, The Gods Of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, William Dufris, viscous plant men, does Deja Thoris lay eggs?, Dynamite Entertainment‘s Warlord Of Mars, Valentine Pontifex by Robert Silverberg, Majipoor Chronicles, Lord Valentine’s Castle, Stonefather by Orson Scott Card |READ OUR REVIEW|, Emily Janice Card, The Geek’s Guide To The Galaxy, The Lost Gate, The Last Airbender, R.L. Stine, Timescape by, Darkside by Tom Becker |READ OUR REVIEW|, Bolinda Audio, London, Neil Gaiman-esque, The Graveyard Book, Venus by Ben Bova |READ OUR REVIEW|, Fantastic Audio, Jupiter, Nova Science Now, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Europa, Ganymede, A Stainless Steel Rat Is Born, Brilliance Audio, The Elvenbane by Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey, dragons, elves, Odalisque by Neal Stephenson, Alan Moore loves allusions, The League Of Extraordinary Gentleman, Snow Crash, The Diamond Age, Honor Harrington, Honor Among Enemies by David Weber, manticore, pirates!, what’s up with all the mix-and-match creatures in the Middle East?, On Blazing Wings by L. Ron Hubbard, mercenaries, SFsite.com often reviews the L. Ron Hubbard Stories From The Golden Age, the paperbooks problem, The Unremembered by Peter Orullian, Anne Perry, The Desert Of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones, 8th century, Baghdad, The Desert Of Souls by Howard Andrew Jones, the Fantasy Book Critic blog review, unpronounceable character names, J.R.R. Tolkien, Philip K. Dick was inspired by the Odyssey, Beyond Lies The Wub, Strange Eden, Scott didn’t like Y: The Last Man, Brian K. Vaughan, Gulliver’s Travels, the problem of transitory pop-culture references, The Tyrrany Of Talented Readers, Scalped, Bertrand Russell, Pride Of Baghdad, anthropomorphic fiction, James Tiptree Jr., Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, Masters Of Horror: The Screwfly Solution, Dove Audio, Isaac Asimov, author estates, Escape Pod #100, Nightfall, Tantor Media, Robots Of Dawn, Audible.com has plenty of Arthur C. Clarke, Dream Park by Larry Niven and Steve Barnes, mystery, Science Fiction, On Stranger Tides, Brain Wave, PaperbackSwap, Del Rey art in the ’70s and ’80s was awesome, Scott’s Picasa gallery of book covers, Tom Weiner, Jesse has a terrible memory, our Oath Of Fealty readalong, the Pirates Of The Caribbean films.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Darkside by Tom Becker

September 17, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Darkside by Tom BeckerDarkside
By Tom Becker; Read by Colin Moody
6 CDs – Approx. 6 Hours 12 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Bolinda Audio
Published: 2008
ISBN: 9781921415340
Themes: / Fantasy / Urban Fantasy / Crime / London / Werewolves / Vampires / Magic / Kidnapping / Evil / Jack The Ripper /
Your home’s been attacked. Your dad’s in an asylum. You’re running for your life. And there’s nowhere to hide.

You’ve stumbled on the city’s greatest secret: Darkside. Incredibly dangerous and unimaginably exciting. Darkside is ruled by Jack the Ripper’s children – a place where nightmares walk the streets. You think you’re in trouble now, but your problems have just begun…

I usually do a fair mount of research about the books I plan to read. Before I pick one up I’ve usually either heard an author interview, read a review, discussed it with people who’ve already read it, or at least got a recommendation from an author whose work I already respect. But I also know these techniques aren’t a very good way to branch out beyond what’s already familiar to me, and so, every so often I just pick up a book, almost at random, and start reading. That’s what I did with Darkside by Tom Becker.

Maybe one of the initial appeals of Darkside, other than the terrific cover, was that it was from a publisher whose audiobooks I’d never heard before. Bolinda Audio is from Australia. And because of that it’s doing things a little differently. First off, it’s narrators are Australian. And second, they’ve got a lot of authors in their catalogue that I’ve never heard of. That’s cool!

Darkside is an interesting tale in itself. In terms of plot, it kind of falls halfway between two Neil Gaiman novels: Neverwhere and The Graveyard Book. It features Jonathan Starling, an unremarkable misfit fourteen-year-old with an ailing father and a deceased mother. He lives in London and is mostly taken care of by a kindly neighbor woman. Other than her, he’s nearly friendless and spends most days skipping-out of school and hanging out at one of the city’s many libraries. His father, an avid book collector himself, suffers some sort of recurring full body paralysis and perhaps it’s related to some of the books he collects. One day, right out in the open on a London street Jonathan is nearly kidnapped by a seemingly invisible giant and a woman with fluorescent hair. He quickly learns that London isn’t going to be safe for him anymore and so his father sends him away. He is to flee, for his own safety, into the arms of a protector. Jonathan takes with him a knife and a bullet. The knife is for protection from the kidnappers, and the bullet is for protection against his would-be protector, a mysterious old friend of his father’s, a man named Carnegie. Plot ensues.

Where the novel falls short is in comparison to the two Neil Gaiman novels I mentioned earlier. A hidden city within London isn’t really new. And neither is a young kid being protected by a paranormal monster-man. More importantly, Becker doesn’t have anywhere near the mastery of English fiction that Gaiman has. But that’s really not a fair comparison. For my money very few living English authors can compare favorably with Neil Gaiman. Apparently Darkside was written when Becker was just 25! When Gaiman was 25 he hadn’t written a single novel, comic, nor even Don’t Panic, his wonderful biography of Douglas Adams. As a result I think Darkside can stand pretty proudly on its own. It’s quickly paced, pretty fun and most of all it’s got a story that keeps your attention all the way through. Good job new guy.

Narrator Colin Moody, a talent stage trained actor, has an Australian accent, except when performing the dialogue of the characters. When in character Moody cowls him reading with various Londoner regionalisms. There are many sinister sounding villains in this novel and he voices all of them extremely well. If you’re a voracious reader looking for swiftly plotted urban fantasy novel (for the juvenile set), and you’ve already read both Neverwhere |READ OUR REVIEW| and The Graveyard Book |READ OUR REVIEW| do check out Darkside. Series fans will also be pleased to hear that four more Darkside novels follow this one, and that Bolinda has the “audio sequel forthcoming.”

Posted by Jesse Willis

New Arrival – Bolinda Audio

April 23, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Recent Arrivals 

SFFaudio Recent Arrivals

This just in from Australia!

Darkside by Tom BeckerDarkside
By Tom Becker; Read by Colin Moody
6 CDs – 6 Hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Bolinda Audio
Published: 2007
ISBN: 978921415340

Your home’s been attacked.

Your dad’s in an asylum.

You’re running for your life.

And there’s nowhere to hide.

You’ve stumbled on the city’s greatest secret: Darkside. Incredibly dangerous and unimaginably exciting. Darkside is ruled by Jack the Ripper’s children – a place where nightmares walk the streets. You think you’re in trouble now, but your problems have just begun…

Posted by Scott D. Danielson