Thursday, August 18, 2011

Conan, Realms of Fantasy, & Gary Gibson Reviewed at SFFWorld

Lest anybody think I’m the only person providing content, in the form of reviews, to SFFWorld. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. Over the past week, we’ve got three new reviews. First up, Mark Yon’s review of Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard. This is the latest mass market release collecting stories about the mighty-thewed barbarian just in time for the new film:

This short time of intensive publication is such for a very sad reason. Howard killed himself, following the death of his mother, at the age of thirty in June 1936. Most of his Conan tales therefore were written between 1932 and 1936, and set in the Hyborean Age, which Howard described as a time after the disappearance of Atlantis but before present civilizations appeared.

The tales included here are:
The Tower of the Elephant; Rogues in the House; The Frost Giant’s Daughter; Queen of the Black Coast; A Witch Shall Be Born; The People of the Black Circle; Red Nails; Beyond the Black River; and the background article for the stories, The Hyborian Age.

The selection is generally a good one. The tales are not in written/publication order, but instead broadly chronologically throughout Conan’s life. The Conan in The Tower of the Elephant is described as ‘a youth’, the Conan of Beyond the Black River an older man.

Joey (Erfael) continues his short-fiction reviews with the June 2011 issue of Realms of Fantasy by Fiction Editor - Shawna McCarthy; Editor - Douglas Cohen , the 100th issue of the venerable fantasy magazine:
The June 2011 issue marks the 100th issue of RoF. RoF is a full-sized, full-color magazine with full-page art accompanying every short story. This is the second magazine added to our collection of periodical short fiction reviews.

This issue contains 7 short stories, poetry by Ursula K. LeGuin, a gallery and article on artist Petar Meseldzja, a Folkroots column on fairies, and a full complement of fiction, gaming, graphic novel, and movie reviews.

"Wreathed in Wisteria, Draped in Ivy" is an Oriental-themed story by Euan Harvey. It's made up of tales within tales within a letter that implies an even larger tale above all. The letter tells of one man's discovery and pursuit of never-ending life. He follows the trail through many hardships and battles and eventually comes to know the secret of avoiding death. All of this is done in pursuit of vengeance he seeks to serve on someone he refers to only as Noble Lord. This is a fun quest fantasy outside of the more typical medieval setting, and all the more interesting for it. RECOMMENDED.

Back to Mark for a review of the latest from a fairly new, yet relatively popular and acclaimed, UK SF writer – Gary Gibson. The book under review is Final Days:

The story is set in 2235. The key premise of the tale is that wormholes, if one end is accelerated to relativistic speeds, can allow people to travel hundreds of light years quickly. People who travel outside the gate can eventually catch up with the people who have travelled through the gate but only by travelling at standard speeds. Thus we appear to travel in time, with those going through the wormholes able to travel into the future, so to speak.

This is a big Niven-esque type disaster novel, or perhaps a Greg Bear (Forge of God springs to mind), so much so that it really needs one of those dramatis personae lists at the front. Though there are the main characters, a number of others are there to help develop the plot, which are a little more less developed and can take careful following.

It’s also a book that you have to just accept at the beginning, even when things don’t always make immediate sense travelling forward and backward in time. It’s a tale that needs a while to set the scene and develop. Of course, as we have ‘seen’ video from 2245, we know what is going to happen: if the title of the book doesn’t give it away, it does seem that the future is set and unchangeable, though this is never as clear-cut as it sounds..

No comments: