“Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”
So, the only other experience I have with Blake Crouch is through the ridiculously insanely pulpy, Drakulas … written by three other authors. I can’t say I was able to tell who wrote what, so it really wasn’t a huge help. Other than that I had good feelings going in because Drakulas is amazing. Read it, do it.
Dark Matter is difficult to explain without spoilers, but let’s just say it involves … science. Wow, could this review get more boring than that. Okay, there’s got to be a minor amount of spoilers to get this review moving, so let’s say spoiler warning for the first quarter of the book.
Our protagonist, Jason Dessen, has the perfect life and, more importantly, the perfect family. Okay, his marriage isn’t perfect, but it’s a place he loves being in more than anything. In fact, it’s something he gave up a budding science career to pursue.
Like anyone, he always imagines what it would be like if he’d made different choices. The only difference is that he actually gets to see for himself.
While tightly plotted with one heck of a twist at the end (I thought), this book packs more of a punch in the psychological aspects. Considering the implications of the science (which I’m really trying not to spoil), the questions addressed by Dessen are what really got me. Thinking about what I would do in the same situation is what will keep this book in my brain for some time.
What would you do for your family? What lengths would you go to to be with them? To save them? To permit them to be happy? What if that choice makes you miserable?
4 out of 5 Stars (highly recommended)
Note on the narrator: Jon Lindstrom is one of those voices that really needs to fit the character if that makes any sense. I feel like there are some books that his voice wouldn’t work for. It worked for Jason Dessen. Craig Wasson (11/22/63 and many others) is one of those voices for me as well.
I received an audio copy from the publisher for review.
Talked about on today’s show:
ACX, Audio Realms, Fred Godsmark, a workmanlike exposition, a terrific premise, the setup, a disability in life mirrored by an ability in the dream world, all of the spoilers, Life Is A Dream by Pedro Calderón, a prophecy in the court of Poland, raised in a cave, juice of the poppy, an Elizabethan era court, A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, the Induction in The Taming Of The Shrew, a Shakespearean hobo, the play with the play, the dream story is improved because of the framing, a secret dream girl, building the dream mansion, a memory palace, is it a horror novel?, a fantasy novel with some gore, Paul’s theory of horror, The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher, splatterpunk, horror is something you put on to something, dark fantasy, urban fantasy, the mean streets of Atlantic City, surgical detail, two kinds of horror: body horror and moral horror, Greek tragedy, how many fingers into his orbits, the Bacchae and Pentheus, oh my god the parents are monsters, H.P. Lovecraft’s Dreamquest Of Unknown Kadath, but rather Dreamscape (1984), the symbolism, Dennis Quaid is a psychic trained as a dreamwalker, Inception, seeing Nancy Regan being exploded by a nuclear bomb in New York City, a rare phenomenon, an internet of dreams, Roger Zelazny’s Dreammaster, a whole sequence of dream stories, stories on both sides of the fence, assassination at the bus station, no body to go back to, coma, afraid to go to sleep, Dreamwalker would make a very good movie, picturing Atlantic City, no salt water taffy, what does Twin Moon city look like?, how does it get built?, the shared landscape, Second Life, virtual reality, how seriously do you take your dreams?, retreating from day-life into dream, Pete, depressed people sleep, Moby Dick has a lot of mass, it gets better as it goes along, self-contained, Pete is a sympathetic figure, visual processing disorder, libraries turning into caves, we all have visual processing disorder in dreams, dream house, dream girl, lucid vision in the dreamworld, sequel dreams, alternate New York, the geography of dreams, littering the landscape with so many (undercooked?) seeds, the furniture all thrown out on to the street, Who Knows? by Guy de Maupassant, furniture fleeing a home, to flee his fleeing furniture, checking into an insane asylum, the furniture of your mind, the taxis with two crossed palm-trees, is Twin Moon City in the Caribbean?, an alternate Port-au-Prince, Jesse’s illustration, Nameless Street, is Reyna supposed to be white? she’s blonde, Pete is supposed to be white too right?, the good girl is a black guy too, What Dreams May Come, reflecting an essential truth, what would Russell James say?, in dream people blend together, a love hate relationship with Haiti, Ithaca (NY), moving to Philadelphia, she has a ship, retelling the novel from another character’s POV, “dream girl”, his view of her, following her sister into death, the scene with the antelope, what’s the range of dream wifi?, inquiring minds, a sequence at the bus station, overhearing the soldier’s, a smile that the son will never see, a foreshadowing of Tommy’s return, what happened to the assassin (the hit-woman), an entertainment book, not designed to languish in a drawer for sixty years, this is what a modern meat and potatoes working writer book looks like, amazingly deep, Six Characters In Search Of An Author, Henry The IV by Luigi Pirandello, harmonies and reverberations, what is reality, narration, so many voices, you’re everybody, Geoffrey Holder (Baron Samedi), a deep deep voice, Live And Let Die, The Serpent And The Rainbow, voicing the main character, a mature me and a younger me, buy the book it deserves more listeners, especially neglected, food for thought, a thinking book, a popcorn book with a different premise, Dark Inspiration, Dark Vengeance, rural horror, Wayne June, Audio Realms picks great narrators.
In this sequel to Randy Henderson’s acclaimed debut novel, Finn Fancy Necromancy, Finn Gramaraye is settling back into the real world after his twenty-five-year-long imprisonment in the otherworld of the Fey. He’s fallen in love again with Dawn, the girl next door who waited for him. He’s proved his innocence of the original crime of Dark Necromancy, and he’s finding a place in the family business – operating a mortuary for the Arcane, managing the magical energies left behind when an Arcane being dies to prevent it from harming the mundane world.
This is one of those “if you liked the first book, you’ll like this one” types of sequels. I have a great time with Henderson’s humor and his story is a unique, geekier urban fantasy than normal. It has many of the same urban fantasy tropes, but his twist adds something … less sexy, but filled with humor that mostly works.
And I say “mostly” because, and this could just be me, he’s also one of those author’s obsessed with the ’80s for some reason. I know, write what you know, but it’s almost like some authors (maybe just Henderson and Ernest Cline for all I know) think that you only have street cred if you’re an ’80s geek. Knowing other types of geekery is not at the same level and beneath ’80s geekery.
Now, admittedly, the Finn Fancy series has to do with a guy who gets outcast when he’s a kid during the ’80s and comes back in the present so that’s pretty much all he knows. So I get it, I get why, but at the same time I’m tired of it now. And now that we’re on book two, did we still really need to name all the chapters with ’80s lyrics or songs? I mean, the protagonist is now learning about what happened since his exile.
But those complaints aside, I really did enjoy Bigfootloose and Finn Fancy Free. Henderson’s humor shines with or without ’80s references and it’s a lot of fun. I like his whole mythos with the fae, fae-bloods, arcana, and any other magical you can think of. It’s a great world and well presented.
For the audio, Todd Haberkorn, the narrator, presents Finn well – relatable, silly, and serious all when he needs to be.
The Finn Fancy series is recommended if you enjoy urban fantasy, but you’ve done the same vampires/wizards/werewolves stories and you need something new…with those same creatures… I promise it’s different too.
The SFFaudio Podcast #338 – Jesse, Tamahome, and Paul talk about new releases and recent arrivals (audiobooks, books, and comics).
Talked about on today’s show: Aftermath: Star Wars (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens) by Chuck Wendig, read by Marc Thompson, not a curse fest, the crawl, grief, The Geeks Guide To The Galaxy, one star reviews, diversity up down left and sideways, a pink lightsaber, a rainbow lightsaber, Timothy Zahn, sounds like Star Wars names, Heirs Of Empire by Evan Currie, read by Deric McNish, Brilliance Audio, it sounds like a Stars Wars book (but isn’t), a 47 North Novel, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick, read by Luke Daniels, drugs!, sounds trippy, re-reading Philip K. Dick (for The SFFaudio Podcast), different assumptions, by the inventor of Science Fiction… In the Days of the Comet by H.G. Wells, read by Walter Covell, the salvation of the human race, cynical then preachy, The Star by H.G. Wells, The Poison Belt by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1906, The World Set Free, The Sea Lady by H.G. Wells (a mermaid in Edwardian society), Stranger In A Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein, a comedic bicycling novel, military SF, David Weber, The Child by Keith F. Goodnight, read by Nick Podehl, Tam’s macho voice, Adam Christopher’s The Burning Dark, Event Horizon, hyperspace as a Hellraiser universe, this all goes back to H.P. Lovecraft’s From Beyond, drugs plus radar shadowing, a terrific adaptation The Banshee Chapter, the 1980s adaptation of From Beyond, fear of the dark in a lighted world, The Oncoming Storm by Christopher G. Nuttall, read by Lauren Ezzo, the youngest captain in naval (future) history, what is 47 North? it’s Amazon’s publishing house, synergy, PlayStation has it’s own TV show (based on a comic book called Powers), an Honor Harrington novel with the serial numbers filed off, fantasy (non epic), Locke And Key by Joe Hill, adapted by Elaine Lee and Frederick Greenhalgh, audio drama, AudioComics, 13.5 hour audio drama, Gabriel Rodriguez, Paul needs to get Welcome To Lovecraft, horror, dark fantasy, hyper-imaginative, Joe Hill looks and writes like his dad (Stephen King), kids in a creepy situation, the manipulation of power, more fantasy elements, the origins of the keys at Key House, back stories, Fred Greenhalgh as a champion of field recorded audio drama, a film production unit without cameras, listening with headphones, this could be the star of something really amazing, the business model, word-of-mouth then the long tail?, Elaine Lee’s Starstruck, William Dufris, epic fantasy, Twelve Kings In Sharakhai (Song of Shattered Sands #1) by Bradley P. Beaulieu, read by Sarah Coomes, Paul is a fan of Bradley P. Beaulieu’s writing, “his best novel yet”, it is impossible to promote books you aren’t enthusiastic about, “the ones that sing to the song in your blood”, Paul is a long term epic fantasy fan, true confessions, Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, epic fantasy as a lifestyle choice, Kate Elliot, The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher; read by Euan Morton, Penguin Audio, urban fantasy, airships!, a new steampunk secondary world, beautiful endpapers and maps Priscilla Spencer, books in the middle of series: Darken the Stars (Kricket #3) by Amy A. Bartol, read by Kate Rudd, The Ciphers of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood #2) by Jeff Wheeler, read by Kate Rudd, Unholy War (The Moontide Quartet #3) by David Hair, read by Nick Podehl, Dryad-Born (Whispers from Mirrowen #2) by Jeff Wheeler, read by Sue Pitkin, Jenny’s favourite section “dystopia, unrest, destruction, apocalypse”, an interesting theory about zombies and dystopias, it fits in with the Christian end times, Revelations and rapture theology, the 1950s optimism, we’re not in Star Trek times anymore, 2 Walking Dead TV series and Z Nation, zombies never die, The Heart Goes Last: A Novel by Margaret Atwood, read by Cassandra Campbell and Mark Deakins, an economic and social collapse, the “Positron Project”, what is the point of the premise?, allegory not SF?, an Asimovian word, she doesn’t really care about the consequences of science, people who are interested in science, Ted Chiang, what if…, doesn’t that mean XYZ?, let her write her books, paranormal romance, Dark Ghost (Dark Saga #28) by Christine Feehan, read by Phil Gigante and Natalie Ross, a bounty hunter, a vampire slayer, a geologist, fairy tales, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie, read by Robert G. Slade, history and folklore, “the time of the strangenesses”, a djinn, 1,001 nights (two years, eight months, and twenty-eight nights), a Nobel Prize for Literature, a print book, Joy To The Worlds: Mysterious Speculative Fiction For The Holidays, a mix of mystery and speculative fiction and Christmas, Maia Chance, Janine A. Southard, Raven Oak, G. Clemans, upcoming authors, Andy Weir, that’s how the young people are reading, get of Tam’s lawn, House Of M, Marvel Comics, why is Thor a girl now?, Scarlet Witch can re-write reality, annoying-off people(?), the $1 floppy deals, Free Comic Book Day, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is fun and fabulous, her squirrel sidekick, a silver age happy go lucky superhero in our cynical grim age, she’s got squirrel blood!, writing comics for kids, Genosha, kids Squirrel Girl cosplaying looks fun, making your own costume, Princess Leia (Marvel Comics/Star Wars), there’s something wrong with Princess Leia, Disney is making so much more product than Lucas, Alan Moore and Jacen Burrow’s Providence (Avatar comics), Neonomicon, when will the first Providence trade come out, what Moore is doing and saying with Providence, an examination and meditation on H.P. Lovecraft stories, Providence doesn’t seem to have a very important plot, Herbert West’s equivalent, if you are deeply involved in Lovecraft…, if you don’t know Lovecraft can you still enjoy Providence?, the turns!, not merely visually shocking, The Dunwich Horror, a trans-dimensional invisible character, Moore is wrestling with Lovecraft, Watchmen, Alan Moore and Gabriel Andrade’s Crossed Plus One Hundred, “124C41+”, “Return Of The King”, “Glory Road”, “A Canticle For Leibowitz”, “Tyger, Tyger”, “Foundation and Empire”, the difference between crossed zombies and regular zombies, the Crossed series, Alan Moore is about thinking deeply about things, evolution, “the big surprise of 2008”, bone piles, the change of language, AFAWK, Moore has reconstructed English in the way of A Clockwork Orange or Anathem, zombies as a fear of death, zombies as a fear of loss of individual volition and personality, a fear of Alzheimer’s, we don’t talk about death, The Walking Dead Volume 12 (hardcover), everybody’s infected, no matter what happens you become a zombie, zombies as a non-scary version of momento mori, Brian K. Vaughn and Steve Skroce’s We Stand On Guard, the invasion of Canada by the United States, the only time Canada has ever been invaded was by the United States, reading for writers not for artists, the Dark Adventure Radio Theatre series, The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society, DART The Horror At Red Hook, a straight up adaptation of The Horror At Red Hook by H.P. Lovecraft, DART Dagon: War Of Worlds, Dagon by H.P. Lovecraft, imagine War Of The Worlds not from Space but from beneath, X-COM: UFO DEFENSE, X-COM: Terror From The Deep, aliens at the bottom of the ocean, the Orson Welles style War Of The Worlds, mapping out all of Lovecraft’s squiddy watery fears, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, The Call Of Cthulhu, “I love that!”, attention to detail, if it says it in the story they take it seriously, The Whisperer In Darkness, Infocom games included props, H.P. Lovecraft The Spirit Of Revision Lovecraft’s Letters To Zealia Brown Reed Bishop, David Michelinie and Brett Blevins’ The Bozz Chronicles, originally from Epic Comics, a 19th century Sherlock Holmes alien mashup, lots of nudity, The New Mutants artist, Dover Publications, a 200 page trade-paperback for $20, a feel of the new Doctor Who, Madame Vastra, what if Sherlock Holmes was not Sherlock Holmes, Fred Saberhagen’s Bezerker story, Fred Saberhagen’s Dracula novels, Conan Red Sonja, a lack of attention to details, 1980s sensibilities vs. 20teens sensibilities.
Working for Bigfoot: Stories from the Dresden Files
By Jim Butcher; Read by James Marsters
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication Date: 21 July 2015
[UNABRIDGED] – 3 hrs, 45 mins
Themes: / short stories / urban fantasy /
Chicago wizard-for-hire Harry Dresden is used to mysterious clients with long hair and legs up to here. But when it turns out the long hair covers every square inch of his latest client’s body, and the legs contribute to a nine-foot height, even the redoubtable detective realizes he’s treading new ground. Strength of a River in His Shoulders is one of the legendary forest people, a Bigfoot, and he has a problem that only Harry can solve. His son Irwin is a scion, the child of a supernatural creature and a human. He’s a good kid, but the extraordinary strength of his magical aura has a way of attracting trouble. In the three novellas that make up ”Working For Bigfoot,” collected together for the first time here, readers encounter Dresden at different points in his storied career, and in Irwin’s life. As a middle-schooler, in ”B is For Bigfoot,” Irwin attracts the unwelcome attention of a pair of bullying brothers who are more than they seem, and when Harry steps in, it turns out they have a mystical guardian of their own. At a fancy private high school in ”I Was a Teenage Bigfoot,” Harry is called in when Irwin grows ill for the first time, and it’s not just a case of mono. Finally, Irwin is all grown up and has a grown-up’s typical problems as a freshman in college in ”Bigfoot on Campus,” or would have if typical included vampires.
I’m really glad this has been collected together in one book. Each story was originally released in a different anthology last year and they all go with each other. The premise is that a Bigfoot named Strength of a River in His Shoulders has a half human son named Irwin living around Chicago, and can’t check on him, what with being a Bigfoot and all, so he periodically hires Harry to look after him.
These are all fun stories that take place at different points in Harry’s life as Irwin grows up. B is for Bigfoot takes place between Fool Moon and Grave Peril, I Was a Teenage Bigfoot takes place circa Dead Beat, and Bigfoot on Campus takes place between Turn Coat and Changes. They aren’t really anything special though. I’m not a huge fan of short stories in general, and I found these stories weaker than several of the ones inSide Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files. They are still worth a read if you’re a die hard Dresden fan like I am.
The stories all pull in different beings from the fairly rich Dresdenverse to offer a variety of issues for Harry to solve. Things tie together rather nicely between the three stories, and in some ways could be one longer story with large time gaps between certain events. James Marsters makes it awfully hard for me ever want to read a Dresden book in print again. Listening to them is just so excellent. Likely I’ll mix and match on my initial reads and then do the audio for any rereads. Smart move to release this one in audio.
Overall, in my opinion this is a collection only for the die-hard Harry Dresden fans.
By Seanan McGuire; Performed by Emily Bauer and Ray Porter
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: December 2014
[UNABRIDGED] – 10 hours, 17 minutes
Themes: / fantasy / urban fantasy / cryptozoology / basilisks / cryptid /
What do gorgons, basilisks, and frogs with feathers all have in common? They’re all considered mythological by modern science, and some people are working very hard to keep them that way. Alexander Price is a member of a cryptozoological lineage that spans generations, and it’s his job to act as a buffer between the human and cryptid worlds—not an easy task when you’re dealing with women who have snakes in place of hair, little girls who may actually be cobras, and brilliant, beautiful Australian zookeepers. And then there’s the matter of the murders.…Alex thought he was choosing the easier career when he decided to specialize in non-urban cryptids, leaving the cities to his little sister, Verity. It turns out that he had no idea what he was getting himself into. It’s a family affair, and everyone—from his reanimated grandfather to his slightly broken telepathic cousin—is going to get involved before things get any better.
Half-Off Rangarok is the third book in the InCryptid series and has a change in narrators and locations. No longer are we in New York with Verity but with her brother Alex, in Ohio.
The story line picks up maybe a month or two after book two. Alex Price is living with his grandparents and Sarah trying to have some semblance of a life while overseeing a secret basilisk breeding program. For Alex some things are going well – Sarah is getting better; other things are challenging like keeping secrets from his girlfriend Shelby about who he really is. It all goes downhill when Alex is faced with dead bodies that are turning to stone and the realization someone is trying to kill him too.
This book is interesting with a band of characters. Shelby and the grandparents are total hits. We learn about new cryptids which were kind of fascinating. Things that I missed were the mice; I liked all of their crazy holidays. While they are in the book it is more like a passing thing. I also preferred the New York setting. This was supposed to be in Ohio but I think the setting could have been anywhere. For me, I had trouble relating.
I listened to the book on audio and the narrator made it feel like the book was evenly paced. His voice was interesting enough to keep me interested without losing me. I am not sure if it was because I listened to the book on audio verses reading but this book has a different kind of feel. Perhaps this is due to the change in narrator …I cannot really say.
My biggest overall challenge of the book was despite how good the writing is for me there is something missing between characters for some reason I was just not as vested in the outcome.