Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Martin, Marmell, and Howey Reviewed at SFFWorld

Another classic re-issue review from Mark and I’ve got a review of an author attempting something slightly new and Nila White joins for a review of a self-published sensation who recently had a novel optioned for the screen.

George R.R. Martin was a popular and acclaimed author before A Song of Ice and Fire and this is one of those older novels reissued no doubt to cash in on his current success and popularity. It is his novel of Rock and Roll and journalism, The Armageddon Rag which publishes today:

The Armageddon Rag is one of George’s own personal favourites, though at the time of its original release in 1983 it rather disappeared without notice. George was so upset by its failure that he wrote less fiction for a number of years and went off to write for television, for the newly revamped Twilight Zone and the Beauty and the Beast television series.

Coincidentally, and nearly thirty years later, this novel reappears in the UK. At first, it seems fairly straight forward as a rock and roll murder mystery. Sander (‘Sandy’) Blair is an underground rock journalist investigating the death of Jamie Lynch, a millionaire rock producer apparently murdered in some sort of a satanic ritual. His heart was cut out and the body left in his office with a copy of his most famous band’s last concert poster under him and their last album left playing on repeat.

If The Armageddon Rag tells us nothing else it is that George loves his music, and also the culture it created in the 1960’s – 80’s. That Rolling Stone Magazine vibe, a la Lester Bangs, is recreated here in all its bizarre and surreal glory. Drugs, sex and rock and roll, in all its aspects.

Ari Marmell is proving to be a versatile writer, who started in tie-in fiction, moved to heroic fantasy, then humorous military fantasy and now with Theif’s Covenant, he launches a new young adult series about a girl named Widdershins:

Presenting such character-driven story in a dual narrative can be a tricky task for an author who has to balance the right amount of dramatic tension in two storylines, keep event ‘spoilers’ from one timeline creeping into the other, and balance the action in two storylines, among all the other elements necessary for telling a good story. Marmell should be proud of what he’s done with the dual narrative in Thief’s Covenant because for me, it worked like a charm.

One of these storylines follows Adrienne’s past from the time she is orphaned through her time reentering high society, becoming part of a thief’s guild while the other narrative follows her after the worshippers of her god Olgun are destroyed. The portions of narrative/chapters dedicated to Adrienne jump a year or two from chapter to chapter so we get a pretty good snapshot of her evolution without being overburdened with too many details. In other words, it works well.

Nila takes a look at self-published sensation Hugh Howey’s First Shift

The sixth installment to continue Hugh Howey’s WOOL series is a great background, filler story.

I know, for those of you who have read the Wool stories and loved them, that may seem like a letdown – filler. Sounds like something you can skip, huh? But, though First Shift simply tells us about how the silo story begins, Mr. Howey manages to do so in a unique way.

The reader is introduced to two protagonists: Donald, a new Congressional Representative taken in by the seniority and power of a U.S. Senator (Senator Thurman), and Troy, a befuddled IT department head that struggles to forget when all he wants to do is remember.

By the end of First Shift all the reader is left with is the burning desire to know what Senator Thurman really has in store for the people of the silos. One thing we can be sure of, it ain’t gonna be pretty.Senator Thurman is a hard man, but he’s out to save the world. And, as any good megalomaniac knows, to save it, you must destroy it.

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