Review of Heraclix and Pomp by Forrest Aguirre

November 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Hereclix and PompHeraclix and Pomp: A Novel of the Fabricated and the Fey
By Forrest Aguirre; Narrated by Brandon Massey
Publisher: Audible Studios via Resurrection House
Publication Date: 14 October 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 11 hours, 7 minutes

Themes: / reanimation / golem / necromancer / fantasy /

Publisher summary:

Heraclix was dead and Pomp was immortal. That was before Heraclix’s reanimation (along with the sewn-together pieces and parts of many other dead people) and Pomp’s near murder at the hands of an evil necromancer. As they travel from Vienna to Prague to Istanbul and back again (with a side-trip to Hell), they struggle to understand who and what they are: Heraclix seeks to know the life he had before his death and rebirth, and Pomp wrestles with the language and meaning of mortality. As they journey across a land rife with revolution and unrest, they discover that the evil necromancer they thought dead might not be so dead after all. In fact, he might be making a pact to ensure his own immortality….

Heraclix and Pomp: A Novel of the Fabricated and the Fey is a story about mortality, at the end of the day. It has horror and fantasy trappings, but at its core, it deals with finding oneself and dealing with mortal matters. The story is told through the guise of Heraclix, a golem, pieced together from many beings, and Pomp, a fairy faced with mortality. I think this book is probably a 2.5-star book…on the one hand, I liked the characters and the world and the idea. But on the other, I was bored a lot of the time when listening, and the book felt repetitive.

The book seems to do a lot of moral speaking, all from the frame of Heraclix or Pomp. Brought together when a sorcerer’s attempt at a spell goes haywire, Heraclix suffers a re-birth of sorts, while Pomp is nearly killed in the doing of the magic. Bound by their shared experience, they set off to first escape the sorcerer and then to learn more about Heraclix’s past. As he travels Europe and The Middle East, Heraclix learns whose parts literally make up his whole–he is a golem of patched together parts from people, most of whom he learns about in his travels. Pomp, meanwhile, is from the land of the Fey, used to being a prankster and not having to worry about a thing. However, the sorcerer almost killed her, brining her face to face with her on mortality, so she learns more of what it is to be human (or at least, human-like) while helping Heraclix learn about himself.

I enjoyed the world that Aguirre developed, and I enjoyed the characters. The book takes place in the time shortly after The Crusades, in parts of the world I don’t often see come up in books. Heraclix and Pomp run into vagabonds, sorcerers, gypsies, kings, nomads, and a host of other characters as they search between Vienna and Instanbul–and a variety of places in between, including a trip to Hell. The telling of the various stories of the lives that Heraclix was a part of was charming and not like most things I’ve read.

But…somehow, it wasn’t enough. I repeatedly found my mind wandering during the narration, found myself having to go back to the beginnings of chapters to see what I’d missed. The book seemed to work very well one chapter at a time…at first, but even then, I was finding other things to read. Some of the language used seemed purposefully obscure, and a lot of the scenes felt like repeats–Heraclix and Pomp enter a setting, they find some part of Heraclix’s past, they are chased out into another setting, rinse, repeat. I think if the book had been shorter, it might have helped. It’s not that it was bad (it certainly wasn’t), but I think more might have been left on the editor’s desk.

The narration, performed by Brandon Massey, was decent. His voice is strong, good for an audiobook, if a little droning at times. The biggest “problem” with the narration might be more due to the story itself. It was sometimes hard to keep track of characters, of who was who. This was especially problematic when characters from the early parts of the book would be re-introduced at the end of the book. Audiobooks are much harder to flip back through to refresh your memory, after all. Massey’s voice sounded familiar to me, though looking through my library, he hasn’t narrated anything else that I’ve read. His voice would be good in a mystery or other novel when there are only a few characters.

All in all, I liked this book, but wished that it had been a little less obscure and a little less repetitive. That doesn’t mean, though, that you shouldn’t give it a try if it sounds interesting. But maybe try it out in a print format.

Posted by terpkristin.

 

 

Review of Counter-Clock World by Philip K. Dick

July 27, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Counter-Clock World by Philip K. DickCounter-Clock World
By Philip K. Dick, Read by Patrick Lawlor
8 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: June 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4558-1430-5
Themes: / Time travel
/ Science Fiction / Reanimation

Publisher summary:  

In Counter-Clock World, time has begun moving backward. People greet each other with “goodbye,” blow smoke into cigarettes, and rise from the dead. When one of those rising dead is the famous and powerful prophet Anarch Peak, a number of groups start a mad scramble to find him first — but their motives are not exactly benevolent, because Anarch Peak may just be worth more dead than alive, and these groups will do whatever they must to send him back to the grave.

What would you do if your long-dead relatives started coming back? Who would take care of them? And what if they preferred being dead? In Counter-Clock World, one of Dick’s most theological and philosophical novels, these troubling questions are addressed; though, as always, you may have to figure out the answers yourself.

Counter-Clock World is an expansion of Philip K. Dick’s short story Your Appointment Will Be Yesterday. The ideas are interesting enough to flesh out into a longer story, but that also allows the cracks to show.

In this world, because of something called the Hobart Effect, time has begun moving backward. People get younger, rise from the dead, food is disgorged, and knowledge is destroyed. Because of that, libraries hold all the power. Even the police are terrified of the librarians.  The bits with the terrifying librarians were particularly funny, and this reader may have laughed hysterically in her car.

Time moves backwards… but not exactly. While everyone has to unsmoke their cigarettes and disgorge their food, there are still events going on that didn’t happen before. And when a human has unaged enough that they have to go back into the womb, any old womb will do. Some of those inconsistencies make the world not as plausible as it should have been in order to focus on the story.

The world building is more successful than the characters, which are terribly flat and uninteresting. Lotta, the wife of Sebastian Hermes, the owner of the Hermes Vitarium, is particularly vapid. Of course, she’s getting younger and dumber all the time, so maybe that is to be expected. The female characters are all conniving or sniveling, and the male characters are heroic but stupid. It got old. The main plot point is about a prophet coming back to life, but that kind of gets lost in the laser battles in the library.

Patrick Lawlor is a great reader with excellent enunciation. By listening to it, I realized how often Philip K. Dick uses alliteration and adverbs, she says knowingly.

Posted by Jenny Colvin